By Carl Begai
Teramaze first became a blip in Australian headspace back in 1995, launched by guitarist Dean Wells and laying claim to two full length albums by the time he was 18 years-old. It was a short-lived pursuit, as Wells abandoned Teramaze in 2000 for what turned out to be a fruitful career as a songwriter and producer for TV programs including X Factor and Australian Idol, as well as an assortment of pop artists. It was only a matter of time, however, until Wells felt the need to escape the formatted structure of the pop music machine in favour of creating music on his own terms. He relaunched Teramaze and returned in 2012 with Anhedonia, following it up with Esoteric Symbolism a short two years later. It’s been a re-learning curve for Wells, which culminated in the creation of the band’s most progressive work to date, Her Halo.
“It was a good eight years,” says Wells of his pop industry days. “I got into writing a lot of heavier stuff and my publisher at the time told me they liked it but had no idea what to do with it. Somebody finally said ‘You should do a Teramaze album.’ I hadn’t even thought of that because I considered Teramaze to just be something I did as a kid for a bit of fun. I realized I did want to do it again, and around the time we started taking it seriously Jeff Waters from Annihilator heard the stuff and wanted to get involved. He was down in Australia at one point and he came in to produce most of the album with me. So, I put out Anhedonia in 2012, which came out of the heavier stuff I was writing a few years earlier.”
“Before Anhedonia there was nothing from Teramaze for eight years. People think we’ve been around for all this time, but no, there was a massive gap in between. We don’t really play any of the old stuff, but now that people are starting to realize this is the same band from back then we’re thinking about bringing some of it back. But it does seem to people we’ve done more than we actually have.”
“The ‘reincarnation’ of Teramaze is basically a new band and the weird thing is people write to our Facebook page going ‘When are you going to re-release those first two albums?’ I wrote that stuff when I was a kid, the production is okay, the stuff is out there, but I’m not sure I want to relaunch it because Teramaze was such a different band back then. It’s strange that people still to this day write to me and say ‘I only like the first album…’ (laughs).”
Wells should take the feedback as a compliment to the band’s staying power, particularly considering the Teramaze debut is 20 years old.
“I didn’t know what I was doing back then. I knew what I wanted to do, but when I listen back to it now… I knew nothing. I was still learning. It’s good to look back at how I’ve progressed, though. It’s interesting.”
Wells has also benefitted from the way technology has progressed since Teramaze’s early days, for obvious internet-shaped reasons.
“I’ve always been kind of tunnel-visioned with what I do,” Wells admits. “It hasn’t changed my drive but I’ve made use of the internet, for sure. When Jeff Waters came out for Anhedonia, the only way that happened is because I sent an email to him with the demo attached. I met him online, and that sort of stuff never could have happened when I was a kid. I’ve definitely taken advantage of it. And it feels good sitting here in my house at the bottom of the world knowing that someone on the other side of the world can get our music in about 10 seconds. That’s really cool.”
This story is indeed about Wells and his musical pursuits, but he insists that even though he holds the reins Teramaze is an actual band rather than an ego stroke.
“I have a very strong vision of where I want to go with the music. A big difference between this album and the last one is that once the drums were done for Esoteric Symbolism, I did it all on my own. On Her Halo, the band has become so strong in the last 12 months that they really brought stuff in. I had to actually sit back and think about what was best for the album through every little section. I’d listen back to my playing and wonder if I was just wanking in certain spots, stuff like that. Everything has been produced to suit the songs, and Nathan did come in a few times and say ‘I’m not sure about that bit.’ For the vocals, me and Nathan (Peachey) were about 50-50. He’d throw something at me that would stem another idea and we’d work on that. Nathan had a big part in the melodies and the lyrics; he would bring things in and we’d just mold them until they worked.”
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