Explain the unlikely bond between yourself on the West Coast, John in Pennsylvania and Jayce in Bridgend, Wales…
“It’s hard to describe the chemistry between friends when we connect. I first met John all the way back in 1998 when he was brought into Fear Factory as a live keyboard player. When you’re out on the road, you align yourself with people that reflect your personality and who you connect with better. John and I hit it off really well, sharing rooms on the road, talking all the time about life and music. We share a lot of the same interests and philosophies. I actually met Jayce [after] messaging him through MySpace: we hit it off immediately and became online friends before anything else. It wasn’t until a few years later that we actually met in person. John is five years older than I am, and Jayce is nine years younger, but I don’t think the age difference really matters. It’s the maturity and mutual engagement. That, and that we just get on.”
For fans unfamiliar with Ascension Of The Watchers, how would you contrast their sound to your other works?
“These are experiments and explorations in sound. The first two records, very much so, very ethereal and ambient. I’m writing from the soul, from those poignant moments in my life. I’m baring my heart for everyone to see. In that, there were bands whose sound I wanted to emulate. I think we achieved that up to a point.”
What kinds of bands were those?
“To pick one song, it would be the live version of U2’s Bad from [1985 EP] Wide Awake In America. The original from Unforgettable Fire is a beautiful, ethereal song, but whoever mixed that live version really captured the intensity. It’s a song I want played at my funeral. The post-rock band Swans are another huge influence. Their albums are intense recordings, but live they just become so much more powerful. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them at the original 9:30 Club on the Children Of God tour. They were so loud and powerful that it made me throw up – in a good way! Then there’s Pink Floyd with their great songwriting and production. On the darker side, Sisters Of Mercy are in there, particularly the  album Floodland. Every song is different and so powerful, going from hard-pumping beats to ethereal soundscapes. Wayne Hussey is just one of the most underrated songwriters.”
There’s something of a soundtrack quality there, too.
“I love soundtracks. The classic Blade Runner soundtrack by [Greek composer] Vangelis is a favourite. I also live the modern Dredd soundtrack by Paul Leonard-Morgan. That was an electronic soundtrack, but it had this dirty, gritty, analogue quality to it.”
The sound of Apocrypha feels more than the previous records. Was that a conscious drive for that grittier intensity?
“It was only after those first records were released and we started to play live – doing some shows with Killing Joke and as a headline act – that I understood the sound that I really wanted for this band. Those earlier records’ sound is a great sound, a very produced sound, but not really a live sound. When we performed live, it was more organic and intense. Over the years, I’ve been learning to achieve that on record. Jayce was the one who really enabled that. I would play him songs and soundtracks and he would help me translate it."