Metal Evolution

Progressive metal isn’t exactly the most listener-friendly musical genre around, but Jacksonville quartet Artilect looks to change that, projecting an outward image that’s more sociable than satanic, while combining technically brilliant instrumental chops with deeply thought lyrics. Best of all, Josiah Baker, Josh Hughes, Eddie Delgado and Johnny Cieslik are hard-working musicians who’ve self-financed all of their efforts, including Artilect’s new full-length album “Percept,” celebrated at a proper release party at Freebird Live Nov. 17. Folio Weekly chatted with Delgado about Artilect’s diverse influences, hardworking approach and sense of onstage showmanship.

Folio Weekly: Give us the lowdown on Artilect’s new album, “Percept.”

Eddie Delgado: It took us about a year to get “Percept” done, which is how long we’ve been together as a full lineup. Myself, Johnny and Josh have been together for about five years, trying out singers the whole time without finding somebody that fit until Josiah, who we were blessed to have move down from North Carolina. The album was recorded by producer Jerry Guidroz in Nashville at Radiant Studios, which is owned by [prog-rock legend] Neal Morse. Meeting him was a total fan-boy honor for us.

F.W.: So your three past bands were absorbed into Artilect once Josiah came along?

E.D.: Code Iris morphed into Artilect, but Being is still a band down in Orlando. We’re at a point now where we know each other and the direction we want to take well. So that’s when Artilect was set up this way.

F.W.: How would you describe the brand of metal you play?

E.D.: We all come from a metal background, but that spans ’70s rock, ’80s and ’90s metal, alternative metal, rock, pop, fusion, jazz. … We pride ourselves on listening to all kinds of music, using everything as an influence and incorporating things in a progressive metal way. That makes our sound interesting, even for people who’ve never heard metal.

F.W.: A review of a past Artilect show mentioned visuals that the band incorporates in performances.

E.D.: We like to have visuals if we can. At our last show, we had a projector in the background, and the visuals went with the music: When the music went loud, the visuals got bright, and when it got soft, they didn’t move as much. It was very interactive. But most of our visuals come from our showmanship: We try to interact with the crowd and get them as excited as possible. And we do like to show off when we’re playing.

F.W.: Has Artilect played much outside Jacksonville?

E.D.: A little bit. We were happy to be part of the first Florida Power Fest in Tampa, and we’ve also played in Orlando. But we haven’t played out of the state yet because we haven’t really gotten to the point where we can financially afford to do that. With the new CD coming out, by next summer we’re going to be touring no matter what, though. That’s our goal, along with playing ProgPower USA in Atlanta.

F.W.: Is the new CD self-financed? Or do you have any backing?

E.D.: Our drummer’s parents helped us out tremendously with the financial aspect of the recording, and we covered everything else: the travels, the mastering, the mixing and the purchasing.

F.W.: And you all have day jobs outside of playing music.

E.D.: We do, although it’s always the dream that our music can take care of everything for us. I’m a full-time student at UNF, Josiah works at a body shop, Josh has a part-time job and Johnny has a full-time job during the day. But we all try to practice as much as possible to make ourselves the best instrumentalists that we can be. We want to put out technical, musician-driven songs that still have melodic vocal lines to help bring all the chaos of the instruments together. That way, anyone can enjoy it.

F.W.: Have you ever performed at Freebird Live?

E.D.: We have been lucky to play there a few times — it’s one of our favorite places. The acoustics are great, the crowd is wonderful and we love knowing that we’ve shared the stage with great musicians like Victor Wooten and Buckethead.

F.W.: Have you found any like-minded metal bands in Northeast Florida?

E.D.: We don’t find many that play progressive metal, so we get on any ticket that we can and bring in friends who play fusion, prog rock or indie rock. But the good thing is, that brings out more people who then have a variety of things to listen to, instead of just one type of music all night. A lot of people seem to like that.

Nick McG