Is it remotely possible to have discovered the next Deftones while scrolling through Instagram? I make an effort to experiment with my intake of new metal and alternative music, and it’s easy for much of it to sound like white noise. But the absurdity of finding a genre-defining act on a social-scroll isn’t as wild as it might have once seemed. The white noise is pierced by something new. What makes music exploration so exciting is that moment, that one artist you stumble on with something intangible about their sound, something that creates an atmosphere that resonates with your spirit. Something that cuts through.
Likely, Age of the Abstract is a band you have yet to hear about. In the vein of heavy, ambient rock, AotA employs raw emotion, contemplative lyrics, rage, and enigmatic, haunting melodies to tread a fine line between alternative and metal. It’s done with such precision that you almost feel the need to create a separate genre despite the band having released only three songs to the public. (They have an absolute masterpiece with “Rebirth.”) The band is a two-man act as of now: Julio Arias (vocals, guitars, etc.) and Danny Grossarth (drums and pretty much everything else). As members of the band Candiria – a metal band that has been around for decades – Age of the Abstract is a new side project, a space to create a home for that alternative energy. I recently sat down with Arias to talk about the stylistic flavor of his new band, his musical influences, and the band’s vision for Age of the Abstract.
You guys live in New York City?
Yep, born and bred.
As members of Candiria, what inspired you and Danny to start Age of the Abstract?
The last tour we did with Candiria was 2018, I believe. We did the Beyond Reasonable Doubt anniversary tour. Once we were done with that, Danny and I were like, “Hey man, let’s start writing.” The next progression was that Candiria was going to write another album. We (Julio and Danny) are like the new guys on the block. Carley, John, and Mike are the O.G. (Editor’s Note: Vocalist Carley Coma, guitarist John LaMacchia, and bassist Mike MacIvoy have been in the band since the mid-’90s.)
I didn’t really do much writing on that latest record. We were always hopeful that for the next record we could probably write something. No biggie if none of our material made it, but the point is that we said, “Hey, after this, let’s just meet up and see what we come up with and write.” The first session went really great and we wrote a song. I said, “Hey man, we’ve got something here. Let’s meet up next week.” We met up the following week, and I think we did two more songs and we just kept that going.
In late August of 2018, my dad got diagnosed with cancer, and it was really aggressive. By September, I had to fly out to the Dominican Republic to be with family. By October, he had passed away. It was really like a month and a half from diagnosis to his death. When that happened, I remember writing on the flight over to the D.R. one of the first songs. It was about everything I went through the last time I saw my dad. It was a very powerful, therapeutic process. That was the first inclination of me looking at the project that Danny and I were working on as something more substantial. That year was really the beginnings of what you hear now.
You do vocals and guitars and Danny does drums, right?
Yeah. Production, mixing, mastering, engineering – Danny does all that.
My favorite track you guys have released is “Rebirth.” What inspired that song?
The Rebirth EP is talking about stages of grief. It’s talking about loss, it’s talking about rebuilding yourself and being reborn through that process. “Rebirth” is specifically more talking about society and the wrongs and how we treat each other but also looking inward. It does have a double meaning.
As of now, you just have three songs released to the public. Are you planning on releasing new music in the near future?
Danny and I spoke a couple of weeks ago and we want to release another EP but this time maybe four-to-five songs. We’re also trying to get some merchandise out soon.
What bands and artists have influenced you?
When it comes to Age of the Abstract, it’s pretty simple for me. You’ve got the Deftones, A Perfect Circle and then you have Candiria. They’ve had a big impact on us, not just musically but as a concept. We said, “Hey, if we’re going to dive into a progressive/alternative band, we need to hit the mark on everything.” If I’m going to sing, I’m going to sing my butt off. If I’m going to scream, I’m going to scream my butt off. I’m going to really do it with conviction. That’s just something that all three bands – but especially Candiria – have in abundance.
Are you hoping you guys can go on tour at some point?
Absolutely. Yeah, we’re hoping to tour. We are just a duo right now; we’re a musical project. But we have spoken to some labels. We definitely want to tour and bring this music out to the masses live.
As a new fan of your work, I think the music will be great live.
Age of the Abstract has a “big-ness” to it that’s hard to define. It’s a very unique vibe. I’m really excited for you guys to see the full picture. It’s kind of crazy because the three-song EP is one aspect of what we do but everything (else) ties it together. If you put the collection of EPs we’re going to put out together, you’re going to see a much bigger picture.
I think live is going to be such an incredible experience. It’s going to be really, really cool. I have a few ideas that I always bug Danny about. I’m like, dude, I want screens… I’ve actually shown him Hillsong performances and churches that have really good light shows (laughs). I really want it to be an experience, so, hopefully, we can find the funds to do it properly and we get on a tour that can provide us some space and the platform. If we can do that, man, it’s going to be something.
Is there a spiritual aspect to Age of the Abstract?
Absolutely. I don’t think I can operate any other way. It’s funny because I am a born-again Christian, but some Christians are very fake to me – or, at least, the ones I encountered growing up.
As I grow older, I realize that not one-size-fits-all and, really, the Word is all you have to follow. You don’t have to follow what the herd is telling you to follow. You don’t have to follow the path that someone else sets for you. You just have to follow the path that God sets for you. A lot of things I do are based on being a vessel. I just want to be emotionally and spiritually ready to do good things in life.
Age of the Abstract was posted on December 29, 2020 for HM Magazine and authored by Andrew Voigt.