Animals As Leaders Interview: The Second Album & T.R.A.M.

Five years ago, Animals As Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes auditioned for Periphery. “He didn’t make the cut!” jokes lead guitarist Tosin Abasi. As he laughs and shakes his head, Reyes defends himself, “They were 20 years old, and I was 26. I was just not trying to hang out with 20-year-olds at the time.”

It was Reyes’ reluctance to hang out with 20-year-olds that initiated Abasi’s relationship with Periphery’s Misha Mansoor, resulting in the band’s debut album that has earned them international exposure. Today, older, wiser, and long past adolescence, Animals As Leaders are feeling the pressures that come with a second album – this time with drummer Navene Koperweis handling production duties.

Says Abasi, “When we did the first album, it wasn’t anything anyone knew about, so there was total freedom – there was no expectation. A lot of people really liked the first album, and it created a weird sense of obligation to continue in a direction that allowed people to like it in the first place… But that isn’t necessarily the best way to make music.”

To get insight on the second Animals As Leaders album, I met up with Abasi and Reyes on Sunset Blvd for a candid conversation. The pair openly discuss the band’s upcoming sophomore effort, their side-project T.R.A.M., and what’s in store for the foreseeable future.

A few things to note: Animals As Leaders have started tracking their next record, which is being aimed for a fall release. The band will embark on their first headlining run with Intronaut this summer, and will head to Europe for the first time with Between the Buried and Me in fall. Additionally, the AAL side-project T.R.A.M. will release its debut album, Lingua Franca, on June 28th via Sumerian. Lastly, when watching this interview, turn the volume down a hair around 6:50 – just saying.

I did an interview with Periphery not too long ago. I know you worked with Misha Mansoor on the first album, but describe what he was like on a local level – before anyone knew who Periphery was.