Misha Mansoor, or commonly known on message boards as Bulb, is the lead guitarist in Maryland metal band Periphery, who are regarded as one of the best unsigned metal acts in North America. I was recently able to talk to him about his nickname, the future, and “Juggernaut.”
Who are you?
Good question! I’m Misha. Some kid who makes music in his apartment.
Where’d you get the nickname Bulb?
It was the name of my old band in Toronto which broke up right after I made the Bulb soundclick for it, and I had already started posting songs up on there. So people just started calling me Bulb.
Yeah I went to school there for 3 years. Hated school.
What school did you go to and for what subject?
University of Toronto and it kept changing every year – Sociology, Philosophy…god knows what.
That’s what my friend is going into this year. Basically Undeclared Arts right?
Yeah it wasn’t for me I basically decided that working full time would be more fun, as long as I was pursuing a music career and it turns out it was.
Pursuing a music career has obviously lead up to being a guitar player, but how are you able to survive (especially with all that sweet gear you have?). Guitar players don’t typically make that much.
I normally work a lot and don’t do anything fun and spendy. I acquired a lot of gear through that, and through being generally as frugal as possible and a lot of my new acquisitions are either trades or from getting money by selling stuff. For right now I haven’t had a job for a bit because I have had projects which pay better than any job I could get and because my parents have been helping out, they are definitely very supportive, they just don’t want me to slack off.
Did you take guitar lessons growing up, and if so for how long?
Nah. I started on drums when I was 14. I always wanted to play drums for as long as I can remember and I had a guitar I would jam around on though I never took it seriously – just drop d powerchords, just for fun. But then when I went to Toronto at 17, I couldn’t play drums anymore, so I started to focus my energy on guitar instead. I worked all summer before I went to school so I could get my first real guitar – a Gibson Les Paul Gary Moore sig.
Nice. I’m the opposite. I started with guitar then played on my friend’s kit and loved it. I still play guitar a lot, but drums is where it’s at for me.
Yeah dude. I don’t know I actually probably feel a closer attachment to the drums, but I would rather play guitar live if that makes sense.
Yeah it does. I mean, no non-musicians pay attention to the drums, but they will still know when a guitarist is awesome.
I don’t know, when anyone sees a crazy drummer I think they can tell that hes awesome. But it’s more just that I’m not really confident with my drumming skills I guess. Plus if the drummer fucks up, skips a beat or whatever, everyone will hear it, but if a guitarist does, especially if there is distortion, no one will ever know(laughs).
(laughs) Fair enough.
So for those who don’t know, you’re in a band called Periphery. How long has Periphery been around?
I guess it’s been a couple years now (laughs), man time flies. But things seem to always been in a state of flux with Periphery. We spent forever just trying to find the right members, and then people were fired or quit. But now I think once we find our singer we will truly be able to move forward for a change!
Speaking of finding a singer, how is the search going? Everyone was so bummed about Casey leaving (I can’t imagine how you guys felt), and it happened right around the time you guys announced that you were going to be finally recording your first album.
Well actually now I can give some more positive news for a change: We have come across a handful of talented prospects, who all live in the US and one of them may end up our singer. But we are also having our guitarist Alex try out, he has an awesome voice that can only get better now that he is working on it, and if he becomes our singer I have a super secret guitarist ready to take his spot!
Once we have our singer we are going to finish up our album asap and put it out so that we can finally have a finished product!
Any hints for who this super secret guitarist would be if Alex ended up being the singer?
Yeah he’s one of my favorite musicians ever (laughs)
So does the new album’s release lay mostly on the new singer? Is a 2008 release still possible?
I’m hoping so, I really want it to be a 2008 if at all possible
I think many people are hoping for a 2008 release as well. Are you guys looking at any labels to release the debut?
That all depends on the offer (laughs), we are very picky about what we want and what we need from a label, and in todays market the rules seem to be changing all the time.
You guys could always pull a Trent Reznor and release it for free and for optional package deals by yourselves.
(laughs) Well you have to be at a certain level to be able to pull that off well. The reason that worked well for him and Radiohead is because of the already enormous and extremely loyal fanbase, so even though a lot of casual listeners got it for free, they had enough loyal fans who were willing to give them money. It’s hard to gauge how well something like that will work, and I know we wouldn’t be able to pull something like that off just yet, but it does make you think twice about signing a long contract which would prevent you from doing things like that for x amount of time.
You guys have already built up a decent sized following. It wouldn’t be a total bust to try something like that.
It’s definitely something we have put some thought into for the future
Speaking of the future, any tours in the planning stages?
Well we are trying to set up a tour right now for September. I really want to get back out on the road even if we will play instrumentally (which most likely we will have to if it’s a September tour). I’m trying to either get us on tour with some bigger bands that we are friends with if at all possible, and if that looks like it’s not going to pan out, then we have these 2 local bands I would love to tour with. I want to do as much touring as possible to be quite honest. But yeah no guarantees on either of those yet, it’s difficult to book your own tour especially with 2 local bands and if you have no singer, but we will try anyways!
Let’s go back to the music itself. It seems that you’re uploading new songs all the time. How are you able to write so frequently and make it all sound good?
(laughs) All sound good is a subjective thing, so that’s part of it. But I don’t know, I just tend to record whenever I have ideas. It’s funny though, I really don’t feel like I’m being very productive. I wish I wrote more, I always feel like I’m slacking off. I know I haven’t had any solid ideas for a little while now. But for me, writing and recording are kind of synonymous. I usually am sitting on an idea, and when I sit down to record it, the rest just follows naturally. i don’t know why and I don’t really question it. So all it really takes is a riff or two to get things started.
Another incredible part of everything you record is that it sounds profesionally done. I bought a Pod too, and it doesn’t sound like you do. How can I make Bulb music?
(laughs) Well I don’t know because I barely even know how I do it. My mixes are the result of me sitting at my computer slowly tweaking my mixes for years and years and I still know nothing about mixing! I’m still doing that because I’m never really happy with them. As for the songs, if I knew how to write a Bulb song I would be way more prolific. I have to just wait for the ideas to come – sometimes I have a ton, sometimes I go months without anything good.
Yeah writer’s block sucks.
A lot of your songs draw comparisons to bands like Meshuggah and Sikth. What do you say to people who call Periphery clones of those bands?
People will hear different things in music. My mom can’t tell the difference between Korn and Dillinger Escape Plan. That doesn’t mean they sound the same. Hell I can’t tell rap songs apart, but I’m sure they are different. Ultimately, I’m just here making music that sounds good to me, some people will dig it and some people won’t, that’s a fact. Not much I can do about that, so I’m just going to stick to making music that sounds good to me (laughs).
You guys have mentioned something about “Juggernaut.” Before I make myself look stupid by asking, can you clarify on what it is exactly?
Juggernaut is this big idea I have been working on for the last couple years on and off of course, but it’s probably going to be for Periphery and it’s going to be an album most likely. I was kind of torn about if it should be one song or not, but I have ditched that idea. It’s just going to be a concept album from a musical stand point. Since I don’t write lyrics I don’t know how those will turn out but there are several themes and motifs that go through the various tracks it might be the second Periphery album, it might not. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it because it’s not entirely finished yet, and I have been writing it in parallel to the material that is going on the first album, but it may come out shortly after the first album. I’m not really sure just yet. I kind of just want to get the first album out of the way before I start worrying about that!
As for music that sounds good to you…what records have you been digging this year/lately?
Oh man that’s such a bad question for me because I have the worst memory ever and I’m going to forget, but ill try anyways. Obzen of course was awesome I thought, and I really dug the new Textures album. My buddies in Fell Silent finally put their album out, and that’s awesome as well! But lately I have been just listening to a lot of Allan Holdsworth. (laughs)
Speaking of Allan Holdsworth, here’s a video of Misha playing his solo from “Devil Take The Hindmost.”