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PERIPHERY's Guitarist MISHA MANSOOR Explains The Band's Creative Process & Writing Long Songs

"When we're putting these things together, we're not really paying attention to the length."


Periphery's music is a unique journey through intricate rhythms, soaring vocals, and face-melting guitar riffs. But what goes on behind the scenes when crafting these progressive metal masterpieces, some clocking in at over 17 minutes? In a recent interview with Tuonela Magazine (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs), guitarist Misha Mansoor revealed their surprisingly laid-back approach: they just write and see where it takes them.

According to Mansoor, the creative process is more akin to exploring an open-world video game. They follow the flow of ideas, letting the song dictate its own path: "It's like an open-world video game. You make your own adventure out of it."

"When we're putting these things together, we're not really paying attention to the length. And then once we've got an arrangement that we've settled on or that we feel is generally there, that's the point where we'll be like, 'How long is this? Oh, wow, it's this length', or whatever."

This intuitive approach has resulted in some of Periphery's most iconic tracks, like the 12-minute behemoth "Dracul Gras" and the epic 17-minute "Reptile." These songs weren't born from a desire to push boundaries, but simply from a wellspring of creative energy.

"I don't even remember with 'Dracul Gras', if it was the kind of thing where we noticed it was getting long, or at the end, we were like, 'Wow, okay, all right, we're hitting 10 minutes for this one.' But it's not really an important thing," Mansoor explained.

Of course, there are practical considerations. Long songs can be challenging for music videos and streaming platforms. But Periphery prioritizes artistic integrity over commercial viability: "Maybe it's something that should be more important because maybe I wish we had put a shorter song on the album. Certainly, from a music video standpoint, it would have been a little bit cheaper."

"We're not really thinking about song length. When we're writing, we're thinking about it from, 'Is the idea complete? Is the sentence complete, or the thought complete?' And there are certain songs where it doesn't take very much to get that point. And then there are other songs where it just feels like it has more to say, or where there's more to explore."

Further reflecting on the creation of "Reptile," Mansoor added: "That song is another example. That's the first thing that we wrote for Periphery IV. I think we were just very excited to write, and we were messing with a tuning that we'd never played with before, so it was kind of the perfect storm to just get a whole bunch of ideas out."

"And we wrote that song fairly quickly. It was written pretty much entirely as it is, from an instrumental standpoint, over the course of three subsequent days. So it happened very fast. And it's just because we were just bursting with ideas, and then we realized, 'Oh, wow, we've got to tell the rest of the guys that we wrote this long song, and I really hope that they don't veto it or hate it, or whatever.'"

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