TOM BRUMPTON (Akarusa Yami)
Here is Tom Brumpton, vocalist and frontman in the british extreme act Akarusa Yami and his contribution to The Deepthroat Series.
When did you start doing extreme vocals (What year and at what age)?
Tom Brumpton – I was about 16/17 years old, so 2004. I was originally a guitarist.
What made you start to do extreme vocals?
I’d wanted to start an extreme band for a while. I’d just started listening to a collection of extreme bands; Amen, Raging Speedhorn, The Berzerker, and so on. However, I couldn’t find a vocalist so I decided to give it a go.
Can you describe the technique or the techniques you are using?
I sing from the stomach. I’ve tried singing from my throat, but I quickly lost my voice and found the only way to do it properly was from the stomach.
Has your technique changed during your career?
I started singing cleanly a few years ago, and developed a better feel for my range and began getting a better feel for maintaining and warming up my voice. Doing so was infinitely helpful.
Have you ever hurt yourself by using a "wrong technique"?
When I first started out I was just shouting down a microphone, no real technique. I’d do one song and my voice would be gone, and I worried I’d be left with polyps on my vocal chords if I continued. Fortunately it hasn’t happened yet.
Is there something you do on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape? Any routines?
I don’t drink alcohol much and I don’t smoke, but other than that I sing every day and while I’m performing I drink a lot of water. Performing on a hot stage can dry you out and have a terrible effect on your voice.
Do you think it can be dangerous to do extreme vocals?
Not really, no. I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than performing Opera professionally. Both push the vocal chords quite heavily and require technique and practice to do them well, but I don’t believe either will a person’s vocal chords if they’re sensible.
What is most important for you – to make cool sounds and interesting rhythms, or to have a clear diction/pronunciation?
I’ve always felt that extreme vocals are a percussive instrument, and while I think pronunciation is important I think getting the right feel is vital. We’re lucky in that unlike classical music we’re not forced to stick too rigidly to how a particular instrument needs to sound, so songs can flow with more of a feel. However, as a writer you want people to understand what it is you’re talking about in a song, so I think it’s a balancing act.
Do you think that extreme vocals can be made into a science, like "this is how it works for everyone, to make this sound you have to do this etc"? Or is it more intuitive and individual how to do it?
I think there is a method to it, but honestly I’ve tried a few times to put into words how it works and I’ve always struggled. That said, Melissa Cross has been doing an amazing job with her DVD "The Zen Of Screaming" – so I think it can be done, and if people are interested in it then great.
Do you have any advice to people who wants to start doing extreme vocals?
Listen to your favourite records and just practice. If you f*** up or don’t get the sound you’re looking for at first, don’t worry. Everyone worries about that kind of thing, but the trick is to keep going. Also, listen to your body. If you’re doing something and its causing you a lot of pain and discomfort, then you may need to try a different technique.
Mention three extreme vocalists whose style you admire, and explain your choice. What specifically do you like about the styles of those three? Also mention three vocalists (not necessarily extreme vocalists) which you have been influence by, and explain in which way you have been influenced by each of them.
I love vocalists that are varied and bring something a little different to a record. First off is Alissa from The Agonist/Arch Enemy. Her extreme stuff is brilliant, lyrically she’s very clever and always pushes to discuss interesting matters and take things that one step further. Her melodic work is brilliant too. I love classical music, and her operatic stuff is great.
Next would be Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage. I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time and I’ve always felt there are few vocalists that possess the dynamics or raw power that Jesse does. Lyrically he’s an incredibly positive guy, which in metal is refreshing.
Finally, I’m going with Greg Puciatto from The Dillinger Escape Plan. The guy has an amazing voice on every scale, and is able to bring gold to practically every project he lays his vocals to; be it TDEP, Spylacopa, Error or his new band Killer Be Killed; his range, power and versatility is amazing. It’s like vocal gymnastics.
Non-metal guys and girls? I might get some funny looks, but…
John Martyn, an amazing English singer-songwriter. He passed away about five years ago, but his work is some of the finest music I’ve ever heard. Ethereal mix of trip hop, folk and jazz. Check out Solid Air. It’s stunning. Next, French pop duo Air; a wonderful hybrid of pop, lounge music and electronica. Finally, Adele. She’s got a brilliant, husky voice and I love her mix of bossa-nova, jazz, soul and pop.
Who do you want to challenge in this series? (Who should be the next extreme vocalist to answer these questions?) Give a brief explanation for your choice.
Definitely Alissa. She strikes me as a really interesting, intelligent lady.