"Margin of Error's Travis Meyers' first concert was Ozzy." – Interview

I had never heard of Margin of Error before. I still I haven’t heard their music yet, but I’m dying to. Some artists are just more interesting than others and Travis Meyers of Margin of Error is one of those artists. Take the cover art for their new album “What You Are About to Witness.” How can you look at that and not want to find out what it is about? I got a chance to do an email interview with Travis and here it is.

Q - What is Margin of Error to you?

A - Margin of Error is my creative outlet. It’s my life. It’s very satisfying to have an outlet to say and do exactly what I want. I continue to challenge myself, and I don’t think I will ever become disinterested in that.

Q - Your website says that your band is about continuously reinventing itself. I realize that almost no artist wants to keep remaking the same song over an over again. By reinventing yourself, do you ever find yourself scrapping a good piece of music because it is too much like an earlier piece of music?

A - With how I go about the creative process I try to surround myself with completely different ideas and concepts before a new record. It’s almost like preparing a setting for the band to create in. I love setting the scene in my mind for what’s to come and challenging myself to look at things from different angles. It’s really about not letting yourself get comfortable in how you do things. If I expect to keep my fans on their toes, I think I should stay on mine. With each new record we get better and I will continue to push the envelope and break down walls as to what people “expect” from us.

Q - In looking at the cover of your newest album "What You Are About to Witness," I find myself saying that if that were the cover of a movie in a video store I would think this is either going to be the greatest horror movie ever or it's going to be a complete piece of low budget garbage...but I'm going to find out. What was the inspiration behind the title and cover art to "What You Are About to Witness?"

A - I actually laughed when I read this question because it really proved my point in what the concept was for the record. Not to mention how this record was created in more of a filmmaking mindset. I wanted to intrigue the listener with the title and the cover image. The concept for the record is centered on a serial killer that creates snuff style hand-held shot films of all of his victims. To him, this is his art. This is his masterpiece. The cover features one of VHS tapes and the TV’s in which he watches playback on all of his victims. When doing the photography for the record cover I worked hand in hand with my photographer as I set and lit the scene. I wanted it to look raw. I had the idea of lighting the majority of the shoots with only TV static rather than photography lights. I love the image and how it turned out. It entices the audience and definitely perks their curiosity.

Q - Is there a constant theme or concept to the new album?

A - There absolutely is. “What You Are About to Witness” is ultimately about the thought process of a serial killer. I wanted to try to capture the mindset of him during his assault on humanity. I put a lot of myself into this character to the point where it didn’t feel like a fictional person anymore. A lot of people mistake this record for not being personal, when in fact this was the most personal record I have ever done. Throughout the album you’re pulled in many different directions containing elements of murder, apathy, and finally the idea of love/obsession. At the end of the record for the final track “Where I Reside” the killer finally shows a human side to himself and enters into the idea of “love” for his victims. The ultimate question resides in whether he has fallen in love with his killing process or actually has a connection with each female victim. The audience is left to answer that.

Q - What is your band’s song writing approach?

A - When it comes to writing new songs, it really starts first with an overall concept and idea. I will bring that idea to the group and we will talk a lot about what we’re going for sound wise with it and what kind of mood we plan to induce. I think getting everyone on the same page as me mentally is probably the biggest key in the song writing process. Sometimes it might start with a riff. Other times it might start with a lyric. The most important thing is that you never force it. When you’re writing a great song it will come to you very naturally.

Q - Who was the first concert you ever attended and how did that experience affect you?

A - I was actually an extremely late bloomer in the concert scene. I went to my first concert at 18 years old even though I had been very into music from a little kid. My first concert was Ozzfest 2003. I think the live concert experience is really what pulled me into the music industry. I started picking apart things that bands did great and found flaws in others performances. I wanted to try it my way and see if I could be successful at it.

Q - What can fans expect from your live show and how has it evolved over the years?

A - Well, I have always taken great pride in how we translate what we do on CD and visually online to our live performance. I want to take the audience into our world. If anyone has been to our show it is very apparent that we have put a lot of time, energy, and money behind what we do live. To me it’s just as important as writing a great record. Our live show has always been about high-energy performance and a balanced chaos that grips the audience and continues to be interesting. Even before our first show I made sure that we had banners and a very detailed approach to how we would come off live. What I do is about details, and the live show is no different.

Q - Who are some of your earliest influences?

A - My earliest influences are mostly filmmakers. I have always been drawn to that medium and have had a deep appreciation for creating emotion through visuals. When it comes to music though it would have to be bands like Marilyn Manson, Deftones, Korn, Static-X and probably a few others when I was growing up.

Q - Every artist has that moment in their life where they realize what they want to do with their life. What was that moment for you?

A - I started gearing up for film school because it was something I was really passionate about. This was also the beginning period of me becoming more serious about creating Margin of Error. School was a big disappointment for me. I felt like I wasn’t learning anything and felt that everyone was learning a certain way to do things and really killed the creative process for me. At that time I was fully exploring how I wanted this band to be and felt that I could reach my creative potential within it. It challenged me because of how many things in entailed. One day I would be writing lyrics, the next day I would setting up scenes for photography, after that I would have to figure out how the live show would work etc… I found the challenge to be endless and most of all satisfying. I fell in love with it, and although at times the industry drives me crazy, I don’t know what I would do without it. Needless to say I spent one semester in college mostly working on Margin of Error and left school after that semester to pursue this band full time.

Q - What's your take on the state of the music industry and are there any bands or artists that you're really into right now?

A - The state of the industry is pretty much fucked. I don’t think a lot of fans respect music and art anymore. Everyone wants everything for free and they feel entitled to it. It saddens me dearly. I just want people to understand how taxing this is on the people behind it. The biggest investment that the artist gives is their time, and it is truly something that should be respected. Artists give their time to their fans so that they can enjoy a piece of their favorite artists’ mind. Support the bands you love so that they can continue to make the art that you enjoy! There is nothing more satisfying than hearing from fans that have followed you from the beginning and respect your creations and feel a part of them. That’s what keeps me ticking. As for bands I have really be into at the moment, I have enjoying some Bleeding Through, The Acacia Strain, Dimmu Borgir, Deftones, and Behemoth.

Q - Thanks for taking the time do this; I really look forward to hearing your music. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A - Thank you for asking good questions. I go through quite a few interviews and always see the same questions, so I thank you for challenging me and entertaining me at the same time. I also want to thank everyone who is reading this right and those who have followed Margin of Error throughout the years. The next chapter is coming!


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.
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