Featured Band of the Week


Just as a tiny seed can spring into a huge tree, so too did a small idea blossom into Sequoyah, a towering progressive metal act out of Des Moines. Guitarist Mark Willie explains, “Initially it started with myself (Mark Willie) and Dusty Boles (Make Me Famous) writing and recording all the music at his studio… Dusty and I had been talking for a while about writing together and eventually we found the time to do it.”

The name Sequoyah came about after, with a somewhat unique root: “The name “Sequoyah” actually comes from the creator of the Cherokee syllabary.  The name also has somewhat of a cryptic and esoteric significance to us that we touched upon in one song on the Perception album.”

Despite different influences, and living in different states, the pair began to create a music that met their expectations and visions. This creative process is an arduous and meticulous one: “Dusty and I live in different states so we compose separately. Once we get together in the studio we begin going over ideas.  I would say around 75% of what we write before entering the studio ends up getting shelved. We use whatever we wrote as a spring board to get started and then we bounce ideas off each other and develop them from there.  So much of the writing is done “in the moment”. That’s why, for our process, it doesn’t work to send ideas back and forth online. The writing process is definitely frustrating at times because of the expectations we have [but] we trust the process.”

From there, the two brought in vocalist Joel Hisaw (Circuitry) to the seedling project before branching out with other members of Circuitry. It was this line-up that we hear presented on the group’s debut EP, 2016’s Perception (read our review here). It was this EP that solidified the group’s ability to deftly incorporate huge Issues-esque melodies, Periphery-inspired technical grooves, and some enjoyably unexpected blast beats and breakdowns into a sound that was familiar yet distinct.

Though the pairing of Willie and Boles remains, much has changed in the time since Perceptions was released:

“We decided to move on without Joel, Christian, and Matt because their other band (Circuitry) required just as much time and dedication as Sequoyah.  It became increasingly difficult to schedule around multiple recording schedules and touring schedules and it felt as if everything for both bands was being slowed down.  We were fortunate enough to have Thomas Cokewell (drums) and Trevor Richmeier (vocals) step in and now everything is moving forward again.”

With a solidified line-up, Sequoyah is in the process of crafting a new album, and one that is more focused than its predecessor: “I feel like now that we know how we function together when writing, we’ve started to really mold and perfect our process this time around.  In some ways we’re very different, but it’s that dichotomy that seems to make things flow. Going forward now we have a clearly defined goal in mind and the new album will be a reflection of that and where we’re headed.”

Although Perception was only released a year ago, the writing and recording for Sequoyah’s sophomore record is nearing completion. Half of the album is tracked, with a music video to be released in the coming weeks. As for the sound of the material, Willie explains what to expect: “The new material is going in a slightly different direction. It still has a lot of the same djent elements but with more clean vocals, more production, and more focus on songwriting and structure. It sounds really good so far and I think people will dig it.”

As for the future, Sequoyah are seeking to grow ever upward: “The main goal is to be able to consistently release material, perform live across the country/world, and to be able to sustain an income from doing it.   I know that’s every bands goal, but it’s not just a goal for the band, it’s our life goal too.  Ever since I went to Berklee College of Music that has been the goal.  Music is everything to us.”

To keep up with Sequoyah on their upward trajectory, you can follow them on Facebook, YouTube and Bandcamp.

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