POISON THE WELL have been wowing post-hardcore audiences since the release of their first album, 1999’s The Opposite Of December. Having spent the better part of the past decade touring the world and building a rampant fanbase for their visceral metalcore, PTW just released what they believe to be their most honest and mature full-length, The Tropic Rot, a melodic, aggressive and personal look into the band members’ lives. Guitarist RYAN PRIMACK spoke with MICHELLE ABBASCIANO to reveal just what went into the creation of their latest opus.

Where did the cover art for the record come from?

From pictures of [vocalist] Jeff [Moreira’s] family. That’s Jeff’s mom on the cover when she was 15. Every picture in the layout is of Jeff’s family. The vinyl edition has even more because it’s a 12-inch, so it folds out. We were brainstorming ideas about the layout, and I’m actually pretty remedial when it comes to that stuff. I’m like, “Let’s just put the name [of the record] on the cover. That’ll be enough, right?” But apparently packaging is a big deal these days, so we came up with this idea of [having] a Polaroid representation of what Florida is like, and it’s sort of personal and it works with the title. I like the pictures, I think they’re endearing. But I think the art for the record is opposite of the feeling of the record. So the cover art is sort of personal and warm, [but] the music is dark, frustrated and somewhat resentful.

Why did you decide to stream the entire record on your MySpace before it was released?

I don’t know. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t see a reason to get bummed out if the record leaks early. If it’s good and people like it, even if it leaks, people are going to buy it anyway. So why get bent out of shape about it? The only people who might get bent out of shape about it are the people who know they’re putting out some sub-standard product, and they’re worried because they were counting on people’s curiosity [to go buy the record]. I’d rather have the people hear the music than not hear it.

Where did the inspiration for the unique-sounding “Pamplemousse” come from? And what does the title mean?

It means grapefruit in French. The meaning behind it is actually kind of personal. I think Brad [Grace, bass] and Chris [Hornbrook, drums] were playing it, and as soon as I heard it, it reminded me of that Smiths song “What Difference Does It Make,” but slowed down. So I just ripped off Johnny Marr. [Laughs.] Well, not literally, but I had this idea that was similar, so the rest of it kind of just built from there and we made it into this kind of weirdo song. We wanted it to feel slightly uncomfortable but, at the same time, keep your interest.

How was working with producer Steve Evetts?

It was fun. He and I get along really well. We’re both nerds and are music obsessed, so it was cool to work with somebody who’s into the same kind of music as I am. Everybody got along really well, actually. It was very different than recording with [previous producers] Eskil Lövström and Pelle Henricsson. All three were very attentive though, just about different things.

Did you feel a lot of pressure while making this record?

No, because I don’t really pay attention. I try not to read too much about what the press is saying. I don’t want it to change what course I would have taken naturally. As long as we’re putting out something that’s 100 percent honest and it’s the music that we all want to make, then that’s all that matters. We’ve adopted a policy that if [the record] falls flat on its ass, then we can’t be too mad, because we did what we wanted to do.

You’re touring extensively for the next few months. Will you be playing the new songs?

A couple. We’ll try them out, see how they go. I’m excited to play “Cinema.” We’ve played that one live and the reaction has been pretty good.

The tour is called the “10 For $10 Tour.” What’s that all about?

Basically a friend of mine, Tim Borror, decided he wanted to put together this tour. He picked five hardcore bands who have been a little under the radar, and then five sort of younger bands and he put together this really cool tour to fight economic woes.

Do you think it’s important, especially in this economy, to make sure kids get the most bang for their buck?

Absolutely. I mean, we always try to keep our tickets under $12 and try to have options for our merch, so [the fans] don’t feel like they have to spend $20 on a T-shirt. We’ve always tried to do that; it’s always been something that’s important to us. Actually when we went on tour with Deftones, they wanted us to price match our T-shirts [to theirs] and we didn’t sell merch for over three weeks because we wouldn’t do it.

Why do Poison The Well tour other countries so frequently?

I think it’s important to go to as many places as possible before you die. Early on, we went to Europe and we fell in love with the fact that we could travel around and play our music and people cared. For us, we really enjoy going everywhere. We like being around other people’s cultures and styles. It’s important for people to see other places because I think it makes music better.

What does the future look like for you guys?

For now, there’s just a lot of touring and then we’ll sit down and figure out what we’re going to do. But we don’t always plan ahead. Whatever feels like the right thing to do, we’ll do. And I’m sure in about a year, we’ll all be like, “We should play some new songs.” We’re still going strong. We’re like a bunch of old mules. If you keep whipping us, we’ll keep moving. [Laughs.] alt