This week I Spoke to Gaetan of Cepheide about his other band Rance, if like me you are a fan of Atmospheric Black metal then ya gotta check these guys out! Here’s the interview:
* What does the name Rance mean?
We were looking for a single name or french word. Something simple because this is how we feel the project, that differs from «traditional» or «romantic» black metal aspects. The voice is not omnipresent in the band, we didn’t wanted to be conceptual in order to keep the project really «open». After brainstormings, Rance came to us as an evidence.
Our music is sometimes depressive but always luminous
* You describe Rance as Luminous black metal – please describe to readers who have not heard you before what this means?
«Luminous» was first found during the composition period to name a few caracteristic riffs. Lila wrote it physically for the first time the day we had to play on stage and describe the band to the booker. This word stayed because we felt it as an evidence, and people around us were curious. Our music is sometimes depressive but always luminous, almost positive sometimes and really different from traditional black metal
* Does this differ from your work in Cephiede? Some bands happily include their noisier work and their more atmospheric work on the same albums – why divide the two?
Gaetan : Although both are Atmospheric Black Metal projects, the process and feeling about music is very different. To draw an exaggerated line, you could say that Rance is a live project, while Cepheide is a studio project. What I mean by that is for Cepheide, the composing is done prior to playing. When we get to play, it’s mostly about polishing the details, and enjoy playing the new songs together, but the song is mostly done by the time we enter the rehearsal room. With Rance, it’s the exact opposite. Yann and Lila agree on the first chords, and we play for hours until a structure comes out of it. We have a fairly similar vision of what we want for the dynamic of our songs so they end up feeling “alive” or “instinctive”. The concretization is also different. With Cepheide we very much value the recording process. Tracks are recorded on click, instruments per instruments, and we’re constantly looking for a sound identity. This add up to many hours of work, and we’re extremely exigent about the final result. For Rance, it’s again different. Our first EP was recorded live. The goal was for our tracks to be bearer of emotions, while assuming a more “garage” production. To conclude, I’d say both projects are as pleasing as they are different.
* How did you find the other members of Rance and what do they think of your work on Cephiede?
We quickly met after I moved to Paris. Yann and Lila know each other for a long time. I was actively looking for a band, and we instantly got along, be it musically or personally. Anthony, a friend from Strasbourg, my hometown, took care of vocals on the first EP and our 3 first live shows. Today, the project is mainly instrumental. We mutually respect each others projects, although Rance and Cepheide aren’t closely related on a personal level.
It becomes a moment of total abandon which I have a hard time defining
* How do you find just playing the drums in Rance as you also play guitars and sing in Cephiede – is it more relaxing or?
Gaetan: There are two musical aspects and musical energy that are very different. In Cepheide, there is a opposite force that is quite interesting. There is the melodic aspect of guitar that requires a bit of concentration, or even a strong focus as it’s the songs root, while singing brings to a state of self forgetness, by the energy it takes and the emotions it creates. When singing is exacerbating, it sometimes happens that you’d finish a sentence or a scream and wonder how your body coped with it. It’s quite interesting to wonder about this coordination, how the body reacts when confronted to those two opposite reactions to music.
For Rance, playing the drums and always writing music together allows me to simply be driven by Yann and Lila’s melodies, which is extremely pleasant. Doing so, it happens that the drum patterns change from one day to the next, depending on the feeling of the moment. The physical aspect of drumming is also very important. There are moments of real effort, and when those efforts react in an instinctive way to Yann and Lila’s melodies, it becomes a moment of total abandon which I have a hard time defining, and that’s why each live show with Rance is a very intense experience for me.
* How did you guys record the songs for Rance? Professional studio or a home set up ? Do you record live or is everything layered (drums recorded then guitars then vocals?)
Gaetan : As mentioned earlier, we recorded our first EP like we would play during the rehearsals. We recorded everything together, including vocals, because it was important to us to do it that way, all together
* All of the songs on the EP have peoples names – are they based on actual people or?
Gaetan : Indeed, this often puzzles people, but it was not our goal. First of all, during the band’s first year, the project was instrumental, and with no intention of fitting black metal codes, so the titles just came out naturally, without any question and Lila is very inspired for that.
* Do you intend to do any live shows as Rance? Touring?
Gaetan : Yes, live matters a lot to us. We played a few shows for the release of the demo, and some more are scheduled for the end of the year.
* What kind of feedback have you had on the EP so far?
Gaetan : We had more than we would have hoped for. We had a lot of live offers and support. It’s really important for a first release. We haven’t took the time to prospect for reviews or that kind of things, because we were all very busy on our sides, but we’re going to look into it so that this EP gets to shine a bit more before we release the next one!
This is the role of our EP : push to introspection, to find his own creative impulses
* What is the image you have used on the artwork and does it have a symbolic meaning for Rance?
Lila : This form is abstract. Everyone can get his own interpretation. Concentric shapes may evoke a radiation symbol, a galaxy (see Galaxy du tourbillon, drawn by Lors Rosse, 1845), the “7 cercles du purgatoire” (illustrated by Gustave Doré in La Divine Comédie, Dante), a corridor, or a matrix. Something fruitful and conducive to the opening, a substrate from which spout a creative force. This is the role of our EP : push to introspection, to find his own creative impulses. I grown with Rance music and marked universe for 3 years old. Our music, both dark by the style (black metal) and luminous in its interstices, gave me the answer natural to do this draw ant the technic I used to make it (black ink).
* What can we expect from Rance in 2017? Full length album?
Gaetan : We hope to release something new by the end of 2017. We don’t know yet if this will be a 2 tracks EP or a full length album, but there will definitely be a new release soon!
Walpyrgus was formed in 2012 in Raleigh North Carolina to write, record and perform hard rock / heavy metal music. They’re influenced by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, old Slayer , The Ramones, The Scorpions. Today I got to speak to Scott and Peter from the band – read on
* First off congrats on the album it sounds retro but with a totally fresh spin on it – how long were you guys working on this before you went into the studio?
Peter Lemieux: ‘The Dead of Night’ and ‘We Are the Wolves’ were the first demos I ever heard, so really since the formation of the band!
Scott Waldrop: Yes, Peter had a home studio right there in our jam space so we recorded lots of demos of these songs right when we started the band in 2012. It was about 3 years of long nights in the basement and several gigs in The Carolinas – and at some Fests to “test” the songs in front of a crowd. There were different incarnations of the tunes and we tweaked them several times before eventually going into “Volume 11 Studios” here in Raleigh NC to get the drums and guitar rhythms done. We of course, are all inspired by older bands from 70’s prog to 80’s punk, but we use modern gear.
For instance, Charley and I play through Mesa Boogie amps with modern guitars containing emg pickups. Him and I discussed guitar tone when we started the band – whether we wanted to play Gibson SG’s through old Marshalls or go full “meathead” metal with the sound. So, we opted to use our pointy guitars with sizzle tones and that ethos of “modern tone” verses “old school song-writing” followed us aesthetically unto the album’s completion. Basically, the philosophy was, “Let’s write cool classic metal songs in the vein of the early 80’s masters but let’s take advantage of technology and not make this band a retro novelty by going out of our way to track down vintage gear and record on analog”.
It’s like if Gary Holt from Exodus was hired to come into The Grateful Dead’s practice and whip the guitarists into shape
* How did you write for this album – does it start with a guitar riff? Lyrics? Does everyone bring ideas to the studio or do you rule with an iron fist?
Peter Lemieux: Scott, for the most part would come up with the skeleton tracks, i.e. rough guitar and some vocals! We would flesh out the songs together, at rehearsal, but also on the side with guitar jams and rhythm section practices!
Scott Waldrop: That’s right. I will write a song in my home studio with a drum machine. I’ll do a simple guitar version with my example vocals/lyrics then take it to the band. At band practice, we’ll pick it apart and scrutinize all the tempos, the rhythms, chord progression and fills. I give the guys something simple so that they can all bring their expertise to it. Peter will add all his cool quirky drum fills, Aune will fine-tune the melodies and vocal harmonies, Jim is always the “master” editor usually adding the minutia that give our songs their signature dynamics, and Charley basically just swoops in and polishes our guitar playing up completely. He obsesses over how many time we’ll palm mute on a 16th note and have us bend our Schneker harmonies 100 times until he’s somewhat “okay” with them, ha ha. He gives me the kick in the ass I need to NOT be a sloppy hippy of a musician. It’s like if Gary Holt from Exodus was hired to come into The Grateful Dead’s practice and whip the guitarists into shape, ha ha.
* How was the recording process? Did you guys use a lot of analog gear or was it all plugging right into the desk?
Scott Waldrop: No, we were in a proper studio for most of it but at the same time we did record in Pro-Tools. We didn’t use analog at all but Tom went to great lengths to make the album sound as organic as possible. It’s funny – we were tempted by those “reels” as both of the main studios we recorded the main tracks in down here in Raleigh NC have working vintage reel to reel machines. First, we went to Volume 11 Studios (owned by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity) so it’s like the C.O.C. “nest” in there – full of all kinds of amazing boutique effects, amps and vintage gear.
Mike Shaffer of local thrash legends Blatant Disarray engineered the drums and rhythm guitars. He even played some rhythm on “Torch” during the solo section which he didn’t get credit for on the liner notes so I’ll give it to him here, ha ha. Recording everything in that studio was incredibly fun. There’s such a cool atmosphere and history in that room.
It’s rad being surrounded by Corrosion of Conformity’s road cases and there’s this guitar stand Motorhead gave them, guitars Metallica gave them etc. Anyway, then we took the album a few blocks away over to long-time collaborator and Twisted Tower Dire engineer/vocal coach John E. Wooten of Widow and just a long-time friend. He’s the guy I call if we need help with vocals or if I need help moving a piece of furniture. That said, recording vocals with him is pretty much the “fun stuff” being in a band is all about.
When we get together in the studio and start working we joke around between takes, laugh at ourselves, and you know- it’s like we’re still 20 years old. Wooten did however, wind up going to college for audio engineering and was mentored for a long time by producer James Lugo (if you google this guy his resume/client list is insane. I went over to their studio one night to help fix a cable and they were recording vocals for a Disney movie, ha ha ha. Anyway, so Wooten helped us produce the vocals. Many of the vocal melodies are his ideas and he probably should have received a little more “defined” credit on the liner notes as well.
He (Wooten) sang with us a lot on the album too on the back-up vocals. After vox, Tom Phillips took over orchestrating keyboards and editing EVERYTHING. He painstakingly nudged things bit by bit to keep the organic integrity of the album. The hours he spent doing this were unbelievable but it’s the main thing that holds the album together as sounding “vintage”. Once you “snap to the grid” it sounds like modern robotic production which turns a lot of people off including myself. I really wanted something between “Powerslave” and “Nevermind The Bullocks” when I referenced the overall ”sonic wall” I wanted to hear. After Tom was done putting it through the “While Heaven Wept” ringer (which was an epic process to say the least), he sent it over to long-time trustee Kevin 131 of Assembly Line studios to mix it (again, look at his resume – the guy’s a bad ass) and finally over to Kevin’s mastering counterpart Bill Wolf to give the album its final polish. And there you go! That’s a how a Walpyrgus album is made.
* You and bassist Jim were in OCT 31 together right – how did you guys meet? There has to be a good story there!
Scott Waldrop: I’ve never got this question, ha ha. It is a good one! Jim and I grew in the DC Metal scene and we were both Deceased fans. I saw his band Springheel Jack play with Deceased one time (we must have both been under 18 at the time) at the legendary Safari Club and I knew one day I would “steal” him ha ha. He was a totally awesome bass player back then already. He was this super tall and gangly kid with hair down to his ass and looked like Cliff Burton. I thought, “I need dudes like this in my band!”
Anyway, we knew each other for a while from the scene and when October 31 needed a singer Tony Taylor (TTD) tried out and got the gig. I think Tony kind of talked King into bringing me along as a “side package” because they wanted a rhythm guitar player after losing Kevin Lewis. Tony knew I was a big Deceased and that it was kind of like a “dream come true” for me to play in a band with King. So, Jim and I wound up riding together a lot on October 31 trips because I drove this little ford ranger pickup that only seats two.
We’d haul the gear in the back and put the other guys in Brian’s car. Jim and I were immediate kindred spirits with very similar senses of humor and tastes in music so having each other’s company made those long rides across the Midwest tolerable.
So, yea, we have like 20+ years- worth of voices and comic routines we entertain ourselves with on car rides to this day. Our bandmates pretty much just sit back and listen to us talk nonsense in weird voices for hours on end. I suppose the most pertinent bit of information is that him and I discovered early on that we had a very natural-flowing relationship when it comes to writing music. It’s very easy for us to sit down with guitars and get creative and we know each other’s weird quirks, as well as likes and dislikes. He can analyze seconds of me playing a guitar riff, then say, “Keep the first ‘Dead Kennedys’ dinga-ling, keep chugging on ‘Seek & Destroy” and do the ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ funk stop,” – and I’ll know exactly what he’s talking about.
Woman universally love him
* How did you find vocalist Jonny? Historically for so many bands, everyone spends years learning how to play guitar, or drums, how to write songs whatever and many singers are just like “yeah let me try that” whereas real singers like Jonny usually are very hard to find
Scott Waldrop: Jim Hunter was the talent scout that found Jonny, ha ha. He called me one day back around ’07 and was like, “Man, there’s this band of teenagers in a band called Viper I just saw last night and they’re way better than us!” We were looking for a singer at the time so Jim insisted I go check them out. So, I went out and saw Viper play at The Berkley here in Raleigh and was amazed by this guy’s stage presence and voice. Jonny is one of those guys who just resonates good vibes to everyone he comes across. He’s very magnetic which is the most important aspect of a lead singer. He’s the sort of person who’s just great at whatever he tries to do. He was a great athlete in high school. He knows how to look cool and present himself aesthetically that’s a little more over-the-top than most be never seeming to appear as though any effort is put into it. Woman universally love him and nonetheless he’s married to his high school girlfriend. I don’t know what the hell it is but the man has some swagger and some sort of “it” factor that is very special. So those are some of the things I love about the guy and why I like having him as our lead singer.
I’m just glad he wanted to be friends with me, ha ha ha. He’s like this super charming, talented, beam of light who helps me channel my creative ideas. So, yea, we were just EXTREMELY lucky to find him when we did. You know, aside from all of his natural talent & mojo, he grew up playing bass & singing in his Dad’s church. The Aune’s are a very interesting and tight family. They’d been grooming him to be an awesome musician since he could walk & talk basically. He knows music theory from stacking hymn harmonies as a second nature. I’ve played with guys that have formal classical music training/college degrees like Tom Phillips and Jonny can have a conversation about counterpoints, Mixolydian, and minor 3rds with the best of them. I remember his Dad saying at his wedding that one of the things about his son that amazed him was his ability to excel at the things he loved to do. They had photos of him being projected on the wall from when he was this badass high school athlete, then there were photos of him when music came into his life and he was starting his own bands, and then lots of photos of him and his (now) wife & mother of his child Nicole growing up together. My point is, he’s a very focused, intelligent, loyal, dedicated guy. He’s the architype of the sort of person I want as a friend and a bandmate. I never worried about him. He’s solid.
* In my opinion, its great seeing younger guys like yourselves playing almost a throwback to 80s style metal – tons of great guitar parts but also super tuneful songs. How did you guys get into this style of playing?
Scott Waldrop: As far as “music career” shelf life is concerned – I’m way passed my expiration date and indeed am older than dirt! Me, Tom, Jim, and Charley are in our 40’s. You must have been looking at Carlos, Peter or Jonny, ha ha ha. Thank you though! I feel young physically and mentally. Well, Charley I met back in the mid 90’s and he grew up with the whole Raleigh North Carolina scene – bands like Corrosion of Conformity, & Confessor.
Me, Jim & Tom grew up in the 80’s/90’s in the Washington DC music scene which entailed everything from punk/hardcore like Fugazi, Bad Brains, Minor Threat and the massive death/thrash metal scene centering around the community King Fowley of Deceased created. Up in D.C. there was ALSO the whole Pentagram / Maryland Doom Scene. You know- like most of the Hellhound bands were from the DC/Baltimore area like Revelation (Jim’s old band), Iron Man, Internal Void etc.
In the city there was some awesome grass roots seminal heavy music & punk we were lucky to be a part of and witness. But a few miles out in the suburbs there was something else going on. Kids were watching MTV and seeing the California hair bands. In 1984 my neighborhood was full of teenagers who had their bedroom walls covered in Motley Crue & Van Halen posters. That music was like teenage religion back then so it made a big impression on me.
Peter Lemieux: Believe it or not, my dad got me into playing the old school traditional metal! He took me to all the concerts while I was growing up and we’ve gone to see each other’s bands play countless times! The Dude plays Tony Iommi in a Black Sabbath Tribute for, Pete’s sake!
I’m budgeting time between writing music and perusing new horizons like the world of ultrarunning and charity work
* Are you aware of bands like Sumerlands and Eternal Champion who are also kind of in this modern retro genre?
Scott Waldrop: I’ve heard of Eternal Champion and I know this genre has been stirred up and that it’s simmered repeatedly since the mid 90’s so it’s never really gone too far out of fashion in the grand scheme of things. I used to be very involved in meeting and fraternizing with bands and I’m sure there’s lots of amazing talent out there, but now that I’m 41 I like to spend my time differently. I don’t drink alcohol anymore and just prefer to stay away from too much nightlife when possible. It’s not that I don’t care or want to encourage younger people to carry on this music or feel jaded in any way. I just have but so many hours in my day and days left in my life so I’m budgeting time between writing music and perusing new horizons like the world of ultrarunning and charity work (not to mention most importantly my beloved wife and teenage son). So, yea, I know about them but don’t go out of my way to listen to new music and I do wish them well. I supposed I’m just acting my age. I’m still and extreme person but those characteristics of my personality just manifest in different ways rather than me going out and getting wild and crazy. When I play with newer bands I always very much enjoy seeing younger people playing this music and loving it as I do – it proves that the genre is timeless which is a beautiful thing. When I look around at all these younger bands it makes me feel like heavy metal has won. When I say that I mean that heavy metal has carved out a place for itself in popular culture. It’s universal in its energy so new generations keep tapping into it. It’s here to stay. I think metal will (in the long run) be a very defined genre separate from rock, rap, blues etc. It has its own culture which is ever-flowing, so kudos to bands like Sumerlands (I love that name) and Eternal Champion for taking “carrying the sword with a burning skull impaled on its tip”. That run-on phrase sounded cooler and more metal than “carrying the torch”.
I’m cool with a lot of wiccan ideas and I’m very much into spirituality
* Am I right in thinking Walyrgus is a variation of the word Walpurgis ? In Germanic folklore, Walpurgisnacht literally means “Witches’ Night”. Are any of the band practicing pagans? if so what faith?
Scott Waldrop: Yes, we wanted the band to be about occult and supernatural topics. No, we aren’t into anything like that at all. It’s all about dark fantasy metaphor because the words involved in its general vernacular sound cool. I’m cool with a lot of wiccan ideas and I’m very much into spirituality but I’m my own animal. I navigate ethereal matters on intuition and through meditation. I don’t identify with any religion or group in-particular. I feel like to be in touch with spirit you need to remove yourself from religion or groups. Too much vernacular and dogma blur the focus of the mission which is to know spirit and not to belong to a secular group. We’re all stardust that will succumb to the same final singularity. The second you ever arrive at any feeling like, “Okay, I’ve got this, there’s nothing more to learn or understand”, you’ve cut yourself off from the possibility of further growth. Health and wellness have become of paramount importance to me as a sober alcoholic. I think it’s incumbent upon on all of us to continuously evolve as individuals and a species. That entails letting go of ego and seeking mindful consciousness as much as we can access it. Religion groups with which we identity our spiritual or philosophical perspectives is all too often fashion. What’s worse is conviction, as it drives a wedge between people with conflicting beliefs. So Walpyrgus is just nonsensical tales of witchery and cartoon Armageddon. We’re no less or more serious than Scooby Doo is about catching ghosts. Let’s keep it real! I’ve seen what those dudes look like in the Renaissance Festivals. You think those boys could hold their own in The Viking Age??? Those were some scary times. You could legally walk up to some dude and be like, “I want your house, your wife, your children, …and I’m going to fight you to the death for them.” And if the dude killed you, he got to keep all your stuff fair & square! So, no, there’s like some Pagan “nature energy stuff” I relate to but I’m rather glad I don’t have to make my way in The Dark Ages. I like doing 100-mile foot races. That’s my idea of channeling my inner pagan-toughness. That’s where I find a lot of my spirituality. I’ve been to a lot of conventions, festivals – even people’s houses who were practicing wiccans, purported witches, and voodoo practitioners and it felt way too much like Cosplay to me. I’m like the saxophone player from “The Lost Boys” ‘cause “I still BELIEVE”.
It’s pronounced “WALRUS PENIS”
* While we are on the subject of the name – what’s the correct pronunciation and who came up with it?
Scott Waldrop: It’s pronounced “WALRUS PENIS”. Okay got that joke out of the way. The proper way to say our name is: “WALL PURRRR GUS” That’s “Wall” as in “The Great Wall of China” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” if you like. Then “purrrr” as in the sound a cat makes. And lastly “GUS” as a dude named Gus or “Gus G.” if we want to get all Heavy Metal Nerdy about it.
* You guys are from North Carolina right? How’s the metal scene down there? The Carolinas have a long history of producing great bands: COC, Confessor, Nile etc. Any idea on why the 2 states are so prolific considering you don’t have the population numbers like say California, NY or Florida does?
Scott Waldrop: Yea I think it’s because of the college scene down here. There’s a huge art/music culture which has existed here for a long time. You have just in one small area some of The American South’s top colleges clustered very close together in the Raleigh area. I’m talking about North Carolina State, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Duke. And then you also have a bunch of very old and venerable smaller colleges like Peace College, Meredith College and so on and so forth. There’s a constant influx of intellectual people flowing in and out of the area so there’s never been any shortage of clubs to play at or bands to play with. There’s a special “energy” here that’s very conducive to playing music. For instance, in downtown Raleigh there is one giant building that houses a club called The Maywood which is a great nightclub for metal/punk/indy bands. In the same building, there is a studio owned by Mike Dean from COC called “Volume 11” studios which is famous around here. Also, still in this same building – there is this massive labyrinth of rehearsal spaces so you can walk through there on any given night and like here like 20 bands rehearsing at once. COC and The Connells are in there sometimes. Also, downtown one of our main landmarks is an outdoor amphitheater you see as you drive through the city called The Red Hat. Slayer played outdoors there last week so all of Raleigh was being shook by “Angel of Death” ha ha. This amphitheater has a mosaic of a giant oak tree (our city’s symbol) which softly changes color like one of those meditation salt rock lights (if you have any idea what the f**k I’m talking about by that). It’s a very giant breathtaking art installation which really accentuates the city’s skyline and I know it must be surreal for artists on stage to look out on this see of faces under this trippy flickering mural. I saw Blondie there while there was a full moon over the buildings, over the hue-shifting mural, and over the amphitheater full of faces dancing on grass. She commented on how magical our city is. I turned around to take stock of what she must have been taking in from the stage and I, “Yea our city is pretty damn awesome.” Just within Raleigh, you have tons of clubs to play in like Slim’s, King’s, Deep South, The Pour House, Southland Ballroom, Berkley, Black Flower, The Lincoln Theater, The Ritz etc. etc. That’s not even talking about Durham and Chapel Hill which as two close-by cities with lots of other clubs. So, yea, we have it good down here culturally as a place for musicians to fraternize. Also, you know – when you’re talking about the music scene down here and you only mention metal, you’re only “scraping the surface” of the actual music scene because Indy Rock, Indy Folk, & Punk down here are pretty much everything. There’s a whole radio station devoted to it and of course the scenes cross-pollinate a lot. I think also it’s slow-paced down here compared to DC or Atlanta.
In the Carolinas, we pretty much grow crops, go to college, brew craft beer, swim in the ocean and hike in the mountains. I’d say our state is a fairly “existentially aware” sort of place as the culturally there seems to be an emphasis on enjoying life and you know – not giving too much of as shit about what nightmares are transpiring in The White House. There is room to breathe here and really think about art and music. This wonderful state is a place people come to visit for Holidays to have fun. It’s a major sports destination. It has the best beaches on the East Coast of North America and the most beautiful mountains (The Smokey Mountains) in the East – google photos of them, they are right out of a J.R.R. Tolkien story with their ever-rising mists. Our beaches are the cleanest, full of beautiful shells, ancient lighthouses, and boast most of the best surfing on the East Coast. To the west in Asheville you have some of the best mountain-loving hippy right wing liberal culture in the country. In the middle of the state, you have Charlotte and Raleigh which are major metropolitan hubs generating big income, sports, and influential people.
To the east you have a beach culture so distinct and desirable people come from all over this giant country and Canada just to spend a little time here. I think all the aforementioned is why you have such a perfect breeding ground for bands to be born out of. We live in a place that celebrates life and places value on the quality living and not necessarily “how much you can get done before you drop dead”. I was born here in North Carolina so I have to give it a big “shout out” and I believe everything I just said despite my inherent predilection for this place. This is my home and I love it. Great things manifest here!
* Have you guys done much touring on this album yet? If so what has the response been so far?
Scott Waldrop: We haven’t toured. The furthest this band has gone out of The Carolinas was Chicago for Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse and also back to Chicago this year when that fest became The Legions of Metal Fest. We’re going to Ventura California this October for Frost and Fire III https://www.facebook.com/frostandfiremetalfest/ (Thanks Jarvis!). The response has been quite good from all the reviews I’ve read. Of course, there are bad reviews of our music because not everyone will like your music but I’ve never heard us be accused of be sloppy or uninspired on stage. I’ve got a great team and I practice guitar a lot to keep up with those dudes. It helps that Carlos has been touring with Weedeater too because when he comes home and we do local gigs, he’s really in shape on the drums. People seem to consistently say the band is “tight” and that our enthusiastic energy is infectious on the crowd.
So, that’s exactly what we set out to do in the very beginning back in 2012. I want people to watch Walpyrgus live and think, “These guys belong together, they look like a gang, you can tell they work towards a common goal, they have vision, they’re a team, there are no weak links, no one looks like they wish they weren’t on stage, etc. etc.” Yea, I want you to think ALL that, ha ha ha. You know when you see a band and they’re great but there’s that one person that just looks like they don’t quite belong and that the band had to “settle” on this individual as a bandmate? I want us to never have to be like that.
You know, there’s always that opening band were each member looks like a very dedicated metalhead musician with sweeping chops and wild hair and all that… BUT they’ve got that one guy: a mediocre bassist who’s “competent” but playing with a pick. He’s wearing khaki Old Navy cargo shorts and some “regular person” T-shirt (maybe a well-worn white “Hard Rock Café” Las Vegas” shirt). We’d like to avoid that. It’s painful for the audience to look at something like that. It’s awkward for everyone involved.
In Walpyrgus as a rule, each member is integral to our live show. When we started this band one of the points was to be a great live band. When Peter left it was crushingly sad for us as I could not think of anyone that was worthy of replacing him down here – at least anyone that I knew personally already and trusted. There was only one guy I was willing to replace Peter with (and this was Peter’s suggestion too) – Carlos Denogean from Salvación. The only problem was that Carlos lives 2.5 ours east on the ocean in Wilmington. Still, it was worth us to travel to have him to hold our integrity as powerhouse line-up. That’s not to say he doesn’t sacrifice to drive to us as well because he does and we much appreciate it. Carlos kept this band alive.
* What can we expect from Walpyrgus for the rest of the year?
Peter Lemieux: You can expect to see us in Ventura, California the weekend of Oct 6-8 at Frost and Fire III with tons of other great bands! (including Twisted Tower Dire featuring Jonny, Scott, AND Jim!!!)
Scott Waldrop: We’ve got a very cassette version of “Walpyrgus Nights” coming out. Watch for announcements on that if you’re a tape person. I’ve got lots of new songs demoed. If Enrico at Cruz Del Sur wants another Walpyrgus album we’re going to start putting it together. Jonny and Charley have young kids so that makes things trickier with timing things. I have a teenager, several other music projects, and a whole “career” (if you will), around my distance running & charity work so I need real momentum or enthusiasm for projects (running or music) to justify focusing my time on them. I spend so much time in the studio and out on trails training that budgeting my time & sleep while not letting my family life suffer, has become an obsessive science.
That said, I’m sitting back and watching how “Walpyrgus Nights” is being received throughout the year to gauge whether or not The Universe is pushing me in the direction of a second album or just allowing the legacy of this one great (in my opinion) set of songs to stay intact & unblemished. We know if we do a follow it cannot be half-hearted as we put what I would call an almost immeasurable amount of thought and energy into these songs. If we tried to rush a follow up without enough forethought I’m sure fans would notice and may be disappointed. So, as with everything – the future of the band is tentative but generally bright.
* Any final words?
Scott Waldrop: Yes, thank you so much for taking interest in us and letting us talk. Yes, as an end note to plug my charity – I’m an ambassador runner for The Herren Project. We raise money and awareness around mental illness and addiction which is born from it. We want to break the stigma society holds around these topics. It shouldn’t be considered weak or embarrassing to ask for help when you or a loved one suffers from something like alcoholism.
No, this sort disease is not like cancer – it is psychological and we humans don’t know much about our own brains. In cosmology we pontificate and hypothesize about the implications of dark energy yet we unable to quantify our own consciousness!? I believe these problems (mental illness & addiction) shouldn’t be considered taboo and that people with mental illness need to be helped – not be made pariahs or unnecessarily incarcerated.
Obviously, drugs and alcohol effect many of us “music people” and for some of us the day comes when the party ends and we find ourselves alone in dark places. If you relate to this please check my page www.ultrarunvegan.com There is help. You can also connect with me personally on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at the handle @ultrarunvegan …As for WALPYRGUS, you can also connect w/ us with the handle @walpyrgus on FB & Twitter. Better yet – you can find links to all our social media, book us for shows, buy our merch, buy & listen to our music www.walpyrgus.com THANK YOU & GOOD BYE (FOR NOW)!
* First off congratulations on the amazing chart success you guys achieved with Nightmare Logic. Were you surprised with all the chart placing’s that you got?
To be honest, I didn’t know we were on any charts! What charts are or were we on? That’s cool to be on any chart, I guess. Unless it’s like your hospital chart or something and you have cancer, that wouldn’t be a good chart to be on.
If you give a shit about your record then it takes a very high level of focus to sit and write the songs
* It’s been 4 years between Manifest Decimation and your newly released “Nightmare Logic” – why the big gap? what was going on?
We were touring the entire time. If you give a shit about your record then it takes a very high level of focus to sit and write the songs, so we needed time dedicated to where all we could do was eat, sleep, and write the songs. So we had a lot of tours and life just going on, it took us about 3 years after Manifest was released to start writing again.
* This is your 2nd record with Arthur Rizk right? What would you say are the biggest differences in what you guys did on Nightmare Logic to Manifest Decimation?
We knew what we were doing this time around. We learned a lot, recording MD. For me and Blake, it was our first LP we’d ever worked on. It was a huge learning experience. So since then, Arthur has been producing records and he’s only getting better at his craft. We wanted to “trim the fat” from the songs, and making sure this record was like a polished circular buzzsaw. strong and clean in the center of it, but still rough and razor sharp around the edges. Personally, I was a better vocalist now. We were wiser and older and knew what we wanted to improve on from the last record, and i think we accomplished that.
* This is your 2nd album with Southern Lord right? How did you come about getting signed to such a legendary label?
Greg Anderson, founder/owner of SL had heard of us through a friend. He checked out the music we had, we had just released the self-titled 7”, he liked it and wanted to sign us. So we said yes. It was really very simple.
* Even though you guys are all relatively young I’m hearing some classic metal/hardcore influences in your songs? How did you guys get into such old school bands as your influences?
There’s very few good modern bands our there that really excite us. We don’t think very many modern thrash or metal bands are doing a very good job, so we’re writing songs we want to hear. I don’t consider us young though. We’ve been a band for almost 10 years, and I’m 31. Our youngest member is 26. So most of us are 80’s babies, and I can remember growing up with hearing bands like metallica, sepultura, napalm death, slayer, anthrax, etc… I had a neighborhood friend, and he had an older brother who listened to lots of punk and metal bands so that was probably my first real introduction into the harder underground, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
* Can you give us a brief history of how the band came about for those readers who may not be familiar with Power Trip?
We came together in February, 2008. Blake heard I was wanting to start a heavy NYHC influenced crossover style band, and he hit me up to jam. I didn’t really know him, and he was really young in comparison – I was 22, he was 16 – so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. His parents lived in the same suburb as my parents, so one weekend when I came to visit from college, we got together and wrote pretty much the whole demo in that first session. That was the spark.
* Seems like every time I turn around you guys are on another tour – what’s been the best tour you have played so far?
Hard to say, there’s been so many good ones, but I think I would pick our recent headliner that we did in support of Nightmare Logic. Every single show was great, not one bad one. For every city we played, it was the best show we had performed in that city before. It was our first time headlining a tour off of a record we just released, to be doing that whole thing for the first time felt really great. It was exhausting, but it was the best reactions we’ve ever had, everywhere we went.
What happens in the van, stays in the van, man
* Any crazy tour stories yet? They say you experience more one year on the road then the average person does in their lifetime.
What happens in the van, stays in the van, man. I will say this: I do want to one day write a book, or a comic book, or a movie, or anything that’s a comprehensive, accurate portrayal of touring. I just want to get all my friends together, tell tour stories for hours, and then we construct a narrative around that. It would be so easy to write, and if you layout the premise well enough, you could do sequels because you’d have so much material, so many stories.
* Touring with bands like Iron Reagan and Napalm Death you must learn a lot – what’s the one bit of advice that you would give yourselves from 2011 if you could go back in time?
2011? It would have been to work harder at MD. I would have given ourselves advice on recording. I don’t think we put out a bad record, but looking back there’s a lot of things I would change.
We always have a great time in Springfield, Missouri
* You guys have any favorite tour towns yet? I know some bands prefer to play places like say South Dakota over NYC as the fans are so appreciative that you made the trip out to play for them, unlike say a “jaded” NYC audience.
I really love Texas still. Texas is #1. I really like playing NYC, the two times we went to Russia, Moscow and St. Petersburg, have been incredible. I’ve really liked our shows in Finland and most of the UK. Toronto and Boston are both really good to us. LA and SF, too. In relation to the South Dakota vs NYC thing, we always have a great time in Springfield, Missouri. The shows aren’t huge, but the kids are just so awesome and energetic that it doesn’t matter.
* How’s the local Dallas scene these days? Are their many bands playing old school Thrash like you guys there? (For some reason I imagine you guys probably still have some nu metal bands knocking about the local scene…)
To my knowledge there really isn’t any other bands from our area trying to do the thrash/crossover thing, but I’m also not too strongly in touch with the modern scene around here. I do like this band called Creeping Death. They’re kind of like us, in that they started as a hardcore band with metal influences, and now have morphed into a full on metal band. But their style is straight up death metal.
South America, Australia, Japan… I want to go anywhere that’ll have us
* Any countries on your wish list of places to play that you haven’t played yet?
I really want to tour South America, Australia, Japan… I want to go anywhere that’ll have us. The world is both big and small and there’s still so much to see.
* What can we expect from Power Trip for the rest of 2017?
Business as usual – just touring, touring, touring
* Any final words?
Thank you for the support, and asking unique questions! You are a good interviewer.
After a lot of back and forth – I finally had a chance to talk to the guys in Loss this week – in case you do not know these guys pretty much made the “doom album of the year” with “Horizonless” now go read this interview and learn something new
* First off guys congrats on the new album , what was it like to work with Billy Anderson?
Tim Lewis- Thank you and I can say with Billy you will witness a lot of caffeine consumption.
That mixed along-side of making a slow record actually turned out incredibly well. Overall, we knew we were writing a more dynamic record this time around and Billy helped accentuate various dynamic moments throughout the record. He allowed our creative flow to take the reins, to be honest. It was by far the most productive and sane experience for us in the studio. He is a great producer to work alongside of and has a “one liner” for every sentence spoken in the room.
Billy took one look at the gear list and was sold on moving
* How did Billy take to Nashville – if I am not mistaken doesn’t he have his own studio in the Pacific Northwest? What was the decision on bringing him there as opposed to you guys recording at his home base?
TL- Yes, Billy’s studio is located in Portland, OR.
We recorded the album at Welcome to 1979 here in Nashville and the name says it all when it comes to the gear at the studio. Billy took one look at the gear list and was sold on moving forward with doing the album here.
* Billy is known for recording bands live – is this how you guys prefer to record or is it something you guys were totally comfortable with?
John Anderson- All of our songs are written, arranged, and repeatedly performed in our
rehearsal space live, so recording them live is a natural step. That said, hearing everybody that’s standing around you in headphones, while their amps are isolated in various locations throughout the building, can take some adjustment, but we’d done it before.
The live scene has exploded here lately
* Nashville isn’t really known for its metal scene – is there even one there these days?
JA- Nashville, as a whole, is growing at an alarming rate these days, so every scene is growing right now, along with the population. We’ve become the “It City,” according to various publications, so the live scene has exploded here lately, with almost too many options on a daily basis. And, yes, that has brought us some metal shows and tours that would never have happened here five years ago.
* The band has been going for about 12-13 years now right? What’s the trick for longevity? Especially when most bands don’t last 5 years?
TL- First I would say it’s not a trick at all. It’s honoring what this band stands for. We have
always said that “if any member of LOSS were to leave for whatever reason, LOSS would be finished”. The course in which we compose and arrange these songs helps reflect the musical aesthetic of our very different personalities. We are true to what LOSS is. LOSS is four men telling various truths of what we see in ourselves and the world around us.
We feel free to ignore the rules
and allow the songs to take sharp turns
* It’s actually really hard to play so slow and still be interesting – what’s the secret to doing so?
JA- Dynamics are the key to remaining interesting, for us. Rather than adhere to any prescribed formula for what “this type of music” is supposed to sound like, we feel free to ignore the rules and allow the songs to take sharp turns, if that feels right to us. We’re actually not slow all the time, which I think helps us to stand out, or at least not bore ourselves. There is also an emphasis on melody in this band. There has to be feeling behind the slow passages, or they will lack atmosphere.
* You guys singing a lot on death and dying? What’s the closest you have come to death so far?
TL – For myself I have had my life threatened by disease and have moved forward from it, for now. Most of us in life have all had close calls or threats. How one chooses to acknowledge the weight of what death truly is, in my opinion, can define whether the mental wielding of death is actually a proven truth or simply an illusion.
* What’s was the doom band that really turned you on to the Genre? I remember buying Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium, so slow and so crushing. That did it for me
TL- For myself and everyone in LOSS, Black Sabbath will always be such a huge influence on the feel of what later grew into the doom genre but, the first record that I bought that really opened me up to the specific genre of “doom metal” was when I purchased Candlemass’ Nightfall on cassette at the ripe age of 16. So many people at that time hated the record because it wasn’t speed or thrash metal and I was absolutely obsessed with it. It was like listening to magic.
JA- For me, I would cite My Dying Bride as the band that first sparked my interest.
* I would imagine the “talent pool” for doom metal musicians in Nashville compared to Country musicians – how did you guys find each other?
TL – I had moved to Nashville from Dallas and met Mike through the underground metal radio show he had at the time. He was already friends with John and Jay. Mike, John and myself started discussing the possibility of a band and developing its structure through our past and current struggles. After less than a week of discussing it, they introduced me to Jay for the first time as well as asking his interest in forming this doomed assembly.
If you’re going to visit Nashville, don’t go to Broadway or 2nd Avenue
* Do you guys play much locally? Last time I was in Nashville it was a Tuesday night and all the bars downtown had world class bands playing in every bar but they were all country! Is it hard to get gigs locally?
JA- We prefer not to wear out our welcome with local shows. Playing locally every weekend, or even every month, sets a lot of bands up for diminishing returns. People get burned out, they take your appearances for granted, or they start to feel like it’s more of an obligation than an event. By all means, if your crowds keep growing, go for it, but with us, we play a very specific kind of music, made for a very specific mood. We don’t make a very good weekend party band. And, if you’re going to visit Nashville, don’t go to Broadway or 2nd Avenue unless you want to see country bands. That area is paid-for and marketed-to the tourists, who you can easily identify by their cowboy hats.
* Speaking to locals in Nashville, they said the city is rapidly transforming with so many people relocating there from all over the country. Can you see Loss staying in Nashville or has the band ever talked about relocating?
TL – I love to travel and explore so I would never say “never.”
Either to a major city or somewhere more remote?
TL – Remote
You couldn’t help but feel
everything in that room
* You guys are not one of these bands that lives on the road – but what’s been your favorite gig played to date and why?
TL- I would say in Berlin with Worship. That gig was insane and so many great people and the overall gut nature to it. Mike and Daniel (Doommonger) doing vocals together was sick.
JA- Yes, that final show of our European tour (in Berlin) sticks out for me as well, and it goes to show that the best concerts are not always the ones in the biggest venues. Everything was right in our face that night, and the place was crowded with maniacs. You couldn’t help but feel everything in that room, like there was no barrier between band and audience. That said, our show a few years ago at Maryland Death Fest was also amazing, to look out on such a vast ocean of faces.
* What more can we expect from you guys in 2017?
JA- Holy Mountain is about to issue some new shirts for us, which will be available in their web store soon. Profound Lore did a really cool longsleeve of the album artwork, and to answer a popular question, yes, there will be a short sleeve version of that same design, as well as some others that have yet to be revealed. We currently have some shows lined up for the fall, and we’re working on what will happen after that.
Its not often you get younger bands who’s skills are so good they can play like they are geezers from the 80’s glory days of metal (Sumerlands and Eternal Champion are two that spring to mind) I have to admit I first heard about these guys on the news as their good friend who did some backing vocals for them is a politician and his enemies falsely accused him and by default the band of being Nazis (due to runic s’s they had in their logic) but after seeking them out and listening to their tunes I became a fan – today I spoke with their guitarist Matt – read on!
* Congrats on the album its killer – how old are you guys? As you definitely are well versed in classic metal riffs and leads
Cheers! We’re all approaching our mid-30s. So when we were first getting into metal we were listening to 80s and early 90s rock/metal. Even the cartoons, kid’s TV shows and computer games around that time were unintentionally metal! So I think that subconsciously had a big influence on why we were drawn to awesome cheesy metal riffs and harmonised guitar solos.
* Can you give us a brief history of the band? There really isn’t that much online about you guys
We’ve all played together in previous band over the years; I used to play in a tech-metal band called Tangaroa with Si (drummer) between 1998 – 2008. I also played in a band called 222 with Si. There have been smaller, more unknown projects me Si and Paul(guitar) have been involved in.
After years of trying to push myself creatively, trying to push myself to write unusual, unconventional metal with crazy time signatures, discordant bizarre scales, I wanted to write music purely for fun. I wanted to have fun with all the metal clichés that created the foundation of my guitar playing. Pay homage to all the influences that shaped my guitar playing style at an early age.
It was late 2015, Paul and I started to get together every weekend, we’d drink his crazy homebrew and play guitar. We had no goals other than wanting to write music for fun! There were times when we were jamming ideas and we’d both have to stop in hysterics because one of us would throw in a ridiculously cheesy harmony or melody!
I’d take the ideas back home, start creating song structures, write accompanying synth parts and program drum ideas.
We inevitably got Si involved and he started learning the drum parts. Soon after we asked Rob if he wanted to take on vocal duties. We’d worked with Rob in a covers band/party band called Stephen Hawkwind.
* What bands got you into metal growing up?
Originally it was a lot of 80s and early 90s rock metal that you’d typically expect; Especially Iron Maiden and Guns n Roses for me… Metallica, Megadeth, Ozzy, Sabbath, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Slayer, Queen, AC/DC, Dio, Kiss, Def Leppard, Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Motorhead, Meatloaf, Pantera.
Then came the mid-90s – most metallers won’t admit their musical guilty pleasures from around that time haha!
In the late 90s and onwards our musical tastes drastically expanded, we started getting into a lot of extreme and experimental styles of metal.
* How many years have you being playing guitar and did you take lessons at all or all self taught?
I started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old, I had guitar lessons for the first year then I was self-taught. So I’ve been playing 22 years!! I think I should be a lot better considering I’ve been playing for 22 years (!!!) but I reached a stage about 10 years ago where I felt comfortable with my technical abilities and have enjoyed focusing on creativity and writing.
We wanted our artwork to tick a lot of the cheesy metal stereotype boxes
* How did you come up with the idea for the album cover art? Who painted it for you? What’s the feedback been like?
He-Man!!! Haha! That’s the majority of the feedback we’ve had!! We wanted our artwork to tick a lot of the cheesy metal stereotype boxes; swords, castles, buff metal warrior, dragons, skulls, lightning…
The He-Man similarities weren’t intentional, but it goes back to what I mentioned earlier how we’re obviously unconsciously influenced by 80s culture!
The artwork was done by a friend of ours, Andy Sykes, AKA Hexjibber. We wanted the artwork to reflect the music; to be on the blurred line of – is this serious or not?! A lot of people seem to ‘get it’ and have said they really like the artwork.
They had an agenda and they weren’t going to let facts get in the way of a good smear story, right?!
* So what was the story with that accusation that you guys were nazis? Storm in a teacup? Political assassination of your mate or what?
Yeah, a blatant smear campaign! The tabloid scum were happy to throw us under a bus to get to Richard Burgon!!
We’ve known Richard Burgon (politician/Shadow Justice Secretary/Labour MP for East Leeds) for a long time. He’s a huge metal fan and genuinely decent, honest guy. He used to put on an all-dayer in Leeds that Tangaroa used to play every year.
A few months back we went to see Gojira in Leeds. Rick was asking about Dream Troll and asked if he could do a guest spoken-word piece on the album. I immediately agreed, not only because I love his political speeches but also because of the absurdity of the Shadow Justice Secretary doing a guest piece on a metal album by a band called Dream Troll!!!
So before I explain the accusation I’ll give you some context.
Last year, we were posting song names on Facebook, replacing the word ‘roll’ with ‘troll’ …Silly wordplay:
God gave rock and troll to you… long live rock n’ troll… you can’t kill rock and troll… We sold our soul for rock and troll… We built this city on rock and troll… For whom the bell trolls… etc…
To continue the joke, I thought about photoshoping a parody album cover of one of the above titles. The simplicity of the Sabbath-We Sold Our Soul, cover made that one an obvious choice. I made the pastiche/parody album cover, uploaded it… That was it…
Fast-forward to April 2017. Rick uploaded a photo of himself announcing his spoken-word collaboration with us. The Tory-backed tabloids saw it and started digging… They found the Sabbath parody cover on our social media pages, from which they were able to fabricate a ludicrous scenario where we ‘delight in Nazi symbols’ and claim that we spell our name in German military font, complete with an umlaut over the letter ‘o’…!!!
Leading up to the release of the tabloid article on the night of the 15th April, we were informed of the accusations and the impending article. Rick and the Labour Party press office had already provided The S*n with an explanation and context of the image including photos of the original Sabbath cover. But they had an agenda and they weren’t going to let facts get in the way of a good smear story, right?!
* How would you compare the metal scene when you guys were growing up to today’s scene?
It would be unfair for me to compare today’s metal scene to the scene when I was growing up as I was way more involved in it back in the day! I’m a retired veteran now haha, soon to make a comeback and probably complaining about how it “wasn’t like this back in my day!!” – “these kids with their beatdowns and 9 string guitars!!”.
A lot of experimental extreme metal on Relapse Records pushing the creative boundaries
* If you had a say in the matter do you think you would rather have been in a teen back when you guys were growing up or a teen today? (me personally I am glad I was a teen back then and not now)
That’s a tricky one! When I was young I would do anything to get my hands on new music. Buying a new album was a real luxury back then! I would try and copy as much music from friends onto tapes or buy cheap records at car boot sales, stay up to watch Headbangers Ball or listen to the Radio One Rock show… I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have YouTube and Spotify back then! It would have been great…… or would it?! When music is so freely available it loses its value; it’s doesn’t feel as special anymore! Music is so disposable now.
Also, during the 90s, rock and metal music was changing A LOT! It was an exciting time for music, even up until the late 90s with a lot of experimental extreme metal on Relapse Records pushing the creative boundaries and some great new melodic metal bands like Children of Bodom.
So I’m glad I experienced evolution of rock and metal throughout the 90s, even if it did include the birth of nu-metal! I wouldn’t change it.
* Yorkshire has always had a great metal scene – how is the metal scene in Leeds these days?
It’s still going strong. We’ve definitely got our fair share of extreme metal bands and metal bands of a heavier nature here in Leeds, so I’m not sure how Dream Troll will fit in when we start gigging …But, I’ve got to confess – I’m almost 35 now! I’m not as involved in the Leeds music scene as I was 10-15 years ago!
A recent highlight in the Leeds metal scene was the return of Canvas after 17 years! Their album ‘Lost in Rock’ has to be one of my favourite albums of all time! A real hidden gem in the rock world. A very weird album – it’s definitely not for everyone! Si, Dream Troll drummer, was asked to join
Canvas and was set to be part of their reunion until he broke his arm in a motorbike accident at the end of last year.
There are still a lot of interesting bands coming out of the Black Metal scene
* What are your thoughts on more modern metal genres like Deathcore and Black Metal?
I’m not a big fan of Deathcore… I love Black Metal though! Emperor are one of my all-time favourite bands. There are still a lot of interesting bands coming out of the Black Metal scene; loads of great experimental Black Metal.
I’m a big fan of many other modern metal genres, bands like Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan, all of Devin Townsend’s work, Ephel Duath, Textures, Car Bomb, Destrage, Soilwork, Behemoth, Mastodon, Bodom, Brutal Truth, Dimmu Borgir, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Gojira… I’m very open-minded to new styles of music.
It’s not self-indulgent unnecessary guitar wankery, it’s really well thought out melodies and chords
* Are you guys familiar with the new wave of American bands that love the NWOBHM scene?
Yeah, the NWOTHM bands are great. I’m a huge fan of Eternal Champion and especially Sumerlands!! The Sumerlands album just keeps getting better; really nice natural warm production, fantastic song structures, and the guitar work (!!!!) – it’s not self-indulgent unnecessary guitar wankery, it’s really well thought out melodies and chords all intertwined. Love it!
Other bands that spring to mind… I’m really enjoying Visigoth, it’s so metal!! Lunar Shadow – Far from Light, sounds like a demo, but it has loads of great harmonies and melodies… Witchtower, Striker, Skull Fist are a few others that I’m enjoying at the moment.
Although Dream Troll aren’t trying to replicate the authentic old sound like a lot of the NWOTHM bands, we seem to get associated with the whole niche subgenre because of our obvious appreciation of the old rock and metal clichés and themes.
* What more can we expect from Dream Troll in 2017?
Gigs!!! I can’t wait to play some gigs! After Si’s motorbike accident, a small line-up change and getting a bassist, we’re finally preparing to play some gigs. We’re also in the middle of recording 3 new songs. We’ll be releasing one of the songs on a split 7”.
* Any final words?
We’re really keen to keep things moving – we’ve written loads of new songs, slightly different sound to the songs on The Knight of Rebellion, but they still have the signature Dream Troll catchy melodies, maybe inspired even more by 80s culture! Our new singer is helping us to evolve our sound and bringing a lot more to the band. We’ll be playing gigs soon, so promoters/bands, get in touch…
I am sure most of you guys know about classic Swedish Death metal bands like Dismember and Entombed, however, not everyone knows about Death metal Legends Sarcasm, who only managed to record one full length back in the glory days of Swedish Death metal (Burial Dimensions). Today I spoke with lead singer Heval on why it took so long for them to record their full length – the changes in the scene from then to now and much more – read on
* Congratulations on the release of your second album it was a long time coming – why the long delay from Burial Dimensions to Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds?
Thanks! Well, the simple answer is that the band didn’t exist between 1994-2015, we reformed the band in 1997 just for one gig but we didn’t have any plans to write new material back then. Our old stuff was re-released several times and we got a bit bored by that and thought something new has to be released so we started writing new material again in 2015 which led to the album “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds” It won’t take 17 years to the next album I can assure you that lol
We recorded our debut album “Burial Dimensions” in 1994 but we broke up just after the recording
* Can you tell the readers a little bit about the history of the band for those who don’t know
A very long story short, The band was formed in 1990 by me and Fredrik Wallenberg, after a period of line-up problems etc we started to release some demotapes from 1992-1994. We recorded our debut album “Burial Dimensions” in 1994 but we broke up just after the recording and the album remained unreleased and unheard for 17 years. We’ve had our share of setbacks of course, members quitting and dying but still we managed to manifest an album which we are truly proud of.
* Like you guys I was there during the very beginning of the Death Metal scene (and the Black metal scene) Can you explain what those days were like? (Hunting through records store for hours on end to try and find new bands, pen friends around the world sending new music by cassettes, etc)
Well for me it was very easy to find new stuff back in the day, I was fortunate to have a record store in my home town, Uppsala, it was called Expert and every metal album could be found there in the 80s, all the the obscure stuff that was released back then. And most of them were on sale just weeks after they were released, and still they kept bringing in all those cool albums. I remember I bought LPs like the first Necrodeath, the No Mercy album, the Raging Death compilation and almost all the New Renaissance titles and tons of others for just 3-4 bucks each. I bought everything that looked extreme back then, and I didn’t even listened to the stuff before buying them and I thought everything was awesome. There was a record store in Stockholm as well, Heavy Sound, but they were a bit more expensive than Expert, but Heavy Sound had lots of demotapes, I bought lots of those there. And there were also some awesome post order places you could find great stuff. I started with serious tape trading during the demo days of our band, I got cool stuff from all over the place, and it was very easy to find like-minded people, but the process was slow, you could wait weeks for mails to arrive but it was magic in its own way, even though I prefer this “new” way of finding stuff with internet and all. So yeah we were pretty much obsessed with that whole death metal scene back then, I wasn’t into that second wave of black metal scene so much, but we were big fans of the 80s black metal though.
* Sweden has been a hot bed of amazing metal for many years now – why do you think a country that is smaller than New York City produces so many great bands?
We have lots of spare time here I guess. And when it’s so dark and cold here most of the time there’s not much to do than write songs and rehearse and consume lots of alcohol. There were tons of great swedish bands from the 80s to mid 90s, there are some good newer underground bands of course, even though it’s nothing compare to what once was. And unfortunately a lot of commercial and cheezy crap metal also.
Some of them evolved, they turned into death ‘n’ roll which I really disliked
* What would you say were the biggest differences between American and European Death metal bands back in the glory days?
The American bands were more technical, and many of them had their own unique sound in my opinion. I preferred those bands over European bands which I also liked but many of them, especially Swedish had the same sound and I was bored by that after a while. And when some of them evolved, they turned into death ‘n’ roll which I really disliked. And there were those few bands who really did their own thing, like Afflicted for instance who I truly liked, but none of those didn’t get the attention they deserved because they didn’t sound like all the others. Some of that early melodic death metal were genuinely good in my opinion, but that also turned into cheeze after a few years. But there were also some really good and exciting underground bands from Europe back in the day, especially from Finland. UK and Holland had some great stuff to.
I would have probably laughed at how amateurish we were and then left to see the first Black Sabbath show or something.
* If you had a time machine and could go back to 1990 again what do you think you would have done different with the band?
Actually I wouldn’t do anything different . I don’t believe in regrets and re-doing stuff. I would have probably laughed at how amateurish we were and then left to see the first Black Sabbath show or something.
* You’ve been making music a long time now – what are your thoughts and feelings on modern digital recording gear?
I love it, it’s so much easier to record an album today like so much other stuff. That’s what it is all about, it has to be easier with time. And a lot more fun.
* Are you surprised by the resurgence of vinyl and to a lesser degree the cassette format?
No, I knew those formats would wake up again. When everything is served and easy to find, people eventually get bored by that and want a physical product in their hands and shelves. That’s a major part of the hobby, especially for metal heads. But Compared to how much vinyl sold back in the glory days it’s nothing but still it’s good to see that more people are buying it. And especially tapes.
* How did the deal with Dark Descent come about?
They re-released our first album together with all our demotapes, and did a great job, so I asked Matt if Dark Descent would be interested in releasing the new album also, he said yes and the deal was made. They did a terrific job on these releases, and they also released my other band, Third Storm.
We are all players in this eternal cosmic saga which we direct and co-create
* Songs like “Silent Waves Summoned Your Inner Being” feel very metaphysical – what are your views on the Universe, creation and our evolutions as souls?
We are always on the right path in this universe, there is no way to lose, even if we sometimes let the physical part of us believe that. But well-being is the order of the universe and the most important law. And right after the departure from the physical we are more than we were before and universe is expanding because of all that is, and we are all players in this eternal cosmic saga which we direct and co-create. We will never get it done and we can never get it wrong. The whole album is metaphysical yes, and “Silent Waves Summoned Your Inner Being” especially is a message from your inner being, saying that, you choose, no matter what, and you will choose to come back and experience more of the contrasts and all the levels of variety, because more is the nature and core of the energy stream that is your inner being.
* What are your favorite metal bands to come out of the last say 10 years?
Wow, last ten years, , I try to check out as many metal bands I can and have found many great new ones past years, let’s see, I would say some of them are Sulphur Aeon, Exmortus, Tribulation, Dopelord, Phobocosm, Tau Cross, Khemmis, Hail Spirit Noir, Vektor, Ancient Empire, Atlantean Kodex, Crypt Sermon, Eruption, Satan’s Hallow, Eternal Champion and many more. Some of them are perhaps more than 10 years old, I don’t know, but they’re relatively new to me. And there are also some great traditional heavy metal bands that have risen these past years which I think is awesome.
* What can we expect from Sarcasm for the rest of 2017?
We will do some shows in Sweden the second half of the year, and a tape box-set will be released by Darkness Shall Rise in august, besides that we’re working on some new songs for the next album.
* Any final words?
Yeah man, thanks for this interview and see you soon, cheers!
While we mainly cover black metal and death metal here at Bruders Des Lichts we are also just fans of good ol heavy metal too. One of the newer power metal bands these days keeping the scene going is Pyramaze based in Denmark – today I spoke with American born keyboard player Jonah – read on
* First off congratulations on your new album Contingent its great to see you guys back without a 7 year break this time
Thank you so much for having me! Its good to be more consistent these days, thats for sure.
* How do you feel the song writing process differed on this album compared to Disciples of the Sun?
I think Disciples of the Sun was more about us getting our footing and testing the waters with this new lineup. Even though it came out fantastic, I still think we got a little lucky haha. With Contingent, we knew what we were capable of going into the writing and recording process and I think with that confidence comes some serious productivity. We are for sure firing on all cylinders these days.
I’m a big fan of writing strong melodies and chord progressions and building the song around that.
* If I am not mistaken you wrote about half of the album this time around? How do you approach songwriting , start with a keyboard riff and build out? Or do you start with a guitar part?
Actually it was more like a third of the album. I wrote Nemesis, Kingdom of Solace, The Tides That Wont Change, and the two instrumental tracks. I don’t really have a set way of writing a song. I think if I did it would get stale. Sometimes I start by sitting at the piano and I just start playing, or maybe Ill be sitting in the studio and I come up with a cool idea on the spot. I’m a big fan of writing strong melodies and chord progressions and building the song around that.
* How does a guy from Vermont end up playing in a Danish metal band?
It has always been my dream to play in a Metal band in Europe, so I guess you could say Ive just been following my dreams. Ive been signed with Pyramaze for 15 years now, since I was 19 years old. Ive been with Pyramaze since its inception and I simply sent an audition VHS tape over to Michael Kammeyer when he was forming the band and looking for a keyboardist. The rest is history.
* For those who are not aware can you give us a run down of the semi-recent line up changes and how you guys found Terje?
After Matt Barlow went back to Iced Earth, we had some struggles trying to find someone that could really fill those big shoes. We had Urban Breed for a short while, but he was unfortunately able to commit the time and energy required to make Disciples of the Sun. Jacob suggested Terje who had a full and powerful voice and we loved the demos he did for us so we went with Terje. We are glad we did because he has really been awesome and been a pillar in our newer sound!
* How did the deal with Inner Wound Recordings come about?
I think Michael actually had a contract on the table with Inner Wound before he left the band. We re-approached them once we had solidified our new line-up with Jacob and Terje and they were still excited about what we had planned. Inner-Wound is a fantastic label, and we are excited to see what the future holds!
We try leave our own personal beliefs and political views out of the equation
* A lot of the songs this time around paint a pretty bleak view of the future, for you personal how do you feel about the current information age? For example in the 80s punks used to fear “Big Brother is watching you” but fast forward 30 years social media has most of us happily giving up all our personal information on a daily basis, is this a good thing or can it only end in tears?
I really don’t think its as bad as some people make it out to be really. We try leave our own personal beliefs an political views out of the equation and focus on a positive message of unity and brotherhood throughout humanity. As with any big struggle, I believe it can be overcome by people coming together and fighting for whats right.
* I imagine you guys are big fans of sci fi movies – what are your favorite Post Apocalyptic films?
I love movies like Oblivion, Ender’s Game, Edge of Tomorrow, all the Super Hero movies etc. Basically any big Summer blockbuster with an awesome soundtrack!
* Have you seen the film Alien Covenant yet? If so what are your thoughts? Supposedly in a deleted scene Daniels (the main female lead) and James Franco’s character talk about why they are leaving the earth (environmental damage) to start a colony a good 7 light years away.
I’m embarrassed to say I actually haven’t seen it yet. I was on tour with the band MindMaze when it came out in theaters. Otherwise I would have seen it for sure.
The biggest mistake humanity can make is thinking we know all the answers.
* What are your thoughts on these Ancient Alien theorists that the Earth has played host to many advanced civilizations over the last few million years? Almost as if civilizations rise and fall over the millennia?
I think its very interesting and I really think anything is possible. The biggest mistake humanity can make is thinking we know all the answers.
* Due to the current state of politics in Europe and the US where would you prefer to live in an ideal world?
I love where I live right now (Minnesota) but I also love to visit Europe of course. My hope is that they can figure it all out over there and live in peace and harmony.
* Outside of Progpower fest in Holland what touring plans does the band have for the rest of 2017?
None as of right now, but we are always open to the possibility of a good festival or show!
* Any final words?
Thank you so much for the interview of course to everyone out there who has supported Pyramaze over the years. if you are just hearing about us now be sure to check us out on YouTube, Spotify, Itunes etc. Thank you!
This week I spoke with A Pregnant Light mastermind Damian. In case you have been living under a rock for the last 8 years Damian has been writing, recording and producing some of the most forward thinking Black metal here in the USA – read on and find out what drives him.
* You have been doing A Pregnant Light since what? 2009 ? right? so what drives you to be so prolific after so long?
Yeah, the project started around that time, but it’s been going on in my mind for a few years previous to that. I was doing other musical projects, and when those ceased, I realized that the only way to not be let down was to just be solo. As far as being prolific, that’s an interesting term. I don’t think I’m prolific. There are a lot of bands and musicians who just record and release whatever comes to their mind. I don’t do that. I like to have concept and execution pulled together cohesively, at least in my estimation of what that is. I don’t really want to postulate on why someone does or doesn’t do something, I can only speak for myself. I write music. I think about music. It’s what I do. It’s second nature to me. It is just who I am. I write songs. For me, it’s just my lifestyle.
I view this whole thing as a marathon, and to get to the finish line you have to put in the work. You have to work hard and create. For all the projects and music I have released, there is so much more inside of me. There are only so many hours in a day, and doing it alone is a challenge. Every day I feel like I’m running out of time. I know tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I just want to leave behind a legacy of quality music that means something and can survive beyond my life. Making music is a gift, but it isn’t something to be taken for granted. You have to work at it. Make it better. So, I think the best way to honor this gift is to keep at it, and continue to stretch yourself and challenge yourself. I don’t want to reach the end of my life and stand before God and have him say that I didn’t give it my everything. I want to use every bit of this small seed that was planted in me.
* So what does the name “A Pregnant Light” actually mean?
I have always shied away from answering this question in the past. I think too many things are explained and there needs to be a sense of mystery. I don’t think I’ll ever go into detail describing that my lyrics actually mean, because it is important that the people who care enough to ask dig into them and pull their own meaning. Whatever that may be, if you come to that meaning, then it is valid. I don’t want my interpretation to change what it means to you. But, I suppose I can explain the name of the project, since I did recently in a private conversation when I was contacted with this same question.
It has to do with the music, which is very masculine, and strong and brave being mixed with the sacred feminine. I am fascinated with the idea of pregnancy, and what it means to women, especially as a man- since it’s something I cannot do (carry a child). Pregnancy is almost universally regarded as miraculous and beautiful, so I wanted to pair that with the music that I make out of loss, pain and my expression as a man, a strong man, to have that other side represented. It has to do with the occult in the truest sense of the word: mystery. The mystery of sex, God, creation and life.
I have zero audio training and no prior experience, I am totally self-taught, through much pain and struggle.
* My understanding is that most of your albums are self produced – are you self taught ? or did you go to audio engineering school? What advice if any can you give kids who want to get into recording and producing their own music?
Yes, all my music is self-produced. I did use a studio and studio musicians on my full-length LP, and I imagine I will continue on in that vein for the future, but for everything else, I am the the artist and engineer. I have zero audio training and no prior experience, I am totally self-taught, through much pain and struggle. I love the process of writing and building the song, but I really loathe recording as a process. I enjoy playing, but to make it sound the way I want, I hate that part. I’m never happy with my work. I think I’ve gotten a bit better over the last twenty or so releases with APL, and it should be noted that I have the exact same recording equipment as the day I started. So, any increase in sonic fidelity or production technique isn’t due to new gear, it’s just learning to better use what I have.
I think that is a very important point. So many people, especially musicians like guitarists, think that if they chase this mythical tone by getting a different guitar, or amp, or pedal, that they’ll be closer to their ideal. For the most part, that’s totally false. I have a very nice, but very simple guitar rig. No effects, just guitar a cable and an amp. So, with those few tools, you have nothing to hide behind. Any sort of effect on the recording is all done in post-production. It’s not necessary to the song, but of course, I use it sparingly to add to the atmosphere. If you strip it all away, you won’t find that it’s much different. I believe strongly in taking a simple thing as far as you can take it.
I don’t think I will ever reach a point where the guitar won’t fascinate, intrigue and thrill me. I don’t want to muddy it or get caught up in distractions. Simplicity is truly the essence of all that I do, from a gear perspective. Musically of course, things get very complicated, but it is important to have that firm foundation. I really don’t feel qualified or anything to give advice on recording or producing your own music. As I mentioned, it’s my least favorite part of the process, but I can’t rely on anyone else and no one wants to work as hard and as much as I do on my vision. It’s understandable. If I could afford it, I would just pay for studio time and an engineer to have at my beck and call, so I could just focus on the music, and not the capturing of the music.
My advice to anyone is simply: do it. Just get involved and do it. Don’t make excuses, and embrace your limitations. Creativity will find a way if you work at it. Use whatever you have. The hardest part is starting. Start today.
* After all these years what would you say is still your biggest hurdle in creating new music?
That’s a great question – certainly I am my own worst enemy. I don’t have bandmates or creative partners to blame. This is my own, and mine alone. It is challenging to reign in on creativity. It is not a faucet that can be turned on and off at will. Creativity comes in rushes and may not come for a while after that. It is important to have a situation in which where those creative moments can be captured without distraction. It’s a manic state, almost. Sometimes, it means going all day, or all night, without rest. No food or water, no communication with the outside world, just pure working on the task at hand. Once you’ve gotten the song, or the product, it’s important to look at it objectively and try and edit any extraneous ideas, or build on the skeletal ones. Of course, I love the music I make. I make the music that I want to hear, so when I make a song, it has to strike me deeply. It has to resonate with me, otherwise it’s a waste.
How can I expect people to be passionate about something unless I am passionate about it? It is almost a competition with myself, to out-do or out-preform my last song. When I think about the songs, I don’t think about my peers or people doing things along the lines of what I do, although I am pretty unique in what I do. That uniqueness wasn’t intended. I didn’t set out to be different. I happened organically by processing all my influences. But, when I look at what I do, I view it as shooting for the stars. I want it to be considered classic and timeless. I want it to be legendary, not just an expression of a passing moment. Already from the time I’ve started this project to now, many people who made music have come and gone. It’s about continuing to fight. Continuing to build. Every day is important. Every song tells the story of my life up to that point.
* How do you approach your songwriting – does it start with a guitar riff that you build on? or more of a mood or feel you want to get across? Enlighten us!
I am at my heart, a guitar player. That is where I feel like I am best able to express myself. I hope that if anyone takes anything away from APL, it is the guitar playing and the feelings that I express through playing that instrument. For songwriting, it always starts on the guitar. Sometimes a mood or a feeling will spur a certain sound, but I am truly in love with the guitar. It just starts at one riff, and then I add, and I hear the whole thing in my head and I just try go get across the emotion in my playing.
Purple is power, and pride and strength, but it is also soft and warm
* The color purple comes up a lot in your work, its definitely a recurring theme for you – considering in spirituality purple and violet represent the future, the imagination and dreams, They inspire and enhance psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment, while, at the same time, keeping us grounded. Do you think that is relevant for you – or is there a different meaning for you?
I would say you are dead-on in your observation. I agree with all the things you said. There is another meaning I would add – Growing up in Manhattan, Kansas, the biggest thing was the Kansas State University. Everyone in town wore the school colors, which are purple and grey. Some of my earliest memories are people wearing purple, and wearing the color as a sense of pride and identity, like my dad. He graduated from Kansas State, and always wore school colors with pride. Everyone in the whole town did. It wasn’t until later in life, when I moved away, and grew up that I realized that purple is often considered a “feminine” color, or at the least, a non-masculine color that boys don’t really wear. But growing up, everyone wore purple. So it is a part of who I am, not for love of the college, but for the meaning and symbolism. Later still in life, especially when you get involved in punk rock, hardcore, and metal, things are really stark, Often visually represented with black and white. It was unappealing to me to just emulate even though I find that keeping traditions alive is crucial.
For all the reasons you mentioned, and in the music that I was making, purple just seemed to make sense. It’s not black metal, it is informed by black metal, but it’s not adhering to those guidelines of non-music i.e.; satanism, etc. I don’t worship Satan. So, to call it black, that would be disingenuous. Even though I believe in God, I am a flawed and desperate human being, so to say it’s white, that would be misrepresenting myself as well. Life and expression is more complicated than that. Purple Metal just makes sense. At first, yeah, a lot of people snickered at it – but then when they dig into the songs and the lyrics and the presentation, they see that it makes sense. Purple is power, and pride and strength, but it is also soft and warm. It is inviting and rich, but can also be intimidating and fearsome. It just fits perfectly.
* You were a punk rocker before you got into Black metal right? What punk bands did you rate back then?
Well, first of all, I still consider myself a punk rocker first and foremost. It is and will always be my first love. As my taste grew I was always sure never to forsake the things that originally made me excited for music. APL is really the culmination of all my years of obsessive music listening. You know, I could list out all the bands that were formative to me, but I would drive myself crazy thinking of bands and not wanting to leave any band out of the list! I’ll say that initially what drew me to punk rock and hardcore was Nirvana, and from there I discovered things like Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, etc. After Nirvana, the bands that really changed my life were mostly the skate punk bands from Southern California in the early to mid 90s.
I was also really into the melodic hardcore bands from that era like Good Riddance, but quickly drifted into more aggressive hardcore. I have a tremendous love for straight edge Youth Crew hardcore as well as classic more “tough” hardcore. I still love and follow punk rock and hardcore to this day. I am really proud of my hardcore band Prison Suicide (also on CSR) and we have a second LP coming out this year. Prison Suicide are my best friends in the world and it’s great to play that kind of music with them, even though we have all played in other bands in the past together. It’s a great group of guys and I’m proud of what we are doing. I think our sound is kind of akin to a more angry, and less positive Youth of Today.
I also really think it’s important to note that so many of the “classic” bands didn’t just repeat themselves.
* What was the Black metal band that you finally heard and went “oh wow now I get it”
Bathory. Without a doubt. The greatest to ever do it. They have everything you could ever want or need. Their first six LPs are of course classic and blueprints for the genre, but I even love some of the later stuff. Requiem is a bizarre, weird thrash record. Totally worth listening too. Metal tends to be a genre where people fixate and get really stagnant. For example, I think Ozzy was the third best singer Black Sabbath ever had. I would much rather listen to any of the Dio records than the Ozzy records. The guitar playing on Mob Rules and Heaven and Hell is outstanding. I also am totally fascinated by Born Again, the record they did with Ian Gillan. I was turned onto it by the producer to recorded Aksumite’s Prideless Lions LP. I could talk forever about it. Even if you look at a band like Mayhem, they are really advancing sonically from album to album. Same with Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, etc. I enjoy staunch and stark black metal that adheres to the old traditions, but I also really think it’s important to note that so many of the “classic” bands didn’t just repeat themselves.
Funeral Mist, who push the boundaries in every way
* Are you pleased with the way Black Metal has progressed sonically since the days of Venom and Hellhammer? (to me artists like Ulver and Burzum really pushed what was “acceptable” and still called BM, especially Ulver)
Yes, and no. I think there is such beauty and power in those early Venom and Hellhammer records. Bathory, too. I sort of touched on this in the previous question, but it’s important to note that I am really a contrarian at heart. I really hate progressive rock, I always say I like regressive rock. Stuff that maintains and holds onto that raw spirit. Yet, I love when bands incorporate exciting elements, which is often labeled as “progressive” but I think it’s just influences manifesting in different ways. Voivod is one of my all time favorite bands, but I wouldn’t say they’re progressive… they’re Voivod. They create their own world. So, maybe in a sense, they have progressed from beyond the constraints of what we apply to the world of metal.
Black Metal will always be a hot button and a subject of debate as to what it is, and what it isn’t. I love it, but I have no interest in having that conversation. I get that many of the people integral to it’s creation are around and will say what it is, or isn’t – however, I think when you create as an artist, once you release it into the world, you no longer own it. I don’t mean it in a literal sense where you have no control over its sale and distribution, but I mean that it enters the collective consciousness and takes on a life of its own in the ears and hearts of those who take it in. Like, if you were to ask me who my favorite active black metal band is… I’d probably say Nifelheim. I love how steadfast and true they are, but I also might say Funeral Mist, who push the boundaries in every way. People who debate what something is or isn’t, are missing the point. The only thing that matters is if it is good, or bad.
People love to get on the internet and claim that APL isn’t black metal, or it isn’t post-metal, or it is, or it’s post-hardcore, or it’s whatever. It’s meaningless. APL is very obviously a metal band. Of course there are other influences that are apparent, but I like to think that I have unintentionally pushed the sonic palate of what is and isn’t metal. APL is metal. You can go on with descriptors from there, but it’s a pissing contest. APL belongs to the metal family tree, and from that tree many branches and vines grow. If you want something that is immovable and static, invest in a concrete block, don’t claim to be a part of a culture that is a living thing- to continue with the metal as a tree analogy. If you don’t like what you see growing, just stay on your little branch and shut up. Count yourself lucky to be a part of this amazing artistic expression that is music. You could be living in some third-world country, fighting for food to survive, clean water, and safety from war and the unforgiving force of mother nature. Instead, if you are reading this – just be happy and grateful you get to life a blessed existence and shut the fuck up about what does or doesn’t belong.
* Were you surprised by the fans reactions to your brilliant cover of Madonna’s “Live to tell?”
I was totally caught off guard. I didn’t know what to expect. The last thing I wanted was for it to seem like a gimmick. It came from a real place. I truly love Madonna. I grew up listening to The Immaculate Collection in the car with my mom for years. I am a huge Madonna fan. I was also really lucky to have Sigrid from Hammers of Misfortune play organ on that song. She and I were talking online about how metal bands only ever want to cover metal songs. Songs belong to the world. A good song can be re-interpreted in almost any style. Somehow, it came up that I wanted to do a Madonna song, and she was excited about it. It was a bit of a struggle to find a song that would fit well in the context of APL, but when I was listening though the Madonna catalog, I knew “Live to Tell” would be the one. I wanted to pick a song that was recognizable to people, a radio single. It would have been easy to pick an obscure album ballad that no one had context for and to re-work it.
As an extra bonus, Sigrid asked if her friend (and bandmate in Amber Asylum) Kris Force could sing on it. I was absolutely shocked. I am a huge fan of her work. She even played cello on Neurosis records! Neurosis is a top 5 band for me for sure. But her own work is amazing and totally genius. I felt like I was so early in my career to have two such amazing ladies jump on and take part in this fledgeling project at the time. It was an amazing cosign from those ladies, and people really liked the track. I feel like it comes across as sincere, and not some plea for attention or press. People recognize that. I am grateful to have really smart supporters. The people who listen to APL are from all walks of life and musical taste. It’s really great to have such a diverse and interesting supporter base. I am grateful for all of them.
* How did your partnership with Colloquial Sounds come about?
I started the label to release an Aksumite cassette and six years and 75 releases later, here we are. If I would have known this was going to happen, I would have picked a way better name. I hate the name! At least it abbreviates well. CSR sounds good.
* Its pretty much accepted practice now that the majority of people favor streaming as the most popular way to “consume” music, however in metal fields vinyl is still extremely popular and in Black Metal and Punk circles cassettes are thriving to. What is you preferred format for people to listen to APL on? What about you, yourself on music you rate? Lps?
So, this is also a great question. I make APL available on all formats for the reason that I don’t believe in being a format elitist. Of course, I have my own preferences for formats, and they change! Some stuff I love on CD only, some stuff on vinyl, some on cassette, etc. My goal is that no matter what your preference, physical or streaming/download – you can have access to APL’s music. My preferred format for people to listen to APL is whatever will give them the most comfort and insight to take in the music. I am of course a believer in paying for the music you love and enjoy, and I’m well aware that illegal downloading is a big part of the story and probably a big part of why many people know APL. If you pay for a streaming service, or buy a CD, cassette, or LP, that’s totally fine with me. You have access to APL. There is a larger conversation to be had about the “fairness” of how streaming services pay artists, but I find it’s best to just be grateful and make my stuff available in every outlet possible. APL isn’t exclusionary. It’s for anyone with the ears to hear, and the heart to listen.
All that moving and changing surroundings was really formative to me. I had to look inward for happiness.
* I am a great believer in certain locations (towns cities countries even) having an influence on artists? Where you born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan? Can you tell us a bit about life there?
I am not from here, I am from Manhattan, Kansas. However, I think a massive part of who I am and how I see the world and operate comes from the fact that I moved around so much as a kid, because of my dad’s job. I lived in 6 or 7 states before hitting high school age. All that moving and changing surroundings was really formative to me. I had to look inward for happiness. As a result, I say that I’m from Kansas, but really I’m just as much a stranger there as anywhere. Life is fine here, it’s really the same as anywhere else. I don’t know if I’ll be here forever, but I can assure you that being here has no affect on my music. Everything for APL comes from within.
* What we can expect next from A Pregnant Light?
I never reveal my plans.
*Any final words?
I want to thank you and your readers. Join the Lilajugend.
Today I spoke with Sam the bass player from one of the better Death metal bands coming out of the NY Scene – Artificial Brain – in case you have not seen these guys before their live show needs to be seen to be believed – always a great night out with these guys – read on and learn
* Most of you guys come from a pretty amazing pedigree of extreme bands – How did the Artificial Brain come together?
Dan (guitars) and I have known each other for our entire lives, basically, and all of the original instrumentalists grew up in the same town on Long Island. I went away to college in Boston after high school, and by the time I returned to New York, all of Dan’s musical projects had dissolved. The two of us quickly started working together on some kind of mellow Virus-inspired instrumental music, and also on some acoustic material with Jonathan (guitars), who was close with Keith (drums). The band formed almost immediately after Dan first heard Keith play, and being that Keith’s strengths are firmly in extreme metal, that’s what we ended up doing. We didn’t become involved with most of our associated acts until after the band had already formed, Buckshot Facelift (Will’s long-running grind/death project) excluded. Since Artificial Brain started, Dan has joined Revocation, I’ve become involved with Gath Smane and Luminous Vault, Will has started singing for Afterbirth, Keith has filled in for Pyrrhon and is playing with a new band called Shredded, and we’ve also started to play with Oleg Zalman, who did some touring with Severed Savior.
He was the only person we tried out, and we offered him the gig at the first rehearsal.
* Will is a pretty unique front man – did you try out other guys before him or was it always a case that Will HAD TO be the singer?
For the first year or so of the band’s life, Dan and I handled the vocal and lyrical duties. This phase of the band never left Long Island, and we realized pretty quickly that we’d be better served with a dedicated vocalist/lyricist – someone with a more commanding/less anxious stage presence. We had a friend sing for us at a couple of local shows, as more of a stop-gap measure than anything else, and we began to post some ads online. Eventually, after sifting through dozens of responses from lunatics on craigslist, our friend Paulo Paguntalan (who fills in for us live on occasion, and has played in Copremesis and Gath Smane) suggested Will. We had been fans of Will’s old band, Biolich, and Dan had a band called Cyanide Breed that performed alongside those guys a couple of times, so we asked him to come out to a practice. He was the only person we tried out, and we offered him the gig at the first rehearsal.
* For some one who has never seen your live show before – how would you try to describe it?
We’re going to play the songs faster than they are on the record, whether or not we intend to. Will is going to be wearing some strange strobe-light eyewear, and he’s going to crack some jokes in between songs. At some point, there will likely be a verbal or visual reference made to fishing. Will is going to conduct the band for a little while, and the rest of us will be engaged in sporadic headbanging. Our show is often described as “high-energy.”
* There is definitely some degree of “theater” to an AB show – was that something you guys planned from the start or did that just come naturally?
I think it’s something that’s developed really naturally. We, the instrumentalists, are just trying to play the songs aggressively and with relative accuracy – the theatrical element is Will’s personality coming out on stage. He moves the way he does because he’s feeling the music, and even the “space goggles” just started out as a practical thing. His vision is really poor, and so he got some big old-man sunglasses to wear on stage, which very quickly became popular with the fans. Before long, he started adding lights and wires and electrical tape, and now he’s even got flashing LEDs in those things.
* How did you guys get a deal with Profound Lore and how it been so far to work with Chris?
We paid for the recording of “Labyrinth Constellation” out of pocket, because we really wanted a polished product to hand to a record label. Profound Lore was our first choice, and actually the only label we sent the record to, because we’ve loved so many of the records Chris has put out. In addition to feeling a connection with that roster, we have some friends who had worked with the label and had positive things to say, so it seemed like a natural fit. Thankfully, Chris was really into the record. Our working relationship has been great – he’s extremely supportive and communicative, and the amount he gets done as an essentially one-man operation is pretty staggering.
* I try to catch you guys most times you play in NYC – what’s the furthest you have played away from NY to date? Europe? The West Coast ?
We’ve played all over the United States, and we’ve played in a few cities in Canada so far. I think the farthest we’ve been has been Vancouver, BC, which is about 3,000 miles from where we live. We would love to play in Europe (or on any other continent that would have us) but we haven’t yet had the opportunity.
* How much touring has the band done so far and do you guys have aspirations of living on the road (going full time so to speak) with the band?
We’ve done two major North American tours to date. One of them was with Pyrrhon and Gigan, and the other was with The Black Dahlia Murder, Goatwhore, Iron Reagan, and Entheos. Aside from those, we’ve done some short regional tours with Cognitive, Pyrrhon, and Die Choking. We love touring, but realistically we’re only able to do about one serious tour a year – we don’t have aspirations of going full time, because some of us have careers outside of this band, or are on career paths, at least. Making a living off of music is extraordinarily difficult, particularly when you’re based in a part of the country as expensive as Long Island, and we recognize that we’re probably also limited, to a degree, by the weirdness of our music. Even a lot of the more accessible bands who are regularly a part of huge package tours really struggle to make ends meet, and while we think that’s amazing, it doesn’t seem feasible for us at this stage in our lives. That said, we’re incredibly thankful to be able to do the amount of touring that we do.
I think the hardest part of playing extreme music in 2017 is really just trying to find something new to say
* What would you say is the toughest adversary facing extreme bands in 2017?
The lack of money can be tough, especially with record sales continuing to sink and underground concert ticket sales having stagnated so long ago…but as long as you don’t go into extreme metal performance expecting to do much more than break even, and you’re willing to accept the very low standard of living that comes along with touring for any extended period of time, this stuff should be fine. I think the hardest part of playing extreme music in 2017 is really just trying to find something new to say, and trying to get noticed in an internet over saturated with music.
This idea of trans-humanism is actually something that frightens me for a number of reasons
* The bands name is Artificial Brain – what are your thoughts on the “Transhuman” movement the belief that Humans can evolve beyond their bodies limitations with science and technology?
To an extent, this is all very exciting. I keep up on the news about CRISPR, and on a personal level, it would be amazing to live in a world that’s unconcerned with alzheimers, cancer, infection, etc. This idea of transhumanism is actually something that frightens me for a number of reasons, though. I don’t see as likely the cheery Ray Kurzweil view of the future, in which nano-machines wipe out all human disease in the blink of an eye, and make sure that we consistently perform at peak levels. Even if I were able to take this view, though, the idea that the human life-span would then dramatically increase doesn’t necessarily seem like a positive. Over-population isn’t just an issue because of the tremendous amount of waste that humans create, or because of crumbling food supplies – problems which Kurzweil sees being solved through nano-machines and radical farming techniques; it’s an issue because we don’t have the global infrastructure to support twenty billion people, nor would economies be able to handle this kind of burden. On top of those concerns, a world where people can address their perceived flaws by strengthening their memory or improving their jumping ability, surgically, would be spooky. Like a woman with an aquiline nose getting rhinoplasty in order to closer resemble a stereotypical Hollywood actress, the removal of traits that we’ve been convinced by society to see as imperfect would destroy individuality, rather than affirm it (as the transhumanist ideal is complete individual customization). We would all love to be geniuses, or to have extraordinary skills, but these things are made monumental by their rarity, to a degree.
* Do you think Hollywood has an agenda in pushing Transhuman topics as some people believe – A.I. features prominently in movies like Prometheus,Terminator, Alien Covenant, Blade Runner etc
I don’t. We chose to tackle these kinds of ideas on “Infrared Horizon” because investigation into the existential implications of A.I seems to be fertile (if already tilled) ground, and because it also has the benefit of being exciting/attractive in an immediate way. It’s my assumption that these films are produced and have success for much the same reasons. I’d also argue that all of the films you’ve listed function more as cautionary tales than as romanticizations of transhumanism (or related topics), for one thing. The Ridley Scott films, specifically, seem to be stories in the Frankenstein mold, about the hubris and potentially the immorality of this kind of creation. Transhumanism seems to come from a similar kind of hubris – and actually, the movie I can think of that most nearly tackles that issue is probably Gattaca, the 1997 film about eugenics and genetic discrimination – again, a dystopian slippery-slope kind of story.
A robot apocalypse sounds far more appealing to me than whatever potential doomsday scenarios we’re looking at right now
* Even scientists like Steven Hawking are concerned about artificial intelligence soon becoming self aware, are you concerned at all for the future ??
Not particularly. We’ve got enough to worry about in the present, and I’m being absolutely honest when I say that a robot apocalypse sounds far more appealing to me than whatever potential doomsday scenarios we’re looking at right now. There’s also the chance that living with machines exponentially more intelligent than we are might not be all bad, which is to say that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
* What more can we expect from Artificial Brain in 2017?
We’re taking it easy for most of the summer, mostly writing – although we’re going to be back up in Montreal with our label-mates in Chthe’ilist on August 12th. We’ll also be performing at Louisville Deathfest in September. Aside from that, we’ve got some big tour plans that we can’t discuss just yet!
Any final words?
Thanks so much for the thoughtful questions! And thanks to everyone who’s been so supportive of our new record, “Infrared Horizon,” which is out now on Profound Lore Records. Stay tuned for announcements about our touring plans, coming soon!
Bay Area Death metal band Extremity has made one of the best DM releases of 2017, This week I spoke with guitarist Marissa on what it takes to create one of the most essential albums of the year – read on
* First off congrats on the new release “extremely fucking dead” It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun making this album – what was the writing process like for this one?
Marissa: Thanks! It was a lot of fun. Recording is my favorite part of the whole process. It’s really neat to hear everything coming together as the recording progresses.
Shelby and Aesop worked out the song writing over the last 8 years or so. When Erika and I came on-board, things were more or less written. We contributed some small tweaks here and there. But, the music was pretty much ready to record.
* How about recording – you guys have nailed that old school sound – Was everything recorded digitally or analog?
Marissa: Everything was recorded digitally. It’s just how you do it these days.
Aesop wanted to do something way more primitive and ignorant, so they parted ways.
* Off the top of my head a bunch of you guys have a rich history of playing in metal bands around the bay area, so how did Extremity come about – give me the brief history of the band
Marissa: About 8 years ago, Shelby had some songs written, and was looking for a drummer to do something with. He met up with Aesop, who was looking to put together an old school death metal band. They jammed, but the material was pretty busy and grindy. Aesop wanted to do something way more primitive and ignorant, so they parted ways. That project eventually became Shelby’s old band Apocryphon.
Once Apocryphon started gigging, Shelby had the realization that he wanted to start a second band that was a lot simpler. So he reached out to Aesop and they started putting something together. Eventually they got to the point where they wanted another guitarist and bass player. Erika jams with Necrosic directly across the hallway from us at our practice space, and she’s fucking awesome in everyway. So she was their first choice on bass.
Erika made a post on facebook about jamming with a new band, and I half-jokingly replied asking if they needed a guitar player. It turned out they did, and my name had come up on the list of candidates. Shelby started showing me the riffs, and we all just hit it off. So, here we are…
I know he has a wah pedal on there, so he can really rock those “Dad solos”.
* For those of you who don’t know your previous bands, you want to give us a run down of you and Marissa’s gear, What guitars you favor (for writing, recording and live work) amps etc. I know a lot of metal dudes these days prefer to travel with a rack as opposed to tube amps and just dial in their sound.
Marissa: Shelby uses a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier. He’s also got a pedalboard full of little do-dads that I don’t know much about. I know he has a wah pedal on there, so he can really rock those “Dad solos”. He plays a Jackson Kelly as his main guitar.
I use a Marshall Valvestate 2000 which I’ve had for over a decade. It gives me a tone similar to a JCM 800, without having to worry about changing any tubes. Even though the amp is digital, it actually sounds really close to an analog amp. The only pedal I have is a tuner. I’m traditionally a grindcore musician. So, I like to have as little gear as possible.
Live, I use a B.C. Rich Warlock, mostly because I need the locking trem system. In the studio I used a black Gibson Flying V, with Lace “Drop n Gain” pickups. I love that guitar! It has tone for days! I wish I could use it live.
it was really Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life” that really grabbed a hold of me
* I know Aesop is an old man (actually I just checked he’s younger than me!) but the rest of Extremity have a pretty extensive knowledge of old school Death metal – what was the one DM band growing up that sold you on the genre?
Marissa: I had started to warm up to death metal with Obituary’s “Cause of Death”. But it was really Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life” that really grabbed a hold of me, and gave me that “fuck yeah!” moment that catapulted me into a ravenous death metal fan. Everything about that album is so awesome. I love the tone, the speed, just the right amount of complexity, and Chris Barnes’ vocals on that album are a lot of fun.
* I just saw Obituary on tour with Kreator a few weeks back and in my mind Obituary stole the show – I am sure if you told the Tardy brothers (Or Trevor Perez) that you guys would still be killing it 25+ years later – they wouldn’t believe you. Why do you think old school DM has come back into vogue with the younger generation?
Marissa: It’s kind of part of the culture, isn’t it? It seems to me that fans of metal not only like the music, but we want to know everything we can about the bands. When you get into a metal band, you want to know their whole back catalog, what bands inspired them, and what other bands exist in their genre? That seems like it’s always been a part of it. To really know metal, you need to know its history as well.
But, you know… Those early death metal albums are the best! The genre was learning about itself, it was primitive, simplistic, and energetic. Those old records have just the right amount of extremity and experimentation, without being completely overwhelming. There’s a lot to grab onto there.
* How did the deal with 20 buck spin come about?
Marissa: I think Shelby hooked that up. He has a relationship with Dave (of 20 Buck Spin) through Vastum. So, they spoke to each other, and Dave liked the material and wanted to release it.
* List your top 5 favorite DM records of all time and have you seen the said bands live?
Carcass – Symphonies of Sickness
Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated
Obituary – Cause of Death
Dismember – Like an Everflowing Stream
Bolt Thrower – Warmaster
I’ve seen all of these bands live.
The Bay Area has a pretty long musical history, especially when it comes to metal
* Yet again another great band comes out of the Bay Area – I have spoke to a bunch of Bay Area bands in the last year (Atrament, Palace of Worms, Ails, Hammers of Misfortune, Cardinal Wyrm etc) why do you think so much talent comes from this part of the world? Something in the water?
Marissa: The Bay Area has a pretty long musical history, especially when it comes to metal. Even when the metal scene had pretty much died here in the mid ‘90s, there were a few bands kicking around, trying their damndest to keep metal alive. In the last decade the scene has really grown, and there’s a great local scene happening here right now. It’s really cool to get to be a part of it.
* Something I ask all Bay Area bands – do you think a time will come when you guys will have to move to either LA or Portland to keep playing music? As much as I love that neck of the woods – it’s even more expensive to live there than NYC!
Marissa: I can’t really see that happening. At least, not for me. But, playing music isn’t my primary source of income. So, I’m probably not the best person to ask in this case.
* I know you guys have done a handful of shows so far – any plans for a National tour or you guys just want to keep it local?
Marissa: We want to play some shows up and down the East and West coasts.
* Have you done much touring before (in your old bands?) if so any funny tour stories you can share?
Marissa: I haven’t done a lot of touring. I did a West Coast run with my other band Cretin a few years ago. But there aren’t any stories from that tour that would be funny to anyone who wasn’t there. I’m kind of boring really…
* What can we expect from Extremity for the rest of 2017?
Marissa: We’re currently working on writing new material for a full length we hope to release next year.
* Any final words?
Marissa: Thanks so much for the interview!