Interview with Loss – Nashville’s Reigning Kings of Doom

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
forward

* 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.

Thanks for the interview guys
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Finnish Doom Lords Hallatar premier the official music video for “Mirrors”

Today, Hallatar release the first music video off the forthcoming album, No Stars Upon The Bridge, for the song “Mirrors.” As all the material on the album, the song is based on the lyrics and poems of Aleah Liane Starbridge. The video is co-directed by renowned Finnish artists Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta. The album No Stars Upon The Bridge will be out on October 13th in various formats, with pre-orders via Svart Records already available HERE.

Although a brand-new name, Hallatar features among its ranks Swallow the Sun and Trees of Eternity guitarist Juha Raivio, Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, and former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick. In fact, one could see Hallatar as an extension of Trees of Eternity, whose massively acclaimed debut for Svart, Hour of the Nightingale, served as the swansong of vocalist Aleah Starbridge.

Juha Raivio explains the genesis of Hallatar: “After the death of my beloved and my life partner Aleah Starbridge on April 18th a year ago, I have been gathering writings, lyrics, and the poems of Aleah to keep them safe and close to my heart. About one month after the world came down on the blackest day of my life, I knew I needed to pick up the guitar and try to create something or I would be truly destroyed. And something did arrive out of the darkness, and I wrote the music for the Hallatar album in a week’s time. I don’t have much memory of this week, not a memory of a single day of writing the music. But all I remember when going into this abyss of the writing process was a promise to myself that whatever music would come out, I would not touch or change anything of it afterwards. What mattered was that the music would stay forever as an absolute truth of those moments as they came out. I asked my good friends – and amazing musicians – Tomi Joutsen and Gas Lipstick if they would want to record this music with me, and both of them said yes without even hearing a note of it. I am forever grateful to both of them for sharing this road with me; even the weight of the process has not been easy to carry, or will be.”

Adds Gas Lipstick, “I am grateful and very honored to be asked to join this band. Juha is a dear friend of mine since many years ago, and when he told me about his vision for Hallatar and asked me to join, I said yes instantly – I just had to be part of this amazing journey. I had never heard a single note of the music before I gave my ‘yes’ because I didn’t need to. Juha has been one of my favorite songwriters already for years, and I knew that Hallatar will be a very deep, personal, and one-of-a-kind story which I wanted to help him to bring alive.”

Continues Tomi Joutsen: “I have known Juha from the year 2007, when we worked together for the first time. A couple years ago, I had the privilege to meet Juha’s life partner, Aleah Starbridge, who was such a beautiful person, inside and outside, and had an angelic voice out of this world. Aleah lent her voice on the latest Amorphis album, and we called her ‘the whispering ghost.’ When I heard about Aleah’s passing last spring, it came as a total shock and heartbreaking news out of the blue. When Juha asked me if I would want to be part of this album and carry Aleah’s flame with him, I didn’t have to think twice. When everything has been taken, all that is left is the music. The sorrow strips us naked and leave us humble – this is how it sounds like.”

Concludes Raivio, “What we recorded was a raw moment in time honoring the memory, lyrics, and poems of Aleah Starbridge with all its pain, beauty and darkness. There are no stars left upon the bridge to light the way anymore, but the music will always be a dim light, even in the darkest of the night.”

Cover art and tracklisting for Hallatar’s No Stars Upon the Bridge to be revealed shortly.

HALLATAR is:
Tomi Joutsen – vocals
Gas Lipstick – drums
Juha Raivio – guitar, bass, keys