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!
Pyrrhon (pronounced Peer-on) are one of the best bands coming out of the New York metal scene these days – this week I spoke with vocalist Doug on tour life, keeping your vocal chords in peak condition and much more – read on!
* So did Mike and Dylan really meet on a subway platform or is that just folklore?
Yes, our guitarist Dylan met our original bassist Mike while waiting for the train after a show.
* How did you join the band?
Dylan is from the next town over from where I grew up in suburban Philadelphia, and I eventually met him while still in high school because his sister had become a friend of mine. We got to talking about music at some party or something and found that we had a lot in common, so we stayed in touch during college. A couple of years later he was putting a lineup together for the band that would become Pyrrhon and hit me up about auditioning on vocals, since he knew I had a background as a vocalist in some other bands. This all transpired between 2006 and 2008, I think.
* You have a pretty powerful voice – when did you find it? In Pyrrhon or one of your earlier bands? How does it hold out on long tours? I remember back in the early 90s Kevin Sharp telling me the key to “finding his voice” was the sound coming from his chest and not his throat
Thank you. I first started trying to do vocals in Seputus, a studio project I started with Pyrrhon’s current drummer Steve Schwegler way back in 2005, but I don’t think I really achieved anything approaching mastery until 2012 or 2013, when Pyrrhon had been going for a few years. There was a lot of trial and error in the years between.
I tend to push my voice pretty hard, and since I don’t naturally have a very loud or resilient voice, it’s taken some learning to figure out how to sustain it on the road. I’ve found that the most important factors for keeping my voice healthy while touring are: practicing good form while performing, reserving my voice when I’m not onstage, going easy on the partying, and getting as much sleep every night as possible. I’m an insomniac, so the last part can be difficult for me under tour conditions.
* If I am not mistaken the Greek philosopher Pyrrho was one of the first skeptics – do you consider the band skeptics? or?
Not in the strict philosophical sense, if that’s what you mean. The band name came out of a very long selection-by-committee process in the project’s early days, long before even Erik had joined. We didn’t really know what the band was going to be “about” thematically, so we weren’t really thinking too much about that side of the name — it was more about finding something distinctive and cool-sounding. None of us were even all that familiar with Pyrrho’s ideas at the time, though I started reading up on him when the name was floated. So Pyrrho’s specific teachings really never had much to do with the band per se, but the name fits well enough with our current iteration’s reflective and (colloquially) skeptical worldview.
* How did the band name come about?
We have lots of in-band jokes about this subject based on stuff people have called us at shows, such as “rollercoaster-core” and “hate shred.”
* For those of our readers who have not heard your sound before how do you guys describe it to people “technical death metal”, “progressive death metal” or “mathcore” or? What’s your preferred way to tell the uninitiated?
Hah, I generally try to avoid this conversation because our music is so hard to conveniently summarize this way. We have lots of in-band jokes about this subject based on stuff people have called us at shows, such as “rollercoaster-core” and “hate shred.” But when push comes to shove, I usually say “experimental death metal” if I have to do the genre tag thing.
* Have you guys done much touring to date? Who’s been your favorite band to tour with?
We haven’t toured a ton for a band that’s been around for close to a decade, but we became much more active that way in 2013 and have done something like 6 extended tours since then.
The longest of those tours was in 2014, when we did a 6-week North American run with Artificial Brain. As you can probably imagine, sharing a van with another band for that long will result in either loving each other or hating each other, and fortunately it was the former. We’re still good pals with them and are very proud of the success they’ve had with their new album so far.
* What would you say is the best city that you guys have played so far and why?
Broadly speaking, the most rewarding tour experience we’ve had was our European tour in 2015. We only hit a handful of countries, but since we never really expected to even get outside of the New York area with the band, playing our music on a different continent was an emotional experience for us.
The first “real” death metal band I ever heard was Morbid Angel. I was 14
* What was the first band that got you into Death Metal – your gateway band so to speak and do you still listen to them?
The first “real” death metal band I ever heard was Morbid Angel. I was 14. They’re still one of my favorites.
* What you would say is the biggest downfall in the underground metal scene today? What if any changes would you make to better the scene?
There’s quite a lot of dumdum behavior in metal, obviously, so it’s a bit hard to choose what to change. If I had to, though, I’d probably increase the ratio of distinctive bands to generic ones. A lot of really gifted musicians in metal end up slaving away in bands that really don’t have much personality, and I think everyone would benefit if talented players were more inclined to develop their own voices, instead of imitating someone else’s.
New York tends to exert an especially intense power over creative types for some reason
* New York is unlike any other city – would you say you guys have a “NYC” type sound or that NYC plays some part in inspiring your music?
Definitely. I wouldn’t say that the city is the band’s “theme” or anything like that. But everyone’s influenced by their surroundings to some extent, and New York tends to exert an especially intense power over creative types for some reason. Urban life was an explicit lyrical subject for us early on, especially on the first album. A lot of the sounds and bands that have influenced us deeply have strong traditions in New York too — free improvisation, noise rock, and obviously death metal. New York also has one of the most vibrant music communities in the world, in part because it’s so tough to establish a sustainable life as a creative person making totally non-commercial music here. Being around the sort of people who are both talented and driven enough to put up with such conditions certainly lights a fire under your ass and encourages you to push yourself too.
* What goals does the band have that you would like to see realized one day?
I’d say that our foremost goals as a band are to stay true to our instincts and to never make the same album twice. We’d also like to tour outside of the United States more – it would be nuts to play at least one show on every (habitable) continent eventually. But frankly, if we just manage to keep releasing albums that we’re proud of for a while longer, I’ll consider the affair a success.
* Does everyone in the band still live in the city? If so what side gigs does everybody do to make ends meet? (NYC ain’t cheap!)
Three of us live in New York – me, Erik, and Dylan. Dylan’s a server, Erik works for a boutique bass amp manufacturer, and I make a living doing research and writing for a small nonprofit. Steve lives in the Philly suburbs, where he’s currently a student.
* Have the band ever considered relocating to another city so that you guys can spend more time on your music? I have always believed that great scenes come out of towns like Richmond VA where the cost of living is relatively cheap – you don’t have to work 60 hrs a week just to make rent (let alone paying for a rehearsal space) I know a ton of bands from the Bay Area that are moving to LA just because it is so much cheaper.
Yes, we’ve talked about that kind of thing. Everyone but Erik has roots in Philly, which isn’t that cheap but would be an improvement. We’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of relocating there, but it’s difficult to coordinate multiple people relocating their lives to a new city at the same time. It’s tough enough for us to balance all of our various creative projects with our day-to-day labors as it is.
* What more can we expect from Pyrrhon in 2017?
We have a new album called What Passes For Survival coming out on August 11th. You can preorder the CD / digital via Willowtip Records here and the vinyl via Throatruiner Records here. We’ll be playing out regionally as much as possible in the fall in support of the record, with more extended tour plans to follow.
Today I spoke with Adam from New Jersey Thrashers Blood Feast – these guys formed in 1986 but never saw the success of the bands like Anthrax and Overkill – disbanding in the late 80st he guys reformed 7 years ago – check what Adam has to say about coming back bigger and better than ever – read on
* First off guys congratulations on the come back album ” not many bands could be gone for so long and come back so relevant. So what were the factors involved in bringing the band back from the dead in 2010? What isnpired you to do this new album 7 years later?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Most of these songs were written about 5 years ago, a little while after we got back together. I wanted to move forward with new material, but it was nearly impossible with Kevin (Kuzma, original drummer) living 6 hours away. Once we made the change to the current line-up we were off to the races. We working on “Off With Their Heads”, “The Burn” and “Who Prays For The Devil” at the first rehearsal with Joe & CJ.
* What’s been the best feedback you have got from “the Future State of Wicked” so far?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: We’ve gotten a lot of great responses so far. It’s definitely been more positive than negative. Getting an 8 (out of 10) in Decibel Magazine was really cool. The most important thing, though, is that the fans like it!!
* How did the deal with Hells headbangers come about?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: They contacted us. They’re fans of the band, and they wanted to work with us. They’ve been great!!
* How much do you think the metal scene has changed since the 80s?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: There are a lot more strains of metal since we were around the first time. Death Metal was only starting up. The Scandinavian Black Metal scene was in its infancy. Symphonic and Folk Metal didn’t yet exist.
Things seem more friendly in the scene itself. Maybe that’s because we’re all a bit older and wiser.
“I’m with you on Midnight – great band and cool dudes. We just played with them down in Philadelphia”
* What young metal bands do you rate these days? I have to say I love that band Midnight from Cleveland
ADAM TRANQUILLI: I’m with you on Midnight – great band and cool dudes. We just played with them down in Philadelphia. Another band we like is Game Over, from Italy. We played with them in Japan at the True Thrash Fest in 2015.
* Are you surprised bands like Overkill and Kreator from the 80s are still out there and still doing it?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Not really. Both of those bands have always put out high quality thrash albums.
* When the band was done in the 80s, did you carry on playing in other bands or just getting into family life, working 9-5 etc?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Yes, yes and yes. I played in a few bands leading up to Headlock. We put out an album in 1994 on Pavement Music, and toured with M.O.D. in Europe. After that I took some time away from music, started a family and concentrated on business. When we did the 1999 reunion that re-lit the fire. Since Blood Feast didn’t carry on, I started Without End and put out 2 albums with that band.
* What would you say has been the best part of the modern internet smart phone generation?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Being able to communicate so quickly.
* The worst part?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Trying to get people to pull their heads away from their phones and live in the moment.
* Getting old is weird – like I am still the same retard I was at 15 but a lil wiser, what is the best advice do you think you would give “you” of the 1980s if you had a time machine?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Be patient, grasshopper.
Metal is blue-collar to the core, so it’s a perfect match.
* New Jersey is one of these states that is almost infamous for metal loving fans – why do you think that is?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: New Jersey is very much a blue-collar state. Folks work awfully hard around here. Metal is blue-collar to the core, so it’s a perfect match. NYC, Long Island and the Rockland and Westchester Counties of upstate NY are very similar.
* What were some of the accomplishments as a band you never got to do the 80s that you guys are doing now?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: While we got to tour a bit back in the late ’80s, we never left the US. Getting to go to Japan and Peru were amazing experiences. We did Headbangers Open Air in 2010 and 2013, but playing there this year will be the first time with this line-up. We’d love to get to the west coast – the original band never got to California.
* What plans do you have for the rest of 2017?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Now that the album is out we’re just taking it to the fans. We have a lot of shows coming up. Also, me and CJ have started writing for the next album.
* Any final words?
ADAM TRANQUILLI: Thank you for the interview Alex!! Cheers to everyone who has heard the new album, and we hope to see all of you at a show at some point. Our web-site is www.BloodFeastLegions.com or catch us at www.FaceBook.com/BloodFeastLegions. And… DRINK THE BLOOD OF EVERY CORPSE!!
This week I spoke with the dudes from Florida Black Metal band the Noctambulant – if you are like me and love Melodic Black Metal do yourself a favor and check the band out – music video and streaming below!
Hey guys first off congrats on the album – I really love your style of black metal raw and full of energy but at the same time remaining very melodic
Thank you , very much . We take great pride in how our music shapes up.
* You guys are a lil older than some of the bands we speak to (like me, ha ha) How did you first get into black metal? Were you guys into stuff like Dio and Ozzy before Black metal came along?
Lars and D have been in the metal/punk scene since the 90s, so they have been rooted in heavy metal and early black metal .
Bathory, Venom , etc . Along with classics like Ozzy, Ratt, Voivod, etc
I (E.) Discovered black metal in the late 90s after being raised on classical music and 70s rock like Zepplin.
* I saw on your facebook page you guys name check bands like the Fields of Nephilim (one of Nergal from Behemoth’s favorite bands) and Sisters of Mercy.. do you think they accounts for your sense of melody in your music?
Definitely. Goth rock/post punk has had a huge influence on my song writing. Sisters of Mercy, the cure, fields of the nephilim all create melody and atmosphere with an almost minimalist approach. Really showing that sometimes less is more.
“The Florida black metal scene has some very strong bands. Black witchery , kult ov azazel , promethian horde”
* You guys are from Jacksonville Florida right? How’s the black metal scene down there? Why do you think Florida is such a stronghold for metal for the last 30+ years?
Jacksonville itself has a small, but reliable metal scene. The largest metal scenes are in Miami and Tampa, of course. So , while small, the Florida black metal scene has some very strong bands. Black witchery , kult ov azazel , promethian horde , etc .
* I know you guys have done a bit of touring so far? What’s been your favorite out of state place to play and why?
Grants pass, Oregon and Eureka , California have been some of the best shows. Small markets , but the best crowds. So much energy and passion.
* What are your thoughts on bands that tour as a full time job versus bands like Darkthrone who will probably never tour?
Each band has a different set of priorities and goals .What works for one , may not work for the other . So, while we would all love to tour full time and make a living at it, it doesn’t always work out .
* Have you guys played any of the major European metal festivals yet? If not what ones would you kill to play at?
Not yet. We are aiming to start breaking into the festival market this year. We’ve signed on with DSE marketing and have our sights set on Europe .
And of course the holy grail would be to play WACKEN. It’s been a goal since I started playing music
* I loved your video for the song Goddess – who shot that for you guys? Although the internet might have ruined the music business, the technology also made it far easier for smaller bands to make their own videos , what’s the feedback for the video been like so far?
Sam Farmer at Chance in Hell productions shot the video for us at Wolf’s museum of mystery in St. Augustine. He is a very talented videographer and I highly recommend him. As for the response, it’s been very positive . We have people bring it up at almost every show.
“Yes, we are tube purists at heart. We prefer to record on vintage fenders and hiwatt amps,”
* How did you record your latest album? Did you go to a pro studio or use a home set up which many bands prefer these days? What’s your take on digital recording technology? Digital amps etc or are you guys old school and still prefer tube amps, etc.
We recorded it in D’s home studio , and with today’s technology, it almost makes more sense for a smaller band .
And yes, we are tube purists at heart. We prefer to record on vintage fenders and hiwatt amps, though we have certainly used digital amps in the studio and on the road . The digital technology nowadays has really progressed to the point it’s a viable option.
* The name The Noctambulant is really cool – how did you guys come up with this name?
I took Latin for many years in school , and when I started listening to Immortal , they use the term noctambulant alot in their music . I love the imagery of the night walker (the noctambulant is Latin for night walker ) and the name took off.
* You guys sing about the occult a lot are any of the band practicing pagans – if so what path? Any strange experiences you care to share?
For some members of the band, it’s an academic interest. For others , it’s a calling and a path . We have certain pre show rituals that were started as an experiment to see what we could use to enhance our performance and our show. But after we performed it , every time after if we didn’t, something went wrong . Strings broke. Technical issues. Etc .
So now it’s a must . The demons must be satisfied.
“We have a philosophy . If you aren’t making progress , you’re going backwards. And we refuse to go backwards.”
* What can we expect from The Noctambulant for the rest of 2017?
We have a new album in the works now , in a addition to talks of a south American and European tour. We have a philosophy . If you aren’t making progress , you’re going backwards. And we refuse to go backwards.
* Any final words?
We genuinly appreciate everyone who enjoys our music , comes to our shows and helps us create the experience we strive to share.
The last in our series of Interviews with Dungeon Synth artists I bring you Old Tower from the Netherlands – enjoy!
* Sooo How did you get into dark dungeon synth? Were you influenced by Burzum or other ambient black metal?
I can’t really remember how I got to know the genre, but I was (and still am) fascinated by
the ambient works of Burzum which were essentially my first introductions to the ambient
and synth genre. I’m not directly influenced by Mortiis, Burzum or any other artists, but I
rather try to combine all the things I listen to into one thing of my own.
* Have you played in “traditional” metal bands before becoming Old Tower?
I’m active in other bands at the moment, all active in the Black Metal genre.
* How do you write your songs? Do you have a mood or feeling in mind before you compose or do you just start jamming and see where the mood takes you?
I never compose. I just write on the spot. Most things I do are all improvised. It definitely
helps to be in a certain mood and mindset before recording. I’d say it’s a necessity, rather.
“I can’t say it was a textbook ‘astral projection’, but it certainly felt
like I was not part of this world anymore.”
* On your bandcamp you talk of “channeling” your music. Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones believes that too he says you never write songs you act more like an antenna and draw them down from the Universe – have you ever done any really channeling or astral projection? If so what were those experiences like?
I’ve had my fair share of strange experiences, yes. The experiences were mostly negative. I felt an immense disconnection to the physical world, to the point I was struggling to find what was real and what was not. I can’t say it was a textbook ‘astral projection’, but it certainly felt like I was not part of this world anymore.
* Have you ever used any mind expanding drugs to write music? Acid, mushrooms, psychedelic THC etc
I used to be interested in things like this, but due to negative experiences I don’t and will not use them anymore.
* How do you record your music? A pro tools set up? Garage band? Are you self taught or do you have a friend that helps out with the mixes etc?
Let’s just say I record in primitive conditions, nothing more to add.
“The LP sold out within a matter of days between both
* Congratulations on selling out the vinyl pressing of your first full length album “The Rise of the Specter’. Were you surprised by the fans response to this record?
At first the plan was to only press 100 copies, but I’m glad we did 200 in the end. The
response was very unexpected. The LP sold out within a matter of days between both
* How do you prefer to listen to music yourself? What’s your favorite format? As many Dark Dungeon Synth artists do love the cassette format!
I have no real preference for a format. Each format has its charm. At the moment I actually
prefer the CD format, since this is how I discovered underground music and not through
tapes or vinyl. I’m having a nostalgia trip, so to speak!
“When it’ll finally come to the point I’ll
play live it won’t be your regular music show, but something more. I like to think big.”
* Have you ever played live? Is this something that has any interest for you?
I’ve been toying around with the idea of playing live. When it’ll finally come to the point I’ll
play live it won’t be your regular music show, but something more. I like to think big. That’s
all I can say at the moment.
* How is the metal music scene in Hilversum Holland? Is there much appreciation for what you do locally? or do you prefer to think globally?
I think mostly for myself.
“Personal experiences, worship of the occult, ancient times.”
* Many of the Dungeon Synth artist I have spoken to recently have been inspired by Video games and films as much as music – where do you draw your influences from?
Anything. Personal experiences, worship of the occult, ancient times.
* Speaking of films as inspiration – did you ever see the Lord of the Rings films? If so what are your thoughts on them?
I’ve seen them and I liked them. Not sure if I like them still, since it’s been a while since I saw
all of them. The Hobbit movies were great, though.
* You’ve been pretty prolific with your song writing – what can we expect from Old Tower next?
There is a new full-length in the works. Only time will tell when it’ll be ready.
Following on with our series on Dungeon Synth this week we have Justin from New Jersey based dark ambient act Ranseur – read on
* First off how do you describe your music to those who have not heard it before? Dark Dungeon music or?
I prefer the term dungeon synth. Obviously it’s a recently name for a style that’s been around for over twenty five years and I’m not usually the biggest fan of subgenre tags, but this is an exception. When I first got into this kind of music there was an attitude I would always see where it was described as an inferior form of dark ambient. Because of its proximity to black metal and because of the fantasy themes there was always a lot of misunderstanding about it in the dark ambient world. The whole medieval, kind of cheesy synth thing. What we’ve been saying since the dungeon synth revival is that it isn’t a form of dark ambient, and that it isn’t really a form of ambient music at all. So the term dungeon synth has changed people’s perception of the style in a positive way. It sounds like a small thing but it led to a lot of excitement and the creation of a community around 2012-2013.
I also use some elements of harsh noise, but only as a slight influence, not as a real hybrid of the two. I use a background of unmoving harsh noise in all the songs So I would call Ranseur dungeon synth with a noise influence.
* How did you become Ranseur? Were you in regular metal bands first (Like Mortiis was in Emperor?) or is your background in electronics or video games instead?
Although my roots are in metal I have never been in a regular metal band. Ranseur grew out of two earlier projects, Emptying Place which was folky dark ambient, and Cold Furnace which was noise influenced metal. I started both in 2004. After a while Cold Furnace moved from doom metal into a kind of weird black metal, I did an ep called Death Ecstatic in 2012, but ended the project soon after. When I heard about the dungeon synth revival I was starting to feel like I wanted to be involved in metal again, and that turned out to be a good outlet. I started playing in a full band a little before Ranseur though called Human Adult Band, which plays a kind of psychedelic noise rock. Heavy Flipper influence. But that band was around in New Jersey long before I joined. All the bands I’ve been in were noise rock, but I also do an actionist industrial percussion project which is solo.
* How did you come up with the name? And what’s the correct pronunciation?
I just wanted something simple and biting so I thought I’d choose a weapon. I remembered the word ranseur from when I played dungeons and dragons as a kid. It’s a type of polearm, kind of like a partisan. I pronounce it ran-sir which I hope is right, French into English can get weird. There are some youtube videos that claim to show you how to pronounce it.
* You’ve been going for about 4-5 years now – what would you say has been the main thing you have learned in creating music in this time?
The last few years have been a whirlwind. Besides Ranseur and finally playing in a full band I also got involved in the small press world doing some fucked up books. The most important thing I’ve learned is to stick to your guns if you have an unusual idea. Sometimes people have confused looks on their faces, but I’d rather that than to invest my time playing a style the typical way. That’s part of the reason Ranseur has a kind of unorthodox sound and artwork, I really wanted it to feel personal on a lot of levels. And the other thing is to focus on the rhythm.
“There’s always a focus (besides Frozen Valley) on fantasy and feelings of nostalgia”
* How do you go about creating new music? Do you start each album off with a theme and work towards that or do you let the creative process flow through you and then base them on what you come up with?
Most of the albums I just let it flow while I was writing, I usually name the songs after I write them. The album Frozen Valley had a more clear theme from the beginning because I wanted to do something a little bit different with that and do a more winter synth related album. So that was all natural themes. But the other albums that are fantasy, I just kind of named them something that described how they made me feel. But there’s always a focus (besides Frozen Valley) on fantasy and feelings of nostalgia. Doing Ranseur has helped me return to some interests I had as a child and reminded me of certain tv shows, movies, and books that I was into at that time. That was one of the reasons I was so excited about the idea of making dungeon synth. There is this kind of naïve feeling that I had lost over the years, and a lot of us have found a way to tap into that. But I usually keep the concepts of each album fairly abstract.
* How long does it take you to write each song?
The earlier albums didn’t take as long and the first one, which was more of a demo, I cracked that one out pretty fast. But the last few have taken a lot longer to write. On Sage in the Tall Hills I started working with different rhythmic ideas, polyrhythms and sort of winding around the beat. I’ll generally work on a song and do many versions of it over a period of weeks to get it good, and for Obsidian Throne I scrapped a lot of songs that weren’t good enough because I wanted the rhythmic subtlety to be as strong as possible. But sometimes you get lucky and something comes out really interesting in only a few days. All of the songs are modal and most have a droning fifth. So I’ll usually write a theme and practice variations, and I’ll usually play it many different keys to get the right one. I’ll normally finish the songs all at the end when I sculpt the noise part separately for all the tracks and then mix them.
* Recording wise what sort of gear do you use? Dedicated software like protools or?
I have a much more stripped down approach than what has become common in dungeon synth. I mainly use a PCM based digital keyboard, although I have used square wave synths and analogue synths a little. All the songs are two tracks, one with the synth and one for the noise, so I don’t do extensive overdubbing and I don’t use VSTs at all. Some of the albums used lo fi microphones. I use pretty bad software, I always keep it simple and don’t use many post-recording effects.
I might add that I don’t have a problem with other projects using more modern or polished methods with all the new software. My focus is mainly on writing and performing a single solid keyboard part, but any approach is fine with me as a listener.
* In your mind how best should people enjoy your music? Out in the woods? On their daily commute to work?
I think it depends on the person, I don’t really have that so much in mind when I make the albums. But I do listen to dungeon synth a lot when I’m driving.
“I’ve thought about turning the noise track on and then walking out with a battle axe or something”
* Have you ever considered doing live shows? I saw Mortiis play in 1999 in London – he had a backing track and acted out parts to the songs throughout the set.
That’s awesome you saw Mortiis, but yeah I have thought about it. There are no immediate plans but I would like to do it sometime this year or next year. Because my version of the style only uses one keyboard track it wouldn’t be much of an issue. I play live with other projects but I always felt if I played with Ranseur it would have to be at a metal show, and there haven’t been very many in New Jersey in the past few years. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know if I’d do theatrical stuff or not. I’ve thought about turning the noise track on and then walking out with a battle axe or something, but nothing more involved than that.
“I’m definitely influenced very heavily by The Haters, The Rita, and Sudden Infant.”
* What artists inspire you?
My primary influences with dungeon synth are the artists I heard prior to the revival, Burzum, Mortiis, Vond, Dead Can Dance, Trollmann Av Ildtoppberg, and Summoning. But some of the stuff that came out earlier in the revival had an effect on me, Erang, Lord Lovidicus, Til Det Bergens Skyggene. But the project that really made me want to start playing this style was Abandoned Places. I’d never thought of playing this kind of music in a way that was that weird and that dissonant, my idea was to use a wall of noise instead of dissonance and keep it modal. On the noise side I’m definitely influenced very heavily by The Haters, The Rita, and Sudden Infant.
But despite all this shit I’m saying about noise I was also listening to a lot of Manowar, Omen, and Dio when I started Ranseur. Because despite the fact that I’m playing an obscure electronic style and mixing in all of this weirdness with the noise, I wanted the project to have the feeling of metal at its heart.
* What can we expect from you for the next album?
The next album will continue the more rhythmic focus of the last two but will have more percussion (all directly from the synth in real time though, no overdubbing). It will be a little more technical than the other records. It’ll be a little noisier than Obsidian Throne because I went with a softer hiss on that one. At this point it will probably be called Goblin Music, and it will probably have a tape release on Path of Silence Records who released my previous tape Obsidian Throne.
* Any final words?
Thanks for the interview and everybody who checked out the project.
Continue our series of Interview with Dark Dungeon Synth artists this week, today I speak with Elric Uk Dungeon Synth artist deeply inspired by Sword and Sorcery Author Michael Moorcock – read on
* Can you give us a history of Elric, How it all began.
I just deleted my original answer to this question because it was too morbid.
* Were you in any metal bands before you started Elric?
* What were your musical influences, to me most metal guys who play “dark dungeon music” were inspired by Mortiis and Burzum..you?
Burzum and Beethoven are my favorite artists. Dauði Baldrs is perhaps
the greatest album of the 20th century.
* Do you take inspiration from video games and or films as well as music?
8 Bit video games yes. Films not so much.
* Did you take piano lessons as a kid or are you self taught?
Yes, the former.
* What’s the songwriting process for you like?
Capture inspiration in the moment. Little to no revision afterwards.
* How about recording? Do you use protools? garage band or? Again are you self taught or do you have a friend that went to audio school who helps you out?
I do everything myself, no help.
* Have you played any live shows yet? If not do you have any intention of doing so? If so how do you see the show? Just you with a keyboard or some level of theatrics would be involved?
Unlikely to ever do live shows, but have theorized how the live
version would be performed. It would not include theatrics.
“I was so inspired by the Elric series – in particular the character himself, rather than the story per se, someone I found I personally identified with deeply on various levels.”
* The name Elric is well known as a character from the Michael Moorcock novels right? When did you get into reading them? As they were very popular in the 70s!
Indeed, there can be only one Elric. I have to admit I was a latecomer, and only began reading Moorcock in 2016 (most of what I read is non-fiction….I live in my own fantasy world and barely require additional fantasy day to day). I was so inspired by the Elric series – in particular the character himself, rather than the story per se, someone I found I personally identified with deeply on various levels. So I moved to create this project as a tribute to it. Since then I have explored the Moorcock multiverse, and I do consider him on a level near-ish – but by no means on par with – Herbert and Tolkien.
* Sword and Sorcery fiction on the whole (Tolkien, Robert Howard etc) was big in the late 60s and 70s but it was usually seen as the realm of dungeon and dragon playing “nerds” Are you surprised by the renewed interest in this style of fiction in the last 10-12 years? And the fact that now all the “cool kids” love shows like Game of Thrones?
Not surprised. LOTR film trilogy began the repopularization,
subsequent cultural sweep has been thoroughly predictable.
“Tolkien of course is a genius of the highest order.”
* Outside of Moorcock – who do you rate in the world of Sword and Sorcery fiction?
I prefer history to fantasy. Will Durant is my favorite author.
Frank Herbert is my favorite fiction author. Dostoyevsky 2nd
favorite. Tolkien of course is a genius of the highest order. I am
intensely picky with how I spend my (infinitely finite) time with
books. Fire and Ice is a great film.
* What did you think of the latest Lord of the Rings movies and the Hobbit films? (I loved the Hobbit novel more as a kid but loved the LOTR films more than the Hobbit trilogy)
Lord of the Rings trilogy was passable – barely. The Hobbit trilogy
was pure abomination (in the Herbertian sense).
“War is an ongoing symptom of human civilization”
* Moorcock was hugely influenced by German writer Bertolt Brecht and he was greatly inspired by world war 1 (as was Tolkien) do you think we shall see a new wave of writers traumatized by the constant wars in the Middle east in coming years?
Nothing new. War is an ongoing symptom of human civilization. I
don’t see why recent wars would inspire any differently.
* You released 2 albums in Jan of 2017 – what more can we expect from you in 2017?
Albums 3 & 4 were released April 1st. Watch for them to arrive soon
at some cassette distros.
* Any final words?
Thanks for the interest in the music.