Dramas and reflections: an interview with Ryan Howell of Farewell, My Love

Photography by Tarina Doolittle

Photography by Tarina Doolittle

A few short weeks ago US rock band Farewell, My Love unveiled their debut album Gold Tattoos, a release which proved that the drama and aesthetic look of the band is more than a look. Hailing from Arizona, the inventive quintet has found their first full-length being heartily embraced by fans and given strong attention by the media. Just as eager to get our 15 minutes of attention with the band we had the pleasure to keep vocalist Ryan Howell busy with our questions, finding out about the origins of the band and the recording of the album as well as the neck break recruitment of Ryan himself on the eve of the band’s first tour…

Hi Ryan, welcome to the site and thanks for taking time out to chat with us.

First up can you give us some background to the early days of you all and the impetus to the forming of the band?

The Farewell, My Love you see now was formed through very intense and careful searching, far and wide ha-ha.

Were your previous bands/projects seeded in a similar sound to that of Farewell, My Love?

I believe that all of us share a very similar vision for what we want this band to sound like. None of our prior bands sounded crazy similar to Farewell, My Love but you could definitely tell where it grew from.

How long from the first seeds of an idea to the full emergence of the band was it?

Not too long, we’ve been blessed enough to find an amazing group of musicians that all share a similar vision and drive to push through anything. We are happy to say that through all our struggles that we have really found a strong line-up that is ready to take over.

Farewell, My LoveYou came into the band later than the other members, replacing the first vocalist who I believe left on the ‘eve’ of a tour. Tell us how it came about that a guy in South Africa became a part of an Arizona band.

The band’s previous vocalist quit the band just three weeks before their first tour, so they spent the next week or so looking all over the internet for who they believed would be the right guy to join them and they found me. We shared a fair amount of mutual friends in the industry who suggested me to them & it just kind of all fell into place. They flew me out 2 weeks later and we left for our first tour together.

Was it an easy fit so close to going on tour and how difficult was it for him to leave his homeland and family?

Obviously leaving your home and family for an extended period of time is never something that is easy but if you have a dream that you would do anything to chase then it is a sacrifice well made.

The work leading up to the tour must have been rather intensive for you all with such a change so soon before?

Yeah, that it definitely was ha-ha. I had to learn an entire set worth of songs in a matter of weeks. I remember having to polish up on learning all of the lyrics on the plane ride over to the states and it being a very stressful, but exciting process.

Did you find that pressure and issue equally though gave your live performances an extra edge?

Yeah definitely. Pressure sometimes gives you that extra drive to make everything as perfect as you can possibly make it.

You have recently released your debut album Gold Tattoos; the response to it seems rather feverish so far. 1489259_562804653795550_1048955586_n

Yeah, it has been received very well by our fans for sure and has opened up the door to us gaining a lot more fans as well. Definitely been very flattering to have our album voted into the Alternative Press Readers Charts multiple months in a row after the album’s release along such acts as Black Veil Brides, Pierce The Veil, and Get Scared.

The album brought up thoughts for us of My Chemical Romance at their best at times; what are the inspirations which have had the biggest impact on your songwriting?

Honestly our band has a very diverse array of influences from Frank Sinatra to Aerosmith to My Chemical Romance. We find a lot of pleasure in combining as many sounds as we can to create our sound while still creating something cohesive.

Talking of that how does the songwriting come together within the band?

Röbby comes up with a lot of the skeletons of what the songs are and then from there we all collaborate to give the songs that signature Farewell, My Love sound.

The album suggests you maybe feel a greater affinity with nineties metal than the current state of the genre?

We appreciate bands that started around that time period, along with many others.

As well as offering thumping slices of passion soaked melodic metal, Gold Tattoos is quite a theatrical encounter too, though not an overblown one; has this aspect of your sound emerged organically or is it something you have crafted into your music as say the band’s look?

We definitely spent a lot of time creating what we feel to be the missing piece in the music scene nowadays while still maintaining a vintage vibe. We are always pushing ourselves to be better.

Lyrically the songs are quite emotive, tales looking at relationships and those off-shooting dramas; how personal is the lyrical side of the album to the band or individuals?

Each song is a personal journey that we’ve all gone through but told through the use of metaphors and storytelling. There are a lot of bands out there nowadays that are very straight forward with their lyrics, which although is cool, doesn’t really fit with the theatrical vision we have for this band.

The album was produced by Don Debiase (Modern Day Escape, Beneath the Sky, For All Those Sleeping), how did that link up come about and what was the biggest impact he had on the album or you as a band in the studio?

Our relationship with Don Debiase came about because of our label owner, Neil Sheehan. They had been friends for a long time and Neil suggested him to us when it came time to write and record our full length album. I feel like he contributed in the way of always pushing us to our limits ad creating a very positive vibe in the studio.

Did the songs during the recording process emerge exactly as you envisaged going into the studio or did they evolve a lot further?

The songs were pretty close to being finished when we entered the studio to record the album but obviously the more you mould with your art, the more it reveals its true potential.

Farewell, My Love 2I can image that a debut album is an exciting unknown which equally can be nerve shredding at times. How did you find the situation?

We were honestly very excited to put the album out because we felt that it really represented what the band sounds like. We knew when we were writing it that it wasn’t going to be for everyone but honestly, no style of music is and we’re perfectly okay with that.

For us the first half of the album was a furnace of excellence compared to a ‘mere’ fire of enjoyment for the second. Obviously personal tastes dictates how successfully songs work for people but what did you use as a gauge or influence when it came to the order you placed the songs on the album?

When it came to the arrangement of the tracks we sat down as a band, listened to all the tracks separately and just felt it out. We wanted it to flow as much as possible while still having an unexpected edge.

Tracks like Afraid Of The Dark and My Perfect Thing thrust the album to the heart of a hungry attention whilst others like Faceless Frames turn up the heat further, but Mirror, Mirror is the biggest prize of them all for us. Can you give some insight into the triumph?

We like to keep our songs as diverse as we possibly can.

Is there a particular track or moment on the album which gives you just that extra tinge of satisfaction inside?

Every single song on the record is something that we are very proud of.

We mentioned My Chemical Romance earlier as a potent comparison to your sound, a band which was the flavoursome pioneers in melodic metal at first for the media and then seemingly within an album the target of ridicule and disdain from the mainstream press. Do you keep that ‘image’ in the back of the mind as you feel the ‘love’ of the media right now?

We keep our influences very close to our hearts but we try to do our own thing and create music that we feel is one of a kind.

What is next for Farewell, My Love? Tours can be expected?

Lots and lots of touring & new music videos. Be sure to keep checking in with us on Facebook, Twitter and all our other social sites for the latest updates!

Thanks once again for chatting with us.

Is there a last thought or quote you would like to leave us all pondering?

Be prepared for the future and remember that we love every single person out there that supports us! We couldn’t do this without our Farewell Family <3

http://www.facebook.com/farewellmyloveofficial

Read the review of Gold Tattoos @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/farewell-my-love-gold-tattoos/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 23/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

Raw colours and unsettling hues: an interview with Jérémie Ruiz of Drawers

drawers bassist

Jérémie Ruiz

The new self-titled album from French band Drawers is an encounter dripping testosterone riff and rhythm, a dirt encrusted slab of sludge rock voracity which overwhelms the senses with a metal bred intensity and ferociousness. The band’s second album, it is a raw attention gripping adrenaline fuelled encounter with irresistibly barbed hooks and lingering grooves to feverishly hunger for. We did not need to be asked twice to take up the opportunity to find out more about the band and album with bassist Jérémie Ruiz, with whom we talk band history, sound evolution, live prospects and more…

Hello Jérémie and thanks for joining us at The Ringmaster Review

First up please tell us about the beginnings of Drawers and its members backgrounds.

Drawers started in a garage in 2006 with Olivier (drums) and Alex (guitars) and I (Jérémie / bass). Each of us already had a band and our goal was to play slow, loud and low-tuning metal. We were friends since college and we wanted to play together for a long time. It was supposed to be a side project for us, nothing serious, just playing together and write some heavy riffs.

Then our first singer and Laurent (guitar) joined the band and we started to play live and think about recording an EP.

What was the core thought and intention in the initial direction and presence of the band?

The idea to write spontaneous and heavy music is the main direction since the beginning but the band has grown and some parameters have changed. Drawers is now our main music project and we have to take some things more seriously. We rehearse more than before as we planned to tour and to write some new stuff, beside taking care of merchandizing or searching for a van to tour…

You have just released your excellent and dramatic self-titled second album, how has early receptions been?

Reviews are very good so far. We were very curious about how it would be reviewed because many things have changed since the previous record. We are now very satisfied and we hope this album will help us to tour a lot.

As mentioned it is self-titled and comes with a seeming shift in your sound or its intent, is this so and is the title suggesting the start of a newdrawers chapter for the band or are we reading too much into it?

I think this is more and evolution than a shift. I imagine it can be brutal from the outside and obviously many things have changed since our last recording (on the split with Hangman’s chair, the track Tears never come alone). But our influences did not change that much. We just tried to find a different colour and to use different side of these influences. We have not started to write new songs yet but I think the next ones will be more like Drawers than All Is One. Some elements will always be here, like guitar sound, some drums patterns or Niko’s voice but the next album could be totally different again. We’ll see…

Your first release, the This is Oil EP came out in 2008 to strong responses which were certainly increased with your debut album you just mentioned, All is One three years later. How do you see those releases in relation to what the new album unleashes?

In fact, when we started Drawers, the band was a side project and it was a really good way to play the music we like in a totally brain-free way : we played what we liked and we didn’t think about how it was good or not. That’s why the EP is a big melting-pot of a lot of different kinds of metal. And a lot of friends of us came to make a vocal featuring, despite there being only four tracks! Things became more serious after this EP and a few shows; then we started to write All Is One which is a lot more coherent as an album. After that, I think we can say that our new album Drawers is the result of the same will. We try to do one thing as good as we can, a compact album, right to the point, short and fast!

Right there in the inside of your creativity how do you see your sound has actually changed over the past five years?

Well, seriously our sound didn’t change at all. We use exactly the same gear as our beginning, and we didn’t add or remove a single thing of that! This sound is part of Drawers, we build the band on it so it would be strange to change it now.

Drawers the album, has a power and almost predatory breath which roars at the listener as if there in the room with its physical form. How did you achieve this intensity, was it just down to recording the album live in the studio?

We wrote some short songs, within a short and compact album. Recording live was the logical choice to make to keep this rough and tense atmosphere. This way we kept all the groove and anger from guitars and drum (only guitars and drum were recorded live). Then bass was recorded separately to have a clean, loud shape among all the instruments.

What inspired the shift to this ‘attack’ for the recording process?

We worked with Luc Ferré on the split’s recording (2012) and we wanted him on the new record. We like his way of working but we wanted to try something new especially on the drum. We were after something much more groovy and colored. So Luc asked our friend Amaury Sauvé if he wanted to participate as a “drum recording specialist”. We had known him for his live recording and we were seduced by this process. We are fully satisfied of this method and I think our next studio session will be live.

Is there a specific theme or connection between the songs upon the album and what inspires the lyrical aspect of the band predominantly?a2694686389_2

Lyric topics are very different from a song to another, no obvious links between tracks, except us and our experiences. Niko’s life remains the main inspiration for the lyrics.

We tried to make All Is One a kind of a concept album. Tracks were related to each other and a whole story was told along the lyrics.

Here, there is no such thing. We wanted this album to look like us, we wanted something simple and efficient. The lyrics are about our lives, about what we wanted to say.

How does the writing process work within the band?

We usually write songs together, live, during rehearsals. Sometimes someone comes with an idea or a riff and we build a song from this idea together, adding instruments, one at the time. Then we add the voice and modify the structure if needed. It is pretty simple but it can take weeks for us to write a single song.

For us the new album brings a distinctive presence and sound to you the band whereas previous releases maybe showed your influences more, is that how you see it now you can look back at the finished results?

Yes definitely, we tried to do something more personal. We know that our previous album is showing our influences, at least the ones of the time, and this is something we really wanted to fix. I don’t know if it worked for the new one, but for us it’s a lot more original than before… Only time will tell us if we’re right. Or maybe the next album!

What have been your biggest inspirations as a band and personally?

When we started we tried to make a kind of metal that almost no band in Europe played, even today. A kind of fat sludge southern metal like Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Down. In France there was a sludge band in Paris called Es La Guerilla, and it was the first band we tried to sound like. This band was and remains the only Sludge band in Europe… Well in France there is a lot more Stoner-like music, but not so much dirty fat Sludge…In fact there is nothing at all. Anyway, that’s why we wanted to play this music : nobody plays it here. Besides this, we listen to a lot of different music: old black metal, synth-kraut music, death metal, post-hardcore, almost everything in fact.

It is hard to settle on a favourite track upon the album, it changing with every listen, but Detour always leaves a major persuasion. Can you tell us about the track and its breeding?

We wrote this one in the middle of our writing process, I think it crystallized all we wanted to put in a song : heavy riffing, a bit of blast beat for the aggressiveness, a lot of low chords, and a catchy chorus. Rock music.

Is there anything in particular on the album, a song or just a moment, which gives you a bigger tingle of pleasure?

Mourning has something special for me. All the songs are about some important part of our lives but this one corresponds to a sad moment of Niko’s.  Recording this one was a tough moment for him and I got goose bumps every time I listen to it.

drawers2You are renowned for your live performances, the energy unleashed, and simply your hunger to play shows; we can assume 2014 will be a non-stop torrent of gigs in support of the album and beyond?

We wish it would be a non-stop torrent of gigs, but unfortunately it is not that simple to tour a lot yet. Our goal is to play a lot, especially outside France and we are still looking for contacts and gigs.

We will start with a French tour for the album’s release, then we will play in a few festivals and we may be touring again around September/October.

Any specific plans or prospective shows you can reveal here?

We start a tour in France tomorrow (3/16) for a few gigs, one in Paris with Corrosion Of Conformity. After that we’re going to play with Crowbar in Toulouse! We’re very excited about those gigs! We play as much as we can, and we’re always looking for shows.

Thanks again for sharing your time with us.

Thanks a lot to you Ringmaster!

Any thought you would like to leave us to consider?

Louder is better.

Read the review of Drawers @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/drawers-self-titled/

http://www.facebook.com/drawerskvlt

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 28/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

Seizing time and opportunities: an interview with Enfeeble

enfeeble

German metallers Enfeeble might still be a bit of a secret to the wider metal world but with new album Encapsulate This Moment they have made a potent statement which should grip a stronger attention. It is an album which arguably does not quite fulfil the open potential of the band and their blend of melodic and heavy metal with metalcore predaciousness, but certainly makes a potent impact and in hindsight a lingering lure which brings you back to its compelling confrontation time and time again. Wanting to find out more about the band we had the pleasure to ask guitarist Pascal (Baal) Stafflage and the band about the origins of Enfeeble, their new album, life for a metal band in their hometown, and much more…

Hi and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Firstly can you tell us how the band and its members came together?

It was a few years ago in 2005…Luke was the singer of the school band and I was looking for a singer and guitarist for a new band. I asked Luke if he wants to start a band with me and he was excited directly. A drummer and bassist were found quickly and so we started as a small punk rock band. In the coming years we’ve had many changes on bass and drums. Since the beginning of 2013 we are the current cast.

Did you have any deliberate idea or direction for Enfeeble from the start?

Absolutely no…We started as a punk rock band (like Sum 41, Blink 182…) in 2005 and somehow we grew old and became some sort of metalheads with a little bit of punk rock influence. With the fast and harder music, we feel more comfortable.

You come from the Lingen in Germany. What is it like in the town and surrounding areas for a band trying to emerge?

Really bad to be honest…This whole area has a couple of metalheads but unfortunately most of them retain to a special kind of genre and it´s not our genre. Maybe it’s the country life here. We have no idea what it is. Therefore, we travel a lot around the country.

coverYou have just released your second album Encapsulate This Moment; how do you see the evolution of your sound to it from your debut full-length Too Ugly to Show it!?

We never really see the evolution ´cause we are right now in this process of evolving. But when you compare Too Ugly To Show It and Encapsulate This Moment you can hear that we have become more “metal” and try to improve our skills at our instruments all the time.

Did you approach the new release any differently to the previous album, whether through simply the experience of previously recording something or to achieve something specific?

We have changed the bass player, drummer, studio and attitude. So you can see…almost everything. The result is Encapsulate This Moment…A significant improvement.

With its strong blend of aggression and grooved endeavour, did you find yourself developing a broader bravery in your songwriting for the new album than ever before?

Of course… Almost every month we find new bands and therefore new influences. The songwriting is affected by this as well. And we try to sound unique as every other band to.

What were the biggest inspirations for the album musically and lyrically?

Musically it´s some bands like Killswitch Engage, Protest The Hero, Dream Theater or Threat Signal.

The lyrics were also created by experiences of everyday life.

How does the songwriting process work within Enfeeble?enfeeble3

We got some different ways. Either we play all together and discuss every part and the arrangement. Or Baal writes a song and we refine just a few parts or Baal and Luke sit together on a weekend locked up from the world only surviving with pizza, beer and energy drinks.

Did you find the tracks developing new characters during the studio process or stayed pretty much as intended going into the situation?

We worked together with Jörg from Soundlodge studios and he gave us some of his advice and we rewrote some parts. It was a very inspiring and enjoyable time with Jörg. We learned a lot and had good experiences.

The album has an invigorating rawness to its breath; did you do anything in particular to encourage this aspect?

Luke has a raw natural voice. No fake – All original. Maybe if he starts with smoking and whisky drinking, he becomes the new Lemmy. Just a little big joke :-) Honestly we would not change much on the vocals. Only improve, not change.

Was anything learnt during recording Encapsulate This Moment which surprised you and will be taken into your next release?

Less is more! Some parts, where we have had some double bass and blastbeats are now a standard rock beats. But in the mix it sounds a lot heavier. That was an important experience for us.

For us it is the title track to the album which gives us thrilling chills, is there any moment or essence of the album which gives you extra satisfaction?

Maybe it´s A Million Voices, because the song is really complex in itself and it’s always fun to play it. But also As We Were Like Shadows ´cause it has a personal story and Luke has sung it so fucking beautifully that Baal was crying in the studio. (Beautiful bastard).

You have a strong reputation for your live performances, a different proposition to the studio of course but do you think you captured that same intensity and honest raw quality on the album also this time around?

We guess not. We are always a bit nervous on stage but we believe that we also therefore play with so much energy.

Talking of shows how is 2014 planning out so far for the band ahead?

We already have some confirmed dates. However, we continue to search for new performances… Also internationally. Current dates are always on our website http://www.enfeeble.de

Back to Encapsulate This Moment; tell us about the striking artwork for the album.

We had the luck, to work together with Björn Goosses of Killustration. We had an artwork in our minds but his suggestion (what he thought when he thinks of Encapsulate This Moment) was just perfect for us.

enfeeble 2What comes next for Enfeeble other than shows?

We are working on new songs for the third album. We want to hit the studio in the beginning of 2015. Maybe by then we have found a label who wants to work with us. That would be a dream come true.

Thanks once again for chatting with us, any last thoughts or words you would like to finish with?

Encapsulate all your moments! And thanks a lot for the interview.

https://www.facebook.com/EnfeebleOfficial

Read the review of Encapsulate This Moment @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/enfeeble-encapsulate-this-moment/

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 27/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

 

Exploring the eye of the lens: an interview with Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video

Chalkman guitar

We first came across Chalkman Video through videos and a film they made with UK punk band The Vox Dolomites. It has been impossible not to be increasingly impressed at the discovery of more of their work and videos uncovered in our investigation. Wanting to learn more ourselves we thought we would bring you an insight into one of the emerging protagonists in music video by stealing time of and talking with the creator of those potent visuals.

Hello, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing time with us.

First question has to be just who is Chalkman?

Carl Arnfield, at first I didn’t want to be seen as a single person filming/editing, so I used a name to work behind, which means if other people are involved it’s still the name they see and not individuals.

What were your early inspirations growing up which you think led you into your love of and work with film?

It’s more to do with cameras and seeing the world via them in macro / wide angle / fish eye. I’m a nerd when it comes to cameras I love using them.

If I had to say what inspired me to see what is possible via film/cameras it was when a video company called “Sitcom Soldiers Ltd” filmed a band I was in and watching how they worked changed everything about how I work and create my videos…I owe them a massive thanks. They still help me with problems with lighting and understanding the process…Which proved to me that knowledge should be passed on and not kept jealously to ourselves. Everyone uses a camera in a different way so knowledge isn’t going to make people copy your work if you pass it on; it gives them a tool to create their own work.

When did you make the decision to try and make this art form your career?

It’s six years ago now when I couldn’t find anyone to make videos for my bands … so I started making my own videos, and then it was a logical step to create our bands videos.

You mentioned you were in a band, are you as able and talented with other art forms, music for example as behind the camera?

I play several instruments and a few people will be aware of the bands I’ve been in, but I guess most will not, so from punk to metal and all the way to electronica to folk, it’s all music to me and when you on stage you are performing no matter if it’s a guitar or mandolin.

We know you for your music videos, especially the excellent Vox Dolomites film which we will talk about later. Is there another angle to your portfolio, short films for example for us to discover?

Yes, I’ve done a few shorts, which is great fun and rewarding, and I’ve been talking to a few writers/actors about doing more to improve that area of film making.

The shorts are on my site.

You have filmed and directed music videos for bands such as Yo el ReyEpic Problem, Juno, and of course as we mentioned The Vox Dolomites. How have these generally come about? Is word of mouth and recommendations still as potent as simply being noticed say online?

Yes it’s completely word of mouth. I think you are more likely to work with people that you have either seen work of and have someone say, “try this guy…. he did our video”

How do you approach music videos, do you have a general strategy?

Keep as simple really, talk to the band, see what the song is about, see if there is any chance of creating a look on an almost zero budget. Then see what’s left and work with that.

I imagine story/narrative wise around the song itself it is collaboration between band and you?

Yes, I always try and create a video the band will like, they are paying for it so it should be what they want otherwise they will not promote it.

Once you have found a person in the band with vision and find a way of telling them how filming works and what’s possible, you do come up with ideas of how you’re going to approach the shoot.

Some bands know just what they want from the get go … some do but you have to find out by knowing what they don’t want and narrowing it down that way.

Some bands (Vox Dolomites) just say do what you do…. and are happy with me creating something, they are very trusting.

How long does it take to prepare for a shoot from the crossing Ts and dotting Is to film day?

Well, months really, from the point the band contacts me, up until I start the shoot, making sure you write down all the shots you need as the main frame work, and then the little shots / angles to fill in the video

Let’s just say there are so many emails/Facebook messages regarding every detail of the idea

…And generally for the shoot itself?Chalkman juno shoot1

If you have prepped well you know what the band want and if they are good like Juno and send me pics of the room they wanted to film in you know what to expect and it’s so much easier. Having a pro-active band is a massive help since I work alone and Juno were awesome to work with.

What we loved about your videos and style is that there is honesty to the camera work; you manage to get right into the heart and climate of the performance or story, in position and in colour/lighting. Is this something you deliberately aim for or simply a welcome by-product of other things?

I can honestly say, it’s just how I film, I love “depth of field” and when using a lens to blur out everything other than a face or a say an eye or a guitar part … you drag the viewer in as that’s all you can focus on.

I see things in “depth of field” and so I film that way, meaning I look at objects and blur out the rest of the world, so that’s how I film. I love strong colours and I’ve never been a big fan of that washed out film look like you’re seeing the world via a net curtain.

Do you have a core intent which spines every piece you work on?

I make notes of what I want to create or how I’m going to create the video and if you read them back months after I have finished the video it’s what I wrote down, so yes I think I do.

Chalkman TokyoWe earlier mentioned the brilliant Vox Dolomites, a band we love and you have made a few videos for. You made the riveting thirty minute film with the band of their Dirty Work Tour in Japan. How did that gig come about?

That all happened because Will, the guitar player said “you should come film it” as an off the cuff remark, and that was it, simple as that. Will is an enabler and he knows it, he also knows me and my love of travel, so it doesn’t take much for me to say yes to something like filming in Japan.

That was the biggest project to date for you?

Japan was one of the biggest things I’ve done, but last year 2013 I was in California filming a band called The Started-Its where I had to film their support slot to Barbwire Dolls and produce 3 promo videos as well in a matter of days

….and to make things worse/better I had to learn a couple of the songs and join them on stage for the last song on guitar and they refused to rehearse the songs with me… no pressure then!

How difficult were the logistics of the project alone to work out?

If you’re walking into a situation with a band you know, you are able to get things set up a lot quicker

But flying to a country like Japan and filming in venues in cities you don’t know and also record the audio for mixing later to be synced to your video …. I think it’s a logistical nightmare and I have to say I had sleepless nights for months before I got there.

But being pragmatic to say the least you try and work out everything that COULD go wrong and have a plan b (c, d & e) just in case.

Not just saying it to make you our friend ;) but it is for us one of the best tour videos in recent times, a film which not just shows the band but the atmosphere and passion created by the fans during and outside of the gigs themselves. I know the band is very popular in Japan but were you expecting to see such fervour personally?

Thank you, I’m very flattered that people like the work I do, being completely self-taught I self-doubt to whether I can achieve the goals I set for myself.

I was warned about Japan and how bands are accepted there and loved, but also it was overwhelming how some of the fans that travelled to a few of the gigs gave me gifts because I was with the band… just so welcoming, amazing people (stunning food as well)

There must be plenty of difficult moments and funny stories coming from not only that project but overall jobs, anything you would like to share with us? Any secrets?

What’s the old saying ….”what happens on tour stays on tour”

Is there any particular video or piece of film outside of the Vox Dolomites movie which you are most proud of?Chalkman juno shoot

Yes I’m really proud of the Randolph Swain & The Red LightsLittle House Video that I shot last summer in Manchester at 4.30am in an empty city centre.

I had to convince then that it’s all about the light and feel of an empty city … and being in the north of the UK its light very early in the morning in summer.

What is your latest project and what is up-coming in the world of Chalkman Video?

I’m going to be in San Francisco filming several bands including The Started-Its and a few I meet last time I was there.

Where is the best place to see your work for the readers?

My web site has most of the work www.chalkmanVideo.com

…and contact details for bands interested in discussing video possibilities?

info@chalkmanvideo.comor via my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ChalkManVideo

Thanks once again Carl for letting us steal some of your time.

No thank you for letting me crap on about what I do.

Lastly please leave us with the sounds and bands which ignite your passions outside of your video work?

That’s so easy The Dickies to Pegboy to Decendents to Biffy Clyro to Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Leftfield … depends really on my mood.

We will be looking in on Carl during his upcoming work in San Francisco so watch this space but before that go check out his work at the above links.

The Vox Dolomites – (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 20/03/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Sweet dances and psychotic episodes: an interview with Fede of Destrage

fede2

Difficult to describe but very easy to enthuse vociferously over,  Are You Kidding Me? No. the new album from Italian metallers Destrage is easily one of the most thrilling and innovative albums to come along not only this year so far but over a long time. It is a fever of invention and imagination which confronts and seduces the senses through a maze flavours, styles, and experimentation. It is sonic and noise anarchy at its best, a psyche teasing triumph which declares its creators as the exhilarating maelstrom of adventure metal and music is always crying out for. To find out more about band and release we had the pleasure to explore the depths of Destrage with drummer Federico Paulovich, venturing into the creation of the album, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, tomato juice, audience sex and plenty more…

Hi Fede and thank you for talking with us.

Before we look at your new album would you tell us about the beginning of Destrage?

The current line-up has been consistent since 2007 and after their first demo, Self Id Generator, Destrage signed a deal with Howling Bull Records, Japan, and released their first full length, Urban Being, which also saw a worldwide release by Coroner Records in 2009.The second full length The King Is Fat’n’Old was released in 2010 by Coroner Records and Howling Bull, supported by European and Japanese tours and international festivals such as Heineken Jammin’ Festival, Euroblast and Mair1 Festival, The Bad Side Festival, MetalItalia Festival, MAV Festival and more. The eclectic festival run afforded Destrage the opportunity to share the stage with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Parkway Drive, Hatebreed, Unearth, Municipal Waste, Sick Of It All, Freak Kitchen, Monuments, Jeff Loomis, Penny Wise, After the Burial, Puddle of Mudd, August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, Caliban, Every Time I Die, Lordi, Moonspell and many more. In 2012, we wrote and recorded our third album. The result, the band’s most focused and dynamic effort yet, Are You Kidding Me? No. led to a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records.

What was the spark and intent of the band at the beginning and does that still drive the band just as potently today?

We simply LOVE to spend time together, playing together, laughing and making jokes or just hanging. If “millions $$$” are not involved in a musical project (like in our case) every member needs to enjoy every single moment of the “band life”, form the sound check to the time spent on the van. It’s about alchemy in my opinion.

Of course conflicts, like in every relationship, are part of the game. But that was intent at the beginning and nothing is changed at the moment :)

How would you say the band has evolved over the years musically and emotionally?

We believe that our evolution as musicians and composers fully reflects our personal growth in real life. You gotta experience something before you can say something; that’s the main reason why we are always evolving, and we’ll always be. So, expect something really different from the albums to come… About how we changed through the three albums, there are a couple reasons that can explain the process. At the time we were composing and recording Urban Being, there was a big change of line up, and all the songs were composed mostly by Matteo; only with The King Is Fat’n’Old we started working all together on the songs, so the main difference from Urban Being is the result that came out from a combined work. We had the same approach in composing Are You Kidding Me? No., but a few years passed, so we were more close-knit as a team, and above all, our music influences had really changed in the meanwhile, as well as we grew up as persons.

Italy seems to have a rather rich and expansive metal scene, how have you found it on the inside and has it becomes easier for a

 Photo by Michael Gardenia Photography


Photo by Michael Gardenia Photography

band from your country to break into a wider audience over recent years?

In Italy, being in a metal band is definitely not easy. Italian scene, especially on rock and metal music, can’t be compared to the German, UK, Scandinavian or American ones. Our scene is based on pop-folk authors. We have to face a pop and hip hop mainstream market which dominates our local music market, and you have to fight a lot to find, not only a good label deal or an honest booking agent, but also a decent place to play. I have to say that Destrage always met great guys on the road, who contributed to support local bands and this was a great luck for us. Nowadays for the first time we can see a metal scene growing in our country and that’s incredible.

You have just released your third album as you mentioned, the quite brilliant, and I am not just saying that because we are talking, Are You Kidding Me? No. Because of the album we described the band as ‘a ten-legged groove machine with just as many schizophrenic characters posing as songs within its latest temptation.’ The album must be your proudest moment to date recording wise, even over the achievement of making your very first release?

I think this album is what makes us really proud at the moment. The first Urban Being wasn’t even a team work, the whole band wasn’t even there. As much as it can be uplifting to see your first record see the light, we believe it’s much more precious to wait a few years and deliver something that really reflects what you are.

If Urban Being was modern metal with a touch of Destrage, The King was Destrage with some modern metal dressing, Kidding is finally the essence of Destrage.

Your sound as clearly shown on the release employs a maelstrom of styles and flavours crossing fields of genres. How would you describe it in context to Are You Kidding Me? No. for newcomers to the band?

We destroy, create, transform, sublimate. We worship enthusiasm and venerate the shake that it gives.

I think Destrage sound’s is spontaneously various and weird. It’s like we learned how to speak the “metal” language as kids, and then growing up we opened our ears to the world and learned so much more, and the process is still going.

Everything that inspires us, from movies to fine art to haute cuisine to love and sex, can be easily translated into hard music as it is our native language.

This said if you take a look to our Spotify profiles you’ll be surprised. Or disgusted ahahah…

I’d love to tell these newcomers: we’d love you to take what the album is actually giving, with a clear and naive point of view, not expecting this record to be something that is going in the direction you already have in your mind. We are not saying the album is a unique piece of music that doesn’t resemble anything else you’ve heard before, no, but it definitely has its degree of originality.

It comes to my mind a story: the first time i tried tomato juice I almost puked, since it is a fruit juice and I was expecting a fruit juice-like taste. My brain was ready to enjoy a semi-definite, predictable experience and was already projecting it in my mind as the glass got to my lips. By the time the liquid touched my tongue I was disappointed, disgusted. The contrast with what I imagined was just bad.

Now tomato juice is my favorite.

Let’s not expect cats to bark.

Simply listen, enjoy or not.

1978605_10153840599710104_1863836033_nThe songs on the album are almost exhausting in their imagination and ever evolving inventive anarchy, they border schizophrenic at times haha. They sound like a puzzle to excitingly decipher and it is easy to assume they are constructed in a similar way so how do you approach the writing and creation of your songs?

Ahahah you’re right. It’s a giant puzzle made by post-it! We love to use them to keep always in mind the structure of every song, and be able to get an overview on the whole album structure as well.

A Destrage song can start from a riff, a melody, or a drum pattern coming out from any member. Then we work on it all together…in the name of post-it !

!We just try to make music that makes us happy and that is fun for others. If this means diverse people will come to our shows then be it! Can’t ask for more. We believe a band is like a person. No human being is always angry, happy or introspective all the time and a project of five different people should naturally deliver many feelings and states of mind at once.

!Also it is easier to swallow a bitter pill if before and after you eat a spoonful of sugar, that’s why complex parts are inscribed in a creamy song with melody and apparently simple rhythm. It is then choice of the listener to enjoy the surface or dig to the nerdy core, it is our business to make both levels as enjoyable as possible.

We don’t want people to come to our gigs and take notes, we want them to come and jump.

Do songs organically grow from those initial seeds or is there a stronger element of deliberate sculpting in their creation from you?

It really depends on the song, but usually what we try to do is to start from an idea or concept that has its own soul and then decorate it with our craftsmanship, instead of putting together many different elements, that most of the times wouldn’t match very well. It is way easier to write very complex stuff for the sake of being technical, so we try to make it enjoyable by anybody. Once I’ve been told by a wise person that we should put sex in every single thing we do, so we put a lot of effort in doing so because we believe that having sex with your audience is way better than masturbating on your own. So even if our technique may result impressive sometimes, we think that music must come before sport in any case.

Did you approach the recording of the album in any different way to your previous releases?

I think every time is different because we change, we evolve as persons and musicians. It’s really a big mixture of feelings, emotions and thoughts. For AYKM?N. after a long period of composition and pre-production, everybody was really focused and motivated to give his best. Somebody was excited, but still worried about some parts here and there, because we didn’t have that much time to rehearse every song properly, so the trickiest parts were kind of scary. Obviously everybody wanted to have fun as well, so jokes and funny moments happened all the time; that’s the way we like doing things together. Every time we enter the studio we realize how much we love making records, and how stressful it is at the same time. Everyone wants the record to be “perfect”, so sometimes somebody loses his mind or goes crazy. Fortunately we have five very different personalities, and we know each other very well, so everything usually sorts out very quickly.

Tell us about the recording of Are You Kidding Me? No. Did the songs evolve further in that environment and did you learn anything this time to take into your next adventure?

The recordings were a bit messy, definitely a non-linear path. Even in the final phase of the production we were having new ideas and insights. Probably hiking in nature, getting lost in an unknown city, visit art galleries, alternate your perception are good ways to get inspired in the beginning of the process and recording is the best way to get inspired in the end of it. Even in its half dark, closed, silent spaces the studio itself is a huge source of inspiration. You are there, but you are not what matters. The album is all and you disappear.

Many of the songs made it to the record the way they were written, other didn’t and we kept changing them until the very end.

We made a documentary of the whole recording process, it will be published soon.

As the album teased, seduced, and thrilled us we laid numerous comparisons at its feet; moments in the eclectic alchemy which Destrage 1reminded us of bands such as Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, American Head Charge, Mr. Bungle, Dillinger Escape Plan, Faith No More Kontrust and French bands Mucho Tapioca and Toumai, even at one brief point Ugly Kid Joe. It shows the diversity and expanse of your sound. Are there any specific inspirations which have really influenced you if not for the band as a musician?

All those that you mentioned played a crucial role in our inspirational feast, but not more than Michel Gondry, Quay Brothers or Paolo Barnard did. And they don’t release albums.! !

Are You Kidding Me? No. sees a guest appearance by Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal of Guns’N’Roses on its title track, How did that union come about?

We all are Ron’s big fans. When we finished the track Are You Kidding Me? No. we felt something was missing in the end. In fact, a Bumblefoot solo was missing. Since we had no connection with him, Mat emailed Mattias “Ia” Eklundh, who played on Jade’s Place (in our previous record The King Is Fat’N’Old) and became our friend (he’s such a cool guy!). He asked him for an address, a number, some contact to get in touch with Ron. Mattias as usual answered very politely, but didn’t give Mat what he wanted (he’s a very respectful person). So Mat was left with no choice other than going on Bumblefoot’s website and write to the general mail address. And surprize, Ron answered immediately telling us the song was super good and he’d do the collaboration. He told Mat he was touring with GnR in that period, so we should wait for a month or so. We thought it was his way to refuse. Instead he actually wrote back when the tour was over, asking what we wanted exactly, and we answered “we want you to do whatever you want for 32 bars”.

Few funny private messages followed and we got our perfect solo in 3 days. Smooth. The song seemed to be made for him, as he also said later in an interview. So, good experiment, and when we got to meet the guy in person we liked him even more. Ron is rad.

That track is also the most, can we say creatively and thrillingly psychotic on the album, probably our favourite song though it is hard to choose just one. Can you give us some insight into its creation?

Are You Kidding Me? No. is one of our favourite tracks too, for two main reasons: its origin and its content. The song was born randomly, as Mat sang what became the trumpet melody while going around on his red Vespa.

So, in the beginning we only expanded what comes after the trumpet, all that gipsy-sounding part. We wanted to make it a bonus track and leave it as it was. Then with no reason or precise plan, we wrote all the rest around it, putting no limits and setting no borders, following the lyric concept “Everybody does all kind of shit, I’m sorry that I’m sorry, I had to do this”.

The content came along in exceptional short time, and surprisingly our mindless creation gave birth to some of the most cerebral and psychotic parts of the whole album. !

As you said earlier the album is also your first with Metal Blade Records. How has the link up impacted on the album so far?

Being signed with such a great label is a dream come true for us! Definitely it’s giving us way bigger exposure, and much more people are listening to the new album because of this. But on the artistic point of view it didn’t have any impact, simply because we could sign the deal with MB because we already had the new album finished and ready to go.

Destrage is a band never slow in hitting the road and stages, the same again for 2014 I can assume? Any details you can reveal?

Absolutely yes! Everything is “work in progress”, our goal is to play these songs live, touring as much as we can, bringing our music everywhere…we’ll see what happens! :)

We can’t wait to be on the road again!

Once more thank you for sharing time to chat with us. Anything you would like to add?

Thanks for your attention! Our new album Are you Kidding Me? No. will be release on March 3 in Europe through Metal Blade Records. More music and videos will be released soon, so stay tuned though our official pages http://www.facebook.com/destrage, http://www.youtube.com/destrage andwww.twitter.com/destrage!

Thank you so much for this interview guys! :)

Read the review of Are you Kidding Me? No. @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/destrage-are-you-kidding-me-no/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 19/03/2014

Dark realms and shadowed emotions: an interview with Déhà of We All Die (Laughing)

 

wadl 1

The union of musician and composer Déhà (C.O.A.G., Maladi) and vocalist Arno Strobl (Carnival In Coal, 6:33) for the project We All Die (Laughing) has resulted in one of the most extraordinary experiences and towering creative tempests of recent times. Consisting of a single thirty three minute track sending the listener on a continually expanding landscape of emotionally drenched progressive dark metal, the Kaotoxin Records released Thoughtscanning is a powerfully provocative and enthralling immersion for thoughts and emotions. Keen to learn more about the project we took up the offer to talk with Déhà, questioning him about the band and album as well as news on his other projects.

Hello Déhà and thank you for sharing time with us so we can dig into the creative world of We All Die (Laughing).

The first question is obvious, how did the union of you both come about for the project?

Just out of nowhere, Arno & I started to discuss with an artist/fan relationship because I am a huge appreciator of Carnival in Coal. I talked to him about my different projects and I sent him the first demo of WADL back then, he fell in love and we decided to make this true!

You both guested on The Deceit EP from Eye Of Solitude; was that actually working together or just happened to be both appearing on the same song?

Well… I kinda forced my appearance on that song, haha! I was recording Arno’s voice for this song and I was like “oh fokdatchit, I’m going to scream a bit and in any case, they can remove my stuff” and they liked it really much! Funny fact it was before we released the album so many people were just asking “what the hell is “wadl” ?” and that was someway a good thing.

So We All Die (Laughing) is the first time you have intensively worked together creatively then?

Exactly. And that was fantastic. We understood each other without a need to talk or else.

Was there a particular spark which brought the actual project to life and specifically determined its direction?

That “power” we have together was the sparkle that started the fire. This mood we had was just “the” stuff we needed.

A bit of a naughty question ;) but has each other’s music been something which has thrilled and inspired your individual passions or has it been more an encounter which has artistically impressed without lighting feverish emotions?

As for me, despite everything you might hear on this album, I was not inspired by any other music at all. This is emotion, as cliché as it sounds…

 A quick mention about your other bands/projects if we may; 6:33 has been a lustful passion for us since discovering Arno and co through the Giggles, Garlands & Gallows EP in 2012 whilst admittedly it has been only recently with C.O.A.G and Maladi that we have been drawn into the imaginative aggressive fire of yourself, Déhà. For you is there anything from those and other of your projects which have helped spawn or inspire some of the We All Die (Laughing) sound?

Absolutely not. The most “influential personal band” on this album might be some “imber luminis” stuff (an own project of mine) but it’s not even that hearable.

You have just released the extraordinary Thoughtscanning, your stunning one track epic debut album. How have responses cover Artwork by Maxime Taccardibeen and have they matched your expectations?

We have absolutely nice reviews all over the world and this is really great! I was not expecting that much positive reviews as the music’s complex, but I am really happy and grateful!

I will be honest and we said so in our review that a single thirty minute plus track was a daunting and initially not the strongest lure…that was until we plunged into its depths for the first time.  Did you have worries about a similar fear and maybe assumptions about a single track album scaring people off or was that something which never crossed your minds?

It did, but I am used to composing long tracks for one purpose : the trip, the journey given by the music has to stop only when we state it. And this album, even if lyrically divided in parts, had to be one song because it’s a circle closing on itself. And we wanted to keep it that way.

Was the release always planned as one piece of music?

Absolutely.

Thoughtscanning is an enthralling, intimidating, and breath-stealing adventure, certainly challenging but equally a virulently stimulating and dramatic journey for the emotions and imagination. Tell us about the premise behind the album and its theme.

It’s emotion. I won’t say it’s the purest emotion I might release, since I have different projects and bands for my different emotions, but WADL is mainly this constant struggle between you and yourself, wanting to be healed and at the same time, you don’t want to be healed, you’re tired, or else. It’s a cliché, but to hell with it. People are all clichés.

How did Thoughtscanning emerge; did it grow and come to life as we hear it on the album or was it more like a movie, scenes created and recorded in random order to be shaped after into the sonic narrative we are confronted with?

From the beginning until the end, I would fuse your two metaphors : It’s a movie which was shot from start to finish

We imagined that the album evolved right up to its final moments, is that the reality or did you have it in a finished state before recording?

It was exactly like what you’re hearing.

How long did the album take to create?

The Composition took one year, the voices recording took 2 months of demo & 1 week for the final recordings

The first pressing of Thoughtscanning also included an Amy Winehouse cover; tell us about that and how you approached a song which is distinctively hers?

It was our label’s idea for this song, we had plenty of choices but we never really agreed. When Nico told us about this song we totally agreed in one shot, since we’re appreciating Winehouse’s music and it was a pleasure, since her lyrics went perfectly with our concept.

Can we assume We All Die (Laughing) is an on-going project or will you be disappointing us with little or no more releases?

On-going.

Portraits by Maxime Taccardi.What comes next for We All Die (Laughing) and for you individually?

An EP, at some point, and more stuff at some point. We’re not stopping. As for my side, you can expect releases for Merda Mundi, COAG, Imber Luminis, Maladie and Clouds.

Once again thank you for talking with us.

Any thoughts or last words to inspire or provoke the readers?

Act.

www.facebook.com/wealldielaughing

Read the Thoughtscanning @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/we-all-die-laughing-thoughtscanning/

Pete RingMaster

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

The RingMaster Review 11/03/2014

Refusals and raptures against the arms of destruction: an interview with LXIV of Woland

 

by Liisa Ketonen

by Liisa Ketonen

Consisting of intensive and rich evocative explorations, Hyperion the debut album from Finnish post black metallers Woland has emerged as one of the most thickly captivating and provocatively enthralling releases in recent months. It is a release which has to be heard and felt to understand its potency, not one easily explained by mere words and descriptions. Grateful for the opportunity to learn more about one of the best albums so far this year and its creators, we loaded up the questions for guitarist LXIV who talked with us about the history of the band, the journey in making Hyperion, the relevance of Nietzscheism to Woland’s lyrical premises and much more…

Hi LXIV and welcome to The Ringmaster Review and thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

Before we talk about your recently released debut album Hyperion, could you give us some background to the band and its members?

The band was formed in late 2009 while W’s other project, Cavus, was touring with Mayhem. W was having a bit of a ‘fallout’ with the extremely crude and disgusting side of black metal that is Cavus. I was their sound tech on the tour, and after few pints of wine it was agreed that together we’d do something completely different.

The road to this point was extremely long, not only considering the album but also the line-up…Good, reliable and skilled musicians with a flexible calendar are hard to come by. Especially when you have to be able to sit with them in extremely confined areas for extremely long times without wanting shove your thumbs trough their eyes.

Fortunately it seems now, that we’ve managed to gather a group that fills at least the most of these needs.

Was there a deliberate intent with the band at the start in regard to sound and direction then?

From the start it was clear that we were going to make something unheard, unseen and provocative. Through music, it crystalized in the making of the Conquer all & Live Forever promo. That was the foundation on which we started to build the album.

There is seemingly a core black metal heart to your sound but equally there is an expanse and diversity to it which potently takes Woland in other imaginative areas. How do you see your sound from the inside?

The diversity of the sound isn’t really a thought out process per se. Our musical ambitions and tastes are unconfined. It’s only natural that our music comes out that way also. Our core lies in black metal. From there we can expand, abridge and disturb as we see fit. I haven’t really wasted my time thinking what do we sound like. We do what we do; we sound what we sound like. It’s more about emitting emotion, I really couldn’t care less about genre specifications and are we ‘this’, ‘that’ or ‘that behind the that’.

Some of this rich diversity must be deliberately crafted though but how much is it the organic evolution of your ideas?

The parts, ideas, lyrics, artwork etc. really came through by themselves. We weren’t really going through the process of writing looking to stir some shit up…that’s just a good bonus. But sure, we didn’t just whip something up. This album cost both me and W a few nervous break downs. The diversity and the maturity of the music is not there because we just happen to be talented. There is very little on the album that wasn’t thought out, pondered and reasoned back and forth for many times.

I’m not an artist, I’m a craftsman.

Out of curiosity what inspired the band name? 

by Liisa Ketonen

by Liisa Ketonen

The name originates from the Soviet satire ‘Master and Margarita’.  When we were pondering a name for the band, we found that the somewhat surreal and cheerful depiction of Satan and his mishaps represented extremely well what we were trying to accomplish through our music.

Plus our original drummer has a very peculiar resemblance to the cat Behemoth.

In the literature accompanying Hyperion, it states that Woland ‘gazes to the future with a Nietzschean vision and welcome it with opened arms.’ Could you expand on that for us?

The term ‘Nietzschean’ may be somewhat disconcerting. His thoughts merely resembled somewhat what we we’re trying to accomplish with our music. Personally I’d prefer a term like ‘promethean’ or ‘luciferian’.

I feel people have grasped the whole ‘nietzschean’ thing way too sternly. It’s not a ‘thing’ of Woland, it’s not a gimmick; it’s not what separates us from the herd. It’s simply a good phrase to describe our stance in music, lyrics and the whole scene surrounding them.

Black metal is known for misanthropy, destruction, hate, darkness, coldness etc. You know the basic stuff every mentally 15 year old finds fascinating. We wanted to flip the coin around. Freedom, empowerment, apotheosis…I’d rather create something meaningful than waste my time destroying something meaningless.

Is there something in particular which predominantly inspires your lyrical themes and premises?

In these types of questions, I’ve mentioned the aforementioned apotheosis. I believe the main themes of the album rely on fulfilment, whether they be spiritual, erotic or philosophical by their nature.

The influence of some of the modern world’s most prominent philosophers and writers as stated in the promo piece is open to see in the lyrics but how would you say that stimulus impacts on the actual music?

Speaking strictly about music, I haven’t considered it when writing. But naturally the themes we carry in our lyrics and the passion towards aforementioned writers and mythology, echoes in our music.

I believe it can be sensed in a grand scheme of things through the album. We strive for greatness, bigness, impact and awe. There is lots of well thought mechanics, arches, lines and themes, whether they be musical or lyrical.

To answer your question, the way I see it, we treasure the same type on refinement of creation, as do and did the great minds we build our band’s foundation on.

As we said earlier you have just released Hyperion, your debut album. I believe it was planned to appear near the end of last year, what brought about the delay?

Actually, it was supposed to be finished much earlier. There were tons of delays, problems and inconveniences that plagued the making process. Not to mention that we were getting pretty obsessive about the whole project…And at same time we were ready to pull the plug numerous times. It was an extremely difficult project from start to finish.

cover wolandAs you mentioned you released the double single, Conquer All /Live Forever in 2011, both now appearing on the album. Did you rework them for Hyperion and how would you say even in the relatively short time has your sound and style progressed from those first songs?

The songs were re-recorded and some parts were getting a bit of a make-over. It took three years from Conquer All & Live Forever to get to the release of Hyperion. I wouldn’t necessarily call that a short time, especially considering a difference between a promo and a debut album.

But you can clearly see that it all was there already in CA&LF what Hyperion is about. It was only a matter of making it bigger and better in all fronts.

Listening to Hyperion, you can sense that the band deliberates and works on every aspect to intensive levels, working it all to flow and combine seamlessly. That draws the imagination to wonder, was the album a long journey in its actual creation?

As I mentioned earlier, yes, it was an extremely long and tedious journey. During halts we grew impatient and anxious to finish the album. Getting back to work, we realized that some parts would have to be reworked…Ad infinitum. You see how this could get quite difficult especially when you have two extremely pedant people without limitations considering time?

Sometimes we felt that we had made some major breakthrough that would finally cut all the knots open for the rest of the album…the next day I’d call W and inform him that it’s all crap and I’m going to delete it all from the face of the earth.

Yes, it was a long journey.

Was this primarily more down to getting things perfect or were external obstacles as much a part of its lengthy birth?

Both. All of us were going through some major changes during the making of this album and we’ve had our share of difficulties with securing a strong line-up for Woland.

But I’d be lying if I said that it was all because of external problems…I recorded the guitars twice, spent an eternity working on the arrangements, trying different aspects, W spent over a year working on the lyrics and vocal lines. I mixed the album almost thrice, if I recall correctly…

It was a sum of many things but in the end, I think it was just that we were insanely fixated on the album. Fortunately, when the labels started to show some serious interest towards us, we were forced to finish the album. Otherwise we might still be in the studio working on it.

Have some songs dramatically changed from their first guises over the time it took to complete?

Art of Ascensions started as considerably slower and pale…W’s notion that it sounded like “coked up AC/DC” made me work a little more on the arrangement.

Elevated Existence was originally a 16-minute mammoth. After W made me see, that it truly was shit for the most part and I was only stroking my artistic cock, I scraped the whole thing and started fresh. The ending is the only thing that survived to the album as it is.

It is fair to say that every song upon Hyperion captured our imagination but None especially lit a fire in the passions, a track we by Liisa Ketonen 3called a true artistic predator. Can you tell us about the song, background, its emergence, and recording etc.?

To this far, it’s been the most controversial track on the whole album. People seem to hate it or love it…Which naturally pleases me.

The track was written under an extreme aftershock of and absinthe filled evening. So maybe that’s where the magic lives. I believe W was also having a bit of a meltdown during working on the song and he was stuck for weeks with the lyrics and vocal arrangements.

Considering recording, there really isn’t anything extremely different about the album…But during the writing and mixing process, I was, contrary to many songs on the album, striving for disturbing soundscapes so that might be a part of the difference.

Lesson learned; Drink more absinthe and try to fuck people up more often.

Is there a particular track or moment on the album which for you brings an extra tingle of pride or satisfaction?

I find that the title line of the aforementioned None came out rather well. The ending of the album also deserves a notion.

How does the writing process work within the band?

For the most part I take care of the music while W handles the vocals, lyrics and artwork…but naturally we give ideas to one another and beat the shit out of each other considering criticism.

Tell us about the ‘breather’ on the album Honey in the Lion and Risto Tiihonen, who performed it,  and in a thoroughly intensive and dramatic album from start to finish, why was it placed exactly where it was on the album, between Extacy and Rapture and Live Forever?

That melody is actually over a decade old and hence the oldest song on the album.

Earlier in the making of the album, we had discarded a song or two from the final selection. We just didn’t feel that they had the necessary quality to them. Unfortunately for us, they were also faster paced songs, which kinda tied our hands considering the song structure of the album. When we didn’t want to introduce weaker songs to the album just for the sake of variety nor did we want to rework songs which were already on their way to be finished, the idea of a ‘breather’ rose.

I didn’t want to take the easy road and make just make a bunch of ambient noise, which seems to be the trend in metal. Nor did I want to place the breather in the middle of the album as a divider for it is not that. It doesn’t divide the album into two sections it simply is a little islet in between the two vast oceans, that doesn’t mean that it bears no meaning nor significance. To me, it’s one of the most germane tracks on the whole album.

As for Risto, we go way back and he is a close personal friend of mine. He’d already performed the piano solo on Live Forever, so the choice was easy when I knew what type of a song Honey in the Lion was to be.

You also have some guest vocalists on the album; Geir Bratland (Dimmu Borgir), Mathias ‘Vreth’ Lillmåns (Finntroll), and Janica Lönn (Black Sun Aeon). How did their contributions come about and was it always the idea to invite additional vocalists?

We didn’t plan the guest appearances from the start but from the very beginning we were open to the concept of using guest talents. But the striving force was always a need for something specific. We’d run into a situation where we noticed the need or want for something different. Then it was merely a matter of finding the right person for the job. Fortunately for us, we are very blessed with talented acquaintances.

 Woland by Storm Photography / Janica Lönn


Woland by Storm Photography / Janica Lönn

For us Hyperion is a uniquely outstanding encounter, a release which sets a high benchmark for you to follow…Are you nervous yet?

Not at all. The binding force of Woland’s music is our freedom from constraints and the will to strive forward. Our next album will come when it’s ready and it will sound as it’s intended to sound like.

Hyperion sounds as it sounds because we have no interest in mimicking the ways of others. I have even less interest in mimicking my own works.

What comes next from Woland and can you give us an idea what you have in store for 2014 as a whole?

We have some festivals on the table as well as some potential shows with some major acts but nothing I can comment on the moment. Our performance at Blastfest, Bergen last week opened us some options from which you’ll be hearing shortly.

All in all, at the moment it looks like it’s gonna be a great year.

Once again big thanks for talking with us.

Have you any last thoughts you would like to leave us pondering?

Thank you for having us.

“Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib, Gesang, der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang”

www.wolandmusic.com

Read the review of Hyperion @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/woland-hyperion/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 09/03/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

Turning on the future: an interview with Mike Scalzi of Slough Feg

Mike Scalzi

As numerous impressive releases find them drenched in acclaim already this year, the outstanding Digital Resistance from Slough Feg stands on the frontline as one of the more imaginatively incendiary and virulently contagious adventures. Stretching and pushing their unique blend of Celtic folk and traditional metal with an array of additional potent flavours for  release which triggers a new thirst for the band’s sounds past and present, Slough Feg show themselves to be a force which continues to evolve and impress adding something special to the world of metal. Seizing on the opportunity and pleasure to delve deeper into the band and new album with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, we explore Digital Resistance, home town prejudices, technology and humanity, Slainé and much more…

Hi Mike and many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

Before we get to your new album Digital Resistance can we ask about the band name… it comes from the Slainé story strip in UK comic 2000 A.D., a publication I have boxes of around the office I must admit. You are comic geeks or just this one character captured the imagination?

I was never really that into comic books—- except when I was pretty young and into Marvel stuff. The Slainé comics I just came across kind of by mistake and liked the “Warp-spasm” idea a lot, and thought it would be cool to write heavy metal songs about that. They came out with a 2000 AD hard-cover book recently featuring all the old cover art from the original Slainé comics and allowed me to write some of the liner notes—– really great. I was really happy about that.

As mentioned you have just released your new album, Digital Resistance, a release which marks a new strength of adventure in the band’s sound?

This is more of a statement than a question. But, here’s what I think:

We’ve done concept albums and albums that were taken to be concept albums that were not. This one I would have to say, is a concept album in the sense that the Beatles Sgt. Pepper is a concept album— it has somewhat of a consistent lyrical theme that runs through several of the songs, but not every song— it is not a concept album in the sense that our Traveller album is. I used to like technology, and still do in a poetic/literary sense, but the reality of it is becoming quite frightening. This theme then expanded to the role of technology in human evolution, etc. I am a teacher, and I watch students’ mindsets changing on a yearly basis—let’s just say I can’t say they are becoming noticeably smarter, with the advent of all this technology at their fingertips.

Did you musically have any clear intention with the direction of Digital Resistance or has it been primarily an organic coveremergence of ideas?

It’s just whatever we felt like writing at the time, no real preconceived ideas. Whatever inspires us at the moment is what we write. I tried to accomplish some different types of sounds on this album— some organ, some more rock songs, some more traditional, simple songs as well.

Your sound seems to be tagged as a merger of Celtic folk and traditional metal, something the new release certainly supports but there is plenty more flavours working away from within suggesting that if not inspirations your own personal tastes in music are potently wide and varied. How would you describe Digital Resistance to newcomers to really nail its presence?

I don’t know if I can. When someone asks me what the band sounds like, that is someone who has never heard it before, I say it sounds like Maiden, but older, with more traditional music influences, even stuff from Broadway musicals. I just write songs, and listen to different types of music, not just metal. In fact I don’t listen to too much metal these days— more traditional songs, like Frank Sinatra, and older rock stuff like the Beatles and Yes and even the Police, lately. These influences find their way into the music.

At times the album sparked up thoughts of bands such as Horslips as well as Thin Lizzy, Helldorado, and Hammers of Misfortune as additional loud whispers in an overall unique sound and adventure. Are there specific inspirations which have actually flavoured your invention over the years would you say?

Well, the stuff I mentioned above. Horslips was an influence at one point for sure; we covered Dergid Doom from their Tain album on Hardworlder. But that’s the only Horslips album I’m familiar with.

As you referred to earlier lyrically Digital Resistance looks at technology and how it impacts on all aspects of life, can you expand on its theme and how personally you have seen that ‘invasion’ coming into your lives?

Some of the songs are interconnected just because they have the same theme—resisting technology, or at least what it’s doing to the human mind— making it lazy and ‘flabby’. Some of the songs though are not about this— they are just about growing up and becoming middle-aged in a world you do not understand. Very simple—- many people go through this— especially today when musicians in particular don’t want to grow up— they want things to stay the way they were when they were younger— when you get older  you tend to think the world is getting older, or dying with you. It’s hard to accept the changing world. I am no exception. I don’t understand what’s going on in the mind of most Americans, it scares me. SO I write songs about it, like Warrior’s Dusk and Magic Hooligan.

Society is leaning on and allowing technology to infiltrate their daily lives more and more, how long do you see it before cyber implants and upgrades become as common place as tattoos and breast enlargements?

No long at all. That’s some of what the record is about. It’s not going to be long before the cell-phones are not outside of our bodies anymore— now people’s eyes are glued to them. Soon they won’t have to stare at them; they’ll already be in their brains!!

..and until the species becomes ‘stupid’ as machines make our decisions for us?

It’s already happening.

Back to the album, how have you approached Digital Resistance in its creation and recording which was different from previous releases?

Not really any different. It’s the same basic songwriting and recording process.

SFHow does the songwriting play out generally within Slough Feg?

Usually I write guitar or now organ parts at home, and then bring them down to the band to see if they sound good with everyone playing their own parts. I let the other guys do whatever they want to do over my riffs– unless it doesn’t sound right and then we all throw in our 2 cents. Generally we agree on what sounds good. Songwriting is really mostly editing. Coming up with the parts and melodies is not the hard part—- ask any songwriter– it’s putting it all together that is challenging— making it all sound like a song.

Having numerous albums under your belts, does each new adventure become easier to immerse within and bring to fruition or are there always new questions and obstacles to engage in which each journey into the studio?

Usually the latter… It is actually becoming very difficult trying to find a new way to do things, so that things continue to sound ‘fresh”. I always worry about putting something out that sounds just like the last thing we did— bands should be more concerned with this, because how many albums have you heard that sound just like the last one the same band put out? Bands need to try to break new ground, but they are often scared to do this because they may lose their audience. But I think they run a higher risk of losing their audience by doing the same thing over and over again.

How has that processed change most dramatically for you over the years?

It was not different than any other album, other than the fact that I used some organ on this one, but really it was just the same.  The songs were written with the band in the rehearsal space just like our other albums- etc. And the singing took forever because my voice is getting old and decrepit, and was never really suited for metal in the first place. I have a crooners voice, or if I’d worked at it a little maybe a choir voice, but not a high pitched metal voice– but I love metal, so I try to sing like Freddy Mercury and fail- and end up sounding like Neil Diamond on steroids. What can I say?

Pretty much the process remains the same—and I’m not actually that happy about it—I write guitar riffs, or now sometimes piano parts, and then bring them to the band and we work out arrangements, transitions, etc. But honestly, after a while that gets a little old, I’d like to do it a little different in the future— maybe if we had more money we could go into the studio and write a lot of the stuff in there and get a more spontaneous feeling for the record— we did some of that on Twilight of the Idols and some really interesting songs came out of that approach. But that takes a lot of time, which means money that we don’t really have right now.

I have noticed in previous interviews you are a band which looks back at your older releases and are quite honest in what worked and just as openly did not work. How soon after a release does hindsight lead you to these observations, when does the cold light of day sink in?

It usually happens in waves. I get pretty critical of the album right after we’re done with it, and then later on after listening to it a bunch I start to like it. But then I start to get critical again in a few months and after a few months I decide I don’t like the record. Then later after a year or so I start to like it again!!!!! It drives me insane!!!

Digital Resistance is released through Metal Blade Records, how did that union come about?

They asked us to do an album with them and we said ‘yes’, that simple. We negotiated a contract and went with it. What do we have to lose?

Mike you are a philosophy teacher, and I was wondering is there a comparison or similarity between that profession and music itself for you, in its content and presentation especially?

Yes. It’s almost exactly the same lecturing in front of kids and performing music in front of them. You have to use gimmicks to sf2keep them interested, and you have to write out content that is interesting and valuable. Doing a philosophy lecture is just like playing a metal show. It has to have peaks and valleys, heavy parts and light parts, a good intro and outro—– you have to keep them engaged just the same!!!

Slough Feg and its sound is not a typical San Francisco band I suspect, how have you fitted in your hometown’s scene over the years?

They hated us for the first 10 years. Hated us, in fact I think we stayed together just to spite everyone here. This was during the 90′s when everyone hated metal, and they hated us a lot. It wasn’t until the late 90′s and early 2000′s that people started to appreciate us. We don’t fit in here, never have. But now we have fans here and it’s cool, but I think we do better in a lot of other places.

What is next and across 2014 from Slough Feg?

A European tour in late May/early June, a couple of local shows and then in July shows in the Midwest– Chicago!! We did a movie soundtrack recently, and a few other projects. Just the same stuff——writing music, recording and playing rock and roll!!!!!!!

Thank you again for sharing time with us.

Thanks!!

https://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial

https://twitter.com/slough_feg

Read the review of Digital Resistance @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/slough-feg-digital-resistance/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/03/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

World addressing furies: an interview with Jost Kleinert of Lay Down Rotten

jost 2

For fifteen or so years German death metallers Lay Down Rotten have not only persistently unleashed formidable barbarous provocations to inspire and corrupt the senses but with each pushed their and the genres limits and fears into heavier and darker tempestuous depths. Their recently released new album Deathspell Catharsis is no exception, the release a brutal and inventive fury marking the band’s first release with new label Apostasy Records. Keen to find out more about we had the pleasure to talk with vocalist Jost Kleinert about the history of the band, their impressive new album, keeping the intensity of passion after so many years on the frontline and much more…

Hi Jost and welcome to the site, many thanks for taking time to allow us to look at your new album.

Just before that though can you give readers new to the band a quick background and history to Lay Down Rotten?

We are a Death Metal Band from Germany and we are proud of having our 15th band anniversary this year. We released 7 albums so far. Our current release is called Deathspell Catharsis and combines all features we are known for on one hell of an album. We love the melodies of 90s Swedish Death Metal and the impact of Old School Death Metal. This is what we stand for.

You just mentioned new album Deathspell Catharsis, a beast of an encounter. What are the feelings and hopes for it in its early days since being uncaged?

First of all we hope that the audience likes it as we always give our best with every release. So far we got great reviews, our release concerts were a blast and the feedback is just awesome: fans and critics praise this album. We want to play as much as possible to promote Deathspell Catharsis. We play a tour with the legendary Massacre from May 6th to 10th in Germany in cities such as Dresden and Hamburg. Then we are confirmed for festivals. Please check out our official website www.laydownrotten.com and our Facebook page. Press the like button and be a part of the growing Rotten Army!

It is the successor to the excellent Mask Of Malice, an album which was for us a barbaric and aggressive ‘shot in the arm’ for ldrdeath metal but arguably lacked that unique spark of adventure. Deathspell Catharsis has that adventure and more within it’s again senses obliterating malevolence and invention. How do you see the differences between the two albums?

Mask Of Malice is a very dark album…Brutal and honest. It still represents an episode in our band history that was very important and I don’t want to miss this experience. Mask Of Malice includes for example one of our favourite tracks Hades Resurrected which we shot a video for and love to play live. Deathspell Catharsis is more open and outgoing. The aggression is on the surface. We do not hold back on this album. This is the essence of all our releases so far and we wrote songs that reflect our status as a band and our personal view on this genre. We love what we do and feel inspired by every aspect of this scene.

Widening the gap, how would you say your sound has evolved since the early days and releases of the band, fifteen years ago?

We have become more experienced and we are proud of our standing, stamina and history. We as a band know exactly what we do and we are still hungry for new challenges. We don’t need external aid to achieve our goals. As far as the sound is concerned we have developed our own style and approach.

Numerous bands enjoy a similarly lengthy career but seemingly lose their snarl and bite over time, something Lay Down Rotten has avoided. What keeps that aggression and predatory hunger alive in the band and its songwriting?

 We are still curious and want more…More albums, more concerts, just more of everything. And we are still pissed off. Pissed off by the zeitgeist and the state the world is in. Moreover we are very dedicated and love to be a part of the Death Metal universe. I am still a fan of bands like Akercocke, Woods Of Ypress, Morbid Angel, and Edge Of Sanity. Nothing has changed. I have not changed. I still feel the adrenaline and I am still looking forward to playing live and being on the road.

What have been your biggest inspirations and do they still provides seeds of thought or has that changed over time?

Life itself, experiences we went through, episodes in our band history and of course books we have read, movies or other bands that gave us some inspiration.

cdarc016_ldr_dc_300dpiHow long was Deathspell Catharsis the making and did you approach it any differently to your previous full-lengths?

It took us three weeks to record the album and two months of writing the album. We developed a certain routine over the years. So we enjoyed the making of this record very much. We again entered the Desert Inn Studios to let T-Low produce this album. He is such a great guy and producer. We trust him and he knows us as he produced six of our albums. That was a walk in the park. It is very rewarding to work with people that have been supporting Lay Down Rotten for many years.

Not being a musician I assume every record brings something new to learn for an artist, what new things did you learn and find out during the making of Deathspell Catharsis which you can employ ahead?

Dedication and humility. Every album should be a new attempt to give your unique best. Second best is never good enough. Mediocre bullshit won’t do it for us. We challenge ourselves with every album to explore new ground without losing our profile. This is what makes it hard on the one hand but very exciting on the other hand. In the end every band has one purpose: to entertain. We entertain by being in honest in our passion for Death Metal.

How did you approach the studio time with the album and are songs pretty much finished when going into the recording process?

We are prepared. Time is money and to keep up a good work ethic it is important to be focused and ready when going to the studio. All the songs were finished and well-rehearsed.

As you mentioned you recorded Deathspell Catharsis with producer Thilo Krieger again, he is like an unofficial member of the band? What is it in him that reads your needs so well?

He knows the band very well. He knows how to create a suitable sound outfit and is experienced. Thilo is very disciplined and focused on the outcome of the studio work.  Sometimes it is hard for a band while recording. You stand too close in front of the mirror so that you cannot see anything. This is where a good producer comes in and puts things in the right perspective. We cannot thank him enough… Always a pleasure working with him.

We can pick out particular moments which get our juices especially flowing: the march of commanding hungry rhythms and riffs in The Fever, the malevolent dark bass prowl in Schädelberg, and the whole stalking presence of Among The Ruins Of A Once Glorious Temple, just three examples in an album which leaves the senses breathless. Is there a particular moment which gives you a certain tingle too?

Of course, for me every song has some kind of magic itself. For example the beginning of Cassandra’s Haunting gives me chills every time we perform this song. Then there are the lyrics for Schädelberg that just burst out of me in a hellish anguish on stage. We just poured our all into every song. So that may last forever. Every time we perform one of the songs memories come alive.

Tell us about the outstanding artwork for Deathspell Catharsis, how strong was the band’s input in this?

The artwork was done by Toshihiro Egawa who also did the artwork for our previous album. He and our guitarist Nils worked out the concept and completed the artwork together. This artwork combines scenes of the songs and shows the essence of Deathspell Catharsis. We are pretty pleased with the result and the great feedback from the fans who seem to like it very much.

The album is your first with Apostasy Records, how does this new home for Lay Down Rotten differ to previous ones like Metal ldr2Blade?

It just felt natural to join forces with Apostasy records. Always go with the flow…Sounds cheesy but it is as simple as that. Apostasy Records are very professional and put a lot of effort in promoting the album and supporting the band. We are very happy with their work.

Are you a band which looks back at previous releases with a critical eye to learn from or one where once an album is out and promoted to its limits looks primarily ahead confining older records to history?

Never look back. You live and learn. I cannot change the past but I can fight for a better tomorrow. We always had great support and are very grateful for that. We are looking forward to experiencing all that may come with the promotion of Deathspell Catharsis. With every album we learn something different. We do not have great expectations. That makes it easier for us to go on as we lay our focus on great live shows rather than dwelling in the past, regrets and just bullshit. And after this album a new album will come. So there is always something to look forward to.

How has metal intimately changed for the band and its experiences over the last fifteen years?

Trends will come and go. Authentic music and musicians will always stay. That is all I can say. And there is nothing wrong with that.

What does Lay Down Rotten have in store for the coming weeks and year as a whole?

The aforementioned tour with Massacre is one of the highlights we look forward to. Then we will play festival gigs as many as possible and we just released a fantastic video for the song The Fever. Check out our YouTube channel and get smashed.

Thank you again Jost for chatting with us. A last thought to leave the readers with?

Support your local Death Metal scene and go to club gigs. There are many great newcomers out there. Please check them out and give independent music a chance. Check out our homepage for all the important news and our previous releases.

www.laydownrotten.com

Read the review of Deathspell Catharsis @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/lay-down-rotten-deathspell-catharsis/

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 03/03/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com

Rages and condemnations: an interview with Jon Bakker of Kampfar

jon_bakker

jon_bakker

Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar is a band which has persistently drawn fans and metal into fully immersive and startling provocations with their sound and releases over its twenty years, but in new album Djevelmakt  has possibly crafted their strongest malevolence fuelled incitement yet, one soaked in riveting imagination and uncompromising artistry. The sixth full-length from the Fredrikstad band is an enthralling soul stealing oppression for ears and emotions alike, a pestilential fury to fear or embrace. We strived to find out more with bassist Jon Bakker who kindly shared time with us to talk about Kampfar, their excellent new Indie Recordings album, and plenty more dark corners…

Hi Jon and thanks for talking with us.

Kampfar is at the beginning of its third decade since forming, can you take us back to those first days of the band and how it came to life?

Kampfar came to life after the separation of Mock in 93/94. Dolk had visions of a Black Metal band with elements from the Nordic heritage. He met a guitar player with a complete different background than himself, and they started composing. They remained a duo for almost 10 years, releasing 2 full lengths and a couple of EP’s. Kampfar became a quartet in 93, playing the first live show in 1994. The second wave included the albums Kvass and Heimgang, recorded in a local studio. Several tours followed both releases. The third wave in Kampfar’s cycle started with Mare, a fresh start both soundwise and lyrically. We found the right sound in Abyss Studios and followed up with the fresh released Djevelmakt. Between those albums, Thomas, the guitar player for the last 18 years quit the band. Ole was found after a long search and the match was perfect. Stronger than ever before we are now ready to unleash Djevelmakt.

What was the biggest spark or trigger to move from existing bands into starting a fresh adventure with Kampfar?

The previous bands were more or less stagnating; individuals with different priorities in life. Dolk wanted to go all the way!

How would you describe your sound and the band itself back then in comparison to the Kampfar who has just released the excellent Djevelmakt?

The two first albums were very right for the time. Dolk had a strong idea for the sound and what he wanted for the band back in the early 90′s. The second wave came with Kvass and Heimgang, they experimenting a lot with compositions and sound and with still plenty of folk references in the music. With the third wave came the anger. Mare was a more direct and right in the face album with very clear messages. The follow up with the fresh Djevelmakt continue where Mare ended, with even sharper melodies and more direct lyrics. We brought in elements like flutes and strings, but nothing in a jolly way. Just pure anger!

You have mentioned the three waves of Kampfar, can you explain and elaborate on that for us?

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

 

The first wave was Kampfar in the early stage, being a duo for almost 10 years; the second becoming a quartet and the third moving outside the comfort zone in every way, including the change of the main composer. Every cycle was right for the time, and Djevelmakt is Kampfar anno 2014 in every way.

Do you see those ‘waves’ as chapters in the band’s evolution or more dramatic turns, like restarts?

Both. The evolution of the band is of course certain, but unpredictable things always happen and coloured the band along the way…personal challenges, changes in line-up, getting more experienced and older of course.

Can we look at Djevelmakt more closely now, your sixth album;  it is fair to say that every one of your albums has evolved or stretched the band’s sound and creativity, how do you see that development with your new full-length in relation to its predecessor Mare?

Djevelmakt is in many ways a natural follow up of Mare. The biggest difference is the change of the main composer and guitar player, but still everyone in the band wanted to push it as close to the limit as possible with Djevelmakt. There are elements that are not to be found on any previous releases. We took a good look at ourselves, taking things all the way, unknown territories but still very confident that we were on the right track.

I believe Djevelmakt was written in the first half of 2013 with its release this past month. Was the rest of the year taken up solely with the recording or were there interludes in its emergence?

The second part was filled with recording and finding all the right elements for the record. Photo sessions, artwork, dealing with partners and making visuals for promotion etc… Putting an album together is a huge job, and we’re proud that we fulfilled all our visions

You are a band and musicians who spends intensive time on every minute aspect of your music then?

Every day there’s duties to be done within the band. Not only musically, but also promotion and dealing with partners, live appearances and press. We’re not living close together, so we meet for weekend rehearsals. We talk together every day though, thanx to the www.

Tell us about the songwriting and its general working process within the band.

There’s a lot of sharing files and ideas. A composition is changed many times before the final result where everyone is satisfied. A song has to fit both live and on record and we always aim for perfection.

1465218_10152005407195490_102457038_nWhat is the theme behind Djevelmakt and the spark which inspired its premise for the album.

The main message is condemnation of everyone that doesn’t follow the rules. The Church dooms you to eternal purgatory if you choose not to follow their word, and it’s the same with the dark side of Christianity. This goes for most religions as well as society in common. Be a sheep, don’t ask questions and follow the stream. Well, fuck that and fuck them! We tell you that it’s ok not to follow the masses. Make your own path! We dig into the darkest corners and the deepest pits of the underworld to picture you that message. It’s an anti-religious, but for sure not anti-human record.

How much do personal experiences contribute to the emotion or shadows of your songs and especially the lyrical content?

All of it is very personal!

With a rich dark breath consistently bringing shadows to devour thoughts and emotions in your music, has or is your songwriting in any way a cleansing of emotional issues for the band and equally a canvas to lay thoughts and experiences out to investigate and work through as well as dealing with more world, Religious, and society bred situations?

Very much so! Everything surrounding us has impact on the way we think and behave. We are able to use our music to fight that trend. It’s a lost battle, but we still have to speak up. At least we get some of our anger out!

Is there any particular moment or aspect of Djevelmakt which has you going ‘Oh Yeah!’ inside?

I have many of those moments listening to the finished product, but when the chorus of Swarm comes along, the warm shivers run down my spine.

As we mentioned at the start Kampfar has been unleashed dramatically provocative and feistily satisfying music for twenty years, looking back how do you see the journey of the band to this point?

The journey has been breath-taking. From being an underground band with many visions and goals, to become a touring band is very satisfactory. Being able to release records through good working labels and being on the road with great bands is what we were and are aiming for.

How has the metal scene changed in relation to the band and its personal experiences?

The metal scene is mostly about trends I’m afraid. What’s hot and what’s not. Many good bands disappear with those changes. Kampfar started early with folk elements in the music, but the Ompa happy Metal ruined that whole style very thoroughly. That’s just all very sad.

Obviously you are proud of previous albums etc. but do you look at them now and instinctively see elements or aspects you would have done differently second time around or see them as they are and only look ahead; and will you be looking at Djevelmakt the same way in the future do you think?

Personally I have never been as satisfied as with the last two albums. I really believe that will stay. The second cycle of Kampfar I can for sure pick out some aspects that we would do different, but they felt right at the time.

Excluding Djevelmakt from the memories, what have been the most inspiring and thrilling moments with Kampfar for you over Kampfarthe past two decades?

Being on the road, playing some of the biggest metal festivals in the world and meeting people that truly admire our music is way beyond inspiring. The whole trip from the basement and up to where we are now is the perfect adventure.

…And the forgettable or regretful ones?

We seldom regret, but there are for sure some places we’ll never visit again and some people we’ll never work with again. Impossible to sort those out some times, but we learn.

What does 2014 have in store for and from Kampfar?

There’s going to be massive work after the release of Djevelmakt. A tour in March/April is already announced. Several festivals are confirmed and more trips are in the planning.

Once again thanks so much for sparing time with us. Any thoughts you would like to leave us contemplating?

Follow your own path and keep your banners high!

www.kampfar.com

Read the Djevelmakt review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/kampfar-djevelmakt/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 18/02/2014

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