I remember the first time i heard of NETHERBIRD. I downloaded (legally) all their demos and awaited patiently the arrival of their first album. That was a long time ago. Now they have a new album to promote. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
Is there a thought to the choice of band name? How important is the band name?
-The name Netherbird was of course a thought through choice and we wanted a name that is open to interpretation, something that is less evident and “clear” than many band names. We also wanted a name that is not to genre specific since we didn’t really know in the beginning what direction our sound and music would take. All we knew it would be dark and somewhat harsh, so we wanted a name that would enable us to grow without it loosing its relevance. The meaning is clear to me but I rather keep my idea of it to myself and have heard tons of different suggestions from our listeners. I always say they are right, it can mean a lot of things for different people.
When it comes to the importance of band names I must say that in my opinion they are only important until you get into the band, then the name loses its true meaning and the band becomes the music. That is why band names are important at first but then you do not really think to much about them. I could argue that a band name like Bolt Thrower really hasn’t the most interesting meaning to me, but to me they are their music and my memories and the images they conjure when I hear it, I no longer think of Warhammer or fantasy. But band names can scare away people, I for instance hated the name “Job For A Cowboy” and thought they would be some kind of disgusting nu/core/whatever but when I heard them I realized they are not. With another name I guess I would have given them some time earlier.
And I guess the name Netherbird might sound a bit more gothic than we really are but that was not the intention but I am sure some people have not listened to us due to our name, and perhaps would have thought differently if we had something that sounded more black or death metal. But we didn’t know what we were going to sound like and also wanted a name that is a bit unique so that is why we have the name we do.
The best band name is still Bathory but that was sort of taken already haha.
Just so we know what we are dealing with could you please give us a short introduction to the band?
-Netherbird is a Swedish metal band playing a blend of melodic black and death metal. We started out in 2004 as more or less a studio project and we had many guest and friends joining our first recording sessions, so the list of participants is pretty long. Since 2010 we took on a more solid form in order to play live and since then our lineup has only changed slightly between the releases. We are just about to release our third full length album, “The Ferocious Tides Of Fate” and will then do a fair number of live shows in Sweden, Romania, Moldavia and hopefully some festivals also during 2014.
Since our formation we have always put all our official releases out for free downloads on www.netherbird.com as well as on CD. So it is pretty easy to get hold of our music.
How do you find your sound? Do you take a whole bunch of influences and mix them together to make it your brew?
-We are very influenced by the old Scandinavian black and death metal scene and this is more and more evident in our music. We write and release the music we think, at least to a large degree, is missing today. So our music sounds more 1993 than 2013 I would guess. We of course listen to a lot of other things but our common ground is the early 90:s underground metal scene so that is where want to be musically. I have myself been an active part of the scene since more than two decades so to me it is nothing strange, I still think most bands and albums were better then than now, more emotion and passion, less over production and commercial dreams so to speak. But as with all bands we have progressed but in our case it makes us sound less and less modern I guess. These days we think very little of how our listeners “want” us to sound, instead we try to be honest and just write and record the songs the way we feel they should be like.
Does it become easier with time to write songs or is it a much more difficult process in that you don’t want to repeat what you’ve already done?
-I must say it just becomes easier with time. Me (Nephente) and Bizmark (Guitars) write most of the songs and these days we know instantly if a riff sounds right or not, we also have a better idea if it will work live or not. So that makes it pretty straight forward for us. We throw a lot of songs away early in the process when we write an album so these days we focus only on the songs we know will actually make it onto the album. We are extremely productive and could easily release two albums a year if we could only afford it, but without the backing of a bigger label we have to do it slower in order to be able to afford it. But our next album is already written and we will not wait another three years to release it, that much is certain.
What would you say is a great album cover? What does it have to contain for it to be great? I love the really big, colourful ones from the LP days. The ones you could sit for hours looking at discovering new details
-Damn good question. Just as with band names I think album covers are important, even more important than the band names, especially for making an album interesting enough to check out. Sadly these days an album cover is a thumbnail on spotify or the web hence it is not as cool as it used to be. But hopefully there will be new apps that will once again highlight artwork, lyrics and the other things that I think makes an album (besides the music obviously).
I also miss the LP formats when cover art was big enough to have details. I have spent endless hours looking at all the small hints and signs at the Iron Maiden covers. I think actually they are the best and have shaped so much of my “visions” of Iron Maiden, they go along perfectly with the music and the lyrics and really add to the whole thing. But it depends on the genre of course, Watain have perfect artwork for their music. It is both the way one expects it to be but with so much talent put into the details so that is another example of excellent, but very different artwork. Dan Seagrave made the whole death metal scene look a certain way also, though most of that artwork was less connected to the individual albums, at least I think so, but still also made a lot of sense.
We have strived to also have interesting and fitting artwork and I think for our releases “Abysmal Allure” and “The Ferocious Tides Of Fate” we have very good and befitting artwork. In both cases we used classical paintings that I actually had in mind when writing the lyrics and titles for these releases. So despite the fact that both these artists are long dead, their artworks influence our music and our lyrics so it is a nice example of what happens when different art forms meet. And we will keep on paying great attention to the artwork of our future releases as well.
What are your feelings on the latest album?
-I am damn proud of this album. It is the first time I feel we truly have been brave enough to go “all in” both with songwriting and production. It is true to our old roots and still we have put some new elements into it. And I can assure that our direction will lead us further onto this musical path so our next album will be a natural step further. So it feels great to see that also reviewers seem to like what they hear. Cannot wait to play more of these tunes live!
How has the internet changed the feeling of community in being a local band playing local shows? Does it still feel that you are a product of your surrounding area?
-Well the internet have change things a bit, but I have always considered the metal scene to be truly international. Sure there is the Scandinavian style, the German and the American and so on but when it comes to black and death metal it has broken all boundaries long before the full impact of Netherbird. I tape traded and read zines 1990 and already then I was in touch with people from around the globe so it is only marginally different now. Everything goes faster and easier and less cash spent on postage of course haha. But perhaps those younger than me see it differently, but nowadays I don’t even reflect when hearing an American band with a clearly Gothenburgian death metal sound. It is just natural. So I guess the few boundaries we have will soon be gone! But as long it doesn’t mean all bands sound the same I am fine with that!
As for being a product of our surroundings I guess you could say that. A product of the surroundings we had 20 years ago. These days there isn’t really a scene to speak of here, there are a million bands and we all struggle to reach out. What we lack is scene of the middle sized bands. There are the big and well established ones that tour the world and play good venues also in Sweden, and then are a all the new (most of them damn talented!) bands that play the really small venues. For bands like us there is really a lack of decent places to play. So the midfield is something we need to develop more, there are initiatives but here we all could do more, so we are a part of our surroundings and work with fellow bands but we sure need to make midsized shows happen and to exchange gigs with other bands from abroad that are well established but not yet on the level where they tour the world.
What ways has been the best for you in order to promote the band? What do you do to reach as many interested as possible?
-Internet is without question the best way for us to reach out. We have been using Myspace back in the day and Facebook now to stay in close contact with our listeners. But it is hard and it takes time to establish a band these days. And it also takes albums. Any band can record and release a decent sounding album, but the question is if they got what it takes to keep on doing it for ten years and to also be able to do great live shows. One has to prove in both these areas to really be a force to be reckoned with. We have stood the test of time and we are just getting started. But time, good releases, devoted listeners and patience is what it takes. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon! In truth there is no way even social media can be used to compensate for good music. You can fool people for a while, but in the end only the bands with good music will last. No matter facebook, twitter, tumblr and what not.
How do you best utilize the interest you get on social media to actually have it mean something in real life?
-We see internet and social media like the modern radio. Our music is out there and people will listen, and those that like it will hopefully get in touch. Back in the day they wrote letters, these days they can post a message. No difference there, really. But for us it is if they invite us to gig, and show up at these gigs, then social media manifests into something of value. A metal concert. 1000 “likes” on facebook is really nothing, 100 people showing up at a gig is everything. At least to me personally. But in order to have people showing up they need to find out about us and discover the music. And there Social Media is important, just like radio might have been back in the day.
What lies in the future?
-We are just back from a short tour in Finland and we got a longer tour planned for January 2014. That and at least one gig in Sweden is what we are focusing right now. We will also start recording our next album rather soon so we keep busy!
I want to thank you for this interview and for your support of the metal underground. I invite everyone to go to www.netherbird.com and download our music and to come to facebook.com/netherbird if you want to get in touch with us.