With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to STEORRAH. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-I found the name Steorrah when I was studying Old English. Something about the sound of it struck me as memorable, although I went for a somewhat obscure spelling with the letter h at the end. It means star, which I found beautiful, yet mysterious enough for a metal band name.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Steorrah’s members have a very diverse musical background. Most of us grew up with nineties metal. Black metal, death metal, melodic death metal, progressive or goth metal… but also the vast catalogue ofrock’n roll history as well as jazz, trip hop and classical music. So our “house gods” are to be found among Pink Floyd as well as early Darkthrone, Tiamat or Portishead. Or any number of bands, really. At the moment Tom Waits is my poison of choice.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Sure, we don’t go very fast that often, but whenever we do the musical physics are different, you have to keep certain sonic aspects in mind if you want the listener to be able to grasp everything that’s going on. Then I also have to mind whether I’m gonna sing during the fast bits or not or what kind of overall feeling I want the fast bit to have. On the other hand, whenever you apply the handbrake and slow down for effect, you’re gonna want it to become as heavy as possible, so you go for chords or certain harmonies, rather than playing melodies in the middle range of the fretboard. But I think that’s a very common phenomenon in heavy metal, it’s not really something that sets us apart from other bands.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-I like recording, but playing live is really where it’s at. Heavy metal is supposed to be played live so we try not to write things we can’t pull of live, with a few exceptions across our three albums. There may be bits where we made slight arrangement changes though, in order to make it sound better live. We don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to sound 100% like on the record, as long as you play with passion and it still sounds good. I used to play in a Big Band you know, the idea of staying “true” to an original state of a song is generally frowned upon, in that world. Some people in the metal community do not understand this, we have had a few reviewers struggling with details like the few piano outros that we don’t have on stage. Christian could play them, yes, (and he has on occasions) but we play a lot of very small stages with no room for a keyboard so I think what’s the point. If you can end the song on a fat guitar chord and it still works, go for it.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-It’s hard to say from a subjective background. Obviously we grew up in a time when you still hung around your local record store and eagerly waited for weeks for the new album of your favourite band. It seems to me an album release has lost its magic among the flood of releases though and if you can’t make a bang on the day of release, you’re going to be yesterday’s news sooner than you can look. The absolute availabilty of each and every record ever made is nice for consumers (to which I am certainly not an exception) but right now it seems to be changing something in the way we listen music. The entire scene is becoming more and more nostalgic. 70% of the bands you find in rock and metal magazines in Germany are rehashing the 70’s and there hasn’t been a new trend in years. I have no idea what the actual reasons are, but 15 years of decline in sales and the fact that streaming revenues only benefit the few big players are definitely having an effect on bands like us. Unless of course you’re a millionaire to begin with.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-I don’t want to slam fans over sticking to their heroes. That kind of dynamics is what made heavy metal unique in the first pace. But I am indeed a bit worried about how labels and especially the bigger metal magazines are milking every single thing about bands that had their heydays when I was in primary school and simultaneously younger bands don’t have the slightest chance of ever reaching that status. There are so many reasons for this, easy access to music is certainly not the main problem here. At the end of the day, the customer (= the fan) decides. And if people want to spend a 3-digit ammount on a ticket to see Metallica or Rammstein, knock yourself out, but unless you also visit 5€ underground gigs, don’t complain about how there was no good bands coming up the ranks.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-Hm, right now there seems to be precisely 2 versions of metal artworks. It’s either
*some anthropomorphic figure in the middle of it, among some postapocalyptic hellscape (it either has fangs or tits, sometimes both) or the other way is to put some completely arbitrary fractal image on it, with no chance you’re able to describe what’s actually on it. It’s become very boring and I’m saying that as an absolute lover of great artworks. But there is nothing an artwork “needs to have”, other than it needs to fit the music in some way. Either in a complementary way or in a disturbing, “wrong” kind of way. Whatever that may be.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-I don’t think we are. There are a few progressive death metal bands in Germany but they’re hardly connecting. There is a bit of a scene around festivals like Euroblast though, where that kind of music has sort of found a home in the German festival landscape. The general climate for metal in Germany right now is good but boring. Everyone is either occupied with notalgic navel-gazing and bickering over whose amps are more retro. And if they don’t it’s often about being some kind of viking live-action roleplay, because there’s not enough bands with horned helmets already. Both of which is very boring if you ask me. I must sound very grumpy to you, haha. Trust me, I’m not. I am just very bored with our current metal scene at the moment.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries
as a band?
-Jeez, I’m going to sound just as grumpy on this one. I try to keep an open mind about it. At the end of the day it’s not an inevitable fate. It really depends on what the fans do. If you chose to llisten to you music on your phone there may be an aesthetic loss at some level, but as long as you support good local bands, by attending their shows and occasionally buying their merch, they will at least be able to do what they’re doing on that local level. If you happen to believe you’re supporting bands by paying a monthly tenner to Spotify, then you need to go back to school anyway.
What lies in the future?
-More shows, more music but unfortunately nothing too spectacular I could announce at this time.