In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in presenting you to this interview with TANITH. Answers from Russ.Anders Ekdahl ©2019
What kind of vision did you have when you started and how has it changed over the years?
-Over the years..? haha it’s only 1.5 years since this band formed! To be honest, at first Cindy and I were only looking for some regular gigs here in New York (where she lives). We’d been playing a set of old 70s rock covers back in England and wanted to do the same thing here when I was in town. We only started writing our own songs so we could get gigs because the cool clubs in this city won’t hire cover bands! So it was kind of a lucky accident. But since that happened, we certainly grabbed the bull by the horns. I’d say if anything, our vision is to make music based not on speed or heaviness but on the quality of the writing, the melody and the space around it. We want our music to sound real, not contrived.
Does location mean anything today? We used to hear about how it was all location, location, location back in the days if you wanted to make it big? That you had to come from a certain place to be sure to make it.
-Location is not as big a deal as it used to be before the internet happened. But it’s still important to be in (or near to) a decent sized city with a vibrant club scene and a diversity of band & venues. There are locations to which many people would happily travel to watch a band or festival just because the location itself is a cool place to be. If you are in a band you need to play these places on a regular basis to test yourself and stay in the current. New York is certainly such a place. Newcastle not so much.
What is it like to be a in a band and to get to tour all over the world? What kind of feelings do that bring about?
-Well as regards Tanith, we have played a total of only nine shows to date. And all but one of them was in the US, so we aren’t the most well travelled band in the world. But as it happens I can still answer that question for you since I also play with Satan. I have to say with touring, it’s a double edged sword. You get to play in so many fantastic cities, but you never get to really see anything of them except the airport, hotel, and venue. And if you are lucky enough to get a day off in a cool location, chances are that you’ll be too tired and delirious to go out. I’ve done that myself many times. In the middle of a tour with a whole day off in say, Copenhagen or Buenos Aires I’ve chosen to use that day to catch up on lost sleep rather than go out and explore. Sometime afterwards you have to ask yourself “did I really go there?” I mean I’ve played in Los Angeles three times now and never been there for more than 12 hours, it’s kind of crazy.
What kind of feedback have you had on your music, your latest album and in general? How important is feedback?
-It’s been a definite pleasant surprise to me how well our music has been received within the Metal scene. As much as I love this music myself, I wasn’t convinced that so many other people would feel the same way. I mean, there are already enough metalheads who tell me that even Satan is too ‘lite-beer’ for their tastes. I’m not going to worry too much about that. Satan is about as intense as I’d care to go, and Tanith for me, is kind of a Yang to that Yin. I can hardly believe the amazing reviews our debut LP ‘In Another Time’ has gotten in the metal press. It’s important because it feels like a vindication and a green light to carry on with what we started.
How do you know that you have written a “hit” song? Is there a particular feeling you get when you know that this is the one, this is the big “make it song”?
-How does one define the term ‘hit’ in this modern era where record sales are only a tiny fraction of what they used to be? Is it a piece that appeals to you and your colleagues and close fans alike? Is it something that goes on gain popularity outside of your normal circles? Maybe it’s a song that over time becomes a live favourite that the audience scream for? I’d be happy with any of those scenarios really, but whatever it is, it’s not going to make you rich like it might have forty years ago. If Tanith is known for one particular song I guess that would be Citadel. It’s kind of catchy I admit, but we have no interest in writing an album full of catchy singles. We are not Def Leppard.
As I am no musician I will never got to know the difference of analogue and digital. Can you explain the difference to me? what are the pros and cons of analogue V/S digital?
-Ah, you must’ve heard that we recorded our record analogue? It’s pretty simple really. You could liken it to the difference between home cooking and fast food. One takes longer and is more expensive but you get a superior tasting meal. The other takes only a few minutes and is very cheap but in the end it doesn’t satisfy you the same way. When it comes to recording music, bands must choose what it is right for them. Analogue means that you record your music onto magnetic tape, big tape two inches wide! Then you mix down to half inch tape, then take the tapes to a cutting studio where they cut the vinyl master on a lathe. The sound is so beautiful. Until 1990 this was the only way to make music. Most young bands will not even remember or have even heard of it. Digital means recording your music onto a computer, which affords you almost unlimited editing capabilities, you can correct glaring mistakes within seconds, you can cut and paste multiple performances from different takes to make one perfect song. The convenience of it makes life very easy and it’s a fraction of the cost of analogue recording but in the end, it just doesn’t sound as good. It’s not even close. To my ears it’s like the CGI of the music world. The problem is that just about everybody records digitally now, and since the tape machines in analogue studios are costly to maintain, they could go out of business if current trends continue. This would be a terrible loss for the world.
What is it like to have people you never met liking your music and singing along to it at gigs?
-I think we are just now getting to the point where that’s beginning to happen. As I said we haven’t played a ton of shows yet but the song that I see people mouthing the words more than any other is Citadel, which of course was our single. It’s so gratifying not just for me but I’m so happy for the guys in the band who’ve worked just as hard as me in creating this music. Only two years ago, they were themselves part of the audience at metal shows singing along to their favourite bands.
How important are lyrics to you guys? Do you have any messages that you want to get forward?
-Personally, lyrics mean a lot to me. Both Cindy and myself are admirers of true poets within music such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen etc. I’m not saying we would ever try to create that amount of detail within a Tanith song, but we are determined to offer the listener more than the usual 40 approved words that every other metal band seems to use (and I include the mighty Judas Priest in that bracket). I’d like to think that topically we are focusing on a more positive slant to our lyrics. Highlighting the good in mankind rather than the bad.
I love a really cool cover but I get the feeling that today with all this digital uploading/downloading people aren’t that concerned about artwork. How do you feel?
-I’m not sure that I agree with your observation. Yes downloading happens a lot and physical sales are not what they used to be, but at least half of the people I know who download are only ‘trying before buying’. If they like what they hear they go ahead and buy the record. And they want the artwork and the lyric sheets and the poster & pictures. That will never die.
What does the future hold?
-Who knows? It’s so exciting at the very beginning of this new venture where anything seems possible. I certainly feel that Tanith has the capability to transcend the metal market, but I’m also proud to be part of the metal scene myself. As to the immediate future it looks like we will be touring in Europe late October through mid November, so please watch this space for the dates.