With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to THE CRAWLING. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
I haven’t heard from you guys in a while. The last time I interviewed you was back in 2017. What have you been up to since then?
-Yeah, it’s been a while for sure, 2017 seems life a lifetime ago, even more so at the moment! We’ve been doing a fair bit since then, relatively speaking of course. November 2018 we released our second album, “Wolves and the Hideous White,” load of new merch to go with it, and basically squeezed in as many shows as we could. Managed to get a bit of travel in, some cool support slots, festival shows, and release some music videos. It’s been a cool ride last couple of years.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-It was hard to pick a name for a number of reasons. As i’ve got older i’ve appreciated the importance of the name. Years ago i would have named a band solely on what i felt was cool, and reflected something i wanted to say; but i feel now it’s beneficial, where possible, to have it convey something more – the style of music, intent, so much more.
Our music is based on a slow death metal vibe, a lurking, repetitive feel. It was actually my bother who named the band. He plays himself, and his band had a slow(ish) track called ‘The Crawling’ that wasn’t working for them, so it was scrapped. The name was there, and he suggested we use it as it suited our music. It clicked instantly, and that was it.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-I can definitively pin point the moment my musical taste changed. I was about 15 years old, and was introduced to My Dying Bride – ‘As The Flower Withers.’ As soon as the album started, led with slow drums, nothing else … sparse and brooding. I’d never heard anything like it. It was enthralling; new, dark and drenched in emotion. From then on it sent me on a quest to find bands that gave me the same response. From there i found Anathema, Katatonia, Burzum, Isengard; those sort of bands, and to be honest, they continue to inspire me to this day.
I have started listening to other bands of course, and quite enjoy a few metalcore (i think that’s the genre) bands, and more extreme death metal stuff which give me the same feel. I enjoy the production of some modern metal when the bands really light up!
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-I always knew how the music would sound. I think song writers always gravitate towards a certain style, and i’m particularly focused on a certain type of music. I always end up playing slow, heavy, repetitive at times, with a melodic overlay. I did decide to use exclusively death metal vocal, and avoid a clean voice. I do love clean vocals in death metal, Swallow The Sun for example, but i know i’m not a good enough singer to pull that off.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-I hear this a lot, but oddly everyone i know continues to buy albums, and i do so myself; albeit in digital form. That said, i have spoken to some ‘younger’ folks about their listening habits, partially out of curiosity, and partially to see if The Crawling should adapt our strategies for releasing music. From a few i’ve chatted with, playlists appear to be the big thing, which isn’t new either i guess, as we all made mix tapes back in the day. Either way, yes, people are listening to music predominantly in a “non-album” format, and bands are starting to respond by releasing music on a track-by-track basis.
Personally i don’t subscribe to the system (yet), and i don’t listen to any bands that do this; but there are advantages i guess. If i were to do it, i imagine you’d get a longer duration from an album amount of tracks. An album gets released, and it’s hard to keep it in the public eye, but if you drip feed the songs, i guess it keeps the interest and attention longer.
It would also give more time per track to get a music video out, associated press, again – keeping the band in the social media feed. Another probable benefit would be just writing one song at a time, which as an artist would feel quite liberating. I think it would give you more time to refine a track, really put a lot of effort into it; rather than trying to compress 12 songs into a relatively shorter writing period. Maybe. But also, i enjoy an “album listen.” Writing 12 tracks over a long period of time could be an uneasy, disassociated listen.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-Personally i’m all about artwork. We have been fortunate enough to have Travis Smith provide the art for our last 2 albums, which is amazing. It still amuses me he did our art; since i grew up admiring his work on some of my favourite albums.
I think cover art is becoming even more important, as in our new digital world people only get to see a small square on a phone. Gone are the days of buying an album, spending hours leafing through every page, ingesting every lyric, memorising the song titles and the like. So, you only get one chance to get peoples attention, so a great piece of art is critical.
Again, on a personal level i really enjoy a well laid out CD digipack that folds out into some intricate symbol, with glorious images spread throughout; but i do feel it’s a minority audience.
Grabbing attention is more difficult than ever now, but getting a proper, talented artist is definitely the way forward. You need art that speaks to the people who would listen to your music. Creating something shocking, if there even is such a thing anymore, is pointless as it won’t generate true fans.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-When i started playing in a band 25 years ago, it was photocopied flyers, posters on lampposts, demo trading, printed fanzines; it’s different now. I guess the fundamentals are the same – you have to have great music first of, then create interest by getting people to notice you by plastering it everywhere ha, ha! Lampposts have been replaced with a computer screen, flyers with instagram photos, fanzines with blogs, and demo tapes with spotify playlists. Same shit, different format.
The only great shift in promotion i see is the removal of ‘mystique.’ It used to be incredibly difficult to find out much about individual members of band, you only got to see official photos in printed mags, that was it. Nowadays you can follow your favourite rockstar on social media, where they are happy to post their entire day. You can watch superstars eat breakfast, work out, play with their kids, walk their dog. It’s quite mental. But, it is a strong promotional tool these days that a lot of successful bands are utilising.
With this whole pandemic that we are going through, have you noticed that there has been an even greater feel of community in the scene? How has the whole world wide pandemic affected you?
-Being form Northern Ireland, with a relatively small population, and subsequent metal scene, we have a fairly tight community anyway. I think practically everyone i know from bands in Belfast are on some form of social media, and play a lot of shows together, so during the pandemic most of us are simply conversing over messenger, public posts and the like, rather than the old school method of ‘over pints in the bar.’ Ha, ha!
The pandemic probably affected us the same as most other bands. Gigs and tours cancelled, rehearsals canned, videos out the window; basically we’ve been taken out at the knees. On the flip side, it’s forced us to be more creative under the current restrictions of no contact, and try and find other ways to play music.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-Not as much as i’d like to be honest, but that could just be the 16 year-old in me yearning to be a rockstar. I haven’t toured more than 10 days straight, and that was a long time ago; so i might feel differently if i spent months in the back of a van now! I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to find out mind you…
Basically we (The Crawling), are getting on in years and have associated responsibilities. It’s all about life choices. We all work, which allows a certain standard of living, which i probably wouldn’t like to give up now; but it has it’s own caveats of restricting time from home, and reducing tour schedules. It’s all about balance.
I still find touring a great way to get the band out there. When we do tour, we always see a spike in spotify plays, youtube views and social media interactions; so despite being an old school format – it does work. However, it’s all about getting decent gigs, and that’s more difficult. As an underground band, getting the word out, getting metal heads to come out to see you in a lower tier venue, on a rainy Tuesday night is almost impossible. Festivals are a great way of spreading the word, but you need some kind of draw to being with to get booked in the first place. It’s a difficult scenario.
But we still do it, as it’s great fun besides anything else!
What will the future bring?
-At the moment … i haven’t a fucking clue. On a base level, The Crawling are working on new material, starting to look at booking shows and getting other ideas together. The global upset has made the ground hard to read, so personally i’ll need a more concrete view of what’s going on before we can start implementing a new grand plan.
Until then, stay miserable…