THE HOUSE OF CAPRICORN from New Zealand kinda rocked my world the first time I heard them. Not being able to really place them anywhere messed with my head so much so that I just gave up trying to figure them out and just settle for them being metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
When I listen to The House Of Capricorn I can’t get a real grip on the music you play. What would you say is your greatest influence?
-I’m glad there’s a level of ambivalence! I almost feel as mysterious as Deathspell Omega. Our greatest influence is the Devil. But I assume by influence you mean musical influence? There definitely isn’t one firm influence in particular, but there are two sides that are pretty overt, I guess.. Gothy-driven rock that isn’t lame, like Type O Negative, The Sisters of Mercy and Babylon Whores (your Finnish neighbours — I know how much you Swedes traditionally love the Fins — hahaha)… And good, scummy Black Metal like Craft, Darkthrone, Mortuus, Glorior Belli, Shining’s II, III and IV, and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas by Mayhem. I do like some of that real evil Swedish-sound stuff like the last Ondskapt, and Casus Luciferi by Watain. Of course, there are other things in the mix too, like doom and a bit of stoner rock, and of course stuff like Entombed, but to me The House of Capricorn is mainly just dark rock music. You can call it Apocalyptic Devil Rock if you want.. thats the tag I like best. Hahaha.
Stoner is to me a lighter version of doom metal, a Black Sabbath light if you if like. To what do you attribute the stoner bits in your music?
-You see, I don’t really hear much stoner rock at all on In the Devil’s Days. I attribute whatever people hear as stoner rock on there as a hangover from Sign of the Cloven Hoof that we just couldn’t seem to kick. I mean, we made a pretty strong point this time around to lose 99% of it from what we were doing and just focus on the more gloomy stuff, but I guess it’s like trying to shake an old habit. We all do listen to stoner rock though (the others moreso than myself), so I suppose there’s no escaping it really. Hahaha.
NB. Please don’t get me wrong. Stoner rock is fucking cool. I just decided that there are a thousand other bands out there that play the style a thousand times better than us, so better to leave it to them.
I like the fact that random words put together can take on a new meaning. What is the meaning behind the combination of words in your band name?
-Hahaha. ‘The House of Capricorn’ is essentially referencing the house in the zodiac that is relevant to the Devil.. you know, like, ‘goat = devil’. None of us are into astrology, however. ‘The House of the Devil’ wasn’t really fitting the bill back when I named the band though… we were a bit more subtle and clandestine at that stage. I’m also glad we didn’t use that name.. those people that made that great movie wouldn’t be impressed (even though HOC started long before that flick was out). Might have helped us come up on Google searches though.
You have a couple of releases to your name. How would you value them stood against each other?
-We value them all, each holding a special place deep within our hearts. However, In the Devil’s Days is definitely the number one in my eyes, as its taking the direction I’m most comfortable with. Plus, my vocals on ItDD are actually tolerable.
I like the lay-out of your new album. It feels a little like reading a book. How much time and effort has gone into the lay-out?
-Good to hear! The whole idea was there from the get-go, I think before we’d even started writing the songs. The design took a bit of time… like with all of our releases, our buddy Jamie Saint-Merat (who plays traps in an excellent band called Ulcerate) looks after all of the kvltivation.. everything from engineering our recordings to mixing to artwork. I like having everything in-house, and Jamie really catches our vibe best, visually (having known us all for a number of years). This time we came to him and said ‘we want to lay this out like a bible, with sketched symbols to be linked with each song. The overall devil-worshipping and symbolic element needs to be even more overt than it was on Sign of the Cloven Hoof, too’. Ami (who plays bass) put together the drawings while Jamie smashed the rest together. We then put it all in a big cauldron, and voila, deal sealed.
How important is a good looking product in this age of digital downloading? When people download music to Ipods etc. artwork becomes secondary.
-I view artwork as another vehicle to try and portray the atmosphere a band or artist is trying to achieve. Tapping into the visual element will act as a stronger polarizing agent: some people will be drawn to it, others repelled. In turn, short-changing on artwork when you play this kind of music (or any kind, really), whether is hardcopy or digital, will essentially see your overall concept weakened.. Whether you are a singer songwriter posing emotionally on a bench in your backyard with an acoustic guitar while looking woefully into the sunset, a rapper holding a wad of $100 bills, an artrock band with some spazzy post-modern design, or a band like us. It simply aids in getting your message across. But, if you don’t have a message.. well.. who cares about art work, right?
Has the way you distribute your music successfully changed with the introduction of new technologies? What future do you see for the CD and vinyl formats?
-It definitely has. The digital future is a bright one for independent bands like us, who work off our own platform and don’t have the support of a larger label to arrange massive distribution deals and press 10,000 copies on disc. Regarding vinyl, I still love it. I would have loved to have released ItDD on vinyl but we vouched for CD instead. The next album will most probably just be on vinyl and in digital form, as the strength of CD’s is definitely receding in my eyes.
Living in Northern Europe I can feel a bit isolated from the rest of Europe, even if London is like 2 hours away by plane. How do you feel being all the way on the other side of the world?
-It has its ultimate positives and its ultimate negatives. Being so far away means we (HOC specifically) aren’t really directly influenced by too much scene bullshit. Also, traditionally New Zealand is a country that has always prided itself on its independent, DIY attitude… getting stuff done yourself how you want it without waiting for assistance. This filters through to our approach to music. Can’t just hang about waiting to get picked up by a dream label – rather just get it done ourselves. That’s not limited to just New Zealanders though, of course.. It’s just a very harboured attitude here. At the same time, the isolation limits the ability to actually go out and properly tour, as it costs an arm and a leg to get anywhere other than Australia. Oh well, just have to build a bridge and get over it.
What kind of collaboration between New Zealand metal bands is there? How important is DIY in such a small scene as the NZ metal scene?
-Tonnes, in terms of cohesion to keep things flowing by way of live shows and so forth. Luckily enough there are sets of bands in each main centre. Auckland has The House of Capricorn, Shallow Grave, Creeping, Dying of the Light and a number of others. Hamilton has Arc of Ascent, Viking Weed and more. Wellington has Methdrinker and Numbskull. Christchurch has Second Gear Grind, Stone Angels, Stonehurst and others. Hell Comes to Frogtown are from Timaru (a spot between Christchurch and Dunedin). And the deep south (Dunedin & Invercargill) has Osmium, Left or Right, Made in China, and was also home to one of the greatest bands of all time, Soulseller, who recently split. Whenever there is stuff going down in any given town, the local squadron will act as a supplementary body in terms of gearshare and backline, promo, etc. At the same time, I can’t pass up the opportunity to promote one of my bandmates Ami, who has consistently acted as the figurehead for coordination in the NZ underground rock community. On top of logistically putting together numerous tours (nation and international acts), she also is head honcho for the annual Stoner Rock / Doom / Psych festival: Northern Lights in Auckland and Eyes of the South in Christchurch, which takes place each December. 2011’s edition was the most successful in the 5 years it’s been going, and was a complete operational dream for Ami due to this DIY, pull-it-together attitude that all the bands have. Also, I can’t fail to mention www.stonerdoom.co.nz, a forum set up by a cat called Rich (who has unfortunately moved back to the UK), which definitely acts as a great hub for discussion and promotion. Overall, there’s no money, only passion and commitment. Kinda like being in love with a girl with broke parents.
Is there touring in the future for The House Of Capricorn? How will you promote the band the best way to gain the most response?
-Oh, we plan to tour. It’s just a matter of linking up with some good people and getting it all coordinated and in order. Hopefully the US or Europe either some time in 2012, or after the next album, which will probably be out in 2013. The unfortunate thing, as mentioned above, is that it costs us a tonne of cash to get anywhere from NZ, so we’ve got to be sure it’s going to be a good plan before we each go investing $4,000 each. Haha.
Thanks for your time!