AFTER OBLIVION

AFTER OBLIVION is death metal. That is all that has to be said really. Read this interview with Adnan Hatic (vocals, guitars) and listen to the album and you’ll get the general idea. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Do you feel that you are at the edge of the European metal community coming from a place not known for its metal scene?
-Hi there. Well, yes, you can say that. Everyone would take a band that has a German instead of Bosnian prefix more seriously. People are used to that, but there is a chance for a change, not only for us, but for all the bands coming from Eastern Europe and some other territories where
metal is popular but where there are no big sounding band names. Something similar happened in Poland in the last 10 years.

When you are in a band does it feel like you are a part of a greater thing?
-I was thinking that way before, but not now. I have been in bands for a long long time so that has become a part of me. I now think of it as a of way to go out and hang out with other like minded people.

Death metal is not a single genre anymore. How did you find your place in the death metal universe?
Truth is that there is so much diversity in death metal nowadays, but anyone who has ever listened to the music can find something in common for all the bands. Not sure where our place is, but I believe that we are doing fine in tech death subgenere…

When you form a band with what intention do you do so?
-I always wanted to play in a band, since I was 10 or so and over the years, playing in different bands, this idea grew and I knew exactly what I wanted when I was starting After Oblivion. I believe that I am capable of creating similar music to the one that I grew up with and that I still love to listen.

When I got into metal in the 80s it was hard for a band to find a label. How hard is it today to find a label that fits your needs?
-Besides having far more labels to apply to, it is also much easier and faster to find info about each label and to contact them. I was not involved in that before, I remember some fan clubs and things
like that, but I believe that it was a long process sending letters.

What is it like being a band in this day and age? Has the whole digital/download scene changed the way you act as a band?
-In essence, everything will always be the same. The only thing changed is the way people are consuming music. Also, you can easily find new bands and get their music, but that has also a downside, because you have a lot to choose from and still limited time, so I believe that there are no such strong connections between the fan and a specific release as there were before.

What kind of feelings run through your bodies knowing that you will have an album in your hands?
-It is really nice to see the fruit of your work finalized. Then you know that your effort pays off and it gives you strength to continue doing it.

How tough is it to find gigs when you don’t have a record to show for?
-It is not that hard to organize a concert. I am also doing it in my town and doing so I meet a lot of people from all over the world and got good contacts. The tricky thing is how to get money, even the basic fee to cover your expenses, because there are so many concerts everywhere and the audience is quite picky.

What place does playing live have in today’s way of promoting your band?
-It is really important to have regular concerts. To keep the buzz and meet new people, because people like to connect faces and stories with the sound, and no better chance for that than at a gig. Also, that is where we sell most of our CDs and T shirts.

What will the future bring for After Oblivion?
-Well, we are planing to record a few new songs in next month or so. Just waiting for the right moment. After that probably some short tours and, if we manage, to get ourselves to some festivals. In long terms, we plan to record a new full length album and spread our music to the wider audience.

http://www.afteroblivion.com/
http://www.facebook.com/AfterOblivion
http://metal-on-metal.com/bands/after-oblivion/

ARKHAM WITCH

ARKHAM WITCH are the archtype of British to me. Listen to them and tell me otherwise. Simon Iff (vocals) answered my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

When you stand at the brink of releasing a new album how nervous is it not knowing how people will react?
-It’s always a bit nerve racking, because, being so close to the material yourself, it is hard to judge it critically. It’s only a few months afterwards you can reckon up whether or not the band has done a good job! Luckily for us, people have seemed to like what we have done so far…

When I saw the first part of your band name I came to think of Batman but I guess that there’s a different meaning to your choice?
-Arkham is a fictional city created by the horror/sci-fi writer Howard Philips Lovecraft whose work we all admire terribly. But if it conjures up images of Batman, that is because they nicked the name for the Gotham City asylum!

When you come from a country that pretty much formed the music we love does that make you humble in your creativeness?
-It makes us humble in the sense that we want to live up to our country’s musical legacy by honouring the traditions and bands that we love, but our influences come from bands all over the world. England seems to have largely moved on from this legacy of great kick arse metal and rock bands in terms of the metal scene at large, whilst Europe and the rest of the world seem to recognise it a bit more. Oh the irony!

When you release a debut album what kind of expectations do you have on that first album?
-Probably none at all – at the least we hope that someone somewhere will like it and get the same kicks out of it that we had recording it. That’s the good thing about writing heavy metal songs – you get to connect and meet with people who dig the same things as you. If it was not for the internet and the worldwide tradition, metal scene we would be quite isolated here in England – as we were a few years ago before the web became available to oinks like us!

When you then release a second album how much have you moved the expectations? What would be a failure and what would be a success?
-There is no money in this business – this is really just an expensive hobby for us, so there are no expectations about failure or success in that respect. I would be content if we released an album and it was slagged off and criticized as much as if it was praised. It’s being completely ignored that is the worst!

Something I often wonder about is how you go about finding the right kind of people to work with? How do you know whom to trust?
-I still don’t trust anyone in the band – even myself! Not sure what you mean with this question!
The right people to work with are the ones who you get along with – luckily everyone in this band are old friends and we have all been in other bands together before! If we were a big rock band and did not get on I would probably put up with it for the money, but if I were in a band with some twat or twats I didn’t get on with – I wouldn’t bother – not worth the hassle!

How vital is the live scene for more underground bands? How easy is it to arrange a tour both nationally as well as internationally?
-It’s vital in the sense it is the reason a band like us gets attention at all. Underground heavy metal fans are the most unpretentious, knowledgeable and passionate fans around. That is not to say there aren’t any cunts who spoil things and act like arses from time to time, but overall and compared to other more popular pastimes and forms of music – the tradition and doom metal fans are as sound as a pound. They know what they like and look through the bullshit of image and trend. I think if you are honest with your music and honour the traditions you will be accepted.
It is hard work to arrange a tour both nationally and internationally, and hats off to all the underground heroes who get off their arses and do this – because 90 percent of the time it is for the love of the music and they operate at a loss!

How much has the promotion of a band’s name changed in the last 5 – 10 years?
-I suppose a lot of the promotion is done on the Internet these days and the days of fly posting any available space in town have long since disappeared. Quite ironic really, seeing as now there is loads of space to put them up what with all the empty high street shops our internet consumption is busy killing off!

Is digital/download the death knell of metal or the saviour? How can you affect people’s way of consuming music the best/most?
-I think it is both. More people hear your music but less people pay for it.

What would the ideal future bring for Arkham Witch?
-The means to continue making heavy metal music without fear of finance or deafness!

http://www.facebook.com/ArkhamWitch
http://metal-on-metal.com/bands/arkham-witch/
http://www.myspace.com/rourkesdriftyorkshire

GIACOMO CASTELLANO

I don’t feel like a failure when I hear a guitar album. I just don’t understand it the same way I understand an album with vocals. GIACOMO CASTELLANO might be known to some but to me he was unfamiliar. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

How come you are not better known than you are on a worldwide basis? What have you been up to?
-I have been working mostly as session musician and arranger, that doesn’t really makes you shine but I was happy with it until I’ve needed again to produce my music and here we go!

When you go solo what is it that you are looking for that you can’t get in a band situation? How great a confidence do you have to have to go solo?
-First of all I guess you need a lot of confidence, then a good team and a budget!
Artistically talking I look for something that can sound interesting for a wider range of people, rather than just guitar players. I’m not into a band, but I always work with the same people, good friends of mine too. I rather would define us as a Team more than a band.

Is it harder to write instrumental songs than it is writing with lyrics?
-I think it all depends on what your musical background is, mine includes a lot of instrumental music so I guess that’s why it is more natural for me. I also love songwriting but in my opinion instrumental music offers a wider amount of available styles that you can mix.

How do you avoid being repetitive when you don’t have the vocals to write around? How do you keep the listeners interest for a full album?
-Those are the goals that every artist want to achieve! I just try to get a different flavour for every composition, I also try to put some unique color using different arranging techniques. I also think that on instrumental records is important to use the sounds to define very well the different the parts of the song (verse, chorus…) avoiding that the tracks sound as a non-stop guitar solo. I also try to compose my solos and not overplay.

How do you come up with song titles when there are no lyrics? What is there to the titles?
-I take note of any cool word of sentence I hear around or that comes in my mind, that sentence can match an existing song or inspiring a new one, it’s all abstract and fun, there are no rules at the end! Sometimes behind a title there can be a memory, a feeling or a thought.

What have been your greatest inspirations? What kind of people do you look up to?
-The list is long of course! I think anything I listen to (and enjoy) can somehow inspire me. When I was young I was into Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Weather Report, YES, Peter Gabriel, Vai, Van Halen, Jeff Beck and of course all the other classic Rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen and so on, During the 90’s I was listening to Grunge bands, Trip Hop, Radiohead. Then Korn, Foo Fighters… It’s a very long and various list! I try to be open minded, especially about sounds. I also like Dubstep for example! I guess it has a very powerful sound that can inspire me to do something weird with my guitar. If you only listen to guitarists then your music will tend to be too similar to other guys.

What kind of scene is there for instrumental rock/hardrock/metal? For whom do you play?
-Where I live I notice that there’s a growing interest, I’ve seen Guthrie Govan Playing at the Keller Plaz (One of the biggest clubs of my area) , the place was packed! Same thing with Allan Holdsworth, Marty Friedman and so on, I guess there’s a growing interest, at list here in Italy and the most interesting thing is to see that the audience is not composed only by guitar players!

From what I understand you will re-issue your previous album before you release a new one. How will this re-issue differ from the original and why are you doing this?
-I’ve remixed and remastered it personally, as a producer it was very important for me to go through this upgrade because I always considered the first edition sounding too harsh. We decided to do this to make it sound less compressed and more natural and finally get rid of the “harshness” of the first release. On the digital version there’s an extra track feat. Thomas Lang on drums, that track gives an idea of what’s gonna happen on the new record, the title is NAKED SUN.

When you are a solo artist is that more of a studio thing or do you take it out on the roads too? How do you take it from record to a stage?
-It has been more a studio thing until now but I strongly want to go live. The band will include me, bass, drums and another musician playing the second guitar when needed, some keyboards and sequences. I will re-arrange the songs for the live show.

What is there in the future for you?
-The future is all about my new record!

DILUVE

DILUVE was a blank to me before I got sent their album. But I liked it enough to wanting to know more about the band. All answers by Nico. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

As I think that not too many know of DILUVE would you be so kind to quickly introduce us to the band?
-We are five nice guys from Tuscany, we love to play fast and louder than hell. Our music can be described as a sort of Metal-Punk.

Is there such a thing as a traditional Italian heavy metal sound? Do you feel that you follow in any certain footsteps?
-In my opinion there isn’t a thing that can be defined as ‘italian sound’; the real Italian rock trademark is the ‘italian attitude’… we are very spontaneous and we like to show our rough nature on stage.

How hard is it to be totally original today? What have been your greatest influences so far?
-When you play and compose music you just have to express yourself by writing arrangements and words that you feel and don’t care about being original. Every band finds his sound and his style by following his path, this is not an immediate thing. We think that hearing and playing different kinds of music is very important; the bands we listen are many but the bands that inspired our album sessions are few: Anthrax, Offspring, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Helloween, No-Fx.

How do you describe the choice of band name? What does it mean to you?
-Is not easy to find a band name that you like and that sound good. The name ‘Diluve’ doesn’t mean anything, is just the saxonization of the Italian word ‘Diluvio’ which means ‘Flood’.

How hard is it to find anybody that believes in the band enough to wanting to release it on record?
-AAh! Really good question! Six years ago, the period in which we formed as a band, it was very hard, and I think it gets harder and harder everyday! I’m very proud to say that my older friends are also my bandmates! I see their fucking faces everyday! One day for playing, the next day for drinking, the Friday for playing (again) and it goes on and on like this…

How hard is it to do all this by yourself? What are the benefits of having somebody do it for you?
-Doing music and promotion by yourself is very hard, it takes a lot of time and energy. Once upon a time in a fairy world the bands used to drink beer and play rock’n roll but nowadays if you want to rock you have to throw the beer and work work work! We are under contract with a young rocking label, the GhostLabelRecord that helps us with the promotion.

When you decided on a title for the album what was that made you chose “What The Hell”?
-We thought that WTH was the right title because of the song (the title track and the first online-single of the album). It’s the last song written during the writing sessions and it’s our favourite one!
There’s also a video on YouTube for that song made with the footages of our last teutonic adventure, when we played at Eber-Hart Festival…check it out!

How hard is it to find the right kind of art work? What is it that you are looking for when you chose art work?
-For What The Hell we wanted a Punk-looking artwork, not metal or splatter stuff. After some trashed ideas we fell in love with the crazy alien jellyfish (a paint made by our friend). I thing that you don’t have to find your own artwork…you just have to wait and it will find you!

Do you follow a theme when you write lyrics? What is a good song text to you?
-Our songwriting starts from an idea, which is the root of the song. It’s like looking a movie in your mind…you just have to find the soundtrack. A good lyric comes simultaneously with the music.

What future do you see for the band?
-We hope for a future made of music, fun and gigs. We got some new surprises for the next months…stay tuned!

ENSHADOWED

ENSHADOWED have been around for a while but I’ve managed to totally miss out on them. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Something I often wonder about is how much you as a band use your cultural history when it is as rich as the Greek for instance in both shaping your sound and your lyrical content?
-Well, in our 14 years of existence we never used any sound element or lyrical part that shows our origin.

ENSHADOWED has been around since 1998 is I understand it correctly yet you have only six albums to your name. What is that hinders you from doing an album more often?
-We have 3 full length albums and many split EPs. We don’t follow the method of nowadays. I mean that we write music only when we need to do it rather than every two years as the labels want.

Is Greece a great place to be an extreme metal band? What kind of response do you get from the Greek metal fans?
It’s very difficult to a Greek band to support its music on a tour. Greek metal fans are supporting our scene but Greece is a small country. If we were Germans for example, it would be easier to rent a tour bus and to give many live shows all around Europe. Also, with our country’s economy the things are more difficult because, don’t forget, that we need a lot of money for a good tour.

What does geography mean today as far as peoples interest for a band? Are bands from Sweden, Britain or the States still more cool to be into?
-Sweden is a great country for somebody to be a musician, you know that better from me. I love your scene and you will find many influences in my guitar riffs. Geography is fucking important for a band. Can you imagine Bathory or Mayhem to be from somewhere in Africa? No way! Culture and temperament are important.

How would you like to comment on your new album? Is it everything you ever wanted it to be?
-“Magic Chaos Psychedelia” has many levels of sound. You can feel the power of the aggressive mood of the band. You can enjoy with us the chaotic trip, but chaos in order. We are very satisfied with the result of the album but I cannot say that if I was currently in studio would not change anything. Music is just a photograph. You can see and feel the moment and this moment passed and can’t come back.

I’ve never been in a studio, less recorded an album. How annoying is it if you are not satisfied with the outcome once it is released and you have to live with the wrongs?
-We are living the days of sound editing. I really hate it. I like the human deviation, but if for any reason things go wrong, then you can use the digital intervention to correct anything that you need. Most of the bands don’t talk about these little secrets that the sound engineers do in the editing step of the sound production mainly in the drums.

When do you know that something is right, that the song you just wrote is the best you’ve ever done, or that the guitar you just recorded was what you were looking for?
-I can say that I am not a great guitarist. My talent is to compose music with instrumentation balance. I try to use 4, 5 or 6 stings riff and not “power chords” so much. This gives a multidimensional complexity view in our music.

How important is it that the album’s cover looks right in this day and age of digital downloads and people only being interested in songs and not albums?
-I still collect vinyl records and tapes. The digital download is very good just to check which bands and albums are good for buying. The cover layout of the album and the logo of the band are really important and they complete the concept of the music.

How metal is digital downloading really? Isn’t metal all about the feel of a physical product, something that you can show for?
-I’m a sound engineer. One of the first things I learned in the “Acoustic” lesson is that the Mp3 files are missing a large amount of music’s harmonics and this is affecting the brain significantly in a psychoacoustic way. So, when you are listening to Mp3 files, you think that you are listening music, but you really don’t! You’re listening to one part of the real music. Also, as a metalhead I prefer to buy and support bands that I like.

What future is there for ENSHADOWED?
-We are planning more live shows for promoting the new album. I also began to create new ideas for upcoming stuff. Thank you for the interview my friend.

EVIL SHEPHERD

I love old school thrash. Be it the originals from back in the days or the new bands. EVIL SHEPHERD might be young in body but they sure are old at heart. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

What in your opinion does a great thrash metal band make?
Tömmy: In short; fast riffing, aggressive rhythms and a general atmosphere of violence.

What is old school in comparison to contemporary thrash metal? Wherein lays the old school parts?
T: The main difference is that contemporary thrash metal is a watered down version of the real thing. Sure there are bands who have the skills to copy older bands in every detail, but I don’t see the point in that. The ‘old school’ (I can’t stand that term) was authentic, it was a bunch of young snotty kids who were angry and pissed off and wanted to play metal but lacked the skill of bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden; so they made up for that lack of skill with aggression and speed. What we have now is a bunch of young (and old) kids who really like the feel of those albums and just copy it. But it’s not authentic, it’s not real.

Is there an aesthetic to playing thrash that you have to adhere to?
T: If you want to play typical old school thrash then yes, you have to make sure you copy all the others that have gone before you and make sure that you don’t try to be original. If you want to learn from the past and take elements from different genres to create something of your own, then no, you fuse critical elements you like with other influences.

How important is it that it looks right? How much time have you spent on choosing the right cover? To get the promo shots right?
T: I believe that of this is very important. The entire package should fit, though with retaining a certain amount of personality. Some of the metal clichés (inverted crosses etc…) can’t be avoided since our entire concept lies in anti-religiousness and atheistic Satanism, but I think (and hope) we still have our own style, our own voice.

What kind of thrash scene is there locally and nationally for you to take part in?
T: I really don’t like ‘scenes’ and I just wish that every band and individual just does what they want to do instead of relying on similarities with other bands that happen to live nearby just to advance their popularity. That said, the metal community as a whole in Belgium has a few very cool and dedicated people who do a lot of work just for the love of the music.

What kind of thrash pedigree do you have to look up to? What kind of national bands has set the
T: Well back when I was really into thrash two of my absolute favorites were Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends and Sodom’s In The Sign of Evil, they still are really good albums.

How much do you think about being cool? When you write music and how much comes natural? How much of a thought process is it to write songs?
T: We don’t, obviously.

Thrash metal had a dip when death metal came but it still survived and is much stronger now. What is it about thrash that hasn’t killed it off completely?
T: Death metal is an evolution of thrash, that just happens. After a few years of the same old bands and their copycats the newer generation wants to go further, they need music that is more extreme. I really don’t see it as killing and surviving, there’s no reason why these genres can’t co-exist, and crossbreed even.

What do you expect to get out of having a new album out? What kind of reactions have you had and what kind of reception do you expect?
T: We expect to do some gigs and spread the evil. So far all of the reviews have been very good, and to be honest that’s what we expected/hoped for. There’s a very clear evolution in our music which hasn’t gone unnoticed, and I’m grateful for that.

What lies in the future?
T: We’re going into the studio soon to record some songs for a split with the awesome guys of Slaughter Messiah. We’re also planning to release a 7” single and we’re appearing on a compilation vinyl that will feature bands like Desaster,Gospel of the Horns,Die Hard,Satanika,Slaughter Messiah, Goat Perversör, Maleficence, …; this will all be released through Empire Records. Other than that we’re also looking into touring, but that won’t be for anytime soon.

EXECRATION

This one I totally forgot about until it got returned to me and I had to dig out the album again. Read what EXECRATION has to say. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Whenever I hear of Colorado I get a feeling of cheerfulness and happy people with glued on smiles? Are everybody so friendly as they appear in movies and TV?
-Ha ha ha ha, hell no!! Don’t get me wrong people smoke a ton of weed to chill out, but definitely not a ton of happy people. The area that we live in (Colorado Springs) has the #2 suicide rate in the USA next to Las Vegas being #1.

What kind of metal scene is there in Colorado? How does Execration fit into it?
-Well there is a ton of metal in Colorado. There is a big variety of Black Doom, Black Metal, Grind, Death Metal, and slam.( I don’t count deathcore as metal). It’s actually pretty competitive here, but for the most part everyone gets along and has respect for the scene. I think for the most part Execration fits well; there are a good amount of bands that strive to have their own sound, we just have a more aggressive sound and serious approach to our music than most. There are still a lot of the bands that our satisfied with being “hometown heroes” that play for their friends at the local bars forever, we just can’t do that. Execration strives to go everywhere and conquer all.

The first time I heard Incantation I didn’t know what to think. Now I hold them as one of the greatest death metal bands. What bands was it that influenced you to start your own death metal band?
-Immolation, Incantation, Morbid Angel, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Cryptopsy, Vile, Origin, Hate Eternal, Krisiun, Nile, Suffocation, Deeds of Flesh.

What is zero existence and why should there be acceptance of it?
-“Zero Existence” to me has many different meanings depending on the perspective. Death would probably be the most obvious, the final part of the life cycle. For some it is easier to accept death if they believe in the rebirth aspect. Zero Existence also has meaning as a “low” in life. Whether it be a period of depression, drug abuse, self loathing, or whatever brings you to that point. You just have to accept it and dwell or carry on and grow from it. “Zero Existence” is the darkness that we all have somewhere inside.

Is there a lyrical theme that have to always be there when you play death metal? What do your lyrics deal with?
-Not necessarily. I wouldn’t ever want happy themed lyrics, but we try to stay away from the same old gore influence. Our lyrics currently deal with a darker outlook. “Queen Amongst the Wolves” is about Hecate (spirit of the Crossroads). “The Acceptance of Zero Existence” is about being stuck in a world of shit and death and how you’re choosing to do this to yourself while accepting the fact of creating your own misery.

How do you notice that the band has taken a step further? Is there more pressure on you to deliver the goods now that you are on to your second album?
-One of the biggest things I notice is the fact that we don’t want our music to be humorous like “A Feast for the Wretched”. A lot of the content on that album was a joke and we didn’t take it seriously. It was still anti religion anti establishment, but not fulfilling. The only pressure is what we put on ourselves and each other, which is a decent amount. We don’t deal with outside pressures, that usually ends in a bad creative process.

Do you notice that people notice you by the art work on the album or by social media or by you playing live?
-It seems that most people we attract are from live shows. People do love the artwork though.(who doesn’t like Tony Koehl??) Social media I’m sure attracts a lot of people, but it’s not how we want to attract all of our fans. We want our fans to experience our live performances.

Do the social media really mean anything in real life? How many likes on Facebook actually mean something in real life?
-We don’t really hold social media very high to us. I hate that part of the scene, but you have to roll with it a certain amount.

How do you best build a following in the time and age?
-I think if people can go to shows to vibe with a band while they’re playing, that is the best way. Those people bring friends, then they tell more people etc. Word of mouth is the best tool. I listen to my friends about band recommendations, most people do.

What future do you expect for the band?
-I see Execration moving forward very well. We write music together easily, and enjoy it. We create a great energy live at shows with each other as well. That’s the key to success, surrounding yourself with people that you want to collaborate with.

SIXTY MILES AHEAD

SIXTY MILES AHEAD is an Italian band that I’ve only lately have come upon but every time I’ve heard them they’ve made an impression on me. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Do you feel that you are an anomaly on the Italian hardrock/metal scene or do you follow in any sort of tradition
A. Well, the Italian Hard Rock scene has been focused on 80s Hard Rock and Sleaze Metal for many years. We don’t follow any tradition or trend. We just do what we think it’s good for us as a band, both musically and artistically!

How hard is it to come up with a band name? What does SIXTY MILES AHEAD say to you?
A. It’s the hardest thing in the business! When we started this band we had lots of ideas about how the band should be named and stuff like that. For quite some time we rehearsed without having a band name, but right before we went into the studio to record BLANK SLATE, Luca came up with the name SIXTY MILES AHEAD and we immediately liked it. It’s just a joke about a musician who used to define himself “miles ahead” everyone else!

What is it like to be a struggling band on the up in Italy? How much support do you get from the native fans? Is it easier to just go for the abroad from the start?
A. It’s a pain in the ass! You know, the worst thing is that sometimes you have to deal with some of the worst “professionals” in the business, just for peanuts! I mean, I like peanuts, but when you see all your efforts, your patience, your passion and your money thrown in a trash can, just because some people don’t do what they’re supposed to do, it’s very painful. Anyway, we have a great fan base in Italy and with the new album we’re gaining fans abroad, expecially in France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Brasil and Asia. Our fans keep us alive, that’s for sure.

How do you know where to turn for the best kind of promotion? How much help are interviews with webzines?
A. Finding the best promotion around is like a gambling game. It’s like rollin’ the dice. Of course we’ve searched for the best for our music. At the moment, everything seems great. In the last couple of weeks we received the first reviews of our new album “MILLIONS OF BURNING FLAMES” and they’re all great. Of course Interviews and webzines helps, every little bit helps, but a band must be sure that everything is done 100% right!

You have a new record ready now. How does this one differ from your previous one? A. There’s only one big difference between BLANK SLATE and MILLIONS OF BURNING FLAMES. If BS was mainly my vision of how things should be done, MOBF is a common effort. Every single song was written together because we wanted and we needed to find OUR own sound and our own style.

When you started did you set up any goals that you wanted to achieve? What would be the ultimate goal to achieve?
A. Of course we did. The main goal was (and still is) to make some good rock’n’roll music. We really want to talk about our lives and speak to people’s heart. We’re very proud of how things are going and the next goal is to reach new areas with our live shows!

Would you say that your are on your way to break big now? How much more work is there before you can live off the music?
A. I’d say that, as a band, we’re still very far from music as a way of making a living. There are a lot of things involved in that and a lot of work to do for every single “side” of the band. We’re doing our best to make things happen but apart from that everything depends on how the fans will react to our music and our live shows!

What do you see in the future?
A. We see thousands of gigs, rock’n’roll lifestyle, big records sellings, women and all those things! Well, just joking, to be completely honest we see a lot of hard work and challenges, but that’s ok for us! “Millions of Burning Flames” has been just released in Germany, we’re planning the next live shows and we hope to tour outside Italy as soon as possible!

WOMAN IS THE EARTH

What I like about the USBM scene/sound is that no two bands seems to be the same. WOMAN IS THE EARTH is yet another band with a sound that might differ a bit from the norm. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I guess we are many that know absolutely nothing about WOMAN IS THE EARTH. Tell us a bit about the history of the band?
-The three of us have known each other for about ten years, growing up in the same town and having mutual friends. We all became involved in music in that time and played shows with each other in different bands. We realized that we had similar tastes in music and art and in 2007, we decided to start our own project which became Woman is the Earth. The lineup of the band has remained unchanged. Woman is the Earth is Jon Martin, Andy Martin, and Jarrod Hattervig, and probably would not go by the same name if any members change. Our relationship as friends and family is an important part of our music. Until recently, we focused our energy simply on creating music together without much effort into exposing our music to other people. That exposure has come over time. Our main focus is still to create what we want and to enjoy making music together.

Would you say that you are a black metal band? What if so is black metal to you?
-I would say that we have a strong black metal influence. Our musical style is definitely within the realm of black metal. Our influences and lyrical content are definitely not the same as many of the innovators of the genre. However, to me, black metal embodies the freedom of individual power whether based on satanism, nature, cosmic energy, or anything else. Black metal is freedom and power for an individual human being. I feel no obligation or connection to any social or political movement in what we do, I feel black metal is one of the last bastions of true magic, mystery, and individual spirituality left in music. I also think that as a musical style, it leaves a lot of room for expansion and creativity because one can create so much atmosphere in black metal. There is infinite room to grow.

To me USBM is so far apart from the Scandinavian that we can speak of two totally different entities. What sets the two apart in your opinion?
-I feel that obviously Scandinavian black metal set the standard for the black metal style that is widely played now… USBM has had a lot of exposure recently and there are bands taking that Scandinavian black metal style and expanding on it greatly. However, I think that is happening all over the world. I think that in USBM especially, bands are probably more comfortable straying away from traditional black metal style, because we don’t have the same direct cultural and historical connections…Scandinavian black metal bands are truly masters of the craft though, and they have already perfected the style. I don’t think at this point anyone is going to play actual black metal better than our Scandinavian predecessors, so now seems an opportunity to simply expand on that style and create different sounds and emotions. And to be honest, I am no music critic… I don’t pay enough attention to what bands are doing to accurately comment on those differences. I can really only speak for myself, and our music.

When you record an album what kind of process do you go through? Do you plan the track order in a special way? Do you arrange the songs to fit specific moods?
-Absolutely, we arrange the album in a very specific way. On our latest album we chose to arrange the songs in the order that we wrote them. It felt appropriate. “This Place That Contains My Spirit” captured what we wanted from an album by creating a lot of intensity toward the middle and then really breathing at the beginning and end, if that makes sense. As far as the process we go through… we spend a lot of time writing songs, and once they are written we play them over and over to make sure they transition well and that all the parts have a place in the song. The four songs on our last album were conceived and finalized over a period of three years. We are slow. But that is the process we like to use. Obviously we had no “recording budget” for anything we have recorded. It has all been recorded and mastered by us in our home. I feel it captures the time, place, and energy of our music but it is difficult to capture individual parts and the whole sound of our band by recording this way. For instance, Jon is a phenomenal drummer, but clearly we didn’t have the means of showcasing his parts as well as we would have liked on the last album.

How important is the Ego in the band? Do you put the individual before the collective?
-Hopefully I understand your question correctly,,, But we have a very unique situation in our band where there is really no individual ego that stands before anyone else. The three of us are very close, and we collaborate completely on everything we write and everything we do as a band. There is no decision made that isn’t run by all three of us first. We are very honest with each other and work very well together.

I’m not gonna compare you guys to Wolves In The Throne Room yet I get a feeling that Mother Earth and ecology plays a huge part in the concept of the band. What can we learn from listening to Mother Earth?
-Haha yeah, that connection gets made very often. You are right. For me personally, nature has played a massive part of my life since I was a child. It has been a way of life for myself and my family for many years, and I spend a substantial part of my life in that environment. There is much to learn from the earth. I feel a very spiritual connection to nature, specifically the Black Hills, where the three of us are from. That connection is very personal, and I feel everyone can potentially gain some sort of power from spending time in that environment. To me it represents a tangible form of extremely powerful energy along with a very mysterious energy that I will probably never understand. There are few things on this earth that give me the same feeling. I am very interested in the energies at work in nature. So I write about what I know, about what is important to me. It serves as a great equalizer between all things living. It is beautiful, ugly, brutal, and tender all at once… and ultimately represents freedom to me.?

Do you draw much inspiration from Native American tradition and folklore in how to live in harmony with the Earth? Where does you inspiration come from?
-Absolutely, there is a very strong Native American history and culture here, and has been an influence on all of us growing up here. None of us in Woman is the Earth are Native American, but we draw a lot of inspiration from our home and our environment here and Native culture is a big part of that environment. It is especially important when speaking on gaining spirituality and a livelihood in the Black Hills… Lakota culture has called this place a spiritual hub for far longer than I ever have, yet it is an important place for many different people from a number of different cultures. There is rich history here. As far as Native tradition and folklore and the earth… that culture has clearly had a very strong grasp on the importance of living in balance and trying to understand their environment for many years. They have known the importance of giving and taking from the earth, of respecting what gives them life. I don’t practice many Native American traditions, as I don’t have that same cultural background… it’s not my tradition. However, I absolutely respect and strive to emulate many of those traditional values in my own life as best I can. And in fact, “This Place That Contains My Spirit” is primarily about old traditions, spirituality and rituals so indeed draws a certain amount of inspiration from Native American culture as well as Eastern spirituality and Pagan ritual rooted in our particular heritages, all being descendants from Scandinavia.

How much has the hectic, stressful way of modern society destroyed the harmonious ways of being one with oneself? How much of an unbalance is there in the harmony of the Earth?
-I do feel it is very difficult to reach any sort of real self actualization and harmony living in modern society. For me, understanding and practicing many traditions, values, and disciplines of old cultures are important to reaching a more perfect state. Being able to practice and adhere to those traditions and values is extremely difficult in this society. But… rather than giving up on those values or turning my back on the modern world, I do my best to balance both in my life. It is frustrating and trying at times, but I think it is worth it. I enjoy a lot of things available in modern life, and I also understand the importance of being a social creature. I spend a lot of time alone, thinking and trying to maintain a certain amount of discipline. But I also love experiencing what the world has to offer, and experiencing what other people have to offer. I cannot turn my back on the people and things I love in modern society, but I can probably never completely immerse myself in it either, if that makes sense. It is a struggle for me, but it is an important one, and I feel it keeps me healthy and optimistic. There is indeed an imbalance in harmony on earth, but I cannot change that. It is important for me to keep trying to reach a certain level of ‘oneness’ for myself, to be as healthy and free as I can in this life. I cannot trouble myself too much with the problems of the world and of people. It will drive a person insane. I think it is more important to work on your individual faults and strengths than to worry about everyone else

I believe that the eco-system exists for a reason and that we disrupt the balance by destroying the forests, by polluting the oceans and by killing of species. Do you see an oncoming Armageddon?
-There is no doubt that we use resources more quickly and completely all the time, but then again the human race is growing exponentially. I do feel like any personal connection to the earth becomes lost for many people, and it really is tragic. I don’t spend much time in large cities, they become uncomfortable for me very quickly, so I feel somewhat blind to the reality of living that kind of life… but it seems many people don’t even get the opportunity to connect to something outside their city. I’m sure many don’t want to, and thats fine. I suppose thats what happens with great numbers and great societies… As far as a coming Armageddon… I think humans will indeed perish at some point in time, maybe soon…hard to say when. Probably by their own fault, and will undoubtedly destroy a number of other living things too. To me, it is simply part of the cycle of the universe I guess. Species come and go, but I am not worried about the earth being destroyed. The earth has seen much worse than humans, and to think that we can single handedly destroy something so much more ancient and powerful than us is extremely narcissistic. I do find it sad that people are losing connections with the earth, nature and the universe, but I don’t feel some sort of obligation so ‘save the earth’ or to save mankind either for that matter. The earth will get rid of us and move on.

What kind of future do you see for the band?
-We probably won’t change the way we operate too much. We have had more exposure lately and the opportunity to play in different places. Most important to us is to keep writing and enjoy playing together. And to create something that we honestly care about and can stand by whole-heartedly. We hope to play more outside our area and to record some new material soon. We are planning on releasing an EP this spring, as we will be on somewhat of a hiatus during the summer because of our lifestyles. Ultimately, we would like the opportunity to play and record what we envision… which we have found is not that easy to do (recording albums in the basement makes it difficult). We may work in a studio for parts of our upcoming recordings, we’ll see. We will keep making music, and it is really great that other people such as yourself become interested. I like hearing that people take the time to listen to things we’ve put out, even really negative reviews. It’s awesome to me that some kid in Europe or Australia can love or hate our music enough to download or order a CD, then actually write about it! They actually listen to it! We never expected anything like that… we don’t worry to much about promoting our music or anything so we really like when people find out about it and are interested in what we are doing. I really enjoyed answering your interview questions. It is obvious that you put real thought into these questions and I really appreciate it. Thanks!

YAYLA

YAYLA might not be to everybody’s taste but if you like your black metal primitive and emotional then you’re in the right place. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

What is the concept behind YAYLA? What is it in black metal that you find enticing?
-Yayla is a name under which I make heavy hearted and powerful music. Take it as an alias I use to make certain kinds of films. I like to call it a paradigm wherein the reflections of my thoughts take the shape of its qualities. My vision of Yayla is way beyond the style of music I play, but so in any other work of art I experience. So far the formality of Yayla has been in the vein of music that is considered to be black metal and ambient, but who knows what the future might hold. Interconnected they may be, I feel all Yayla albums are journeys on their own, thus different concepts. I like certain formal qualities of black metal which take it further away from rock music and make it closer to ambient and use them.

What kind of freedom do you experience in your creative process? Do you put limitations on what works and don’t work for YAYLA?
-Since I am the only member, I am as free as one can be. I constantly compose music. Whenever I feel a composition is closer to Yayla I gather it under the name, and explore it further into the paradigm. I have certain ideas about how I’d like to present certain works, which one can also call limitations I guess. But most of it is very hard to explain because they are abstract limitations not formal ones to which I can put names to. And their images are like birds on a fence; when I think too much about an image it flies away. When it comes to formality, I can only say I go for a more ambient approach than a rock approach when shaping songs into Yayla. Other than that, I do not put any sort of formal limitations or deviate from anything within or without.

What kind of creative process do you go through? What comes first, the music or the lyrics/themes?
-I believe that my creative processes are what one can call to be very unconscious. The order of physical occurrences depends, but everything comes together as an album. Usually some form of music comes first. But when I say first, think of it as coming from a few years back. Then some sort of concept. After that the music and concept start developing each other until they grow enough to come together as an album. The seeds play themselves in my mind until I can virtually visualize them. I currently have many compositions and concepts lined up for Yayla and my upcoming band Viranesir, but I take my time in developing and producing them. Until they are completely recorded, they keep developing in my mind, until an album is finished, they keep evolving in the physical realm.

How much does the society you live in play a part in the creation of songs? What is it like to live where you live?
-As far as I can see, which is not very far, my interpretation of the concept I see as society has not been playing a dominating role per-se. I am not very socially interested as a person, but am interested in the whole I see as society. And being a part of the vision of a cosmos I represent with my music, it certainly does play its part. I have lived in different parts of Turkey, Canada and America. I can say that everywhere feels quite the same to me. Everywhere is full of people that I feel are trying to justify their ephemeral existence through everything they say and do, and however anyone does whatever comes from and goes to the same thing for me. Unless the basic contemporary human needs are compromised, which in my case they currently aren’t, the value of where I live comes down to a matter of physical relevance.

How tough is it to do everything yourself? How much of input from the outside do you get so that you know that it works and isn’t just crap?
-Doing most of everything is not tough at all, it is more a blessing, I wish I was able to do everything myself. It’s important to me that my music is open for the hearer’s interpretation. Whether people like it and what they get out of the music is for them to say with no prompting from me. If they do like it then great, it’s always nice to hear that others appreciate my art. However, its not the focus of my work. I know if my final piece has achieved how I want it to sound. If its crap to someone else is for them to deal with. To me it fits, and I certainly don’t need someone else to tell me otherwise. In other words, I do not get any input from the outside to be convinced that my art works. I do not do it because its good for others, I do it because I feel good doing it.

If I say that YAYLA follows in the tradition of bands like Burzum and Xasthur would I be totally off?
-If one feels that way about Yayla, than it probably is for them. But if you are asking what I feel about this interpretation against my point of view, then I think it would be more shallow than off. I do not have a concept of the tradition in question here, in other words I do not get the impression that those bands have traditions. For all I know they aren’t similar, moreover I find the albums that they release vary greatly from one to the other. I listen to both those bands and really like their music, however I do not consciously try to mimic what they did (whatever it is) if that is the question. I do not want to elaborate on my views on this way of thinking, but I feel if one associates a piece of art to another for better or worse, then it creates a drawback that only they will have to endure.

What would you say has been the greatest inspiration? Where does the spirit of YAYLA come from?
-There is not one single thing that I can pinpoint as the greatest. The initial pulse does not come from easy and enjoyable things, I would say that the main inspiration is the interpretations I get from whatever I am subjected to. I can only justify the negativity that I feel through a work of art. Either through experiencing someone else’s art, or making my own. Having said that, I do not feel that the art I choose to experience or make is further torture. Rather, it is a liberation through expression, and I use it as a way of meditation out of darkness. In short, things that I cannot deal with in life become burdens, and not to carry those burdens I’ve learnt to recycle them into art. But this is the case with all my art. When it comes to Yayla, I believe it is a project in which I work with these interpretations in a relatively more out-worldly, internal and dreamy way.

Is black metal a big thing in your area? What kind of reactions do you get from the metalheads around you to YAYLA?
-I wouldn’t know because I do not hang around metal people and have never been in places where one interacts with them frequently, nor met any metal musicians. I know only a handful of people who listen to metal among other things and they are not what one may consider to be metalheads. Nobody I know seems to listen to Yayla enough to give me an opinion. I find this to be kind of bad in some but good in many ways. The idea I have on how people react to it comes from reviews and fan stuff that my label manager sends me, I think there are many varied opinions on it which is a quality I find to be positive.

What is black metal to you? What does it represent to you?
-Black metal or ambient are just words that have simple meanings to each his own. To me, it is a name, nothing more than a certain tool, like an electric guitar, or a certain style of playing, like tremolo picking. It is only a couple of words put together to vaguely try and specify a style of formal direction, it does not represent anything further. In relation to Yayla, although I might be using certain qualities of this presumed genre, it is not something that I think about my work, in other words, I do not feel bad nor good about making black metal, so much as making powerful work.

What future do you see for YAYLA?
-I see a future in which I will keep making at least an album every year. To hint further, I can say that I feel that I have completed a trilogy with Ruhizolasyon, Sathimasal and Nihaihayat and in my opinion Yayla is going to enter one of the relatively new phases in its long and slow evolution with the next album. Thank you very much for your interest in my art.