With current and former members of Confused, Porkeria, Bastard Sons of Apocalypse, and Accuse in their ranks, McAllen, Texas band Annex‘s turn towards a darker postpunk sound might surprise some.
Started in Summer 2013, guitarist Migas mentions how the tight-knit scene in the band’s Texas/Mexico border town has influenced the band’s music: “I would say the scene here is very diverse,” says Migas. “Basically the people you would see at hardcore punk shows, there’s a possible chance you’ll see them at a goth night, or an 80’s new/dark/cold wave event.” Bridging these musically diverse scenes is something ANNEX has achieved with its 4-song EP, Joy Division covers, and upcoming dark postpunk material (An LP is in the works). In reality, Annex play a blend of peace punk, postpunk and deathrock that was not too uncommon in the “positive punk” scene in the UK of yesteryear (The clumsily-named proto-gothic rock/punk scene that included Vex, Blood and Roses, Famous Impostors, Brigandage, Lost Cherrees and others), before these disparate styles of music had become, well, disparate styles of music, and had lost all sense of relation to one another. Annex do a superb job of linking the music all back up together, and it was a pleasure to be able to hear their thoughts on music and what being in a band like theirs is like in a Texas/Mexico border town.
(Additionally, below there is some info on a mini-Texas tour of sorts of theirs coming up at the end of August.)
ANNEX’s Nikole, Migas, and Gabo were interviewed by Oliver in July, 2014.
Q:Can you give us all the lowdown on when ANNEX started, where you are from, and who all founded the band versus who is in it now?
Migas: We’re from McAllen, TX, where the heat is scorching…haha no joke! We live about 15 minutes away from the U.S./Mexico border, so you can say we’re at the most southern tip of Texas. The area we live in is also known as the Rio Grande Valley or the Valley for short. Our permanent line-up is: Nikole – Vox, Gabo – Bass, Arno – Drums and Me on Guitar.
Nikole: Migas and I started writing music together in the Summer of 2013, and it was basically an instant click since we share a lot of the same musical influences. We thought it’d be different to start a band like ANNEX since we’ve played and delved in other musical genres before, but never post-punk. Plus, playing this style of music isn’t common in the Valley. Gabo and Ramiro joined ANNEX around last November, Gabo on bass and Ramiro on drums. We worked with Arno and Threat to Society Recordings to record, produce and master our four track, self-titled EP. We released the EP this past March and played a few shows around Texas. Ramiro left the band so we asked Arno to join in on drums which has really flowed because he was already familiar with the music from the recording sessions.
Gabo: We’re all from little cities around McAllen, TX, but we just say McAllen because it’s so much easier to explain. I had known for some time that Migas was writing for a new project. He actually had invited me to check out what he had been writing. It was sometime in October, and I really liked what I heard and after that I wanted to join for sure. So we got together in November and Migas invited Ramiro to fill in on drums and we just started creating music from that point on. Although Ramiro isn’t with us anymore, our drummer Arno has exceeded our expectations and he’s such a great person to work with.
Q: I know Migas was in Bastard Sons of Apocalypse and also ACCUSE. What are some bands that some of the other members have been in?
Nikole: I played bass in Porkeria (McAllen, Texas) around 2009 for about a year and later joined Confused (Edinburg, Texas) in 2010. I met Arno when I was in Confused since he’s their drummer. Confused is a hardcore punk band from the 80’s which originated here in the Valley and has strong ties as one of the original HC punk bands in the Valley. All of us in ANNEX have been part of various projects that have been short lived or that have continued, and that’s really cool since we’ve all been musically active in different branches of the scene for quite some time.
Q:About your name, “Annex.” Who thought of it, and what it is supposed to mean or represent?
Nikole: The idea of “Annex” encompasses isolation or distancing oneself away from all external surroundings. I thought of the name ANNEX before I had written any lyrics because I wanted to write around the band name and the feelings it provokes. It calls for a state of seclusion where one is able to escape from things that may negatively distract them from engaging in their own well-being (at the risk of sounding selfish! haha). I also interpret ANNEX to be an extension of each of us in the band. This is really important since we all contribute in our own ways. I can definitely tell how this band has grown us and, now, when I think of ANNEX, I think of the effort we each display and the great times we have building this band together.
Q:Tell me a bit about the town you all are from, McAllen. Were you all originally from there, did some of you move there, and, most importantly, what is the punk or underground music scene like there? Is it hard being in a band like Annex in McAllen?
Migas: I’m actually from a small town called Alamo, Texas. It’s right outside of McAllen. All of us are from different cities around the McAllen area, but every city is pretty much glued together, so you can say it’s very convenient to get around. By far, McAllen is where the scene is at down here for us on this side of the Valley. It has grown in population over the last decade, so it’s always good to see new faces doing their own thing. I would say the scene is very diverse, basically the people you would see at hardcore punk shows, there’s a possible chance you’ll see them at a goth night or an 80’s new/dark/cold wave event. Being in this band has been really fun and it seems like the people around us are very supportive and enjoy everything about us and how we present ourselves. I just think we’re trying to do something completely different versus what has already been done in this area.
Gabo: I grew up in Mexico and I moved to the Valley in my late teenage years. I’ve been in thrash and HC punk bands down here before and there’s a strong scene supporting that music. Living in a border town and being in a band like ANNEX has been a different experience so far. I guess it’s because people are more conservative around here and are used to what they’ve grown up with. Regardless, we definitely do receive support from people who have heard our recordings or who have seen us. Even friends from surrounding cities around the Valley are supportive. In a few years, maybe there will be a bigger post-punk scene down here.
Q:You all seem to have backgrounds in the DIY hardcore punk scene, but I wouldn’t call Annex a hardcore punk band. What sorts of responses have you gotten from folks in the hardcore punk scene? Have they been receptive, positive, or has there been snarkiness, etc., about the music being slow, riding a trend, and that lame crap that comes up?
Migas: Yeah I agree, I don’t really think we are a hardcore punk band at all… Although we are HC punks, I would just say we are a post-punk band trying to stay in tune and on time. Haha… But yeah, all of us are DIY punks and most of our friends are in hardcore punk bands, so it’s quite a transition when they hear us and see us live. We definitely get awesome feedback on how it’s a darker and more experimental side of punk than what most people are used to. I think that the pace we play at is full of expressions and emotions, and people who have seen us say that it reminds them of music writing from a different decade. Just as long as I’m not putting someone to sleep, that’s fine with me! haha
Nikole: Overall, we’ve gotten a really good response from people who have made it out to watch us perform. We’ve received comments about how ANNEX resembles 80’s darkwave or UK Anarcho Punk, which is taken as a great compliment. I think the sound we have is different from the majority of bands playing here in the scene. Typically, we fit in more with the darkwave, Goth scene that’s alive and kicking in the Valley, even though we’re mostly tied to the DIY scene. I think our sound has elements from punk to post-punk and dark-wave, that gains the attention of people who listen to different genres.
Q:And so about the sound of Annex: Are there any musical guideposts or influences that, well, influenced you to have the sound you do? I remember telling Migas after seeing you live it sort of reminded me of Vex, but of course with a female singer. I’m guessing the non-thrash anarcho-punk bands like Rubella Ballet were an influence? And what about gothic rock or deathrock?
Migas: Hmmm… There’s so much great music out there. Let’s see, my influences for this particular band are: Musta Paraati, Siekiera, Coïtus Int., Pyhät Nuket, The Skeletal Family, Vex, Crisis and of course Killing Joke! But I also listen to bands like Ruleta Rusa, Las Rodilleras, Crimen, Cuidad Lineal, She Past Away, La URSS, Rakta, Fluffers etc… I really like to experiment with different elements, sounds and altogether production from all sorts of genres. So I can’t really say our influences or our style comes from one source or one specific genre. It’s a mixture of what I think really fits. At the moment, everything happens to shift from one song to the next or from one practice to another… It’s awesome to hear how our sound is developing and constantly growing.
Nikole: The music writing typically flows because Migas and I share the same vision for ANNEX and, plus, we trust Migas’ music writing, ideas, and suggestions. More often than not, I am more attracted to European vocalists and tend to gain influences from their strong singing. We do have a lot of influences, yet I think we tend to extract certain components of songs, rather than an entire band’s style, and re-create the pieces to innovate our sound.
Q:In my mind, you all are one of a handful of bands in Texas that belongs to a broader scene that seems especially big on the two US coasts and includes bands like Arctic Flowers, Stranger, Moral Hex, etc., and which I suppose also includes bands like Belgrado in Spain, Rakta in Brazil, Pleasure Leftists in the Midwest, etc., etc. Is that where you see yourselves fitting in, and what do you think of that side of the punk scene that’s been emerging over the past few years?
Migas: All of those bands that you mentioned are really great. I would like to think we do fit in the same genre, but of course every band has their own sound and their own twist to it. I mean, there’s a lot of good music coming out every day and it’s great because more and more people find it so appealing. The scene keeps growing and there’s a good amount of people coming out to shows and supporting each other… and that’s what it really is all about.
Nikole: I’d definitely say ANNEX fits into the post-punk/darkwave punk scene. When we first started writing ANNEX, we contemplated over how our music would be perceived because we could never really say we sounded like a particular band. We have actually just let others draw their own conclusions about where ANNEX fits in with well-established or up-and-coming post-punk bands. Every band has their own particular sound, yet they’re still collective through musical elements, which is amazing. All the relevant bands are able to keep their own identity while being a part of a unique genre of punk that ties them altogether. This wave is definitely a darker, maybe slower, more melodic segment of punk that’s intriguing and, I feel, a sort of revival of a sound that was left in the 80’s.
Q: Does Annex express anarchist convictions in your music? What are your political beliefs, and do these in any way guide the ethos or lyrics-writing process of the band?
Nikole: In a sense, a good portion of the lyric writing is derived from feeling free, however that may be perceived, and definitely being free from ties to organizations, authoritative figures, entities which try to hold a tight grip onto all of us. There are a couple of songs, like “No Warning” and “Spirit Sin,” that, lyrically, are politically related. However, the writing is mostly done from a reflective stance. I’ve never identified with being too politically concerned, and I believe that’s due to being tainted by the different levels of government. I just want to take a step back and anticipate that good principles and morals will overcome the inconvenience of politics. When writing lyrics, I focus on the way something or an event makes someone feel and it’s often done in a vague manner because I’d hope listeners are able to take the lyrics and interpret them to their liking, whether they feel a political connection or not.
Q: Fave question to ask bands: If you were stranded on a deserted island for the rest of your life, and somehow had the means to bring vinyl and make a record player work, what would be the 5 LPs you would choose to have with you for the rest of your life?
Migas: I seriously think that’s one of the toughest questions to ask someone.. Off the top of my head in no particular order… Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power, The Adverts Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts, Killing Joke S/T, Musta Paraati Peilitalossa, Siekiera Nowa Aleksandra.
Nikole: Depeche Mode Singles 81-89, XMal Deutschland Viva, Ana Curra Volviendo A Las Andadas, Avengers S/T, & Lebanon Hanover The World is Getting Colder
Migas: It was much appreciated when ANNEX got asked to record the cover we did for Joy Division’s “Day of the Lords”… one of the few pioneers of the movement, and by far one of the greatest bands of our time. We have an LP in the works coming out really soon and our demo cassettes that are still available. We’re releasing a limited edition cassette (50) with 2 songs off the demo and 2 off the LP as a teaser till our release date. Hopefully you guys can get your hands on these! You can contact us at: email@example.com.
Nikole – We really put so much into the recordings we have! Being asked to be a part of the Unknown Pleasures covers presented such an awesome experience for us because we got to really see what we were capable of as a band, since we’ve only been together a short while. We’re currently in the works of completing our LP called Despues de VI. It’s an eleven track LP we are really looking forward to releasing because we’ve definitely grown as a band and our sound is now more defined and distinct. We’ll leak a couple of finished tracks before it’s released by a label but we’ll definitely keep everybody updated!
BLACKWOLFGOAT is the solo project of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Hackman, Milligram, Roadsaw), where he uses his strings to created multilayered compositions that build to awesome intensity, riff upon riff, note upon note, to create pulsating rhythms that can be meditative or confrontational, or both. Check out our stream of “Notausgang,” one of the livelier tracks off of his upcoming full-length, Drone Maintenance via Small Stone Recordings. Drone Maintenance invites us into an alternate, futuristic dimension, where we see life through the eyes of a drone repairman, and the music invokes a strange feeling, one of being the last human job on a mechanized planet, but not necessarily in a dystopic way. This release also features awesome cover art by Alexander von Wieding. Check out “Notausgang” below…
On 8/10/14 in San Francisco (((California))), deep within a haunted cave an evening of cataclysmic doom occurred…
Imagine being lead down a pitch black sandy cave, with an unrelenting thunderous roar of waves crashing into the earth that you stand inside, and having that drowned out by a tunnel of inescapable heaviness. That is what this evening was like. Thanks very much to my friend and fellow videographer, Kevin Hobbs, for capturing the sonic crushing!
Forn, from Boston (((Massachusetts))), played second. They are one of the Heaviest bands on the East Coast and this was their first Bay Area show. Their debut, “The Departure of Consciousness, was given the vinyl treatment by Vendetta Records based out of Germany.
Folivore, from Santa Cruz (((California))), played third. Folivore is Heavy as fuck and play some of the nastiest Psychedelic Sludge/Doom around.
Badr Vogu, from Oakland (((California))), capped off the evening. They just returned to The Bay after touring throughout the United States and this was their final night of tour.
One of the most creative humans I know goes by the name of Reuben Sawyer aka Rainbath Visual. Not only is he an unreal illustrator but a very accomplished musician, with about four bands that span different genres. One of those is his solo project, Blood Bright Star, whose new album The Silver Head is out now on King Of The Monster Records. This record is in a universe where genres, emotions, atmosphere and melody have collided to manifest one of sickest albums of the year. Blood Bright Star’s vocals are sublime lanterns that will guide your mind into other realms of now! CVLT Nation is honoured to share with you two exclusive tracks from The Silver Head below…Make sure to stay tuned for our full review…If you buy any record this month, Blood Bright Star should be it…order HERE!
King Of The Monsters proudly presents The Silver Head, the latest solo offering from visual artist Reuben Sawyer, under the guise of Blood Bright Star. This record stands alone as Sawyers most cathartic and personal work to date, conceived through a period of dreams, revelations and heightened trance states. As abstract force is transmuted into concrete vision, the subconscious shadow illuminates itself and guides its star through the body of the infinite, carving a path for those who seek therein. The Silver Head is a voice deeply rooted in Qabalistic lore and alchemical symbolism, cryptically hypnotic yet rhythmically accessible. Lending its influence from deathrock and krautrock tendencies, Blood Bright Star blends together a seamless representation of the forces present and reinstates them into what he calls “Death Motorik”.
KING DUDE is an artist on many levels; not only does he push forward with his music – case in point, his latest offering FEAR via Not Just Religious Music – he is also adept at creating visuals that expand on his sound, but also tell as story of their own. Today we’re stoked to bring you a premiere of his video for “Lay Down in Bedlam” off of Fear – a celebration of the beauty and darkness of America. Earth, sky and guns; leather and the open road; bullet belts and assault weapons. Both the song and the video take us on a sordid trip into a culture where King Dude and his posse stand out in stark, dark contrast; but at the same time, they are at home on the dusty ground, with cold, black steel in their hands. Check out “Lay Down in Bedlam” below and check out his tour dates alongside Earth this September…
A world without hope, without distinction. Turn the dial on your frankenstein radio and tune it to the pirate station, the one that tells the truth about the world you live in, masked by static and angry noises. Welcome to the world of PIG HEART TRANSPLANT. His latest 28-track opus, For Mass Consumption, is a co-release from 20 Buck Spin and Iron Lung Records and will be hitting the streets on September 2nd. Below check out our exclusive stream of two tracks from this brief but monolithic album, “Film” and “Gift”…is this our future?
With a sound that mixes grind, sludge, hardcore and noise, Full of Hell is one of the best (and heaviest) new bands of the underground scene in the US.
This quartet from Maryland has an experimental vibe which translates itself into more noise quality amid their sound mass that evokes influences like His Hero is Gone, Integrity, Eyehategod and Insect Warfare, among others.
In this interview, guitarist Spencer Hazard, the only original member still in the band, talks about their upcoming album, a collaboration with Merzbow, how it was to meet Max Cavalera, and his all-time favorite record.
You’re going to play at the This is Hardcore festival again, with bands like Converge, Crowbar, Code Orange Kids, Dropdead, Nails and Bl’ast, among others. What are your expectations for this? And how it is to come back to the fest as a bigger and more well-known band?
I actually don’t have any expectations. If you do, you always get let down. I also think we are a lot harder to digest than the first time we played. So it should be interesting.
You’ve recently announced a new record that will be a collab with Merzbow, which makes a lot of sense, since you like to use some electronic elements in your live concerts. How did that happen? And what can we expect from this?
We met Masami’s live drummer, Balazs Pandi, a few years ago randomly in New York City. We kept in touch and he suggested we work on something with Merzbow, and that was beyond a dream come true. We wanted to make a Full of Hell record but have Merzbow’s noise instead of our own. We didn’t want to make just an electronic record, we wanted both of our own influences to shine through. Our material for this release had a lot more straight-forward grindcore/death metal influence than anything else we’ve released.
By the way, how was the writing/recording process for this record? Did you guys send some finished ideas/songs to Merzbow and then he just did his part? How did that work out?
This record was pretty stressful, because not only were we working with Merzbow, it’s being put out through a very prestigious record label, Profound Lore. Masami sent us over 45 minutes of noise almost a year ago, and he basically gave us full range to do whatever we wanted with it. I just kept in mind while writing where parts could naturally fit, because I just didn’t want it to seem like we just slapped random noise into our album, it had to flow smoothly.
Before this, you released a split with The Guilt of, a more noise/industrial project from Mike IX Williams, from EHG. What means to you to be able to work together with these names that are direct influences for you guys? And with who else would like to work with?
We’ve never actually met Mike from EHG. A389 set that up for us, and of course we couldn’t say no. Another big deal was the Psywarfare split, because Integrity is one of my favorite hardcore bands. We and Integrity toured together a few years ago, and I guess Dwid liked us, so he was into the idea of the split. I would love to eventually either collaborate with Prurient or Bastard Noise.
By the way, is this new record with Merzbow going to be a new full length or a EP?
The vinyl version will just be the collab LP of noise and music, but the CD version comes with a bonus CD of all manipulated Merzbow material. The bonus CD is very Tribes of Neurot/Wolf Eyes influenced.
You guys recently posted a picture with Max Cavalera. How did that happen? I’ve seen pictures of him with a Full of Hell patch. And are you a fan of old Sepultura stuff?
We found out that his son was a fan of ours, so we kept in touch with him. The last time we played Austria, Soulfly happened to be in the same town, so his son came to our show and brought us back to Max’s tour bus and it was surreal. I was always a fan of Chaos AD, but I never realized how thrash and death metal their older material was. I’m obsessed with Beneath the Remains and Schizophrenia now, though. Also, Nailbomb is awesome.
When you started the band, you were all really young, right? Did that ever bring you guys any kind of trouble, with the band or in your life outside the band?
I’m the oldest in the band currently (25), but we started when I was 20. I’m currently the only member that has been on every release, but our drummer Dave did do our first tour with us when he was 14-15. He was almost kicked out of high school the first time we went to Europe because he was 16, but they never said anything else and he graduated no problem.
What do you think was the “turning point” for the band? Maybe the release of your first full-length or the splits you released after that in 2012? You have been getting more attention, especially on the last two years.
I think releasing “Roots of Earth” is really what made people pay attention. We did not expect the impact it would have on people. The Code Orange split also helped a lot, because it was released on a more high profile label at the time (Topshelf Records) and that expanded us into a completely different audience.
I’ve never seen you guys playing live, but your concerts seem to be really, really intense. Do you have some pre-concert rituals?
Our ritual is usually just me saying, “hey guys dont forget this part and don’t fuck up.” haha
How often do you guys rehearse? And do you all still live in the same city?
We try to practice at least once a week, but everyone is pretty busy with regular jobs when we aren’t on tour. Our vocalist, Dylan, has always lived a few hours away from us, but the instrument part of the band all live within ten minutes of each other.
And what bands do you consider to be Full of Hell’s “kindred spirits”? Maybe Code Orange Kids, Eyehategod?
That’s a good question; maybe a band like Column of Heaven, who we toured with recently and the band The Body. We all seem to write very miserable, pissed off experimental music.
I always ask this one. Please tell me three records that changed your life and why they did it.
My favorite record of all time is Pinkerton by Weezer. I think it has the heaviest guitar tone ever. Noise Grind Power Death by Insect Warfare is what made me want to have noise in my music. Primitive by the Endless Blockade is probably just my favorite hardcore record of all time though.
When did you start to play? And what were your influences back then?
I started playing when I was in middle school and it was just typical hardcore punk shit. Germs, Ramones, Misfits, Minor Threat etc. When we started FOH we had a different line-up and our core wanted slow, groove-oriented stuff like Crowbar, Eyehategod, but I wanted more fast elements, so I introduced a lot of Cursed, Infest, Converge influences. Like I said earlier, that Insect Warfare album is really what made me want to push our band as a whole. I think our influences now are more mixed though everything from Swans, Throbbing Gristle, Neurosis to GASP, Man is the bastard, Crytopsy, Discordance Axis.
What’s your opinion about people downloading your music (and other people’s music) for free? Do you think that’s the main reason for the end of independent labels like Hydra Head?
I personally don’t download; I never really have. I prefer having an album, because with an iPod I’m too distracted and can’t really appreciate the music. I think the music industry would have suffered no matter what. It would be cool to actually make money doing what we love with extreme music, but whatever, times change.
Ok, this is the last one. How do you want to be remembered?
I want to know that my music impacted people, and when I’m dead, that people are still being changed by it.
“A more psychedelic and garagey Xmal Deutschland” might be one way to describe Rakta’s hypnotic and layered, guitar-based, gothy punk rock. Their music garnered lots of praise early this year across various ‘zines and on quite a few garage, punk, and deathrock websites (including here at CVLT Nation). The Brazilian all-female band’s music is characterized (as I wrote in an earlier review) by “echoing vocals, darkly swirling guitars, and spooky organs [that] pull you into a fuzzed-out soundscape drenched in ghostly reverb, drawing you down a sonic vortex and into a hauntingly psychedelic world that seems one part psych garage, one part deathrock, and one part spaced out dark punk rock.”
The review of Rakta’s 2013 self-titled LP in the February, 2014 Maximum Rock ‘n Roll (#370) (“Record of the Week”) was almost too over the top, but accurately captures the excitement that exists about the band:
“RATKA is an all-female band from São Paulo, Brazil, that seem to have come from out of nowhere to make most of the current post-punk/anarcho wave completely irrelevant. This is the next level in this style, borrowing elements from all the spooky classics, but adding something so undeniably new and unique that the game is permanently changed. RAKTA eliminates all sense of retro-ness to the style and come off like they just now invented the damn thing. The songs create an otherworldly atmosphere while still keeping your feet tapping. It transports you to this weird dimension that feels like it’s trying to keep you inside of it forever. It would have been the perfect soundtrack for a Maya Deren film.”
So what I think the MRR reviewer is trying to say is that the LP is good. I concur.
It was a pleasure to be able to talk to the band about their music, what inspires it, and what their future plans as a group are.
Rakta members Carla, Laura, Natha, and Paula were interviewed by Oliver in July, 2014.
Q:First thing I have to ask: The band name, “Rakta” – is it a Portuguese word? What does “RAKTA” mean and who thought of it?
RAKTA: Rakta is not in Portuguese. It’s Hindu. Rakta is a sanskrit word – it means “red, blood, passion, power, strong energy….”
Q:For folks who may be reading about you for the first time, can you give us some basic details? By this I mean: When did RAKTA start, who were the founding members, and who are the members of RAKTA now?
RAKTA: We started in 2011, but our first gig was in 2012.
Rakta started because Carla bought a bass and was looking to start a band. She spoke with Natha about it, and both were looking to other people who were meant to play other instruments. Natha had a band before called VÍTIMA, and that band was over, so she wanted to start another one. That’s when Rakta was formed.
And yes, our founding members are the same as the current lineup of RAKTA. Carla, Laura, Natha and Paula.
Q:What releases do you have out so far?
RAKTA: Our first release was on Virus Tropical, a K7 by Jamaican Nights Tapes (a shitty DIY tape label based in São Paulo made by Rakta members and good friends of us) with other bands including Cadaver em Transe, Likso, and Gattopardo. This tape traveled a lot around the world and a lot of punks may have their own copies. We are planning to make more copies.
In 2012 we recorded, and just in 2013 we released our self-titled LP on Nada Nada Discos and Dama da Noite Discos. After that, we released a special tape for our South America tour called “Tudo que é Sólido desmancha no ar” with our 2 new songs.
Q:Your sound, to me, seems inspired by psych-garage rock, early 80s deathrock, postpunk, and also just plain old punk. Would you agree with this? What was the result that you all were going for when you started to make music? Were you thinking, “Oh, we should play darker stuff mixed with garage punk,” or – what was the thinking behind the music?
RAKTA: Honestly, when we started the band we didn’t have in mind what it was gonna sound like. It was a free-form experiment.
We tried to play some cover songs, including songs by Discharge and Ramones, but nothing was going the right way, so we decided to try playing something that was more us. Actually Paula, in our first rehearsal, was saying all the time, “We should make our own song!!” So we started to make our song “REPETITION” that’s on our LP, and right after that came our “WELCOME TO THE FOREST” song.
Q:What bands do you feel have had the biggest influences on RAKTA’s sound? I don’t necessarily mean what what bands you personally like, as individual members; I’m wondering what bands you think are reflected in RAKTA’s sound, and who influenced that?
RAKTA: We are influenced by people who produce something that’s true to themselves. Rakta was made by that. We love to play with bands that have the guts to do anything they want, that like to experience new ways and forms to produce their music.
Musically, it’s really hard to give you an answer. We all have too much in common and sometimes nothing in common. We know that people usually compare us to Xmal Deustchland and other peace and postpunk bands of that the time. And we do like of all these bands, but we are not attached to the genre. Actually, we are not attached to anything, and this is what we are trying to advocate.
Q:Speaking of favorite bands, who are your favorite older bands to listen to?
Natha: My fave band is Big Boys.
Laura: My favorite band is Gauze, but I do love Cólera.
Paula: Pink Floyd, Sleep, Dead Can Dance, Crass, Can, Nic, Feederz.
Q:Who are your favorite newer and currently-existing bands that you feel like are worth listening to? What other bands do you feel like are making music that is worth hearing right now?
Natha: My new favorite band is a Brazilian hardcore band called GUAST!
Laura: Hard question. There are a lot of good current bands going right now. I think I go more for of the radical and badly-played bands that seem to be more sensitive than anything I’ve heard before. I don’t like beautiful music. I don’t even like artists. I like music filled with ideas and meanings, and there are not a lot of bands that I’d include in this small group. But I can say FRAU, LAS OTRAS, HYSTERICS, ORDEN MUNDIAL, PIÑÉN, GOOD THROB, POST and REPLICA. Damn, I like it angry.
Paula: REPLICA, ALL THEM WITCHES and PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE, and a recent Brazilian band called POST.
Carla: My favorite Brazilian bands right now are TEST and BUGIO.
Q:Is it true one of you all went to France to see a PART 1 show? Has PART 1 played any role in influencing what RAKTA’s music is all about?
RAKTA: Well, it wasn’t a concert in France. It was in London, and not just one of us was there, but actually two. Carla and Laura were travelling around Europe together and they knew before arriving in Europe that PART1 was going to make a concert after a lot of years. It was a good adventure.
They arrived there early and met PART1, Integrants, and a lot of punk icons – hahaha. People of The Mob, Hagar the Womb, the Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine… It was a night of good beers, radical music, good friends, good chats… A night to remember.
So, it might be influenced. Carla says that it influenced her a little.
Q:It looks like 540 Records in Texas is re-pressing the vinyl of your 12″ release for stateside consumption. When will this happen, and do you have any other new recording projects in the works?
RAKTA: Yes, it is available right now! We have to thank Timmy for his support and interest in the band. He just wrote us and said, “I want to release your LP record.” And we thought, “WHY??” Hahaha, but it happened.
And ah! About new projects, we are working on our 7’’ EP with 2 new songs that will be ready soon.
Q:A question I ask all bands: If you all were stranded on a desert island, and somehow magically had the means to play records, but could only take 5 records with you, what would those 5 records be?
Natha: Big Boys records and definitely Ramones.
Laura: Hahaha, maybe Cólera Pela “Paz em Todo Mundo” LP, Crass’s 7’’ EP “Nagasaki Nightmare,” Gauze’s “Fuckheads” LP, Las Otras’ “Devolver el Golpe” LP, and Ras Michael and Sons of Negus LP. Nyahbinghi compilation.
Paula: This is so hard. Om, “Advaitic Songs“; Pedro Santos, “Krishnanda“; Spacemen 3, “Playing with Fire“; Dead Can Dance, “Spiritchaser“; Pink Floyd, “Live at Pompeii.”
Carla: Melody Nelson, Serge Gainsbourg. Universal Consciousness, Alice Coltrane. Ramones, Ramones. Black Ark in Dub, Lee Perry. Garlands, Cocteau Twins. Future Days, Can.
Q: Is RAKTA a political band in anyway? What are your lyrics about? Can you describe the lyrical and singing style of the band?
RAKTA: In SOME WAY RAKTA is a political band. Each member has their own view about RAKTA being a political band, or not. Individually, each one of us has our own beliefs and practices. We didn’t start the band because we had a political emphasis. We started because we wanted to play and discover what could come from that. Being an all-women band is something that empowers us and, consequently, the people that surround us. They can feel what we are doing there and what we are playing. The singing and lyrical style came naturally, as did all the rest. Our lyrics aren’t political (in the concept as is mostly known), but they carry a deep and profound message about inner knowledge, and the micro & macro relations. This is the seed of change: discovering and revolutionizing yourself. We leave the descriptions and the labels to the people who listen to us. You can relate us to anything you want, it’s free. We just want to simply BE.
Q:In February, Maximum Rock ‘n Roll gave you all an absolutely glowing review, giving your record the “Record of the Week” accolade. They wrote: “This is the next level in this style, borrowing elements from all the spooky classics, but adding something so undeniably new and unique that the game is permanently changed.” How do you feel about these comments? Are they accurate, and what is your response to them?
RAKTA: We were really surprised, and we are really glad for this review! There are no words to express that. We love you MRR!
Q:A lot of reviews will mention that you all have a gothy or deathrock sound, and it seems a lot of the folks that like you all consider you, for fairer or nought, to be part of the newer dark punk milieu/movement of bands like Blue Cross, Arctic Flowers, Belgrado, Pleasure Leftists, etc. Is that correct, or – what do you think of this?
RAKTA: As we already said, we dont want to be attached to any genre. We do like all of these bands. Some of these bands are great friends of ours. But when we started the band, we weren’t looking forward towards what we would play. No one in RAKTA was a musician that played in a orchestra or had a lot of experience in bands. When we started to make our music, we were playing what we could play, not trying to make something post-punk or deathrock style. Of course, we like it, but, honestly? We don’t feel part of it.
Q:Will you all be touring any time soon? What about any future tours to the USA? When might that happen?
RAKTA: In 2014, we will do a US tour in October and a European tour in November as well. Fuck yeah!
Q:Where can readers go to find out more about the band? What websites can people go to to check out your music?
Do you dream in music that washes waves of sound over your buzzing eardrums? In that case, you will really dig the new track “Faded” we are streaming from EARTH MOVER off their Gemini cassingle! Recorded by Michael Kuhn at OddRoom Studios in Charlotte, NC, this track will steal your soul and sail away on a sea of fuzz, taking you on a journey into a beautiful abyss. Hit play below to see what I mean, and check out EARTH MOVER on tour!
8/7: Baltimore, MA @ Sidebar with Sea of Bones, The Oracle, Gloom
8/8: Montague, NJ @ Taps Pub with ADDER and Doughnuts
8/9: New Brunswick, NJ @ Cooler Ranch with Ex Wife, Wild Rice and Lilac Daze
8/10: Brooklyn, NY @ the Acheron with Planning for Burial, Sea Creature
8/11: York, PA @ Skid Row Garage with Katahajime, Miami Doritos and Mutant Lovechild
8/12: Richmond, VA @ The Gangway Garden with Cold Foamers, Place Called Home, New Turks and Page of Concrete
8/13: Charlottesville, VA @ Main Street Annex with Miami Nights and Beldam
I’m keyed up to present you the exclusive streaming of the brand new HaiKai No Ku album, “Ultra High Dimensionality”, here on CVLT Nation. The record springs from the spoors of last year’s remarkable “Sick On My Journey” and “No Blue Sky” before that. Production-wise, and unlike the past efforts, it has a balmy feel to it, keeping the collective sound at a safe distance from their compatriots in Acid Mothers Temple, who employ an equally cuspate and cutthroat tone. That comes in valuable, also averring the shrill cry Vest’s guitar articulates is an erotic one. Inasmuch as it’s sinuous and it’s magnetic: it has no concern for time.
Captivation of the desolate desert. Captivation of the sand dune. Captivation of release. Being fascinated with the ruins in the sonic realm has always led to some insight for the musicians. Whether it was for Henry Cow composing ‘Ruins’; Kyuss, ‘Freedom Run’; or Floyd, “Live At Pompeii”. This fascination does not have to be hierarchical or to post-date the songwriting. Who knows, HaiKai No Ku might have named the tracks after they were composed, like Penderecki dedicated his piece, ‘Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima’, after it was written. Even if, the fascination is indeed there – nonlinear witchery.
‘Void In Aimless Flight’ it is named, the fourth song off this forty-minute reverie. Given the inkling, a black hole of doom awaits the listener in HaiKai No Ku’s absurdist re-telling of the Sabbath story. Jerome Smith, Sam Booth and Mike Vest have tastefully secured the path of bluesy doom metal, the sound that ceased to exist as the 80′s happened and as the Priest happened, but continued to forge ahead in the 90′s, especially with bands such as EHG and Sleep. It is of interest to mention that Judas Priest, apart from adjusting the consensus for the tempo, also made their influential way up to the 80′s doom scene, a scene that was supposed to bring back the Sabbath sound. Almost all the bands of that time, from Saint Vitus and Witchfinder General to Candlemass, are hugely influenced by Priest, not to mention Iommi’s efforts to build up a similar sound around the same time with the likes of Dio. In any event, the 00′s again saw the doom on downswing, with the call for Sabbath being there, but more for the stoner rock than for the doom. The doom metal practiced in the 00′s, as well as the 2010′s, is at best the continuation of the Saint Vitus sound, with bands like Pilgrim, and in other cases it’s not doom metal to begin with, e.g. Cult Of Luna. And while other projects of Mike Vest also embrace both blues and doom, it is only with HaiKai No Ku that all systems go Sabbath.
We recently featured A Black People in our Two Post-Punk Bands That Fucking RULE! post, and today we’re honored to bring you an exclusive stream of a new track from this amazing band, “Filth”. “Filth” is a track from a full length in the works for A Black People… ATTENTION ALL RECORD LABELS: please sign this band!!!
W – Wanderlust: We have chosen the path we are on because we are hobos at heart. There is nothing better than being on the road, traveling from town to town, performing and moving on.
H – Hedonist: We seek pleasure, that is why we fill our lives with things that bring us joy.
I – Independent: Screw trends…enough said.
T – Transformation: We seek to transform people’s lives through our music and performance in the same way that many great artists and musicians have transformed our lives for the better.
E – Exploration: Knowledge and growth are key elements to what we do. Without exploration one will not grow or become more knowledgable.
Photo by Antronhy
H – Hearing: We really can’t hear much anymore…
I – Iggy Pop: The man has stuck to his guns his entire career, that in and of itself is greatly admirable. He’s 67 years old and exudes more energy and enthusiasm than the majority of 20 somethings in bands today. He’s a badass…need we say more!
L – Laughter: One of the keys to life.
L – Let The Right One In: A fantastic book and chilling movie loved by us so much that we titled one of our songs after it. The title itself is an interesting concept to ponder. You are you own gatekeeper. What will you allow into your life?
S – Secret: If one revealed everything, there would be no mystery left. How boring would that be?
New WHITE HILLS album Glitter Glamour Atrocity Pre-Order HERE!
In two weeks the first FUNERAL PARTY kicks off at The American in Vancouver and we want all ghouls to be there! It will be a night of Death Rock and Post Punk with DJs CVLT Nation and Viktor Khun, and features a live set from the unholy and awesome UNDERPASS! RSVP here!
The stars sing when they burn, and the earth hums when it moves – but their voices are unimaginably massive and crushing, drones that would wash your puny flesh from bone if you could actually hear them. If you want a taste of this universe music in the human hearing range, check out the UK’s OMMADON, who create music to lull you into a trance and then crush your skull. Today we’re honored to be streaming “V2″ off their album V which hits the streets today…you can pick up your copy HERE (Domestic Genocide, N.A.), HERE (Dry Cough, UK) or HERE (Burning World, NL)! I can’t even imagine how sick the OMMADON live experience would be!
The final day of the second Gilead Media Festival. It should not be a surprise that I was anticipating this day of the festival the most. If it was going to be anything like 2012, it would be unforgettable. And without spoiling too much too soon, it was a very special occasion, no doubt for everyone. Once again, Adam would contribute in unexpected ways and Thou’s presence would be inarguably marvelous.
Again starting earlier than the previous day, with Northless opening not long after doors. The line up for the final day:
GENERATION OF VIPERS
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Northless really turned my head in 2012 at the first festival, and I did some backtracking to their record Clandestine Abuse. That record is wicked. Outside of their split with Light Bearer, nothing they’ve done has smashed me to the shocking degree Clandestine Abuse did, with a few songs on their newest LP World Keeps Sinking being the exception. However their live performances are apparently heavier and louder than I remembered.
They had a short time on stage unfortunately, but everything they played I did enjoy, specifically opener from Clandestine Abuse “Flesh & Ghost”. You can see that and another song below.
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Tennessee’s black metal group Alraune was another anticipated band of the night. Their new record The Process of Self Immolation has brought a lot of buzz around them following their short demo, and with a drummer like Tyler (Yautja) you have to know the hype will be grounded in grueling, sharp musicianship. And live that’s the case as well. Alraune performed their new work with great fervor.
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Colossal doom bringers Seidr were a surprise when they were announced on the fest line up for me. I’ve known about and loosely followed them for a time, but never thought I’d see them. Like Sea of Bones and Wolvserpent the previous days, their style of doom is noticeably different, with an enormous amount of passion behind it.
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FALSE were a big moment during the festival in 2012, one of the few moments where the crowd was unrestrained when they unveiled “Heavy as a Church Tower” for the first time. It was less like that this year, but the performance was unaffected. They have a great stage presence, their songs are powerful, I’m just waiting on some new stuff from them.
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GENERATION OF VIPERS
Following FALSE was Generation of Vipers, and like Alraune from Tenessee, these guys have been around spreading their sludgy chaos in different flavors since 2004, with members contributing to other heavy projects. There’s still not a lot like Generation Vipers though. They’ve been on my periphery for a long time while being quiet since 2011. It was a heavy forty minutes rising to Kowloon Walled City’s energy the previous day where they showed off some newer sounds as well as old. Do check them out if you’re able to.
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Like 2012′s festival, Loss drew a crowd and entranced them for their entire time on stage. Like their Tennessee brothers before them they did it big. I left for water and air halfway through their set, and could hear them clearly on the sidewalk outside. Huge oceanic sorrow washed over that part of Oshkosh for their set.
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The doom didn’t stop with Loss. Uzala followed up with a more psychedelic slant and a cleaner vocal approach. This was my first exposure to Uzala, but they threw down some groove-laden tracks I enjoyed in their time on stage. Fuzz, bass, death treading on darkness.
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Like the first festival, Barghest were to play directly before Thou. This year, though, they had a new record to work with and it’s a great one, still obscuring death and black metal in their raw, anti-human approach. They played a lot from The Virtuous Purge and ended with one of their older reworked songs for their split with False “Shifting Sands”.
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Last time I saw Thou play, they performed Tyrant in its entirety, which is still one of a few favorite live shows I’ve attended. Thou don’t play Canada often (once in my memory), so I’m happy to see anything they play on tour, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be difficult for anything to surpass that show. This year, Thou was touring with The Body and Cloud Rat, and for the finale of Gilead Fest 2014 they played a lot from new releases like their latest monument Heathen.
Here’s some footage from near the end of their time on stage:
After their set proper, Bryan got off stage first while everyone was cheering for an encore, and went to their merch table. After a minute or so, Adam got on stage with the rest of the band and they proceeded to blow minds with a special version of their classic “Smoke Pigs”. Unexpected and improvised, it was a special moment outside of the already heavy nature of the song. This was also a rare moment where the crowd went pretty crazy, stage diving and moshing more than in other performances.
Pheonix, AZ sludge wizards SORXE are about to release their debut LP, Surrounded By Shadows, and today we’re stoked to bring you a little piece of the magic they have in store for us. “Steamroller” is the opener on Surrounded By Shadows and just as its name suggests, it will squeeze you under its filthy weight until your guts burst out of your mouth. Sorxe will be hitting the stage alongside Take Over And Destroy on August 16th for their album release show at The Crescent Ballroom in Pheonix and then at Southwest Terror Fest on October 18th…details below!
Day two of Gilead Fest 2014 brought the pace back up with an entirely fresh round of bands, starting earlier making room for longer sets as the night went on. A lot of the line up I was unfamiliar with, maybe about half, but I was considerably excited regardless now that I had a good rest. Protestant, Sea of Bones, Kowloon Walled City, The Body were among those I was eager to see and some surprised me even further. Wolvserpent and Bastard Sapling for example.
I was early again and chatted with a few friends before doors opened. Protestant were the first band up that day and I was aware they’d probably play mostly new stuff from In Thy Name so I hung around while things were setting up. The line up was as follows:
PROTESTANT GERYON HEXER OWLFOOD SEA OF BONES BASTARD SAPLING KOWLOON WALLED CITY MUTILATION RITES THE BODY WOLVSERPENT
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Without further delay here is the second day of Gilead Media Festival 2014.
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With a new album changing course from Reclamation, Protestant did indeed showcase In Thy Name in the opening set of the night. The style is less mosh heavy except for a few spots but really intense all the same. Compared to the crowd’s rowdiness last year during their set where a mosh pit opened up this year was a bit tamer when unleashing their new record. I’ve been giving it a steady listening to it since I returned. Here’s some video of the opener “Vengeance”:
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Two piece bass-drum crushers Geryon. This was the first time I’d heard anything by them and I largely liked it. There was a few technical issues with connections between the pedals and the guitar and they had to cut it short, but before then it was a strong set. You can hear some of the menacing thunder they created below:
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Philadelphia’s Hexer were on following Geryon, hardcore with a slightly blackened edge. They released their self-titled LP through Gilead Media last year and showed it off pretty well here. Having just been immersed in a shit ton of hardcore of all varieties in Fastcore Fest, Hexer felt fairly tame in comparison. They had a good show though thrashing between the gnarled bassy technicality of Geryon and the intoxicating warmth of Owlfood.
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Owlfood brought a somnolent spell to break up the pace of the festival on this day. Murky slowcore and folk ceremonies commenced.
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SEA OF BONES
A huge wave of grief breached with the Connecticut doom-drone three piece Sea of Bones. Gilead Media helped press their monolithic record The Earth Wants Us Dead this year and it was a heavy half hour as they unfolded their sounds. See below for evidence:
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Bastard Sapling ripped through their thirty minutes. I loved it even with this being my first exposure to them. I knew about their 2012 record but didn’t listen to it. Their new record Instinct Is Forever was of course release by Gilead Media so you can judge for yourself, but they put on a good show. Footage below:
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KOWLOON WALLED CITY
Probably my favorite part of day two was Kowloon Walled City wrecking the place with their perveyance of Container Ships nearly in full. Everything about it was louder and clobbered harded than I expected, doing their reputation proud. At one point in between songs the vocalist Scott told a story where a fan told him KWC was great dish washing music; which could be taken multiple ways of course. As a dishwasher I’ll say any moment you get where you can turn off the incessant buzz of the top 40′s radio and help drown out the furious gurgling and whirring of the machine, a good choice is something like Thou, or Dephosphorus, or Kowloon Walled City. Because their destructive force can counter all of that and numb you to the monotony.
So in that sense yeah that dude was right. Check out a few songs from their set:
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Mutilation Rites returned this year with new records, specifically Harbinger, and stronger performance. I haven’t heard the new stuff, nothing since Empyrean but they sounded awesome that evening.
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Outside of their collaboration set the previous day I haven’t seen The Body since the last festival. Since then they’ve been extremely busy, obviously honing their abilities tighter. I don’t enjoy all of what they do equally but they’re always doing things differently with a purpose. Again they were great. They’re a force live and always touring so see them if you can. Vancouver will see their arrival in the near future but until then check out some of their set:
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Wrapping up the second night was the two piece from Idaho known as Wolvserpent. They weaved a huge atmosphere that unexpectedly caught me. Minimalist, carefully constructed haunting doom brushing against the cosmos from the venue that night. Observe:
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Keep a watch out for part three covering day three’s showcase, with an epic finale. To view hi-resolution video and footage of this and other events visit the galleries and playlists of The Plow Behind You on Flickr and Youtube.
In the second chapter of my double interviews series, I chose to have a chat with André Foisy (Locrian, Kwaidan, Eolomea, Khamsin) and Brittany McConnell (Wolvserpent, Mezektet). As many of you probably know, they’re both yoga teachers and they’re currently in Relapse Records roster with two of their projects, Locrian and Wolvserpent. Their music is dark and ritual, kaleidoscopic but comprehensive, and holds a sense of modernity where metal, kraut and ambient drone are a black lake from which you’ll come up spiritually renewed. They’ll be talking about: Black Metal yoga, buddhist monks chants, Roadburn, Popol Vuh, Turbodog yoga, corpse pose, drone bath, Super Moons, Relapse Records, Swiss rabbits, Anusara yoga, Boise people, Cahokia and much more.
Hi Brittany, hi André. You already know each other since you met in Chicago some years ago at a Wolvserpent gig, have you some memories of that night?
Brittany: Hi Francesca and André. Yes, I do remember that gig. It was the first time Wolvserpent played Chicago. I thought it was a great show, reminiscent of noise shows we’d played in the past where people were stoked on the music. It was intimate and the listeners were engaged. André and Locrian were quite hospitable. We went out for some delicious mediterranean food before the show and André put us up in his apartment for the night. We talked a bit of music, played with his awesome dog, and got some rest.
André: Sure, that’s when I met Brittany. I set the show up at a place called Enemy, in Wicker Park. It’s on the 3rd floor and there isn’t an elevator. I remember thinking how happy I was that I didn’t have to bring much gear up the stairs. I was watching Wolvserpent load equipment and I kept thinking about: 1) how cool it sounds to play with tons of amps; and 2) how much it must suck to have to load so many amps at every show.
Wolvserpent’s set was awesome. It was really nice to see them in such an intimate environment.
Brittany, you and André are both yoga teachers and sometimes you arrange special lessons, like that of some weeks ago on the mountains with your students. Can you tell us more about that experience?
Brittany: Yes, it was a trip hosted by the local University. A two night trip for people of all levels of backpacking and yoga experience. I was along to teach a couple yoga sessions each day. It was a challenge to quickly get to know the group, their needs and what they wanted to get out of a weekend of yoga in the mountains. I love teaching that way. I have to be very present to what is arising in the group. We went to South-Central Idaho to an area that had a big forest fire about ten years ago. So the setting was pristine with clean air, mountain views, rivers and streams and also huge crag trees that were still partly black from the fire. They loomed all around us swaying and creaking and threatening to fall.
André, you recently went on a European tour with Locrian and you made some solo shows and a special Yoga lesson: a Black Metal Yoga Candle Night in Berlin. How did it go?
André: The yoga session was really fun. I did it at a place at Tatwerk and they were really supportive of the idea. It was amazing. I hope to go back to Berlin soon to do more yoga workshops.
Also, I feel like teaching a yoga workshop gave me a chance to really connect with the people who were there in a totally sober and intimate environment. I gave the class a drone bath at the end and that’s really the perfect way to experience the stuff that I play.
This drone bath thing has become quite famous in the last weeks. Can you tell us more? How do people respond to that?
André: At the end of yoga classes, students lay on their backs and rest and breath deeply using Ujjayi breath. This pose is called “corpse pose”.
I thought that it would be a great experience to listen to drone music while resting in corpse pose. Personally, I’d rather listen to drone music in this manner rather than in a bar around chatty drunk people.
The drone bath feels great and I have no question that it’s also very healing to the body as well. Humans are mostly made up of water and sound travels more rapidly through water than through solid materials. Laying on your back and feeling drones sounds great, it enables people to really feel the music, and it’s entirely relaxing. Time become an illusion when things go right.
For the musicians, it’s nice to play to an audience that’s giving you their whole attention. It’s really the perfect audience.
People have told me that after the drone bath they’ve felt lighter and that they lose track of time entirely. They’ve asked like “how long did we rest in corpse pose?”
Typically, the drone bath lasts for about 15 minutes, but there are no rules.
During the last drone bath, my group Kwaidan performed and our drummer (Mike Weis) was able to walk throughout the audience playing his drums.
Brittany, your lessons are inspired by Anusara Yoga, which is a form of Yoga that introduced a more health-oriented Western approach. Do you have developed a personal interpretation of it through the years?
Brittany: It’s true, I have done my training in Anusara Yoga, and I am quite inspired by that method. I am, however, no longer certified in this method. I moved away from the organization last year. I continue to teach with the elements of an Anusara Yoga class that I found to be most useful: intelligent alignment, connection to the lineage of the practice, and an emphasis on “good company” in community.
Anusara can mean “flowing with grace”, “flowing with nature” and “following your heart”, and the “heart attitude” like the “alignment” of different parts of the body play an important role in it. How do you think this has helped you as a musician and as a creative person in general?
Brittany: This aspect of Yoga practice has helped me very much in many areas of my life. On a very practical level, I came to yoga with a back injury. I had been working on a farm and doing a lot of gardening work as a teenager. I injured myself and a friend suggested I try yoga. It was surprising how quickly I started feeling better, stronger, and less fragile after each session. The practice was also working on my state of mind and emotions. I found that my rebellious tendency to harden to any enjoyment of life was softening. I started to connect to a creative force in myself again.
These effects of the practice continue to work on me. It requires that I listen and attune to a more subtle aspect of experience. By aligning my body more optimally to function as a finely tuned instrument, I can play music for longer stretches without fatigue or injury. I am also more connected to my desire to play music. It is a way for me to be in service. It is one form of bringing forth beauty and truth. For me, that can look like the attentive focus of holding a pose on a yoga mat or like listening intently for just the right placement of the next hit in a riff. It becomes the same practice in different forms.
André, in some interviews you have talked about the benefits of Turbodog Yoga for musicians, especially during tour dates. Can you explain how this kind of training can positively affect a musician’s life?
André: Sure! There’s a ton of ways that this yoga is good for musicians.
People who practice this yoga feel better so they play music better and with less pain.
For me, I get wrist pain, back pain, and sometimes neck pain. Playing music and touring exacerbates these issues.
Turbodog yoga incorporates a modern understanding of the body in order to help people’s bodies open up really quickly.
It’s also really helpful at helping people to tap into their creativity because it opens up the channels in the body so effectively.
I’ll be posting about yoga on the Deciblog and on my own blog more in the near future about how yoga can help musicians.
André, Turbodog Yoga, just like any other yoga practice, has its own traits and it deals more with the physical dimension of training rather than with the spiritual one. Other practices, like Anusara Yoga have a health oriented perspective too but they focus on the spiritual side. What do you think are the main differences between these two kind of Yoga practices?
André: Anusara yoga is really focused on helping people open up their hearts, which I think is great, but Turbodog yoga also works to help people open up their hearts as well, but in a really down-to-earth way.
I don’t know much about the Anusara meditation practices so I can’t accurately compare them to the Turbodog mediations.
The physical postures in the yoga that I practice are a bit different than in other styles. For instance, people keep a relaxed neck when they are in poses. Most modern people have stiff necks and neck tension.
Keeping a stiff neck while practicing the physical postures probably wasn’t a big deal for ancient Indian yogis, people who didn’t stare at computers or drive cars frequently.
The style of yoga I teach also incorporates active stretching to help the body open up. When you activate a muscle and stretch it at the same time, then the muscle has the strength to support the body’s flexibility.
We also focus on antagonist muscle relationships. For instance, when most people try to stretch their hamstrings, they frequently passively try to touch their toes with their legs straight. In reality, the quickest way to open up the hamstrings is to not stretch the hamstrings, but to strengthen the weak quads. So, we use a lot of sneaky tricks to open up the body quickly.
Brittany, I know usually there’s a musical part at the end of a Yoga lesson, isn’t it? What kind of music do you prefer to accompanying it?
Brittany: I’m not sure if there is any “usual” for Yoga classes these days. They seem to come in any form – music, no music, fast, slow, hard abs, relax tension, wine after class, no wine because we abstain, and on and on enough to make your head swim – HA!
But, I think you are referring to the end when there is time for relaxation. I generally do not use music in class and ask that people listen to their breath in order to become more present and aware of their experience. But I do sometimes bring my viola and play something soothing for everyone in savasana, “corpse pose”.
André, you usually use “unconventional” music in the last part of your Yoga lessons and you released some podcasts of your playlists. I know you put on stuff like Nadja, Popol Vuh and even Black Metal. How is this podcast thing evolving through time?
André: It’s challenging to put a playlist together that works with the class sequence and the class theme, but it’s fun to go through my music catalog to try to find things that will fit well.
If anyone has suggestions for tracks to include on my yoga playlist then I’d love to hear them.
Brittany, what about you? Have you ever made a podcast for your students?
Brittany: I don’t typically use music for class… unless I do. HA
At home, occasionally I will put on some music to practice – especially if I’m feeling sluggish or uninspired to do the physical practice. If I do want music, I might put on Yob, Black Boned Angel, Elemental Chrysalis, Ash Ra Temple, A Story of Rats, Natur (Stevie Floyd), Buddhist Monks Chanting, Asva, Chelsea Wolfe, or whatever grabs me :). I have also been working on a collaboration with Blake for a “Heavy Yoga” offering for a long time now. This will be an experiential yoga class with heavy drone accompaniment played live in the venue.
André, you have studied Anthropology for several years. What’s your connection with symbols and spirituality in your Yoga practice and more in general in your music and in your life?
André: Symbols can be anywhere, it’s a matter of recognizing them. Yoga has really helped me to feel more in the moment, which has made me more attuned to noticing things that may hold some symbolic meaning to me.
I view my life as a spiritual journey and the body and the spirit are closely linked. Yoga has helped me to feel better in my body, which has helped me to get more in touch with my spirit.
Playing music is a spiritual journey for me because what I play comes directly from the spirit.
André, talking about music, it seems like there has been a great feedback from people who attended your gig at Roadburn. How does it feel to play at a festival like Roadburn? Have you some anecdotes about that?
André: Roadburn was so fun and there’s no festival that I’ve been to that’s like it.
It was a huge honor to be able to open the festival and to play at the best venue at Roadburn, Het Patronaat, which is an interesting church.
Our set was really loud. I had to tape my pedals to the floor and I also had to tape my speaker cables to the back of the amplifiers so that they didn’t come loose.
The other nice thing about playing early was that people didn’t have time to drink much beer before out set. All of the venues later in the day smelled like beer farts. Roadburn should invite more bands over who burn candles next year.
I was really impressed by the Corrections House set.
Can you tell us more about the dog who looked at the bunny in the pet store? (It’s about a photo André posted on Facebook some time ago).
André: Ha! Yes! The bunny in the window was in Bern Switzerland. I was there right around Easter and there’s a shop window there that placed bunnies in the window for the holiday. Some of the bunnies were sleeping in their food dishes. I noticed the neighborhood dogs surrounding the windows of the store. They probably wanted a snack. It looked like the bunnies were sleeping in dog dishes and the dogs were hungry and… confused.
Brittany, I know you came on a European tour in 2011, have you some memory about that time? Are Wolvserpent planning a new tour here in Europe?
Brittany: Yes, I remember that tour quite well and fondly. It was the first time we toured Europe due to the generous offer of Aaron and Nathan, of Wolves In The Throne Room, to come along as opening support. It was an incredible experience. We were really spoiled with good shows, good food, good people, and an amazing taste of music culture in other parts of the world. We also worked really hard, as is required of any tour. We learned so much from playing on bigger stages (and small stages), and how to be a good support band, how to take the good with the bad (many audiences received us well but that can’t always be the case), and how to work really hard…. well, even harder. We came home with a whole list of ways to improve what we were already doing – both musically and in our operation as a group.
It was also quite great to experience a little bit of the different cultures across Europe. The way people take in, a musical experience can vary a lot depending on the people. And it is also the same. There is something universal in being present to the moment, the music and your own personal response. As in the United States, we met some people and it felt like we’d known them for forever – kindred spirits.
You and Blake have played for almost a year together, making long rehearsals and finding a way to build the sound of Blood Seed, which showed an evolution in the use of sharped and powerful riffs, fine-tuned crescendos and a more opened sound. With Perigaea Antahkarana it seems like the tracks have become a kind of suites and that the album is in general more various: it integrates ambient drones and soundtrack atmospheres, heavy and black metal, noisy suggestions and even krautrock echoes. So, what are the main influences that guided you from Blood Seed to Perigea Antahkarana? How’s been the recording process this time? Do you and Blake still meditate together sometimes during the recording sessions?
Brittany: I like that description of the Perigaea Antahkarana tracks as “suites”, it works well. The pieces are self-contained and can be experienced on their own. But, when put together, they are meant to lead one through a whole landscape of varied terrain as a cohesive and continuous musical encounter. Separate and interdependent musical expressions.
Influences for me are hard to pin down. Blake and I listen to all kinds of music and I think it all influences what we do. For me, I listen to what I am enjoying in the moment until I’m not any more… it’s no longer “alive” for me, and I move on. I don’t usually consciously put those influences into our music (although, Blood Seed was heavily influenced by violist/composer Eyvind Kang).
We were influenced by our consideration of how we want to live our lives, what role music plays in our lives – what it’s purpose is (if any), contemplations of our relationship as species and cultures with Earth, ways in which we can live our lives in alignment with our values, and what are our values? Whew, that’s all!
The recording process was great. We were fortunate to work with an immensely skilled engineer and good friend, Mell Dettmer of Soli Studios in Seattle. We tracked some of the material at our home studio.
Blake and I both have practices, but we do not always do them formally together. Often, he will be taking care of some logistics or tracking something out and I will get a chance to steal away for a bit of practice and vice versa.
André, Locrian’s story begins with you and Terence discussing the general ideas around which the project has grown. Starting from the skinny and open sounds of “Drenched Lands”, passing through the shimmering doom soundtracks of “The Crystal World” up to a kaleidoscopic album like “Return to Annihilation”. What’s the secret for maintaining your own style while including sparse influences, transfiguring them in your vivid and decaying dreams?
André: We’re trying to make music that moves us and we’re less interested into fitting into any category. There’s something really stifling and boring about categorizing music and we are more interested in exploring themes, ideas, and feelings.
Playing music is spirit moving through me. What people hear from my recordings and performance is really the object of my spirit. I think that could be said for Terence and Steven too.
André, “Return to Annihilation” is probably your most eclectic album. On the one hand some of your references seem to be more directly uncovered, like they were almost homages to some bands which have been important for you, on the other hand the tracks seem to have a more defined form, a kind of song structure. What about this choice?
André: We wanted the album to be very concise and dynamic, but we also wanted there to be movement. Everything was written very quickly and recorded quickly so what became the album was never overthought in any way. Our music has always been more about feeling than thinking.
About references: I always liked how bands like Genesis would do things like that on their albums. For instance, the theme to “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” is on at least two tracks on that album.
Ah! Now I know what that riff which sounded so familiar was. Anyway, in all Locrian albums there are strong marks of your sound and shadows of past works. This time at the end of the album there’s even a quote, the folk guitar in “Obsolete Elegies” which recalls “Obsolete Elegy In Cast Concrete” from “Drenched Lands”. Is there a specific reason for that choice?
André: We used the theme from Obsolete Elegies off of “Drenched Lands” on the new album because it’s really bring back motifs from older releases in new ways.
Brittany, your live sets have become definitely powerful through the years, and more similar to outgoing mantras. What’s your secret?
Brittany: Thank you for that compliment. We have worked really hard to make our live performance a powerful experience.
I think one of the most important things I can do to cultivate strong and clear communication is to Listen. This sounds overly simplistic but, I mean whole-being listening. Full body/mind/heart listening is a big task. It requires our full attention. This fullness of attention is under constant bombardment by the many distractions of our modern lives – the email inbox, the dirty dishes in the sink, the rehearsal you need to get in this week, the bills to pay, the job to work, etc. So, practices that recover Attention are most valuable to me for creating powerful performances or even the ability to be present with my family and friends.
Antahkarana is an ancient Tibetan symbol of meditation and healing. Can you tell us more about this choice for the album title?
Brittany: Antahkarana, to me, signifies the vibratory spectrum of existence. That we don’t exist purely in a realm of intellect or matter, one or the other. That substance isn’t even substance but rather a soup of energy sliding from seemingly solid “thingness” to less obvious forms of expression like our mind. This term and idea comes from ancient teachings of India and Tibet and is also supported by the work of physicists in the scientific community.
Perigaea is actually a word that we made up. While we were recording the album there was a “Super Moon” – a phenomenon where the moon comes especially close to the Earth due to it’s elliptical pattern of orbit. The term for this is perigee. This particular “Super Moon” brought the moon closer to the Earth than it had been in over 20 years. I found this to be auspicious. I liked the metaphor of our illuminating intellect (the light reflected by the moon) coming close to the Earth, home. So we put together the terms “perigee” and “Gaea”, the Greek goddess of Earth.
For me, the joining of these terms is an invocation for my intellect to become steadily grounded in all aspects of my being (flesh, bone, muscle, blood, breath, pulse, heart and mind). It’s a call to yoke my intellect to the upliftment of life here on earth. A call to ecology.
Brittany, you live in Boise, Idaho. What about your relationship with that place? I guess Uzala are from Boise too. Is a small “scene” growing there at the moment?
Brittany: I have lived in Boise, Idaho for all my life. It is an interesting place. It’s not always interesting on the surface, but that’s part of what makes it interesting. To me, it is just like the surrounding desert landscape. If you look out from afar, the desert here looks like a brown expanse of nothing… well, sagebrush and sparse tufts of grass. But, if you get close, down into the landscape, you can begin to recognize a whole intricate ecosystem, right there under your nose.
Chad and Darcy of Uzala are from Boise as well. Chuck, the drummer for Uzala, lives in Portland, OR. I think there is a sort of “non-scene” happening in Boise. What I mean is, there are music-lovers who are willing to go between different scenes. At our shows in Boise you won’t find only metal-heads. There is a great diversity of people from metal-heads to moms – not that those are exclusive- HA! There is a lot of support for music of all kinds due to some very diligent show-promoters and club-owners, like Eric Gilbert and Samuel Stimpert, to name a couple. Plus, I see musicians and bands supporting one another even when they are creating drastically different music. I love that.
André, you and Steven Hess live in Chicago and Terence Hannum has lived there for a long time. You have talked about how your music reflects urban decaying landscapes. Are there specific places around Chicago which inspired you over the years?
André: Sure, in Illinois, one of my favorite places is Cahokia, which is an ancient pre-European city. It was abandoned before Europeans got here. Most scholars believe that the people who inhabited the city exploited their environment and weren’t able to stay in the area because they ran out of resources.
There are plenty of places like this throughout the world, but places like that are inspiring because it’s a reminder that the environment is us. We all may end up like Cahokia.
Chicago has much less urban decay than you’d think though. If you were to visit a place like Detroit, then you’d see some urban decay. There are parts of Detroit where nature is just taking back the city. It’s really interesting.
I know that story cause here in Italy newspapers gave a lot of space to the Fiat-Chrysler romance. Apart from this, both Wolvserpent and Locrian signed for Relapse Records some time ago. How have things changed since then? What do you think about Locrian and other bands which are driving heavy sounds to explore new territories? Are there some bands or labels you appreciate around you?
Brittany: Things have been great since signing to Relapse. They have been great to work with and it’s so nice to see them taking on music like Wolvserpent and Locrian that are exploring new territories. I really appreciate Locrian and bands that are doing something different and honest. I enjoy the tracks like “Exiting the Hall of Vapor and Light” that are intelligent and creative forces unto themselves – no need for formula or pretense.
There are a lot of really great folks in Boise working hard in bands. A lot of them are nothing like what we are doing… and I like that. A few bands are Hillfolk Noir, Gem State, Clarke and the Himselves, Gorcias (self-dubbed “creepabilly”), Uzala, and Grandma Kelsey.
André: Relapse is an amazing label. Everyone that’s involved with the label are great to work with. They are really supportive of what we do.
We started working with Relapse a couple years ago. It was actually the same time that Terence moved to Baltimore. Since then, we’ve been able to play together less, but it’s nice in a way since it makes playing together more special in a way.
I think it’s great that bands are doing different things within the context of heavy music.
There are a ton of bands that play heavy music that are doing amazing stuff though.
I live in Bridgeport and there’s a band in my neighborhood called Sun Splitter. They are awesome and probably the most underrated band that I know of in Chicago.
There’s an awesome project from Pittsburgh called Requiem that’s great. I’ve got an advanced copy of the upcoming Gog album and it’s amazing.
I just played with the Haxan Cloak and I love his stuff.
I’m always checking out whatever records that Relapse releases. There are some labels like Tri Angle that I’m digging as well.
Brittany, you and Blake have another couple of projects: Aelter and Mezektet. Aelter sounds like something quieter than Wolvserpent, with oniric atmospheres in which Blake’s guitar layers seem to prevail. Can you tell me more about this project? And what about Mezektet? I know you and Blake, together with Garek Druss (A History Of Rats) have recorded two long tracks between 2008 and 2009 and put them on a unique limited cassette. I’ve been really surprised and I enjoyed this aspect of your music among black metal and industrial sounds. Is there a future for this project?
Brittany: I’m glad you enjoyed these projects. Aelter is Blake’s solo project, although, I was part of the band for the only live performance to date.
Mezektet is a joint project between Blake, Garek, of A Story of Rats, and myself. We do have future plans for Mezektet. We live in different cities and since we have decided to record only when we are on location this can be rather difficult. It is just a matter of fruition.
André, besides Locrian you have other projects, including Kwaidan, together with Mike Weis and Neil Jendon (Zelienople). Is there a link between Kwaidan’s ritual and nostalgic guitars and Locrian’s industrial drifts?
André: There are some similarities in my guitar playing with Kwaidan and Locrian, but generally I’m much more minimal with my playing in Kwaidan. Kwaidan is almost entirely improvised and spacious and Locrian tends to be more oppressive and aggressive.
André, your fascination for krautrock sounds and atmospheres is recurrent in Locrian and preeminent in Kwaidan. How did it start this amazing “relationship”? What’s your favorite Popol Vuh album?
André: One of my brothers got me interested in prog-rock and that led me to krautrock. I’ve always liked that Krautrock sort of lets you feel things rather than forcing the listener to feel anything.
My favorite Popol Vuh album lately is Agape Agape. There’s just an amazing guitar work on that one and I love the chanting on the album.
André, Kwaidan is a great movie accompanied by a stunning soundtrack by Toru Takemitsu. Listening to it we can easily find some similarity with Mike Weis’ drums and percussion. What’s your connection with that movie?
André: The film is all about slow build-ups and Kwaidan’s music started out that way too. We recently played at a cinema to a silent film called “Le Tempestaire” and that was a really fun performance since it really challenged us to play in a way that complimented the feelings in the film. I hope that we get other opportunities to do similar things.
OUTTAKES | ANDRÉ VS BRITTANY:
André: Brittany, what’s one thing that you do while you’re on tour to feel your best?
Brittany: I love that question… If I have to pick just one thing, it is my meditation practice. At one time it was really difficult to meditate – I would feel agitated, annoyed, anxious or bored. But, with practice and great instruction from my teacher, it’s now one of the sweetest parts of my practice. I sit twice a day for meditation. I try to practice before the day begins and then also sit before performing, when on tour. Because it is such a constant in my life, it is very grounding, calming and invigorating for me to continue this practice on the road. No matter where I am I can sit, close my eyes, and connect to something that is deeper than the surface-level of my day-to-day experience; I can connect to something beyond words, very much like playing music. It can feel like tapping into a vast source of energy and getting recharged.
Brittany: Now I have to know, what do you do on the road to feel your best?
André: I’m always looking for new ways to feel good on tour.
I tend to get bad allergies.
On my last few tours, I’ve brought my neti-pot with me. A neti-pot is a little pot that you fill with distilled water and a tiny bit of sea salt. Then you let the water run through your nasal passage and blow your nose. Lately, I’ve also been putting a drop of non-alcoholic oregano oil in the water to make the solution more potent.
It really helps my breathing and it’s a tour necessity for me, especially during allergy season.
Brittany: What similarities, if any, do you find between the practice of music and the practice of yoga? Do you ever find the two to be in conflict?
André: For me, playing music and keeping a yoga practice is all about feeling. In yoga, it doesn’t matter what pose someone can or can’t get into. It doesn’t matter if the feet are aligned properly or if things aren’t perfect, but it does matter what someone feel in those pose. When I play music, it doesn’t matter if things are perfect. It’s more important that I feel something that resonates within me, or something authentic.
I have a tendency to be a perfectionist and I struggle against that tendency when I play music or do yoga. Yoga is great for working on issues like perfectionism because you need to let go of control. If I’m controlling in my yoga practice then I tend to get exhausted really quickly and things don’t feel good. My body freezes up. With music, I can’t force myself to be creative, it has to come from inside of me.
Brittany: André, in my experience, the world of yoga and the world of heavy music can be quite different (although they come closer together with offerings like your Black Metal Yoga sessions). Do you ever find that people in one of those realms are surprised to find out about your involvement in the other?
André: I think that a lot of people in both realms of my life are surprised.
People from my yoga community have surprised me by attending my metal yoga events. These yoga people wouldn’t normally listen to the kind of music that I play at these events. These people have really enjoyed the music though and I think it’s because it works with my yoga class. It’s intended to make people feel something and it helps to bring up emotions or feelings.
On the other hand, people that know me from my music community are all over the place in terms of my involvement in yoga. People that know me closely know that I don’t really care about pretending to be someone that I’m not. Like at Roadburn, some people that I didn’t know said that Locrian was the heaviest band that they saw, but also the nerdiest looking band. I took that as a huge compliment.
I’ve really been surprised by the number of people from my music world who have connected with me because of my yoga practice. Some of them practice on their own. Some people have chronic pain that they’d like to get relief from or other issues.
What are you doing at the moment? Any plans for the future?
Brittany: I am teaching yoga classes in Boise. I am also deepening my own study through an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training that spans two-years and 500 hours of study.
I’m rehearsing with Wolvserpent for some festival performances this summer. We play some dates in Fall that are yet to be confirmed. Wolvserpent has plans to tour Europe and we hope to reveal those details soon.
We are also recording a follow-up EP to Perigaea Antahkarana that will be released on Relapse Records hopefully in Fall 2014 or Spring of 2015.
André: Right now, I’m trying to get deeper into my yoga practice and I just recorded a new Locrian album. I’m hoping to finish mixing the album this summer and relax a bit.
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