There’s less than 24 hours left until God Is An Astronaut go live at my hometown Tallinn, and I couldn’t be more pumped. GIAA is one of those bands that constantly brings it, every night, every year, any time of the day (though dark is duly recommended). I remember their last year’s show like it was literally yesterday, because it was that memorable. And indeed, why shouldn’t it have been, because as GIAA guitarist Torsten Kinsella puts it, they really focus on bringing their world to the audience and immersing them in it. They’re one of those rare bands who can draw hundreds, if not thousands of people, from all walks of life, into the same room, and give them something truly uniting. No one will leave that room feeling indifferent tomorrow, I can guarantee it beforehand. Even though the timing could have been better, I was lucky enough to get Torsten (big thanks go out to Roman Demchenko from Urban Culture Entertainment here for being the mediator) to give this interview on the fly, while traveling towards Estonia, to share some of his feelings regarding the new album, the 21st century, where God Is An Astronaut is as a band, and what music means to him, among other things. Read on, and if you live in Europe, then don’t forget to catch GIAA on the road this fall, as they’re actively promoting their new album Helios | Erebus, which came out on June 21.
Knowing full well that if their identities were to be revealed, a prison sentence at the very least, and maybe even death penalty at worst would be the end result, Al-Namrood, the three piece black metal band from Saudi Arabia, have made no concessions. A group of three non-believers in a country governed by religion; artists honing forbidden crafts; black metallers who in the public eye might as well be black sorcerers. The ultimate musical rebels. To find out more about this obscure and mystical band, who defy all social norms in their country of birth, read the short interview below, conducted via e-mail about a week ago. Starting from today, the 28th of August, Sputnik can also host the video premiere for Al-Namrood’s song “Hayat Al Khezea,” which is from their upcoming album Diaji Al Joor, that will be out on November 27th, 2015 via Canadian-based label Shaytan Productions. The music video is the first ever for Al-Namrood.
So is Al-Namrood literally the only band from Saudi Arabia releasing metal music, or are there other really underground groups as well, who are quietly doing similar things to you guys?
There is a lot of talk on this matter, but we don’t notice any real activity from musicians going on here. While it is mentioned on some website that we have over 20 bands in the country, I question how many of them are really active or still exist. This is worth pointing out…
There has been quite a pleasant number of interesting Estonian releases this year, for myself at least. White Sparks released an excellent space-themed album called Dark Matter Halo, Paean have refined their prog/death metal sound with Scorn of Eternity and are quickly reaching new heights, Okym Riim just dropped a collection of some real fine hip hop songs on us, Süngehel have finally managed to release their debut album Necromantic Blood, which is full of blasphemous black metal, Epp Kõiv has a nice, varied electronica album out in Heas Mõttes, and Avoid Dave have got the neo-soul corner on lockdown in Estonia with Insert Title. One artist who I didn’t mention in that line, but definitely belongs there as well, is Mauno Meesit, the man behind the synthpop project Sinine, who decided to close his laptop and strum on his guitar instead during the last few years. His new album, and acoustic debut by the name of Closer, is definitely one of the finest Estonian releases of 2015, and probably one of the hardest to categorize as well. By saying it’s an acoustic album, I’m actually saying very little about it. Hence why I got in touch with Mauno some time ago to let him properly introduce us to Closer, and what it’s all about. Take a look.
Hey Mauno! How is the summer so far?
Hi there! I just moved back to Estonia after living in Berlin for the last…
After two busy years, releasing a couple of beautiful, critically acclaimed solo records (Abandoned Dancehall Dreams & Stupid Things That Mean The World), it was time to talk again with Tim. Fortunately, he was kind enough to provide me all the information I wanted to know, including some fresh updates regarding some of his other projects such as Henry Fool or the second collaboration with Peter Chilvers (with whom he created a gorgeous LP 13 years ago, entitled California, Norfolk).
Hello Tim! How are you?
As of now, I’m suffering from a fever and in bed with a coat on (in the middle of Summer). A perfectly miserable condition to discuss my work perhaps?!?
It’s been over two years since your first interview for Sputnik. It has been a busy period for you, releasing two solo records: Abandoned Dancehall Dreams and Stupid Things That Mean The World. I am sure they have attracted a completely new audience to listen to your music. How do you feel? What do these albums mean to you?
I’m really pleased that both visually and musically the two albums have seemingly established something new for me.
As I’ve often said before, My Hotel Year – from 2004 – was a solo album in name only. It consisted of songs I’d co-written as part of several ongoing and unfinished collaborative projects. It was put together as a way of collecting material from disparate sources that would have been lost otherwise. I like some of the…
Tengger Cavalry. Nature Ganganbaigal. Names that are not part of everyday discussions here on Sputnik, which is exactly why I went out and shot an interview request towards Metal Hell Records some nights ago – to find out more. Only a day or so managed to pass, and already the wise Mongol chieftain in charge of Tengger Cavalry had answers for my written inquiries. Founded in 2009, Tengger Cavalry is currently the leading Mongolian folk metal band… in the world. The group has been more than active since its inception, due to the never ending creative flow of its mastermind, Nature Ganganbaigal. To date, the band has released four full-length albums in the span of six years, with their latest release – a re-recording of their debut Blood Sacrifice Shaman – dropping on May 18 of this year. Given that the latest addition to Tengger Cavalry’s discography is less a remaster and more an entirely new beast brought to life on the carcass of old ideas, it is safe to say that Tengger Cavalry is one of the busiest bands in metal today. Now that the new old album is out there for everybody to hear, Nature devoted some time to me, to answer a few questions about the band, himself, and his religion.
Good evening to you! As Tengger Cavalry is rather unknown on our site, would you be so kind as to give a short overview of what this band is all about?…
Almost a solid month ago, on the 9th of April – which was a clear and delightfully quiet spring evening, for me at least – I got in touch with Joe Tiberi, the brains behind the Chicago-based symphonic-industrial-extreme metal band Mechina, who in January 2015 released their 4th full-length album, titled Acheron. What was probably the longest interview I’ve ever done, we spoke a good two hours about Mechina, about his convictions, and eventually got thoroughly off-track by exchanging what we believe is to be the next step for us as humans, why we hate movie adaptions of games, and whether we are too sober for the conversation that we suddenly found ourselves in. Since the latter part of our talk was less an interview and more a pseudo-intellectual banter, I decided to cut the ending off, but the point is: if you ever get a chance to talk to Mr. Tiberi, I would highly recommend doing so, since he’s one of the more down to earth guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. I’m not known for my punctuality, so a good month later, here it is – a very all-encompassing view into the life of Joe Tiberi and the workings of Mechina.
We can start off on a high, since you just released a statement to your fans that the first batch of your new album, Acheron, has sold out. Did you expect that to happen so quickly, being an independent…
Vita – drums, Poia – guitars & Urlo – bass, vocals
With their unique brand of psychedelic sludge/doom, the Italian power trio Ufomammut have gradually grown over the past decade to become one of the leading acts of the genre. Mixing heavy, fuzzy riffs with often dark ambient passages, the band has produced such brilliant and expansive records as Snailking (2004), Idolum (2008), Eve (2010) and the double-sided ORO (2012). Now, they have returned with another masterpiece, Ecate, their most straightforward and streamlined effort. Before embarking on a European tour as well as crossing the Atlantic for the first time for an extensive North American trek, Vita, Poia and Urlo took some time to answer a few questions for Sputnik:
Hello! How are the preparations for the new album release and following tour going?
Urlo: Everything is good, we’re rehearsing a lot lately to play Ecate in the best way possible. It’s a new path for us in terms of music, so we’re very curious to see how it’ll be live. In the meantime we’re getting mad with all the US visas issues and preparation of the American tour… but we’re very excited to be in the States. And we’re preparing the limited edition vinyls at Malleus headquarters, a very precious version of the LP of Ecate that will be out at the end of March.
Vita: This is a busy period, we have to practice the new record and get all the documents we need to travel stateside.
It was the 5th of December. A rather warm (for December), reticent evening was taking shape in Tallinn – uncharacteristically quiet even. It wasn’t a harbinger of things to come though, not for me at least, as in a few hours, Finnish melancholic metallers Ghost Brigade and their supporting cast would light up the stage over at rockclub Tapper, making sure some highly season-fitting dark music was heard that night. It’s not every day you get to actually meet one of your favorite bands, much less develop a conversation with them for a good thirty minutes. That’s exactly the kind of break I caught though, and what follows is what transpired during our chat. It should be noted that the interview was done at a great little Mexican bar called Ancho in Tallinn’s Old Town, and that everything but the time it took place was more or less improvised. That was the intention all along though, so instead of reading out aloud questions carefully constructed in the safety of home’s walls, what is transcribed here was originally a rather free-flowing, hey-i’d-like-to-learn-more-about-you-guys conversational interview with Wille Naukkarinen (guitars) and Veli-Matti Suihkonen (drums). Ghost Brigade’s new album IV – One With The Storm was released on the 7th of November, and was one of my highlights of the year (while also peaking as the Finnish metal album of the year in their local Inferno magazine, and ending up #4 on Finnish critics’ all-genre end of the year list). Check out the…
Four years have lapsed since the Croatian stoner act, Stonebride, has released a new album. Following two successful LPs and several tours, the guys needed some time off to sort out their lives and decide what directions should follow next. So, they took it easy for a while and worked on new material at a slower, but steady pace. Nevertheless, 2014 was a busy year for the band, as they finished and revealed their 3rd studio effort, Heavy Envelope, while touring all around Europe to promote it. Since they are one of the coolest groups in the genre, I wanted to talk more with them about several subjects. I managed to include my interview in their schedule and drummer Steps found the time to answer my questions:
It’s been a while since you guys have released new material! What happened during these 4 years?
A lot of things. There was no break/pause, it’s just we took a slower pace than usual , kidding. Band members were busy with their personal lives and work obligations, especially during 2010-2012. A month long tour took place in 2010, right before the beginning of summer. There were serious recapitulations of what we wanted to do as a band in the future and how to move forward with all things necessary to keep what we have in the long run. We didn’t stop doing rehearsals or crafting ideas. It was only a matter of adjusting the schedule that…
Jess Kahr – bass, Rasmus Rasmussen – keyboards, Jakob Skøtt – drums & Jonas Munk – guitar
One of the most revered and prolific psychedelic rock acts today, Causa Sui, have released a new album, the 3rd part of the Pewt’r Sessions. Straying from the summery vibes of most of their LPs, these spontaneous collaborations with Ron Schneidermann are rather haunting and the most free-jazz oriented volumes in their catalog. It is very interesting to listen to the intense chemistry between the members, as they lay to tape various segments chopped off long jamming sessions. In an attempt for me to gain more insight into the band’s creative process and their thoughts on the music industry today, I contacted guitarist/El Paraiso Records co-owner, Jonas Munk. Luckily, he found some spare time to answer a few questions for SputnikMusic:
So, new year, new album! Tell us more about the latest volume of the Pewt’r Sessions. How did it come to fruition?
We first started doing improv sessions with Ron Schneiderman back in 2006. Since then we’ve played live with him several times and recorded a handful of sessions throughout the years. Some of the sessions from 2009 were eventually released as Pewt’r Sessions 1 and 2 in 2011, and now we’ve just released the third record in the series which was recorded last year in September. It’s the result of an afternoon of improvisations. We recorded roughly four hours of music, I mixed around two hours…
Dog Fashion Disco may have one of the wackiest names in music business, but their multifaceted style shouldn’t get discredited because of that. The sextet’s new offering, released 8 years after the seminal Adultery, epitomizes exactly what made their music unique in the first place. Sturdy metal-centered arrangements are augmented by jazzy woodwind instruments and spooky keys taken straight from a horror movie. The allure of the record lies in how effectively these divergent influences are combined. Even though Sweet Nothings is certainly a helluva lot of fun to listen to, there’s insidious darkness loitering beneath the surfaces here, implicit regardless of whether the sextet are rolling at full tilt or holding back. Here’s a brief interview with the group’s singer, Todd Smith.
Sweet Nothings is a worthy follow-up to your amazing 2006’s release Adultery. What motivated you to come back as Dog Fashion Disco?
We are all good friends and we have a great time creating and performing together so we figured, why not?
Although Dog Fashion Disco broke up in 2007, you continued creating music with such groups as Polkadot Cadaver, El Creepo and Knives Out. Did your work under these monikers influence your creative process for Sweet Nothings in any way?
No, those other projects have a vibe and feel that’s all their own in my opinion. When writing the new album we just wanted to give people a diverse and fun album to rock out to.
Adultery was a concept album unlike Sweet Nothings…
The band members: Lynn Gunn, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald
I like to believe that thanks in some part to the small but dedicated PVRIS fanbase here on Sputnikmusic, the young post-hardcore band’s music has gained serious traction in the alternative music world and signed to Rise Records as a direct result. Obviously, the chances of the four or five people who still actively comment on my gushing (if somewhat incompetent) review of their debut self-titled EP as a significant cause of label A&R picking up on the electric energy of the group’s distorted guitar wails and penchant for catchy songwriting is pretty slim. That being said, the band deserves credit where credit is due, and their focused live energy translates well to recording. When their inevitable first full-length comes out (soon, hopefully!), it promises to be a good’un. We got the chance to have a quick chat with lead singer Lynn Gunn following the band’s Warped Tour set in Mansfield, MA about the upcoming release, new musical directions, and performing through a medium like Warped.
We’re here with Lynn of the now eminently Google-able PVRIS with a V, as opposed to the original, eminently un-google-able Paris with an A. How are you doing?
I’m good! How are you?
I’m good, thanks! Tiring day, but, you know…
(laughs) I feel that.
Your album has been looming on the horizon for…
Niko Potočnjak – guitars & Jeremy White – bass, vocals
For those unaware of them, Seven That Spells are a Croatian psychedelic/noise rock band that hails from the 23rd century where rock is dead. They have traveled back in time to our years to change the tragic course of the boring history. These prolific troubadours have recorded 11 ‘observations’ in just over 13 years of existence while also touring the world multiple times. The latest release, IO, is the second part of the ongoing Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock trilogy. Conqueror and founding father, Niko Potočnjak has found some spare time to answer a few questions for Sputnik Music.
Hello! How’s everything going at the Seven That Spells HQ?
All is well. Taking a rest from drugs and other stuff. It’s been one hell of a weekend ha ha ha!
You’ve got a new record out this month, the second part of The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock, entitled IO. For those who aren’t accustomed to the trilogy, what inspired the concept?
It’s just my vision of how a modern psych band should sound like. The trilogy is a concept – kind of a well known format that allows you to stretch things further. Sometimes one album is really enough though ha ha! Anyway its fun and it makes you focus – no lazy shit here – only lethal stuff.
In contrast to some of your previous albums, both AUM and IO sound more rehearsed rather than focusing on spontaneous…
Simon Bonwick (drums), Jimbob Isaac (guitar/vocals), Nikolai Ribnikov (bass)
Hark’s debut full-length Crystalline is a heaving beast of an album that stretches out the bounderies of sludge metal. The songs on the disc are plenty complex with meticulous twists and turns oftentimes honed to perfection. The might of early Mastodon, Crowbar and High On Fire is combined with the technicality of progressive metal and a dash of hardcore pugnacity to dazzling effect. I’ve recently approached Hark’s frontman Jimbob Isaac to talk about the creation process of Crystalline, and his ongoing career as an illustration artist.
Hark is a new outfit, but you also fronted sludge metal luminaries Taint last decade. There’s a 5-year gap between the last Taint release (All Bees To The Sea EP) and Hark’s debut. Why did it take you so long to compose new music?
The space between releases is simple to explain. Forming a brand new band, with a new vision, new personalities and the high quality levels that we committed to producing, is certainly not a quick or whimsical process. Forming Hark was a total gamble, in terms of there being no guarantee as to whether Simon, Niko and myself would even be able to write music together. We worked solidly for 3.5 years, to form the band, and write music that genuinely moves us.
There are certainly some similarities between the sound of Taint and Hark. The sludgy, riff-based approach seems to be intact.…
Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan (guitar/keyboards/vocals), Kenneth Kapstad (drums/keyboards/vocals), Bent Sæther (bass/vocals/guitar), Reine Fiske (guitar/keyboards/vocals)
Motorpsycho are one of Norway’s finest bands today. Being active for 25 years now, they have been revolving around the progressive/psychedelic hard rock sphere in the past couple of years. However, they are renowned for their occasional musical shape shifting and their vast discography tackles several genres including metal, jazz, pop and even country. Their latest masterpiece, Behind the Sun, was released at the beginning of March and the band started touring their homeland the same month. After a short Chinese stint, they will cross Europe starting May and June. Luckily, bass player and vocalist Bent Saether found some spare time to answer a few questions for Sputnik Music:
You’ve been playing together for 25 years now and that’s a hell of a long time for bands these days. How do you guys feel now as a veteran act? What kept you guys intact and going so strong?
It’s hard to say what the reasons for our longevity are, but I think a few of the following facts may at least partially explain this:
Musically, we at some point early on decided that ‘all music we want to play is Motorpsycho music’. This takes the matter of “staying true” to whatever musical style you happened to play when you started out of the equation, and enables you as an artist to utilize whatever musical style you feel…