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…
Just Mario from CHON and I chilling after the show, that's all.
When I heard instrumental progressive group CHON was touring across the United States- and alongside the unforgettable Animals As Leaders, no less- I felt that if I missed the Atlanta show, I’d never quite forgive myself. And I believe that to be true- even though this show happened two months ago, and I’ve been buried in work and studenthood ever since, I’ve thought about the show for awhile.
There were many great things about the show. For starters, I got to meet some fellow Sputnikers- contributor Matt Harrison (YourDarkAffected) and user Daniel Davis (Paradox1216.) We went out for drinks afterwards, and had a fantastic time just talking about music. And the show itself, for which there was plenty to discuss.
The concert headliners, Animals as Leaders, introduced many of their newer tunes with an energy I didn’t quite expect of them live. After all, you hear the stories of their live performances being a little messy and/or lethargic, but I certainly didn’t witness any of that. Tosin and company were having a blast throughout the occasion, and even played jammer “Physical Education” live for the first time. Even if the band’s music gets a bit tedious after about ten songs live, it was still a spectacle to see them perform their instrumentally taxing songs with such agility onstage.
You know who else killed it? CHON themselves. These kids aren’t…
Photo taken by Amy Carla Nelson
It’s been a busy year for Comeback Kid. The Toronto-by-way-of-Winnipeg based hardcore act have released their fifth LP Die Knowing and are currently in the opening months of a year of touring that will carry them around the world. Before their set at Rock City Studios in Camarillo, California, I had that chance to talk to vocalist Andrew Neufeld about their new record, the band as a whole, and keeping things fresh after over a decade of being one of hardcore’s premiere bands.
I’ve been listening to Die Knowing for a couple months now, and I’ve noticed that you have incorporated everything that falls under the guise of “hardcore” over the last twenty or so years into the sound of that record. You cover everything from crew pit parts, to big Ignite hooks, to just pummeling the listener on the heavier end of it all. How do you go into writing a record like that? Is that something where you say you’re gonna cover all this ground, or does it come out naturally?
It just kind of… we just write a bunch of songs, really. Actually with this record it wasn’t until we had a whole mess of them written we sorta sat back and said. “wow,” because there’s a lot of heavy songs on the record. In my head the record is kind of split, a little bit, because it starts off with “hard” hardcore, ya know…
With a little more than a month left until Finnish melodic death metal giants Insomnium release their highly anticipated, sixth full-length offering to the world, Sputnikmusic got an exclusive chance to peak behind the covers a bit, as Ville Friman, the band’s guitarist, sat down with me to discuss all things Insomnium. The following interview took place on March 19th and gives insight into the current state of the band, as well as what to expect from their upcoming album Shadows of the Dying Sun. Among other things, Mr. Friman also discussed the current state of the music industry, how nature affects him, and what he himself is excited to hear in 2014.
Good evening! How are you doing on this 19th of March?
I’m doing fine, it has been a busy day at work and I just came back home to do interviews, but it’s going well and it’s very nice to talk with you guys and see that you’re interested in our new album. So, I’m really good.
Has it been very hectic lately in the Insomnium camp? Have you guys been able to take a breather or two before your new stuff is released?
I thought that we would have a bit more spare time in our hands, but it has been quite hectic. When we got out of the studio, we started to mix the album right away, and after that we started with the (album) covers and all kinds…
So, last week I had the fortune of talking to one of my absolute favourite musicians, Paul Masvidal of Cynic. Cynic is a band that needs no introduction among the metal and progressive rock communities, having released two highly influential and respected albums that amalgamated both genres into a unique sound that has aged like wine through the years. The nature and origin of their third full-length album, Kindly Bent to Free Us, reveals a new side of the band and portrays a sound that is uncharacteristically calmer, and more slow-burning than anything we’ve heard from them in the past. Luckily, I got a chance to speak with the legendary frontman himself, and had him dissect the album in his own words, as well as confess what he foresees to be the next big journey for the band.
Anyway, without further ado, here is my interview (hey, that rhymed!):
Ever since Traced In Air came out, you guys have kind of been steadily peeling away the death metal sounds that were present in Focus, and evolved into a band with a far more abstract sound. Every thing you guys have been doing since the release of Focus, has become more experimental, more melodic, and you guys have even been emulating the cosmic sounds of the ’60s and ’70s a lot more as well. What inspires you guys to direct the music of the band into new…
Jonas Thire (drums), Torgeir Kjeldaas (bass), Espen Helvig (guitar), Larsh Kristensen (vocals, guitar)
Following a record that set out an impressive stall isn’t easy. Late Love was an invigorating debut that saw Oslo-based Wolves Like Us delving into dark post-hardcore with massive riffs, angular melodies and commendable tightness. It effectively revived the spirit of such acclaimed 1990s collectives as Quicksand and Drive Like Jehu, ditching the trends that have subverted the genre in the last 15 years. Black Soul Choir manages to sidestep the dreaded second album slump by expanding the quartet’s winning formula. The skeleton of the tracks still revolves around traditional post-hardcore attributes like throbbing bass lines and frenetic drum-beats, yet the focus is shifted towards atmospheric soundscapes that make the group’s brand of post-hardcore even more brooding. This shift also informs a more expansive approach to songwriting. The tracks usually take more time to unravel, which makes for a significantly more nuanced and moodier effort. Here’s my interview with the act’s charismatic frontman, Larsh Kristensen.
You’d played in lots of groups before forming Wolves Like Us. What compelled you to play together and form the band?
I think we all still had the desire to play. We all love playing music, and to a certain extent is is the only factor that has remained constant in my life. I’ve always played, and this band is just an extension of that. I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing music. So…
Chris Brooks (keys, vocals), Nate Bergman (vocals, guitar), Henry Upton (bass)
Here’s my interview with Henry Upton, the bassist for Maryland-based Lionize whose phenomenal new album Jetpack Soundtrack dropped on February 18th.
I’m of the opinion that people from many musical backgrounds can embrace your music as you combine so many styles. How would you describe your sound? Who do you think your target audience is?
I would probably call it groove rock. Or just rock music at this point. Our target audience is really anybody who is an avid music listener. I think we are accessible to the casual music fan as well, but we really covet the die-hard music enthusiast. Whatever genre that might be.
In the course of your decade-long career you’ve released five stylistically diverse albums. I guess the main shift was from the reggae-inspired Space Pope and the Glass Machine to Destruction Manual. What exactly dictated the change towards the heavy rock aesthetic?
Looking back it’s kind of hard to say. We were touring with reggae bands as well as rock acts. I think we just started to listen to different types of music and wanted to expand the sound of the band. We’ve always been big on Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple, etc. and grew into reflecting those influences. There was no conscious decision to change anything. It just happened.
You tour a lot, and have shared the stage with a multitude of different artists. What…
As a listener, there’s no greater feeling than when an album unexpectedly clicks on all levels. This happened to me about a month ago, when Hanging Garden’s third LP, titled At Every Door, suddenly felt like the greatest thing ever in the early, desolate morning hours. Granted, the album was a success with both me and the public when it came out in the January of last year, but it was only about a month ago that I grew to fully appreciate it and its transcendental qualities. In order to celebrate this personal revelation, I contacted the Finnish melodic doom metallers to learn a little more about all things Hanging Garden. They happily responded to my inquiries and thus this e-mail interview was born. The questions were answered by the band’s vocalist, Toni Toivonen, to whom At Every Door was the first record with Hanging Garden.
Hi! How have things been rolling in the Hanging Garden camp lately?
Hi! Quite well. We are actively composing new material for future releases, and have been doing a handful of gigs to promote our latest 7“ EP. Furthermore we just recently released a new music video for the track “Will You Share this Ending With me?”.
It’s been almost exactly a year since you released your third studio album, titled At Every Door. How has the past year been for Hanging Garden and how happy have you been with the reception of said album?
The reception has been…
Quebec City-based Sandveiss burst onto the stoner rock scene by dropping their excellent debut, Scream Queen, in December. Effectively blending strong booming riffs with a hefty dose of blues-echoing grooves, enticing melodies and rock’n’roll swagger, this young group have already made a name for themselves in the saturated scene. In between the rehearsals for their shows in and around Quebec, Canada, the band have found some time to answer a string of questions for SputnikMusic.
Luc Bourgeois – guitar, vocals
Daniel Girard – bass
Shawn Rice – guitar
Dzemal Trtak – drums
Since you guys are an emerging band, tell everyone how did the whole project start?
(Luc) The idea of the project was born in my head 6 or 7 years ago. As the years past, I found myself to jam my ideas with different musicians. After building a couple of song structures with another drummer, I met Dan Girard (bass) who rapidly joined the band. For the next couple of months we worked on arranging the songs as a trio. At a certain point we had no drummer and Dzemal Trtak joined in. A couple of weeks passed as a trio, we decided to recruit a lead singer, that person was François Couture. With this lineup, we recorded a 4 track EP (Dead Man Stare, Do You Really Know, Untie Me and Green For Gold). The name of the band was chosen right before the release of the EP in March…
Sam Levin (synth bass), Timo Ellis (guitar, vocals), Dave Burnett (drums)
Describing the music of Brooklyn-based Netherlands is hardly an easy task. Erik Wunder (of Cobalt and Man’s Gin), who gets the credit for introducing me to these guys, defines their style as “hyper-noise-punk-electro-psychedelic-metal.” This seemingly convoluted tag oddly fits the outfit that doesn’t shy away from embracing divergent styles in a high-octane manner. The trio’s second full-length Silicon Vapor is one of the most invigorating rock records of the year, juxtaposing eccentric musical ideas with enticing melodies deeply ingrained in the rock tradition. These qualities are combined with extremely fuzzed-out tunings of instruments that certainly distinguish Netherlands from the pack. Here’s my interview with Timo Ellis, the trio’s frontman whose impressive resume includes collaborations with Yoko Ono, Melvins and John Zorn over his extensive 20-year career as a session musician.
What motivated you to form Netherlands?
I’d had a band called Bird Of Doom in the early 2000s. After its natural dissolution, I really wanted to maintain an outlet for my weirder rock inclinations!
Your music is rather difficult to pin down as you combine many different subgenres of rock, punk and even metal. How would you define your style?
I’ve made loads of dramatically different types of records besides the rock stuff. I think I’m up to 33 albums at this point: 17 LPs and 16 EPs. So, I think other styles of music end up naturally coming out a…
Kim Pack (violin, vox), Christian Creek (bass), Rebecca Vernon (guitar, vox), Andy Patterson (drums), Sarah Pendleton (violin, vox)
There are enough qualities that distinguish Salt Lake City’s SubRosa from their doom metal brethren. Aside from ingeniously incorporating violins into their ultra-heavy sound, the quintet excels in songwriting that’s singular in its brutally honest depiction of tenebrous themes. Their new staggering full-length More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore) centers around the topic of Death and its numerous implications. Instead of alienating the listener with such a serious subject matter, the album manages to sound visceral throughout, delivering a series of expansive tunes that ebb and flow with admirable precision. Here’s my interview with the band’s charismatic mastermind, Rebecca Vernon.
What inspired you to be a musician? Were there any particular moments in your life when you thought that you couldn’t live without creating music or was the whole process of becoming a guitarist, singer and songwriter more fluid?
Music is my number one passion and has always been in my blood. There are times when I’ve been distracted by other things, but those periods never last long.
I started taking music lessons on violin at the age of 9, then learned piano and drums around age 12. I played these instruments in school orchestras and marching bands, and later, in college, real bands.
Becoming a guitarist, singer and songwriter, though, was very abrupt. I had wanted to start a band for about…
Wo Fat are one of the most acclaimed stoner rock acts today. The Texas-based trio have rapidly risen to the forefront of the genre, blending fat, fuzzed-out riffs with hints of psychedelia and Southern rock flavors. The success of their latest effort, The Black Code, allowed the band to reach a wider audience, touring Europe for the first time. Amid a busy schedule, guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump found time to answer a couple of questions for SputnikMusic.
For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe it in a few words?
Basically speaking, our music is heavy, riff based, and blues influenced, but one thing that is a very important part of our music is the balance that we have between structured riffing and song writing on the one hand and improvisation and jamming on the other. Both things are important to us and we try to strike a balance between them. We also really believe in the importance of the groove, and, above all, we try to make music that grooves and feels organic and earthy. I think that some heavy music has lost that important primal element of funkiness and groove that originally came from the blues, and, which was really also a key part of the early days of heavy rock and metal. Listen to early Sabbath and it’s inescapable. That’s the roots of it all, and we try to keep that tradition going in our music.
I’m always curious to hear how others describe our…