For the entire interview with Aaron Weaver, click [here]
Sometimes a band's mythology overtakes its music. It happened with Mayhem---but Mayhem was never very good anyways---and it almost happened with Wolves in the Throne Room. Maybe it's a black metal thing, maybe not. The point is that mythologizing a band ultimately distracts for their music and in cases where the myth really is more interesting than the message (refer back to Mayhem), it's not that big of a deal. But for a band like Wolves in the Throne Room it robs the listener of an ultimately satisfying and wholly unique listening experience. It was an interview taken grossly out of context that led internet lurkers to believe that the Olympia, Wa. three-piece lived in a wicker cabin on the outskirts of society, detached from humanity, technology and presumably deodorant.
Drummer Aaron Weaver responds to these rumours in his typically calm demeanour, simply noting that “it's an interesting mythologizing that's transpired”.
Aaron, along with brother Nathan and the rest of Wolves in the Throne Room does live on a farm, but he recognizes that certain compromises have to be made to be a working musician.
If you're wondering, our interview started in a rather unorthodox way. I got the call from Aaron, as expected, at around 5:18PM, but he was only calling to pass along another number for me to call.
“I have a cell phone but we live too far out for it to work”.
Because the band's farm doesn't have a landline, I conducted the interview with Aaron while he was at a friend's house. Yes, Wolves in the Throne Room have friends. Obviously they're not as isolated as we'd like to believe. In fact they're a very communal band, one who takes pride in their friends and their local scene. Along with the other members of the band, Aaron shares the farm with members of the Cascadia, Wa. band Fauna. When we talked about his inspirations, he was quick to talk about Seattle based label Sublime Frequencies.
Like any curious journalist, I was anxious to know the truth about their living situation. The answer came, somewhat unexpectedly, when I asked Aaron if living on a farm eased tensions possibly created by the United State's current economic downfall.
“Our whole goal is to withdraw as much as possible from mainstream society.”
Simple enough. But I really was interested in how the current economic recession affects the band. Evidently, it doesn't.
“I don’t really care about the ups and downs of business cycles. That’s just kind of a natural part of how capitalistic commerce works. [...] We’re just not very connected to that mainstream world, we try as much as possible to set ourselves apart.”
Wedged between their upcoming North American tour with Krallice is Maryland Death Fest, and while black metal bands aren't typically festival fodder, it's nothing new for Wolves in the Throne Room. The band most recently performed at the massive Scion Rock fest alongside bigger, louder bands such as High on Fire (who Aaron said “really owned the big stage”) and Neurosis, a band Aaron was quick to claim as an inspiration. It may not be obvious, but festivals seem to be the band's bread and butter. Just don't expect them to play any more commercialized, corporate festivals.
“We're not very interested in playing anymore corporate sponsored concerts.” And if that wasn't clear enough, Aaron later went on to add, “I'm sure they'll be trying to convince us again to play some more of their corporate car commercials but I think we decided as a band that enough is enough. I think that there's a Satanic element involved in that sort of corporate world and you feel a sort of dark energy swirling around it. I'm willing to take their money every now and again if it suits our needs”.
Though Aaron was quick to dismiss Scion's corporate agenda, he made it a point to mention just how impressed he was with all of the bands who performed at the festival. He says it was “an impressive thing that the Satanic lizards at Scion managed to pull it off”.
Maryland Death Fest isn't the only festival upcoming on the band's schedule. Aaron explains that they've been working on scheduling appearances at several European festivals, though he suggests that fans should be less than hopeful for day-time frolicking. “[We] were given the choice between the big stage, 50,000 people during the day, or a smaller stage, 1000 people at night. Of course we'll take the small stage and the darkness every time.”To anyone who's heard their music, this makes perfect sense. Their basic sound is very much about isolating one's self and absorbing the songs as a whole. Aaron builds on this, explaining that “the live experience is very much the same, I think people tend to close their eyes and use the music as an opportunity to journey inward rather than lock-out..”
Fans of the band should be quick to notice that Black Cascade is the band's first album without any guest vocals, female or otherwise. No Jamie Meyers, no Jessica Kenney (Asva) and sadly no Dino Sommese (Dystopia, Asunder). Meyers, formerly of Hammers of Misfortune, first worked with the band on their debut Diadem of 12 Stars. The band recruited her services one last time for Malevolent Grain, an EP released earlier this year. And what a controversial EP it was. Fans were instantly shocked by its shoegaze-y, melodic sound.
“I think a lot of people assume that when you release an EP before a full length it's being used as a promotional thing, say there's two tracks that didn't make it on the record. That's usually how EPs are used from a marketing perspective. That's wasn't the situation at all with Malevolent Grain, it was conceived of as its own entity.”
The band wasn't selling out. In fact, with Black Cascade they're heavier than ever.
“We wanted to do a collaboration with Jamie because she's a good friend of ours and we really appreciate her vocals but we didn't want to have her sing a song on the full length record that we couldn't play live.”
Talking to Aaron made it explicitly clear that Wolves in the Throne Room consider themselves to be a live band, adding, "I think that the heavier, more unrelenting music that you hear on Black Cascade is really what the band sounds like live. The live performance is very loud and very brutal and it's very physically punishing for us as performers to play those concerts. We wanted Black Cascade to be a more accurate representation of what the band sounds like in the live format."
They make it a point to keep their recordings analog, but staying organic while living out of a van can get complicated fast. Still, the band perseveres, determined to stay as true to their ideologies as possible.
“We do the best we can, we have a daily ritual on the road. Every morning we find a local food co-op or health food store, or whatever's available and buy our breakfast, then buy our dinner for later in the day so we wont have to eat any sort of sketchy hamburger or whatever they're going to offer us at the venue. We do our best to get exercise as much as possible and to read books, to try to use tour as an opportunity to better ourselves rather than revel in the rock and roll depravity side of it.”
With Black Cascade's release on the horizon and a seemingly endless touring schedule ahead of them, it looks as though nothing can stop Wolves in the Throne Room...not even the Satanic Lizards at Scion. And believe you me, they've tried.