Monthly Archives: March 2015

Primitivism is liberation: an interview with Legion Of Andromeda

Legion Of Andromeda’s debut LP, ‘Iron Scorn’, is the most singularly revolting thing I’ve heard in quite some time. For all the horror and disgust, though, it’s also strangely compelling: like watching one slug eat another slug. It’s gruelling, intense and certainly not for the faint of heart – listen to it here while you read these words, all of which were provided by vocalist -R-.

Please tell us a bit about how Legion Of Andromeda got started – how did you meet and what was your original ambition?

Our wives, former work colleagues, decided to introduce us. One day by chance they were talking about the deranged behavior of their respective husbands, discovering that we were both listened to disgusting music every day, wasting family money on records and obscure gear and generally endorsing paranoia, hatred and misanthropy. We became friends and after many deafening listening sessions, show attendances and much alcohol abuse -M- asked to do something together and I accepted.

Our original ambition? Create something different.

How would you say the band has changed, developed or moved on between the demo and the new LP?

Our sound is the aspect that has developed most. Recording with Steve Albini (a massive achievement for us) benefited the sound enormously, adding a presence and an overall impact we always wanted to have. The huge wall of sound he was able to obtain has no equal and we couldn’t have asked for more.

On the songwriting side, sharpening the approach, achieving focus, embracing refinements are the real developments. We’re totally uninterested in adding different instrumentation, sound layers, fancy arrangements and shit like that. Involution is the key, we don’t want to progress, to get more ‘arty’ or elegant just to accomplish current trends. We don’t want to ruin our noise with clean post metal arpeggios and scum like that. Primitivism is liberation.

The album is an incredibly intense and gruelling experience. Please tell us how you arrived at this sound and what you are trying to achieve.

Reaching altered states of consciousness through compulsive repetition is the maximum achievement. Self-disintegration generating a massive amount of destructive energy is the way we arrive at that.

I find the record weird, because while there doesnt seem to be much variation its still gruesomely compelling. What do you think it is about this music that can hold peoplesattention? How do you differentiate/distinguish between hypnotic repetition and boredom?

Being constantly forged in tension, LOA’s sound is torturous and the principle of torture is sadistic repetition. While horrible, torture is anything but tedious. Even if it may seem that LOA’s sound is just the same over and over, I must say that the riffs are never identical and songs follow a precise structure even with changes and subtle dynamics. Nothing is left to chance and we’ll never release a song if we’re not 100% satisfied with the results as we’re extremely exigent and everything must be perfect. It’s a minimalist approach and we find it way more fascinating and creative, even more difficult and challenging to accomplish, than, say, progressive music. Minimalism is extremely deep, as it lets you explore a single theme in all its aspects, implications and consequences. Less is always more. We’re totally conscious that boredom is the main enemy of music, so we’ll never play post progressive technical blah blah nonsense.

Do you have to be in a particular zone or headspace to make music together? Is it ever too depressing, challenging or tiring to get together and play this kind of music?

Just being ourselves.

How does Legion Of Andromedas music reflect you as individuals? What part of you does making music like this satisfy?

Speaking of myself I always been and still am extremely pissed off, nervous and intolerant toward people, human behavior, the superficial way mankind communicates. Even lot of people into the music scene tend to be scum, following trends and acting like idiots. I’m constantly driven by hate so LOA is the primal outburst of all this rage and anger. Same for -M-: suffice to say that if he didn’t work this much, hate his colleagues this much and continue to be stressed this much he would not be able to write music so violent. He deeply hates his working environment but doesn’t want to quit because his riffs would suffer for it.

Tell me about that cymbal crash: it almost seems like a beacon running through the record. It puts my nerves on edge, and yet the regularity is almost comforting

It’s LOA’s pulsating core, it’s paramount, it’s quintessential. No LOA without that. Saying you find it unnerving but comforting means you already saw through and accepted LOA. You let it drill your brain.

How do you want listeners and audiences to react or respond to your music? Would you feel more rewarded if they stayed staring until their ears bled or if they ran from the room screaming?

Trend-following scumbags and narrow-minded idiots will run away and that’s totally fine with us as we don’t need the consent of such garbage. Likewise, we’ll be more than happy to mentally sodomize the people who have the guts to stay.

Who do you view as your peers and influences? I hear elements of Swans, Corrupted and Godflesh, but you definitely dont sound ‘likeany one band per se

Well, thanks for saying that, as sounding like no one is a necessity for us. We got totally sick of the nth shitty doom band or the usual clones. Fuck off that weak shit. Of course, Swans, Godflesh, VON, Big Black and Suicide influenced LOA in one way or another but, again, they’re more subtle, more unconscious than real, as LOA is primary a process of deconstruction and ultimately the reflection of our own personas.

 How does Legion Of Andromeda fit in with Tokyos music scene? While there is often a focus on the hardcore bands coming out of Japan and there are several ‘biggerartists that everyone knows about (Boredoms, Zeni Geva, Merzbow, Acid Mothers Temple…) it would be interesting to know what is happening beyond these spheres.

We’re still novel in the Tokyo underground so I don’t have an exact opinion. However I think LOA is a sort of transversal force so it can fit well both on noise and metal scenes.

What does the future hold for Legion Of Andromeda? Will you be touring the LP, and what can we expect next?

We have a couple of very exciting projects on the horizon but they’re still in early stages, so no need to disclose them now. Second, we’d like to tour overseas to promote ‘Iron Scorn’ – nothing confirmed yet, but we’re working on it.

Is there anything you would like to add or say that you havent covered already?

LIVE TO HATE. COSMO HAMMER MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

An interview with ÆGES

ÆGES’ two LPs both knocked my socks off in very different ways. The first was a grand slice of 90s post-hardcore (think: Handsome, Quicksand, Hum…) while the follow-up took these influences, dosed them with a newfound knack for melodies and proggy noodling before kicking them out into orbit. Check the second one out here while reading guitarist/vocalist Kemble Walters’ answers to some questions. 

Ok, so please start by telling us the basic stuff: how, when and why did ÆGES get together? 

ÆGES as it is today came to be in 2014, just before we recorded ‘Above And Down Below’. The band started in 2012, but with member changes and what not, Tony Baumeister is the only remnant (aside from myself) from those days. The line-up now is Tony on bass, Cory on guitar/vox, Mike on drums and me Kemble on vox/guitar.

I know a bunch of you play/ed in some fairly well-known 90s bands, including Undertow, Shift and 16. Given that ÆGES give a very specific nod to 90s post-hardcore, I was wondering what the rationale was there? You lived and breathed that era, so do you see ÆGES as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, an attempt to revitalise it or something else entirely? 

We’ve all been in bands for quite a while, some more successful than others, but all of them have deeply influenced us in how we play and write. We’re not nostalgic nor do we wish to take a sonic trip down memory lane, we’re just making the music that naturally flows out of us. Since we all are big fans of the rock music that came out on the 90s, there’s definitely going to influence in our sound.

To me, ‘Above And Down Below’ sounds a lot more dynamic and ambitious, and much as I loved ‘The Bridge’, it’s almost like a whole ‘nother band. How would you say the band has changed between the first album and the second? What’s different, and what were you trying to achieve with the new one? 

I think the main reason it sounds like a different band is because it is. ‘Above And Down Below’ saw the addition of guitarist and addition vocalist Cory Clark and drummer Mike Land. The talent and sonic possibilities that came with these new additions opened the doors wide up. We could write whatever we wanted to and pull it off, so that’s what we did.

All we want to achieve with any of the records we make is to keep moving forward. The next record will be different than the last, and so on. I feel that when bands keep turning out the same album over and over, they aren’t letting themselves grow. The next record has a lot of fun vocal work between Cory and I as well as some sick riffs, beats, overall nasty jams.

Was this a conscious move on your part? Were there things you feel ‘The Bridge’ lacked, were you specifically aiming for a different/expanded sound or are you just more confident as a band now? 

I love ‘The Bridge’ and think it achieved exactly what we were going for then, but we’re past that now. Now we’ve got bigger hooks, more complex structures, more intricate guitar work, more complex rhythms, and as always, nasty bass.

What went into ‘Above And Down Below’ to make it the way it is? What inspired and drove it, and are there any broad themes or ideas running through it? 

The common theme throughout ‘Above And Down Below’ is life. Life is dark, life has struggle, life is religion, life is love, and everyone is different and interprets it in their own unique way but we all start and end the same. This record was recorded very sparsely, we wanted it to sound like we do live: two guitars, drums, bass and two vocals. We tried to keep all the overdubs to a minimum and used single takes as much as possible (most of the time).

You’ve had some line-up changes between albums. What happened, who’d you bring onboard and what would you say they brought to the table? 

Yes we have. We added Cory Clark and Mike Land to the fold and now the band is exactly what it was meant to be from the start. With the addition of these immense talents, Tony and I were able to fully let loose and and wrote with no holds barred.

What would you say are the main differences between playing this kind of music now and playing it 20 years ago? What’s changed for the better, and what’s changed for the worse? 

Well, that’s hard for me to say because although I was playing music 20 years ago, I definitely sucked and was just starting out. I wish I could have seen bands like Nirvana back in the day, but I never did. The main thing that I noticed is the transition from hair metal to 90s rock bands. It wasn’t about dudes putting make up on, stuffing their trousers and having weird names like “Ricki Rockett,” it was about the message and getting angst out. Kids could relate to that and saw that rock stars were people too. Don’t forget, Alice In Chains and Pantera had their glam phase as well.

One thing I’ve rather enjoyed about writing about the thin trickle of 90s-style post-hardcore bands currently doing the rounds is that I’ve been able to reference Handsome rather a lot – a band I think got a fairly raw deal at the time and are overdue some love. Can you recommend some bands and releases from ‘back in the day’ that maybe didn’t get the props they deserved and you think people should check out?  

Oh man, lemme think… Handsome is one of my all time favorite bands, they influenced me big time!

Quicksand

Molly McGuire

Seaweed

VAUX (2000)

Triple Fast Action

Remy Zero

How did you hook up with The Mylene Sheath

Our old drummer was in a record shop talking about our demos and a dude said “hey, I know a label that might be good for you”, and they were. I believe that’s how the story goes.

What’ve been the best, worst and weirdest things to have happened to you as ÆGES? 

I mean, aside from the obvious tour craziness like weather, getting drunk and playing to empty clubs, I’d say it was when we played with Camp Freddy in Hollywood for New Years. They’re basically an all-star cover band consisting of Matt Sorum, Courtney Love, Mark McGrath, Billy Morrison, Josh Freese and so many more. It was kinda rad, kinda weird, and all around a perfect night.

What next for ÆGES? What are your immediate plans, and what are your long-term goals? 

We are about to head into the studio for record three as we as getting our tour schedule lined up. The goals are to keep doing this as long as possible and tour as much as our fans will let us. We love this band, we love our fans, so we’re basically never gonna stop.

 Facebook.com/aegesband