So, it's been some time since 'The mantle', although you released some EP's and stuff untill 2004. What happened these last two years? Did you concentrate preparing what would become 'Ashes against the grain'? How has been the response towards it?
John Haughm: We spent the last couple years writing the new album. Generally it takes us about two years. We have also been a lot busier in the last four years with stuff in our personal lives than I think we have ever been in the years the band has existed.Anyway, none of that matters now. The album is out and the response has been quite great overall.
What I really apreciated of your new album since the first time I listened to it was the fact that it sounds like the bands who in the middle of the nineties mixed Black Metal, Doom Metal and Folk influences with progressive ideas, like for example old Ulver, Katatonia or Empyrium, which is not usual at all nowadays. Am I wrong about those influences? Anyways, in this album the folk influences are really few, in comparison to your previous album and the Metal side is more present again. Were you tired of them?
The foundation of the band was rooted in mid-90’s black/doom metal; old Ulver, Katatonia, In The Woods..., etc ... so it shouldn’t be a suprise to hear such elements in all of our albums. No, we weren’t tired of the the folk stuff. It just wasn’t fitting with the themes and aesthetics we were going to use on the new album.
I know nature has a big importance in Agalloch's concept, but can you tell us a bit more about the lyrical part of this album? Where do you take the influences from, only from everyday's life or you have some books or movies or band or whatever that have a weight on this side?
It a mixture of many things but, above all, the surrounding nature around Portland and in the Pacific Northwest in general is all I need for inspiration. It is quite lush here and there are many majestic scenic areas that can take one away from the hell of modern society.
I'm curious about the artwork of 'Ashes against the grain', as the promo I received has a different cover than the one I see everywhere on internet. Are there two different artworks? Perhaps the normal CD differs from the special wood box? Do you think the artwork is really important on an album Any plans to release it on vynil, as the previous ones? Which format do you prefer?
The drawing of the charred, falling bird appears on the slipcase of the album. The brown-ish photo of the falling bird is on the booklet and this is the same on both the US and European editions. The promos were different from each other so I hear. Apparently Grau used the slipcase image for their promos. Yes, we plan to release a vinyl version which will probably get released in December. I have a special place in my heart for vinyl so it is very important that we release our albums in that format.
I know you've played some shows in the USA, and I've seen some dates for November in Europe, but only in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark Is this a tour with some other bands? Will there be more dates? Have you been playing on our continent before? Where and with whom would you like to play?
It has been recently confirmed that we are also playing a shows in Poland and in the Czech Republic as well. The tour is with Novembers Doom and Thurisaz, though Saturnus will also play a few of the gigs as well. I would like to play everywhere in Europe. This tour is a good start. I guess we will see how it goes...
Have you started working on new songs or it's still too soon to think about it? Will you keep the same sound in the future or you have new ideas for Agalloch? Is there going to be any other split album? With which band would you like to share a work?
I haven’t really thought much about another album. It is simply too early at this point. 'Ashes' just got released and we are getting ready for the tour. I know we will be releasing a new EP next year but another full length is still a bit far in the future.
What about your other projects, like Sculptured? Any news on that side?
Sculptured will be recording a new album in December. It is really the other guys in the band who have Sculptured and other projects. I only have Agalloch for now...
Are there any interesting bands in your area that surprised you these last times? Which have been your last three favourite albums? A book and a movie?
Last 3 favorite albums: Sigur Ros “Takk” and “Saelopur” EP/DVD, Mogwai “Mr Beast”, and The Album Leaf “Into The Blue Again”. Movies: ”The Science Of Sleep”, “Kekexili (Mountain Patrol)”, and “Manderlay”. Books: “A Handbook Of Rune Magic” by Edred Thorsson, “Ingmar Bergman Directs” by John Simon, and “Jim Jarmusch Interviews”.
The underground Metal scene in the USA nowadays is, in my oppinion, really good, especially some Black Metal acts like Leviathan, Xasthur or Velvet Cacoon, for example. Any bands you can recommend us? Do you feel closer to european or american scene? Which albums surprised you these last times?
I don’t feel close to ANY scene, really. I just listen to whatever I want and I don’t really care where a band comes from. I think America has some good bands like Daylight Dies, Noltem, Asunder, Ludicra, Wolves In The Throne Room, Red Sparowes, ISIS, etc. However, I think metal in general is pretty stagnant everywhere in the world so I don’t pay much attention to it.
Some short ones (explain why you choose them):
- Katatonia or Ulver: Katatonia. They are a band that has changed their sound but they managed to maintain the depressive spirit that has always made them great. Blackheim is an extremely creative and brilliant guitarist/songwriter. Ulver, in my opinion, released their last great album in 1999. They really went off the deep end with their latest stuff. Not really my thing.
- Politics or religion: Neither. Both are the causes of all the problems in the world
- Prog'Rock or Folk: It depends on my mood. I enjoy both
- Earth or fire: Earth
- Paganism or atheism: Paganism
Thanks for your answers and my best wishes for those future concerts. If you want to add something else or just say something to our readers, go on...
Thanks for the interview.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.