Hi Jan, how are you doing? It’s great to have you on our third release, as I’ve been quite into your music recently, especially your last album. How are you feeling with the response towards BSON until now? Did you ever expect you’d release three vinyls when you started with your demo? What are you listening to while answering these by the way?
Hey there, I´m doing fine thanks! We´re are really overwhelmed with the responses towards B.SON so far. When we started out, it seemed like many people out there were bored by the lack of tempo and the repetitve patterns in our songs. Anyway, we like what we are doing and continued. Over the years, responses got more and more positive then. In the beginning we never thought about releasing 3 vinyls. I still can remember the day, when I first hold the demo CD-R in my hands and how proud I was. Even more than having released several stuff, it makes me more lucky to be in the band with still mostly the same members we started with and getting along with the guys really well.
Right now while answering I´m listening to Jimi Hendrix´s 'Valley s Of Neptune' 2LP. I love all of his stuff!
I'd like to start speaking about the music of BSON and its changes through your releases. I haven't listened to your first demo, but the 'BSON' LP, as well as the split LP with Crowskin, showed a punishing kind of Sludge/Doom in the vein of bands like Khanate with some place for experimentation, and then on 'Microbarone Meetings' you turned to a really droning sound, avoiding vocals and focusing on a noisy and ambient athmosphere. What motivated you to that change? What kind of response have you felt towards it? Is this the sound you are going to explore in the future or was it simply an experiment you wanted to achieve?
The time we recorded the Microbarome takes we were left without a drummer. As we still felt the passion to create something and also adore drony/ noisy/ ambient stuff it felt quite natural to get locked in the rehearsal room, turn on the amps, get some synths running and to tape it. In my opion this kind of stuff is really fun to create, as the boundaries aren´as close as within the doom/ sledge stuff we are also in. Listening to the 'Microbarome Meetings' album, you can hear a spoken word poem, vocoder vocals, lot´s of vintage effects pedals, synths, cymbals and so on. It was really fun to experiment with all that kind of stuff!
The responses in general have been good, even though some metal magazines really hated the album, writing something like "this band has died for me" in their reviews...haha. As for the future, I guess we will certainly do another drone /ambient album again, when it feels right. But currently we are writing songs more or less heading in the doom directing of things. Anyway, having a listen to ou song on the split LP with Kodiak shows, that both things - doom and ambient- can go hand in hand...
As I already spoke with Russell from Black Sun on our first issue, there seems to be some border for some of the people into extreme sounds when it comes to the difference between music and noise, where Drone would fit into the later because of a lack of structures. How do you face this subject when it comes to BSON and what is your oppinion about that difference? How did you get introduced into the noisy/droning sounds and what attracted you of them?
Jan: I don´t think there´s a huge difference for us. Each form of musical output is just meant to express emotions. Different emotions can be expressed using different types of music, so I wouldn´t make a difference between the kind of music used, but the kind of emotions gibing birth to the music. Personally I got into noisy /droning sounds through bands like Nurse With Wound, Swans or Tim Hecker for the first time. What revived me interested were the releases on Drone Records (www.dronerecords.de). Really great releases, made with lots of passion regarding both music and packaging. Check them out!
Still around the same subject, the same happens, in a lower level, with instrumental music, as a vast majority of music listeners can only conceive it as an wrapping for the lyrics (especially non-musicians), and I think it’s a huge step forward when you do that change of mentality, as then you conceive an album as something deeper and full of other feelings. Maybe this can sound pretty evident, but it doesn't seem to be looking at the majority of the "scene". What's your oppinion about that? Before playing an instrument, had you ever given importance to the instrumental background as much as the vocals? Do you think a band can achieve the same degree of feelings, depth and extremism without them?
Of course, I think that vocals aren´t necessary at all to create a deep and passionate atmosphere. There are many bands / artists I admire for their musical output, that don´t have vocals at all (or very little vocals), like Tim Hecker, Svarte Greiner, Bohren und der Club of Gore or Gnaw Their Tongues. In the beginning Black Shape Of Nexus also didn´t have vocals, but I guess our sound reached another level with Malte joining on vocals. I really like what he´s doing, as he sometimes uses his voice like an instrument using a strap-on microphone and some effects.
Another thing I usually thought about when it comes to droning sounds is how does the writing process start to mould an album like 'Microbarone Meetings'. I mean, normal bands start with a riff and sharing ideas, etc... but is this kind of process applicable to the way BSON compose or do you start forging a scenario, images and situations, just like a soundtrack for a movie? Did you have any influence from cinema for this recording? If you had to paint a scenario or do a movie to give a visual vision of your music, how would it be and who would be the perfect painter/director?
The recording session for 'Microbarome Meetings' evolved very naturally. We all met in the rehearsal room at night, brought along several vintage effect pedals, some synths, guitars, bass and just let things go. We hadn´t talked about riffs, song ideas or anything prior to recording. We just let the tape run and recorded what came to our minds exactly that second. All songs on the album are improvised one-takes and I don´t even think we could replay them live in exactly the same way now.
As for a scenario or movie, I really can´t make up one afterwards. The songs capture the way we felt just the second they were recorded. All in know is, that it was rather cold and dark in our rehearsal room these days...haha.
So, when it comes to the feelings, what kind of inner struggles motivate you to create your songs, if there are any? Do you think it's possible to capture human feelings with such an abstract art? Do you conceive creating music without putting a part of all of you on it?
Guess the feelings vary from song to song. Personally, I see music as a vehicle to transport everything I experience all day long. Maybe sometimes the kind of music we create also keeps me aware of the things not so safe and nice outside there...
We can't deny you hardly strive for getting the most organic and surrounding sound, which is possibly one of the trademarks of BSON in all its releases. Are you going further on experiencing with that with the future recordings? How important it is, in your oppinion, to get a sound that makes all your nerves vibrate in a style like Drone or Sludge? Do you usually record on digital or analogical equipment? What's your oppinion about both? What would be your dream recording?
You are right, we are really searching for an organic, warm, massive and not too polished sound. In order to find it, we recorded all of our releases so far live in our rehearsal room. As our guitar player Ralf, knows how to record digital, that´s not that hard to do. In my opinion sound is a very important part of B.SON. Every now and then I discover a band, having great songs, but crappy sound. Saying "crappy" I don´t mean shitty or noisy at all, but most of the times sterile, polished and pro-tools sounding. Sometimes sound really kills the atmosphere and otherwise good songs of bands! If I had the chance to do so, I´d prefer recording live with analogical equipment.
You give a real importance to the visual aesthetics of all your releases, especially the last one, which has an astonishing artwork, and all have a very organic look too even if being drawings, not at all in the Photoshop way we use to see nowadays. Do you want the artwork to go hand in hand with the music? I always find it great to give people a good reason to pay for it, but on the other side I see how a lot of bands seem to give it more importance than what really should be their goal, which is music, and this is happening a lot in these slow and experimental styles we are speaking about, as well as Post-Hardcore and similar ones. Your oppinion?
For us every album/ release should make up a whole - sound, artwork, songs and even the labels involved. We should someone release something, that isn´t done with dedication concerning all aspects of the release? Just to make easy cash? I don´t know, but that´s not the way we want to do things. Therefor the artwork has to go along with the music and has to be done with just as much effort as the music. Even the labels we cooperate with, have to have some kind of personal relation to B.SON or to share the same passion for music as we do. How could someone put all it´s time, energy and passion in the music and artwork, to release it on some bullshit label just wanting to make big money of it, degrading everything that went into the album to being nothing more than a product left!?!?
These last times Drone, Sludge and Post-Hardcore suffered of a huge hype and hundreds of bands appeared in the last five years. Especially when it comes to Drone, I've heard some oppinions saying the style is getting too much attention because of some freaks from tendencies closer to Pop or Emo who jumped into the trend just for looking more intelectual or interesting. I don't know the reason but it's sure there are more persons from outside the extreme sounds paying attention to these kind of bands. Do this kind of mentalities really help the music, even if this brings a bigger audience to it?
We also get the feeling, that it is kind of hip to play some sort of drone /sludge/ doom or whatever stuff. But to be honest, I don´t care about these bands at all. Let them jump on the bandwagon, sounding like Isis rip-off number 1037291. They can fool whoever they want, even themselves - I don´t care about them! Luckily there are also some good bands rising. Some of the newer outfits in Germany I like are Witch Mountain (the smarter version of Electric Wizard!), Obelyskkh, Wall, Head Of The Taurus, Hiam, Petrified, Whitebuzz or Ondé Sphérique.
So, to end with this interview, I'd like to know a bit more about the coming future of BSON, as 'Microbarone Meetings' dates from 2008. I know the split LP with Kodiak is just out, through Denovali Productions, but what else can we expect? Any other band you'd like to share a split release with? There seems to be a new LP on the way too. Is there any chance to see you playing live outside Germany?
You are right, the split LP with Kodiak is released while answering these questions. Up next is a live tape on Malaysian QSD Records (www.myspace.com/qsdrecs). We are really looking forward to the tape, as Arwith/ QSD seems to pack all of his passion into it´s releases and has some great bands in his rooster! As for bands we´d love to do a split, there are many: My personal favourite would be Ruins Of Beverast. But currently we are writing new songs for an upcoming full length album.
We are playing outside Germany every now and then, but we really want to play more shows outside, as soon we have the time to do so! Everyone who has seen us live most certainly agrees, that the only way to really experience Black Shape Of Nexus, is seeing us live!
What's your oppinion about these other droning bands?
- sunn o))): Started out as an Earth rip-off and then evolved into something interesting. Even though is seems to be fashionable to bash them on the internet nowadays, I still like their outputs.
- Orthodox: Like every single release by them. Great to see how their sound evolved and what it got into!
- Nadja: Not that familiar with them, so I can´t say anything.
- Bunkur: A band I´d have to meet in person first, before being able to say anything about them. Heard so many (negative) rumors about them...
- Grey Daturas: Great band, sad they quit!
Ok Jan, this is all for now. Thanks a lot for your time solving my personal doubts about all this stuff and good luck with the coming future of BSON. I'm very curious to see how your sound evolves. If you want to add anything else, go on...
Thank you very much! Hope we make it down south one day, as the only true way of experiencing Black Shape Of Nexus is catching us live! So far get in touch wit us for any questions: email@example.com
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.