Welcome. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to interview one of my favourite bands within this realms. I hope you won't be bored with all these questions.
Ryan Lipynsky: No problem man! Thanks for taking the time to think of some thought provoking questions!
Instead of starting with the typical bio question, I'd like to focus better on the reasons why you created such a beast as Unearthly Trance is and how did you build up that particular and really original sound you have. Did you come from others bands and needed to express different kind of feelings/worries or it was your first approach to music?
Ryan Lipynsky: Well Unearthly Trance developed from a free form doom band that we did. Jay and I would get together with other people we knew and would jam on the most slowest heaviest shit would could imagine. Basically jay and I shared a common interest in doom, sludge, punk and experimental sounds. It was just for fun and we never wrote a single song. Just drank and smoked and jammed. After a while jay and I decided that we should do a serious version of what we were messing around with. Darren and I played in bands when we were kids together. So when we got him in the band in 2001, it was like reuniting with a long lost brother in a musical sense. We have a very telepathic way of playing.
I always saw you like the meeting point for Sludge/Doom and raw Black Metal, like Eyehategod jamming with Darkthrone after listening to some Psychedelic Rock. What do you think about that? Do you feel close to those scenes?
Ryan Lipynsky: I think that is fucking perfect. Eyehategod is one of my favorite bands period. We have all listened to them since the early 90’s. The Darkthrone influence is that of my long history with black metal. I consider DT the real deal and my favorite. They are the closest thing to the spirit of Bathory in my mind. The psychedelic side comes our thirst to create mind bending sounds and basically using our guitars pedals and amps to do it. Jay is way into that the experimental side of things as well as really old music. It’s a desire, we always feel like the next album needs to be even more psychedelic and or mind altering in one dimension or another.
It's impossible to deny those psychedelic touches on your music, which approach you of all the seventies Rock ambience, and which fits perfectly with the other influences you have. Don't you think there were far more innovative and progressive bands in these times than all those bands claiming for innovation and “modern” music, only because of a clean production, mixing heavy stuff with melodies and using “technical” parts? Which bands of those times had some kind of influence on Unearthly Trance?
Ryan Lipynksy: I think 90 percent of modern music sucks. In fact I can’t even tell you the last new album I bought outside of the Melvin’s and Darkthrone. I usually always seek out older metal, rock or punk bands that I have yet to discover. Old bands had limitations and had to be really creative to shine though. Most bands back them thrived on originality. Bands nowadays seem to want to meet some standard of modern metal. We stand against that. We are an organic band. We record basic guitar bass and drums live to tape. No scratch tracks. We try to capture a song in the moment. SO there is a real connection to our songs, instruments and telepathy. Modern pro-tooled music sounds lifeless and very similar. Every now and then I watch what they try to pass off as “headbangers ball” in the states and I come close to vomiting. I record it so I usually fast forward the whole thing except for a Motorhead video or some humorous 80’s metal.
Bands from the old days that we like are the fairly obvious ones. Black Sabbath, Roky Erickson [13th Floor…], Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, This Heat, Deep Purple, CCR, Hawkwind!!!! Floyd, King Crimson, ……..
Still about that, recently you appeared on a tribute album to Syd Barret, along with Jarboe, Kylesa, Intronaut, Jesu or Pentagram, among others. How do you feel paying tribute to such an artist? Have you listened to all the covers? Which are the best ones in your opinion?
Ryan Lipynsky: I have not heard any of the other covers. I feel honored to pay tribute to Syd but it was a real challenge to actually to really capture his vocals and recreate them faithfully in the UT context. I had issues with some of the pitch until I discovered Syd sang in his own interesting way and had his own sense of melody. I feel like anytime we cover a song we learn a bit as a band. Its not about the end result or the comp, it’s about UT as band learning from something we regard as magickal: The process. Our song “Long Gone” is very necro and doomy with a faithful arrangement. I’m sure everyone else has much nicer sounds ! haha
There has been a big evolution in your sound though, and were “Season Of Seance...” was the rawest example of your music, and “In The Red” was more focused on Sludge and Doom, the last two albums have showed a perfect balance of both influences into something unique. How would you define that evolution? Was it something you planned a bit or it just came out that way?
Ryan Lipynsky: Only way to summarize it is UT is beast that we serve. Its nature is to twist and turn through the journey but always strike with lion-like ferocity.
How would you summarize each one of your albums:
- Season Of Seance, Season Of Silence: Black Funeral March. Really cold and a bit depressing. Morbid sounds reflect how we felt as people back then. Lots of people feel this is our best work but I listen back and wish it sounded different. We still play most of the songs from time to time except “ The Aftermath Was Morbid”. We have yet to play that song live for one reason or another!
- In The Red: This is the most magickal of albums to me. I still have no problems with any of it. Might even be my favorite guitar sound we have gotten. The only time we used every bit of our own equipment in Chicago. This is where the real magick developed. I feel UT found our own identity and shed lots of our obvious influences. I stepped up my vocals and it was the first album we did with Sanford Parker who also recorded the Trident and Electrocution. Red Magick! Very smoked out record.
- The Trident: I consider this album to be the most varied UT record. Like a serving of every style we encompass. I really like it. There are songs from this album that we will play for the rest of our career as UT. We really focused on the songs with this one. Wanted to just perfect our craft. I really dig the drum sound on this. Every this was on fire and we had stepped up our playing in my eyes. We recorded them at Steve Albinis studio and that place had an amazing inspiring vibe.
- Electrocution: This is my favorite album. Some of the songs have uncovered a new realm to UT. This is the “doorway” album. After doing this one I feel as though the sky is the limit and we can keep climbing the staircase. Rebellion through the occult.
Focusing now on “Electrocution”, that new album you released this year 2008, I'd like to speak a bit about it's title and the vibes we can receive when listening to it. At first listen I was a bit disappointed, because “The Trident” was huge and my expectations really high, but the more I'm listening to it the more I like it, so now I don't know which album I have to chose, hehe. Was there something you clearly wanted to change from "The Trident" to "Electrocution"?
Ryan Lipynsky: I think it’s a darker record. Very serious and personal. I could see taking multiple listenings before it sinks in. Very occult and intellectual in my eyes. The only thing we wanted to do was expand on the what we had done before. I think the only Idea was to make it more psychedelic and I think we achieved that? But some say no. Everyone has a different favorite UT record and I love that fact. Even the doom masters say we turned into crap after sos sos. This album shows how focused we are with our own sound and approach.
Am I wrong if I see some political/social influences on the cover? Are they reflected on the album, as well in the title as in the mood/sound of this one? How do you feel in the middle of all this shit, being from NY, and seeing all that mess around?
Ryan Lipynsky: Yes you are indeed correct. This album takes off where a song like “Wake Up and Smell the Corpses” started. Instead of being dropped out of life with a bong we are tapped into the current and describing what we see. People are blind to the control grid that is being put in place. TO quote the song diseased “Sound the Alarm and Piss on the Propaganda”. IT may seem like less of an occult album but make no mistake this recorded is weapon against the vampires of the new world. Illuminate! Illuminate! Illuminate! 777
The titles of your songs seem to have a lot of references to mythological, religious and occult themes. In which way do you take those subjects and reflect them on your lyrics? Do you use them more as metaphors or you have some kind of occult belief in the end? On which degree are those lyrics important, comparing them with the music?
Ryan Lipynsky: I consider myself a life long researcher in occult knowledge: That which is hidden. I have always had a connection to the metaphysical realm and the paranormal. It IS my belief system the metaphors are intertwined in my thought process. It is the blood that flows through my veins.
We can see that again on the lyrics of "Electrocution", as well as the artwork, with that kind of goat pope. What's the meaning of “God Is A Beast”? Is that a religious song or more a social/human way of seeing it? What about the verse "Man will always turn into the beast"? How do you feel towards humanity, especially how it can be seen nowadays?
Ryan Lipynsky: Well currently there is a thirst for death that is defined by power in the world. I think it’s almost a reactionary view to people’s view that there is only the good side to a god. When mother nature strikes they fail to see the irony. It is a hard song to pin down but think of all the disgusting selfish people-thanking god for winning a worthless award while there is death and explosions across the globe. I think many believe in a false god. They bend their religious views to suite their lifestyle. I believe in god in a way but it’s not what THEIR god is. Humans should worship and respect the earth or they shall feel its wrath. A man that is out of touch with its instincts and the connection with nature tend to turn into evil beast out of nowhere as they know not how to react to these suppressed darker feelings. There is no balance in the self profess “gods people”. I don’t care what religion it is. The title was made for the simple reason to state some that was indeed anti religion and a social commentary.
I love the vocal lines on "The dust will never settle". In fact, on this two last albums you're using really interesting ones, not typical at all, and with a big variety of registers. Are you going to explore a bit more those cleaner vocals on the next releases? Who are "those who remain loyal to snake" and which "shall be the first to taste venom"?
Ryan Lipynsky: Over time my vocals have become better with the harsh blackened vocals and the cleaner ones. Overtime I have developed an “in between” voice that really has become what I feel is my future focus. I think the diversity will always be there. I don’t think I will ever not unleash at least a few howls on each UT record we do. As for the lines our Drummer Darren wrote the lyrics. I see it as those who blindly follow the snakes will be the first to be sacrificed.
The next album is already being envisioned and it is only getting darker! The clean vox have been on all albums in varying degrees.. IT is just that now I am singing much better and stronger. I only hope to grow further yet retain my nasty harsh snarl that defines the vengeance that is our sound.
It's obvious that you always take care of the artwork of your albums, as they are pretty unique and recognizable too, but maybe the one of "Electrocution" is a bit different from the first ones, less abstract. Is there a reason to change into that clearer and more precise artwork?
Ryan Lipynsky: This was the first record that relapse really took control of the artwork. I basically wrote out everything I wanted to see and got back an artists view of it. I think it came out really cool. A bit too polished for my tastes but again we realize we are on relapse records and that comes with the package.
Nowadays we can see lots of bands taking again influences from the Punk and Metal scene and mixing them, just like happened in the past, and which brought the creation of great styles and “musical scenes”. Do you see yourselves as that kind of encounter or you feel closer to one of those scenes? Which one?
Ryan Lipynsky: We don’t feel connected to any scene really. We play with bands we are friends with for the most part. We don’t quite fit in exactly in any scene so I am absolutely indifferent to absolute finite categorization in the wide-open realm of musick.
It's amazing to see how you have been playing lots of different styles with your other projects, which is great, as sometimes people tend to be only focused on one sort of music and variety uses to be better. On which estate are those bands now? Are some of them still active? I read Thralldom split-up, which is a pity as you had a unique sound too.
Ryan Lipynsky: Yes we keep busy in a multitude of different projects. Currently I am doing an experimental black/death metal band called The Howling Wind, which is basically the continuation of Thralldom with Tim from parasitic records on drums. We have been active recording some new tracks and writing our next album. I also have recently joined a punk metal kinds of band called “Pollution” that I sing and play bass in. We recently just finished our first demo tape that should be out soon!
NY is well known for its Death Metal and Hardcore scenes, but I don't know many Sludge, Doom or Black Metal bands coming from your city, only some like Tearstained/Night Conquers Day, Profanatica/Havohej, Winter, Bloody Panda... Which ones can you recommend to us? Is it a good place for that kind of music?
Ryan Lipynsky: No I think it’s a shitty place for our kind of music these days. But that is fine by me. I think that is what gives our band our own sound. We are outsiders and operate by our Will purely, not scene context. Having said that Winter fucking rules. Huge influence on UT. Just listen to SOS SOS. We actually used to cover “Servants of the Warsmen” in the early days but we never recorded it or played it live. Paul from Profanatica lives in Connecticut from what I know and doesn’t really play NY ever. I think those are awesome USBM bands but NY is mostly death metal hardcore or hipster bullshit. I would recommend a band like Winter but they have been broken up so many years ago as I grew up listening tot he cassette! The OLD NY/ Long island metal scene ruled. Nowadays in NY you have to join clubs and hang out with the cool people. They can all fuck off!
I'm not sure if you've already played in Europe some time but, is there any chance we could see you touring with this new album release? That would be awesome. Is there some band from our sides that you'd really like to play with?
Ryan Lipynsky: We are currently booking an April 2009 European tour!
Well, I think you might be quite tired of answering this, so we can put an end to this chat now. Thanks a lot for your time, it's a pleasure for us to have Unearthly Trance on this first issue. I hope to see you live somewhere. In case you want to add anything else, go on...
Ryan Lipynsky: Thanks to everyone who listens to our musick ! 93!
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.