1. The Unravelling did not play it safe with "13 Arcane Hymns." Though I have used the word "metal," I am not sure that does the album justice. (And I hate the "progressive" label, as I think all artists have a duty to be progressive in terms of anything artistic.) What I hear are many strains of different musical traditions, from rock to metal, from industrial to goth, coming together in various different degrees. When you started composing the album, was this the goal or is this something that happened naturally?
Gus: In terms of the music, “13 Arcane Hymns” took early shape as a maniacal one man project with the aim of creating a body of material that would be enticing enough to attract the right vocalist to complete them. Somewhat of a Venus flytrap or anglefish approach. I was going through a lot of genre experimentation at the time, so the songs reflect this period. It was very new to me because my background up to this point was metal and 90s grunge but traveling to Canada and living alone for a year made me seek out a plethora of interesting new artists. Such as Sopor Aeternus, Sophia, Arcana, Predella Avant, Dead Can Dance, Nox Arcana and Sephiroth, which really inspired me but were filtered through the lens of a "meat and potatoes" (drums, guitar, bass, vocals) musician.
Steve: To me, progressive can get to be a strange word in the context of music - it can mean wildly different things to different people. I don't even know what pure progressive rock or metal, bereft of other style interference, would sound like. I think that in the end, I just don't care enough to research it too closely. That being said, I love a lot of different music, so this kind of schizophrenia comes out in my writing that is probably unusual. I love Dead Can Dance and Dillinger Escape Plan, for example - they would normally be seen as two completely different energies, but I see them both as honest, talented artists. They're both powerful in their own way. The first priority is to write something I feel is good and that I'm inspired by, and the second priority that I try to fulfill is that I feel the work is original.
So not playing it safe was intentional and natural at the same time. We recorded and released this album in the faith and strong belief that there are still people out there who want honesty in their art and music. That is technically our market.
Gustavo de Beauville
2. Metal is one of the genres I feel is in a tragic state; it has become generic, complacent, and repetitive. I have read about the days when metal dominated the Reading Festival and find myself wishing for a metal renaissance. Why do you think this complacency has happened?
Gus: Renaissance.....Such an eloquent way to describe your dismay. It's sad but a lot of bands are a reflection of society I think. They cater to the masses to suckle at the teat of their masters. I firmly believe somewhere out there there's powerful suit-wearing, cigar toting assholes in tall buildings with gold records on their walls going, "They want to shake their asses and swig cheap booze, then give those sheep what they want. Churn that shit out ASAP. I got hookers to bang and blow to inhale." Then bands like Nickelback, State of Shock, Theory of A Deadman, Puddle of Mud, Shinedown, Hinder, Finger Eleven, Seether, Stone Sour, Hedley, Marianas Trench, and Simple Plan get a phone call.
Steve: You could say the same thing about the world I think. The complacency in metal music has probably happened due to lack of inspiration or good ideas, the desire to cater to genre regulations, the need to be part of a crowd, a lack of new learning and an over-interest in anti-religious sentiment without enough intelligent argument or political points, and a general rejection of individuality and artistic expression. I always appreciate when artists and bands dare to do something different. There's a lot of room for it in metal, but you can't be afraid of breaking the rules and leaving the genre if need be. That being said, there are some amazing bands out there today. The ones that blow you away just don't typically tend to be the ones who put themselves in a box.
Geez, that's quite the list, Gus! You forgot Justin Bieber, though it'll probably be a few years yet before he's into the hookers and blow.
3. Let's continue to speak about complacency: Audiences! From relying on traditional sources for new music, especially radio, and an environment of not wanting to think or feel when listening to music, most listeners have become passive, empty receptacles, who are either scared, uninspired, or too damn lazy to scratch the surface. What would you say to them to get them to scratch the surface and listen to "13 Arcane Hymns?"
Steve: If the description in question 3 sounds like you, you should listen to “13 Arcane Hymns.” Unlike much of the music out there currently, this stuff is real - for better or worse, and that's for you to decide. It's not the feel-good album of the summer, but it offers something strong and worthwhile. If Top 40 is your thing, I wouldn't strain yourself.
Gus: That's a really tough question. I prefer to remember the days when music really inspired and almost defined who you were. Times when Phil Anselmo would rant about the 'trend being dead,' also when Kurt Cobain had to explain what the doodles on his sneakers meant. When Layne Staley had to tell people that drugs were bad and were actually killing him (RIP). When people used to hang on every obscure word from Maynard James Keenan. When Trent Reznor dropped “The Downward Spiral” onto the scene and people thought he was nuts. When “Anti Christ Superstar” came out and the video for “The Beautiful People” was so dark, twisted and innovative it was awe-inspiring. Nowadays it's about having wineries and selling overpriced merchandise. But getting back to your question, I think either it's a state of being young and impressionable and hearing some great bands or maybe the quality of music as an art form has indeed been diluted. I'm leaning towards the later.
Gustavo de Beauville
4. The images in the "Fire Breather" video, which capture a Tibetan protest, really stuck with me for quite some time. But the one thing that I started to think about is what is the role of artists in making political/social statements or allowing their music to be used in that vein. What do you guys think about the meeting of "politics" and music? Is this a responsibility of musicians?
Gus: Ok, straight off the bat, I do not mix politics with art. Yes, the world is a sordid, twisted political place, but I leave these matters to people that are more equipped to resist the machine. Steve does very well in this area and has thus far been the political figurehead for the band. I myself tend to be the wide-eyed dreamer that grasps for the invisible thread in his reclusive comfort zone. Dabbling in the unknown and mysteries of the occult interests me far greater than focusing on the misdeeds of man.
Steve: I don't mix politics and music all the time, but I do it on some tracks. I tend to talk quite often about spiritual or energetic concepts that I feel are potent in poetic form as well. Basically, I think people should be able to talk about whatever the hell they want to, and there should be no stigma attached to it. People arguing for less politics in music and movies are happy pawns. 100 indie pop songs about tube socks and ex-girlfriends and you have a problem with a song about something that actually affects our lives in a profound way? They must have a lot of trust in their politicians to want them to be the only ones to have the microphones in our society. I do not share the same general trust in politicians, so I express that from time to time. At the same time, you can only be responsible for what you project and for what you say, so all I can control is my own voice, and I monitor it fairly closely. I try to make sure what I say is really what I want to project to the world - a positive expression of empowerment.
5. The natural course of music is that is it is conceived and composed, recorded, and then showcased live. How are you two going to approach the music live? What can we expect?
Gus: We have played a couple of live shows thus far and the response has been very encouraging. At this moment I am working on incorporating psychedelic visuals to our show.
Entertaining and inspiring our fans is very important to us as a unit and a trusted mentor of mine told me to "Go create the show that you want to be at" and that is what I am doing. Crafting out our own mythos and an ethereal aura for the band is my goal. See you on the other side...
Steve: We will do everything we can to push this project to new listeners, so that includes building a successful live show. The shows thus far have been great and we look forward to more. Expect something different. Rants via megaphone most definitely!
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