Recenze/review - ROTTEN CASKET - First Nail in the Casket (2022)



úterý 20. března 2018

Home » » Interview - ULCERATE - I usually have a feel or a mood in mind to capture based on the music and lyrics, and I go from there.

Interview - ULCERATE - I usually have a feel or a mood in mind to capture based on the music and lyrics, and I go from there.

Interview with death metal band from New Zealand - ULCERATE.

Answered Jamie Saint Merat.

Translated by Petra, thank you!

Ave ULCERATE! It is been a few months since I saw you at the concert in Prague, but I still remember your performance. It was in a small club, where I stood close to the stage, so the concert had an incredible power! How did you enjoy this show and how was doing the tour with BLAZE OF PERDITION and OUTRE? What place did you like the most in Europe? 

All of our Prague shows over the years have been phenomenal. Always an extremely humbling crowd response, and the Modrá Vopice venue has a surprising character to it. 

Touring with Blaze and Outre was easily one of our best touring experiences - every single person in both bands and crew where great to hang out with, not a single ego amongst anyone. Some very strong friendships were forged. Sonically, I couldn't have asked for more 

I really felt each and every show of the tour was something to experience and offered something unique. 

In terms of cities we most enjoyed - Prague, Krakow, Paris, Lausanne, Zagreb, Athens were all highlights. 

The whole tour was devoted to the presentation of your new record „Shrines of Paralysis“. I really like your previous albums, however, the latest one literally cut me into the pieces. I love that it contains even more darkness than before. You have created your own style, which is constantly moving ahead, evolving. When you entered the studio, did you have everything prepared for recording or you are the band, who use to manage stuff in the place? How were the new songs compose? 

We always enter the studio 110% prepared. That way spontaneity can arise and not cause disruptions or throw things off track. Also, the nature of the music is such that if you aren't fully comfortable with it, we will definitely have problems recording it. So we're always extremely well-rehearsed and preproduced. 

Like all of our songs, the composition process is a fairly arduous and meticulous process. We work up riff and simple rhythmic ideas with practice amps and practice drum pads in a fairly quiet setting so we can discuss ideas and try things out quickly without confusion. Then we'll take these ideas to the rehearsal room and flesh them out at full volume - here is where I will work out drum phrasings and general improvisations. We'll then track and dissect parts with further arranging. Once the shell of a song is completed with drums and a single guitar line, we'll pre-produce the song and write the counterpoint parts for second rhythm guitars, bass, leads, vox etc. Rinse and repeat really, with further arrangements right up until we track the album. 

First, what slammed me straight in my face was the sound of the record. Your drummer, Jamie took care about it. Does it mean, that you recorded everything on your own? Sure, it has to be advantageous, but on the other side, it could be good to have some feedback from someone outside of the band. Do you have someone in your surroundings, whose opinion is important for you? When in the writing process you say “Now we are satisfied, this is how we wanted to have it“? 

Yes, I've always recorded our material, asides from our very first demo. In terms of outside feedback no, we're very clear on what we want and what we consider appropriate for this band. If the 3 of us are happy with everything, then that's all that matters. We still consider this an artistic expression - it's nice if others like what we're doing, but at the same time their compliments or critiques will never shape how we approach song-writing. We have no ulterior motive other than producing the best Ulcerate material we can muster. 

It is not only me, who considers you as a band, which within the frame of technical death metal nowadays gives direction. You are moving the borders, you are different and original. There are not so many crews as ULCERATE. All of your tracks are really demanding for playing. Especially, at the concerts, it is really like „meat“. I am wondering, how often do you practice alone and how many times per week do you have rehearsal together? 

We rehearse 3 times a week as a band, and we all practice individually outside of this. I like to try to get 6 or so hours a week outside of band rehearsal for myself. Sometimes I don't quite have the time, other weeks I'll do more. 

Your lyrics are full of human frustration, mind destruction, madness. Where did you get inspiration for them? I think, this kind of lyrics perfectly fits your music, however, they appear as very depressive. I have at least such feeling from them. Do you really think that the mankind is so bad about it? I know, you just can look around, but I still use to say, the hope dies last. 

I never quite understand this question when it is pitched at us - the genre itself is called 'death metal'. It has to be negative and abrasive to support the music. There is an entire planet of uplifting music, and while that is an obvious place to go to if you're wanting to 'entertain' people, for me there's not a lot of soul-searching to be found there. I liken this to film: comedies and feel-good films are typically far-less critically appreciated than their dramatic and tragic counterparts. I've never really understood why music is different. Film directors like David Fincher, Lars Von Trier, Alejandro González Iñárritu et al are considered some of the world's most venerated contemporary directors, yet much of their subject matter sits in the same sphere of the ideas as our lyrics. 

At the end of the day, we're simply grouping like with like. I wouldn't expect, or want, top 40 music to sound like Merzbow, and I don't want cosmic, uplifting horse-shit lyrics in metal. 

Jamie, you are not only signed under the sound of the latest record, you were also preparing the cover art for the album. I must confess, I really like your handwriting. It looks like you are a man of many abilities. I am wondering how the cover art was created? What was the inspiration and what was the approach how the cover arts were painted? 

All of my artwork for Ulcerate is digital collages. But my goal has always been to work in a painterly style, to forego any obvious 'digital' feel. I don't like how a lot of digital work lacks tactility and warmth, and is so obviously a product of its creation tools. I usually have a feel or a mood in mind to capture based on the music and lyrics, and I go from there. 

Many people mark your music as technical death metal and end of the story. However, I don‘t think so at all. The basics and influences are probably clear, but I can hear in your music also black metal, post-rock and some elements of jazz. I really like that you are unbounded. When a person is completely confused at first, does not understand a lot of moments in songs and gets through them only after half a year. Are you listening to a lot of jazz? Who actually influences you as musicians? I would say that GORGUTS or the French scene (AOSOTH, DEATHSPELL OMEGA). 

I put jazz into 2 categories - there's the chops-factor stuff, where I'll listen for drumming concepts, but actually find very little in the music itself to relate to. There are contemporary acts which are great though - Christian Scott, Bohren und der Club of Gore, Dawn of Midi... 

In terms of influences - no I'd say the French scene are contemporaries not influences. Knowing a lot of the bands personally, I'd say we've discovered this path individually and seem to be converging a little in the last 5-10 years sonically. Our influences when we started were more stricter death metal Angelcorpse, old Cryptopsy, old Hate Eternal, Vader etc. Things started branching out for us upon hearing Immolation, Gorguts, Today is the Day - where we became fascinated with a more warped, impenetrable sound. These days, influences aren't really a thing, the band's vision is very clear on where we want and where we need things to be taken sonically. 

I know very well, how difficult it is for bands from smaller countries, where do not have such a "metal tradition". Moreover, your music is not dedicated to the huge masses. What is it like, to play death metal in New Zealand? Do you have there any clubs oriented to extreme music or do you have to go to Australia? 

New Zealand is, and always has been a difficult region for extreme metal, due to our small population, and more importantly our intense geographical isolation. There's always been scenes, but unless there is a large international act touring it's very hit and miss in terms of turn-outs. So it's often the case that whenever slightly smaller / more underground acts tour there can really be no guarantee of ticket sales etc, which makes it logistically very difficult to bring bands here. 

We play shows here, but we like to keep it to one or 2 appearances a year. There's 1 or 2 'metal' clubs, but to be honest they're not the best in terms of production facilities, so we'll often opt for venues that are more comfortable and offer what we need to make a show as sonically and visually massive as possible. 

And what about concerts and ULCERATE? Again, you have a disadvantage, because you live outside of America and Europe, where a lot of touring is taking place. How difficult is it for you to be a part of a good concert/tour? And how do fans react to your performances? 

All of our tour booking these days is handled internally - we work with a tour manager who books everything, and we maintain full control over logistics, routing and bands who we'd like to play with. It's too risky with us being this far away, the potential for massive financial loss is very high if you're not extremely careful and know all the pit-falls. In terms of reaction, we have incredibly passionate fans for which we're very grateful. Every tour we do is always a step up in terms of audience numbers and positive reception, so we must be doing something right. 

We get a lot of offers from agencies offering support slots for larger acts, but 9 times out of 10 they're not really of interest to us sonically. We're too old and stubborn to play a month's worth of shows with 4-5 other bands who aren't appealing to us just to play another band's bigger audience. 

Since 2007, you've been releasing albums more or less regularly. Does that mean we can look forward to the new record already this year? Do you have any material ready? I think it's time for new music from you! 

Let's try to draw in the fans, we cannot wait more! 

We've started writing the sixth album, and are a month or so in. The material is very inspiring so far, and is moving in a direction that I think is really going to set this album apart from our other work. We'll be aiming to record early-mid next year I'd say, our albums always take a year or so to compile. So a release in 2019. 

Thank you very much for the interview. I wish you a lot of good ideas, crazy and real fans, and good luck also in your personal lives. I will look forward to another concert and album! May the force be with you! 

Appreciate it! // J


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