Två låtar samtidigt?
Det har runnit en hel del vatten sedan Dios Holy Diver blev mall för hur tuff en metallåt kunde låta. En av de ultimata utmaningarna på den fronten är Ulcerate (gilla dem här), som gör allt annat än lättsmält musik. Senaste Shrines of Paralysis är bästa bevis på det.
Bara Metal öppnade fördämningarna och ställde ärliga frågor om bandets mustiga, invecklade musik – trummisen Jamie Saint Merat var inte sämre, och öppnade i sin tur dörren till replokalen och berättade hur han och Paul Kelland [sång, bas] och Michael Hoggard [gitarr] tänker kring sin musik:
How many hours does it take for Ulcerate to make one, say, seven minute song from start to finish?
– We usually spend the better part of a month on writing the initial framework of a song, which is essentially drums and a single guitar line. Then a couple of weeks additionally for counterpoint orchestrations and vox.
I suppose you try to outdo yourself with every album. What did you decide to make “a little better than last time” this time?
– That’s actually not how we think at all. It’s not about being ‘better’ or trying to outdo your previous work, it’s about presenting a new set of ideas that are hopefully both distinct and at the same time evolve the sonic footprint of the band. The goal has always been to write as we feel and leave aside all preconceptions of how we might want the album to be received or perceived externally.
Being New Zealanders, I understand that setting up a show in Auckland is far more easy than say a European tour. For that reason, are you sparse on playing in Auckland for not getting labeled “not that band again”?
– We treat New Zealand the same as any other region these days, we’ll play once or twice a year and leave it at that.
Is it true you always bring your own sound engineer while touring?
– Yes. We always tour with our live sound engineer Tom Anderson. It’s absolutely crucial that you have someone who can mix the band from venue to venue consistently and who understands exactly how this style of music needs to be presented.
– Entrusting some local sound engineer that has little or no knowledge of the band and our sonic requirements is absolutely not an option.
Have you ever sat down with a sounding board, and paid any attention to how your music is perceived by others?
– No, because we don’t care to know. We get untold amounts of feedback from fans and media so we’re unintentionally well aware of how we’re perceived. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing.
– The best and most respected feedback we get is from our peers where there’s a lot of mutual appreciation. But we refuse to let outside opinions shape how we create music.
One friend of mine, who absolutely loves your music, describes your music as time consuming “but pay off will come.” Is this a common reflection and how do you as the composer find this statement?
– That makes absolute sense. It’s also how we appreciate music as listeners, our favourite albums are not necessarily easy listens, and require patience and dedicated listening to unlock all the secrets. We don’t make music for casual music listeners.
I found this comment on Youtube for Shrines of Paralysis: “Why do they always have to leave their best riffs short? I could listen to the outro for days.” So – what would you respond to this, in general?
– We felt that that was all that was required from that part, end of story. You can’t cater to everyone’s personal tastes, we only satisfy our own.
But does being repetitive bore you?
– Repetition absolutely does not bore us, and trust me when I say we agonise over these arrangement choices.
In the beginning of death metal in Sweden, the bands, being teenagers and Swedish speaking, ploughed through dictionaries and medical books to find English words that suited the music.
You, as a native speaker of English, can you correlate at all to this, or do words like ‘lycanthrope’, ‘rescission’, ‘opprobrium’, ‘entropy’ and ‘abrogation’ – words I had to look up – come with the mother milk?
– A bit of both really – these aren’t unfamiliar words per se, but they’re definitely not common vernacular that you would use in everyday speech.
It has happened that I’ve turned your music off in order to understand if I am listening to one song or two songs at a time – I have a lot of browser windows open on my computer while working. Should I be embarrassed about this, not getting it the first time I hear it, or do you know that this spooky feeling sometimes appear in your music?
– It’s just the nature of the music, dense and seemingly convoluted. As I mentioned earlier, we’re more than happy to be creating music that people may even dislike on the first pass, but that is on some level intriguing and pulls you in further and further the more that you listen and decipher how things are constructed.
I think I have read that you describe your music as doomish or evil. I wonder – what kind of riffing do you discard when you put together a new song?
– There most certainly needs to be an atmosphere with the notes of the riff that innately feel like us for sure. But most of what we discard we honestly just find boring or has nothing to say once we’re reviewing it at a later date. At this stage we don’t really have any strict parameters on what a riff needs to be or not be, they just need to serve the song as a whole and feel natural and idiosyncratic of our sound.
Is it important to you that you sound live as you sound on the albums?
– We are pretty fastidious in replicating the album sound live, and I feel we can get 90 per cent of the way.
Do you therefore decide against other sounds in the studio?
– No, live considerations are not at all taken in to account during the writing and production phases.
Have you ever had to learn other musicians outside of the trio of Ulcerate your songs – why? And how did that work out?
– For years we had always had second live guitarists, but in the long-run it has just never worked out. Relentless rehearsing and touring is not for everyone and has always proven to the catalyst for us deciding to remain a strict trio, where all members are 100% committed and dedicated to the cause.
I heard about the theft in NYC. Idiots! So, are you better prepared for drug addicts stealing your stuff when you tour next time?
– We are indeed, a valuable but hard lesson learnt.