Monday, June 24, 2013

Harrow Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Sure, I’d just like to start by saying most of this interview is answered by Ian, but Derrek and Jacob have provided their input as well and such responses are marked.
As of summer 2013 we are in a short hiatus as Ian is currently living in different town than Derrek and Jacob for a few months, so we haven’t played together for a little while. However, that isn’t to say that the band isn’t active in other ways. We are all writing new music for a new album that we hope to record this coming winter. September will see us be back in the same city again, so we will begin to really work on the new material starting then. Ian has also been busy getting things ready for the release of our album “Fragments of a Fallen Star,” which will be split-released on cassette by Eternal Warfare from Salem, Oregon, and our own label, Shadow of the Stone sometime in the near future.
2. How would you describe the musical sound of the newer material and how it differs from previous efforts?
That is kind of a hard question to answer, because to me, our new album “Fragments” is already old. It was recorded back in summer 2012 and has been sitting ever since. It is a different beast entirely from the “Wanderer” album though. With “Fragments” you can expect something much more influenced by something like 70s progressive rock in the aspect that it contains much more blending of genres than our previous offerings. It is some of the most dense music I have ever written, influenced by neofolk and traditional folk, drone, noise, doom and even indigenous North American music. A lot of people have told me that the “Wanderer” album sounds a lot like some early Norwegian black metal bands, but I think with “Fragments” people are going to hear quite a difference.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the newer music explores?
“Fragments” is less of a concept album than “Wanderer” was, but it still has some overarching themes. Nature’s power over the arrogance of man is always a foremost theme, but “Fragments” also contains themes of the concept of oneness in the universe, and thus it is hopeful in a way, even if songs like Keening seem very dark (the lyrics of which are based on a very intense dream I had about the death of the sun). As for the music being written right now, I haven’t finished any lyrics yet, but I have a feeling that tribalism and community will be a theme that comes out in my writing.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
Harrow is a word with many meanings. I very much like the idea of not being limited in concept by a name with a singular meaning. A “harrowing” experience can be something that may be terrifying and dangerous, but it is also transformative, a passage of sorts. A harrow is also a farming tool, used to till soil, which in its own way also has connotations of rearranging of pieces to form a new and more nutritious whole.
5. I know that the band started out as Wraith, what was the decision behind the name change?
Wraith was really just a one man project and its releases reflected that. When our first drummer, Kyle, joined the band and we actually started to play together I realized I wanted a clean slate to work with. We rewrote some of the Wraith material into some Harrow songs that we still play today, so the projects are still connected even though Wraith as it was is long gone.
6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
In my personal opinion our show with Alda this year in Victoria was possibly the best we have ever played. It was the culmination of a few months of stress on my part, with getting the new lineup ready for our first show, booking a tour and having to get another band over the border. However, everything went off pretty much without a hitch, and it was my first time back on stage in almost a year, our new lineup’s first performance and even our bass player’s first ever live show. Considering all these factors things went amazingly well, and the response from the crowd was the best we’ve ever had before or since.
I’d say we try to convey the intensity of the catharsis we are experiencing when we play live. It is a very intense internal experience we feel, not simply a playing of the notes for entertainment purposes. It is very gratifying to feel the audience be in sync when it does happen, it is indeed a magical (to sound completely cliché) feeling. The moment that that feeling either clicks or does not, at least for our set on our last tour, is the climax of the song “Fragments of a Fallen Star,” which ends with a tribal drum solo of sorts, in which I play bodhrán, Derrek plays a large native drum and Jacob does a sort of solo on his kit. At a certain point at each show I would jump into the crowd still playing my drum as an attempt to break the perceived wall that exists between the audience and a band. The first reaction was always shock on the audience’s part, but after a few seconds I could always tell if they were getting into it or not and it is fantastic to see people really coming together. Going back to our show with Alda in Victoria, this was one of the moments we could really tell that the room had a certain energy that each of the bands tapped into and the moment of that drum solo really made that energy release in many ways.
Besides the performance aspect we also prefer to play in minimal light, purely candle light is the best, it evokes a very special atmosphere, with incense is even better. In front of the drums we also construct a small altar, usually with a deer skull on a moose antler as the centerpiece, along with other natural objects that have significance to each of us.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Nothing concrete at the moment. There are a couple potential shows in the fall in Victoria being discussed, but nothing is confirmed as of yet. We are also talking of venturing down to the US for the first time soon. Maybe next summer, maybe sooner for a smaller undertaking. Time will tell.
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or received any interest?
I’m not sure if we are looking to “sign” in a traditional music industry sense. If someone is interested in supporting our music we are always on the lookout. Most of our music thus far has been self-released. We haven’t had too much interest from labels in the past, but things seem to be changing with our working with first Prairie Fire and now Eternal Warfare. We may have our first cd release with a label coming up too, but we’re still ironing things out. We are interested in releasing music on all formats, so the lack of those is not due to lack of interest on the band’s part.
9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
I couldn’t really say, I honestly don’t hear much feedback besides maybe when we play shows. We barely ever get reviewed for one thing. I know we have a few fans in Europe for sure, as I get people ordering multiple things. Many people who are into Cascadian black metal in the USA also seem to be digging us. Other than those two examples I don’t hear too much positive or negative from anyone I haven’t actually met.
I will be interested to hear people’s reactions to our new album, as I would have a hard time even calling it a “black metal” album, but almost everyone I have played the album for has said it is a big step forward.
10. What is going on with the other musical projects these days?
IAN: My folk project, Crooked Mouth, is about to release its first full length on cassette through Preposterous Creations in France. I’m also working on releasing recordings from Kamlaniye (the old Skagos live band) on my label, Shadow of the Stone. That tape will be out before the summer is over.
JACOB: My main project Walden is about to put out three new releases, two of which have been delayed heavily, ranging from weirdo blackened industrial noise to Windir as fuck monolithic melodic BM. My grindcore band Bungus has a few shows coming up and we're putting out a split 7" with Soy, as well as a split cassette with Satanic Blood Ritual from Seattle. I also rap as White Aladdin for shits and giggles.
DERREK: Apart from Harrow, Jake and I are doing a project called Moose Cavalry. It's a think tank and free jam that allows us to explore avenues that don't fit into Harrow. Though it is becoming more of an experimental sludge project than anything.
Aside from that I have my personal songs I am working on, no name to the project yet as it is still very much in the ether right now.
11.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
As for the actual new material we are writing right now (the first with the current lineup) I think the sound will end up being more stripped down. “Fragments” was about as far as I could take the dense, conceptual sound for now. Since we are once again an active live band we want to cultivate music that takes advantage of the 3 of us playing together as well as possible instead of relying too much on samples and endless overdubs that you can use when recording records. As for the actual style of the music, it is more influenced by post-rock in the sense of energy being built up to a sudden ecstatic release.
12.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
IAN: Drudkh, Burzum, Alda, Skagos, Alcest, Hail, Fen, Hexvessel, Comus, Lasher Keen, Agalloch, and Leech are never far from my ears nowadays. Jace from Alda recently introduced me to The Flight of Sleipnir, who have been a great discovery and are already influencing some new stuff I am working on.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor and good post-rock in general has been a new and welcome discovery that has definitely shaped some of our new material as well
JACOB: I've got tons of influences from almost every genre, and you'll be able to hear that in some of the new Walden stuff (sorry for the plug!) These days I’ve been listening to a heady brew of Ulver (you can never have fucking enough of those first three albums...), Empyrium, Discordance Axis, Assuck, HELL, that awesome Threnos demo, Tommy Wright III, Summoning, old Behemoth, old Cryptopsy, No Comment, Sadhaka, Panopticon, the mighty WARSORE, Ethelwulf, Chri$ Travi$, PizzaHiFive, and of course Creed.
DERREK: Oh boy. What a question. Well, for Harrow, it's much of the Cascadian scene, Alda, Agalloch, Fauna and the like.
Moose Cavalry and my personal music is more influenced by bands such as Pelican, Isis, Co-Pilot and Alaskan.
So, all of those bands are bands/genres I would say have regular play. Outside of that stuff like the new Daft Punk album and Pucsifer have been getting a lot of play.
13.Does Paganism play any role in your music?
IAN: Yes, in that it is a part of my life that influences my world outlook. I don’t identify with any kind of pagan organization, but I try to learn all I can about the traditions and gods of my ancestors, who are the Celtic and the Norse/Germanic tribes, and bring what I find to be the positive aspects into my life. I suppose I have pantheistic tendencies as well, as I agree with everything Jacob expresses below, but I also feel that ritual and tradition has an important part in our psychology. The names we give the gods is almost arbitrary, however what they represent in each of us is not.
As for the band, we don’t use the pagan aspect in the sense of re-telling the old stories, but one of the main pagan traditions that has been almost a subconscious influence is the use of characters who represent certain traits of man (the gods) to tell stories of struggle and growth. We’ve also used ancient symbols like the triquetra and certain runes as they are appropriate.
JACOB: I consider myself a pantheist and all of my music has been inspired by nature in some way. Metchosin (the most recent tape Walden put out), was a pure expression of joy and rapture at the beauty of some of my favorite wild places and the wonderful memories contained therein, whereas some of my other, bleaker pieces are born from anger and despair toward the lack of reverence that most people have today. The reason so many people are so out of balance today is because they have lost that integral, emotional bond with nature. Many people would walk past a clear-cut without batting an eye; whereas something like that affects me on a profoundly deep level.
DERREK: If you count my love, respect and appreciation for nature paganism, then yes most certainly. Many of the ideas and concepts for songs come when I am out hiking or fishing or just immersing myself in the natural world.
14.Outside of music what are some of your interests?
IAN: I read quite a lot and have a passion for literature, mythology, fantasy and science fiction. I like playing RPGs and board games with friends when the opportunity arises too, it is so much more satisfying than online games. I also try to spend as much time as I can in nature, going for hikes and whatnot. I’ve recently taken up gardening as well and I make my own wine, mead and beer when I can.
JACOB: Walking in the woods, playing my drums, listening to music, growing veggies, craft beer, bongs and enjoying the company of my friends and family. I am simple.
DERREK: Well, I spend most of my free time fishing or hiking the lakes and trails close to home.
Eventually I want to get a bike and a canoe and spend even more of my time out in the woods, learning all that I can.
15.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
We’d all like to thank you for your interest and caring enough to let us share some of our views. You can keep up with us on facebook and shadowofthestone.blogspot.ca
The journey continues ever onward!

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