Auternus Speak To SonicAbuse

 When I reviewed Auternus’ EP ‘Changing Seasons’, it was my immediate ambition to have a chance to speak to the band because the EP, although short, was simply buzzing with ideas. The music was rich and varied – in the vein of Red Sparrowes and Mogwai, yet different from both, not least as it had vocals yet maintained the rich dynamic and variation of insrumental post-rock bands. While, perhaps, there were production issues (and you can see that the band themselves have differing opinons about this) the EP has remained one of my favourite releases and it’s frequently jammed on the stereo because it has so much to offer that you just cannot hear on the first listen. Intelligent, exciting and deeply ambitious Auternus are a fascinating prospect.

With a slight shift in line-up interrupting things (the band lost their bass player in the summer but have happily found a replacement) Auternus are now back in full gear and ready to record their debut album, the arrival of which shoud have rock fans drooling in anticipation and in the meantime we at SonicAbuse are proud to present this interview with a band who, if there is any justice at all in the world, are destined for big things. 

 

 

• When we reviewed your EP we found it to be a fantastic mix of Genres that made you somewhat more unique than your press-release made you initially sound; what would you say your influences are?

 Jeff Irvine (JI):

Everyone listens to a broad range of music, with that there’s a large amount of similarities. It’s theses common elements that allow us to bring an idea together. It’s the differences that allow the ideas to grow and evolve into their own sound, helping to define our sound.

 Joshua Quint (JQ):

Like most groups, each member brings his own style to the mix either influenced by what we listen to or the bands we have taken part of previously. The range of inspirations is so wide it would be hard to point to just a  couple specific examples, but I’d say our common ground is instrumental music or what is commonly referred to as “post rock”. Simply put, when we’re on the road, someone can throw on some Mogwai or Red Sparowes and nobody is going to complain.

 Steve Hittner (SH):

For me I really don’t have too many ‘influences’ on bass- I don’t have a favorite bass player or anything like that.  For the most part I when I’m listening to a song (regardless of genre) I’ll listen for the tone, the bass lines, and see if something sparks an idea or approach to playing.

 Josh Simcosky (JS):

Bands: ISIS, Russian Circles, Mogwai,  Red Sparowes, Caspian, etc…

I would rather say our influences are not bands, but organic movements, Sparks that turn into fires, lightning, Vastness, open space, crashing waves

 • Metal has, arguably, taken on a very progressive feel in the last five years – do you ever feel that this is something of a phase that will vanish as, say, nu-metal did?

 JI:

Music in general, as does life, always goes in phases. But there’s always been some sort of “progressive” metal around. The good thing about it, it evolves and becomes something somewhat new. And that’s the exciting part of music. most genres evolve and then sub-genres are born out of necessity. And if nu-metal is a phase… I’d be OK with that. Who wouldn’t want a 20+ year musical career, ala Deftones, they are still kicking it.

 JQ:

Predicting the ebb and flow of trends is impossible but I like to think that the progressive element will never completely vanish, but just go thru phases like most things in music. I mean, the base word is “progress” and there will always be people stretching the conventional ideas at any given time. If not, shit will get boring real quick.

 JS:

Not “Metal”. Bands are always going to be “heavy” and only seem to be getting heavier. All the sub-genre groups like “nu-metal” are just ways of trying to appeal to a specific audience/deomgraphic.”Progressive” is often used to describe any band that can write a riff in 5/4. I like to think of “progressive” as a style in which the music infuses different dynamics of other styles. I hope “progressive” will be continue to expand into something different and expansive though different movements, tones, dynamics, grooves, time signatures, etc…

 • Clearly your artwork is very important to you as a band – your press kit was amazing– who does the design and to what extent is the band involved if it isn’t one of your members?

 JI:

For me, the visual aspect of a band is just as important as the aural. I’m a graphic designer and enjoy creating artwork for the band. I also do other poster/design work as part of a team, gravity-ink, with illustrator/painter Tyson Schroeder. For us, it’s about delivering something that is out of the norm, and we usually deliver. It’s also is nice that Joshua Quint works at a printer. It allows us to try and come up with unique packages for the band. As with all things, the design elements are shown to everyone and if someone isn’t 100% happy with something, it gets fixed or something new is tried. I may come up with the general look/feel, but we all have our voices heard.

 JS:

Jeff and Tyson from Gravity-Ink are the best (and it helps that Jeff is in the band).

 • You started writing the EP as a two piece – how did the recruitment of new members change what had already been written and how did it affect the writing process as you continued?

 JI:

I wouldn’t say change necessarily, but help them to evolve and come to life. And with new songs there was a more organic approach to everything, we didn’t have to try and think of what the bass/drums might do, they were there and making it all work. It was a great way to start, but now with everyone writing together, everything flowed and became more organic.

 JQ:

 Most of the songs we had previous to filling out the group were very basic structures of ideas we’d been  kicking back and forth. Once we found the final two pieces of the puzzle, everything just started clicking.  Our initial search consisted of two goals: first, find people who really wanted to commit the time and  effort it takes, and secondly, they’d really have to love the kind of sound we’re going for. Once we found  that, the writing process was improved dramatically and the ideas just started flowing.

 SH:

Speaking as one of the ‘recruits’, it was nice to have a few songs already somewhat structured for me to work out. I don’t think too much of the songs that were already written had been changed; I just came up with lines that I felt fit the songs. As we continued, for the most part I would (and still do) listen to parts Josh and Jeff create and work out parts in my head. On occasion (the song ‘Dissonant Sea’) we will structure a song around a bass line.

 JS:

Steve (bass) was the only recruitment while I was in the band. Adding Steve was a blessing. Our writing process has been an awesome experience as a whole because there is never a question as to what someone else is playing and if it sounds “good” or not. We don’t have to micro-compose our songs because as a collective we have a common goal. Make songs that have depth, movement, and emotion.

 • One of the points raised about the EP was that the production didn’t quite match the scope of your ambition – did you feel that to be a fair point and how do you intend to change that when you come to record the album?

 SH:

I think that’s fair- we had a limited amount of time to record ‘Changing Seasons’ so it was a challenge to match the production to our sonic preconceptions of the album, given such a small window to get things done. We are taking a lot more time with this new album, so when it’s done we will have everything sounding and feeling the way we want.

 JI:

With the first EP, we wanted to go in and capture what we had. We didn’t have a lot of time or money, but wanted to get these songs out there, Maybe the overall production isn’t top level, but we captured some amazing sounds are are very proud of the EP. Our next record, “Dissonant Sea’, we have spent a good amount of time on it, and when it comes out, it will sound they way we want it to.

 JQ:

Definitely a fair assumption considering the sparse amount of time and money we had at our disposal  at that point. The three main tracks on the Changing Seasons EP were all live takes done in one night, so even  though we had room for improvement, I think it turned out even better than we might have hoped  considering the time constraints we were under.

 JS:

We are actually very happy with the production. It was recorded in one night, live, and we had only been playing those songs for a short amount of time. But, I do agree that it lacks in areas where the next record will not. We are currently working on a new album “Dissonant Sea” with Paul Malinowski and Cory White. The process is much more in depth this time around and our vision of a finished product is coming together.

 • Is the band a full-time job or do the members of Auternus work for a living in between shows and recording commitments?

 JQ:

We work full time jobs so everything we do in terms of the band is in our spare time with the hope  that we can make it our main endeavor eventually.

 • How do you feel the EP helped the band to develop as songwriters?

 JS:

The EP was a good way to see how the four of us could make deadlines and work under pressure. It was definitely a confidence boost to see all of us in the studio with little to no problems.

 SH:

Hopefully, the EP was kind of a jumping off point. Every band I’ve been in before goes through a kind of ‘discovery’ period, where we try to find our certain unique voice as we are writing songs, before we can finally say we are writing song befitting that particular band, so the earliest songs can only hint at what the band eventually can achieve.  From that EP I think we’ve learned to take more risks, maybe be a bit more adventurous and ambitious when crafting songs.  I think we’ve really come to a point where we are reaching our full potential with each other as musicians.

 JQ:

As our first release, the EP was crucial in not only helping us discover our ability to write together, but our finding our overall sound in general. We’ve found that songs come about in different ways, whether it’s a simple riff someone brings to the table, or a jam session that produces a solid idea. That said, no song is ever finished until each member is completely satisfied with the finished product.

 • What influences the lyrics?

 JQ:

The songs themselves. Having done vocals in every project I was previously involved with, I wanted to approach this endeavor as a strictly instrumental one. However, as the songs started coming together, certain ones seemed to call for a little something extra. I try to approach vocals as another instrument in the mix  and not something to be focused on separately.

 • Tell us about your label, Cauldron Soundwerx and how you came to be with them?

 JI:

We were contacted by Cauldron and were excited because of the great distribution network they have. The owner was not only a friend, but someone who was very supportive and enthusiastic of our music. It’s a very small independent label, but we are just happy to have our music being distributed,

 JS:

Cauldron Soundwerx is owned by Scott Martinez. I worked with him at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for a while and he approached us about joining his label. The offer was great and we all agreed that making such a commitment could definitely be beneficial.

 • What are your aspirations for the future?

 JQ:

Presently, it’s the completion of the new album by fall 2010 and hopefully lots of touring to support it.  We already have already laid out a basic concept for our third release, so we’re very anxious to start writing once this latest album is wrapped up.

 JS:

Finish “Dissonant Sea”, tour, play lots of shows, and meet awesome people.

 JI:

Well when we first received these questions it was all about finishing the new CD, “Dissonant Sea”. Which of course is still a priority, but we have since lost Steve and are working with a new bassist, Brett Southard. He came aboard and in a manner of a few weeks, we are back to touring/playing/writing. It was a tough transition for us at first, but Brett came in and kicked butt. So now it’s… finish the CD, write more and play out as much as possible.

 SH:

I’d like to see this record get some regional/national recognition- I think it’s going to deliver on a lot of the promise some critics have bestowed upon us. A European tour would be awesome. Maybe make a little bit of money.

 • Can we expect live dates in Europe?

 JI:

Fingers crossed… we are trying to set something up now with Cauldron. And if that doesn’t pan out, hopefully something will.

 JS:

I HOPE!!

 JQ:

As far as aspirations for the future, this one is right at the top. We sincerely hope that things work out to where we can do some European dates. Hopefully the new release is a step in that direction.

 SH:

I hope so!

 Check out Auternus on Myspace here: http://www.myspace.com/auternusband

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