We do, as you can probably imagine, get a large number of demos and review requests at SonicAbuse and we try to cover them as best we can, often finding the most unlikely bands decimating their major-label competition. Even so, every so often a band stands head and shoulders above the rest for reasons that are not always easy to define in words. Sometimes it’s a sound, or nuance so subtle as to be hard to delineate; sometimes it’s the atypical construction of the music or the lyrical content, but whatever it is that makes those bands stand out, you end up listening to them long after the review’s typed up and put out in the public domain. Fires Of Tartarus are one such band. Everything about their demo, from the crushing sonic quality of the production to the memorable artwork, stands out, with the only question really being as to why these guys aren’t signed already. It was, therefore, a great pleasure that the band agreed to be interviewed for SonicAbuse and, if you haven’t already checked out the band, we hope this will encourage you to search them out. Read on and discover Fires Of Tartarus:
Firstly – a bit of history: Could you tell us when and how the band formed?
We had all actually known each other for some time before we got together. All of us at some point had worked together with various bands and projects. Myself, Andy, Josh and Dean had just come out of a band which had pretty much self imploded due to other negative influences, but as musicians and friends, we still wanted to work together as we could all detect a real burning ambition there. So I contacted Nick, whom I had worked with many times before (even a death metal band back in the 90’s) and his current project had effectively run out of steam, so we all met up, had a listen to each others playing and ideas, and everything seemed to just slot in to place. This was all back in August last year, so we have been going now for around 13 months.
Fires of Tartarus is an interesting name – what is the inspiration behind it?
The name Tartarus comes from Greek mythology. It has a dual meaning, one of which is the abyss beneath Hades where the Titans were imprisoned, also the place where the wicked and evil are punished after death. The name also refers to one of the primordial gods and an offspring of Chaos.
We spent a long time looking at band names, and we seemed to be following the Greek mythological path with some interest, with various ideas from ‘In Typhons Wake’ etc being discussed. Fires of Tartarus just sort of came about really. It was one of the names that one of us said and we all just looked at each other and we could all see the excitement there. So it stuck. A bit more research to make sure it was a viable option and also to check no other band had used it and, yeah, it became our name.
The demo – five absolutely storming tracks – how long did it take to develop the songs to the point that you were ready to record them?
Thank you. The way we wrote, actually, was by recording as we went. A riff would develop which we would then record and progress into other riffs. Once a rough song had been completed, we would lay down some basic drum patterns to it. We would then make any tweaks which we thought were necessary, all at the same time as working on ideas for other songs. As the tracks progressed, then we would re record the guitars in their final form, along with completed drums, then layer in the bass guitar and vocals. Some of the sections were still being altered slightly almost at the point where the recording stage was almost complete. We found it worked really well. As soon as a basic song was roughly recorded, it meant we could all work on our own parts to learn the songs to enable us to play them live, while at the same time recording.
For a demo recording in particular the sound is amazing – very heavy, very well balanced: who did the production and how long did it take to get the sound you were looking for.
How long, overall, did you spend on recording?
We did the production ourselves. In fact, in all fairness, Dean (Guitar) should take a lot of the credit for that, as he worked tirelessly day and night when it came to final mixing. Emailing various mixes to the rest of us, listening to us moaning about sections not sounding right, and putting up with our general awkwardness regarding the whole demo. The whole thing, minus the drum recording, was done at Dean’s house. His neighbours must really love him, either that, or they are quite un-nerved after hearing our Sunday afternoon vocal sessions. As I mentioned, we wrote as we recorded, so we worked on the whole thing for around 10 months I guess.
The artwork is also very impressive and eye-catching – who created it for you?
Nick, our drummer did all the front cover and design. He is a bit handy with photoshop, and he mailed over a design one day, and we all loved it as a cd cover design. The main logo is by Christophe Szpajdel, who is usually referred to as “The Dark Lord Of Logo’s” after creating some famous band logo’s, such as Emperor, Borknagar, Enthroned and many others. The smaller ‘FOT’ version of our logo was adapted from our original one by Nick. We wanted something slightly smaller and less complex (with no offence to Christophe) that we could use and incorporate into various other aspects.
Asking about inspirations is kind of an obvious question – but there are so many different influences flowing through the music – do you all have very different tastes and, as a band, what would you say the primary influences are?
An obvious one but also a difficult one. We all have such a varied taste in what we listen to within the metal spectrum and its various sub-genres. From some power metal bands, through thrash, death and black metal. Along with some of today’s more recent technical bands. So anything from Between The Buried And Me, right through to Burzum, from Helloween to Brutal Truth, are all a kind of influence for us, in some way. Music that we all listen to a lot individually, will always shine through in each of our own roles in the band. So I guess that is why you can hear so many influences within our sound. As a band, in general, it would be vary difficult to say which bands are a more primary influence for us, as a whole, than others.
What is important for you in the artists you listen to – what quality do you look for the most?
You mean on a personal level? I cant speak for the rest of the guys here, otherwise this would go on for ever. But the stuff which really holds my attention is something with a quality I cannot quite describe. I have an ipod filled to the brim, with so many bands. But if I am at home listening to music, well, I’m pretty narrow minded there to be honest. There are some bands you hear which just stop you in your tracks. Or it’s like that for me anyway. I have, probably, about a maximum of around 5 bands or so, which I could happily listen to endlessly. There is just something there, something which evokes an emotional tie to the bands, but I never know what it is. And its not even tied to a specific genre either. 2 of my most listened to bands are Dimmu Borgir and Sixx:AM. 2 bands that couldn’t be further apart in style if you tried. But, I don’t know, there is just something there which I could just listen to them non-stop.
Although the internet gives a lot of opportunities for bands to promote, there are also a lot of bands out there for comparatively few real fans – what do you feel are the challenges for an up and coming band such as yourselves?
I think the internet has its good and bad points. I feel in some ways it desensitizes the whole aspect of bands to a certain degree. Go back 15/20 years, and the only way you could get close to a band, or find out more about them, is to hang out at shows or hope for an interview in a monthly music magazine. But these days, all you have to do is head to Twitter or Facebook, to find out what such-and-such had for dinner. Years ago there was always a sense of mystery regarding bands, as you never really knew much about them. Now, you can just go online and check out peoples holiday pictures.
But in stark contrast to that, the internet is a fantastic tool for bands like us. How else would you be able to have your music played, and made easily accessible, to countless people around the world? But even that has its drawbacks I guess. There are so many ‘bedroom’ bands emerging due to the new found freedom of worldwide exposure, that sometimes, the underground scene can feel very saturated. So it is very difficult for us. There are so many bands out there now, that it is difficult to get a decent foothold.
What inspires the band lyrically? Are there any particular cultural or literary elements that inspire the band?
All the lyrics so far have been written by me. Hopefully we can all collaborate more on the newer material. My lyrics, for the most part, tend to be inspired by the darker parts of the human psyche. Its something I am quite fascinated by. What really lurks behind peoples facades? The guy next to you on the train to work, what dark desires are lurking within him? The guy who smiles at you every morning. Is he smiling because he is happy, or is the smile because he carved up another 3 bodies last night? The whole mental state of humanity, and how dark and depraved humans can be, has always held my interest. I guess I shouldn’t say that in public for fear of being committed. I’m quite interested in how insanity could actually be just someone completely giving in to their inner most desires. That’s the theme of most of my lyrics, apart from “Yawning Void Of Chaos” which is inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve always been into horror. Not the commercialised stuff like Stephen King or whatever. Not into that at all. I much prefer the Lovecraft style. Or August Darleth to a slightly lesser extent. Also Milton, William Blake. All those kinds of authors appeal to me more than modern stuff. I think the only modern writer I have found interesting was Brian Lumley.
If people wanted to get hold of more information about the band or, for that matter the demo CD, where should they go?
We don’t have a website, so the only place to keep up to date with our stuff is via Facebook at www.facebook.com/firesoftartarus On there you can listen to the songs online and catch up with news etc.
For the CD, we have a Big Cartel page which can be found at firesoftartarus.bigcartel.com
Have you got many live dates coming up – if so where and when and where can we find out about future dates?
Live dates have been a bit sporadic unfortunately. It’s quite hard in this day and age I think. It’s a bit like a double edged sword. You need a following to get gigs. But, you need to play gigs first to get a following. So at the moment, we have only really played around the surrounding counties near us. We would love to get out further a field, but its finding the promoters who are out there and looking for smaller bands. We are trying as hard as possible to get out more. All our dates are posted through our Facebook page. We love playing live, its something that is always a big thing for us. From 100’s of people, to small gigs, every show is exactly that. A show. No gig is too small. Its about the impact you make on someone. The lasting impression. If we make 1 real, true fan for every gig we do, then I’m happy with that, as it means we have really affected someone.
The sound on the demo is very ambitious – have you considered how you want the band to develop in the future?
Much more of the same. The demo was a massive learning curve for us. Doing the whole thing ourselves has taught us a lot with regards to writing and producing. We are already working on new material now, and its coming out just as strong, yet more fresh ideas are being thrown into the mixing pot as well. Our core ethic will remain the same, the heaviness and extremity, but we want to expand on that as well. Take things to a new level which will hopefully push us more as individuals, as well as together as a band. But we don’t want to detract from what we have worked on so far. We have a sound which is identifiable to us now, so I don’t honestly think that will change. We will just make sure that all the various elements of what makes up our songs, the brutal sections, the epic passages etc, are all turned up a notch or two.
We learnt a lot with regards to the production too. Listening back now, there are things we would alter and do slightly differently. So with those ideas in mind, hopefully the next recording will come out stronger.
Any final words to your current fans and also to readers who are considering checking out the band?
Firstly, thanks for taking the time to interview us and we hope we haven’t bored you too much. This has been our first interview, so its nice to be able to answer questions which are so in depth and intrusive to what we are about.
To our current fans, just one thing. Thank you. Some have been with us since our first track went online, some from our first gig. So many thanks for the support so far. We have only been together a short while but every time we are out there, we love every minute.
To new potential fans, all I can say is just give us a listen. I don’t like going on a hard sell. If you want a band that works as hard as they possibly can, who try to put on the best of a show as is physically possible, then come and give us a listen. We will gladly shed sweat and blood to make sure people enjoy it.
Find out more about the band here.