Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Maeth interview

1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
BOONE: We're playing a lot of shows, and writing new music simultaneously. We just expanded into a five piece so that's been fun. We have two drummers now, which is pushing the music in really cool new directions.
SAM: In addition to being really active on the Twin Cities show circuit, I think we’re in a really cool transitional period as a band. The decision to start working with two drummers and our increased ability to create physical materials to accompany our performances and recordings allows us to branch out into aspects of our creative vision for this project that weren’t accessible to us before. I guess I could just say “we’re trying to be a real band now,” but I think it feels deeper than that to us.

2.Recently you have put out a new album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical direction of the new recording?
BOONE: Our latest record is called Oceans Into Ashes, and it expands a lot on our first release, Horse Funeral. It's a lot more intense, and a lot deeper. The music tends to be much more complex, with a lot more nuance. I think there's a stronger progressive or experimental rock influence. It doesn't sound wanky or technical, but it's there are a lot of layers and small details. We wanted it to take active listening and multiple listens, to fully appreciate. That being said I also think it has a lot of really heavy, really catchy riffs that make you bang your head. 
3.Can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?
BOONE: We don't like to discuss the meaning of our lyrics much, sometimes even with each other. All of our work is heavily conceptual, but we don't make concept albums in a traditional sense, so if you're looking to follow a lyrical narrative from point A to point B throughout the album then it's not going work. That being said all of the lyrics focus on fictional (or fictionalized) narratives constructed by our music. The songs take place in the same consensual reality, and reference and influence each other. Oceans Into Ashes is heavily textured, and a lot of the lyrics describe places, setting, and spaces. They're like a really abstract visual aid for the music. For me the imagery tends to deal with a simultaneous origin story and apocalypse; it's the beginning and the end. I think reading the lyrics along to the music, even when there aren't vocals, improves the listening experience. 

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Maeth'?
BOONE: Maeth is an ancient Hebrew word that means "death" or "dead." In the myth of the Golem a rabbi writes "Aemaeth" meaning "truth" on his clay statue to bring it to life, and thus create the Golem. When he realizes this was a mistake he erases the first Hebrew letter off of the Golem's forehead, to spell "Maeth" and that returns the Golem to mere clay. The name was suggested by someone who isn't in our band anymore, but we decided to keep it anyways. It's a good metaphor for how we practice and understand music. It's also a sound that we find aesthetic. We (mis)pronounce it "mä-ith."

5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
BOONE: We've played a lot of really fun and awesome shows so it's hard to pick just one. In January we played several shows with two drummers, and those felt incredibly good. Some fans told us that it was the best we've ever sounded. 
Our live shows are really intense for us. We tend to play very hard and passionately and lose our shit a little bit. Playing music can be really emotional. The only way we know how to make Maeth is to do it as hard as we can. There are soft, lighter parts to be sure, but we're usually trying to convey a heavy emotional state, and in order to do that we have go to that place ourselves. I usually end up in a kind of trance. For that reason I'm not super sure what the people around us are doing. Maybe banging their heads? Maybe just basking in the sound. I'm surprisingly unaware actually. I've seen people moshing and I've seen people making out. 

6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new release?
BOONE: We don't have a van right now so we can't tour very far which sucks. Right now we're trying to play everywhere that's feasible using only two cars. That means a lot the upper midwest, like Wisconsin, Iowa, the Dakotas, Illinois, and obviously our home state of Minnesota.

7.The new album came out on Minnesconsin Records, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
BOONE: We released the album for free online in September, but the CD version is coming out on Minnesconsin. Minnesconsin Records is this really cool label that does weird, unconventional music, with a focus on heavy, sludgy stuff. The guys in Morality Crisis run the label, and they've put out some releases we really love like Morality Crisis' Boats, and Rorschach by Poney. We were really stoked when they asked us if we wanted to release CDs with them, and they've been awesome to work with. If you're looking for good music I highly recommend you check out theirbandcamp. What their catalog lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.

8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of sludge?
DAVID: In a word: overwhelming. I don’t think any of us expected our work to reach as many people as it has, and we certainly didn’t anticipate so many of them liking it. It still blows my mind that complete strangers across the globe listen to our music because they legitimately enjoy it. After all, we were just four guys who thought it would be cool to make an album. It turns out that there’s an awesome community of bloggers, radio hosts, musicians, and all kinds of other people worldwide who are committed to finding and sharing good heavy music online. We’ve received a ton of support from them, through album/merch sales as well as kind words and exposure, that’s enabled us to do what we do and take our music to the next level. That a community like that exists is cool enough on its own, but getting to be a part of it is an incredible experience. Sludge fans, doom fans, prog fans; they’ve all been really good to us.

9.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
DAVID: We’ve been writing new material, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s gonna be heavy, it’s gonna be crunchy and creamy, and it’s gonna be different. I think we’re pretty young as bands go; we’re all still developing as musicians so there’s this constant evolution in the music we write. Boone’s been busting his ass writing these crazy tapping riffs on bass, Sam’s been leveling up his extended technique on flute, I’m really trying to push myself into new territory on guitar, and then there’s the whole aspect of working with two drummers. We’re also bringing a lot of new equipment into the fold: Sam got a sweet new amp setup, I’m putting together a baritone guitar, and Boone curates effects pedals like they’re craft beers. Moreover, we’re looking forward to taking our time with it; whereas we had to put Oceans Into Ashes together relatively quickly, we’ll get to really polish the new material by trying new arrangements, new gear, trying it out at live shows, etc. All in all, you’re gonna hear a lot of new sounds from the ol’ Maeth boys.

10.What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
BOONE: I think discovering Mastodon and Neurosis in high school was huge for my trajectory as a musician. I think it's pretty obvious that I, and other members of the band, listen to a lot of artsy heavy music, like Isis, Intronaut, or Opeth. I also really like music that has nothing to do with that. I listen to a lot of afrobeat, psych rock, and trip hop. I really like the record label Hyperdub and listen to a lot of music they put out. Recently I've been listening to a lot of Burial and Bjork, but the past few days all I've wanted to listen to is the new Sunn O))) and Ulver collaboration. That's probably my favorite recent release.
SAM: My musical background is a little odd and so a lot of the artists that influence me the most aren’t heavy artists. I’m a huge fan of classical music and my love for layered, interlocking riffs comes as much from Bach as it does from Mastodon. My favorite music tends to rely on the creation of convincing sonic atmosphere or backdrop on which winding song structures and fascinating musical ideas create a non-specific narrative. Some of my favorite favorite examples of this kind of writing include Jean Sibelius’ 7th symphony and the 1972 Genesis album “Foxtrot.”

11.What are some of your non musical interests? 
BOONE: There's so much it's hard to choose what to bring up. I'm a huge nerd about documentaries, and am constantly looking for new docs to watch. I'm really into surrealist literature. I love beer (who doesn't) and started brewing recently. I'm really into tabletop games and RPGs. I've kept playing those even though I've stopped playing video games. I'm also a pretty avid and opinionated environmentalist, but I don't talk about that much. Political conversations are awkward and I'm shy. I probably could have stopped after "I'm a huge nerd."
SAM: I’m a big baseball fan and spend a lot of time on dorky stat blogs like FanGraphs. I have a fantasy baseball league that I’ve been running for 11 years now. My new rig is Orange and Black, which was partially by chance (they were the best deals on the head/cab combo I was looking for) and partially a nod to the San Francisco Giants, the team I grew up with. Really we’re all just big nerds.

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
BOONE: I usually try to think of something clever to say at the end of interviews, but I'm kind of drawing a blank. Don't trust the digital horse agenda. Make sure to test your kombucha. If you're fighting a shark look him dead in the eyes. Tupac lives. Listen to Oceans Into Ashes and download it for free on our bandcamp. It was Mr. Green in the billiard room with the candlestick. 

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