1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Robert: We are Hteththemeth from Brasov, Romania, a band that likes to think that its music is just as weird as its name. We approach a wide array of genres, but each song is cinematic in its own way, as part of a soundtrack for an epic series of imaginary movies, which should only be viewed by the most hopeless of romantics.
Luci: Hteththemeth was born from a dream that our vocalist had back in 1999 and it was up to Lao to keep the flames burning for more than a decade, until his solo project became a live band first with session members and now with full time members. Also, we like to say that we play unhuman music, since we can’t really be pinned into one genre (those who have tried placed us into the avant-garde side of metal, but we really don’t aim to fit, we just want to compose and perform music that comes straight from our souls).
2. How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recordings?
Robert: A cocktail of songs that you can dance with your lady to, as well as bring about pain and suffering for everyone that decides to lie and hurt other people for their amusement. A terrific sound bringing about a terrible fate for the human race.
Vlad: Best Worst Case Scenario is a very eclectic album. One will find something suited for his taste as long as one listens with an open mind. From bossa nova, blues and jazz moments to post-rock, gothic, avant-garde, progressive and even death metal, there’s something for every music enthusiast out there.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
Robert: Well, in a nutshell, we tend to structure our albums as coherent narratives. We deal with lyrical themes such as love, lust, trust, hate and even retribution, in a grand fantasy setting with demons and archangels. Despite the complex mythology that we have in our stories, Lao tends to use few metaphors in his lyrics, as his words almost spill from his brain as raw as possible, clearly and viscerally communicating the emotion he is feeling at that moment.
Vlad: Everything in our music is in strong connection with Hteththemeth, the fallen archangel who brings retribution to the world of humans, because of their inability to reach the feeling of Adoration. So everything in the life of humans and much more can become a lyrical topic of the unhuman songs.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name “Hteththemeth”?
Vlad: Hteththemeth is the archangel of Adoration, after his own assumed decision to fall, disappointed and disgusted by the humans’ inability to reach the highest state of love.
Robert: Hteththemeth is the main character of our story. We like to think that we are his messengers, tasked with a last attempt to fix humanity. I guess, in a way, Hteththemeth is the embodiment of a broken heart, a once pure entity, now filled only with a desire for vengeance. He is, in a way, every hopeless romantic's fetish, in a sense that, I think many of us felt this overwhelming desire to just punish everyone that cheats and hurts the people that they should care about. So, at least for me, Hteththemeth is sort of a cathartic experience.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Vlad: We played some amazing shows in 2016 and each and every one of them had something special. However, ARTmania Festival in Sibiu, The Global Battle of the Bands World Final in Berlin, The Wacken Metal Battle Final at Wacken Open Air, Rock’N’Iasi Indoor 2016 and Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2016 were highlights of our live performances until now. And, of course, the hometown release show of our album, Best Worst Case Scenario.
The most important thing in our stage performance is the energy we get from the audience. We put our souls out on stage and in our music and the sincere connection with the audience fuels us with a lot of energy and emotion. It is also what we give back to them, completing our shows with a lot of theatrical moments that help us tell the story and pass the many feelings and emotions.
Robert: A show that is still tattooed on my very heart is our show at Rock'N'Iasi, which was this autumn in September. We had a large stage and we had the possibility to do as many of the theatrics that we usually like to do on stage. But Rock'N'Iasi was also an example of how we are able to get over most of our technical difficulties in fun ways. The most memorable and special moment for me is when Luci's guitar processor broke (I'm sorry, Luci!) and me, Koldr and Codrut wrote a post-rock song on stage to fill the time needed for Luci to fix his issues. The crowd went so wild I could not believe it.
Luci: Our shows are really something different from the majority of the bands out there, and that’s because we use a lot of theatrical elements, both in terms of props and stage presence. We wear masks, we change our clothes during our show, we have collaborators that help us bring our story closer to what we want to convey through dancing and acting, we even have huge archangel wings that Lao, our vocalist wears. We have also a big white screen with a powerful light behind, where the audience can see a girl’s shadow sensually dancing, we have moments of poetry and monologues, but most important, we all share the same energy and passion about our live shows.
6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Robert: We have almost finished our spring tour with two concerts in Botosani and Suceava and we are still planning a few shows here in there, as well as a few summer festivals. The biggest thing that I am very excited about is a grand closing concert for our Best Worst Case Scenario tour that we are preparing with some very special guests. If things go well, we might actually do an amazing tour like this. Fingers crossed!
7. In 2013 you had released a split with 'The Bipolar Disorder Project', what are your thoughts on the other band that had participated on the recording?
Vlad: The Bipolar Disorder Project is the amazing one man project of our bandmate Robert. He writes great music, he speaks of beautiful and painful things in his songs and he puts his feelings in every note that he writes.
Robert: Well, The Bipolar Disorder Project is basically one guy from Brasov with a solo project. It's sort of his avenue to explore all kinds of different musical impulses, from extreme metal to folk and post-rock. Lyrically, some of the themes that pop up in Hteththemeth also show up in his, as both projects are focused around the idea of romanticism. I know the guy very well and I can say that he is a cool cat and he also has a cool cat. He's great at parties, super fun. You should see him sing "Hotline Bling" during sound check. He's got a voice like an angel with acid reflux. It's me. The Bipolar Disorder Project is me.
8. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received an interest?
Robert: We are unsigned and due to the wonders of the internet, we've actually managed to have quite a successful album launch by doing it ourselves. We like to keep things in the family and we are going strong as it is, but, of course, we are always on the lookout for a good label and we are open to any proposition that might come our way.
Luci: We are collaborating right now with the Transylvanian label Loud Rage Music, but only in regards to promoting our self-released album - Best Worst Case Scenario around the world, in different metal oriented webzines, magazines and so on. The first reviews have already arrived and we’re eager to see more of them.
9. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of avant-garde metal?
Robert: Frankly, we've yet to meet a lot of avant-garde enthusiasts. The few that we did meet, however, have been quite impressed by what we do. I'm quite excited about the idea of getting our stuff out there more and seeing how the avant-garde scene would react to us on a larger scale. I have my hopes up.
10. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Robert: No idea, honestly. Most likely it will be previously unexplored territory, but we will first come up with a new chapter for our story and then tailor the music to fit that story, like a soundtrack. The message comes first in Hteththemeth.
Vlad: We like to say that there is no limit to where we can get, neither in terms of musical diversity, nor in terms of the unhuman evolution of our story. Whatever we feel and live will be reflected in our music. Only time will tell.
Luci: We have discussed the following materials and the conceptual parts are shaping up as we speak. We want to write more chapters in the story of Hteththemeth and his struggle, while also having in mind other important characters. We’re hoping to finish composing the second material by next year.
11. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Robert: Well, I think a part of what makes the band interesting is that we don't really have a lot of common tastes in music. This gives us our edge, but is also a source of funny conflicts. The only band that we can all agree upon as a group favourite is Leprous. As far as what has influenced me when writing music for Hteththemeth, the Norwegian avant-garde movement has been quite important. Personally, though, music for me is all about catharsis. It's about feeling in love, broken, powerful, hopeless, crazy and everything in-between. Authenticity is the key. I can find that in very diverse artists, from Debussy and Rachmaninoff to Sinatra and Esperanza Spalding, from Abba and Aurora to Agent Fresco and Tesseract. I've also been getting a lot into folk recently. Fleet Foxes are my favourites at the moment.
Vlad: We in the band are very different, we have different musical influences, we listen to different genres and every one of us listens to a plethora of different styles. This is one of the reasons our music is so diverse and surprising. We are influenced by music that makes us FEEL something, whether it is bright and shiny or dark and depressive. Each and every song that makes you FEEL transforms your inner self and ends up leaving a mark on you, both as a human or unhuman being and as a musician.
Luci: I’m a big fan of Dream Theater, Opeth and Pink Floyd, so you could say that prog has got its grasp on me, but I really enjoy a lot of music, from classical, flamenco, jazz, blues, hip-hop, trip-hop, electro, pop and all the way to rock and metal. I find that the genre is less important, as long as the artist has quality and the music has depth and meaning.
12. What are some of your non-musical interests?
Robert: I am interested in whatever makes the universe work and I always try to learn something new every day. I am especially interested in psychology and what makes the human mind tick. I am also a big fan of movies, especially the surreal ones directed by David Lynch and Darren Afronofsky, as well as psychological and war movies. I also like to read whenever I have the time. I recently finished Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I recommend it to gloomy neo-noir lovers. I used to also love going up the mountains, but after university, I've become so sexily fat that I can barely walk 2 miles. I'm planning to get back in the swing of things. And maybe learn how to dance too...
Vlad: As different as we are in terms of music, we are also different in profession. From graduating medical school to fireman, to sound engineer, to filmmaker, to hotel manager, to fire entertainer, you can see how we come from different walks of life. But we are all interested in art, we all like reading, yet very different genres of literature too, we all like movies and theatre. Myself and Codrut are very big sports fans, and even in this we are divergent, as we support different teams.
Luci: I am an avid reader (I bought myself 18 books as a present for my last birthday), but I also like movies, theatre, PC games (although I hardly have time for them now) and playing a lot of sports. One of the most important things in my life is trekking in the mountains, where I truly feel my soul belongs, but sadly that’s a thing that has been denied to me the past 2 years, due to medical reasons (sport is taking its tow on my legs). I am trying to fix myself and get back out there, since playing music and being on journeys towards mountain tops are essential to me.
13. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Robert: Please support your favourite artists. The business out there is hard on musicians like us and we all need every bit of help we can get in order to keep making the music that you love. Also, don't be afraid of the experiences that life throws at you, as many of them might surprise you. Nobody has had a beautiful life without taking a few risks. And please don't lie to people. It serves no one. And remember that people are just as deep and complex as you are and some of your actions might be hurting those that you love. See you at our shows and best of luck!
Vlad: Thank you very much for your interest in Hteththemeth and for helping us tell the story. As for everyone out there, please support live music, support bands that have a message, buy music if you can afford it, talk with your friends about your favourite or newly discovered bands, help musicians tell their stories and pass their feelings to the world. It’s the thing we wish the most. Music makes the world a better place, art makes the world a better place!
Luci: Find what you love and let it kill you, kiss you, adore you, change you, take you places and whatever it brings, but just don’t let go! Passion is the most important thing in life, so don’t deny yourself a meaningful life, filled with strong feelings and joy in doing what you love!
That and of course, support the musical underground scene, support the music you like and remember that without an audience there can be no music! Don’t let music get silenced and also don’t let yourselves get silenced!