Back at the tail end of last year, I interviewed The Watcher from Fen on the release of their career-defining opus Carrion Skies (Code666). The interview was written up and carried across four parts on Ghost Cult Magazine. In contradiction of current internet styles to have bite size pieces, here is the full transcript (and it is lengthy, cos we had a good old hour long chat, which is three to four times longer than most of the interviews I do). I’ve trimmed some of my waffle down, but other than that, here’s is the uncut version.
As it’s a lengthy mofo, you might want to click “play” on the album. You might just have finished listening to it by the time you get to the bottom… If you don’t have it, you can find links to tracks interspersed throughout the text…
The Watcher: I like Agalloch, I like some of the early Alcest, but it’s a bit of a lazy comparison I think, particularly with this new album, we’ve set ourselves apart from that. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m too close it?
I agree, though mate. Fen has always been heavier than those bands. You’ve always had that darker, harder side. A band like Alcest are all very “nice” and that…
I agree, and this is where a lot of this album was born from. I mean, touring with Agalloch for a month and they’re three guys and they do that stuff really well, but we don’t really want to sound like that. I mean, they’ve got that sound nailed, and we said we do need to define ourselves apart from this, we do need to really underline what we’re about. I like Heavy Metal. I want to play Heavy Metal. It sounds a bit Bad News, ha, I am Vim Fuego, but Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal.
It’s the new life cycle of a Metal musician… Digress and move away from where you started, expand and “mature”, before eventually coming back to metal
I love Heavy Metal. I listen to Heavy Metal. I mean… it’s Heavy Metal! You look at a band like Paradise Lost. When they start out they couldn’t be more Heavy Metal, then they get to 24, 25 years old and then they’re “Heavy Metal’s for losers! I’ve been listening to this for 10 years, it’s old hat, I’ve heard all there is to hear of this, it’s for bozos. I like Depeche Mode, let’s do that and let’s be all grown up” but then it goes full circle, and when they hit late 30’s they’re “God, I think I was a pretentious little twat back then, I actually do like Heavy Metal and I wasn’t anywhere near as clever as I thought I was when I went all experimental”. You see it a bit with the Norwegian scene, too, all that went ludicrously avant-garde in the late 90’s. It’s like they all went to university and thought “Ooh, I want to be clever now, what’s clever, well, heavy metal definitely isn’t, so…
Definitely – check out Holmes in Bloodbath. It sounds like he’s really enjoying himself, but yet on those mid-era PL albums… nah.
I thought One Second was an absolute disaster, but I revisited Draconian Times about six months ago, and I thought before I did “Ah, I know this album so well. It’s fairly polished, a bit bland, mid-90s’ melodic metal”, but I put it on and it’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It’s so well written. I watched a few live videos from around that time, and they were poised to be the best metal band in the world around 1995. I reminded myself how exciting they were back then. Back then, it was like “This is the best band ever!” Then three years later they suddenly want to be all clever, and grown up and Depeche Mode. Fuck that.
I remember my brother saying “It’s not bad, it’s got some good songs”, but it’s thin. It’s thin, it doesn’t actually have many ideas, and it was an absolute wrong step forward.
The other side is, they, and others are intrinsically metal bands, but when they come out of it, they’re playing in a shallow pool, using a dearth of influences, the bigger, better bands, no doubt, but it’s a style of music where they don’t fully understand it…
Exactly. It is dabbling in something. It’s going “I’ve been listening to a load of synthy 80s new wave bands recently, we can do something with that”. And there’s a danger for bands to get really carried away, and I think this is what was happening with us. At the start of last year, the end of the year before, we’d done Dustwalker and me and our drummer had been listening to loads of Sad Lovers and Giants, The Chameleons and Snake Corps, all these bands, then in rehearsal I thought “turn the distortion off, put a bit chorus and delay on it and, oh, we can sound like that” and it’s easy to carried away with it when you’re playing one style so much. But to your ears, it’s a really fresh sound, and you’re like “Yes, we can do this!” and at points we were even talking about “Let’s do a whole album like this, a whole album with clean guitars.
It was only when we got back off tour with Agalloch that we realised we were getting carried away with it, that we’d got completely over-excited about the fact that we do listen to some non-metal stuff and we can do a passable version of it. But it’s not really enough, and we did have to put the brakes on and take a look of it, and say “Are we just playing a slightly rubbish version of The Chameleons with some guy shouting over it?”
And in all honesty, we were.
We took a really objective step back and looked at it, and a lot of the stuff that was originally pencilled in to be on the album was binned off. We realised “We are going down a complete alleyway here, which we think is really clever, but we’ve just got carried away.” We got carried away and were disappearing up our own arses. Unfortunately, there’s bands out there who don’t take that step back until it’s too late, until it’s “Oh shit, we’re not as clever as we think we are”. But I can see it from the other side of the fence, that it’s easy to get swept up in it. Everyone gets whipped up into a fervour, and gets all “we can do it! This is so different! Look at how versatile we are!” Well, any competent musician can turn their hand to doing a vague version of another style, but doing it well is a different thing.”
That said, it’s quite a brave step, in a way, to go back. Reviews were good for Dustwalker, and it would have been safer option to follow Alcest’s footsteps, to push the ‘wave/gaze’ stuff and ditch the metal, or the black metal. It’s what a lot of people expected (feared?) you’d do
We were toying with the idea to make the band even more post-rock, even more atmospheric, and maybe it was a risk to go the other way. You see a lot of bands come out saying their new album is going to be “even more metal!” and for them it’s playing it safe, but I think the sort of genre we’re playing in and it’s the opposite effect. You look at where a lot of the the post-Black Metal bands, you look at where Alcest have gone, and it’s less metal with each release.
What do you think of the last WITTR? There’s no metal at all there…
Let’s be honest, it goes back to what I was saying earlier, it’s just a bit of dabbling. They’ve got some nice synths, and they’re thinking “Oo, I listen to a bit of Vangelis and a bit of ambient, I can do that” and the result is, I’ve listened to that album, and it’s a fairly pleasant ambient electronica album. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from two good metal musicians with a good sense of melody trying their hand at a genre they’ve been dabbling in. It’s no more than that, and it certainly doesn’t transcend their earlier work. That’s just my opinion, and others may think differently.
Certainly for us, when we did this album, we did sit down when we came back off the tour and thought “What do we actually want to achieve with this” Dustwalker is a metal album, but we did go down a certain route – there’s a lot of atmospheric stuff on there, there’s a whole song on there that’s got no distorted guitars whatsoever. With this one, we thought “We’re in the mood for metal, we want to do some metal!” We’re an extreme metal band and it’s almost become a cliché for bands that are in the post-black metal scene to shed the trappings of black metal, and that’s not a game I’m interested in playing. I want to reassert our credentials as a metal band. Only time will tell if that’s a risky move for us or not.
How do you see Fen in terms of UK Black Metal scene, and where do you see your place in it? Is Fen “Black Metal”?
I think it would be disingenuous to say otherwise. I think there is a palpable UK black metal scene at the moment, it’s quite strong and I think, whether we like it or not, we are part of the UK black metal scene. We are a UK band and we play primarily black metal, but we have a stronger profile in Europe. In the UK, we’re probably overshadowed by Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, A Forest of Stars; those are the main guys here.
Do you care what the reviews of Fen say, or are they irrelevant?
In this era of Web 2.0 anyone can hear the stuff. Reviews are important and serve a purpose, but anyone can hear it. People read a review and say “I’ll judge for myself, I’ll go on to Spotify now”. I think reviews act as a backdrop as a barometer as a general feeling rather than a litmus test, or a buyers guide, like they used to. I wonder what context reviews exist in these days? Reviews are not something I tend to get really hung up on, but it is useful to get a general feeling of where people see you and what the general opinion is but the proof is whether our listeners like it or whether new people come on board.
Do you care what fans think?
I do care, yes. First and foremost you have to write music that satisfies yourself, that is an absolute underlying fundament of being in a band, but then I think a band takes on a life of its own after a point. We’re on our fourth album , we seem to have quite a few people out there who support us and listen to us, and I think it’d be disingenuous to say your audience, or the buyer, isn’t in mind when you’re putting together material for a new album. If people are willing to take the time and effort, and potentially money, to invest in your art, then there has to be an element of reciprocation there. And, again, when you’re playing live shows, you have to consider them. We are conscious of the fact we have listeners; it’s not like we’re a global phenomenon but we are aware, and if we put out a record and our established fans didn’t like it, I’d be really interested to know why. Have we lost our way, have we made a mistake? I think it’s only polite, isn’t it!?
By not being an overly touring type of band, does the audience become more distant? It’s not like you are a 5fDP, with 18 month tours for each album…
It isn’t. That’s not to say we wouldn’t like it to be. You ask, do we care (if people like it)… I enjoy doing this, I enjoy doing shows, we enjoy getting opportunities, and if more people are listening then there’s more opportunities to play larger shows, play festivals and things like that. If you’re in a band and you have an audience, you look to grow that audience, and it’s important. I think there are bands that are disingenuous, and they say “We just write for ourselves, and it’s a bonus if people choose to listen to us”, but if you’re playing live shows then you’re performing to an audience, you have to challenge that – are you just doing it for yourself, then? If you’re just doing it for yourself then just play your music loudly in the rehearsal room.
To misquote Al Jourgensen, as soon as you play your music to anyone else, you’ve started to sell out.
I see that. It sounds like a nihilistic thing to say “We just in it for ourselves” and I think that’s dishonest. When you pick up a guitar when you’re 13 or 14 years old, you just want to rock the fuck out. You want to be the man! No matter how many permutations your musical endeavours go down, or whatever prisms you view yourself through as an artist the minute you’re going onto a stage and plugging into an amp that’s cranked up, there’s an element of that original instinct that kicks in, wanting to just rock out in front of a crowd, and I’m not going to lie about that just to make myself look a little bit cooler or more detached, or more intellectual.
OK, we have signifiers and caveats to it, oh, we’re playing atmospheric post-black metal… ultimately, we’re playing loud rock music. That’s an underlying fact. And a part of that is an audience. It’s an important part of being in a band. No one in a band can look me in the eye and tell me they enjoy playing in front of fuck all people. That’s not true. You can lie to yourself with your “there were only 2 people there, but those 2 people really loved it”. So… ?
If you’re going to be contrary, if you’re going to be “we don’t care what the audience thinks”, you must start to write stuff people hate. I remember in my old band, in Skaldic Curse, we started working on a 25 minute long progressive black metal epic, and we were “Oh, this is really going to piss people off”… Hang on a minute, where’s this thinking leading? Are we getting so wrapped up in trying to do what people don’t expect of us? Is this a different side of the same coin? Almost saying “we don’t care what people think, we just want to write challenging music”, but then you are thinking about what the audience think, you’re just looking at it through a different end of the telescope. It’s an unignorable part of the artistic process, unless you are going to record music on your own at home and only listen to it alone. You go back to what you said Al Jourgensen said, the minute anyone else enters the picture, even band mates, you’re sharing, and there’s consideration for the listener. And I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know why that has to somehow compromise the purity of the art.
Ah, but it’s part of the Black Metal / kvlt metal thing to have that mentality and mindset…
Yes, there’s always the isolationist, thing, but if you look at the second wave of black metal, Euronymous still wanted to shift records. He ran a record label. He wanted to sell records from a shop. It was under the guise of spreading the message of the horned lord, or whatever, but he wanted an audience.
And let’s not pretend De Mysteriis is unlistenable shit…
Exactly. It’s a brilliant record. Euronymous wanted an audience. He’d do tours. Mayhem were touring around Eastern Europe in 1990, 1991, and they were one of the first second wave black metal bands out there doing it. And there are some real headbanging moments on De Mysteriis… take the riff on ‘Pagan Fears’, that’s a proper “fists in the air” riff. The mid-section of ‘Freezing Moon’… that’s a head-banging classic, and that’s why I don’t think considering your audience has to be a compromise at all. I think there’s some dishonesty in that level of thinking because you can be inspired, you can write with integrity and you can still consider your audience. From my own perspective, I think it’s polite too, and if you’ve got to a point where your band has a fanbase, then your band has overtaken you. It’s no longer yours and yours alone. And I know John from Agalloch gets really upset with this, he gets upset with fans having a sense of entitlement, and that’s fair enough, that’s fine, but these people are buying and consuming your music, and it’s a sense that’s born from them enjoying your music, and while that can be annoying, in a sense, you can listen to them and take some stuff on board. There is a line, but if they’re genuine fans, buying physical releases and merchandise, and they’re investing in your band and your music, then you owe it to them to take them into some consideration.
So, back to the Fen album, you actually had a producer this time…
Yes, Greg Chandler. You’ll probably know of him from Esoteric. If you don’t know the band, check them out. If you’re in the mood for extreme atmospheric doom, they really are the alpha and the omega of that. We played with Greg a couple of times, he seemed very professional, very switched on kind of guy and our drummer had worked with him before, doing some recording. As part of our coming back off tour and sitting back thinking about how we were going to approach the album thing, we really tried to kick ourselves up the arse a little bit. I think we’d got a bit comfortable, and we decided we wanted to really move ourselves out of our comfort zone.
Everything we’d recorded up until now, we’ve recorded ourselves, so as part of really giving this a shake up it was to work with an external producer, and Greg was top of the list. We approached him, told him how we wanted to record the album, which is drums live and retain as much of the live stuff as we can, and he was absolutely fine with that. And I have to say, he was really, really good. He was really focused he had really great balance between pushing us and relaxed and chilled out. He never gave us any sense he was getting frustrated with the progress, there was never any sense of him switching off, he was always on it, and these were long days, man, 12/13 hour days, and that’s hard work. He was really good, and it pushed us in terms of performance and thinking. It helped that he’s also a perfectionist geek, so there were times we could experiment with trying sounds out, and i think the results speak for themselves, and you can hear something new in the album for us in terms of the delivery.
Carrion Skies pulls all component aspects of what “Fen” is together, but still takes it somewhere different…
Trying to keep it fresh but still keeping that Fen sound? It sort of evolved that way. We talk about writing naturally, but you’re always conscious of what has come before. We don’t want to copy or repeat ourselves, and we wanted to go back down that more metal path, a bit heavier, a bit more intense, but also a more proggier path too. We’ve always had elements of that in there, and the 3 of us have played in other, more progressive acts, so it’s always been in there, in our DNA since day 1. We are a band with a bit of experience, and we were very certain about what we wanted to play when we started the band, particularly myself and Grungyn, and we tapped into that original vision and that overarching goal of how we want Fen to sound. It’s like something on the horizon, achieving that vision, it’s coming ever closer.
You don’t feel you’ve got it? Is this not your defining moment?
I’m my own harshest critic, I’m always thinking about how we can improve, where we go next. It’s like chasing a high you can never quite get. The minute you hit it, you achieve it, you have to turn round as a band and say “We’ve achieved it, we’re done, let’s do something else”. We’re striving for something, constantly pushing ourselves, constantly striving. I’m confident there’s more to come. There are yet more heights for us to scale. I’m not over-ambitious, nor do I want to belittle the work we’ve done, I’m proud of our canon, but I’m confident we can deliver even more.
Did it feel a case of “This is our fourth album, it’s time to put up or shut up”?
Every band has a shelf-life, and I don’t think we can keep doing this forever, particularly in this particular guise or method of expression. For me, once we’ve finished an album it’s “that’s done, we’ve achieved that, what’s next”. I’m not one to rest on my laurels and sit back and think that’s great. This is a creative outlet. You look at some bands, and they’re essentially just touring best ofs, and they tend to be working bands, and it’s their career, but this is acreative pursuit and once and album is finished, it’s on to what’s next. The minute the creative fires are burnt out its time to move on and do something else, but for us it’s still there. I promised myself i was going to take some time out once this was done as we worked so hard on it, and it’s been an intense couple of years, I was going to take 3 monts off to recharge, but it was a lie. I’ve already been writing. It is a bit of a compulsion, I can’t switch it off… I’ll be watching TV and I’ll have an idea, and go and work on it, and two hours later you’re immersed in it. Which is great in some ways, but it’s like being a druggie chasing a hit, but nothing beat s it for em, that buzz of creativity, bringing notions and ideas to life.
Ha, that’s the opposite to me. Sounds like you’re always on, when I do it, I do it in patches, like a week of full on, then I drop back in and tweak only.
I’m like that with lyrics. Lyrics seem to come in hits – machine gun bursts. I can empathise with that, but musically I cant switch off. Maybe it’s a deep-seated psychological problem, but I cannot sit still and relax, I always have to be doing something, so rather than fight it, now I just feed it when it comes. I am trying to teach myself to take breaks and come up for air every now and then, like when we were wrapped up in doing all the guitar-wave stuff, I think you can lose sight of the bigger picture.
One of the things about the album, is, and Richie picked up on it in his review in Ghost Cult, is that there is an emotional and musical journey to Carrion Skies. Things do things for a reason…
That’s hugely important. A musical journey is how we’ve always described our music. You want to listener to feel like they’ve travelled somewhere with the song, I think that’s important, I really do. The loud/quiet dynamic is something that’s tricky. On Dustwalker we wanted to deliberately avoid the loud/quiet/loud thing and make a song either completely loud or completely quiet, and that was the overall musical challenge for that, but we’ve gone back to having songs that flow between moving and heavier parts. It’s a tricky one, but I don’t think the transitions and juxtapositions aren as binary as with others. I think with the quiet bits, it’s almost like they are breathing, and there is an ebb and flow, and I think the next challenge we might set ourselves as a writing unit is to make the transitions a bit more distended and less binary.
Is it emotionally draining? A lot of black metal just “happens”, but there’s a definite emotional path through the new album….
It can be exhausting, but in a cathartic fashion. On a very prosaic level, playing this is very demanding; playing live especially. It can be draining, but I don’t resent it as it’s an exultant cathartic outpouring, rather than something being leeched away from you. This type of music, and you’re doing this style of vocal while playing, and you’re forced to engage in the lyrics each time on a fundamental level. There’s a lot of anger on a deeper level on this new album, and you’re staring that right in the face every time you play one of the songs. It’s fair to say it is draining but in a very positive way.
Have your lyrical themes change as you’ve gone on?
We have. The last couple of albums Dustwalker and Epoch were quite personal, it was internal thoughts being expressed as description, the internal being expressed via metaphors from the external – the inner landscape being presented as an outer landscape. And we really furrowed that plough extensively on Dustwalker, and that led to a lot of the lyrical themes being quite spiritual and transient discussions. This album is going back to The Malediction Fields and is a lot more of an external reflection on mankind, the follies of the human spirit, and how we engage in endless repeating cycles tending towards self-destruction and failure and misery. People have said how lyrically it speaks of ancient times, but we’re trying to draw that line, because we’re here in 2014 and we exist in a really technocratic age and society but, really, the same failings that have plagued humanity since the birth of civilisation still occur and continue to haunt us, and that’s where a lot of the thought processes have gone on this album.
It’s worrying, that we’ve had thousands of years of “people”, yet we’re right back at people beheaded due to beliefs, the political right wing is increasing in popularity…
It’s worrying. I was talking to Gunnar (Sauermann) and he was saying he thinks the new Winterfylleth album has some similar ideas on there, and he was saying is there something going on in England? Is there a problem, and is it serving as an inspiration? And the answer is not consciously, we’re not a political band, I have no interest in discussing politics, and in fact I’m sick to the back teeth of this whole English Heritage act concept that keeps getting thrown at us, but I suppose, subliminally, the entire discourse of society at the moment and I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it’s like a house of cards, and day by day there’s more news stories, and there’s the whole rise of UKIP…
People don’t learn. Everyone that lives in the present day thinks we’re more civilized and advanced that the past, and it’s not true. It’s a lie. Just because we’re more technologically advanced than we were 50 years ago, 500 years ago, 1000 years ago, human mentality and physiology doesn’t evolve that quickly. I use the phrase, every person is 3 good meals away from a riot. We haven’t advanced. It’s just a Western perspective, too, as there’s vast tracts of this planet that still live in medieval conditions. What worries me in the last 6 to 12 months is that there’s some very unpleasant discourse that is becoming increasingly mobilized and that is the first step to badness. I went to the Imperial War Museum the other day, and it was absolutely packed, so we went to the holocaust exhibition. Now, a visit to that is always going to be sobering, but looking at it through the prism of where our political discourse is going at the moment, it sent a chill down my spine. The holocaust isn’t some evil entity that happened in biblical times, or distant past, it was only 70 years ago. It’s within living memory, and it started with slightly rabble-rousing discourse about “others”. That’s how it starts. A charismatic demagogue talking about others gradually normalizing and demonizing through political discourse. And how does it finish? With people being herded into purpose-built execution chambers by the thousand. I’m not saying that’s exactly where we’re headed, but we have to be careful, people hear that opinion again and it normalizes and it causes me a level of unease.
On top of that, are we guilty of middle-class apathy? Something that allows a party like UKIP to win Clacton, which is just up the road from here
I don’t want to get too bogged down in this, because my band isn’t about this, but if you’re ruminating on human failure, you’re ruminating on human tendencies towards conflict, and violence and aggression and this is happening now. There’s a lot of misplaced anger, saying “look at the different, look at the others” and it’s always “the foreigners”, they’re an easy target, but look at where the real problem is, and it’s in the paymasters of this country, they’re playing people like puppets. But what is quite interesting, though, is that a lot of the lyrics for the album were written over a year ago, and this wasn’t happening yet, and it’s since I’ve written them, now I’m even more heightened to what’s going on. The first two tracks, ‘(Our Names Written In Embers) Beacons of War’, ‘Beacons of Sorrow’, it’s human beings are just this endless cycle of conflict, of war, and then the obligatory introspection and “we can’t let that happen again” and the ten years later the same thing happens again.
It’s a propensity for, a lust for slaughter, yet nobody ever “wins”, nobody gets anything out of it, it doesn’t have to be that loads of normal human beings get killed or wounded and then that’s it. As a species it hasn’t stopped. We’re so called evolved with our ipads and all this bollocks, and people are being massacred on a daily basis. Is it ever going to stop? And that’s the over-arching theme for the album. You look at the title, you know, Carrion Skies, and that’s the future, that’s the future of man. It’s just a blood-drenched, carcass-strewn horizon.
Throughout it, I don’t think nihilism is the right word, I think there’s a sense of furious despair. ‘Menhir’ is about sacrifice, because on the other side of the coin you’ve got this propensity towards sacrifice and subjugation. You talk about middle class apathy to political environment, and this is people just giving up and surrendering, surrendering their responsibility. Why are people so keen to throw away their responsibility and tether themselves to some abstract yoke? Why? Why sacrifice themselves towards ideals and values that only do them harm? It beggars belief.
In the lyrics, you’re addressing those concepts, and you have to consider what’s going on around you. And it’s all well and good to mull over these things on a higher-level abstract point of view, but when things are happening at a slightly lower level, more local point of view, and you do look at it with a sharpened perspective and it’s happening now, it’s happening around us as we speak. Society is built on foundations of sand, the illusion of freedom, and easy comfort and distraction and that’s the only thing keeping people from marching into the streets and burning things.
Coming back to the music, it has an almost fantasy/fantastical feel, a sense of other, something you get immersed in, you join and get drawn into the song as you go through it…
Immersion and escapism, and I don’t think escapism is a dirty word. People listen to music for a variety of reasons and one of those is to take yourself away from the day to day for a little bit, you can take yourself to another world. And if you’re writing 12 minute long songs with lots of guitar textures, it’s something you’d hope the music would do that for the listener. I don’t want to be writing background, I don’t want to be writing backgrounds to somebody’s trip to the shops.
But isn’t that how music is consumed, now, it’s how it changes… ipod shuffle, the death of the “album”, the rise of Youtube and Spotify playlists… Skid Row were chipping in the other day that they’re no longer doing albums, because no one listens to albums, though maybe that’s just no one listens to their albums any more
I still listen to the first the two albums quite regularly…!
And rightly so… but there’s bands like TRC, who just release EPs and singles. Is the lifespan of “the album” drawing to an end?
It depends, and it’s all quite subjective, because you can get a band like Moonsorrow that do an EP that’s 58 minutes long, and then you get Slayer do an album that’s 28 minutes long. The issue blurs the lines a little bit, but it’s just an expression of music. Album, EP, single, it’s just a self-contained unit of music and it depends on what your style is and how long it takes you tell that story. I don’t think the album is going to die, in effect that “the album” doesn’t have a defined existence. People are still going to release music in a discrete unit of how long it needs to be to tell that story.
We all have our personal definition of what an album is, 6 or 7 songs, 60 minutes, or however long it’s going to be, that’s not a hard and fast rule. What you’ll see as the digital age gathers pace is that people might start releasing collections of EPs, and have more regular release cycle of shorter pieces of music, whether to keep interest sustained, or because it’s now easier to record things yourself. Equally there are certain bands and genres where the album is a necessary vehicle to deliver what they want to deliver, and certainly for a band like Fen where we write quite long songs, we want people to become immersed in our songs, and you wouldn’t write an EP or a single.
An album for us is an important way of actually spreading atmosphere. If anything we might be in danger of the opposite. We actually recorded too much music for a single CD and one of the bonus tracks had to come out, but at the time that was part of the album. I think the boundaries of what might make an album will dissipate. If we’re not tied to the limits of a CD, then a 90 minute album is fine. If that’s what we need to fully to tell the story, or evoke the atmosphere we’re trying to evoke, then so be it. This is out, all the boundaries crumble.
True, and if you look at Schammasch, their album is 85 minutes…
The last Dødsengel album is 2 ½ hours long and it’s really, really good, and that really underlines the creative power of some bands. If you have a band that says they’re going to do a 2 ½ hour long album, and they pull it off, fair play to them. I think bands will feel less beholden to the album cycle, rather than here’s 10 songs, 45 minutes, bang, here we go.
Maybe you think “Do you know what, I feel really inspired this year, so we could put together ourselves a good hour and halfs worth of an album here”. Or, another band might think, we’re the sort of band that thrives on short, sharp shock, let’s do a series of 4 track EP’s. It should be liberating.
With digital, downloading, it’s changed the way music is presented and digested, and consumed, I think it’s pointless to rail against it. Bands should see it for the liberating creating force it could be.