Band interviews

Interview with Florian Toyka of Klabautamann

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Florian Toyka of KLABAUTAMANN, VALBORG, ISLAND, and WOBURN HOUSE just before a gig he did with VALBORG. As the live interview originally was conducted in German language and spanned 40 minutes, I decided to shorten and focus it to some extent. Here you can read the most important things concerning the new album “Smaragd”, the band’s history, songwriting processes, odd time signatures, the band’s relation to black metal, guest musicians, impossible live appearances, and the future of KLABAUTAMANN, ISLAND, and WOBURN HOUSE.

Thought-Palace.: Hello Florian! I’m glad that you found time for this interview! I’d like to talk with you about KLABAUTAMANN in general, before focusing on your new record, “Smaragd”.

Florian Toyka: Hello! Thanks, I’m also glad it worked out!

For those who aren’t yet into your music and band history, I’d like you to describe KLABAUTAMANN’s history at least a little. How did the band/project develop over the years?

Well, back in 1998 we (Tim Steffens an me) recorded a song, just for fun. The local youth centre did some funding for a sampler, so we swiftly founded a band, because we wanted to participate. In Tim’s hobby room I played guitar and drums and he played drums. But, as I said, it was just for fun. As lyrics for this song we simply used the ingredient list of a Swedish soft drink. Well, then we made another demo, which also was more of a fun thing, especially lyric-wise. But thereby we somehow got infused and recorded a second demo, and then the debut album “Our Journey through the Woods”. Back then, we had Marlon Drescher as a session-drummer, who once also did session vocals. After him, there came Patrick Schroeder as a drummer. Only as a session member, but in the end he was a steady component.

In general, there has been a lot of stuff going on in these more than 20 years. I know Tim since first grade, we went to the same class in grammar school. And we already became friends at this point.

Okay, I see! As you’ve said, Patrick only is a session member, but he does a remarkable job, and I’m highly impressed by how seemingly easily he plays all of those strange rhythms…

Wel, yeah, but sometimes we had to tease him a little. (laughs) But he’s off the metal road now. He still plays for OWL, the other project of our VALBORG guitarist, Christian Kolf, where he usually records drums. But these are only singular events, he does not practice playing metal anymore since quite some time, rather stoner or with his former drum’n’bass project MONTY BATTLES… And we always have a lot of convincing to do for getting him to play for KLABAUTAMANN. This time, we didn’t even have a rehearsal together, it just wasn’t possible. So he recorded demos where we said whether it was cool or he had to try something different, which was only the case with a few parts. And then, we recorded it this way! But I personally think that it’s better to rehearse a little, like we did for “Merkur”. I mean to hear the differences, but it is hard to pinpoint. I certainly prefer it the way we have now with VALBORG, where we practice several times the week.

I completely understand and I am even more amazed how great the drumming works with “Smaragd”. Patrick certainly has my utmost respect.

Another thing that often comes up in some metal-related discussions is your band name. Several people, especially from the black metal scene, simply don’t want to listen to the music because of this name. That’s when you occasionally have to tell them to do it anyway.

I can imagine. This name basically is the result of the same story like our first song. There was another band in our town, two years older than us, and they named themselves “Mähdrescha”, with an “a” at the end instead of “er”. I really don’t know where the idea for naming us after the Klabautermann came from, but anyway, we used this name with an “a” instead of an “er” as well. When we recorded our debut, we actually thought about changing the name, but in the end we didn’t give it much thought. In the end it’s only a name, but nevertheless you connect something with it. We somehow weren’t in the mood to do so and said: Screw it! Sure, when I’d look at the name now without all of this, I’d certainly wonder a little and be skeptical, but hearing it now I always think about making music with Tim. Well, and if people don’t want to listen to us because of this, it’s their bad, haha. I guess English-speaking persons won’t understand this debate, only Germans and Austrians realise that there’s something off (laughs). If we were a commercial band, it were a dumb choice of name. But this way, we had our band’s logo one day and were lucky with that. The name is certainly odd, but look at GRABNEBELFÜRSTEN, their name was odd, too, but you have to be somewhat open-minded to give it a try.

Yeah, I see, we also had a problem with the name of our former band that was odd and ill-chosen… (laughs) But back to topic. What I always noticed when listening to your music is your affinity, your soft spot for odd time signatures, like 6/8, 5/4, 7/4 and so on. There’s plenty of them in your music. And I am someone who really enjoys this. I think them to represent life better than some steady 4/4 signature. How does this occur during the songwriting process?

Good question, difficult to answer. Well, I like stuff like this since a long time. Sting already did something like this in the 90s, it was pop music with 7/4 and later even 11/8. I always had a soft spot for this, and maybe this was enhanced by playing drums, where this somehow is another thing. When you play 7/8 and a 4/4 figure with your foot, it always is turning around, fitting together, being apart. It somehow feels great in my head, but it’s hard to describe. And I really can’t say why we did it that way. It’s nothing conscious, I think, we did not sit together to write straight stuff that we made odd afterwards, or such. Sometimes you simply write a picking and you realize that’s a 7/8 signature. And then it is how it is.

How does your songwriting process work in general? I figure that’s something that also changed in the course of all these years. Who does what, for instance?

Well, that differs a lot from album to album. For the first one, “Our Journey Through the Woods”, Tim did most of the songs, though only one part, one voice, and I did the second one. There are only two songs on it that I mainly wrote, I think. On “Der Ort”, this somehow is the other way around. But it was almost always the case that one of us came along with a song that was almost complete or at least several riffs. Then, we were sitting together, practicing, arranging, and composing. When we composed the material for “Merkur”, the whole process was a little exhausting because we had a high standard for this one, I think. When this album finally had been recorded, we opted for a more casual approach. As a result of this, Tim made a couple of songs that were relatively primitive, straight and simple regarding the arrangement. But it still sounded like KLABAUTAMANN and I liked the material, so I decided to mainly play bass on this one and I only did a few additional guitar lines. On the new record, “Smaragd”, there are three songs that I wrote for the most part. But it went the same way: One of us had the main idea, the other one contributed his part. For the new album, we met in 2012, I believe, in the Easter holidays for a composing session. We gathered some ideas, worked on them… But there haven’t been any rehearsals for quite some time now…

No more rehearsals means that there won’t be the possibility of seeing you live one day, I suppose?

That’s something I’d categorically rule out, no way. I think this would be close to impossible. There are far too many reasons not to do this. Patrick surely wouldn’t participate, I’d have to practice guitar a lot, as of now I only play drums… No, I don’t fancy that. I mean, this isn’t uncomplicated music, and even when we played live 10 years ago it was getting on my nerves at the end. You have to be highly concentrated the whole time, playing complex stuff… To me, KLABAUTAMANN never has been live music. And it would be too big a project. Plus, it partly is black metal, which mostly sounds like crap when played live. No, I certainly prefer to play such simple stuff live like we are doing with VALBORG.

I can imagine, although it would be amazing to see some of KLABAUTAMANN’s music live one day…

Are you self-taught musicians?

Yes, Tim is a computer scientist, I’m a biologist and soon a psychologist as well. But I had a lot of music around me in my childhood home, my family, as everyone plays some instrument. Tim once had some piano lessons, I think, but actually we are autodidacts. But most metal musicians are.

Yeah, I also think so… What occurred to me when reading in some forums is the question whether there’s going to be an LP version of “Smaragd” or not. Any news concerning this?

Nope, not really. The problem with LPs is that they are expensive to make. Therefore, we would need a real label with people who want to realise this. I also wrote a note regarding this topic on Facebook, stating that if someone’s interested or knows anyone that might be interested, they should feel free to contact us. I’m not that motivated anymore to ask multitudes of labels… Let’s see how the sales of “Smaragd” are going, maybe someone will be interested. Another problem with “Smaragd” is that the record is too long, so this would require a double LP. That’s something we simply couldn’t pay for. Studio was expensive, artwork, pressing, digipak… After this a financial stop had to be made. But I surely would be more than happy if some label wanted to do some LP versions of one of our albums! As a compromise of some sort, we made a poster of the artwork that comes with every preordered copy.

The artwork for „Smaragd“ is certainly something unusual and different from the former ones. It took me some time to enjoy it.

Well, I think the music is quite proggy, so such an artwork still fits it. I guess the people that like the music won’t be scared off. I personally like it very much, especially as it’s the first one that deals with water and ocean. With respect to the water-themed band name, it was almost strange we didn’t treat this topic before. The former artworks weren’t homogeneous, too, plus I wanted to do some cooperation with Costin Chioreanu again. So one thing led to the other.

Now we come closer to speaking in detail about the new record…

I found it exciting and mouth-watering to read your announcements of all the guest musicians who participated on this record… Your brother played trombone again…

Yeah, he did this for ISLAND once, but not for KLABAUTAMANN.

I find it impressive how well the trombone fits into the sound… The same goes for the other session musicians. After the announcements, I wondered how this might sound like, especially with Anna Musphy’s hurdy-gurdy and Fredy Schnyder playing the Hammond organ. But when listening to the album for the first time, I was overwhelmed and didn’t even know where those instruments were actually heard…

The hurdy-gurdy can only be heard in one song, “Murderers”. But there Anna plays a solo, which can be heard quite well, I think.

I heard that clearly during the second listen, when I focused more on the individual parts (and during the many listens since then). But it’s great how smoothly it fits into the sound. That’s different with ELUVEITIE, for instance, where Anna’s hurdy-gurdy is way more ostensible… Which wouldn’t have suited KLABAUTAMANN, I think.

I agree, but I don’t like this band that much, not my kind of music. But Anna and Fredy, those two, they are amazing musicians… I don’t know if you know NUCLEUS TORN…

Yeah, sure!

Well, every time I come across this stuff I’m flashed by what this guy did there. And in the end, both Anna and Fredy did most of that stuff. They are such great musicians, I dare say that ELUVEITIE are only 2% of the complexity and skills that Anna is capable of.

Is she the one who also did vocals on “Frozen in Time”?

Yes, exactly.

I really like her vocals there, so fragile… But I also enjoy the other clean vocals a lot. Chester Gerritse and Ingo Kerstjens did them, as far as I am informed. How did it come to this cooperation? And should one know those two singers?

 No, you don’t have to know them. They are Dutchmen, friends of Tim’s. They go back quite some time now. They’ve recorded some stuff together before, and at Tim’s wedding we did some cover versions of MAIDEN songs. And sometimes when there was a wedding, they met with Tim and produced some kind of wedding song together. So he already knew their clean voices. In Dutch and singing some cheesy, gooey stuff, but nonetheless! I considered it a great idea. Especially regarding “Into Depression”, I am super happy with what they did with it. So this cooperation surely has been worth it!

Yeah, I also enjoy it a lot. Gives something new to the whole music. Many of the jazzy parts that went without vocals on “Merkur” now have clean vocals, that’s an interesting new element. And I think I know what you mean about “Into Depression”: This clean vocal harmony during the blast beat part…

But can you tell me what “Smaragd” is about in general? I have my own assumptions based on the lyrics that I got while listening to the album, but…

Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about it. The whole lyrics-thing always has been of minor interest to me. I even don’t know if I read all of them, to be honest. Tim dealt with all of this, there were several people that contributed stuff. But I really can’t tell you about the actual contents. Regarding this you’d have to ask Tim. He did a lot of work for this album…

Okay, I see. So can you tell me at least why you named the new record „Smaragd“?

That was my idea, but to be honest I don’t remember anymore what exactly my thoughts were. I thought about it for some time and then I was stuck with gems. Soon I had this vision of this frogfish holding that gem or emerald. I had some different ideas about it, but Costin did it this way. So it doesn’t matter anymore. And again: There’s not so much behind it as one might assume. But feel free to interpret it your way.

How’s been the feedback so far?

Difficult to say, as the promotional period just started and I went on tour with VALBORG in the beginning of April. There already exist two or three reviews and the video release for “Into Depression” went well, too. So the feedback was good so far, but it’s too early to get a more precise picture.

I understand. Can you tell me what inspires you (or Tim) to such interesting, complex music? Any general reason for this?

You make music as well. Could you answer this?

Maybe rather in relation to specific songs than in general…

I can’t answer it, either. You’re inspired by stuff that happens around you, that you’ve recently experienced, by things you are possibly struggling with. But the bottom line is that I usually know that we’re doing a new record, and when I’m in the mood I sit down to write a song and let’s see what will be the result of this. That’s usually something that happens rather unconsciously. I never did music with the distinct intention do deal with something specific or that I even wanted it to sound like this or that. You simply have to let it flow, somehow. In our early years we were certainly inspired by woods and fields. Close to our town there was a place with a huge forest and a castle ruin. And sometimes after our rehearsals we went there by car, did a night stroll, listened to old ULVER, EMPEROR, ENSLAVED, OPETH. This forest feeling certainly inspired us a lot back then, but at some point you grow out of that.

Guess that’s what you see when looking at the titles of the first albums, „Our Journey Through the Woods”, and so on…

Yeah, way too striking… Could have handled this differently, but well… It’s not a problem at all if you don’t take things that serious as some fans do. In the end it’s simply music you may enjoy, and if you don’t want to, you can listen to something different.

I completely agree. Speaking of taking stuff too serious, this appears to be something quite problematic with the black metal scene, at least in my opinion…

I really don’t have to do anything with black metal. If you ask me, that’s mainly a big kindergarten. People in their mid-thirties still stuck in their deadly serious mental black metal loop, that’s absolutely of no use to me. I mean I don’t want to insult anybody, everyone has to know that for himself, but life certainly is much more than such hyper-stubborn, deadlocked perception. Festivals like yesterday’s Dark Easter Metal Meeting, where we played with VALBORG, where only metal people are walking around, there I get a fit, that’s nothing for me.

By the way: A good side effect of our band name is that you get the scene police off your back. (laughs) “They suck anyway, you don’t have to deal with them.” That’s quite useful!

I wouldn’t label you as black metal, strictly speaking. Perhaps except of “The Old Chamber”, that’s the closest you got to this genre…

Yes, we aren’t black metal anymore, but that’s still where we come from. And we still have a few of such parts in our songs. That’s where we started. I don’t know how to label our new material… If you call it progressive metal, everyone thinks of DREAM THEATER or similar bands. But luckily I don’t have to deal with that myself. (laughs)

Yeah, haha, that’s something the reviewers and promoters have to struggle with! Although I don’t like those genre categories…

Yes, but somehow they are necessary and useful. How else would you try to tell someone in a simple way that a certain album might appeal to him?

Sure, you almost can’t avoid this.

Now to something different: I’d love to know what is going to happen with ISLAND and WOBURN HOUSE. I really love ISLAND in particular, and so I was a little disappointed when you stated in 2015 that the project was on hold. And WOBURN HOUSE even split up…

Well, those are only things that you can read on metal-archives or such sites. As of now, we are very assiduously working with VALBORG, we rehearse two times a week, now there’s a tour, a new record… We write so much new stuff, something is always in the air. So VALBORG is our main band now, and if we decided to do a new WOBURN HOUSE record, we would have to take this time and effort away from VALBORG. And at the moment there’s no purpose for that. But it surely could happen again one day. Maybe we’ll be in the mood again and then we’d set the status from “on hold” to “active” again. Regarding ISLAND, we made that statement because we’d been working at this album for quite some time and people were waiting for it. So it was reasonable to state that there won’t be anything in nearer future…

Okay, those are sad news, partly. But at least it’s not impossible.

I’ve reached the end of my question catalogue now. One last thing: Are there any other plans for KLABAUTAMANN and Zeitgeister Music in the near future?

Well, Christian Kolf did a new OWL album that I can recommend you warmly, it’s a super cool record and will be out in autumn on Temple of Torturous. As I said, nothing new about ISLAND and WOBURN HOUSE. And I really don’t know if there ever will be another KLABAUTAMANN record. “Smaragd” did almost go the same way as the intended ISLAND record… If Tim didn’t work so hard for this album – he partly even got another guitarist to record my stuff – it would have landed in the drawer as well. This certainly was a sad thing for the ISALND record, but the material had been around for such a long time, and one day you simply aren’t in the mood to work with that stuff any longer. With VALBORG we are always motivated now, we do a lot of new stuff. Plus, the day only has got 24 hours. And that does not get better the older you become!

I have to hurry now, we are required to configure our equipment. 4 bands today, so the schedule is a little tight!

Okay, no problem. Thanks a lot for this interview! I wish you a great show today and successful tour in general!

Thanks as well! It was a pleasure. Have a nice evening!

(This interview is also available in German language)


Interview with Amiensus

I had the great opportunity to conduct a very detailed interview with James Benson, one of the leading forces behind the US progressive black/death metal band Amiensus. The thorough interview covers the band’s history, their new records, the process of writing songs, religious lyrical topics, future concerts, etc. Enjoy!

Thought-Palace: As a beginning, I would like you to introduce yourselves to the audience and the readers. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, how you came to found Amiensus, and a give a brief overview on the band’s history?

J.B.: Good afternoon from a warm spring day in Minnesota! Amiensus is currently 5 core members, the live performing and writing members, and two studio musicians who join us for recording. I (James Benson) am the founding member of Amiensus, as well as Alec Rozsa (guitarist and multi-instrumentalist), Zachary Morgenthaler (guitars, keys), Todd Farnham (bass) and our newest member who joined us just about 1 year ago, Christopher Piette. Our former full time members who join us for recording still are Aaron McKinney (Vocals, acoustic guitar), and Julia Holter (vocals). I’ve always had to keep this pretty brief in interviews before, but this is something I, as a music lover, have always found extremely interesting when researching bands. Amiensus, which technically began in mid-2010, was previously another band by the name “The Last”, which consisted of James, Alec, Aaron and Zachary. We were teens when that started, and nothing professional was ever released, just albums we made on our own. Our first EP, “The Last EP” was songs written during that time. It was during the summer after my freshman year of college (2010) that we recorded that and had Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) mix and master it, which was when we became connected with that group. Around that time, we started gigging with another local group often, and came to know now former member J. Waller (Sarasvati, Adora Vivos). Joe had a lot more experience with recording at this time, and we were starting to understand digital recording much better. We convinced him to at least program drums for us, but he ended up doing a good bit of guitar, vocals, and all the bass on our first full length Restoration, which again Ken Sorceron mixed and mastered. Over the next couple of years this group with the addition of Todd and Julia created our second full length Ascension, but around the time it was releasing, we decided to come out of the studio to start playing live again. A few members decided at this time that Amiensus was going a little further than they had thought it would, and other various reasons, which resulted in a couple of new changes to the lineup. This brought in Matthew Paulazzo (The Zenith Passage, Aegeaon) for a year on drums, who was replaced by his good friend Christopher Piette, whom now has been drumming with us for about a year. In essence, the core group has been playing music together since our early teens. It’s been about a decade of having fun together. We’ve grown as people and musicians over that time quite a bit, but we’ve always been rooted musically together by black metal.

Thought-Palace: Thanks for this detailed description of your band history! This serves as an explanation to me how you achieved these strengths regarding a well-balanced songwriting that I was surprised by. You seem to function as a collective. This is a state most bands don’t reach, I suppose. Can you describe the songwriting process a little? Especially with respect to Ascension and your new record(s)?

J.B.: Thanks! The songwriting process from Ascension to All Paths Lead to Death was a bit different. There were a lot of members involved with Ascension. Some of the tracks had a main writer, and when I describe main song writer, I mean that a certain member wrote most of the guitar parts/structure, and passed it onto other members to have them write their perspective parts. Often with Ascension, we had 5-8 writers on a track, but some tracks were 1-2 main writers, with others pitching in their parts. There was a lot of rewriting of songs on that album, with many arrangements. The recording process spanned almost 8 months as well. Our newest album was quite different, in a more traditional sense, where one main song writer exists per track, with everyone else pitching in their parts. The recording process also only spanned about 3 weeks, with most of the vocals being original takes and written on the spot. We stretched ourselves quite a bit, and as you’ll see, the album is much darker and focused more around our live sound because we’ve been operating as a live band for a year and a half now. This is the first full album we’ve released with live drums as well. Overall, the songwriting won’t reflect a permanent change in our sound, but it was material we needed to get out there to reflect some of our heavier influence.

Thought-Palace: It appears that you have got several people in your band that are able to write great songs. Where does your musical education stem from? Have any of you studied music? Or are all of you self-taught musicians?

J.B.: For the most part, self-taught. Some of us took classes in high school, like band and choir, but received no formal music education outside of that. Christopher actually did major in Drum Performance and graduated with his Bachelors last fall. He’s now a drum teacher. I (James) actually just started this year taking piano lessons, so that I could read sheet music. The others took some lessons as children, but the talent and songwriting was their hardwork and natural talent.

Thought-Palace: Impressive! This leads me to another question: What are your inspirations for doing such music? And, as the lyrics seem to be of importance to you when I look at those of Ascension, who or what is the driving force for the lyrical themes?

J.B.: I’d say that everyone in the band has many driving forces for why they create music, but we have a few in common for why we are doing what we are doing. For one, it’s because how we as friends have grown together and shared experiences, through our love of music. Which ties into the second reason – all of us grew up with a deep love and appreciation for music, whether that comes down to the love of composition, performance, practice, etc. The driving forces behind the lyrical content in Ascension varied. The album has three main writers for the lyrics, though typically there’s input from others on lyrics too. Each song typically had a different concept behind it. I’d say that the album covered philosophy, theology- especially in regards to the books of Genesis and Revelations, and even the dark side of substance abuse.

Thought-Palace: What I consider sort of unusual is the way you deal with these religious topics. So I’m highly interested in what your stance on religion is, particularly on traditional theism, not deism or spiritualism.

J.B.: I can’t speak for everyone in Amiensus in regards to their stances on religion, or traditional theism. Many of us have a background with it, but overall the group is very mixed, and with respect to that, as the main lyricist I don’t purposefully write about specific beliefs I hold. Rather, I intend to write sometimes about certain topics within religions that interest me, instead of my own beliefs, so that the reader may interpret them however they may, because everyone has a different worldview, no matter how close your belief system may be compared to another person’s. I hold that I never intend to influence directly with my lyrics, and I’d rather everyone take their own message from our lyrics. Without trying to sound too pompous or full of myself, I will say that I do have a degree in Biblical Theology (Bachelors in Biblical Studies), besides my main degree. The education both in school and out definitely influences our writing. This new album was written specifically about different concepts of Hell in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which has been a concept I’ve been fascinated with for over a decade. Basically, we’re a mixed bunch, and I do not intend to give my personal beliefs out to the public, through my writing or through interview. Every person needs to do their own research, and I encourage those reading this to always question and seek knowledge. Worldviews can always change over time, due to life experience and research.

Thought-Palace: Thanks for this interesting and illuminative answer. I completely agree with those latter points concerning the necessity for everyone’s personal quest for knowledge and the change of worldviews in time and space (or beings through constant becoming). What simply struck me with several of the lyrics was a certain, sort of uncommon way to deal with those topics. Your answer provides me with a graspable reason for this notion.

As you said you’re rooted in black metal, this uncommon approach appears to be even more interesting to me. A lot of BM bands express themselves using outspoken satanic imagery and utter strong antichristian beliefs. So what is your relation to the black metal scene, and what exactly means black metal for you?

J.B.: I suppose we have an interesting relation to the black metal scene. Locally, we aren’t even considered a black metal band. We are more often asked to play with progressive bands than black metal bands, if we are asked at all. We have a connection because of the Abigail Williams guys, and their guitarist/vocalist Ken Sorceron has mixed and mastered quite a bit of our music, and taken us on tour. Black metal to most of us encompasses a vast array of music. Obviously we take influence from the bands that started it all or were early pioneers of the sound (Mayhem, Emperor, Arcturus), and bands like Agalloch who introduced other genres into their sound as well. I understand it involves a culture, but over time no one is consistent with whatever worldview they say must be attached for a piece of music to be called black metal. For most of us, we recognize this attachment to a set of beliefs, but we don’t associate them with black metal, and rather we listen for the music first typically, and the message second. At least that is my personal opinion, and it hasn’t come in conflict with my band members, some of whom as I mentioned, have been creating music together for nearly a decade now.

Thought-Palace: Okay, I personally wouldn’t want to label you as black metal either, but rather progressive metal with black metal influences. This is also because of the black metal scene here, where you have a lot of somewhat narrow-minded and pseudo-elitist self-proclaimed ‘guardians of the scene’, who would be probably running in circles with contempt when hearing your clean vocal parts.

What is the general reaction to your music? And where do most of your listeners and orders come from?

J.B.: It’s definitely hard to say what our general reaction is. I think it’s ever changing with each release we do. Our first album was received very well, and our second was too. We had probably the best response with our split called Gathering back in 2013 with our close friends and fellow Minnesotan’s Oak Pantheon, with our track “Arise”. About a year ago, the music streaming service Spotify added us to their “Atmospheric Black Metal” playlist, which featured songs from just Restoration, despite Ascension having come out just a few months prior. It definitely had a very positive impact, but it seemed like the new influx of fans preferred our first album over the second, despite what we thought was a huge jump in production quality and songwriting. The new album will be interesting, we are starting to see some feedback from press who have received promos, with statements comparing our sound before as “Agalloch-lite”, and this album as more “Dark Funeral-ish”. While we continue to make statements that this is just an EP, and not reflective of our future releases (though you’ll still get a little bit more black metal focused tracks I suspect) we did write this album with the intention playing it live. We have never done that before, because even prior to Ascension we had never really considered playing live.  Speaking of Spotify, there’s a nifty feature that tells you where the top 5 places a band has followers from. They are currently Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Mexico and Poland. I’d wager that overall, we have a pretty European based fan base. In comparison, on our bandcamp where we run merchandise, I’d say its split about 50% US and 50% Europe+elsewhere. I ship everything on my own (I apologize to those who have to wait on me sometimes!) and I’d say the top country outside of the US where I end up shipping to is definitely Germany, with a few countries in Europe like the UK, Sweden and France coming in a close second. I’ve never taken exact count, but I believe I’ve shipped to at least 25 countries, and pretty much every continent (excluding the frozen one nobody lives in).

Thought-Palace: I think that with your European-based label Apathia Records the amount of listeners from this part of the world will increase even more. Are you considering giving concerts outside the US some day? Or is this out of reach due to scheduling and financial issues? And what is the importance of gigs to you, in general?

J.B.: Touring Europe is definitely an interest of ours and we have been talking with a few festivals about the logistics of coming over. Just have to get the timing down. It mostly concerns the costs. Being a smaller band, we just need to have expenses covered. We aren’t concerned about coming back with stacks of cash or anything. I’d say the importance of gigs varies from member to member, but it definitely skyrocketed after we played our first tour. At this time we have only about 3 more shows booked in 2017. Which is alright for us, because every time we practice, it requires our drummer to drive 4.5 hours one way, and our bassist 1.5 hrs. Prior to this we were a recording band, and I think we are feeling like it’s time to continue writing full length #3 at this time instead of focusing on gigging too far out right now. We’ve definitely been offered some killer tours by some bands on big labels this year, but it wasn’t the right timing. If I named them you’d know them right away. I’d assume that more people are interested in seeing us put out more music than playing live at this time, and due to that, we can’t yet stress playing live over producing more music.

Thought-Palace: Thanks for the answer, I completely understand and I’m definitely one of those that prefer a new album over touring. But good to hear that there is a chance you might come around here for a gig one day!

Can you describe a little what awaits the listener with “All Paths Lead to Death”? And maybe give a little hint what album #3 will sound like?

Are there any plans of incorporating more classical instruments into you music? E.g., instead of keyboards?

J.B.: I don’t want to ruin anyone’s perception if they haven’t listened to the EP when they are reading this, but if you haven’t heard Amiensus before, this is our take on incorporating several elements of black metal into 5 songs. To those who already know of us and have listened to anything of ours prior: We wrote this album to play it live for you, and to match the intensity of our live set, and I promise it will be scorching. Following this album, #3 has some elements of Restoration and Ascension, with some more progressive pieces. Overall thus far it’s easy to say it’s already more diverse musically like most of our full lengths. To answer your question, no plans yet to include live violin or oud like on Restoration, but that’s only because we haven’t made it too far into fleshing out these new songs yet.

Thought-Palace: Great, the prospect of such an album #3 sounds fantastic. I’ll be eagerly awaiting this.

My question catalog is empty now, and I don’t want to strain the readers’ attention spans any further.

Thank you very much for this great and interesting interview!

Is there anything you have in mind and want to share that we haven’t covered yet?

J.B.: That was probably the most thorough interview I’ve ever done for the band.

Just want to let everyone reading know, I appreciate the support you’ve given Amiensus over the years. We’re just a few normal guys who enjoy writing and playing music together. If you ever feel like reaching out to discuss music or just have a conversation, we’re always willing to have a chat with fellow music lovers. We hope to see you in the future out on the road!


Blog at

Up ↑