Based on a review of the split album released by the bands Striga and Husk, this is the first interview I conduct with two bands at the same time. I guess this will be a long interview, but I hope interesting for you and the readers.
First of all, thank you very much for taking your time to answer the following questions. I am deeply grateful for this. Please, I ask of you to introduce yourselves to the readers of this website.
STRIGA: We are Striga, we play make horrid noise and we are Craig Evans (vocals), Addam Westlake (bass) and Ivan Sikic (Drums)
HUSK: We are Husk, and musically we sit somewhere between pretty and heavy as hell. We are Charlie (lead vocals/guitar), Kynan (bass), Tom (drums) and Tim (vocals/guitar).
I was truly fascinated by the quality of Upon His Mountain. Both bands, in my modest opinion, have presented a highly interesting work. Please, let us know why and how you guys decided to release an album together. Which were the main reasons? Have you reached the expectations you had for Upon His Mountain? And how was it received by the fan base of each band?
STRIGA: We’ve done numerous gigs together and share musicians – I played bass with Husk while they were searching for a permanent bassist, and Tom drums for Striga when Ivan can’t make it down from Birmingham. So it just seemed like the logical thing to do really.
We recorded the EP in the same studio over the same weekend, but the end result was far from satisfactory, so much of it was re-recorded elsewhere. It’s taken us nearly a year to get it released from the initial recording, and there are always things I think could be better, but overall I’m quite pleased with the end result. Despite the vastly different styles, both band’s fans seem to be enjoying the EP!
HUSK: There was quite a lot of admin involved in getting it together – much more so than our previous releases – but we’ve finally got a solid final product. We’re at the stage where we’re playing shows to promote it and it’s selling well! We posted some abroad the other day which is encouraging.
For Husk, you have already released material now in 2015, but I believe that it is so good that we are waiting eagerly for new works. What do you have in mind, are you already planning something new? And for Striga, you have released a split with the band Lunarsapian, after Upon His Mountain, what can you tell us about it? I do plan to write a review when humanly possible.
STRIGA: I’ve known Matt from Lunarsapian for many, many years and was in a band with him in the late 90s. The guys asked if we’d like to do a split album and I jumped at the chance. We contributed three tracks, and spared no expense on getting it professionally produced- the drums were recorded using three mics in a practice room, the bass parts were recorded in my bedroom and the vocals were done at Matt’s studio, The Lair. I mixed and mastered it on my pc and the end result is suitably raw. The Lunarsapian tracks are all instrumental dark ambient works of art, and I’m not sure you’ll find many dark orchestral/sludge split albums…
HUSK: We’ve got a bunch of stuff lined up for the future; we’re keeping busy writing new songs and trying new things. Not too long ago we visited a studio in Bristol (Joe’s Garage, would highly recommend for all genres of music) and laid a track down with a view for release in the not too distant future. Rumour tells there might be an album in the future. Who knows, though. We barely think past the end of each day so months down the line is loooong way off, man.
Although this is more of a standard question, but I would love to know what your main inspirations are when it comes to composing music and writing lyrics? How is the composition process for both bands? What drives you into creating your art?
STRIGA: For me, when writing both music and lyrics, it’s generally a reflection of strange shit I’ve experienced, either whilst horribly depressed or off my tits on drugs. I’ll come up with something I really like, then sober up and forget most of it. Anything I do remember, I demo it with a loose idea of what the drums should be like and then pretty much let the others do what they want over it. And for some reason it sort of works.
HUSK: It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact ‘inspirations’ per se – we’ve all got super-wide music tastes so the base of inspiration is vast. At the end of it all I guess we just write music and lyrics that we all like! We’ll come up with a riff, or a particular lyric, and oftentimes it just goes from there. Sometimes one of us will come to the table with a pre-written song which we jam out and refine into something that represents all four of our styles well, sometimes there’ll be a riff or two and we’ll work out the rest around that.
In a way connected to the previous question, let us know a bit about your relation to metal music. We all have the first record, the first time we got in touch with metal music. How and when did you get in touch with the genre? Which aspects draw your attention and which were the main motivations to create a band?
STRIGA: From a very young age it was my father who probably influenced my musical tastes. He’s into classic rock and blues. He used to make cassettes for me, so I grew up with the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The first ‘proper’ gig I ever went to was Deep Purple in 1994 – with my father. I think it was only natural that I’d want to take up an instrument and join a band!
HUSK: I can’t speak for everyone but I first became aware of heavier music through my parent’s records, I was brought up around bands such as Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd and have vivid memories of the first time I saw the cover for Iron Maiden’s Killers album. It was the, imagery and the riffs that captured my attention and fuelled my imagination. It was this early exposure that really sparked my interest in playing music with a band.
This is a question I always enjoy to ask. How do you feel over the criticism when it comes to your music? Not only from critics themselves, but also from the fans. Do you feel that it is important to release something that might be enjoyable by the regular listener of the genres you play? In relation to this, are you the type of musician that you think that people have to “get” to “understand” your music or there is nothing to get or understand and simply enjoy the compositions?
STRIGA: I try to take constructive criticism on board, but it really fucks me off when someone gives you a bad review because they either haven’t listened to the tracks properly or just don’t like the style of music. I don’t think Striga fit nicely into any genre, really, but we have altered tracks in the past so that they work better in a live situation. I know the music we make is extremely niche and certainly isn’t for everyone. A few people will ‘get’ what we’re about, but most of fans just enjoy the weirdness I think.
HUSK: I feel as though we can be quite selfish as a band, we tend to write music that we enjoy and not necessarily play to be “got”. It’s amazing to get the chance to share our music with other music lovers. Criticism is a great way to adapt, especially when it comes to our live show. It let’s us know what we are doing well as it is quite difficult to translate our experience playing to how the audience receives it. We quite often wonder what we are like to watch!
Still related to music, but not in the metal scene anymore. Many times when I interview metal musicians, they tell me that they would like to be asked more about their non-metal interests in music, that in a way have influenced them or that they are simply enjoying currently. Could you share with us some of your main musical interests outside metal music? Is there any album that people who enjoy your music would be surprised to know that you own?
STRIGA: I’m looking through my CD collection and it’s almost entirely metal! However I’m quite a fan of blues rock and very old delta blues. The delta stuff is inspiring in it’s rawness. The lyrics are often quite brutal too!
I also have quite a bit of goth in my collection and Fields of the Nephilim are one of my all-time favourite bands. Some of their stuff is more powerful than most metal bands can manage. Perusing my records, it seems that I’m not a fan of electronic music at all…
HUSK: We all listen to a huge base of different stuff! Oftentimes we’ll write music in the vein of non-metal artists, or with them in mind, for instance. We’re spinning a lot of pop / indie rock at the mo; Haim, Lorde, Taylor Swift, St Vincent and Wolf Alice are all in fairly regular rotation between us.
Then there’s the more left-field stuff – 80s synthpop comes up now and again (love the Human League!) and bands like The Prodigy come up fairly often.
Back to the metal scene, in your opinion, what are the main difficulties that an underground faces nowadays? To release an album, to book a tour, to be noticed among so many bands? In my humble opinion, as I have stated in my review, I find both bands of high excellence, but, unfortunately, being good is not enough nowadays. What do you think a band has to do to stand out from the others?
STRIGA: It’s damn tough. As you say, there are many bands out there now, and competing for gig space is a real headache. Actually getting people to turn up to gigs in the UK is nightmarish, and I’m not sure why that is. People have much less money to spend now, and with all the competition, it’s difficult to sell physical media and merchandise. I think to get noticed you just have to make great (or unique) music and perform it really well! Quite a few underground bands try different gimmicks (costumes, light shows etc.) but it never does much for me, I prefer to let the music speak.
HUSK: I would say that the biggest problem is equal parts funding and exposure. These two factors tend to work opposite each other, it takes money to release new material, tour or produce merchandise but these things increase exposure. I think playing music that is different from the norm, even within the metal scene is something people find attractive in a band. To be different is to stand out!
Whenever possible, I try to add a question just to have fun. Well, I m a huge Seinfeld fan and I use a few of the show’s situations to form questions. My favourite one is the following: the four friends bet who can go the longest without masturbating and be granted the title “Master of Your Domain”, well, the person that would be able to control the “urges”. Adding both bands together in this bet, who do you think would be the “master of your domain” and why?
STRIGA: We’re all massive wankers so this is a tough call. Hmmm who has the best eyesight? That’s probably the most accurate measure.
HUSK: We spend far too long sleeping in the same beds to contemplate such things!
A part of the interview that I ask you about your personal life. I never ask anything that invades your privacy though. What I wanted is to ask you about some of your main passions outside music, be it about literature, travelling, cinema… any hobbies, if you have any… overall, your favourite activities when not playing music.
STRIGA: PC games, pen & paper RPGs and tabletop gaming/ wargaming for me. I also like getting wasted quite regularly.
HUSK: There’s a hell of a lot, we’re a bunch of the biggest nerds really. Cartoons, old games (especially Spyro 2 which we are determined complete as a band), TV, film, nerf guns, dinosaurs, tattoos and trees are but a few.
We now reach the end of the interview. One more time, thank you very much for this. I would like to wish you all the best in your plans, both personal and professional. I leave you the last words; do you have any for our readers?
STRIGA: Lets face it, you might get hit by a bus tomorrow. Go on. Try meth.
HUSK: There’s a strange place found between 6am and 12pm called the morning. Do not go there. It is a bad place.
All pictures belong to their rightful owners.July 17, 2015