Catching Up with Worm Ouroboros

Worm Ouroboros is starting the new year off with a stunning new release.  They took a break from touring to concentrate on their latest album, What Graceless Dawn, which was released through Profound Lore Records at the end of 2016.  Now that the album is out, we hope they will bring their beautiful and haunting sound to a nearby stage.  We had a chance to catch up with Jessica, Lorraine, and Aesop to learn a little bit more about the new release and their creative process. Check out our interview below!

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What was the creative process like for this album, was it written collectively?

Jessica:  Worm Ouroboros writes in a very collaborative manner. While a song will start with a melody from one of us, we slowly build the pieces together, all of us contributing our ideas for where the song will go next. Whoever is singing lead usually writes the lyrics for that song and arranges the harmonies, but the instrumentation and overall arrangement is a collective effort. We don’t jam, every line of melody is carefully composed. As we go, the three of us arrange and rearrange a song. It can be a slow process but it is rewarding to be able to create this way.

Aesop: I tend to record a lot of our rehearsals as we are writing and listen intently to what is working and not drum-wise. There are moments where I listen closer to what the bass is doing, and other instances where a Jessica’s guitar might inform my decisions. Note choice and phrasing is very crucial to Worm Ouroboros, I want the drumming to be very deliberate.

This album has such an intensely tragic beauty to it, where did you find yourself going during the creative process to come up with these ideas and sounds?

Lorraine:  Jessica and I met early on in the process to discuss the general direction of this album, and coincidentally we’d both come to the table wanting to explore similar themes of despair, hopelessness, and destructive desires–delving into slightly darker waters than our previous albums. We came up with a story about Day and Night being in love, but eternally doomed to destroy the other and never to possess the object of their yearning. This cycle of inner and outer destruction and the helplessness it creates became our emotional scaffolding. Each song on the album tells its own story, independent of the larger one. But having this overarching theme gives all the songs a certain connectedness that makes the album work as a whole.

The music and arrangements themselves follow these narratives naturally. If we know what a song is about and what the mood is that it needs to convey, it almost becomes intuitive to hear what those feelings sound like and what comes next in the arrangement to move us through the story and its terrain.

This album feels a little bit more stripped down and raw than your previous releases, was it your intention to do so or was this a natural evolution of the sound?

Aesop: Not sure I necessarily agree so the long and short answer is “no.” I think we definitely tried some new things with this material but other than that the process was very much like Come The Thaw.

What was the recording process like at Earhammer Studios?

Aesop: Greg Wilkinson is the best. Very relaxed and easy to work with. I think he understands exactly what we are doing and knows how to technically capture it. We’ve never even discussed doing it anywhere else or with anyone else.

The overlapping vocals are one of the most prominent elements of this album, did either of you have formal voice training?

Lorraine:  I was in choir when I was young, but no formal voice training. I did have classical training on flute and played in a band and orchestra in college. I think this background, along with some music theory study, has trained my ear for harmonies and intervals and given me a pretty solid foundation for writing.

Jessica:  I’ve had some vocal lessons as an adult, but not extensively. I grew up in a musical family and was singing in choirs from a very young age. My father was a songwriter and really encouraged me to write my own music, and my mother was a professional singer in the days before she had children, so I learned a lot from her. Perhaps because both of us have choral experience, we have an ear for blending and harmonizing with another voice. Lorraine and I also just really enjoy singing together.

The album artwork is absolutely beautiful, can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Lorraine:  Thank you–I created the artwork and package design. We talked as a band about some visual themes first, and decided we wanted to convey a sense of hopelessness and despair–of being trapped by one’s own mind and self-destructive yearnings. I came up with this image of moonflowers that only open at night, dying and withering under the oppressive gold weight of dawn. The person is held between the two equally oppressive forces of day and night, suspended and inconsolable. That said, I like to keep imagery just vague and open enough to allow for other interpretations, as it may speak to someone else in a different way.

What are your upcoming plans now that What Graceless Dawn is released?

Jessica:  We made the difficult decision to take a very long break from touring to focus on writing this album, so we hope to get out and back to touring and playing festivals again. We’ve also always wanted to get the first album from 2009 finally on vinyl, perhaps other formats, things of that nature. Likely we will begin writing album four.

Aesop: As Jessica said, play more, write more.

Copies of the new album can be purchased here

-Thalia Gore-

Featured Artist – Kerbcrawlerghost

One of the more positive aspects of our modern technology is how much we are able to discover through the use of social media and the fact that more and more people are connected.  Creative communities are now able to share their work across multiple channels and effectively be their own PR companies.  We had the good fortune of stumbling upon Chilean artist Kerbcrawlerghost in just this manner.  His depictions of what some may consider sacrilegious imagery are the stuff of dreams, nightmares, and sexual fantasies.  He has recently done cover art for Weregoat and is in the process of collaborating with new bands.  We look forward to seeing his work pop up elsewhere.  Check out our interview below!

finguersuckHow long have you been creating artwork with religious connotations, and are you interested in conveying a specific view or message regarding religion?

Not very long ago I started to learn about the tarot and the figure of the devil became very significant for me because represents from my point of view my ideals as an artist, my creativity. My search of beauty always comes from darkness, pessimism, obsession, addictions and mostly by lust and desire.  It is not a negative card for me at all.

But religion was always implicit in my formation as an artist, since I remember my mother was studying the bible and became a Jehovah´s witness when I was just a kid, she made me study the bible too with a book called “My Book of Biblic Stories.” It was fully illustrated, and from the beginning I felt attracted when the evil was represented by demons, whores, giants, diseases, or when the anger of god fell over burning cities and fucking everything up with plagues…. So I started to love the apocalypse since very young.

My art is not focused on trying to send a specific message against religion. I don’t mind people’s beliefs, what I really hate are the institutions that rule behind, those are the real demons.

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What influences you to create your art?

The exorcism of reality, the possibility to perform my desire and appreciation of life without going to jail, and the quest of finding beauty in the meantime, and I love to find it in that thin line between horror.

Do you have any specific artists that have had a big influence on you and why?

Yes, and the list can be endless. Right now my top five should be Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Bruegel, Albert Durer, Gustave Doré and Theodor Kittelsen. But there are great living artists that I have been lucky to follow in the process as they create and evolve, like Jeremy Bastian or Vania Zouravilov. Some of them have become friends, like Godmachine, Joshua Jay Johnson, Paul Rentler, Frenchinald and many others. These are good times we are living, to share our art and take it out of fucking museums and galleries and get regular people’s appreciation and feedback of your work.  And aaahh, why are they are big influences? Because I steal the best from them, and then apply all those great techniques and ideas to my work, it’s one way to improve. I just rob them!

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What is your favorite piece that you have created so far and why?

To be honest I don’t have one, but I have different feelings for them. With some I have learned or discover techniques in the process. Others have a special effect on people, and that is something you can’t predict. Some have a lot of hours of work but very few people like them, others are very simple doodles that condensate a better idea and everybody loves them. That’s why I don’t have favorites. Maybe the day that I get to a perfect illustration, I will be the rest of my life trying to reproduce that, and it will be nonsense.

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What would be your dream project?

I love stories, and I would love to expand my art to a narrative, create a universe out of a comic and maybe animation. Now I’m working on a couple of scripts to [achieve] that step, and both are related to my actual favorite themes; eroticism, occultism, satanism and mythology. But writing a story and designing characters is a very slow process, it’s hard to get everything right and eats a lot of time. I hope to be 100% dedicated to that next year with a comic Kickstarter campaign, and stop living from doing storyboards and shit for advertising… But for now that’s only a dream.

 

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Kerbcrawlerghost Merch

Kerbcrawlerghost on Instagram @kerbcrawlerghost

 

-Thalia Gore-

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Featured Artist – wolfCat Workshop

There are a handful of very lucky artists out there who see a completely different world when they close their eyes.  It’s a world filled with magical characters.  Ones you wish you could come across in your travels.

We recently had the good fortune of getting to know wolfCat Workshop and learning about all the beautiful creatures and characters he sees in his world.  This west coast native and fellow cat enthusiast gave us a peek into his creative process and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Please check out our interview below as well as some of his beautiful artwork!

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-Tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist and how long you have been creating.

I am very much a generalist, and I am very curious about a lot of things. So, naturally, it has not been a straight path for me. A few years ago when I was visiting my mother she asked me to clean some things I left in her apartment. I found all these journals and papers from before high school. I used to write a lot. I really wanted to be a writer. There were poems – really bad ones, mind you – short stories, articles, essays… and on the margins and the backs of notebooks there were a ton of drawings. For a long time I wasn’t serious about drawing but looking at those made me realize I had been doing it all along. My childhood was full of mechanical toys and drawing supplies (my mother was an architect before computers were The drafting tool) but it was only after college that I fully realized that making things with my hands made me whole and happy.

And making things with my hands is at the center of my life, even if it’s not considered art. I enjoy woodworking and metalworking and sewing and hobby electronics and food fermentation projects. The special thing about the visual stuff I make is that it makes me the most proud. And the feeling is not like “Oh, that’s the best thing I’ve made,” it’s more like I look back at some of those drawings and think “Yeah, time well spent. I’m glad I did that.”

-Do you have a routine for your work on a daily basis?

Yes, there are some things I try to do consistently. They change overtime or I adapt them to what I need, but the basic idea is: draw something everyday, whatever it is.

A few years ago I was depressed and told all my (Facebook) friends I would post a new drawing everyday for 30 days. It’s not a cure for depression but it helped, and some nice images came out of it. After this I kept trying similar challenges. I like that feeling of the self imposed deadline where I don’t wait for inspiration but I’m constantly thinking “What the hell am I going to draw today? Well, something is better than nothing…”

My current routine involves drawing for at least 10 minutes first thing in the morning. I’m not a morning person and I found out that this non-judgmental doodling helps me transition between grumpy-me and let’s-get-started-with-the-day me. I often go for longer or keep working on the same project day after day. One can do a lot in just 10 minutes a day. Right now I’m collecting these drawings. I will make them into a zine when I reach 42 pages.

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-Many of your pieces feature various types of amazing creatures, where do you come up with them and are they representative of anything?

There are a few creatures I draw over and over and I think of them as versions of certain concepts. For example: there is the tentacled alien god – which is clearly Lovecraftian – but it’s also my caricature of god, or a god. I mean, if there is a god it probably is an utterly incomprehensible creature, a true alien to us, an Other.  Plus tentacles are really cool.

There is also Umbrella Man. He’s a sort of a puppet made out of discarded umbrellas that came to be after seeing all the umbrellas that get discarded after the rain in New York; sad, forgotten, insect-like and melancholic. Umbrella man represents that feeling for me.

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Although I have to say some of the creatures are less special in terms of their origins. Sometimes they were just fun to draw or maybe I saw the work of another artist and I wanted to make my own version.

There is also this book I have to mention. Not so much because I’ve tried to illustrate some of the characters in there but because I feel it gave me permission to imagine my own. China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station is a fairly gritty novel set up in a Victorian steampunk magical world populated by really strange creatures.  It has a multidimensional spider with human hands that speaks in verse, a moth like creature that feeds on people’s dreams and secretes a powerful drug, parasitic hands… it’s very visual, and very eclectic, very metal in fact. And I know I don’t need permission to draw anything, but sometimes it helps to see crazy concepts working well in other artistic realms.

I get some ideas from comics too. I love the surreal and ornate world of Jim Woodring, Neil Gaiman’s willingness to borrow from all cultures and the gloomy children’s world of Taiyo Matsumoto.

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-Your work has such intricate line work and shading, has that always been a part of your style or is that something that developed over time?

It developed over time as I found out ways to use my natural inclinations. I can be very focused and patient. Somehow I do enjoy sitting there for hours putting dots on a piece of paper. Details matter a lot to me.

Also, brush pens. I love brush pens. If you are not familiar with those, they are like a fountain pen but instead of a nib you have a brush with actual bristles. They have an ink reservoir so unlike a normal brush you don’t have to dip it every few strokes. Very fun if you are into making lines with varying thicknesses and lots of control. I think using them so much has influenced my output.

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-How did you come to start doing the woodwork pieces?  Did it evolve from your sketchbook ideas?

I have been trying to bring different aspects of my life together. Woodworking is really fun for me, I also like sewing and I’ve worked in construction and metal fabrication professionally, so I consider myself pretty crafty, but somehow I’ve kept the visual art stuff confined to flat surfaces like paper. The woodwork pieces come from my desire to mix them up, so as you mention, I’ve been taking ideas from the sketchbook and trying to make them work as three dimensional objects. I feel I’m just getting started with this, but I’m happy that those pieces have had such a warm reception.

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-What music are you currently listening to while you work?  Are there any specific bands that have been a big influence for you?

When I find something I like it’s on repeat for weeks. I’m one of those obsessive listeners. Lately I’m loving Tau Cross, the project by Rob Miller from Amebix. The lyrics are really wonderful, simple and full of interesting images. As a side note, it was really cool to find out Rob is an amazing blacksmith, he makes swords, incredible craftsmanship.

To Your Death by Christian Mistress just came out last year, Christine Davis is probably my favorite heavy/thrash metal vocalist of all times.

On the brutal side of things I’ve been really enjoying Wormed from Spain, I think their sci-fi theme and humor work well (they have a song titled “Cumputronium Pulsar Nanarchy” ! ) and the music is great fun. Lately Jomsviking by Amon Amarth has been on repeat too, because who can resist those catchy tunes? And I saw their L.A show in May.

It’s hard for me to establish a connection between particular bands and my visual art, but there are some bands I’ve thought about for a long time, and in that way they are an influence. Carcass comes to mind. I distinctly remember the first time I put Necroticism–Descanting the Insalubrious on my treasured Sony Discman, I listened to the whole thing, read the lyrics and… didn’t get it at all. I was even a little bit disgusted. I thought it was weird and a little bit crazy but I eventually came to love that album. Kinda like when you hate someone at first sight later to fall in love with them. Carcass became my model for appreciating art. I think Descanting the Insalubrious taught me that if I strongly dislike something, I need to explore it further, dig deeper, see the other side.

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-Do you exhibit your work in galleries or do you show online only?

After doing online only for a while, a good friend pushed me to have a show and it was a great experience. People asked me questions I didn’t have good answers for, which was a good learning experience. And I loved seeing people flipping through the pages of some of my sketchbooks, touching the drawings and feeling the textures. I would like to make more stuff that is tactile and needs to be experienced live, and even if you don’t touch them, it is nice to see the originals. So there are probably some shows in the future. I don’t have any concrete plans right now but if anyone wants to suggest a venue, please get in touch.

-Who is your favorite living artist?

I’d like to tell you my cat Shiro, for he has mastered the art of being awesome, but you probably want to know who my favorite human artist is. I really admire Andy Goldsworthy. His patience, visual elegance, craftsmanship. I accept that we are two entirely different human beings but sometimes I wish I was Andy Goldsworthy. There is a documentary about his work called “Rivers and Tides.” Go watch it after you follow me on Instagram.

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You can check out more awesome work through the following links, and be sure to sign up for the newsletter!

wolfCat Workshop Website

wolfCat Workshop on Facebook

Twitter & Instagram – @wolfcatworkshop

-Thalia Gore-

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Catching Up with Monolord

Swedish doom outfit, Monolord has hit the states running for their headlining tour with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge.  Their new EP, Lord of Suffering/Die in Haze is set to release during tour.  It comes in a variety of luscious colors through RidingEasy Records or at the merch table.  We had a chance to catch up with Monolord to ask them a little bit about the new 10″ EP as well as life on the road.  Check out our interview below!

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Your new 10″ EP, Lord of Suffering/Die in Haze is due out this week.  Do you see this release as an extension of your previous album or a teaser of what’s yet to come?
Esben Willems: As always when we write and record material, it’s an ongoing process. We’re always working on new stuff and trying out all kinds of ideas back and forth. So in a way it’s both an extension of previous releases and an appetizer of what’s ahead. The 10″ is where we are at right now.
Can you tell us a little about the songs on the EP?  When and where were they written?

EW: Both songs are the results of Thomas’ ever flowing stream of great riffs. Like always, the three of us then played around with them until we found the right shape and feel for the songs. I really like the way they came out.

Was there a particular mood or environment that inspired everyone the most during this past writing process?

EW: The constant stupidity and never ending self destructive humanity is an endless source of inspiration. We keep fucking up both ourselves and everything around us, and the frustration in seeing that happening all the time is something that we let out through our music. It’s a safety valve of sorts.

You have just embarked on another U.S. tour, this time as the headliners, how does touring in America differ from Europe/oversea?  Do you feel any differently being the headliner this time around?

EW: Yeah, we’re about a week in right now and it’s all going really well. We’re touring with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge, great live bands and great people. Being a headliner this time is all thanks to our supportive fans that are making that possible. Getting to play music we love for them is the reason we keep doing what we do.

When it comes to touring, there are minor differences, but more similarities. Wake up after 4 hours of sleep, eat whatever kind of “breakfast” there’s available nearby, drive for most of the day, load in at the venue, soundcheck, wait, get the reward of going on stage in front of devoted and fantastic fans, load out, find a motel, fall asleep and then do it all over again the next day.

What kind of gear will we be seeing during this tour?  Is there anything new you are adding to the arsenal?

EW: I’m really not much of a gearhead. Equipment is part of the sound, of course, but the far biggest part is how you play it.

Are there any venues that are a must stop while touring, sort of a home away from home vibe?

EW: We’ve played twice at The Chapel in San Francisco now, and for me that’s one of the best venues in every aspect. Welcoming, friendly and very professional crew, fantastic venue, amazing sound both on and off stage. On top of that, the catering is kick ass. That’s a venue I hope we’ll return to.

Is taking the stage now versus three years ago vastly different and why/how?

EW: From our first show in a small club in Gothenburg to standing in front of a sea of people at Hellfest in France, there has obviously happened a lot. Getting that kind of feedback over time is breathtaking.

We are really looking forward to catching you guys at Saint Vitus, safe travels on the road!

EW: We’re really stoked to play there again! See you all there!

Tack så mycket!!

Catch Monolord on the road with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge!
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-Thalia Gore-

Catching Up with Helen Money

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Alison Chesley of Helen Money has a busy year planned.  She has a new album scheduled for release later this year on Thrill Jockey.  She will also be heading out on another tour starting in the U.S. with Magma before she goes overseas and joins Shellac in Europe.  We were able to catch up with her before she hits the road.  Please check out the interview below!

It has been about two years since your last tour, are you excited to get back out on the road again?  Do you find being on tour helps inspire you to write new music?

Actually I’ve been touring pretty consistently the past couple years.  The only really major break being after the last Agalloch tour in June and this one with MAGMA.  I was in the studio writing the new record.  Being on tour can be hard or inspiring.  Depends on the tour.  Mostly I’m just thinking about performing the songs well.

You mentioned that your last album was the “culmination of two years of continuing to explore ideas.”   Have you been doing the same since your last album in 2013? What is your writing process like – where does a song usually ‘start’ for you and how do you build it into a finished work?

I usually  start with a sound and go from there.  It’s hard to describe and not very scientific.  Mostly a matter of showing up in the studio every day and working.  Some songs fall together quickly and others take a while but often those can be the best ones.

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Your previous album felt like a very raw and emotional release with heavy notes of darkness. What direction do you see the new album going in?

A very raw and emotional release with heavy notes of darkness 😉  That’s kinda my wheelhouse.  There is some beauty too.  You gotta have hope, right?

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Your previous release, ‘Arriving Angels’ was produced with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, which is semi-famous for its analog equipment and recording processes – will you be working with him again on your next release? And if not, how do you see that changing the sound of the new album, if at all?

I recorded the new record with my good friend Will Thomas in his studio in LA.  We did the drums at East West Studios in LA.  It was a different process and a little better suited to my wiring style.  It’s can be challenge (one I enjoy) to record to tape because I have lots of parts going and I play all of them.  I am the band.  I’m sure I’ll work with Steve again.  Just wanted to try something new.

You have worked with and toured with musicians such as Jason Roeder of Sleep/Neurosis, Russian Circles, Anthrax, and are currently teamed up with Magma. Will we be seeing any collaborative appearances on your upcoming album?

Rachel Grimes is on one track; Jason is back on two songs.  Created some background sounds by sampling my cello.  But really its all me.  I don’t write the songs with other people.  They help me perform them.

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We are very excited to be catching her set this Friday at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City.

For more info and additional tour dates visit the Helen Money Website

*All photography by Travis McCoy*

-Thalia Gore-