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!
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.