Interview - Sunn O)))


Greg Anderson

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Sam: I was wondering, on the new album, it seems like on every progressive album you guys have out, it seems like it's even darker and more evil than the last one. Do you guys try to top yourselves every time?
Greg Anderson: "Not consciencely, I mean, we sort of had some loose concepts for each of the last 3 albums that we did. The White I, the White II, and the Black I and really we weren't trying to out-heavy, or make it darker than the last one. Just sort of whatever the theme or concept that we were working with, is kinda how it turned out. But it's never like a thought-out conscience effort, it just comes to be."
Sam: It just kind of gets crazier by itself?
GA: "Yeah, I mean, I donno, it's also sorf of a matter of taste and opinion about what...I mean I think some of the stuff we did on the White records were alot more experimental and sort of left field than on Black I. I sort of look at Black I as more of a cohesive record and more, sort of staying true to the drone and the riff style that we've had on our earlier records. I mean, we definately tried to not make the same record that we did, but to me this one has alot's kind of like our live shows where it's like, more riffing and less sort of, quiet parts in songs that the White records have."
Sam: There's kind of more of a ambient feel on the White records.
GA: "Well, I think all of them have their own ambience, you know? I think the White records have their own sort of asthetic and atmosphere. The Black record to me, it does have alot more darkness to it, in my opinion, the finnished product, listening to it now and thinking about it as compared to the other records. But I think all the records kinda have their own atmosphere that evokes different feelings and stuff like that."
Sam: How did you decide who was going to sing on this one? It kinda rotates around every time?
GA: "Well, yeah, that's one of the things we've been trying to do since the White I record is to sort of bring in different collaborators to try and make things interesting and try to take things into different directions. With this record it's like we, we had some vocalists on the White I and White II record, and we'd done some live shows with vocalists and we really kinda liked how that was working out,so with this one we decided we wanted to continue that sort of tradition from the last couple of records but we wanted to have some different singers. So, Steven and I were really fasinated with some of the underground black metal artists, obviously Malefic and Wrest and we thought it would be really cool to see if they would be interested in collaborating with us and contributing to some material. And they ended up being really into it, and it was really I think a good choice and a good experience for us to do that."
Sam: I know you guys are coming around here in December, are you going to have a singer with you?
GA: "We're working on it, I'm not too sure what we're going to do. We really hope so, I mean it's something we did, we just did a West Coast tour and we had 2 different vocalsists with us actually. We had the drummer from Boris, he did vocals with us, and also Malefic came out and did some vocals at the CA shows. And again it's something we really want to try to do, it's just sometimes the logistics of getting that person to where we're playing. Steven and I live on opposite coasts, I live on the West Coast in L.A. and he lives in NYC and the vocalist we have worked with...well the drummer from Boris lives in Japan so that's a little difficult to pull off, um the vocalist from White II, Attila, he lives in Hungary, and Wrest and Malefic both live in CA, but they're sort of, not the easiest guys to get out of the house. So, it's something we definately want to do, but I'm not sure what line up we're going to bring out to the East Coast yet. We haven't solidified it yet."
Sam: I heard on this album, you locked one of the guys in a coffin for one of the tracks?
GA: "haha, uh huh,"
Sam: How did that go over?
GA: "Uh, well I think it turned out great, I mean it's kind of like, almost beating a dead horse, and doing the obvious. The thing Steven and I liked about Malefic's records and the Xasthur records was that, his vocals sounded very claustrophobic and very... it had this really like, dark, desperate tone to him, and claustrophobic that I really was hoping we could kind of get that tone and that atmosphere on his performances with our record. So we're like 'well, we could just overdo it and make sure that it happens', you know we had this idea at first like 'oh let's lock him in a closet or in a small space' and then we're like well ' if we're going to do this, why don't we go all the way'. We ended up getting a coffin, and of course asking him if he was into doing it, and he was very interested in trying it out. I think the tone we got out of it was great, and plus just the fact that he was in a really small, confined space really added to his vocal performace on it."
Sam: Did you record any of the instruments in a different way?
GA: "Yeah, actually we did this thing that we hadn't really done before which really works well for us. We basically, when we record the basic tracks we also record a clean track direct into the board at the same time. And then you take that clean signal and you run it back through, you can run it back through different amplifiers to get different tones and things like that. We did that alot with like, we take a guitar take and get that signal and then run it back through a bass amp setup and obviously record that. It was a cool way to basically not have to do any physical overdubs. It's kind of like a ghost overdub, you've already done the performance, you're just running it through a different amp and adding layers onto your recording and tracking."
Sam: I heard you guys actually do the whole Druid/robe thing live, how did that come about? Have you guys always done that?
GA: "No, I donno, it basically came about...We'd played a couple of shows live and I actually, honestly wasn't into doing playing with this group live because I was letting audience reaction sort of affect my performance and what the music ment to me. To me the music is, when I play it's like, you get into like a trance, my goal when I'm playing is to try to just, get out of my mind basically and try to really leave the regular cares behind. It's kind of a meditative thing for me if it works correctly. So, I was noticing that playing live in, you know street clothes, jeans and t-shirt in clubs in front of regular audiences was like letting the opinions of the audience and their reactions affect my playing, and I didn't want to to be like that for this group, so basically we stopped playing live. And then, we kinda had this idea that, shit, you know the best really to experience Sunn O))) to feel the physicallity of what we're doing is at a live setting because, obviously it's alot louder than anyone's stereo, etc. So, how can we pull off a live show and make it not just your average rock n' roll or metal show where people are rocking in jeans and a t-shirt, just your regular dudes playing in front of an audience at a club? What we came up with was to, turn the whole entire thing into a performance, and make it sort of like a ritual and give it sort of a really different atmosphere so that people that come to see it are going to take away something different than just going to see a regular band play live. So what we came up with was to have these robes, these kind of Druid-like robes and it was cool because once we put those on, it just puts you a different frame of mind, and you're not so worried about what the audience is thinking because you're entertaining them already by having a robe on. It's something different, something unusual, so it kind of worked on a bunch of different levels for us."