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Interview with Yellow Eyes

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Last Updated on 14:08 by Giorgos Tsekas

“Yellow Eyes is a band that needs no introduction. With every release they shake the underground fans all over the world to their foundations. With their new album, Master’s Murmur, freshly out of the oven, they are visiting Greece for the first time at An club, Tuesday 5th December.”

Hello! My name is Crystal and I welcome you to Metal Invader. It has been 11 years since the release of your debut record “Silence Threads the Evening’s Cloth”. A record that echoes like a journey and instantly creates visuals in someone’s mind. How have Yellow Eyes evolved ever since as musicians and as people?

WILL: We’ve never been trained or technical musicians, we still aren’t – no progress there. As songwriters I think we’ve gotten better, or at least more willing to take risks. It’s hard to be in a band; it’s especially hard to be in a band for over a decade. We’ve realized that if this isn’t something we’re actively enjoying then it’s not something we should be pouring such an enormous amount of energy into. These days the goals are simple and clear – create the best music we possibly can and keep the entire experience as positive as possible.

SAM: It’s taken me a decade to realize that the weird little album we recorded live in about an hour ultimately had some strange, dirty appeal to it that was perhaps lost in later work, where we really spent time composing. Sometimes the records you work the most quickly on feel the most true to some people, which is something I believe in but don’t think I’ll ever truly figure out in my life.

Let’s take it from scratch, though. What has been the vision originally, behind Yellow Eyes?

WILL: The original vision was to play black metal music and be able to tour. We had no expectations at all. The goals were achieved pretty quickly, and it’s been a net positive after that.

SAM: We wanted to try to articulate something that is hard to articulate. I still don’t know how to fit that feeling into a sentence. We also wanted to go drink beer in Europe.

Fast forward to a few weeks before, “Master’s Murmur”. Tell us a bit more about the creative process of this album and how has it been received so far from the audience. Did the change of your sound to folkish and atmospheric, darker paths had an impact on your “hardcore” fans?

WILL: While we certainly weren’t catering to anyone’s expectations at all, it became clear that we were going to release a record that some people weren’t going to like. A surprise was how many people it seemed to resonate with. We’ve been saying that we’ve been working on a record for a couple years now, and we still are – this is not the record we have been working on. That will come soon and will probably please the people that were fans of our older work but not into this.

SAM: There is a lot to say about expectation regarding fans. The mind is divided into two parts when working on an album, and the healthiest bands are able to keep that division strong during the execution of the music. First part: let us stretch this material as far as it can stretch without breaking. Second part: What the fuck is this? Who is this for? We lived almost entirely in the first part during Master’s Murmur. About 3 days from the release we suddenly woke up and said, wait, what is this? Hm…

The album has been your first one since 2019’s “Rare Field Ceiling”, which means that “Master’s Murmur” was created during Covid-19 maybe? How did that situation impact the album? Can you tell us anything about the new album that is expected in 2024?

Master’s Murmur went from conception to completion in one month, this past September. We did pull some ideas from some of the tracks we have been working upon for the 2024 album, which was written partially during COVID. I can’t say that COVID impacted the music at all, in fact it was our least active period musically. One of us had a kid, a few of us moved, we were busy in other ways.

SAM: We took time to rebuild a new kind of life during COVID. Yes, I had a kid, which you have probably heard people talk about and don’t need me to expound upon. Well, I’ll say that it changed my life entirely in an incredible way. And it hindered certain projects for a time. But I’m back now. The new album is going to be pretty wild.

What are the differences from the one album to the other? What would be your favorite tracks from it?

WILL: All Yellow Eyes records share a common thread, but hopefully they’re different enough to remain compelling individually. I think with each passing record we take increased risks musically, we don’t want to be bored. A personal favorite track from the most recent record is Tremble Blue Morning, it was one of the first tracks we wrote for this album and helped guide the sound of the record in some ways.

SAM: I had a really good time with adding heavy metal guitars over the strange, clean atmospheres. It was addicting to work on adding guitar layers to “Winter is Looking.” Like, “Did we get the take? Yes? Well, I’ll just record it 15 more times, just in case.”

Speaking of favorites, can you recall any specific memories during the Yellow Eyes years that have made an impact to your life forever?

WILL: The friendships created through being in the band are the apex. You hang around for long enough and you get to know a lot of people, the shared experience of being on tour bonds us quickly. We have a lot of lifelong friends around the world and for that I am grateful.

SAM: I often think about one specific night. We ended up in a bar in Olomouc, Czech Republic, after our second EU tour. Everything else was closed, it was a weekday, and we found this place after walking for hours. The place was closing but they kept it open. There were about a dozen people there. I don’t think any of them knew who we were before that night, but they insisted on listening to Immersion Trench Reverie in its entirety and partying with us until 7am. Then we immediately drove back to the Prague airport in the pouring rain, devastatingly hungover. During the drive, the rain started coming down so hard that we had to pull over. I pulled out my field recorder and recorded the final sample on Rare Field Ceiling.

During Covid 19 many new releases and fan favorite records emerged. What albums you think deserve a shoutout from the last 3 or 4 years?

WILL: I don’t really keep up with much of the new music that is coming out. A big source of
constant inspiration is the music coming from our friends and bandmates: Vilkacis, Ruin Lust, Morbid Sphere, Vanum, Loosey, Sunrise Patriot Motion, all come to mind.

What can one see on a Yellow Eyes show, at least someone who has not been familiar with the band’s name beforehand?

WILL: Hard for me to say, I probably have the least perspective on what it’s like to watch us play to be honest. We’re a black metal band that tries to play our songs as well as we can.

SAM: It depends what point of view you’re coming from. Some people with noise or experimental backgrounds have come out on the recommendation of friends and said they were surprised to hear something akin to classical music coming from the stage. Certain dyed-in-the-wool metalheads have come on another type of recommendation and hated every moment of it.

What should we expect from your concert in Athens next week?

WILL: Some old songs, maybe a new one.

What do you expect from the Athens audience?

SAM: I was in Greece just before COVID. It was the final trip I took with my wife before we had a kid. I loved Athens. It was one of those strange experiences of traveling through a place, admiring it, but not really being able to grasp it socially— I didn’t know anyone there. I mean, I did shots of raki with about two dozen strangers. I rode a motorbike through the mountains did all sorts of crazy stuff. But I didn’t have any anchor. It’s one of the great privileges of being in a band that you can sneak in the back door of a place. Hey Athens, let me in!

Any last words? The epilogue is all yours!

WILL: Apologies for the short responses, we’re literally on the way to the airport right now! We’re so excited to be coming to Greece. The people involved with making this show happen have been absolutely incredible and we can’t wait to meet everyone in person.

SAM: Yes, I will convert this epilogue into a live Q and A. Come talk to us in person. Time to go to the airport.

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