Concerning the show of beloved Belgians post-sludgers Amenra on our turf once more, in particular at Piraeus Academy 117 in Athens on Friday December the 14th, we chatted a little about their latest record, their perception of music and art in general and their love towards the Greek audience. They’ll be joined by Treha Sektori, also a member of Church of Ra collective which they established. Another beautiful event by Smoke the Fuzz gigs.
photograph by Bobby Cochran
Hello and welcome to Metal Invader! You’ve performed in Greece a number of times and you’ll be back again in such a short time. How does it feel to come back?
Awesome, we all love it there. We’re looking forward to the show. Elina and Smoke the Fuzz are amazing people.
“Mass VI” is maybe my favorite album of yours now that’s grown inside me for the past year. How did you manage, after 5 albums, to return with something even deeper while not much has changed in your ways at first glance?
It actually was the first album where Levy (bass player) actively joined the writing process. Ηe was actually the new gun on the team and definitely put his stamp on the latest album. We kissed away all restrictions we laid upon us in the past and we decided to allow more layering in our songs, even though live it would be harder to accomplish.
Vocal-wise I think I grew because of the acoustic shows we did and a lot of co-operations with others that led me to growing a bigger pair of balls to actually sing more and more intensely on this one.
You’ve worked again with Billy Anderson to record it. You secluded yourselves in his studio for some days working on the album. How did this experience work for you? What made you continue your collaboration?
It was cool. We were all more invested in the process than ever before because we were all there for the entire duration, with the occasional visit from our families. Since it was the second time around to work together it all went more fluently, we knew what kinda people we all were. The fact that we really liked what he had done with the first album, made us work together again.
We did make two different mixes though of the album. One was made by Billy and the other one by Jack Shirley. One became the US version the other the EU version of the album. Just because we could and we wanted to do the experiment. Our music never ends you know, it evolves etc. It’s our clay.
The album came out again on Neurot Records. How does it feel to be part of the Neurosis family for some years now?
Well, we could not wish for a better home. They really took us under their wings and have helped us in any way they could, a true family. No one has ever done as much for us as they did. We owe them a hell of a lot.
Not a long time ago you released a split with fellow Belgians, Raketkanon. An unorthodox pairing, but yet so beautiful considering each band’s unique music output. How do you feel looking back at it? What’s the relationship between you?
We had done this co-operation before where we chose a befriended band from the area and looked for an artist also from Ghent to work together on this project. First one was Madensuyu and sculptor Berlinde de Bruyckere and the second time round it were Raketkanon and the Belgian painter Michael Borremans.
We run into each other all of the time on shows and in Ghent above anything. They’re our most talented friends.
Your set at Roadburn in 2016 made quite an impression on me. Everyone wearing full black, Colin has turned his back at the audience and the band was heavier than ever. In my head, that performance erased the perception of the frontman and established the band as an entity. I believe that this was one of the most important statements a band could make, crushing the ego and letting the music take over. Do you agree with that statement?
From suspensions (flesh hangings) to turned backs, from acoustic soundscapes to electric destruction, from Amenra to Church of Ra and from music to publishing your books, you never stop creating. What is the driving force behind you?
It comes from deep within. I would not know where it comes from. But the fire is there and is thriving for almost 20 years now.
I’m not a spiritual person by any means, but I perceive your art as ritualistic in terms of repetition, heaviness and passion. Do you believe that music speaks differently to each person depending on the prism under which they look at it or is its effect the same, but translated differently?
Like in everything people perceive things all differently, depending on culture, education, emotion and a zillion parameters and references they’ve made their own throughout their existence.
Is everything political? Can art be separated from an artist’s life choices and ideals?
Not everything is political. Art can be separated yes, if that artist chooses to do so.
What should we expect from your show in Athens with Treha Sektori? Any Church of Ra family special collaboration maybe?
Maybe, but probably not.
Thank you so much for your time. I’m looking forward to your performance. The epilogue is yours.
Thank you very much for your time and effort.