Als die Heirs aus Melbourne letztes Jahr ihr Debütalbum "Alchera" über Denovali Records und Exo Records veröffentlicht hatten, war das Staunen bei den Musikkritikern groß. Eine dreiviertel Stunde lang, auf sechs Titel verteilt, zelebrierten die vier Australier ihren instrumentalen Sound, der sich beeindruckend schwerfällig und eindringlich zugleich zwischen verschiedenen Stilen wie Doom, Alternative, Industrial oder auch Postrock bewegt. Alles fing mit einem Demo an, das Bandgründer Damian Coward 2007 unter dem Namen Heirs aufnahm. Ein Jahr später wuchs die Band um die beiden Gitarristen Brent Stegemann und Ian Jackson und Bassistin Laura Bradfield an.
Ein knappes Jahr nach Veröffentlichung des Debüts steht der Nachfolger "Fowl" in den Startlöchern. Anlass genug uns mit Gitarristen Brent Stegemann über die Aufnahmen am neuen Album und weiteren Themen zu unterhalten.
Tell us a little bit about the recording sessions regarding your upcoming release "Fowl". Are you comfortable with the progress?
We deliberately took a completely different approach to the writing and recording process of Fowl. Every song was composed entirely electronically. We then transposed all the songs to guitar/bass/drums, and worked out how to create a hybrid between the electronic sound and the band sound, getting a feel for what worked in a live setting and what didn’t come across quite as strongly. We definitely pushed the limits of what we were capable of as musicians and songwriters as far as we could, and for that I think the album is a success. We wanted to move the band in a more industrial direction, creating something rhythmically uglier and more threatening, but retaining the same melodic undertow that characterised our earlier stuff. I’d been listening to a lot of 80’s industrial and electronica, stuff like Controlled Bleeding, Coil, Neubauten etc. and it had a big influence on how I composed the songs. Once we had the songs sounding good in the rehearsal room, we went to Head Gap, where we recorded our first album, and layed down the basic drums and bass. We took those sessions and grafted the electronics onto them, then returned to Head Gap to record the guitar tracks. We added the rest of the instrumentation and finally mixed at Head Gap. Playing the new material live, we feel really good about what we’ve created and we’re really looking forward to bringing it to Europe.
According to an older MySpace news it was planned to be a one track release accompanied by a remix. Now it seems to be grown to a 7 track full length album. How does this growth happen?
We recorded a 25 minute version of album’s title track before we started working on the full album. My good friend Nekrasov remixed the song for the B-Side. We had planned to release it as a 12" before the album came out but time got away from us. It’s still likely that it will see the light of day, but while we focus on getting the album out… it’s on the backburner for now.
Did you experience unusual things during the recording sessions that perhaps even found their way on the record?
We structured this whole recording down to a point where we knew exactly what we had to do at a given moment, but this is not to say that we didn’t "experiment" with a lot of stuff whilst we were there. "Men", a track off our new album, is a good example of this. We ended up doing a ton of tracks over this song, but eventually realised its power without so many layers, so if anything, this album was about stripping the excess layers and finding the right combination of sound which would let the music breathe a bit better, and have the most audial impact.
What about the artwork, its kind of eerie and sculptural like the "Alchera" cover, but it is clearly turning into another direction. Can you tell us something about this strange yellow-black-man-fowl? Who is the artist behind it?
As an artist, I see Heirs as much visually as I do musically. As I worked on the music for the album, a central theme materialised and this is what I ‘saw’. I created the set, made the costumes, directed the shoot and did the accompanying artwork. The figure is a depiction of the human processing of the ornery – the filth we feed upon to entertain us, to sate our hunger, to gratify our sexual desires, to escape our reality or simply to facilitate our survival. Fowl is an exploration of the consumption of filth, the nourishment it provides and the way we excrete it back into the world. It’s a comment on the notion of morality and it’s place in an increasingly faithless population.
Did you expect that the former one-man-project, as which heirs started in 2006, would expand to a four piece band that will have two releases out in 2010?
I’ve played music with Damian on and off for nearly a decade now, so it’s not surprising to me that we find ourselves at this point in our respective ‘careers’ working together on something like Heirs. He’s been the main motivating factor behind everything I have achieved musically and artistically, so when he proposed that I become involved with Heirs… it was just a natural progression of our musical relationship up until that point. We struck out everything that was holding us back in our previous projects, allowing each other to work independantly and helping each other realize our ideas in a group setting. Ian and Laura are a perfect foil for this dynamic. Ian’s style of playing is a complete contrast to my own and he adds a melodic depth that I don’t always hear on a songs inception. Laura is by far the best bassist I have ever played with… the way she locks in to the drums is integral to the foundation of what we do.
You’re living far away from Germany, can you tell us something about the instrumental music-scene in Australia? How do you appraise the scene? Are there any bands you like, which aren´t so common in the rest of the world?
There is no instrumental scene in Australia that resembles what you have in Europe, which to an extent, is a good thing. It breeds a certain kind of diversity and independance, with everybody forging their own path, with their own sound. There are a few scattered ‘instrumental’ bands, mainly from Melbourne (our home town) with which we feel certain kinship. There’s The Night Terrors, who we toured with in Europe last year. I can’t think of any band that sounds anything like them.. they describe their sound as "suffocation in deep space". I think it’s an apt description. We have been performing with Miles, their Theremin player, who contributed heavily to Fowl (Theremin/Electronics). They’ll be touring Europe again in September/October with their album ‘Back to Zero’ being released by Trendkill over there next month. In the broader ‘experimental’ sense, from Melbourne, our favourite bands are Zond, HTRK (currently based in London), True Radical Miracle, New War and Nekrasov.
It is your first time at the Denovali Swingfest. What are your expectations?
We’re really looking forward to seeing Timo & Thomas (Denovali) again. Their dedication to their bands and the support they have shown us is something we are enternally gratetful for and we’re pleased we can make it over for Swingfest this year. We expect to be humbled by the quality of the other acts on the festival, and we predict Kodiak to lose a drinking competition.
Any bands in the swingfest lineup that you are curious about to see live?
I’m looking forward to seeing the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Switchblade and Celeste, and finally meeting Blueneck & Iroha. We’ve been looking forward to playing with them for a long time. It’ll also be great to share a stage with Kodiak again.
And finally, how long do we have to wait to hear your new record?
Fowl is out September 27 on Denovali Records. Thanks a lot for your time.
Thank you, too.
Wer sich vom Sound der Band nochmal selbst überzeugen möchte, kann sich das Debütalbum "Alchera" über Denovali Records und das von der Band bereitgestellte Demo hier runterladen. Die erste Single vom neuen Album "Fowl" namens "Burrow" könnt ihr euch exklusiv bei Mess+Noise anhören.Tags: alchera, brent stegemann, Denovali Records, exo records, fowl, heirs