Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BIG DAY IN Interview: Ehnahre

Ehnahre’s avant take on extreme metal has been a source of intrigue and amazement here at the IU/FREE! camp since their founding members initial defection from Kayo Dot. For the uninitiated, the band melds a blur of doom, death, and black metal with avant and 20th century components and theory to create some of the most extreme, chaotic, atonal and relentlessly unpredictable compositions in the metal or experimental world.  This is so far beyond any ‘thinking-man’s metal’ it holds its own mind-altering level of complexity and drastically creative application of technical and theoretical musicianship.

Ithaca Underground aimed to bring the band out back last spring and have been holding our collective breath since. May 7th we'll take a sigh of relief and huge huff of extreme composition at its finest. Bubba Crumrine gets the latest on the band's activities, their latest release on Crucial Blast, and in-process material.

IU: How have you all been since we last spoke back in last February?

Ryan: Doing well!  Trying to stay out of jail and the hospital as best we can.

IU: I heard you ran into some troubles on the road last fall... what happened and what keeps you and the guys going and continued to be involved in DIY touring?

Ryan: We did a tour in the fall, and it was a little rough.  Pretty poor turnouts, no money, the usual story.  We booked it with this band Wolvserpent, from Boise, and we had a great time with them, but two relatively unknown touring bands made for some pretty dismal financial prospects.  And not like we give a shit about making money, but we at least need to come close to breaking even.  We're not 20 anymore, we're too old to run around touring with $1.86 in our pockets, stealing gas and food.  That shit was awesome 10 years ago, but we unfortunately can't really afford to do it anymore.   So for now, in the states, we're going to stick a little closer to home, and just play the northeast, until we get a little more exposure and can procure a minimal guarantee.  We are however, planning a return trip to Europe as soon as possible.  They seem to be more receptive to what we're doing over there, and treat touring bands much, much better.

IU: On a more positive note, give us the low-down on the new album, 'Taming The Cannibals'!

Ryan: "Taming the Cannibals" is our most recent release, it came out on Crucial Blast in November.  It's a little bit of a departure from our first two records, as we went from 3 guitarists down to 1.  But I think we actually prefer it this way, as the dissonant harmony is much more audible without 3 guitars muddying things up.  It's a concept record of sorts, as we always do, centered around dual themes- self destruction/self loathing, and the pitfalls of modern life, or our disassociation from our more primal selves.   We culled our text material from Robinson Jeffers, Georg Trakl, Walt Whitman, and F.R. Higgins.

IU: How did you get hooked up with the fine folks at Crucial Blast?

Ryan: We had a little contact with Adam from Crucial prior to recording "The Man Closing Up", but at the time he didn't have the time or resources to do that record.  When we decided to start pitching "Taming the Cannibals" to labels, he was at the top of the list, and all the pieces kind of fell into place.

IU: Did Ricardo's noise influence have an impact on the direction you took for this album?

Ryan: Ricardo's noise stuff up until now has played a relatively minor role.  More for coloring and adding little bits here and there, and not to degrade it, but it was more of an afterthought, kind of the final touches we put on our records.  So for "Taming" I would say it didn't really play a huge role in the direction, but I'm sure that will change in the future.

IU: When we last spoke, improv was starting to take more of a hold in your live set where one member steers the ship, so to speak. Has this carried over to 'Taiming...'?

Ryan: Yes and no.  On "Taming" there is actually no improv whatsoever.  However, we do utilize techniques where there might be sort of open-ended phrasing, and one person might cue the rest of the band into the next phrase, or the meter will be completely flexible, or we'll use sliding tempos and such.  I think these things all give a feel of improvisation, but it really isn't.  So in one sense, nothing is truly improvised, but at the same time, none of our songs have ever been played the same way twice.

IU: What other techniques, theory, etc were used in the composition of the new album?

Ryan: Well the composition was approached a little differently than on "The Man Closing Up".  Our first record was more through composed, a sort of stream-of-consciousness style of writing.   There were repeated themes, but they were obscured, and utilized across the entire record.  With "Taming", we wanted to economize our material a little bit, make recurring themes a little more present, or apparent, and give a little more cohesion to the record.  And it's a technique we are using increasingly as we go into the future- starting with as little thematic material as possible, and working more within a theme and variation approach.  As for other techniques, I don't think there was anything too out of the ordinary, or atleast anything we didn't use on "The Man Closing Up" or "Alpha/Omega"- oh, wait, actually we did use the Penis Prepared Guitar.  John prepared his guitar with his penis for some sections of "Foehn" and "Animals".   He also prepared his guitar with all the empty beer cans from all the beer he drank before deciding to prepare his guitar with his johnson.

IU: There was some talk of future Ehnahre splits - any more promise to that?

Ryan: We have sort of struck out on that front.  We'd love to do some splits, but they seem to be a tough sell these days.

IU: Any artists on BIG DAY IN that you're excited to catch?

Ryan: Definitely looking forward to checking out Woe and Sulaco.

IU: What else can we look forward to from Ehnare in 2011?

Ryan: We will be going back in the studio in early June to begin tracking our next full length.  It's called "Old Earth", and it is one song, approximately 45 minutes long.   Hopefully more shows in the fall, and back to Europe in 2011.

IU: What can you share about 'Old Earth' at this point?

Ryan: Well, I can tell you that it will be recorded at Amps Vs. Ohms with Glenn Smith and we'll have a lot of the usual suspects turning up- Greg Kelley, Jonah Jenkins, Forbes Graham, and Noell Dorsey.  The concept and text are derived from a prose piece by Samuel Beckett entitled "Old Earth".  It's going to be bleak as shit.  The poem is really an internal discourse- at first feeling alone and disconnected in the world, but then questioning whether there might be some sort of meaning and universal connection amongst beings.  But finally coming to the realization, and acceptance, the real deep understanding, that there is nothing, there is no meaning, you are born, live, and die alone, soon to be forgotten.  I can also tell you that the bird is the word.