Wolves in the Throne Room's forthcoming album is certified organic
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011 11:09
While most musicians are spatially challenged when it comes to home recording in the corner of some studio apartment in Brooklyn, the eco-conscious black metal brother duo Wolves in the Throne Room chose to build their recording domain against 200,000 acres of national forest reserve in Olympia, Washington, just down the street from their 10-acre farmland where they and the drummer-synth-bass-guitarist Aaron Weaver's wife cultivate organic vegetables.
The band, which has openly channeled the spirit of the Northwest in their ambient metal music, is on its way to wrapping up the Two Hunters trilogy of releases that began four years ago. The last installation, Celestial Lineage, drops September 13 and will be followed by a nearly worldwide tour Aaron Weaver already seems eager to get over with in order to return to the underground and hone his homestead skills for a bit.
College Times: Was most of the writing for Celestial Lineage done [at the house against the woods]?
Weaver: For this record, we built a recording studio in our shop space. That was something that was really different from previous recording sessions and writing sessions because we really had a perfect and beautiful space dedicated to the writing and recording. I think that really made a big difference in the way this record turned out. I think this is the first record we've really been able to do what we set out to do and weren't constrained so much by time in a studio or by not having the right kind of place where you're in the zone with the music.
Do you think [the Northwest] is going to continue to be an inspiration for the future?
I have no plans to move anywhere, ever. […] We began to have deep connections with the land and the lifestyle that is inherent in the Northwest. We've never had any aspirations to move up the ladder. I think a band that maybe has some sort of commercial agenda will always want to be moving to some bigger city, you know, LA or New York to make it. We just don't care about that kind of thing at all. We consider ourselves an underground band and if anything we want to move deeper into the underground and get away from the commercial side of music in the next couple years.
Won't that keep people from hearing the message in your music if you go too far underground?
Yeah, I don't really care if people hear the music, to tell you the truth. For the past couple years, we've very consciously used the mainstream apparatus like record labels and booking agents and playing more traditional venues. We've used them consciously to get our music out to a pretty wide audience. I think with the release of this record, we've accomplished every goal we've set for ourselves. I think we've reached a big enough audience.
Did you guys still use vintage equipment on this album?
It's a bit of a hybrid. We always try to use the oldest and crustiest equipment possible. On this record, we used a bit more of ProTools recording. But, you know, even if it's recording on ProTools, everything else is decrepit and ancient 'cause that's the sound that we like. I think most metal nowadays, most music in general but especially metal, has become way too slick. The drums that you hear on most metal records aren't even drums, I think it's just usually samples that are sequenced in ProTools [or] snapped to the grid on a click track. I think that's a really sad thing, especially when you compare it to what they used to do in the old days with Slayer and Morbid Angel and these kind of bands where it's all about playing hard and having brutality be part of the playing and the intensity you put into it.
You can't be too brutal with vintage instruments.
Yeah, that's true, but at the same time things sound better sometimes when they're slightly broken.
This is the last record you're doing with Randall Dunn, correct?
This is the last record we recorded partially in his studio in Seattle. We definitely plan on working with Randall in the future, but it was more like his last record in a lot of ways. He was going through a really intense change and transformation in his personal life and all of that happened during the tracking of Celestial Lineage. I think the stuff going on in Randall's life really affected the record in a really good way, actually. It really dovetailed with the feelings [vocalist and guitarist] Nathan [Weaver] and I were trying to focus on as well, which was transcendence, letting go and moving on to a new phase.
What's the new phase for Wolves in the Throne Room?
Well, the next few months, our plans are really set out for us. We've got tours planned taking us into February and March of next year. After that, I definitely plan on taking a bit of a break from music. We've been working on it really hard the last couple of years. It's definitely become my full-time focus. That's never really been what I wanted from life. I've been more interested in homesteading with my wife on our farm in Olympia and just developing a different skill set. I'm definitely going to shift my focus back towards the home and hearth for the next year or so and after that we'll think about doing something new with Wolves in the Throne Room.
Let's talk a little about the imagery in this album.
The theme of it is quite different than the last two records. Two Hunters and Black Cascade were very Earth-centered and Earth-bound. The images we had in our mind when we were recording it were about roots and soil and rivers and mountains. You know, very terrestrial. Celestial Lineage, we definitely shifted the focus and shifted it maybe a bit away from nature and more toward human culture. We were imagining cathedrals and temples and we were imagining the stars and the sun and the moon. So, we shifted focus away from the primordial forest and more towards a human creation, traditions and lineage.