Sunday, July 27, 2014

Unendlich Interview

I got the chance to do my first ever interview with Unendlich, an extremely impressive black/death metal band from Baltimore, Maryland.  Their album, "Monarch of the Damned," just came out a while back.

Where does the name “Unendlich” come from?  What was your inspiration on picking the name?

Picking a band name to represent your music is always challenging especially if you don’t want to be stuck in one theme. I first heard the word as it is the title of the intro to Danzig - I Luciferi and it stuck with me. Unendlich means infinite in German though through the material it is representing that death is infinite (Tod ist unendlich) which is conveyed in much of the lyrics found on “Monarch of the Damned”. The word Unendlich is elusive enough to carry my creative output to more than one place.

Your recent album, “Monarch of the Damned,” was just released.  Tell me about the process of how it came to be what it is today. 

The music was written over the course of the past two years though became more focused starting late 2013 when I committed to handling all instruments and vocals. The creative process came in bursts and details were refined later. There were some early demos of the songs but I didn’t want anything to be released until my vision for the album was complete. Then in early 2014, ran a competition for unsigned bands for album art from Vertebrae33 ( Being a fan of his work I felt it would be a great chance to obtain the cover for “Monarch of the Damned” so at that time I released a couple songs and submitted them to the competition. I was fortunately picked as one of the three winning bands. Working with Vertebrae33 was a pleasure and feel he nailed the cover.

Where was the album recorded?

The album was recorded at my home studio which is a fairly basic setup. I have a history of recording so knew I could handle getting the material down though didn’t want to handle mixing and mastering. I feel after hearing your own material as many times as most musicians do when writing and recording it is best left to fresh ears for the mix. I did program the drums, though. Having some past experience playing drums I tried to make them sound as natural as possible. I would have loved to have real drums on the album but it starts to become economically challenging to record a full drum set. As much as I love the sound of a natural kit, when playing at the speeds of metal much of the hits get sampled for clarity’s sake.

How long was the recording process?
Recording was done over the course of several months in parts but all lined up it probably took about two weeks to record everything down to raw tracks. I had a work colleague, Johnny Perez, handle the mix and mastering. He is also a fan of metal and I felt he did an excellent job. I am also happy with the master of the album as it isn’t smashed like much of the music coming out nowadays so leaves some room for dynamic impact.

You play a very solid form of black/death metal, what are some of your inspirations (Bands/Musicians?)

I have a love for all forms of dark music (genre aside) but metal bands that made me want to play music growing up were Megadeth and Slayer from which I then branched out. Additional bands that influenced me are early Samael, Danzig, Paradise Lost, Satyricon, Rotting Christ, Dissection, Carcass, and Deicide. Most of the bands I gravitated towards would fit into the Black/Death/Gothic genre.
Though there are plenty of musicians that influence d my playing I have always been a fan of the essence of the song more than just one part. Genre is the execution of the song and I love extreme music but I always gravitated towards bands that retain the extreme while making something with some melody and catchiness - not just playing fast to be the most fast or shredding for shredding sake.

What are some of your non-musical inspirations?

Life experiences (I had a lot of death around me), books, history, and movies. “Hell Waits for Me” is loosely based on the book “Drowned and the Saved” by Primo Levi. “Death Waltz” contains samples from the movie “Jacob’s Ladder”, a favorite of mine. Much of the lyrics might be influenced by an external force but in some way always come back to being personal when I am writing and yelling them. I think death is fascinating to all humans as it is the unknown. This is also a reason why religion has always been an annoyance for me, as is any form of organization that attempts to “know” what happens and impose their ideas without proof. I find some just can’t let people be and follow their own free will and curiosities. Just because someone might need religion in their life doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. When words no longer have meaning in an argument without proof I understand the need for violence within the human animal. But this is nothing new to history. I find our species is constantly at odds with nature and the ego and I find this conflict a great source of inspiration.

Is new material already in the works for Unendlich? 
Without a doubt, it feels good to be done with “Monarch of the Damned” but I am also excited to write new material now. I do have one song complete and another in the works but I also need to determine whether I’ll be able to play live at some point. I would like to write with a drummer and though there are a lot of skilled musicians in the Baltimore, MD area it is always a challenge to find people that want to commit to the same thing.

Finally, what are your future plans for Unendlich?

First, get a physical CD released and determine if I will be releasing it through a label or doing an independent pressing and distribution through something like CDBaby. This is all in the works and I should know more in the coming month. Though the music industry has changed I still feel labels play an important role in promotion and distribution. Although the album was completed with a “DIY” ethic, it does start to get more difficult the more you take on. The more I can just focus on the music creation part, the better. I did the digital release as I wanted to get the material out and did some previous promotion at the Maryland Deathfest that I wanted to align the release with. Beyond that, I hope to fill out the band with some local musicians for some live shows and see where it goes from there.

Check out my review for "Monarch of the Damned" here:

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