Thursday, January 8, 2015

Entheogen Interview

1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?

The band Entheogen was formed when stoner rock band MG Pistol Rock and math/post-rock band Imakandi merged to form a bigger entity. The members have been good friends since high school and have collaborated on many music projects before the formation of Entheogen. The idea behind the band is that all of the members are equal contributors in songwriting and since we all have different musical preferences, the result is a wide variety of musical genres and influences binded by the theme of the album.

2. In 2013 you had released your first album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?

Entheogen as a band is very open to experimentation so we were very happy when Simon Penšek offered us his expertise and support for recording and producing Moons of Jupiter which was originally planned to have a completely DIY approach. He is the main reason Entheogen sounds the way it does. We recorded the album in our own rehearsal space so we could evade unnecessary time pressures and free ourselves to experiment with different mic positions, different guitars, amps, and cabinets. We cannot say that we planned the album to sound as it does but this was a process on the go and the best we could do with our current collective knowledge. We are really satisfied with the result because of our own and Simon’s discoveries during this phase. Simon’s role in Entheogen’s sound is so important that we now consider him a band member since the recording of the album. To describe the sound in three words, one could say Moons of Jupiter sounds dark, unusual and dirty.

3.The band has been around since 2009 and while you were a part of a few compilations you had waited 4 years to release your first full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the wait?

We wouldn’t call it ‘the wait’ but rather ‘the process’. All the members have had other musical projects and day jobs. Although we are originally all from Velenje where we also have our rehearsal space, during that entire period only one member was actually living in Velenje full-time. The first few years were dedicated to songwriting; combining our different musical influences; and figuring out in which direction the band will go. We created a lot of songs, riffs, and other material of which not all was suitable for the album and if you want four songwriters with pretty different backgrounds to agree on something it also takes time to find a sweet spot that works for everyone. We played our first show in December 2011 when we opened for Wino’s Premonition 13 and by then the songwriting process for the Moons of Jupiter album was essentially done. We then began planning the recording of the album and were not exactly sure how we were going to pull it off at the time. We later teamed up with Simon and began the recording sessions which took a lot of time because of all the experimentations. The tracking part of the album was done by the end of summer in 2012. It then took us another year and a half to do the post production of the album and again the main reason for the long wait was synchronizing all of our visions and ears to form a sound that everybody agreed with. It is important that we were not pressured by any deadlines so we could do it our way all the way.

4.The concept of the album was based on Jupiter and its moons, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this subject?

Many people describe us as ‘space rock’ or think that we are astronomers or something. We’re not. We are just individuals with multi-dimensional interests, some of which also include astronomy, physics, space travel, and the like. The idea behind the Moons of Jupiter album is therefore a bit layered and combines three stories. The first is the most obvious one and describes the STS-34 mission to Jupiter and its moons, which for the first time gave us insight into the unknown new worlds. As all the objects (planets, moons) are different from one another, so are the songs describing them. The second story, which is included in the lyrics of Jupiter, is the story of Galileo Galilei who through his telescope discovered that the moons of Jupiter (back then he could only see four) orbit around it much like our Earth revolves around the sun. This new discovery represents how experimentation can bring new truths and make you look at things on a totally different level, similar to the process of creating the album. The third story is the mythological story. They’re taken from Roman and Greek mythology where Jupiter is the main Roman god and the four Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) are the names of lovers of the Greek god Zeus (Roman equivalent of Jupiter). The word Entheogen means a substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce an altered state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes or to put it more simply a substance that takes you closer to god. For us, that substance is music and Jupiter is where we want to take you with our first album. The lyrics in Callisto are also very important because they show that Roman or Greek mythology are not the only point of interest as names from different polytheistic religions are used to describe the same characters. This emphasizes that despite us having a million different religions, a million different views on the world, and also very different music, we all come from the same background, the same Universe, the same substance. So the idea behind the concept is a bit complex just like the band members and the creative process itself. We came up with the connection through Jupiter and its moons more or less accidentally and only later found out that it fit our purpose perfectly. We are not yet sure about the concept for the second album but it will most likely be something completely different.

5.While most of the album was instrumental you had vocals on the last track, are you planning on using more vocals in the future or do you prefer the instrumental route?

We’ve never classified ourselves as an instrumental band but at the time we just couldn’t find a singer that would fit in the band as a musician and as a person so we decided to do a mostly instrumental album. For the second album we definitely plan to use vocals but they will probably still be used only scarcely.

6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Entheogen'?

As said before Entheogen is a substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce an altered state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes. For us, that substance is music which we firstly take ourselves and then hopefully share with the listeners.

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

Our best show so far was definitely at KSET in Zagreb, Croatia where we opened for Karma To Burn in front of an awesomely accepting full club of headbanging music enthusiasts. Apart from that, we had the best support in our home town Velenje where we played several times. Regarding our stage performance the main thing you actually see are visualisations that we use on a large canvas in the background (which are not the same as the ones found on the DVD or Youtube). That’s our way of filling in the gap for not having a front man. The latter also means that we don’t really build much on contact with the public during our show because we prefer them to go wherever our music can take them.

8.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

We have been playing Moons of Jupiter for about 3 years when we decided that it is time for us to stop playing shows and focus on new material so in March 2014 we had our last full performance in Ptuj. So currently we are focusing on creating a new album for which we have a couple of songs already. In July 2014, a compilation called Lignit 3 with all of the current artists in Velenje was launched with a concert where we played two new songs which are most likely going to be on the new album. One of those songs is Hemithea which is our contribution to the Lignit 3. We’re planning on resuming our shows or a possible tour after we’re finished writing the new material.

9.The album was released on Drustvo Jupiter, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

Društvo Jupiter was founded by members of Entheogen primarily to help us with practical and legal issues regarding the band (releases, concert payments, merchandise, etc.). So Društvo Jupiter is basically not a label but a legal entity of the band. After it’s creation, Društvo Jupiter also became involved with some other mostly local musical projects like organizing an alternative festival called Sound Arson and MusiXperiment, which is a project where people of different genres and from different countries join creative forces for one week and create music. At the end of the week, the resulting music is recorded and presented at a live concert. Lately Društvo Jupiter also covers some legal stuff for several other local bands.

10. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your album by fans of underground music?

So far, our album mostly reached underground fans from Europe so the main feedback came from countries like Italy, Austria, Croatia and France. There is a bit of a fan base in Israel also. The feedback has been a bit scarce so far. However, all the feedback we did receive has been really positive.

11. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

The first songs for the second album sound a bit more metal than Moons of Jupiter but also have a few more ambient and easy flowing psychedelic riffs. We also plan to use more unusual instruments in the future: more ethno musical instruments and electronic stuff, maybe even quadraphony. So our musical ideas and the diversity of them will in many ways surpass the current ones.

12. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

For Moons of Jupiter, the main influences were definitely bands like Neurosis, Meshuggah, Isis, Pelican, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Tool, etc. All of us are very open musically and we listen to a wide range of music, ranging from hip-hop and electronic music to ethno and of course every kind of rock and beyond. So the field of influences has been really large and is still expanding.

13. What are some of your non musical interests?

Professionally, we consist of an organizational psychologist, a computer engineer, a cognitive scientist, a sound engineer and a concert organiser. Aside from that, our interests include stuff like mountaineering, climbing, flying, winter sports, basketball, art, film, billiards, animals, etc.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

Music = soul

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