Nov 7, 2010

Taming Those Cannibals - Interview With Ryan From Ehnahre

As usual our Russian writer Aleks Evdokimov has perfect timing, giving us an interview with Ehnahre just as I got their exceptionally good album from Crucial Blast Records. Featuring formers members of "Kayo Dot" and "Biolich", this band has recorded one of the most challenging albums ever released on the Crucial Blast label. Avant-Black-Death and Doom only goes halfway into describing the sound of "Ehnahre" as they are incredibly diverse in the way they blend styles. Big thanks go out to Ryan McGuire for answering these questions with such detail and of course we thank Aleks for his continuing dedication to Doommantia. I hope you enjoy this interview and please buy their albums and support this band - Ed.

Q: Good day comrade! Are you ready to answer a few questions about the maniacal experimental sect Ehnahre? Which part of your life does Ehnahre occupy?
A: Good day to you, I am definitely ready!  Ehnahre is not any of our jobs, but is a very important part of our lives.  We work endlessly and tirelessly on our material, and even though we don't make any money, I would say it is one of the most important things in our lives.

Q: If you want to earn some money with heavy music then you must write songs about hot chicks and vampires, man. But its not the matter of our interview for today.  What is a current line-up of the band?
A: Right now the current line up is Ryan McGuire (bass and vocals), John Carchia (guitar and vocals) and Ricardo Donoso (percussion and electronics).

Q: "Depression" and "poetry" are the lyrical themes of your songs if we can trust metal-archives and it's materials. Is such sentence close to truth?
A: I would say it's close to the truth.  Depression is definitely a common theme, and poetry is important because we don't actually write any of our own lyrics.  We use poetry as our texts, because I believe to make the music as good as we possibly can, to take it to the greatest heights, we utilize the best we can of each aspect.  Not being a poet myself, why should I ruin the music with my shitty lyrics, when there are excellent poets who can assist me in the artistic endeavor.

Q: What is about "liberation of the dissonance"? Is it leitmotiv of Ehnahre music?
A: The "Liberation of the dissonance" is a phrase that was used by composer Arnold Schoenberg when he was developing his Atonal and Serial Method of composition.  It is definitely important in our writing, as we agree with his assessment that music needs further exploration of dissonant sounds. The basic idea is that dissonance does not sound bad.  It sounds as good as any consonant sounds, and we should be exploring these sounds more thoroughly.

Q: Ryan why did you choose that way to express your creative visions through Ehnahre? Using a poetry of high quality and (sometimes) of high ideals you play a distorted and cruel compositions which often hardly could fit such songs' lyrics.
A: Well a lot of the ideas and sentiment in the poems I choose are harsh and cruel, but there is a subtlety in the language that sort of masks the true meaning, and on the surface they might seem quite mundane.  People often say this to me, about how the lyrics aren't as dark as the music- but if you read the words closely, and really try to understand the texts, and the feeling that they were written to express, you will see that there is a strong theme of terror, fear, self-loathing, and other dismal and oppressive subject matter.  But poets don't talk about these things using images of blood and guts, and gore and butchering people and other corny shit that most death metal bands use in their lyrics.  The language is subtler and more eloquent, but the themes are actually very disturbing.  You just have to read deeper into them.

Q: It's said that you call Ehnahre's style as "witch metal" but as I listened "Taming The Cannibals" I didn't get why do you choose that term. You play harsh, inhuman experimental doom death metal and we can call it as you wish - it doesn't change anything. But how did you come to this way of your realization through music?
A: We don't really view ourselves as "witch metal", it was actually just a joke that our old guitarist put on our myspace page.  He thought my voice sounded like a witch.  If I was to describe our sound, I would say it's, "avant-garde death/doom metal".


Q: And therefore I must ask you: which musicians influenced upon you besides Arnold Schoenberg? I can not remember any band which sounds like Ehnahre so this question is not simple curiosity, it's like Darwin's "origin of species" if you wish.
A: Well we are influenced by many things, but mostly death and doom metal, and modern classical music.  A lot of the 90's death metal bands have a huge influence- like Morbid Angel, Immolation, Incantation, Death…  Also, many doom and sludge bands, like Grief, Corrupted, Eyehategod, and Burning Witch.  But classical music plays a big influence on how we write, and the structures in our music.  Some important composers to us would include Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Peter Maxwell Davies, Igor Stravinsky, and Kaija Saariaho.  We are also influenced by noise artists (Ricardo, our drummer, is a noise musician himself) and free improvisers.

Q: Ehnahre is on an edge - between primitivism and detailed intellectual well-thought artistic conception or so I think. Where do you see yourself in such creative aspects? Which of both aspects is closer to you?
A: I like to think of Ehnahre as sitting right on the edge between both worlds.  We write music that is very detailed and complex and extremely difficult and academic.  But those things are used to create furious, dark, ugly music.  I like to call it a "calculated insanity".


Q: Ryan, is this "insanity" really "calculated"? Are you sure that you can control all creative processes inside the band and even yourself during gigs for examples?
A: Well, it is to a degree.  The idea is setting up situations where there might be improvised parts or parts that phase out, or other things that set up the music to be crazy, dark, or sound like it's right on the edge of completely falling apart, or even noise.  And while we really can't totally control all the pieces of the puzzle, we don't really want to.  That's what keeps things interesting in the writing process, and in playing live.  But the "calculated" part is in consciously creating situations where whatever happens, even if it gets out of our control, will create sounds that are dark and evoke the appropriate feelings.

Q: How long did you play in avant-garde metal band Kayo Dot and why did you leave it? I listened few tracks into their MySpace, and though their music is softer and lighter than Ehnare… after all I guess that your bands have similarities.
A: John and I played in Kayo Dot for around 3 years, maybe 4.  I would say that we don't sound the same, but we both use progressive writing techniques, and do complex, compositional music.

Q: Ha, no… man…. After typing down previous question I have been turn on "Taming The Cannibals" and just after 2 or 3 minutes I've noted that I also forgot to stop the song of Kayo Dot which was playing in MySpace player! I was listening both songs in the same time and it was… it was normal as if they are the one song! Man, is it normal?! Can you imagine such insane mix?
A: I'm not sure if I can imagine that, I guess maybe it could work!

Q: Okay, Ehnahre CD's "The Man Closing Up" includes lyrics which were derived from Donald Justice's "The Man Closing Up".  True to say I never read Donald Justice and do not know if it's right to ask you about this author… But anyway how do you combine uncommon poetry with your slow and brutal music?
A: Donald Justice is an American poet that I came across by accident, just reading a lot of poetry.  I read it, and thought that it would make an excellent text and theme for a metal album.  The phrasing and writing is subtle, and it would be easy to overlook it, but upon close inspection, the feeling behind the writing is actually quite terrifying and dark.

Q: How did the theme of "man's closing" reveal itself in that CD? The music is furious and sick, it's extroverted. So did you try to transfer certain ideas of Donald Justice through your music or is it just your interpretation of his book?
A: I took the ideas of the poetry, and tried to use a technique called "text painting" to evoke the essence of the words, and give life to the ideas in the poetry.  An example of this would be at the end of "Part I".  The poem talks about the tide coming and going, everyday.  The idea is that it is a metaphor for modern life.  In and out, the tide comes and goes exactly the same everyday- just as we live our barren, tedious existences, the same everyday.  The end of the song has a guitar line that repeats and gains volume over a discordant bass and drum part.  It grows and grows and eventually recedes- this is the tide coming and going, drowning out the color in life.  There are many other things like this on that album.

Q: There is "The Second Coming" song into your EP "Alpha/Omega" which was released at March of 2010 via Fun With Asbestos. First of all, who is an author of its lyrics? And a second question: do you believe yourself in modern speculations about "Second Coming" matter? Or is it just a symbol for you?
A: The poem "The Second Coming" is by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats (as was the song on the other side of that record, "Leda and the Swan").  Using that poem was not in any religious context.  The concept behind that record, is that one side represented the beginning of the world, and the other side represented the end of the world.  "The Second Coming" is a poem by Yeats that is about the end of the world in the wake of the second world war, but told through religious metaphor.  So it is definitely symbolic.

Q: It was Yeats… I had to pay more attention to "Alpha/Omega" lyrics. Ryan, do you really like poetry so strong or do you just take a book with poems of different authors when you need lyrics for a new album?
A: I truly am a fan of poetry.  If I wasn't trying to source lyrical material for writing music, I don't think I would read as much as I do, but I definitely have a deep, deep appreciation for the artform.  I have always loved poetry, and would certainly continue to read it, even if I didn't want to use it for lyrics anymore.

Q: The name of your brand new CD is "Taming The Cannibals", what does it mean? Dare I guess that the one who want to "tame the cannibals" need to have more brutal, more crucial temper than they do.
A: The title "Taming the Cannibals" really refers to your self.  The cannibal is yourself, and taming it is trying to suppress your self hatred and self destructive ways.  But it has a dual meaning, in that it also refers to our current, unnatural ways of living.  The "Cannibals" can be a natural existence, that we as humans have worked so hard to move away from and want to "Tame".  But is this break from a natural existence what causes a self-destructive path or tendencies in life?  As you can see, it's an idea with many aspects, many meanings, and is quite convoluted.  But even this confusion I think is represented in the music.

Q:  I read from a press-booklet of "Taming The Cannibals" what you once again draw an inspiration from the books of F.R.Higgins, Georg Trakl, Walt Whitman and Robinson Jeffers - what does unite these authors?
A: I chose to use all these poets on this CD, because their work represented and spoke to the idea behind "Taming the Cannibals".  The poems all relate to ideas of self destruction, self abuse- but this abuse is caused by a jaded discontent with modern life.

Q: I would like to ask you about the song "Animals", it's lyrics is taken from Walt Whitman text but I have a doubt. Briefly it speaks about natural state of being - the state of animal being… It's the state of freedom in some case but you speak that idea in a form which only humans could figure out. More than this - you speak about that simple idea in a complex form continuing the musical line of your album. Don't you see contradiction here? Is it necessary to make a simple idea so complex?
A: That's a very keen observation, and it was actually a purposeful contradiction.  I'm impressed you took note of that.  There is a subtext within the music, regarding returning to an animalistic state of existence.  The poet wants to live with the animals, and leave behind humanity and their religious degradation of life.  But how do you escape?  It's created a new being within you that is against nature, and will always pull you back.  So the meaning is, the lives that humanity has created for itself, is terrible, yet inescapable.

Q: Ryan, do you ever think about your listeners composing new material? Do you aim to torture them more and more with each new song?:-) Really, did most hard and harsh parts of your albums written consciously with full understanding that there's no other way?
A: We don't really consider the listener when writing new material.  We feel like this is just the way we need to write, and the hell with whatever anyone thinks.  Obviously, we like the music, and we want other people to like the music, but we really make this music for us.  We're never going to say, "This is just too weird, we need to tone it down so more people will like us".  At the same time, I think the metal world needs more experimental bands, so when we are pushing into stranger and harsher directions, I think we are trying to offer metal fans something different. 

Q: What kind of changes do you see in the band comparing "The Man Closing Up", "Alpha/Omega" EP and "Taming The Cannibals"?
A: The biggest change is that on "The Man Closing Up" we had 3 guitarists, on "Alpha/Omega" we had 2, and on "Taming the Cannibals" we had 1.  That changes the sound a lot, and also how you approach the writing a lot.  Another big change is that we have tried to reign in the song structures a bit.  We have made a conscious effort to be economical with our material, and make every note of music count.  And probably most noticeably we have utilized the free drumming much more- where we will have long sections that will teeter on the edge of composition and improvisation, and really lack any sort of rhythmic structure.

Q: Don't you want to return to line-up with 2 or 3 guitarists? I wanted to ask about such changes as using of only bass-guitars for example but I guess that it will not fit to Ehnahre.
A: I think it would be interesting to try writing with 3 guitars again, and we might even utilize extra guitar parts on a recording.  But we have found that the dissonant guitar lines actually sound better with fewer guitars- when you start layering all these noisy parts, it starts to get muddy.  But I think we will definitely be experimenting with different instrumentations in the future.

Q: And let me ask you even more… what kind of changes do you note in yourself after releases of these albums?
A: I would say that the biggest change we notice is our tolerance for experimental music.  It is always going up.  With each record, we finish it and think, "that doesn't sound that weird to us anymore, how can we take the next one even further out?" 

Q: Thank you for this interview mate! I would like to thank you for your patience and wish you and your band's mates good luck in your creative and spiritual realization. All the best man… And please add few words for our readers.
A: Thank you Aleks!  We really appreciate your thoughtful questions.  For any of your readers in Europe, please look for us on tour in 2011, and we are starting to work on our next record, so please look for that too!
Ehnahre
Ehnahre @ MySpace
Official Homepage
Crucial Blast Records

1 comment :

  1. Oh, great interview! Thanks a lot!
    And I like this band even more!
    \m/

    ReplyDelete

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