Thanks to Zero Tolerance Magazine for this great live review of Alunah at The Rainbow Venues in Birmingham.
Life On The Road With The “Smuttiest Band In Doom” | Maximum Volume Alunah Interview | The Rainbow Venues, Birmingham
Glam rock gods Cinderella seem like an odd place to begin an interview with Doom Metal gods in waiting, Alunah, but at the start of their 1991 album “Heartbreak Station” there’s a track called “The More Things Change.” “The more things change,” sings Tom Keifer in its chorus, “the more they stay the same.”
The reason for this musing is that it is exactly four months to the day since MV last chatted with Alunah. We did so in the back of a pub prior to their album launch show. Now, we are sitting in the front of another pub just a few hundred yards away with them for a little catch up before their latest outing in what is basically their home town. Time flies when you are in a heavy metal band it seems.
To recap on our last meeting. We had learnt a few things. First, that frontwoman Soph Day has a dodgy pop past involving Take That. Second that drummer Jake – rather like MV – likes Belinda Carlisle a little too much.
Today the bombshells just keep coming. Jake – who had told us when we tried to round the band up for a chat, to “go and find Soph as she’ll make more sense” – has a bit of a Status Quo thing going on and moreover that he emailed Soph the cover of their latest album “Aquostic” (for reference it has a picture of a naked Rick and Francis with only a guitar covering their bits). The singer recoils at the memory: “I mean, ewwww,” she laughs. “There was a little bit of sick in my mouth.”
More importantly though, there is another issue about being in a rock band on the road. There’s no nice way to put this. Farting. Time spent in a van with guitarist David, it transpires gets a little bits smelly, which is kind of a problem when you are on the road: “we’ve been all over Europe and it’s not been pleasant. I mean he does it as soon as he gets in the van,” say the band, giggling.
If all of this seems a world away from the music of Alunah, which is heavy, dark and oppressive, then it’s supposed to be. The four are relaxed in their own company – Soph and David are married – and along with Jake have paid their dues in this band for years. The one exception is bass player Dan Burchmore. The latest in a long line of four stringers to pass through the ranks over the years (“I think we’ve had about eight, but Dan can stay,” grins Soph.) but he has very obviously fitted in seamlessly.
We’d best put our serious faces on and get down to business, then. The day after the album launch on the first of October, the quartet got in their van and headed to the continent. They had spoken with genuine – and rather touching – excitement about going to Paris for a concert, so did it live up to expectations? Happily yes. “It was a great gig, in a beautiful room, where Picasso and Toulouse Le Trec used to go,” says the singer. “There was a good crowd too, so everything went really well.”
Or should that be everything went really well when they eventually got there: “It was a bit of a worry at one stage,” admits Soph. “The Friday night traffic in Paris was horrendous, and we were in the little van, still we got there in the end.”
Transport issues seem to have dogged the band, as they explain: “First the bus broke down, so the hire company came and gave us a new one.” Everything was fine, until that one went wrong too, with Jake adding: “4000 miles over the Alps in a broken van!”
Whilst in the Alps they were supposed to play the second stage at the Swiss Up In Smoke Festival, but one bands misfortune was their gain, as touring partners Lonely Kamel couldn’t make the gig, they asked Alunah to take their place on the main stage. Which brings us round neatly to touring.
There was a time back a few years ago, that you couldn’t go a week without seeing Alunah playing a gig somewhere in the West Midlands, now those appearances are much, much rarer. This is their first gig in the city since that one in October. It turns out that this has been a conscious plan. “We didn’t want people to get sick of seeing us,” admits Soph, with David adding: “I just think if you want to be big, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself. Play gigs everywhere, get people to know you, there’s no point in playing the same places again and again.”
To that end the night before our chat, the band had been in Glasgow, “It was a great show” but cold!” says David. MV suggests that despite bringing the subzero temperatures down here with them (the interview is conducted with us all wearing coats) they must be glad to be home. Sophie Day’s honest answer is a little surprising: “I’ll probably enjoy last night more,” she admits. “I’ll know a lot of people in here, last night I knew one person. I’d rather play to a room full of strangers than a room full of friends. It feels more of an accomplishment.”
In a little under three hours after our chat, Alunah do take to the stage, in the freezing cold back room. And they do so with considerable panache and skill. There is a confidence about them, and if the music doesn’t quite demand a swagger, it is certainly a cut above the norm in terms of its delivery.
Soph described the music a little before: “Someone said to me last night,” she recalls. “That we sounded like all the things we like, a bit of doom, a bit of psych, Janis Joplin, Sabbath but we’d put our stamp on it. I thought it was really cool. I hope we have done that.”
Alunah, for all the laughing and joking are absolutely serious about music, Sophie talks about her pride in playing with the French psych Lords Mars Red Sky (“my album of last year” she declares.) The band give every indication that were they not playing here tonight, they’d be here watching.
But they know they’ve got work to do too. Last years brilliant “Awakening The Forest” – their third album but first for Napalm Records – needs a follow up soon, but there’s no rush: “I’ve got some ideas for things, and there’s a track that didn’t make “….Forest” that we’d like to use, but nothing is really laid down yet,” says the front lady.
Instead the plans for this year involve touring – the band say they are hoping to go out later in 2015 – and they also speak of wanting to play Scandinavia, which would be a first for them.
The dumb thing that everyone thinks is that life on the road in a rock band must be glamorous. According to those that know, not a bit of it! “We’ve never been a druggy band, so there’s no drugs. There’s rock n roll I suppose, but no sex. Definitely no sex,” says Sophie laughing, before asking: “I’ll bet you didn’t know we were the smuttiest band in doom, did you?!”
Paul Castles caught up with singer Soph Day and the rest of the band at their recent hometown gig at The Rainbow: http://www.themidlandsrocks.com/interview-with-soph-day-of-alunah-2/
"Anyone not by now familiar with the Midlands’ doom torchbearers Alunah must be living under a rock. Their progress continues ever upwards, having released their third album, on Napalm, four months ago to the day. That was marked with a special debut release show at Scruffys and while not headlining the Rainbow they were clearly the local heroes most people there had turned out to see. Opening with two atmospheric gems from the album in ‘Bricket Wood Coven’ and ‘Heavy Bough’, Alunah brought proceedings down to a sedate pace but without the heaviness being compromised one dot. The extended intro of ‘Heavy Bough’ added a cold chill when it was unnecessary, on a bitterly cold evening. The riff built to a demonic climax before performing a sharp turn and grabbing you by the throat.Singer Soph Day has an emotion-packed voice, but the softness of her delivery is enhanced by the crust of doom that her bandmates layer on top. The majestically mercurial closer ‘White Hoarhound’ is sadder than a roomful of depressives allowing Alunah to depart to a great ovation."
Thanks to Andy at Maximum Volume Music for the kind words about our set at the Worth The Weight all-dayer in Birmingham on 1st February 2015.
"So four months to the day after they played their album launch for “Awakening The Forest,” Alunah are back. Since then they’ve toured their songs across Europe, before making their return to their home crowd. Barely lit throughout to add to the ambience, they begin with “Bricket Wood Coven,” “..Forest’s” lead track and it’s immediately clear that this is very obviously a band that is comfortable both with the songs and together. Dark, smoke-filled, mystical. All things that you could associate with the group, and as lead man Dave Day picks out the opening riff of “Heavy Bough” they are all things that come to mind. Better still is “Scourge Of The Kiss” with its bass groove, playing over singer/guitarist Soph Day’s vocals. The song is an epic sprawling, beautiful thing, building to a fine conclusion. They celebrate the upcoming re-release of the 2007 debut album with “Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn,” which shows even then they had this sound nailed down. With that, we are right slap bang up to date with “Awakening The Forest” the new album’s superb title track. They finish with “White Hoarhound” which performed those duties on the previous release, and it sounds just as good as ever. Birmingham producing some of the best doom metal in Britain? Things are just the same as ever, then."
Read the full review here >>
"When you go out for a night of dark deep depressing doom the last thing you want to see is the sun beaming down on you with a smile wider than Cheddar Gorge. That was the case at the Asylum though when it was very difficult to adopt the customary gloomy exterior on such a cheerful pleasant evening in Birmingham.
When local favourites Alunah took the stage they even had to contend with the flickering sun penetrating the high Asylum windows enabling us to see a little bit more of Soph and the band than we have become accustomed. Alunah have been firm favourites of the Birmingham underground scene for a while now, but like an exceptionally good pint of real ale, it’s time for others to be let into the secret.
Alunah have been a fixture on these doomy Asylum nights for a while but the good news is that the band have a tour of their own in the pipeline along with a further jaunt around these isles in support of a yet-to-be-named headline act. They were only able to squeeze in a four-song set but quality over quantity is an approach that usually works and Alunah have that in spades.
The grinding disparate pounding signalled the familiar intro to ‘Demeter’s Grief’, a chilling necro nightmare of a song delivered as always with polish and gentle persuasion by vocalist Soph. Alunah conjure up majestic wispy harmonies but while laced with the essential sorrowful doom ingredients ‘Demeter’s Grief’ has the capacity to ignite, with a frenzied mid-song escapade. The band have a new album out later in the year, via Napalm Records, and we got a taste of what to expect with a new track in ‘Bricket Wood Coven’ before finishing with two angst filled Alunah classics. ‘White Hoarhound’ has a kind of purity running through it with Soph’s haunting cries setting hairs on end but as always with Alunah the sense of evil and the hand of darkness is always within reach. With the Asylum now bewitched by the spells being cast on stage, Alunah closed with the compelling ‘Belials Fjord’. They are back at the Asylum next month along with headliners Purson, on a bill creaking with doom."
- Paul Castles
Read full review: http://www.themidlandsrocks.com/windhand-inter-arma-alunah-asylum-2-birmingham-sunday-13th-april-2014#.U1oKTFVdWE4
Thanks to Paul at The Midlands Rocks for this great review of our time in Birmingham with Jex Thoth and Moghul. Photos of the gig, taken by Helen Moss, can be viewed here.
"It’s always a pleasure to catch melancholic Midlands’ doom quartet Alunah who announced themselves to a small but attentive crowd with some deep groaning bass lines that permeated menacingly around the room. Vocalist Soph has a presence and voice that is difficult to ignore and the crowd were drawn in by Alunah’s sweeping riffs and haunting melodies while live favourite ‘White Hoarhound’ never fails to permeate through the gloom like a dagger through the heart.
They have been working on some new material and while their first live performance of ‘Bricket Wood Coven’ from their forthcoming album was briefly knocked off course when Dave suffered a broken string, the hallucinogenic heaviness still shone through. Final song, the majestic ‘Belial’s Fjord,’ opened with pounding rolling drums and brought the blackened curtain down on another polished Alunah performance, throbbing with anguish and heartache, to a fitting close.
The morose Midlanders have a couple of engagements in the capital to look forward to before the rest of us get a chance to monitor their progress, when they support Grand Magus at the Slade Rooms next March."
Read the full review: http://www.themidlandsrocks.com/jex-thoth-alunah-moghul-scruffy-murphys-birmingham-thursday-7th-november-2013/#.UonZzdK-1Nc
Jex Thoth are coming to Scruffy Murphys in Birmingham on Thursday 7th November... and we're supporting them! We're very privileged to have been asked by DesertScene to play this gig.
"Heavy and thick in the spirit of Black Sabbath, brewed with the soul of Sabbath contemporaries like Amon Düül II, Pink Floyd, Heart and Blue Öyster Cult. The classic song craft, weaving melodies, rich tones, and crushing drums will have even the most sober of listeners completely transfixed!" - Sludgelord
View Facebook Event >>
Unfortunately, the Benson / Griffin tour that was scheduled to take place next month has been cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. This obviously means that the Birmingham Asylum gig on 27th October with Alunah, Iron Void, Arkham Witch and Gods of Hellfire has been cancelled.
Check out the Alunah Gig page for more gigs in your area, we have something very special coming to Birmingham in the next couple of months so watch this space!
For those of you who are on our mailing list, this is old news but we've recently added lots more dates to the gig diary. These include a Birmingham date with Benson/Griffin (new project of Victor Griffin - Pentagram / Place of Skulls / In-Graved) and a DesertScene promoted London date with fellow Sound of Liberation band Samsara Blues Experiment. All confirmed dates can be found on our Gig Page, we are also working on a UK tour later in the year so please get in touch if you are interested in booking Alunah.
Benson/Griffin is the new project from David Benson (Benson,Dbeality, Goliath) and Victor Griffin (Pentagram / Place of Skulls / In-Graved). Alunah will support them along with Iron Void and Arkham Witch at Birmingham's Asylum2 on Sunday 27th October.
Samsara Blues Experiment was founded in Summer 2007 by lead guitarist / singer Christian Peters. As the band's name implies three elemental aspects are to notice - the blues as the fundament where it all comes from, the inclusion of spiritual influences accompanied by Indian/raga music and the experimental approach to mix up varied elements in a convincing manner. We will support SBE with Stubb at London's Borderlin on Friday 15th November. The Facebook event for this can be found here >>
Another great review from our gig with Karma to Burn, this time from the Rocking The Midlands blog. Thanks to Andy.
"Birmingham’s very own Alunah are very much the go-to band when a well-known stoner group comes to town. It’s easy to see why. Their down tuned Sabbath type grooves have been honed over the years, and songs such the title track of their most recent album “White Hoarhound” arguably deserve a bigger stage. Since we last saw the band in January - when perhaps predictably they opened for The Sword in January - they have undergone a line up change. Tonight is their first show with their new bass player and not even some initial poor sound can spoil their half an hour."
Read the full review here >>
Thanks to Paul Castles for this great review of our gig with Karma to Burn, Moghul and Desert Storm at The Asylum2 in Birmingham on 18/07/13! Audio interview with Soph coming soon...
"Next up were one of Birmingham’s brightest bands at the moment, Alunah. It is with a degree of hesitation that I brand these doom fiends as ‘bright’, but some of their uplifting melodies and weighty deliveries have the spirit and ambience that makes your spine tingle. Vocalist Soph has a natural presence and easy charm that transmits well to the audience with opener ‘Call of Avernus’ immediately persuading a few more in the crowd to take a couple of steps forward.
This was the first Alunah gig for new bass player Dan but such were his confidence levels that he appeared to slot seamlessly into the line-up. The Brummies have been busy across Europe playing to some big festival crowds but being knocked off your feet by their blackened waves of despair within the intimate surroundings of the Asylum 2 allows you to get a hot blast of their incessant crushing power at close quarters.
Raw emotion drips through the pores of ‘White Hoarhound’, with Soph’s voice at its bleakest, while Alunah’s customary ice-crushing closer ‘Belials Fjord’ is a smouldering beast that bares its teeth and fixes its gaze directly onto your soul like a blackened demon."
Read the full review here >>
Black Bullet Live Presents Karma to Burn
Alunah will be supporting the legendary Karma to Burn in Birmingham. This will be the third time that Alunah will have shared a stage with them, and joining them will be local lads Moghul and Desert Storm from Oxford.
The gig will take place on Thursday 18th July at The Asylum2 in Hockley, Birmingham. Tickets are normally £9 face value, but Alunah fans can access a link for cheaper £7 tickets.
Buy Karma to Burn and Alunah tickets >>
Thanks so much to The Midlands Rocks for this great review!
"It’s safe to assume that when venturing out for a night of Doom, you can leave the needle and thread in the sewing kit. There’ll be no split sides in need of repair after a fit of the giggles, that’s for sure.
Inconspicuously, the sun was blazing for a trip to the musical darkside in Birmingham. Although the great fire god had failed to shine on Dopethrone who had been forced to withdraw from this tempting triple header at the Asylum 2.
The absence of the Canadians was scarcely felt however, with local stand-ins Alunah proving a revelation on the night. Diminutive singer Soph Day has a vocal range and presence that defies her physical stature and the Brummie band served up a starter of Doom that would have graced any table.
Although firmly encased in the Doom pigeon-hole, Alunah aren’t afraid to spread their wings and some of their material has some wonderfully creative and lighter touches that draw you in closer. The night proved to be something of a parting of the waves though with Soph wishing bassist Gary luck with his new musical venture. Alunah will hopefully go from strength to strength once his shoes are filled.
Such was the density of the smoke bellowing from the stage like an over excitable power station that within the intimate confines of the Asylum 2, Soph at times became almost lost in a thick green cloud more suited to some kind of Dickensian docklands murder mystery. Alunah signed off with a smothering Belial’s Fjord which they dedicated to the absent Dopethrone."
Read more >>
We're chuffed to be having our launch night at our spiritual home of Scruffy Murphys in Birmingham!! Here's the info...
Heretic Promotions Proudly Presents ALUNAH 'White Hoarhound' Album Release Show with support from Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Groan & Baron Greenback - Live at Scruffy Murphys on Friday 17th August 2012.
ALUNAH - (https://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom)
A longtime favorite of us here at Heretic Promotions, these Psych/Stoner/Doom Bunch release their second full length album 'WHITE HOARHOUND' upon the unsuspecting hordes at this show - expect a Gargantuan Explosion of the finest riffs Birmingham can offer!
TRIPPY WICKED & THE COSMIC CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT -
This Cavernous trio of St Albans return to Scruffys with their awesome experimental stoner hard rock after their stellar performance at Powerhouse of Doom in April. Currently riding the successful waves of their awesome new album 'Going Home' these guys are not be missed!
GROAN - (https://www.facebook.com/groanuk)
A hefty kick of 70's rock with an added wallop of Doom/stoner licks this UK based bunch of rockers arrive at Scruffys, bringing songs and riffs galore from their critically acclaimed album 'The Sleeping Wizard' as well as offerings from their new album 'The Divine Right of Kings'!.
BARON GREENBACK - (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baron-Greenback/216700451675928)
Discovered during judging the M2M heats for Bloodstock, these guys play awesome, kicking 70s rock with added twists of Sludge and Stoner Riffage with ever soaring vocals! An immense opener for an immense bill!
Live at Scruffys Murphys, Birmingham.
Date: Friday 17th August 2012
Yeah, we're really happy to be once again supporting the mighty Karma to Burn in Birmingham. They're touring with our friends in Desert Storm and we're coming along for the ride at The Asylum in Birmingham! Further details of the both the Birmingham show and full tour is below! Hope to see you there.
Monday 27th August - Sound Control, Manchester
Tuesday 28th August - The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol
Wednesday 29th August - The Asylum, Birmingham
Thursday 30th August - The Anvil, Bournemouth
Friday 31st August - Sub 89, Reading
Saturday 1st September - Camden Underworld, London
Sunday 2nd September - To be confirmed
Monday 3rd September - Trillians, Newcastle
So who's got their copy of Terrorizer Magazine's "Secret History of Doom" magazine special yet?? If so, you'll have noticed that they have very kindly included us in their future of doom section alongside our buddies in Trippy Wicked And The Kosmic Children Of The Knight and Undersmile. We're also featured on their "Doom or be Doomed" CD with our track "Call of Avernus" alongside such awesomeness as Saint Vitus, Lord Vicar and Witch Mountain.
The magazine features interviews with Black Sabbath, Cathedral, Pentagram, Sunno)), Lord Vicar, Sleep, Paradise Lost, Candlemass and Electric Wizard. Soph was interviewed for the Future of Doom piece but as it was not all included here's the interview in full:
In our future of doom feature you're the only band in it that hail from the genre's birthplace of Birmingham - how do you feel about your hometown and are you proud it spawned the music you love?
Yeah we come from the surrounding areas of Birmingham and can safely say that we all love the area and are huge fans of the music it has given birth to - especially a certain band from Aston! I have always been proud of our musical heritage but the recent Home of Metal events that were held in and around the area really drove home to me just how proud I am of being in a band from the Midlands, not just Birmingham but the whole area. In fact, we get asked very often by bands coming over from different countries to show them around Aston!
How do you feel being hailed by Terrorizer as the future of doom? Is this something you are proud of and who do you consider your contemporary peers?
Yeah its pretty cool for you guys to refer to us as being the future of doom. Like I say, doom is only one element of our sound but it is a pretty big element and one that pushes us to explore various styles within the doom spectrum. Bands who we consider to be our contemporary peers include Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children of the Knight, General, Stubb, Serpent Venom, Sigiriya and Gringo. There are many many more though, too many to mention here.
Do you agree that there is something about Birmingham that lends itself to doom? Even now, when it's been drastically regenerated?
Its been pretty well documented that Birmingham inspired Black Sabbath to play the way they did, along with Tony's accident, but nowadays its a totally different city and I feel more inspired standing in the middle of a field than I do standing in the middle of Birmingham. Also, doom is only one facet of what we do, we find inspiration in many areas. I think if Birmingham lent itself to doom that much, there would be a lot more doom bands coming from the area and unfortunately there is hardly any.
You've been heavily touring recently, are you happiest on the road or in the studio?
If I had to choose I would say that I prefer being on the road but I love being in the studio laying down months of hard work. It's always great to hear the new material taking shape and coming together. Being on the road is freedom, breaking from the daily grind, doing what you love, meeting new people, visiting new places and having dirty hair! We've just signed with Big Bad Mothers House booking agency so we're looking at having a lot more shows and tours in the coming year.
You've got a new album, tell us about that?
Yeah we're just about to record the new album which we're recording again with Greg Chandler but this time mixing and mastering with Tony Reed from Stone Axe / Mos Generator who has just recorded the new St. Vitus album. We'll be releasing it around Summer time with PsycheDOOMelic Records and looking to tour in September. We haven't spent as long writing as we did for "Call of Avernus" and as a result have focused more on the direction we want to take, we think it is a much more rounded album.
Happy new year! Hope it was a good one! We start the year with some awesome announcements! To start things off, from April we will be taking awesome sound engineer Mez Dewsbury out on the road with us. Mez is the engineer for legendary Birmingham music venue Scruffy Murphys which is where we first met, and also owner of Heretic Music Promotions. He knows the Alunah sound better than most and we're super happy to have him along for the ride, for plenty of beers and knob-twiddling...
After what was a full on, full blown and ridiculously loud weekend I find myself asking "can I have my eardrums and Thursday night's dinner back please?"
Friday at Scruffy Murphys (which was also my birthday) was the first time I'd seen Lifer and they were awesome! Now, those of you who know me know that Acrimony are one of my favourite bands... of all time... ever!! Lifer feature Lee from Acrimony (and Black Eye Riot) so it was a great pleasure to finally meet him, as well as the rest of the Lifer boys.
Big thanks to Desert Scene for putting this show on and for all the support that people gave us, there was a lot of sweaty love in that room!! The awesome reviewers and photographers from Midlands Rocks were in attendance and their thoughts can be read here:
All blog posts by Alunah
Upcoming Alunah Gigs >>
Saturday 6th May
MFC, Coevorden (NL)
Sunday 7th May
Route 66, Dusseldorf (DE)
Monday 8th May
Music City, Antwerp (BE)
Tuesday 9th May
Kurzbar, Mannheim (DE)
Wednesday 10th May
Immerhin, Würzburg (DE)
Thursday 11th May
Coq d'Or, Olten (CH)
Friday 12th May
Bloom, Mezzago (IT)