Unfortunately none of us have previously visited Poland so it's a first for us all individually, as well as the band as a whole. We have friends who have told us great things about the country so we're really looking forward to it. In fact, we're friends with the guys in Obiat and Raf is from Szczecin so it'll be great to visit his hometown.
You come from Birmingham - the hometown of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, just to name a few. What’s so special about this city that let it go down in the history as one of the most influential cradles of rock and metal music?
We all live on the outskirts of Birmingham rather than in the city itself, and we've been asked why it is such an important place for music before. The area has changed a lot since those early days, there are now a lot more opportunities for young people. I think young people, needed a way out of the misery that working in those big dark factories produced, and they found that through making music. The West Midlands area as a whole, not just Birmingham, has given birth to some great bands, and it continues to do so. It produced Black Sabbath and Judas Priest like you mentioned, but also Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Witchfinder General, Napalm Death and Godflesh... it also produced Duran Duran but we won't talk about that! In fact, a couple of years ago local promoters Capsule put on a massive event called The Home of Metal which sought to celebrate the bands of the area... mainly Sabbath, Zeppelin, Priest, Napalm and Godflesh, but it opened the mainstream media’s eyes as to what was and is still going on in the area. Their website is well worth a read for those that are interested: http://www.homeofmetal.com/
Speaking of Sabbath, if you had a chance to invite just one of their vocalists to duet with you on an Alunah’s song, who would it be?
For me there's only one and that's Ozzy. I only like Ozzy-era Sabbath and am really not a fan of any of their other material, the rest of the guys in Alunah will disagree with me I'm sure.
Birmingham is famous for its industrial prosperity. Widespread factories, production halls or smaller workshops - this might actually seem like a perfect hood for the growth of industrial metal:) However, your music is full of earthy vibes and references to Mother Nature. Where does this discrepancy come from?
As I mentioned before, I don't actually live in Birmingham. I live about 30 minutes North in an old miners town on the edge of the countryside, on the Staffordshire border. I'm definitely a nature girl and feel more at home in the countryside than the city. I have strong Neopagan interests and read up a lot on the subject, everytime I look out of my window I'm reminded of how beautiful nature is. Just before we started writign Hoarhound we moved rehearsal rooms, we used to practice in a very sterile environment in the middle of Birmingham, where lots of other bands were practicing, and where you paid by the hour. We then moved to a new space in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside, it looks like an old hut, you can stay there as long as you like, it’s nicely lit and really fuels the creativity. We always say that the way that Hoarhound sounds and feels would have been totally different had it been written at our old place.
You said in a few interviews how greatly you get inspired by the beauty of the nature, seas, fields and forests... How does it translate into the melodies and riffs? Let’s say you walk across the wilderness admiring the landscape and suddenly a great doomy riffs get born within your mind? Or you’d rather start with the lyrics and come up with the music later on in your rehearsal place?
I’d say that the lyrics and melodies are more inspired by nature than the riffs themselves, although they do co-exist with each other. When I’m in a particularly beautiful place my mood lifts, but these places can also be quite dark and foreboding. The only way I can describe it is when when you’re out walking in a forest late in the afternoon, you lose track of the time, the dusk settles and it goes from being light airy and magical to dark, claustrophopic and frightening... this is how I also see our music. The riffs are dark but the melodies are uplifting, and I think those contrasting moods fit perfectly with each other. Dave and Gaz write the riffs, and most of the time I fit my lyrics and melody to that. I know in my head what my songs are about, when I hear a riff I tend to know which subject matter will fit which riff.
Belial’s Fjord is an amazing song and quite a dark place I would imagine. Does it actually exist?
Thank you, it's a great song to play live. As far as I'm aware it doesn't exist, it's something I made up. If I found out that it did exist I'd be freaked out! I was talking to my Mom about a Norwegian cruise that she wanted to go on, and she described how the ship goes through the fjords, so close that it almost scrapes the side of the cliff. It got me thinking about how oppressive and claustrophobic it must be, but at the same time utterly amazing. That's how the song initially came about.
Both parts of Oak Ritual feature Hammond Organ. As a huge fan of this instrument I couldn’t resist asking: can we expect to have the hammonds back on the upcoming albums?
I'm also a huge fan, and used to play the organ myself. I got quite far with my grades then stupidly gave it up! I would love to hear more Hammond in our songs, it's presence on Oak Ritual I was purely by accident. Tony Reed who mixed and mastered the album, sent us the Oak Ritual I mix and he had played some Hammond over the top, we thought it sounded great so it stayed.
Your albums shine with a vintage doomy sound mixed with some psychedelic feel. Any particular guitars, amps or other gear let you achieve that effect?
Yeah the amps play a big part in that, we definitely spent more time with our sound on White Hoarhound. Dave plays through a vintage Matamp GT120 and I play through a vintage Sound City 120 which gives us a lovely warm sound. Guitar-wise, Dave plays a Gibson SG and I play a Washburn P2 which work really nice together. As for pedals, Dave uses a Way Huge Swollen Pickle for his main sound and Big Muff USA to boost the solos. He also uses a Cry Baby Fuzz Wah, DOD Stereo Flanger and a home made analogue delay. I simply play through a Mini Big Muff which I think sounds beefier than the Pickle and Muff USA so it's nice for Dave to have a bit more treble. Gaz plays through a Sovtek Big Muff, Sovtek Bass Balls and an MXR Phaser. Jake plays a four piece Ludwig set up with coated heads alongside one crash and 24" ride. It keeps things loud but in a 70's deep and booming feel rather than anything too bright and modern A combination of all these makes our psych doom sound up, we know what we like and it's a pretty simple set up compared to some bands, soundcheck is always easy going with us!
White Hoarhound is now available on vinyl on Napalm Records. According to you, are vinyls becoming the future of music again?
I'm not sure about being the future, but I think you have a better listening experience with vinyl so it’s great that they’re so popular again. I just hope they get more popular in mainstream culture, and in turn help to resurrect the high street record store, but with true music fans I don't think they ever went away. They definitely seem to be fashionable again, as do tape cassettes (which I don't fully understand), we've had a 7", 10" and now a 12" release and our vinyls are always the first items that people pick up on our merch table. I think mp3s will be most people's format of choice for a long time due to their low cost and convenience, but vinyls will always be the choice of the die-hard music fan.
I’m impressed by how active you are on the internet - Twitter, Facebook and probably one of the best run band websites I’ve ever seen. Is it your own initiative or someone gives you a helping hand?
Thank you, all the online sites and graphic design is handled by me (although we are thinking about using another artist for our 3rd album), Dave prints all of our shirts too. Design and marketing is what I do when I’m not doing Alunah so it makes sense to keep it all in-house plus I really enjoy it. So many bands complain about the changes Facebook keep making, but if you spread yourself across the web it won't matter what one site does (which is free by the way, so what do you expect!). We have our own site, a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Bandcamp, Sound Cloud, Reverbnation, My Space... and I'm sure others which I can't think of right now. That, coupled with flyering and playing shit loads of gigs will get your name well and truly out there. Every opportunity we have had, we've worked very hard for.
Where can we expect the new CD? And what magical plants will we be gathering this time?
We're still in the very early stages of writing, so there are no concrete plans as yet. It definitely won't be this year though. Haha as for magical plants, I'm not sure? I've written some lyrics and they're very English, wholly inspired by our very colourful ancient past.
Thank you for your time! We can't wait to see you live in Szczecin! Any last words to your fans in Poland?
Thank you guys, really looking forward to meeting you and our wonderful Polish fans. Please visit our website at http://www.alunah.co.uk and our Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom for more information and updates.