Hey! Thanks for taking the time to find out about us. We began in the summer of 2006, our guitarist Dave was already in a couple of other bands and I was itching to sing in a band but didn’t have the confidence. We’ve been in a relationship for 14 years and got married last year. Back in 2006. Dave’s band Sonic Lord, were playing a gig in Birmingham, and in-between bands I got chatting to a couple who we always saw around at different stoner/doom gigs in the area. The couple were Jake and Liv and Jake, who played drums, expressed an interest in starting a new band. I drunkenly suggested Dave go and have a jam with him, and we sorted a date and time. I went along for a laugh more than anything, and ended up singing on a couple of tracks. It sounded awesome and was exactly the kind of music we all wanted to make, we decided there and then to form the band and that’s how it happened. I didn’t play guitar from the beginning, I perhaps started playing fully around 2009. It took us a while to find a bassist, once we found someone, we played gigs anywhere that would have us. Our bassist left in 2009 so we had another search for a bassist. Gaz who plays bass with us now joined fairly quickly, we knew him from playing gigs with his band General. He’s primarily a guitarist but he was up for joining us on bass, he brought a whole new groove and some wicked riff ideas to the band and fits just perfectly. We were originally called “Aluna” but there was another UK band with the same name who owned the copyright, after we released our “Fall to Earth” EP on Catacomb Records in 2009, we received a letter requesting we change the name. Because we didn’t want to get into a legal wrangle, we added the “h” which both parties were happy with, it was a pain in the arse at the time as we had to sticker up the EP stock with the new details, change web addresses and recall all stock from the shops. Looking back though, they did us a favour, “Alunah” is a much better name and a lot more unique.
As for me it seems as if it didn’t take too long after the foundation that you released your first demo “Crystal Voyage” – are those songs based on older ideas?
The Crystal Voyage demo was a really rough bunch of songs which were some of the first ones we ever wrote, we did rework a couple of the ideas from it, but that demo is parked deep in Alunah history now.. Our 3rd gig ever was playing with doom legends Trouble, most of what we played was off that demo, along with a Pentagram cover of their track “Forever my Queen” (with the words changed to king haha). Playing that gig was amazing for such a young band, however, we were nowhere near ready to present those songs to such a big crowd of local doom lovers, and in retrospect we probably should not have given the demo out to the audience afterwards. I think it took a while for our local doom fans to really warm to us, and that was down to a lot of them being present at that gig, and not having a positive memory of us. Either way though, I don’t care, we got to play with a legendary band which most bands can only dream of playing with.
By the way, I was also not really able to find about much about the members “past” – feed us with some information please?
As I said earlier, Dave has been in quite a few different bands, the main two which your readers may or may not have heard of are Godsize and Sonic Lord. Unfortunately both bands have split up now and he concentrates on Alunah full time. He played bass in Godsize and they played a kind of Eyehategod style of music, he played guitar in Sonic Lord and they were very doomy and influenced by Black Sabbath. Gaz, as mentioned earlier, plays guitar in Coventry based band General, they’ve just released their debut album “Where Are your Gods Now” on Catacomb Records. General are primarily a stoner rock band but have real heavy grunge influences also. Jake used to play in a band (the name escapes me) but they didn’t really do much in terms of gigging etc. As for myself, I’ve played bass guitar in bands before, but those bands never saw the outside of the rehearsal room. Outside of metal, I used to play clarinet and organ, and did get quite far with my examinations. I used to play in various different orchestras who used to tour Europe; in fact, one of the concerts I played was conducted by Noddy Holder of Slade fame hahaha!
Which bands or artists are to mention if we talk about “influences” on your own style?
We each have many different influences, and not all of them are heavy rock or metal bands. Between us, I’d say that the most notable bands are artists who influence our own style include Black Sabbath, Acid King, Goatsnake, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Alice in Chains, Eric Clapton… I could go on forever. Generally we try and do our own thing, when you listen to bands with such a strong sense of style as we do, it’s hard not to sub-consciously take elements and add them into your own music. Sometimes we reject our own riffs because they sound too much like Tony Iommi’s, or the melody line sounds too much like something John Garcia would sing. We try our very best to carve our own niche, and on White Hoarhound we’re really happy with the overall vibe, it is definitely our own.
How would you describe the difference between “White Hoarhound”you’re your other releases?
Going back to what I previously said regarding our own vibe, I think we’ve succeeded in making this release our own. I hope that when people hear it, they instantly recognise that (if they’re familiar with us) it’s Alunah, or (if they’re not familiar) that it’s something fresh. We we’re very hard on ourselves when writing White Hoarhound, so many decent songs got rejected for the final list, we also re-wrote some songs over and over again until we were truly happy with the final composition - we were still re-writing bits in the studio when it came to record the album. You have to be your own critic in order for the good stuff to happen, even though I think Call of Avernus is a great album, I don’t think we were critical enough. Also, we were writing songs for Avernus from the very beginning up until its release in 2010. We wrote Hoarhound in a year, so we had a much better sense of how we wanted the album to sound.
Did you start composing for your new record with any special intention?
We had a very clear idea of how we wanted the album to sound, we wrote The Chester Midsummer Watch Parade first and as soon as we wrote it, we knew that it was the benchmark for the album’s sound. Other than that, I never sat down and said “right I want the lyrics to be about this and that”, I have a strong interest in all of the medieval, natural world and occult subjects I wrote about on the new record, I always have done from my early teens. The words came naturally to me, they were never forced or pondered over but instead flowed nicely, and against the heavy backdrop of the music I think the words sound beautiful.
Do you have any idea what we might have to expect in the near future or on your next release?
We have embryos of ideas which are definitely following in the same vein of White Hoarhound, we have some new ideas we’d like to introduce but it won’t be too far from what people expect from us. Let me put it this way, we won’t be experimenting with thrash metal any time soon (although, I’m sure a couple of band members would actually be up for that). I’ve been immersing myself in English folklore of late, and am learning about all kinds of weird and wonderful happenings in England’s past. No doubt some of that will be present in the lyrics on the next album also.
Do you start to write the lyrics first or did compose songs before and decided about the lyrics later?
They each develop on their own separately. I’m always writing things down that come into my head, I don’t necessarily have to be in the middle of writing a song to write lyrics. White Hoarhound was written on the Great Orme, a headland in North Wales, I was going through a difficult time with my Dad being diagnosed with lung cancer and the words just came into my head. That’s where White Hoarhound comes from; it’s the plant that’s grown on this headland which was used by monks to treat lung conditions. With this album, I didn’t sit down and force the lyrics. If we had a new song which needed lyrics I would consult a notebook I have containing different ideas, whichever idea fitted the song I’d develop it accordingly.
How do we have to imagine the song-writing-process in general?
It generally always starts with the riff, and then everything else fits around it. We normally write a rough version of the song with an idea for the verse and chorus, bridges and melodies then fit around the rough structure. Sometimes we do away with structure, for example, Belial’s Fjord has no firm structure and sometimes it’s better that way, especially with the kind of music we play. I like the listener to be surprised by what comes next rather than “oh here’s another chorus”. We don’t like to repeat ourselves too much in a song either, if we find ourselves getting bored playing it, then people will get bored listening to it as well.
Who had been responsible for the “artwork”?
I do all the Alunah artwork; I’m a graphic designer by day so I love doing it. In the past we have commissioned illustrators to work with us, I love illustration but I’m not that hot at it. Our friend Michael Cowell illustrated and screen printed a beautiful limited edition poster for our tour with Bastard of the Skies a couple of years ago. We’ve also worked with Gaz’s girlfriend Michelle who is a tattoo artist; she illustrated an awesome poster for us too. It was really special to have someone put so much love and care into a piece of art for us, and it’s definitely something we would encourage and love to do again so if there are any artists out there, get in touch…
Are there already plans for an upcoming tour to promote the “record”?
Unfortunately our 2012 tour plans fell through, so we’re looking at a European tour in 2013. The European tour is in the planning stages at the moment, but looks like it will be in late spring / early summer, we’ll be playing some dates with our good friends A Million Miles from Germany as part of that tour also. We’re also hoping to take in some European festivals, and are in talks with some promoters at the moment.
Will it be possible for us to see ALUNAH on stages also here in the german spoken part of Europe?
Our 2013 European tour will definitely include some German dates, where and when I’m, not sure yet but you guys will be the first to know.
What about your experiences on stages within the last couple of years?
We have a great time on stage; we always give it our all and have never had any truly awful gigs. Sure, we’ve played with bands who aren’t great and in awful venues in the past, I think any band finding their own identity has done, but we’ve always made sure we’ve had a good time. We’ve had the pleasure of sharing a stage with some amazing bands from Paradise Lost and Trouble to Orange Goblin and Karma to Burn. There have been quite a few comments recently about women in doom bands, and I’ve been asked the question numerous times about where I see us women fitting into the genre. I can hand on heart say that I’ve never been shown any negativity at a gig from any members of the audience regarding me being a front woman in a doom band. Sure, there is the occasional arsehole who thinks he’s clever, but the majority of the people who come and watch us are genuine, respectful and complimentary. We always have a great live experience, and always have a wicked time on tour.
Did the bands you shared the stage with have any influence on your current release?
Yeah we’ve been really lucky to share a stage with some of the bands who have influenced us, both from beginning of the band to our current release. Those that immediately spring to mind include Acid King, Paradise Lost, Roadsaw, Witchcraft, Nebula, Fu Manchu, Trouble, Nebula, Graveyard, Karma to Burn, Orange Goblin and Church of Misery. We toured with the awesome Italian band Doomraiser a few years back, if anyone reading this has never heard them, I strongly suggest you go and find them out.
Are there any other projects like this that you have been involved or are you about to handle?
Dave’s the only one who has significantly been involved in other releases. Sonic Lord released the limited edition 7” vinyl “Trawling Through Sludge”, and Godsize also released a 7” vinyl “Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine” and also their albums “Hymns for the Fallen” and “The Second Verse + Rarities”. As mentioned earlier, Gaz’s band General have just released their debut album “Where are your Gods Now”. I will be recording some vocals for the new Gringo album soon also, Gringo are our good mates and they’re one of those bands who should be a lot bigger than they are. Again, go check them out!
Are there any other “affinities” (connections) to the well-known-bands from the british scene?
It depends what you mean by connections, here in England we are such a small country that we all bump into each other at some point. We’ve played shows with such British greats as Orange Goblin, Paradise Lost, Firebird, even Blaze Bayley ex- Iron Maiden. There are some amazing bands in Great Britain, and here in England we are very lucky to have some of the best in the world. We’re privileged to be friends with some of the best bands around at the moment, bands such as Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Grifter, Desert Storm, Stubb, Undersmile, Gringo, General, Burden of the Noose, Bastard of the Skies, Selfless, Gurt, Sally, Caravan of Whores, Lifer… and many more. We have a very rich music scene, spanning many genres.
How did you get in touch with Mark and PsycheDOOMelic Records?
Dave and I both run Catacomb Records and we used to trade with Mark, his releases against our own, so we have known him for quite a while. He’s got a great reputation both on a private and business level so we were really keen to work with him. Catacomb released the first Alunah album but we approached Mark to see if he was interested in releasing White Hoarhound, which he was. He’s a great guy and we’re privileged to be on such an awesome label with a great roster.
For sure it´s a bit too early for detailed future plans, but what do we have to expect next?
We’re looking at getting both albums out on vinyl at some point, we have had a lot of vinyl requests so it is something we are definitely serious about doing. We’ve begun work on our third album, and are also busy planning for next years’ tour. [since this interview, Alunah have signed with Napalm Records / Spinning Goblin Productions who will be released a White Hoarhound 12" January 25th]
Thanx a lot for talking the time. All the Best for whatever may come along
Thanks Walter, and thanks to everyone for the support. New release and tour updates can be found on our official website www.alunah.co.uk and also our Facebook page www.facebook.com/alunah.doom.