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AHNA Interview (Crust Black Metal: Vancouver, Canada)

AHNA Logo EmpireAHNA is another band from Canada to blow your ears. They mix their punk influences with everything that’s dirty and metal creating a chaotic sonic blast and proving that black metal have so many facets. They have so many records released they can even remember everything. Enjoy the interview and be prepared to check them live because they’re touring all the world this year.

Please, describe the music and aesthetics of AHNA.

The music and aesthetic of AHNA is that of an old school death metal demo and punk stuff like Sacrilege. All of our lyrics are about death, war, addiction, poverty, atrocities throughout history. We are heavily influenced by music made by people in our city including hometown legends Blasphemy. The music is dark and heavy and intends to be unsettling because life is hard sometimes and the world is fucked up.

Ahna live - GuitarYour latest records show a style that some call “blackned crustcore”, which is a style that I haven’t heard until very recently. In the early 80’s, crust and grindcore bands were citing Celtic Frost/Hellhammer as great influences. Do you think that a black metal band citing crustcore is like closing a full circle?

I think we both agree that references are important so we often write and collaborate based on references and I think this is a practice in metal and punk that gives the genres their longevity over time. I’m not convinced that it’s a complete circle or that it’s as intentionally a complete concept as it seems when these movements happen though. Rather than seeming like going from point A to point B and back to point A, it feels more like drawing on the past in general and paying homage to bands before us that have done interesting and inspiring stuff (and even not so interesting stuff, sometimes shit just sounds punishing without being interesting). We have great respect for bands that have contributed to the genres we are interested in and are always looking to include those influences in our music. We can probably name exact references for almost all of our music and it ranges between metal and punk. The idea of punks making metal or metalheads making punk seems normal to us, maybe because where we’re from, there is a strong connection between the genres and the lines of punk/metal often is blurred. We also have a bias that we think some of the best metal has lots of punk influence, but that’s probably largely attributed to the fakeness and posturing of mainstream metal that we might be referring to. Interesting question by the way.

Ahna live in TorontoI could hear some transition between your music. It went from slow doom (kinda Burning Witch style) to black metal, to this blackened crust, to now some kind of experimental grind/black fucked up music. Is it your goal not to repeat yourselves and always try a different record without being locked into a formula?

It’s definitely not a goal, it’s less planned than it might seem. We are inspired by a lot of different types of punk and metal and we write what we are inspired by. We try to group similar sounding stuff onto particular records so the transitions seem more linear than they actually are. For example our next LP will have one unreleased song from 2 years ago, it kept getting crossed off the list from previous records because it wasn’t a perfect fit, and now we finally have a record that it fits with. Graham is also a really creative guitar player and writer so he is always trying new things while he plays guitar, which is pretty much everyday and all the time. I think when you love playing your instrument, you want to push yourself and your music naturally. This push can take you into what seems like different territories for music, but to us it all seems to be in the same vein.

Speaking of Burning Witch, there’s another band that has crustcore roots but, at least for me, reminds of some black metal stuff (harmony and sometimes melodic wise), which is Wolfbrigade. Both of this bands are on Southern Lord records, which could be a nice home for your music. What do you think about that?

We are open to working with labels so long as our vision for the art and music is respected. A transition to a less underground label would require some discussion for us. Southern Lord is a great label and we have respect for the bands on that label.

Your e-mail signature points to “What is making us sick records”. Besides the good name, is it your label? What did you release so far?

Ha, ya that’s my label. I am not very active with it. I have released a few harsh noise/grindcore/punk things on it, but not too much. Lately, we have been busy with AHNA and our other bands so I don’t have lots of time or money to release stuff.

You seem to be pretty active this time. You released some music in 2014 and have at least 3 12″ releases coming out in 2015. Are they self-released, how do you manage to get all this stuff released in such a few time? By the way, what’s your full discography?

I’m not even sure what the full discography is. I’ll put in the vinyl discography that I can remember below though. And yes, we are quite active lately, but we are actually active all the time. Our lives are pretty much centered around making music. We have jobs but we work basically to be able to do music. We used to self-release more stuff in the past, but over the past few years we have had some excellent labels from Europe/UK/Canada/United States supporting us and we feel lucky for that. In terms of recording and releasing, again, we basically just work hard and when we do something, we want to do it our best and then see it be released. We take every release seriously and make sure that stuff comes out eventually. Sometimes it can take a really long time to come out though so it seems like a lot at once, but some of the stuff may be up to 1-2 years old.

Ahna Tour PosterDiscography:

LPs/EPs
May 2015 – Crimson Dawn LP 12″
May 2015 – Perpetual Warfare EP 12″
February 2015 – Split 12″ (w. G.O.D)
Spring 2014 – Split 7″ (w. Contorture)
Spring 2014 – Split 12″ (w. Cetascean)
October 2012 – Empire EP 12″
May 2012 – Split 12″ (w. Bridgeburner)
Spring 2011 – Split 7″ (w. Wolbachia)
Fall 2010 – s/t LP 12″

Your a duo, but have some guest musicians to record and tour with you. Why this decision? Is it so difficult to find bass players and second guitarists over there?

We have musicians alternate because the band is basically Graham and I writing the music. We are used to being a two piece so we got used to doing whatever we could manage, and we push ourselves really hard with music. We understand that we can tend to jam and tour a lot, and we want to record and write a lot. We don’t want to slow down or not do things because other people aren’t available but we also don’t want to pressure people into doing things so we invite our bandmates to do tours etc. but if they are not available we ask other friends to fill in. Our current bass player, Derek, lives in Vancouver, and our last bass players, Shawn and Taylor also lived in Vancouver but Taylor moved to Montreal. Taylor played second guitar for us while Derek was joining which was a nice transition but unfortunately made us prefer to be a 4 piece because the solo and lead lines really came through in the live show. We are still deciding if we want to stay a 3 piece or if we want to get a second guitar player.

Ahna live - DrumsAre you planning to tour a lot in 2015? What’s your plans to this year?

We confirmed a European tour in May/June 2015 that starts in Belgium in Gent on May 9th and goes through Scandnavia, East Europe, Italy and back through France.

We are also talking about a Quebec tour (eastern Canada) in the summer, and we are considering where to go in the Fall. We are talking to a couple friends about South America as a potential option.

Thanks for the interview. Now you can say what you want.

Thanks for the questions.

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