OLD THUNDER is an one-man band from Kentucky and unleashes a mix of raw Black Metal, 90’s Doom, Death Metal with a pinch of Atmospheric eerie. He is releasing a split with Twilight Fauna through Into the Night Records (both already featured on this blog). Check this interview!
Please, describe the music and aesthetics of Old Thunder.
Musically, Old Thunder is a hybrid between doom/death metal with some influences from sludge metal and black metal – sort of an extreme metal melting pot on the atmospheric, moody side. Aesthetically, I’m drawing from my Appalachian upbringing and Appalachian life in general, as well as literary works from authors like Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Flannery O’Connor. Many of the themes in the lyrics focus on existentialism and its balance with faith, suffering, loss, and the images that surround me in eastern Kentucky.
All the instruments are live. I’ve always had a lot of respect for one-man bands who put in the time to program drum sounds and tracks, but my primary instrument is drums, so a lot of the song structures are built around those. I’ve always loved the raw, organic-sounding side of metal, particularly metal from the early 90s. If you listen to an album like Darkthrone’s Panzerfaust, you can hear the amp hiss and feedback, and it’s like you’re in the room with them. I’ve always loved that sound and try to emulate that, since I want my music to sound as genuine as possible.
Some of your music reminds me a little bit of the 90’s doom metal bands. Together with the rise of so called “post-black metal” and “dsbm” do you think that after black metal going as fast as it can, there’s a trend to slow things down now? How do you see that?
That’s a really great question. I owe a LOT to the 90s doom bands, particularly the first Kataonia albums, My Dying Bride, early Cathedral, and Paramaecium.
As far the trend for slower metal, I think the tendency to “slow down” has been pretty consistent across all the subgenres in metal in the past five years or so. It’s been within the past few years that doom and sludge have really come to prominence, and I think part of that is because so many bands – especially in death metal and black metal – basically pushed speed to its upper limits to a point of absurdity. Speed and technicality can only go so far, you know? I think that type of approach really hit its peak around 2009, and from there, we’ve seen a lot of bands take the slower route. The thing is, when you slow down the music, you have more room for freedom and to create different kinds of textures and soundscapes. There’s more room to try some experimental things you wouldn’t do at 200 BPM. But of course, a lot of bands have jumped on that sound, and for every one brilliant band you have, there are ten clones who sound exactly like them. But over-saturation is nothing new in the metal world. It’s always been like that.
Along with the doom metal thing, some of your music also err on the more aggressive and dirty lane of black metal, even with some crust/punk influence. How do you manage to cope this two almost antagonic styles and still sound like an unit?
When it comes to songwriting, I want everything to be cohesive. I’m always aiming to make a single point rather than just throw things together that don’t necessarily fit. I’ve always seen black metal and crust as pretty compatible, at least in terms of how abrasive and ugly they are. When it comes to combining that with doom, I think balance is key. My favorite bands are those who are able to find that delicate balance between brutality and beauty, so when I’m writing, I’m very careful about that. I see music as something that should express the highs and lows of the human soul, so I try to make sure that all my songs have a sense of both despair and hope. I guess that’s my best answer for combining these elements together in Old Thunder.
This is a question I ask most of solo acts. Why the decision of recording everything alone? Also, do you think of playing your music live?
The decision of recording alone is really out of practicality more than anything else. Old Thunder is a one-man project because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have the time or the means to invest in a band or going on the road. I’m pretty settled with my current location and day job, etc., so ditching everything to go on tour and such isn’t really an option. I’ve done the touring thing before, and it’s really just not for me. I like the idea of being able to control every variable in my music.
As for playing live, I have definitely considered playing it, but it would be a huge risk and investment. I would have to find a group of musicians to work with and rehearse the songs, then comes the process of booking shows, and that is a huge struggle in itself around my area. For that reason, it’s just easier that I stay solo.
6. You mention some writers as influences on your music, like Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. “All the pretty horses” is a book I like very much and the style that it is writen is awesome. I really like how he almost never use commas or some kind of “stoping” on the sentences. Do you see any relation with this kind of narrative on your music or is it more theme related?
All The Pretty Horses was my introduction to McCarthy and remains one of my favorite works by him. I totally agree with you; his writing style is hypnotizing and so beautiful to read. I’ve definitely lifted from McCarthy in terms of imagery for my lyrics – he focuses a lot of these very bleak, desolate, rural settings, and I see a lot of similar things in eastern Kentucky, so that comes pretty naturally. But I also like to take a narrative approach with some of my songs – “June 2, 1910” from the last EP is probably the best example of that. Lyrically, I find myself coming back to a lot of the same themes, but I’m always trying to figure out new ways to explore them from a narrative standpoint, like you mentioned.
Speaking of lyrics and influences, I have been interviewing lots of american black metal bands lately and there is clearly (especially on the bands from the north) a connection with nature, the woods and getting away from “civilization” or things like that. Do you think your music goes in the same way?
In some ways, yes. Since I’ve grown up in a very rural area all of my life, it’s almost natural for me to want to keep a certain distance from the hustle and bustle of life in the big city. A lot of the bands who are talking about these topics are writing about escaping because all they know is city life and they want something different. It’s never been like that for me; I grew up in the country and have always loved just being able to mind my own business and have miles of open woods and fields around me. But I read Thoreau’s “Walden” when I was a teenager and very much align myself with the idea that solitude can become a huge force for self-improvement and reflection. You obviously can’t stay a hermit your whole life, but there’s definitely some renewal and mental refreshing that happens when you take some time to yourself among nature.
Thank you for the interview, now you can have your word. Cheers!
Thanks so much for the interview and the excellent questions! The split EP Bloodlines with Twilight Fauna is now out through Into the Night Records. I have a surprise coming at the end of March/early April 2015 and hope to have a full-length out before the end of the year! Thanks again!
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