As hosts of this forlorn musical sojourn, Anicon provides a prodigious offering within their newest release Entropy Mantra. The band joins us to expand on their new album, the band, and the New York Black Metal scene.
Entropy Mantra will be released through Vendetta Records. Release date: June 19, 2018
This Is Black Metal: Thank you very much Owen, for taking the time to talk and answer some questions about the band. First, I would personally like to reflect on and discuss the element that originally reached out to me as a listener, which is Anicon’s musical atmosphere as a Black Metal band. The first time I heard the opening riff for Robed In Torments from your 2016 release Exegeses; it was one of the most grievous riffs I have ever heard. In your own words, could you express what it is that brings out this feeling of emotion to your music, and how you have brought that translation to Entropy Mantra?
Owen Rundquist (Anicon’s guitarist and vocalist): Thank you, that’s really nice to hear. I’m not sure if there’s a good explanation as to how to get emotion into your music, but I think it’s mostly a matter of feeling something while you’re putting it together and, in our case, having the privilege of working with other people that all write and hear very intuitively. Not that we do a lot of jamming in the practice space or anything like that, but that one of us could bring in some material and everyone else could be able to hear what the material is supposed to do. We do a lot of editing too, cutting things out, moving things around, that sort of thing. I think there are some really logical continuations of ideas from Exegeses, but it was never a goal to make Entropy Mantra a follow up to it and I think it’s a superior album overall.
TIBM: How in your own words, how would you invite the listener to experience this album? Can you expand on the inspiration and who may get the most out of this album in a musical taste standpoint?
Owen Rundquist: It’s hard to know your audience when you’re making something and especially when it’s as personally significant as Entropy Mantra. I don’t have any listening instructions other than to suggest hearing it start to finish at least once. That seems to be a less and less popular way for people to consume music now, but the album’s definitely been put together to be heard that way. Inspirationally the material draws on our lives — much as it always has. Again, it’s hard to say where musical ideas come from when you’re sitting alone and hashing out ideas. Sometimes you sit down and say, “I’m going to write something and we’re going to use it,” and other times you noodle around and stumble onto something, and still other times you write something that kicks around for a year or more before you figure out how to put it to use. Lyrically we really tried to talk in more concrete terms about our immediate experience. The music just feels more direct and less veiled than past output in a way, so we wanted the lyrics to reflect that.
ANICON – In Shadow And Amber
TIBM: Entropy Mantra is being released through Vendetta Records, who has been cultivating a great catalog with bands like Woe, Belus, and Ultha contributing towards the foundation of the contemporary Black Metal Underground. Can you elaborate on what it is like to be a part of the label, and what you both plan on accomplishing together with their representation?
Owen Rundquist: Yeah Vendetta’s been putting out a lot of really great stuff recently, so it really feels like we’re on the same page with the label creatively, and that’s a good thing. It’s a young relationship so far but Stefan is a great communicator and has been really accommodating to us as a band so I foresee good things happening in the future. We’d spoken to some people about the label beforehand and a common thing I’d heard was that he’s really direct, he’ll be in regular communication with you and tell you exactly where you’re at and what he thinks and to me that’s perfect; that’s exactly how it should be.
TIBM: Entropy Mantra was recorded at New York’s own Chapel Black studio. Can you expand on who had a part in the production process and describe the self-production aspect of the album?
Owen Rundquist: Chapel Black is a really cool setup. Some of the Black Anvil guys have an apartment near the Marcy Projects and they’ve built out the basement level into the recording studio that is Chapel Black. Nolan recorded Belus’s Apophenia there and we really liked the idea of having the control and flexibility of working on everything ourselves so it was just a really logical choice. All of the major tracking was done there and we did some additional vocals at our practice space a few weeks later. After tracking was finished Nolan mixed everything from his own home studio before sending off to master. In that way it was pretty cool, the end of the process wound up with me and Nolan at his apartment tweaking a mix, much like the first recording we ever did together. We definitely owe some thanks to James Van Deusen, Travis Bacon, and Colin Marston who all saved our asses at one point or another, as well as Adam Tucker who helped us get the master where we wanted it while still being able to get it on a single LP.
TIBM: The musicianship of this album demonstrated the particular talents of each member in a cohesive manner with prior releases. Anicon has never had a lineup change. Can you express the importance of each member and how that has evolved now that you’re on your eighth release together? Also how that translated to Entropy Mantra specifically?
Owen Rundquist: Well, I don’t think there’s a way to go down a list and check off what everyone’s role is (other than saying who plays what), but each person is a fully contributing entity in the overall process. We all offer suggestions and criticism of anything that we think warrants it. It’s a pretty open creative process for the most part. Open if you’re one of four people, haha. But yeah, for the first few releases it was just myself and Nolan writing and performing our roles fairly strictly. Then Nolan started doing vocals and writing lyrics, Lev had more freedom with the drums, and Alex started bringing songs to practice and having more latitude in the bass. On Entropy Mantra we even got Lev and Alex to do some vocals. Now I think unless someone has a really strict idea about how a part should sound everyone is fairly free, relating back to what was said earlier about the intuitive nature of the writing. A lineup change is kind of inconceivable to me, it just wouldn’t be the same band and the music would change.
TIBM: The album as a whole flows really well from song to song. How would you describe in your own words, some of the feelings that this album is portraying from Feeding Hand through Paling Terrain?
Owen Rundquist: It’s hard to know how people will hear the album and I don’t want to tell anyone what their emotional experience should be when listening to it, I’d rather they get what they’re going to get out of it without my influence. But overall I think it’s darker than past material and as I mentioned, we were trying to talk about our immediate experience where we live. We all come from different backgrounds and different places so what we carry with us changes the way we interpret our surroundings, much like the listener’s situation will change what they take away from the album. There are maybe overarching themes of isolation, anxiety, depression, anger… things that are part and parcel with urban living, honestly.
TIBM: Being well received in the New York Underground Metal scene, do you feel that the urban location affects your songwriting as say a European bands would for example reference a forest/mountain range as part of their aesthetic conceptually?
Owen Rundquist: Absolutely. The opening sample on the album is of a hammer that my grandfather gave me as a child being struck on the sidewalk in Brooklyn, which encapsulates a lot of my feelings about the city and a lot of what can be found on Entropy Mantra. But I think all music is to some degree a product of the environment where it’s created. There’s a difference between setting out to make music that is about a place and just writing music in that place and channeling what comes from soaking in it. In writing about our personal experience we end up writing about our experience as people that live in New York City, thus, we write about the city intentionally or not.
ANICON — The World As Will
TIBM: On the topic of the Brooklyn underground; all members have been or are in other bands as well as Anicon. Would you agree that each musician has been able to somewhat brand/diversify their sound individually and does that apply to/benefit Anicon’s songwriting? To rephrase, does it benefit the guitarist (Owen and Nolan) when writing compositions after hearing something Lev may have done on a Woe or Krallice release?
Owen Rundquist: I don’t think we typically listen to the output of other bands we’re involved with and think and take directly, but I can say that when recording the Trenchgrinder album I hit on some things vocally that I wanted to try with Anicon. In that way maybe we benefit indirectly from members’ outside collaborations. Maybe that’s the kind of personal branding you’re asking about. Playing with different people takes you to different places creatively and then you can’t help but internalize those experiences and bring them with you in future endeavors. Lev is far and away the most recorded out of any of us and his drumming is distinct unto itself, so if you follow his work I think you would certainly be able to tell it’s him on the record.
TIBM: How important has the New York Underground Metal scene been for the band?
Owen Rundquist: Well, we’re a part of the New York Underground Metal scene, it’s ground zero for us and it’s afforded us some great opportunities and showed us a great deal of support. We’ve taken pre-orders for the new album from all over the country, but it’s been nice to receive so many from people that literally live around the corner or just a borough over. We’re very lucky and appreciative that so many people have taken notice of Anicon. It’s incredible to be on tour and meet people that have had a connection with something we’ve made, it’s one of my favorite things to look forward to, but this is the place we live, where we play most frequently, where our friends and peers play most frequently. It’s inherent to our music.
TIBM: Are there any word about future tours or events to support the album release?
Owen Rundquist: We’ll be playing the entire album start to finish on July 11th at Brooklyn Bazaar. The show is with a great lineup so we’re looking forward to that. There will be touring on the album as well but I don’t want to make any announcement about that just yet.
TIBM: Do you see the band ever releasing any visual content? Like a live album video or music video?
Owen Rundquist: Videos are difficult, especially when you write songs that are longer than three or four minutes. We did one for The World As Will from the last album that was a lot of work and quite a learning experience. There are some things I really like about it, and some that I would do differently given the chance. The typical kind of band-playing-in-a-run-down-place-while-narrative-plays-out is just not really congruent with what we do, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for that. I really like the approach Forest Of Tygers have taken with their videos, really more short films that happen to have music. The Body’s videos are really good, too. There are plenty of live videos of us out there if you wanted to see one.
TIBM: What’s next for the band in the next few years?
Owen Rundquist: I can’t say, but I anticipate more music and more touring. I’d really like to get to the west coast sometime soon, Europe is on the radar, we’ll see where this album takes us and where’s left after that.
TIBM: Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you may want to add?
Owen Rundquist: Thank you for the interest and the thoughtful questions. See you in July.