Founded in 2011 in Vienna, Austria, the aim of Harakiri for the sky has always been to create a unique mixture of melancholy and aggression, madness and meaning, and wrapped in alternately manic/mellow songs that bridged Black Metal and Atmospheric Post-Rock. The band was initially begun as a studio project by erstwhile Bifröst member M.S. joined by vocalist/lyricist J.J., and has recently been expanded to a live lineup.
With that lineup secured, Harakiri for the Sky then embarked upon a lot of successful European tours with the likes of A Forest of Stars, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Dool, Sylvaine, Fäulnis, Ellende, Draconian and Agrypnie among others, encompassing over 25 countries to date.
2016 marks the release of the masterwork III: Trauma and Harakiri for the Sky got a great acclaim from critics and audiences and a nominee for the “Amadeus Austrian Music Award“.
Arson, the 4th album, is acclaimed to be one of the albums of the year 2018. It ranked #29 in the German album charts and #62 in the Austrian album charts. Harakiri for the sky got a nominee for the “Metal Hammer Awards 2018“.
Mære is their latest masterpiece which was released on February 19th, 2021 and J.J. with This Is Black Metal Webzine had an interesting talk about all the course of the band and their future plans!
This Is Black Metal: Hello J.J. and thanks for this interview. So, you have released your new masterpiece, and you named it, Maere. Why have you chosen this name?
J.J.: Yeah, sure. It’s some ghoul in mythology, which sits on your chest. While you try to sleep, and it keeps you from sleep and gets you nightmares. So this title was meant as a metaphor for the lyrics I write and the stories behind them because they are kind of similar as a metaphor to the ghoul, because they are also keeping me from sleep and sitting on my chest so I can’t breathe. That’s the meaning behind it.
TIBM: So, what is the feedback that you’re getting until now, from the fans and the press?
J.J.: The presentence of the people really seem to like the album, we got the best reputation since we started with the band. The only thing some people have problems with is that the album is very long. I mean, 85 minutes is not a normal album length. And as you know the younger generation notices all the Spotify kids don’t have the time to…yeah, and most of us sometimes…. some people have problems with the length, but for me, it’s totally okay because it is usually out in Post-Rock that you have these lengthy songs.
And yeah, steady up and down and then it’s expanding, then it’s exploding the first time that it comes down and then exploding the second time, and that’s the most of the music except hardcore, is that I listen to is lengthy of one of our favorite bands these days is Godspeed You! Black Emperor and mean there are songs are mostly like 18 to 20 minutes. That’s all of it’s a little bit longer than we do, but… to me, it’s no problem as a young Black Metal guy with 17-18 years I listen to Possess to Hoover. Very often, and they also have these long songs, to me it’s totally normal.
TIBM: Okay. Personally, I love the fact that the album is too long, more music here for the listener!
J.J.: Yeah me too!
Harakiri For The Sky – Us Against December Skies (Official Music Video)
TIBM: So, you made a video clip for I, Pallbearer which sporadically shows some lyrics. The reason you did not do a full lyric video was in order to show emphasis on these specific lyrics?
J.J.: Yeah, it’s a lyric video. Yeah, so this was the meaning behind that you can also read it, read the lyrics, we did this before. I’m not sure how often but once or twice more. And yeah, I think this is, this is a cool thing because i know that not everybody that is listening to music is also so much into the lyrics. But to me, the lyrics are equally important to the songs, so I really like, to work that way. The lyric video Pallbearer is totally cool I think.
TIBM: Nice. The second song of the album that made a video clip is Sing for the Damage We’ve Done. Why you have picked the song over the other ones, and how did the guest with Neige from our Alcest happen?
J.J.: Yeah, I think this is one of the reasons we took this song for the first video and also because it’s a song you get into very quickly, so it stays in your head. And yeah, also because of Neige. I mean, the collaboration was with Matthias who is our guitarist, who writes all the songs – we met him a few times on festivals during summer, Summer Breeze and all that.
So we used to know each other, and Matthias, for a few years I think writing private messages with messenger on Facebook and they said that they send each other songs from bands that, nobody usually listens to at all that – very artistic stuff. And so they became friends and I think we were a little bit, a little shy at the beginning to ask him for a 44 for the feature because we were not sure if he’s so much into our band, or maybe it’s not popular enough or something, but it was totally bullshit because then we wrote him – I think we drank a few beers before. So we were not that shy anymore! And he directly answered and said yes he’s with us… And so yeah, it’s very cool that he joined. I was still very happy with this feature, also because he sings, not just you know, screaming, but that he also sings clean vocals, which is a piece of personal trademark I’d say.
Harakiri For The Sky – I, Pallbearer (Official Music Video)
TIBM: All right… So you covered Placebo’s Song to Say Goodbye. Why did you choose this song?
J.J.: Yeah, first we chose that we will cover a Placebo song from the album Meds and yeah then we discussed a little because Matthias likes every song of the album – he is a really big Placebo fan. But to me, Song to Say Goodbye was most important for my young adulthood. I think this came out in the year in the summer before I finished high school, and it was I moved out of my parent’s home, and all that and started a new life. And so this song became very important to me musically as lyrically, and that is why he said okay if you really liked that song so much more than the other ones, then we try and with this one, and so this happened.
TIBM: Okay, so what can you tell us about the album cover and its creation?
J.J.: Yeah, we were searching for a new artist painting the cover of the album and yeah, Matthias was searching around on Instagram if he would have stumbled upon cool art. Yeah and so we found the artist who painted the cover and then she made the rest of the booklet and all the other artwork. And yeah, from the beginning of the band we had this band policy that’s on every cover, there should be an animal and not an animal that doesn’t live. It should have lived in the area where we grew up and all that so. So we will never have a parrot or something on the cover! But yeah, any animal that lives in the woods nearby and we already had a fox, we had a raven, we had deer, we had an owl. And so yeah, the next thing had to be something like evolved for suffering between, and, that’s why we worked that way.
TIBM: It’s an amazing cover by the way!
J.J.: Oh, thank you!
Harakiri For The Sky – Sing For The Damage We’ve Done feat. Neige // Alcest
TIBM: Behind your discography is your current label AOP records. What is your relationship with them, how important is it for a band to have the same label for so many years?
J.J.: I’m not sure if it’s important for other bands, but to ask, it’s very important because we became very good friends with the owner of AOP records. And yeah, every time he was willing to fulfill all our wishes and dreams. One thing was with the first album, because I sent a demo version. I think it was… back in spring 2012 or something. I sent the demo version to various labels. And yeah, mostly came up with this shit so yeah it’s your first album, we will just some cd plastic cases stuff, but we’re not willing to do a vinyl version. And for us, it was totally clear that we will just do this album, when there will always be a vinyl version and Sven was the first who was willing to do it without asking too many questions or thinking about money, or if he will sell it and all that stuff, directly pressed 500 pieces, which was the first Harakiri album was one of the first LPs on vinyl for both of us. And so we were very grateful for him, that he worked too fast on this, and I think it was a little bit the band grew, a little bit with every release and also AOP records grew a little bit with every release, so we both made each other bigger I don’t know how I should say this…
TIBM: Yeah, you grew together.
TIBM: Let’s go back to Arson’s release. How do you see, Arson as an album after all that time?
J.J.: Yeah I really like it but I think there is a huge difference between Mære and Arson. Because Arson is more aggressive, I’d say, with quicker songs and always this finger-pointing in the lyrics, they’re also way more aggressive. And yeah, Mære is totally depressing, melancholic album. And I still like both. But, I think we made a totally different thing with these two albums.
TIBM: Okay, so many fans feel close to the band because of the lyrics. They consider them in a way, as cathartic, are they made before the music arrives, or are they inspired by it?
J.J.: No, usually, I’m just writing ideas down like all day long, all year long… Then I just put it together to one story, because I have to say at the beginning of the band I mean, like the first two albums… There wasn’t even the first sentence written next to the second one and every sentence was a metaphor for itself. I think since Trauma the lyrics are really telling stories and not just one metaphoric sentence after the other. And, yeah I think… that’s a different way of work these days. I try to write whole poems or whole stories, and not just put sentence after sentence.
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (Full Album)
TIBM: Well, we may be in quarantine, but that does not stop us from dreaming of live concerts! With, which two bands, would you like to be on the same stage, when everything returns to normal?
J.J.: Yeah, I think my favorite tour schedule would be our Archivist, Alcest and Converge or something like that, or a band where we’re friends of mine. That’s always the best idea, to tour with a smaller band, where you know those people and give them also a chance.
TIBM: Okay. What is your opinion about Austrian Black Metal? How much has it evolved in the last years? Do you like this evolvement?
J.J.: Yeah, I’m not really sure what is Austrian Black Metal these days, because when I think a few years back there, that just comes to my mind bands like Abigor or Summoning. And these days, it’s… I do not really know that many Austrian Black Metal bands as you can imagine, but I can’t think of more also Black Metal bands I’m into.
Harakiri For The Sky – The Traces We Leave (Official Music Video)
TIBM: It’s okay. So, I would like you to tell us your future plans.
J.J.: Yeah, everything is uncertain these days… I don’t really have future plans… I don’t really know what’s next week will bring or what the next day will bring or the next month… This is the fact of our times. You can’t just think about the next step but not about the next three steps. It’s the same in my private life, as in my band life or, yeah… Not sure we plan something like a 10 year as an anniversary show and all that, and USA tours with Numenorean and from Canada, and stuff like that, but I’m not sure that that’s anything of this would ever happen or will happen in the next future or the nearest future. So, now, I can’t tell you anything about future plans.
TIBM: The last words are yours. Do you have a message for our readers?
J.J.: (Chuckles) Not really I got asked this a lot at the end of an interview but no I don’t have any good last verse or something. I mean, we all hope that said, the future gets easier. And then the villain is the day that it is today, but yeah let’s see… I’m not really sure what will happen next. I just hope that at least a few people are willing to get their work done and stuff. So maybe smaller events can take place in the nearest future. But, that’s everything.
TIBM: J.J. thanks for your time!
Harakiri For The Sky – Maere (Full Album)