CVLT Nation Interviews Leviathan Part II
Read Part I here.
You have been more open to appear in the press – in photo, documentaries and on social media – in last few years, and you even have your own Instagram account now. I know that for the most part, this is a totally normal thing, but we’d all been used to a very elusive and reclusive Wrest, so we are wondering if there is any particular reason for this “opening up” to the outside world, or any change in how you perceive your public image?
Ha…the only Public Image I care about is Wobble, Levene, Atkins and Lydon, and the only thing I’ve ever used social media for is to be a music nerd. I’m not the most computer savvy guy, and really out of touch as far as “media presence”…I’m kind of a dinosaur as far as that goes…I just heard the term “trigger warning” for the first time yesterday…ha.
And I initially declined to do interviews because trying to convey what music means to me, and talking about music in general, is both boring AND impossible for me…I’ve never read an interview with an artist that I was interested in and either had the misconception that the words in that interview are solely who that person is, or that I now know them from what I’ve read.
Pre-order Scar Sighted vinyl box set HERE!
Other fairly “new features” in your way of doing things have been working with sound engineers to record you rather than doing everything yourself, and giving interviews and actively participating in the promotion of your work. Can you elaborate more on these two points?
Being able to work with Sanford and Billy was/is quite an amazing experience.They are both die-hards and very focused musicians and I’m getting chances got work with musicians/engineers that have made records that have changed my life. Also, I am currently trying to record/release some of my musics and begin a label with STV called DEVOUT RCRDS. It is also refreshing to create music from start to finish in the privacy of our own home.
Why the title “Scar Sighted,” and what is the album about – meaning themes it covers, lyrical content etc.?
Again, worship…some topics deal with Saturn/time…confusion and relief. There are no “answers” in the lyrical content, only “questions.” Scar Sighted is about seeing where one is and how they got there. Trying to make sense of my own studies, which in turn always unravels even more questions…as always, the lyrics are more “questions” than anything…more revealed upon death’s release, I suppose.
There are clear death metal influences on this album, more so than on any other of your past works. Have you been particularly enjoying death metal lately, so much that if influenced your sound on this last recording?
Yes!! I’ve always been a big fan of old death metal and there’s some “death” on a lot, if not all, previous LVTHN records. It’s just one of the first times I’ve attempted more guttural vocals…at least that I’ve let anyone else hear…ha. I’m a huge fan of Reifert (Autopsy), Pillard (Incantation, Disma), Martin van Drunen (Asphyx), Perun (Cianide), MkM (Antaeus, Aosoth)…and many others like Ulcerate, Krisiun Immolation, Death Strike, etc
What have been the main influences coming into place for you to create “Scar Sighted”?
Life as it’s been thus far…and: STV, Grail, working with Mr. Anderson, and all the “horrible” music I’m obsessed with everyday.
Can you tell us how a Leviathan album is born start to finish, and if the writing and recording process has changed much over the years?
It always starts with the drums, and I ruin it from there…It’s been a while since I’ve had a music room like we have now…so we are recording a lot more often now.
How do you see “Scar Sighted” when it’s placed in the rest of your discography? Do you think it’s “just another chapter,” or do you think it stands on its own for some particular reason?
I see it as something that nudges me towards different places I’d like to go with LVTHN…as well as nods to where I’ve gone before with it. My mind’s more on what I want to do next and when I can begin the process again.
If you could turn back the hands of time, is there anything about “Scar Sighted” that you would go back and change, and/or that you wish you had done differently?
Anything one creates can always be better in their own mind, but I don’t ever really go to that place with music…after it’s been mixed finally, I have to “let it go” I guess…
Maybe I’m totally off track, but I heard some pretty clear crust influences on “Scar Sighted,” and even some obvious d-beat drumming in certain parts – do you agree?
The “D-beat” thing seems to mean something different to different people…so…there is the “skank” beat in there, like old Polish BM…but not “D-beat,” which has always meant the Discharge, G.B.H. beat to me.
Would you say it was an easy or hard album to make, and in general, is music easy for you to make, or can it be frustrating to accomplish something you are happy with?
I’m as happy with it as I can be…It took a lot of time because I take too long…ha. Billy was super patient with me and had a shit-ton of killer ideas and ways to get where I thought I was going. I was more focused than on the last record, but as always, some material was “written” while we were recording.
Would you say your musical tastes have changed a lot over the years, or does what mostly influenced you in the past still remain your main artistic point of reference?
Some things I was obsessed with in the past don’t seem to hold up, and others do…recently I’ve found a lot of new bands that are super exciting, but unfortunately these bands aren’t getting the same attention that these “really boring, post-this, and that Sigor Ros with blast beats” bands do …which never ceases to amaze me. It is what it is..ha! But I still look for and find new bands literally every day.
Many musicians tend to improve their playing and songwriting skills thanks to being in a band environment – practicing, rehearsing, touring etc. It looks like, however, that you do not usually “jam” with anyone and/or need to resort to home-made ways of playing (drum machines, etc.) if you want to rehearse, so how do you think you have managed to improve your playing and songwriting skills throughout the years without being in a band?
Nothing wrong with drum machines…except sometimes blasts are a dead give away…ha! I truly admire a lot of one man operations. I feel like it is the purest that music can be, because there are no clashing personalities, relationships, drama or compromise. I do also enjoy playing music with others under certain circumstances…as long as the waters are cold enough. As far as LVTHN goes, most of the time it comes down to trying to learn what I hear in my head. As I’ve said, I’m just finally getting back to a place where I can record stuff spontaneously. As always, I write a lot of the material while I’m tracking, so I’m psyched to be back to that place again, having my own studio in my house finally.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? You are a busy father and artist now, but what can Leviathan fans expect for the near future?
We’re still mixing the DEVOUT (band) demos, and hope to have that and Dark Castle’s Flight of the Pegasus and a unheard DC record out on Devout Rcrds in 2016…and possibly a collection of LVTHN, L.O.C. and Renfield demos. I’ve got a couple commissions for record covers I’m excited to be a part of.
Any plans to do another Lurker of Chalice album some day?
If solitude permits…we’ll see.
Is GiftHorse the last live experience you ever had, or have you performed live as a session musician or guest musician with anyone since then? In general, what do you think of maybe having a band that gigs, or touring with someone?
I’ve played drums live with Krieg, and also many years ago with a band that shall remain nameless from Chicago. I’ve been a session drum guy for Von Goat and done guest vocals on a lot of records – (SUNNO))), Nordvargr, TAURUS, STV’s solo record, Bastard Feast, etc) – a few times since GiftHorse, and only ever done very short tours. DEVOUT could very possibly be a live expression in the future…
Who are some of your favorite bands/musicians lately?
Some new (or new to me, at least) and some old: Cruciamentum, Beketh Nexehmu, Grav, Grifteskymfning, Reveremorum Ib Malacht (and everything else on Ancient Records and Darker Than Black Records), Plague Phalanx, Abjvration, Necrot, Arktau Eos, A.M.S.G., Ill Omen, Sect Pig, Anatomy of Habit, Atriarch, Wulkanaz, Ride for Revenge, Ritual Necromancy, Adversarial, Pinkish Black, and…on ‘n on…
Thanks for the awesome interview, Wrest!