Dearest readers, if you’ve been following, you’ll remember the spotlight we published not too long ago on the German ambient metal group Grauzeit, containing my review of their then to-be-released EP Tyrannei der Tristesse. If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to check the article out. If you’re low on time, I’ll give you the fly-by.
Formed in 2010, Grauzeit (pronounced graut-zite) initially emerged with a sound that blurred the lines between the black metal and shoegaze genres. Working at a seemingly tireless pace, the duo have developed their sound into something much more intricate and mesmerising. It has only been a about a week since their latest release (the spectacular Tyrannei der Tristesse) and already the band is back in studio hard at work on a full-length concept record.
Eager to please and to capture their dynamic range, Grauzeit have also offered up some fringe releases. Take for instance their remix single/EP 440 – The Remix Suite (which offers four unique electronic versions – by other artists – of Tyrannei‘s second track) or the full-length album Nebulae, from guitarist Argwohn’s solo side-project Morphinist (also note that Argwohn is set to release yet another record as Galaktik Cancer Squad in June!).
While I believe that Tyrannei der Tristesse is worthy of your time and hard-earned cash, after checking out the following correspondence I had with the gentlemen behind Grauzeit (Argwohn and drummer/founding member L.), you’ll see that the sweet little EP is but only a precursor to the grand things to come from the band.
WMM: You’ve built Grauzeit into a solid duo. What are some of the good things about working as a pair instead of as a full band?
L.: The best thing is clear: there is almost no chaos. You are more organized as a duo than as a full band with five or six people.
WMM: And the difficulties?
L.: The bad things that come to mind are not being able to rehearse nor play live at the moment.
WMM: You guys are obviously able to write great music quickly, how does the writing process go down? Is it a shared effort or does one of you take the lead?
L.: It’s more led by Argwohn than it is a shared effort. Since he does the whole of the songwriting, I have almost nothing to do except hitting the beat. Of course, I bring my own style into his drum-lines but he does the main part of the music. Therefore, I do the whole managing and contact thing.
WMM: It is also quite obvious that you draw influence from heavy metal, but there is a deeply atmospheric element to your music that suggests inspiration from non-metal music. Which non-metal artists have influenced your work, if any?
L.: That’s a hard question to answer, especially when thinking “is this metal or is it not?” We are into a lot of stuff from the crust/hardcore scene, also 70’s psych/prog rock, modern stoner rock and even skatepunk. Some of our influences come from there, some may also come from electronic music. We are even into pop and techno. We just don’t care about what the music is labelled, as long as we can enjoy it. If I had to name specific artists, I’d have to say Pink Floyd, Genesis (the stuff before Duke), The Beatles, The Kinks, Millencolin, Fall of Efrafa, Downfall of Gaia, Alpinist… I could continue that all day…
WMM: When most of today’s music is upbeat and cheerful, why do you feel it is important to keep melancholic music alive?
ARGWOHN: It’s more the fact that all our music is written from melancholic situations, that’s the main reason for me. If you try to transform your dark thoughts into art/music, it doesn’t have to sound that dark at all, but for sure you’ll get the certain feeling of melancholy.
WMM: Your latest release, Tyrannei der Tristesse, is laced with electronic-inflected interludes, and you’ve also released the remix album 440 – The Remix Suite. Was it a conscious effort to keep the electronic elements separate from the other, more traditional metal tracks?
L.: Parts I, III, and V [of Tyrannei der Tristesse] are meant to put the listener in the right mood while listening to the EP. As for the remix EP, it was kind of an experiment. One day I came up with the idea, told it to Argwohn, and he just replied “that would be weird.” After that my answer was “okay, then let’s do it!”
WMM: What are some your favourite things about Tyrannei der Tristesse?
L.: My favourite thing about the EP is that it puts Grauzeit onto a whole new and professional level while leaving the bad, in my opinion, demo stuff behind.
ARGWOHN: I think we leave the ordinary paths of urban music and slowly create something very much our own. Tyrannei der Tristesse was just the first step for a new era of Grauzeit.
WMM: You are busy recording a full-length album at the moment. What is the mindset going in to record this time?
ARGWOHN: We’re just keeping on with professional attitudes for all the recordings to make them as good as possible. Whereas the songwriting for [Tyrannei der Tristesse] was trying to link to the older stuff, we could give a f*ck about those things now. Freedom, creativity and professionalism – that’s the key.
WMM: Are there any special themes or ideas from the full-length that you wish to reveal at this time?
L.: Yes, of course. It will be a dark and urban epos, with the concept of a protagonist going through a difficult phase of his already f*cked up life. How it will end? Wait until its release.
WMM: L., you’re Grauzeit’s sole remaining founding member. When you founded the band over three years ago, what were your goals and how do they differ from your current goals?
L.: Goals? We/I had none. M.F. [another founding member] and I were friends at the time and one day we decided, “hey, let’s make music together!” We didn’t actually care about things like sound, the music itself or if anybody listened to the stuff… As for today, I would say my goal is just to deliver good music to our listeners. And I think I can say that that goal has been achieved, especially when the album will be released. That’s quite it.
WMM: What are some of the changes you’ve observed since the group’s founding?
L.: If you mean personal changes, there were a few… too many to write down, actually. For changes regarding “Grauzeit” – I will admit that the project was a mess at the beginning, but somehow we’ve now managed to get it onto a really professional level. Also the music has changed completely.
WMM: Argwohn, aside from Grauzeit, you’ve also been incredibly busy with your own solo work. Your Morphinist project recently released an album, Nebulae. It is a tremendous creative effort, in my opinion. The album is relentlessly paced and still manages to be an atmospheric triumph, especially the track “Kassiopeia, 1572.” The vibe is similar to Grauzeit, yet is also entirely different. What do you feel sets Morphinist apart from Grauzeit?
ARGWOHN: While Grauzeit is very earthly and concrete, Morphinist tries to go in a more abstract direction, with its very long tracks full of extreme soundscapes and aggressive styles. I would say that Grauzeit represents the “here and now,” of course including f*cked up experiences from our entire lives, which makes it rather personal. Morphinist seems to be the counterpart – ethereal and spiritual – a timeless journey of light and darkness.
WMM: Are you planning anything else for Morphinist in the near future?
ARGWOHN: For sure! Actually, new stuff is already recorded, it’s just that the mixing/mastering process takes a lot of time. You can expect a bunch of new albums this year, featuring some guest musicians, and many different styles of extreme and atmospheric music!
WMM: I’m already certain Grauzeit is a band worth hearing, but what would you say to convince someone who wasn’t sure if they wanted to take a listen?
ARGWOHN: If you are into open-minded music done by music-loving bastards, you have to take a listen! That’s pretty much it.
The new EP Tyrannei der Tristesse can be purchased from the band’s website at http://www.grauzeit.de and you can also check out Argwohn’s album Nebulae as Morphinist at http://www.morphinist.bandcamp.com along with his other project at http://www.galaktikcancersquad.bandcamp.com. You should also totally toss these dudes a ‘like’ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/grauzeit). This is a band to keep an eye on.