Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Rise of The Moth: A New Interview with The Moth



The Moth have been huge personal faves of mine ever since I reviewed their superb debut album – They Fall – back in 2013. I found it to be an exhilarating listen from these finely tuned Sludge/Doom/Stoner Riffsters.

Since then, The Moth have supported some high profile artists such as Conan, Phil Anselmo And The Illegals, Black Tusk and Jucifer. The Moth will be supporting Doom/Sludge Metal heavyweights CONAN on a few dates of their forthcoming UK Tour. Though, The Moth have never been a ban to rest on their laurels, there's also the small business of their brilliant new album – And Then Rise – to be released on 4th April 2015

Here's a quick description from my review:

“This album was one of my top albums to look out for in 2015. Does it live up to expectations? You betcha. The Moth has delivered an album that outclasses the debut album in every respect. It seems The Moth have upped their game for this release as the album ventures into more progressive territory with elements of Thrash Metal appearing now and then.

The Moth have created an album that is going to end up on a few Best of 2015 album lists. It's already grabbed a place on mine. And Then Rise is simply unmissable on every level.”

I think it's time we caught up once again with The Moth as it's been almost two years since I last interviewed them. So you can read that interview before finding out what has gone down since then.

Q1 – Hi The Moth. How are things with you all today. Thanks for doing this.

Cécile: Hey Steve! We are fine, thank you. It's only two weeks to go until our new album comes out and we are eager to see how people will like it, really. And we are happy, that you enjoy it – it means a lot to us!

Q2 – A lot has changed the last time we have spoken. Tours with some high profile bands have followed and you've recorded your 2nd album – And Then Rise. Has it been an exciting time for you all since you released your debut album.

Freden: You bet! We were overwhelmed by all the kind feedback and have worked a lot since to not disappoint anyone. It was awesome, that we we were able to play concerts with some of our absolutely favourite musicians, like Conan and Phil Anselmo! Since we started, we have gotten feedback from all over the world, met great people and made new friends. This growing sludge- and doom scene feels like a big family or commune, haha!


Q3 – Has it surprised you the amount of praise your debut album has received over the last 18 months or so? Plus being released on Vinyl as well.

Cécile: The response to “THEY FALL” has been stunning. I mean, nobody knew us, we were only a few months old and Freden and I had only started to grab the mics a few months ago. Your review of our debut was actually the first – and we still can't thank you enough for it! We are sure that your article made a lot of people curios and helped spread the word. Never would we have dared to dream that any of what happened next would happen. When it did, it was like being in the middle of a dream and we were often excited like kids. Having your first album released on vinyl is something very special and we really thank Christian Weinrich from This charming man records that he gave us a try and trusted in us, that tiny band from Hamburg.

Q4 – Did you ever expect the journey The Moth has taken you on as individuals over the last 3 years or so ever since you formed the band.

Cécile: Again: no. Freden and I have played in bands since we were teenagers. And we played together in another band for 10 years, without any noteworthy success. So, you can imagine that we really value everything that happenes to us. Maybe this is also due to the fact that when we started THE MOTH we knew one thing: We wanted to be in it a 100 %. The band has been our number one priority ever since. Finally we gave the music the place in our lives that we unconsciously knew it always should have, but probably never had the courage or self-assurance to give it..

Q5 – What have been your personal highlights of this musical journey so far.

Cécile: The tour with CONAN and BELZEBONG – definitely. I mean: How much better can it get?? Conan is my favourite band with HIGH on FIRE. And we toured some capitals of Europe with them. I never would have imagined that, when I saw CONAN for the first time at the Droneburg Festival in Hamburg in 2012 and was immediately under the spell. It is a dream come true! Freden: The concert with Phil Anselmo last summer was also thrilling. While we did our sound check he sprinted out of the backstage and started head banging in front of the stage. We didn't expect to meet him personally that evening and then he was the coolest guy hanging around with us. Such experiences are priceless.

Q6 – You're about to release your new album – And Then Rise in April 2015. As you know I think it's a great album. I was quite surprised how quickly it happened especially when you recorded it near the end of 2014. I wasn't expecting a Chinese Democracy style wait but maybe something longer. Is that how quickly you always work.

Freden: Yes, we love writing new material and are always excited when we write a new riff, that we think rules. This is the reason we are in a band. While other people go frequently to the dojo to meditate or work on their karate belt, we love playing that heavy shit in our rehearsal room in an old bunker. Also, we were so overwhelmed by the response to THEY FALL that we wanted to deliver new material soon. And prove that we are really serious about this band and that our debut was not a lucky shot. We didn't want to let anyone down who was so kind to support our unknown band.


Q7 – Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for. Are you happy with the final result.

Cécile: Both. Sometimes it went really fast, for example finding a vocal melody or coming up with the riffs themselves. But this time we had a harder time deciding on how often we would play each part and how we would arrange the songs. On many songs we went back and forth for several times until we knew: It's goot that way, let's just keep it like that. Freden: The mixing and mastering process was also arduous a few times. Now we are really happy with the result. But without a doubt, it was a bunch of work!

Q8 – What influenced you when writing and recording the album.

Cécile: Bands I listen to don't really influence the riffs that suddenly pop out of me. This is a thing that happens within seconds most of the time. It errupts from deep inside probably, without me having any kind of “intellectual” influence on it. It seems to come from a buried, darker place.

Freden: Listening to other music always is an influence, but as Cécile said: it isn’t a direct thing or that we want to sound like any band. As time goes on, you hear a lot of different bands and I think unconsciously you build your own idea of a heavy sound. But no idea what happens in my brain and my guts when a new riff gets born... maybe it is better not to know!

Q9 – Did you do anything differently when recording the new album compared to your debut album.

Cécile: Yes. We thought a lot about where we would record, mix and master the new songs. We definitely wanted a better sounding album, and wanted professionals to work with us. Because we had really worked hard on the songs for over a year. So we thought that this is what they, we and the listeners deserved. We knew that we could and should sound better than on our debut.

Q10 – In your own words – What can people expect from the new album.

Freden: I think we stay true to our style – “AND THEN RISE” has brutal speed- and thrash-metall-riffings and also a bunch of doom like on “They Fall”. Cécile and I tried to work a bit more on the vocals and altogether it is a way better sounding album. The few people who heard it already said that the songs are more mature. Maybe that means we took our time to complete the songs. We hope the sound of the album has a good balance between brutality and creativity. I think you really put the right attributes in your review like “a menacing mood”, “claustrophobic feel” or “a dangerous combination of heavy riffs and dark lyrics”. We love to read things like these, because that's exactly how we want to sound like!

Q11 - How important is a physical product to your band being either CD or Vinyl. As some bands are relying on Digital Downloads for their first release(s).

Cécile: As you know best, Steve, people in sludge music just love vinyl, haha! So it is important for us to be able to offer that to the audience. Naturally, having a record between your hands is something completely different to a CD or a download. It does the music way more justice as the artwork is, as the name says, also a piece of art. Not to mention the haptic of it all. It is something for almost all your senses.

Q12 – Which bands and artists influenced you all as musicians. Any particular album that stands out that made you decide to become a musician.

Cécile: The record that was a musical awakening to me was “fixed” by the “Sissies”. That was Fredens band when he was 19! Their songs were so intense to me, that I could only listen to three tracks in a row. From that moment on I knew, that those kind of riffs were my musical home. High on Fire have been my favourites for years now, and Conan have added to this. Those are the bands I listen to most intensely as they strike a chord in me.

Freden: There are a lot of heavy bands I admire for their unique sound. For example Cathedral, Trouble, Bolt Thrower and of course I grew up with bands like Thin Lizzy, Ac/Dc, Motörhead, Black Sabbath. At the moment Torche are one of my favourites.


Q13 – What is your musical setup when playing live or recording new material. Do you have an advanced setup or basic setup.

Freden: We probably have the most basic setup of the whole sludge-scene: I play a Gibson Les Paul, an old Marshall box and an old VHT Pitbull 45 amplifier. That is all. No pedal whatsoever. Cécile plays a Fender precision bass, a classic 8x10 ampeg box, a Koch amp and a bass big muff. When we recorded, Christian Smukal from the backline rental Rückkopplung in Hamburg, who also does the renowned Droneburg Festival, gave us a Mesa box. So that the guitar would have a somewhat warmer tone.

Q14 – You're now signed to This Charming Man Records which is a fantastic record label. They released your debut album on Vinyl and are about to release your new album on Vinyl. Was it an easy decision to stay with TCM Records. Did you have any other offers to release your new album.

Freden: “They” is actually just one single man: Charming man Chris, haha! He just lets us do – musically and everywhere else. He may suggest something, but if we don't agree, that's just as fine for him. Chris is a really cool guy, funny and fast. And he goes the whole hog. You call or write him and he will answer you in a minute and implement what he says while you are talking to him on the phone. Most of the times you can hear him tapping on his notebook simultaneously. Cécile: He does what he says. In no time. That kind of guys are a rarity, aren't they? We probably wouldn't be where we are today if he hadn't signed us. So, as long as noone offers us a billion or so, we will stay with him.


Q15 – The album cover is a strange one to describe. Can you tell us what the album cover means to you as a band and why did you choose that as your album cover. As it's a great album cover.

Freden: Johannes Stahl (www.joemadethis.com) made the artwork. Chris from our label recommended him to us. We liked his work immediately. We didn't give him any guidelines. Just told him, that we had noticed, that the recurrent words and themes of the album were love, death and fire. And that we didn't really want a moth on the cover. Now there is a moth on it, but we still think it is ace, haha! He did everything by hand, with water colours only! We like it, because it is as dense and dark as some songs on the record. Our new bandlogo was drawn by Gabbo Dubko who rehearses in the same bunker. We love it!

Q16 – You will be going on a UK Tour in June with CONAN. Can you tell people more info about this as you're only doing a few shows.

Cécile: We had read that CONAN would tour the UK. We asked Jon if he was ok with us joining for a few nights, and were more than happy when he said yes. But the tour was already booked. Josh from Old Empire was totally cool and helped us with the contacts. So we wrote the promoters one by one. Now we are eagerly looking forward to come to the UK for the first time and see Jon, Chris and Rich onstage again!

Q17 – You've supported Conan before in Europe. What was that experience like as Conan are some of the nicest guys you can meet.

Cécile: You are so right! But not only are they the nicest guys, they are also the toughest badarses you could imagine. On stage and off. Their old van could only drive around 90 km/h. So on most days they had to get up way earlier than us to arrive to soundcheck on time. And our nights were short already! Despite the sleep deprivation, Jon did almost all the driving. The last night, Conan got up around five, after like three hours of sleep, and Jon drove from Munich to Liverpool – straight! On stage they just kick ass. David Perry, who played the bass, because Chris was recording at Skyhammer, is the most incredible performer I've ever seen, Paul an absolute killer-beast on the drums and Jons riffs and sounds... indescribable actually. It was the highlight of every night to watch them play and to celebrate them – a drink in the hand and a ton of sound in your ears.



Q18 – Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans.

We really, truly appreciate all of your support and hope that our new songs live up to your expectations.

Thanks, The Moth for doing another interview with us here at Sludgelord HQ. The best of luck with your album as it truly is a killer release. I will hope to you see in Edinburgh when you visit these shores.

Words by Steve Howe and The Moth

For More Information:

Facebook | Bandcamp

You can pre-order the album from This Charming Man Records now.

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