Wednesday 21 November 2012

Interview with Sunswitch

Today on Sludgelord it's my pleasure to interview the brilliant Sunswitch

Sunswitch recently impressed me with their awesome S/T début album. It's a superb mixture of Sludge, Stoner, Doom and Drone Metal.

I recently said this about their album and style of music.

“This hugely talented 3 piece are one of the most original and intense instrumental bands I have heard this year. They are loud from the word go and play epic distorted riffs that will shake your fragile little world to the core.” 

Please remember this about this excellent band. There is only 1 drummer, 1 bassist and a Tuba Player. No lead guitar. A Tuba. Now that is impressive and even more why I rate this band so highly.

So I am pleased to say the band have been kind enough to agree to an interview with ourselves.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you guys Today.

Hello Steve, we´re doing good, thanks! The vinyl just arrived from the pressing plant today. Double gatefold with 180g vinyl, the artwork is done by the excellent artist Glyn Smyth. Looks good! And we´re getting good reviews as well!

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.

Trond and Tomas started the band as a bass/drums duo in 2010. One demo was recorded, at the time it sounded like a cross between bluesy Sabbath and Om. But we felt we needed to add something else to the lineup to make it more interesting. So we asked Kristoffer to bring his tuba and Ampeg stack! A few more rehearsals and we entered the studio and recorded our album. The recordings were done while the songs were still quite new, makes it sound very fresh.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound. As you have a distinct sound compared to other instrumental bands. Well for a start you have a Tuba player instead of a guitarist which I just find so fucking awesome on so many levels. Sets you guys apart from other bands.

When we had our first rehearsal as a trio we didn´t know how this would sound, so it was very experimental at that point. Sunswitch has two bass instruments that don´t necessarily have the bass «role» alle the time. The bass can do guitar-like stuff with the tuba taking care of the basslines, or the bass can lay down a traditional rhythm with the drums while the tuba does something more melodic. Or we can play the exactly the same parts together, then it gets massive!!! 

The bass is basically just played through a vintage tube amp with no effects all. Just cranked up. The tuba on the other hand, does lots of pioneering stuff. The instrument is played with distortion fx, delay and loop stations. Makes it sound unique, something that´s important for all bands.

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians. 

Lots and lots of bands and artists! We are of course very fond of the traditional doom bands. Sabbath, Sleep, both early and new Earth, they are the starting point. And Sunn O))), Neurosis, Cult Of Luna and Switchblade. Electric Wizzaaaaard, Fear Falls Burning, Terra Tenebrosa and Breach has also inspired our work with Sunswitch. We´re also influenced by psychedelic stuff - Hawkwind, Miles Davis from the early seventies, Comets On Fire. Not necessarily slow music, but has to be high energy!

Q5 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.

Everyone in Sunswitch has lots of other bands in different genres. Both with own projects and as freelance musicians. We´re not getting rich, but it works somehow. We play as much as we can, some of us is teaching music as well.

Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Yes, they are! Friends and family support the band in every way they can. They buy the albums and come to our gigs. Very much appreciated...

Q7 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

Trond has written the main part of the songs for this album. But everything is arranged and carved out during rehearsals, so it´s very much a group effort. We have tried different solutions and sounds and worked it out together, we have come up some parts through improvising. For instance the ambient part on Another Avenue.

Q8 – Your about to release your brilliant début album. I have seen a few cool early reviews already. Bet you have been happy with the responses so far.

Thanks! We´re glad you liked it! Yes, so far we´re were happy with the response. We think the world is ready for Sunswitch! 

Q9 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

Well, the whole process is always a bit intense. Even if you´re not at a rehearsal you always think about ways to arrange the songs and put things together. The album is recorded in just two days, but we had to enter the studio a second time to re-record Imaginary Skull. The first version was too fast! Sounded like Slayer, ha-ha. 

Then when the recordings are done, a really tense period of mixing starts. Your ears start to bleed, and the mood swings start. No, not that bad, but almost! A lot of brain activity regarding different levels and sounds for instance. Then we have to get the artwork ready and plan everything with our label Riot Factory. A lot of work, but it is very,very rewarding!!!

Q10 – Is there a scene for Sludge/Doom/Stoner bands to perform in your home town on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis.

The members of Sunswitch are based in Trondheim and Oslo and share their time between those two towns. Norway is not a very big country, but there is a small doom scene here. Some bands do the the Sabbath-worship thing, and some play doom and metal with an experimental approach. Bands like Altaar and Årabot is great, they challenge the metal audience somehow, it´s a healthy thing.

Q11 – Do you have any interesting and exciting stories from tour. Have you toured with anyone famous. If so who have been your fave band to perform for/with.

We haven´t toured a lot with Sunswitch yet, but we played a gig with St. Vitus in Oslo this summer! That was a fun thing to do. We wondered if the Vitus fans would catch what we´re all about, and they did actually. They seemed to like the energy and low frequency attack! 

We also did the Oya Festival at the same venue with some non-metal bands, it worked out great as well. Again, the audience got a kick out of the energy. In the audience you could see people with Celtic Frost patches and some with Sonic Youth tees. Interesting! It would have been great to tour with bands that are true to their inspirations, but still manage to add their own flavour. Rose Kemp for instance, Electric Wizard, or more post metal stuff like Cult Of Luna.

Q12 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal.

We listen to a lot of different stuff, both new and old, never get tired of the bands mentioned earlier in the interview. It doesn´t have to be doom or even metal, but some of the hardrock stuff from the early seventies is amazing. Like Sir Lord Baltimore and Captain Beyond. And the old Comus album is great. New stuff also, the two latest Rose Kemp albums are both excellent, great pieces of music. And Mono, Lasse Marhaug, Peter Brøtzman, Swans, The Locust, Rwake and Tombs. Bands worth checking out, all of them!

Q13 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?

So far some of the mainstream magazines have given us great reviews here in Norway, we´re still hoping to get more from around the world. People want to hear something different and appreciate the bands who does things their own way. There is for instance no point for us trying to sound like Sleep, the inspiriation can clearly be heard, but they do that stuff best!

 We have to go other ways, find something of our own. But you never know with those mainstream magazines! Our record could easily end up on the desk of some guy wearing a Morrissey shirt, then we´re doomed!

Q14 – How did you get Magnus Lindberg from Cult Of Luna to produce your album.

The album is in fact produced by ourselves, but Magnus took care of the mixing and mastering. And did a great job! We liked his work with Switchblade and Cult Of Luna so we decided he was the man for the job. Tomas, also from Sweden, took contact with him and he agreed to do the job! We are very happy with the result. 

Q15 – Do people get shocked and surprised when they see you live on stage. Especially when you see the Tuba. Do they think your probably some sort of Folk Band. I will admit I did when I first checked you out on YouTube. I though I had the wrong band. Then you played and I was like. FUCK. Instant Listen Now!!!

We have the element of surprise! We really do. People don´t really know what to expect when we enter the stage. People are obviously fascinated by the tuba and the sound that Kris gets out of it, it´s not much left of the traditional tuba sound.

With two bass instruments and a madman behind the drums the music gets very physical. Epileptic seizures, broken glass and stuff falling from the ceiling is some of the things that have occured. And there has been some laughter when we enter the stage and the metal fans see a big, shiny tuba. But they shut up the minute we start.

Below Readers is the Video that blew me away. Awesome stuff.

Q16 - What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

We´re doing a tour here in Norway this fall/winter, then we hope to do festivals during spring and summer. Not much planned for rest of the world yet, call your local promotor! We´d very much like to do more gigs abroad.

Q17 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. 

When you walk off stage and you know that you have done a great gig, all the struggles that have been up to that point means nothing. That feeling is like a drug, gets you really flying high. That feeling is the reason we´re doing this I think.

Q18 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

These are the signs of sonic attack!!! Thanks for checking us out, we hope to play for everyone of you soon. Stay tuned with Sludgelord!!!

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord. Cheers. Steve.

Check This Great Band Below