Saturday 2 February 2013

Interview with HULDRA

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing the epic and brilliant Progressive Sludge/Post-Metallers - |HULDRA

These superb Sludge Metallers have been on the blog a couple of times now and they are about to release their epic and stunning début album – Monuments, Monoliths which I reviewed recently.

A 77 minute odyssey that takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions. It's a spellbinding album that should propel HULDRA to a wider audience.

Well the guys have kindly agreed an interview with me. So lets get down to business.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you guys Today?
  • Scott - Playing Dr. Mario and drinking fancy coffee. Pretty stellar.
  • Matt - Couldn't be better, we're supposed to be getting the CD's in this week! Can't wait to see the finished product.
  • Eric - Pretty great. Getting some practice in for the show. We're stoked!
Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.
  • Eric - Well Levi and I have played together for about 3 years now. Matt joined us shortly after we started and picked up bass so Levi could play guitar. . One day Matt said he knew an awesome keyboardist/crazy person named Scott and so he joined soon after. Lastly, after more drummers than Spinal Tap, we found Chris off of a ksl ad and haven't looked back.
  • Scott - That's mostly it. My version of our bio is a little more exciting and fictitious, but I think he hit most of the main points.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound.
  • Chris - Volcanic. We are a smoldering volcano waiting to erupt, and when we do, you better run or the magma will get you.
  • Matt - I often describe us to other peope as a "wall of sound" because I feel like it is a pretty representative summary of what we do. 
  • Scott - Like a novelization of the movie Barbarella at 130 dB.
  • Eric - Im with Matt here, the "wall of sound" is a good description. And hopefully once in a while "heavy as balls."
Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians.
  • Chris - I was heavily influenced by classic rock music growing up. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones to name a few. John Bonham is my main inspiration for drumming. Recently I have found myself listening to more Blues music such as Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes, and My Morning Jacket.
  • Matt - I got really into music when I was in high school listening primarily to nü-metal bands. Big influences for me when I first started playing bass were Ryan Martinie from Mudvayne, Dirk Lance from Incubus, and Justin Chancellor from Tool. As far as my music tastes right now, I've been digging If These Trees Coud Talk, David Gray, Hammock, Lionize, Intronaut, and Radiohead quite a bit lately but it's always changing.
  • Scott - Tough to say. Since my job in the band is to keep things weird, I think I draw a whole lot more from pop-music and hip-hop than I do from similar bands.
  • Eric - I started out with the whole nu-metal thing in high school as well, but I'd always gotten a steady dose of classic rock and prog, like Pink Floyd from the parents. The biggest game changer for me was when i discovered Opeth. The fact that they could have a song that was heavy as balls one minute and then could be a beautiful classical guitar and a nice voice the next; that really blew me away and had a lot of influence on our songwriting.
  • Levi - I grew up listening to classic rock such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. I listened to a lot of Tool, Deftones, A Perfect Circle, NIN, and System of a Down in High School and since then I have pretty much stuck to the Post-Rock and Post-Metal Genres. Cult of Luna, Mouth of the Architect, ISIS, and Rosetta are among my main influences.

Q5 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.
  • Chris - I unfortunately have a full time job. I think in a sense that helps because when we get together to play, life's frustrations come out in our playing and we really give it our all. It's a good stress relief.
  • Matt - I'm a part time student and I also have a part-time job at the moment. I'm not sure we will ever make it to a point where we are solely musicians in our profession, but I'm pretty sure we're all ok with that. We have no delusions of grandeur; we're simply creating music that we enjoy and appreciating the positive responses we get from playing that music live or recorded to other people.
  • Scott - Yep. Working for the man. It turns out Post-Metal isn't the cash cow I had originally thought it to be, but like Matt said, it would be really frustrating if we were doing this for any other reason than to make loud noises with our friends.
  • Eric - I too work a full time job. If we could ever get to the point where music could support us that would be amazing, but we do it because we enjoy it and that has always been the bottom line.
Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.
  • Chris - Yes! Family and friends are very supportive. It is always good to see friends, family, wives, and Eric's mom out in the audience when we play.
  • Matt - Absolutely. It would be rather difficult to do what we do with zero support.
  • Levi - 100%. Without their support, I wouldn't be doing this.
  • Scott - Oh yeah. It might not be my Mom's favorite music project that I've worked on, but I think that means we are doing something right. 
  • Eric - Some of my friends dig our stuff and that's always cool. 
Q7 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.
  • Chris - For the most part we all contribute to the song writing process in my opinion. Levi, Eric, Matt, and Scott will all have basic ideas to structure into a song, and we will all add to the track. We all kind of build around the song until its complete.
  • Scott - I just show up and make rude comments and weird noises, and somehow songs get finished.
  • Matt - Often it will start with a riff or two that one person has which we all expand upon. We'll jam that until we feel like it has enough to say as a song and then polish it. Additionally, there's songs where Levi and Eric have brought in fully sequenced and recorded tracks and we may or may not stick to the parts recorded in that rough demo version of the song. The City In the Sky and Ursidae off the new album are really good examples of this.

Q8 – You're about to release your brilliant new album. Was it an easy album to write and record for.
  • Chris - I am very proud of this album. We put a lot of extra time in preparing for this album whether it was laying down cello/ambient/click tracks at home, or even learning to play to a click. We did a lot of preproduction work in our off time which I think really paid off in the end. As far as writing I think it went pretty smooth, it was all the additional pieces that needed to be added that took time.
  • Matt - I agree. This is a huge step for Huldra musically as well as for my own personal growth as a musician. I think this is probably the most meticulous album I've ever been a part of but I think it will really help the album to stand out.
  • Scott - It was a long, long, long process. I'm still wading through scores, notes and a slew of mixes, but we had some really cool people helping us which made it all feel pretty painless.
  • Eric - it was. A lot of work has been put into this and i think it shows. It was stressful to some degree, but I'm glad to have it done.
Q9 – Was it always your intention to release a 77 minute album. As it took me a few listens to get the full effect as it's very multi-layered album.
  • Chris - We really wanted to make a monster album, and I think we succeeded. I think in the end we really wanted to push the envelope not only on content but time as well. I think the album flows well and doesn't feel 77 minutes long when I listen to it.
  • Matt - I don't know if 77 minutes was necessarily the goal, but we knew it was going to be long since the EP was pushing 45 minutes. We wanted to create something that was grand and epic and I think we've realized that goal with Monuments, Monoliths.
  • Eric - We knew it was going to be huge and epic, even if maybe not 77 minutes long. But we felt everything on it was strong and so why not?
  • Scott - My goal was 80 minutes. We got pretty close, but my 3 minutes of beat boxing was cut from the end, sadly.

Q10 – The album cover is very cool. Who came up with that design.
  • Matt - Derek Ballard. He did an incredible job! We were so thrilled when we got the sample artwork and the final artwork destroys that. It's going to be epic.
  • Eric - Thank you. I've been really stoked about the artwork and packing. Serious props to Mr. Ballard.
  • Scott - Seriously! It's fantastic. We got our hands on some artwork he did for a few of our friends bands and knew we had to get him on board. Derek is actually from Salt Lake, like us, and an incredible rocker in his own right, but best of all, he has a better idea of what looks/is cool than we do. We had a few ideas but basically gave him the tunes, text and themes and told him to go nuts. Needless to say we were thrilled with the results. If you get a chance, check him out at
Q11 – Is there a scene for Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal 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.
  • Chris- We have a few venues locally who cater to our sound. The Shred Shed, Burt's Tiki Lounge, and Bar Deluxe have been very good to us. We have a great music scene with some really incredible bands. People just need to get off their asses and go see local shows.
  • Matt - We definitely have a slew of venues that have been very kind to let us grace their stage on numerous occasions. We're also certainly not the only metal/stoner/doom metal band around. There's lots of great talent in Salt Lake - Gaza, Loom, Eons, INVDRS, Cornered By Zombies, Birdeater, Judast, and I Hear Sirens all come to mind.
  • Eric - SLC has some great bands to play with. Oxcross just played an awesome set at our CD release show and there are countless other bands that it's been a pleasure to play with over the last few years.
Q12 – What is the live HULDRA experience like.
  • Scott - I've always wondered that myself, but based on the reactions we get, I would say the experience is quite loud. 
  • Chris - I am very proud of our live shows. I feel we give the audience their money's worth. When we play I feel we give it our all and leave everything on the table. There I times I wish I could be out in the audience to watch us play because I feel we are a dynamic band and would like to experience that from the audiences point of view.
  • Matt - Very loud. I'd like to thin it's a very powerful experience because that's what I feel when I'm playing, but it's hard to know what the audience thinks at times. 

Q13 - 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.

  • Matt - We haven't toured yet, but it may be something we pursue sometime in 2013 and beyond.
  • Scott - What with the full time jobs and being super lazy, we don't make it out much. We have shared the stage with some excellent bands that have come through Salt Lake City and some excellent bands who are located here. We really are spoiled in some respects because so many excellent bands show up to rock out for us. I think the most star struck I've been is when we got to open up for Rishloo at our first show ever. Some of my other favorite shows had us opening up for bands such as: North, City of Ships, and The Great Sabatini. Like I said before, we are extremely spoiled to have played with the very talented folks that we've played with and we're looking forward to more of the same! Ah that was a boring answer... sorry.
Q14 – 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.
  • Chris - I still listen to my staple classic rock music. Newer bands that I really like would include Astra, Ancestors, Black Country Communion, Red Fang, Rival Sons, and a bunch more.
  • Matt - Like I said earlier, I've been digging If These Trees Coud Talk, David Gray, Hammock, Lionize, Intronaut, and Radiohead lately. However, throw Thrice into the mix too because I'm listening to them right now and it's always a treat.
  • Levi - I currently listen to a lot of Pink Floyd and Cult of Luna.
  • Scott - Vattnet Viskar has been stuck in my stereo for a few months and it is awesome! Also, this band Wreck and Reference... I've been listening to their album No Youth a ton. I basically spend most of my lunch break scouring bandcamp on my phone, or I listen to the insane amount of CDs I trade for our CDs, when we play shows. 
  • Eric - I've really been into a few bands lately. Fear Before the March of Flames, Rosetta, Baroness. The new Between the Buried and Me album is great, ditto for Gojira and their new record. I also always listen to Mono, Godspeed You! Black Emporer, and other more ambient music. 

Q15 – 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?

  • Chris - We love Sludgelord! I appreciate any and all reviews or mentions of our work, both good and bad. Obviously we prefer the good over the bad, but when you get criticized, it allows you to take a step back and try new approaches or see/hear other opinions.
  • Matt - I feel like the phrase "any publicity is good publicity" has been tossed around a few times at the practice space, so we're just happy that people are noticing. It doesn't hurt that the people that have reviewed us are mostly positive. 
  • Scott - Blogs rule. It's strange to be noticed at all, but to hear encouraging things coming from people in far away places is incredibly motivating.
  • Eric - We appreicate it a lot. It's great knowing that there is someone out there digging what you are putting out there.
Q16 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.
  • Scott - I just like getting out of the house from time to time... 
  • Chris - For me, the most rewarding aspects of this band pushes me to play differently. I'm not a flashy drummer by any means, and have never really listened to this genre of music until I joined the band, but playing with these guys makes me play differently than I am accustom to but I find it rewarding and challenging.
  • Matt - For me I think the most rewarding aspect is a tie between writing (when it really starts coming together) and playing live shows. Both just have an enormous amount of energy to me that is irreplaceable. As far as least rewarding... Probably the set up and break down aspects of playing live shows just because of the amount of gear we have.
  • Eric - When it comes down to it, hanging out with your friends and making some cool music is the best part of it. As for the least rewarding part... I could go without moving another guitar cab.

Q17 – Apart from the album release do you have any future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

  • Chris - We really want to push this album and get it out there not only locally but nationally. With the Internet and blogs, etc, it has helped us get our music to places we have never thought we could reach. It is awesome to see people buying our stuff in Europe and all over the world. With families and jobs it is difficult for us to up and go tour, but look for us hopefully going to short stints throughout the western part of the country for starters, and see where is goes from there. Locally, look for us in our usual spots, and branching out both north and south in the Wasatch Front! I also smell another album on the horizon....!
  • Matt - Definitely several shows, possibly some outside of Utah. We're writing new music right now and may try to get into the studio again this fall, but nothing's set in stone just yet. 
  • Eric - We're thinking about getting some shows outside of Utah and perhaps another EP. Either way, you will be hearing from us.
Q18 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans?
  • Chris - We appreciate the support we have received fror all our fans. We appreciate your hard earned cash and your attendance at our shows! It does not go unnoticed.Go out and support local music!
  • Matt - Yes, THANK YOU! Music is always fun to play, but always more so when there is an audience, physical or digital, enjoying it. Hope you all dig the new album.
  • Eric - Thanks for everything. It's been a crazy ride and it's great to have a few guys rocking out to your stuff. Come see us!
  • Scott - Dear Fans, I'm glad you exist. I never thought you would. I hope to meet you one day at a show. Sincerely, Huldra.
Best of luck with your new album. It really is a brilliant album and one you should rightly be proud of. All the best from ourselves as Sludgelord.

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