Sunday, 16 March 2014

Interview with THORUN

Today's guests have had a bumpy start to 2014.
  • One of their members left the band
  • Band almost ended and they were going to reform under a new name
  • Band changed their mind and decided to stay under their current name.
  • Recruited new band member
  • Released their best record of their careers so far.
That would tip many bands over but today's guests are made of stronger and sterner stuff. I am talking about Welsh Powerhouse Sludge/Stoner Metallers – THORUN – who have made quite a name for themselves over the last few years with their blend of Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal riffs.

I have been a fan since the start and I have featured them a few times on the blog now. More recently with their latest album – Festival At Fires Peak – which I described as:

Their new album – Festival at Fires Peak. A stunning album of finely tuned instrumental sludge/stoner metal riffs. If you’re a already a fan of Thorun then be prepared to be blown away as they have released an album full of heavy pounding volcanic vibes that the excellent cover shows in all it’s Technicolor glory.”

THORUN have kindly agreed to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ

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

Neal (bass) – tidy!

Keeran (Guitar) – Thanks for asking us, we're all good.

Mike – Pretty good, just finished a long day at work. I think I'm still deaf from practice last night.

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of how the band started and where it is today.

Keeran – Not the most exiting story really. Me and Jonny started talking to Neal and Mike via various web forums and decided to get together to play some riffs. This continued until we had enough music to release a demo. We played a pile of shows (mostly in and around the Cardiff area) recorded and released Chorus Of Giants and played that stuff for a couple of years, slowly introducing new material until, after a lot of pissing about, we had the music for a third release. Just before we put Festival At Fires Peak out there, Jonny decided he'd had enough of all the band stuff and left us. At first, the three of us who were left decided to call it a day and maybe look at starting something new but after a couple of months we changed our minds and drafted another Neil in to replace Jonny. We've rehearsed a few times since Neil came on board and he's picked up our tunes (and helped write a new one) without a problem. We have a couple of shows booked for the end of March and we're pretty stoked about it.

Mike – I always describe it as “Band Blind Date”. Keeran and Johnny had previously been in a band and decided to advertise online for a new one. Neal responded to the ad, Keeran contacted me and we arranged our first practice. We'd never met collectively but it was like 'riff at first sight' as we wrote “Here Come The Robots” (2010 – Reprise EP) right there and then.

Q3 – We will talk about your new album in a second. But let's talk about 2014 for THORUN so far. As you guys have had a bumpy ride of it late. Obviously this has been an emotional and difficult time for the band. Did you ever think you would see the light at the end of the tunnel. Especially with Jonny leaving. Though congrats on Neil joining.

Keeran – It came out of the blue really...Jonny leaving was a bit of a shock but he's a quiet guy and usually keeps things to himself. His leaving hasn't caused any problems for us as individuals, I still talk to Jonny and he's asked how things are progressing with our new guitarist. Our plans changed and we had to cancel some shows but it's all coming together. I never thought we would keep it going but it's worked out really well. 2014 had a slow and uncertain start but it's shaping up to be a decent year I think.

Mike - Right now, for me anyway, we’re in a good place. That's not to say we weren't affected by Johnny's departure, of course we were, but we're writing new material again and shortly due back to the live scene at the end of the month.

Q4 – How is Neil settling in with THORUN.

Neal – Great. We wrote a new tune in just 2 or 3 practices and it’s pretty good, so that was a great sign. We also know him any way and he’s a really nice bloke.

Keeran – It's good to have a Neil in the band who I don't argue with.

Q5 – Anyway lets talk about your new album. Festival At Fires Peak. What an album that is. Definitely your best record so far. Very progressive compared to the earlier releases. Was that the original plan to make something different from what came before it.

Keeran – I don't think we ever really plan anything. The song writing process for us is a pretty relaxed and natural thing. We throw in riffs, get more ideas from playing them then we add what we think would sound cool. We don't really stick to a formula or decide how a song/album should sound, they just kind of come to a conclusion by themselves. I would agree that Festival is more progressive than the others, it's turned out to be quite a weird sounding record with some really odd riffs and longer builds and intros. I think it sounds cool and I'm proud of the music. I hope others like it.

Q6 – Was it an easy album to write and record for. Would you change anything about it.

Keeran – It took us longer than usual to write and record the songs, some of them we've been playing live for a while now. I wouldn't say it was easy, some of the songs came out without any issues while others took a while to get right. I would maybe make a few little tweaks to the mix, nothing major. Turn my guitar up, turn everything else down… that kind of thing.

Mike – I'd say no, it took a long time to put together and in some ways became a labour of love. I wouldn’t change anything about it now though cos I don’t want to go through it again!

Q7 – What inspired you when recording the album. As it has quite an apocalyptic end of the world feel to it.

Neal – It’s been a long time coming and real life got in the way a lot. We also tried to make it varied and interesting yet still riffy. It wasn’t always easy but I think it does have a coherence, which is testament to our team work ability. I don’t know if the others agree but after this amount of time and effort maybe we’re a bit detached from it now. It’s such a relief to have it finished!

Keeran – I think we take inspiration from the music we're listening to. I don't usually write music that's affected by the way I feel, I tend to write more to create a mood. Our songs are such a mix of everyones ideas that the original inspiration would just get lost anyway. Think of the album more as a way of losing yourself in its vastness than pinpointing a certain message or subject.

Q8 – What is your favourite track off the album and why.

Neal – I like Growth cos it has a nice character and narrative, which I think we try and aim for. It grooves, has some cool solos, some nice changes and some nice slow riffs!

Keeran – I like playing The Knarr, mainly because of how much it changes throughout.

Q9 – Now you have read my review of your new album. How would yourselves describe it.

Keeran – Not really sure, like Neal said earlier, we've kind of detached ourselves from it because of the length of time it took and all the things that got in the way of finishing it. Maybe I would say it has a story but you have to create the plot yourself.

Q10 – How did you come up with the title for the album. Festival at Fires Peak.

Neal – Stole it from Luke Oram!

Keeran – Yeah, Luke's work is awesome. The art we used already had the title so we ran with it.

Mike – What Neal said.

Q11 – I love the album cover. I thought originally it was a cover from a Power Metal band and not yourselves. HA HA – Who designed it and did you have much input into the overall design of it.

Keeran – Luke Oram gave us the cover for Chorus Of Giants and we were so pleased we decided to go with one of his pieces again. He didn't design it specifically for us, it was in his collection of finished work. We picked it because it looked cool.

Q12 – Now we all know you're from Wales. Which has a rich history of Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal bands over the years. Acrimony and TAINT being two of the most famous. Plus you have yourselves and Zonderhoof doing their thing now as HOGSLAYER. What is the scene currently like in Wales. Is it thriving or is still in the underground.

Neal – there are quite a few underground bands going on, the cool thing is everyone’s a bit different; Witches Drum, Tides of Sulfur, Homoh. Spider Kitten are getting bigger, deservedly so. We have plenty going on in Cardiff. Owen Bowley at The Moon club constantly puts heavy local and touring bands on, which has given everything a boost.

Keeran – And he's always inviting amazing bands to come in and mix things up, 2014 in Cardiff looks to be pretty cool with bands like Conan, Beehoover and Church Of Misery booked to play The Moon.

Q13 – Though in 2014 the Welsh Sludge/Stoner Metal scene is making one hell of a comeback. HARK and Sigiriya releasing brilliant albums already plus yourselves of course. Plus Prosperina are starting to make waves as well. Have you noticed anything different within the Welsh Hard Rock Scene.

Neal – ah things just tick along, bands and scenes come and go. It’s kinda strange for me to be in a band at 40, as I’ve been going to gigs since I was 16. This is the best period I’ve known for having so many quality local bands, outside of the Acrimony, Public Disturbance, Parricide, Disco Assassins and early Taint years. A lot of those guys are still playing, e.g. Resurrection, Desecration, Ironbird. Swansea also has Sons of Thunder still going. And there’s Lifer, The Drowning, Bloodlung… There’s tons of bands in south Wales!!

Q14 – What is the live THORUN experience like.

Neal – We’ve had a few dodgy gigs usually due to sound or technical issues but most of the time we have great sets. As long as the sound is warm, full and balanced, we usually get a cheer at the end of each tune. Essentially we just try and play ‘em as tight as we can and get into it. If people like it, that's awesome! Often helps if the crowd is a bit drunk and lively, that’s when the magic happens! ;)

Q15 – What are you thoughts on the crowd-funding scene where bands and artists ask fans to help fund their latest album, tour or release. Are you fans of this medium. Would yourselves ever go down this route.

Neal – Whatever works. We’ve been on a DIY budget since we started so we cover our costs. At this stage I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for money up front myself, but if it works for others, that’s fine by me.

Keeran – Not a fan of this myself, I would rather offer something to people in exchange for their hard earned cash.

Q16 – What is your live equipment set-up. As you guys pack a lot of different sounds.

Neal – I’m a Geddy Jazz Bass and Big Muff guy, basically!

Keeran – My amp is a Laney GH50, a mix of overdrive and Fuzz pedals, some other wacky effects and a Flying V or a Firebird (I tend to buy or swap guitars on a regular basis)

Mike – 4 piece kit, double pedals and as many cymbals as possible.

Q17 – If you could change anything about the UK/Welsh Hard Rock scene. What would it be and why.

Neal – it would be nice if the weekend rock-disco, once-a-year festival crowd checked out local bands, but I’m sure that’s an issue everywhere.
Keeran – More people, the more the better.

Q18 – Do you guys tour in your home town regularly. Or do you have to travel further afield.

Keeran – We've play a ton of gigs in Cardiff. We've played London once and a few shows in Bristol but it tends to be mostly local shows and small festivals.

Q19 – If you could give any advice to people wanting to start a band what would it be.

Neal – Try and do something a little bit different maybe? We try. Steal from the best! ;)

Keeran – Crap gigs happen, don't beat yourself up over it. Oh, and never think you sound amazing live and take for granted that others will too. Rehearse your set until it's as tight as a ducks ass then go over it again.

Q20 – Well guys thanks for talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. Do you have anything to say to your fans.

Neal – give us a gig?

Keeran – Download our tunes NOW!

All the best guys. Best of luck with you album. Hope to see you guys at a gig one day.

Thanks To Thorun for taking the time out to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ. Check this great band out from the links below:

Written by Steve Howe