Saturday 27 September 2014

Prosperina Returns - A New Interview with Prosperina

When a band is announced as one of the next big bands to emerge from the Sludge/Stoner Metal scene we normally try to find out as much as we can at Sludgelord HQ.

Take today's guests for example. They are about to release their stunning 2nd album – Harness-Minus. They have been compared to such legendary bands as Kyuss, TOOL, ISIS and Monster Magnet amongst others. Sure they are influenced by those amazing bands but they have a great sound all of their own mainly thanks to their brilliant new album which I reviewed recently:

Prosperina music crosses a lot of different boundaries such as Prog Rock, Sludge, Stoner and hints of Post-Metal for one uncompromising slab of heavy riffs.

Prosperina’s new album Harness-Minus is where the band finally comes into their existence. This is a band finally announcing their arrival to the Hard Rock/Metal world as their 2nd album is a powerhouse of heavy noises and riffs with a stirring social message attached.

Harness-Minus is an outstanding album that will win Prosperina many plaudits in the months to come. It’s an epic album that is simply unmissable.”

I originally interviewed lead vocalist/guitarist Gethin from Prosperina back in Jan 2013. So if you want to hear how the band came about and our usual round of questions then please read that interview first. I wanted to catch up with Prosperina once again before these guys go supernova. As these guys are going places. 

So lets get started.

Q1 – Hi guys. How are things with you all today.

Hi Steve, we’re good thanks. A little hungover but good.

Q2 – It's been a very long time since we last spoke. So what have you all been up to since Jan 2013 apart from recording the new album?

For the last couple of years, we’ve pretty much played as many shows as we could in order to promote Faith In Sleep. We’ve been all around the country doing the sorts of things that us musicians do, and we’ve played with some great bands and made loads of new mates.

Q3 – We are here to discuss your excellent new album – Harness-Minus. What an album that is. Can you tell our readers what the album is all about?

Thanks – we like it too! A lot of things have happened in the wake of Faith In Sleep – both on a personal level and on a more global scale. The world is changing very quickly at the moment – some for the better and some for the worse. Harness-Minus is a response to the very real situations that we’ve had to face in the last few years, both as individuals and as part of an emerging global community.

Q4 – Why did you choose to call the album Harness-Minus.

G: I lost my brother to cancer in 2012 around the time Faith In Sleep was released and that was obviously a pretty heavy time. The band was just gearing up to promote the album and stopping wasn’t an option, even though I really wanted to at many points. Although I was experiencing a personal crisis, being part of the band helped me to focus and get through it all. The whole thing with Harness-Minus is that it’s a bit of a mantra: it means harnessing negativity (the minus) in order to create something positive (in our case music). It’s a far better option than allowing negativity to sink your ship…

Q5 – The album has a bleak social message attached to the album compared to your debut album. Was that your intention to release something thought-provoking.

To expand on question 3, this whole global community thing is new to us all. Look back even 10 years and things were so different - the rate of change is staggering. Some people are at the back end of this curve, clinging on to their old wholesome ideals for dear life, while others are at the top of the pile making sure that those below stay there. People may argue that this has gone on for a long time (as if that makes it okay), but now with all the technology available to the affluent – well it gives the argument a whole new context. The gap is getting wider and the world is heading toward something. Chase To The Throne, Proles and Sleepers (from Harness-Minus) are good jump off points for the discussion. Let’s raise awareness.

Q6 – Was Harness-Minus an easy or hard album to write and record for.

I have to admit it just poured out this time. Looking back, it seems that a perfectly organic channelling of ideas came into existence with little conscious effort.

Q7 – What was different recording this album compared to your debut album – Faith in Sleep.

Faith In Sleep was a learning curve, but with Harness-Minus we felt that we hit the nail on the head in terms of what we were aiming for – the album just feels right to us on a lot of levels. We also did a bit more in the way of pre-production, as well as splitting the recording into two sessions for time-management reasons. We recorded it at the same studio (Mwnci Studios in West Wales – druid land!) and we also had Joe Gibb on co-production detail, which was a bonus because he’s a crazy man and a great mate.

Q8 – My fave track from the album has to be - Sgwd Henrhyd. Which is a song that obviously means a lot to you as a band with you being from Wales. I love the haunting voice-over before you bring the heavy riffs to the party. Can you tell us what that track means to you as a band.

Yeah – Owen brought the seed for this one to the party. It’s weird ‘cos I know that the instrumental part means a lot to him as it’s written about an experience he had, while at the same time the poem read over the top is personal to me. “A Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant is one my grandmother used to read to me, and it’s all about facing death and not being afraid. I think that ties in with Owen’s intentions for the track, too. The outro riff is one that almost made it on to Faith in Sleep but wasn’t quite ready. We jammed that out, and I just love the very end of the record which is just us hitting the bodies of our instruments and the squeaking of my straplok grinding against the button. It reminds me of a bit of sonic art or something.

Q9 – What is your fave track off the new album and why.

That’s a tough one. Personally I’m into Chase To The Throne, as I’ve had it stuck in my head since we finished. Owen’s preference is for Graveyard of Ambition and Yo’s is Codes if I remember correctly!

Q10 – Does it bother you when people compare you to bands such as Kyuss, Tool and ISIS amongst others, or do you see that as a huge compliment?

Huge compliment! We’re confident enough in our own sound to be perfectly accepting of such flattery. There’s a limit to how different you can sound when you use standard rock instrumentation anyway, and if we get sound-alike comparisons we’re happy for it to be bands like Kyuss, Tool and ISIS.

Q11 – I feel on your new album you now have your own style of music that goes across a lot of different genres but with a heavy progressive feel. How would you describe your own music.

I always struggle when someone asks, so I just say ‘Heavy Progressive Rock’ these days. That tag is a bit vanilla, but two albums in and we still don’t know – in some ways, that’s for others to decide. We’re always looking for someone to coin it, so if anyone has any bright ideas after listening to the album then send your answers on a postcard to The Sludgelord (Po Box 666).

Q12 – You recently recorded a new video for The Cult Leader's Handbook. A stunning and haunting video. Looks like you had a blast making that video. Really captures the dark sinister tone of the track. And you scared the hell out of some real-life locals. Mega respect. HA HA.

Did you have fun making that video. And has Alex taken up on your offer of a free CD/T-Shirt at your next gig.

Ha! – yeah it was a good local scoop, that. Entertained us all when it came to light. No word from Alex but he may turn up yet! We had a lot of fun shooting it – especially at the end when we made a nice fire on the beach and sank a few well-earned beers!

Q13 – Though that is great publicity for your band and album. I bet you left all those props behind. Come on admit. it. Nah you don't have to. My real question would be – Have you been surprised by the reaction to the video and the new song. Seems it's being praised all over the place.

Loose lips sink ships…(which I think was the opening line of AC/DC’s Let’s Get It Up if memory serves?) As for the vid, we’re always surprised when something we created gets well received – in that respect we’re pretty humble guys and are always grateful for the support that we’ve had from everyone – yourself included.

Q14 – What is the local Hard Rock/Sludge/Stoner Rock scene currently like in Wales at the moment. You have a ton of killer bands starting to make waves – H A R K, Sigiriya, yourselves, Thorun, Hogslayer, Spider Kitten and a whole ton of great Welsh Bands I have forgot to mention.

There are a lot of great bands around – obviously the ones you’ve mentioned and some that are new and under the radar, I’m thinking Vails, Ladyskins and Estuary Blacks not to mention the boys in Suns of Thunder who are going through a bit of a resurgence at the moment after a few quiet years. We could use a few more venues – we have The Scene, The Garage and Static in Swansea and then there’s The Moon and Fuel in Cardiff that cater for underground rock stuff.

Q15 – Do you gig regular in Wales. Or do you have to travel further afield in the UK. Are there any plans for you to perform in other parts of the UK.

We get about as much as possible: in the last two years we’ve played about 8 shows in London, as well as a pile in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, Manchester, Camarthen, Mid Wales, Reading and probably a load more I’ve missed out, so yeah, we do try and get about. Hopefully we can get a European tour for Harness-Minus.

Q16 – What is your musical setup when playing live or recording new material. Do you have an advanced setup or basic setup.

We try and keep it reasonably basic – good amps and cabs with good cables. We do have a few pedals which we use – Owen has a bass POG, delay and a bass wah, and I use a Strymon delay, Univibe and a Green Ringer through a Holy Grail reverb, but we try and keep it as simple as we can. Yo uses a Tama Star classic 4 piece kit and Paiste Cymbals. And when we’re acoustic, a hollowed out gourd (don’t ask!).

Q17 – The album is being released on CD/DD via Maybe Records. How did you hookup with Maybe Records. Plus are there any plans to release this album on Vinyl.

We owe so much to the guys at Maybe. They stuck their necks out and took a chance on us early doors with Faith in Sleep; we’ve been with them ever since. They came across the album after we’d self-released it and we had a discussion about doing a full European release. Things just rolled on from there after the reception we had. We’d really like to release both Faith in Sleep and Harness-Minus on vinyl but we are a little skint to realise it the way we would like at the moment. Perhaps if loads of people buy Harness-Minus then we’ll get some cash together to do it properly, as we aren’t into half standards! ;)

Q18 – I asked your good friends and fellow Welshmen – H A R K – this question. So why not you guys. - The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans. Can you also tell us what’s on your personal playlist this month?

Thank you for coming out to support us/buy the t-shirts/records when we play in your area. It really means the world to us. Anyone in a band will tell you the same: when you travel a couple of hundred miles to play a show and you know that you won’t be home until 4 in the morning, it makes all the difference having a room full of people to play to. We commend you all for your dedication - it’s people who make the effort to turn out that ultimately make the difference between the live music scene taking flight or falling on its ass.

Personal playlists this month:

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports
Mastodon – Once More Round The Sun
Miles Davis – Bitches Brew and Kind Of Blue
Terry Riley - A Rainbow In Curved Air

Soil and Pimp – Pimpoint
Dr John – Gumbo
Torche – Harmonicraft
Count Basie – Exposure

Young Widows/Coliseum split
Agnostic Front

Well guys thanks for this. All the best for your new album as it's a brilliant album which we love here at Sludgelord HQ.

Thanks for the love you guys at The Sludgelord have shown us. It’s much appreciated. Cheers!

I want to thank Prosperina for doing this interview. Harness-Minus will be available to buy on CD/DD from Maybe Records from November 3rd 2014.

Check The Band Form Links below

Written by Steve Howe