Interview with Sculptured

-conducted August 2000. Questions submitted by Criticaltom, answered by Don Anderson.

THE SPEAR OF THE LILY IS AUREOLED

  1. If I understand it correctly, your first album is a concept album that draws a metaphor from nature to correspond with a human relationship: the cycle of the seasons, plant reproduction, etc. Is this a fair assessment?
  2. Yes, that is the best assessment I have ever heard. In fact I think anything I could possibly say in response to your question would just overcomplicate what is already a finely tuned assessment within your question. The themes of nature, cycles and reproduction play heavily into my lyrics. I think with the first album, this primarily revolved around human romance and the similarity, connections or as a metaphor as you have said, that it has with nature.

  3. Isnít the title itself a reference to asexual reproduction?
  4. It could be interpreted as such, but I actually took it from an Oscar Wilde poem. I now think the title is too long.

  5. If not, I assume that the overall theme is love relationship(s) in a "pastoral" setting?
  6. I would say so. But, I would also say its more about love relationships existing literally "within" a pastoral setting, like the first song about the two lovers burying themselves in the ground or becoming wrapped in vegetation.

  7. If so, is this only used metaphorically, or would you say that it expresses your philosophy of life?
  8. I donít know if I would call it my philosophy of life. But, these feelings of oneness with nature; and with the new album, a telekinetic relationship with nature, are things I do sense and think about all the time.

  9. The subject is refreshingly different. Did you have any inspiration from within the Metal world, or do you think you brought this into the Metal world from outside?
  10. The romantic element was partly influenced by bands like My Dying Bride, The Cure and so on. But, I suppose the "natural" element is something new. Also, at that time I was somewhat lovesick and found an outlet in dark, depressing music.

  11. It seems that the majority of criticsómyself includedóhave really found your work refreshing and extremely unique. Who were your musical influences for this first album if any?
  12. Around the time I was writing The Spear I was beginning to listen to a lot of 20th century classical music composers like Anton Webern and Edgard Varese. I started trying to incorporate modern classical techniques into the "Death Metal" framework. I saw Death Metal as the "metal" equivalent to late 20th century classical music. Both were very extreme, harsh and interested in progressing into new extremes of musical expression. I was also very interested in Death metal bands like Death, Cynic, and Atheist who I saw as way ahead of their time. I wanted Sculptured to be a part of that crowd.

  13. How does someone compose a piece like "Fulfillment in Tragedy for Cello and Flute"?
  14. That was my first try at writing something purely classical. I didnít want the typical synth, melodic, nice keyboard pieces that metal bands would sometimes do. If I was going to write classical style music, then it had to be contemporary within the classical world too. I was obsessed with serialism in music, which was borne out of my appreciation for the music of Webern. I still use serialistic techniques, but not in the same way as I did with Fulfillment In Tragedy. For me, serialism is a way of organizing notes on a page that are not restricted by a key signature. I also find it more interesting to make music this way, because the possibilities in which to weave the melodies and harmonies are endless. I can use secret codes, peoples names and phone numbers and I have started to use words. Itís almost getting silly.

  15. Would I be correct in referring to it as Modern in the sense of periods of music (e.g., Baroque, Classical, etc.)?
  16. Yes.

     

  17. People from your part of the country are often stereotyped as "tree huggers." Would this describe you?
  18. Sure, but not in the hippie sense! I love nature and the northwest is my perfect place. Both I and John Haughm love this area and take pleasure in the many mountains, trees, waterfalls and rivers. It inspires my music and keeps me calm. I hate to see too much development in my area, which at the moment there is. But, the landscape is huge and vast and there are always places to go to get away from it.

  19. When you set out to create this first album, what did you intend to accomplish? Do you feel you have succeeded?

Yes, but looking back there are things I would change or add or just not do entirely. I guess that sounds contradictory. I donít think too much about the first album because at the moment my mind is occupied with the next album. I wanted to be original and I think I can say I accomplished that. If anything, it had to be new. Even if it was terrible, at least you wouldnít have heard anyone be terrible like this.

APOLLO ENDS

  1. This new album is very different from the first. You show a greater flair for experimentation and incorporate a lot more of your Jazz training. Has this album been received as well as the first? (personally, I think it is a work of genius)
  2. Thank you. I think it has been received better. The production is better and the lineup is fuller. There is a lot different with this album than just the music. Also, it was promoted more than the first so it probably reached a bigger audience. It always helps to have at least another album under your belt.

  3. The music fits the lyrics. I think both are very existential. Would you agree?
  4. Yes I would. I guess I would want to know how you see it relating to existential philosophy. I admit, I am not very learned in existential philosophy.

  5. As I read your lyricsóvery "out there"óI think of Jean Paul Sartre. He had a work called "Nausea" and I canít help but associating this with your lyrics. Does this make sense?
  6. I havenít read that. I do purposely write cryptically. During the time of writing Apollo Ends, I became very jaded with language and its ability to communicate the feelings I had inside. I felt that music was above language. My frustration grew so much that I had almost decided not to have lyrics, but rather some sort of syllable system that I would develop. Eventually though, inspiration struck and I was able to write lyrics. So, the reason they are so "out there", is because I donít think these feelings could have been communicated in a rational, cohesive manner, but rather with fragments and ambiguity.

  7. What is interesting lyrically is that you could well have written all these lyrics on a morning when you felt restless and morose. Did any such thing happen?
  8. No, I wrote all the lyrics at my work while listening to Ennio Morricone. Morricone was always playing when I wrote the words. His music helped me pour out what I wanted to say. I do often feel sick in the early morning and I am very ambivalent about those early hours. Like some people I have nightmares often and a very large fear of illness, aging and the inevitable breakdown of the body.

  9. I also think it interesting that the lyrics focus on one momentís existence, not broad concepts. It seems that they are highly subjective, but we are drawn into the experience. We can relate. Does this make sense?
  10. Yes it does. I think fear of sickness is something that all people can relate to easily, even if they donít want to. The kind of sickness I deal with is a very personal one and not a broad one as you mentioned. I donít think it is clear if I am talking about disease or just the common cold. Overall itís about the breakdown of the body.

  11. Could you explain the song titles?

Washing My Hands Of It is from my paranoia of always washing my hands. Itís also a saying, like when someone is through with something "I wash my hands of it!" Above The 60th Parallel is northern Canada and has to do with isolation and the end of the world. Snow Covers All was taken from The Simpsons in an episode where Bart burned down the Christmas tree and buries it in the snow, he says "Snow covers all, snow covers all." The song is about Ed Gein and again deals with isolation. Between Goldberg was a reference to the pianist Glenn Gould. His debut recording was Bachís Goldberg Variations, and his last recording was a re-recording of Bachís Goldberg Variations. Apollo Destroys, Apollo Creates is one of my favorite songs on the album because it deals exclusively with the apocalypse and creation. Song To Fall On Deaf Ears had a lot to do with my frustration with language as a communicatory device. This is why the "chorus" of the song is just ah, ah, ah, ah,. I also repeat the verses because I wanted a very minimalist approach to the lyrics.

OTHER QUESTIONS

  1. Is there another album in the works?
  2. I have some songs, but I think I will really take my time on this one.

  3. Could you tell a little about your relationship with Agalloch and specifically with John Haughm?
  4. Agalloch and Sculptured became pretty much the same band after The Spear. John and I have been close friends for years now. He has had Agalloch for about as long as I have had Sculptured. Eventually, through lack of musicians we ended up "helping" each other out and eventually became comfortable with doing both projects together. With Agalloch, John writes all the music, it is his vision. With Sculptured, I write all the music and it is my vision. Jason, the bass player, has his own project called Nothing, which is signed to Italyís Eibon Records. Sometimes John and I have even helped Nothing out. So, it is very incestuous, but since we each have our own "vehicle", there are no egos. It works wonderfully and I donít think any of us would want it any differently. The core members are, John, Jason and myself. For Sculptured we use session musicians for the brass and of course Brian does the clean vocals. For Agalloch, we have Shane Breyer who does the keyboard arrangements.

  5. What would you like to say to the Metal world at large?
  6. Lighten up.

  7. Why did you choose the name "Sculptured"?

It has a lot to do with how I think about music. I sometimes consider the way I stack notes together to make chords as sculpting. Music seems so physical sometimes especially if itís very dissonant. Sometimes I think of music as all notes sounding together at once, and I just chip away until I get something that I like.

 

 

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