There is a dark, but clean, atmospheric but elegant sensitivity in their music you can only find in artists like TENHI, or DEATH IN JUNE. You also have the subtle funeral jazz, dark jazz orchestrations reminding you the nostalgia of the 60s Italian movies, so fans of ANGELO BADALAMENTI or BOHREN UND DER CLUB OF GORE could favorably enjoy the art of these four gentlemen. VOWELS is the Paleolithic man trying to find his place in the asphalted metropolises of the new age. An album which didn’t falls into any trends, not even traditions. One of the pleasant surprises of the year.
Let we start this interview with the band’s name, I think “Vowels” needs an explanation. Never wanted to change? People make fun on forums about your name, and some people never gave attention to your music because of band’s name, what do you think about?
The name has been chosen to allow the band to explore as many genres of music as we wanted. That's all, it is versatile and unusual, especially if you think that “Vowels” is born as a black metal entity. We never thought to change it, and even if it would not be because of useless people making fun on the moniker. Anyway we don't think that someone would not approach us just because of the name. We create music, we don't sell a product, we are not hooking up with some “music consumer”.
Another band with Vowels name also exist, did you know?
Unfortunately, it can happen when you use common words. There are maybe more than two Vowels, but the other bands musically pretty far from us. There is no risk of confusion.
Please make a brief summary about the band’s history, line-up, etc
We don't want to bore the kind reader, so briefly: “Vowels” is a collective born back in 2008, we released some weird and spurious black metal demos, and even a split record with the mighty Wulfgar (DE). Then in 2010 we had a loss, our drummer got off the band, he wanted to keep hammering metal music, we didn't. So, in total friendship, he left and we had hard times looking for a new one and meanwhile we recorded “Hooves, leaves and the Death/ As December nightingales” with the help a session drummer for the second part of the double Ep (in the first there is still Nick, our old drummer).
Finally in 2012 M.C. Joined us as a drummer. After a while we split from another member who used to play the guitar, we decided not to look for someone else, we wanted to emancipate the band from the classic “rock” format: two guitars, bass guitar, singer, drummer. We wanted to get away from it and try to explore a different approach. This way we composed the formal first album, “Seasonal Beast”, released recently in the end of 2014.
In 2012 was released the first album “Hooves, Leaves & the Death/As December Nightingales” via Sun & Moon Records. 3 years passed from the debut, are you satisfied with the debut album from artistic point of view? If you have a chance to change something, what would you change?
We want first to point out that it was not our formal debut album, it was a release collecting two different Eps. This also can help to understand why it is such an heterogeneous release. We can consider ourselves satisfied by it, it was a passage, a bridge, a personal experiment: we tried for the first time to get off the black metal to explore something different, we approached for the first time synthesizers and acoustic instruments. It has been a new, raw alchemical mixture. Of course we went further on our way and now we would do it totally differently. But what is done is done, and we wouldn't change anything. Ugliness is necessary, “active evil is better than passive good” (W. Blake)
I really like the cover art from the debut, who made it?
One of us. Our politic is “do it by yourself”. He modified an old pic found somewhere. As you can guess it is an old man with an elk face and an old classy rifle by his side. Just to clarify: we are not a caviar-environmentalist, echo-cool, vegan or whatever band. It suggest the ante litteram idea that nature can be pissed one day, and be kind of nasty. The figure in the picture is the savage man, not the Rousseauian one, but a real old wilder man, the one of the Savage Hunt, the one who haunted bygone folkloristic rumors. There's no modern environmentalist rhetoric, we refer to something much more ancient, real and deep, very deep-rooted.
How was the reaction for your first album?
Not sure. It went out kind of mute, because we were (and still are) totally unknown. We hope somebody had found it and appreciated the release.
You define on your website the band’s style: “ambient/folk/romantic popular”, please comment:
The main trouble is that we do not like labeling our music. But human beings need to categorize, so here we are. We picked up some words that all together could suggest the music we play, as we feel it. Mainly we want to point out and highlight that it is not music made with the usual “rock” combo.
About the “romantic popular”: we want to underline our try to find roots or whatever connection with land and culture and we like how this expression sounds.
Who is the main songwriter in Vowels? What is your influence? How do you create a song?
We could say that F.V. is the songwriter, even if it is not totally right. He comes up with the idea of the whole record, some lines and the skeletons of all the songs, than we work all together on the ideas, how to harmonize, which instrument has to play and when and what. Basically we work improvising over the drafts. We paint with our guts.
But first we need to conceptualize the record, all the music is firstly born on a thought, an image, something that is not music at all. Everything is about describing that thing.
About the influences we could not really give an accurate answer, we are influenced by everything we listen to, and it means a lot of different stuff, we have no limits, good music is good music.
After the first album you changed the band’s style a little bit. Is this a natural change, let we say progression?
Indeed, it is a progression. That's natural. We look at “Vowels” as a dynamic, vivid creature, we can't get stuck in a particular formula it would be boring for us. It is a constant and personal research of sound, if you are still you are dead.
Recently was released by Sun & Moon Records, the second album “Seasonal Beast” a fantastic new album, a real masterpiece, a hardly classifiable album, your label define: “A highly atmospheric record from Italy, dark contemporary music for those into TENHI, BOHREN UND DER CLUB OF GORE, BADALAMENTI, DEATH IN JUNE. Beautiful neofolk/downtempo with trumpets”, please comment:
Some of us is really into Tenhi, not particularly in the other mentioned artists. You see, labeling something is such a personal matter. The bosses are doing their job, they must give something to hook people, and they use their own categories, what the music reminds them personally. That's perfect and even if we are not really sure about what “downtempo” is, it gives the idea.
Is “Seasonal Beast” a concept album?
Yes it is. It is not what we could say a tale, there are no narrative elements, but it’s like a confuse portrait of the primeval figure of the savage man, the wilder man already mentioned. The main theme of the album is the transfiguration of the,we could call, “modern” man, the one who lost everything belonged to the world before the second world war and the consumerist revolution in the second half of the XX° century; the transfiguration into something much older and rooted deep in soil, into what our fathers were before we broke all the promises. And so the music follows and gradually describe this path. You can guess it as the electric instruments are gradually abandoned in favor of more acoustic ones. The song “Thiudareik”, particularly, represents the wilder man in his pure form, and the closing song “Until Kingdoms come” is the announcement, the day will come. The rootless tree falls.
Please tell me all the necessary info about the “Here Comes San Zampanò” song, my personal favorite track from the album.
The song specifically represents the bridge of the modern man toward a more natural one. He’s the sick pigeon living in all our cities, still a beast but corrupted. He’s sanctified just because he still is a beast, more an animal than a civilized man, even if a sick animal. That’s why he is not yet the wilder man, but just a funambulist.
I really like the bass sound on the release, finally we could listen a real bass with power!
Thank you. We always tried to give room to the bass. We guess it is normal, natural, it makes no sense having a bass guitar in the record and barely be able to guess what it plays.
On the front cover that picture is a real photo, or modified one?
It is a real photo. We made that big face using pine barks and moss, and then Mr Dario Alberton took a picture which has been slightly readjusted.
Fred, who’s playing the fine trumpet parts on “Seasonal Beast” also played on the last Siculicidium album “Hosszú út az örökkévalóságba, do you like that album?
I would not call them “fine parts” you're kind, I tried my best, but I'm not fully satisfied. It was my first attempt in doing something like this, so it is a good result! Besides that it is a really good record, raw enough, as BM must be.
I think “Seasonal Beast” could be a fine soundtrack for a movie, what do you think?
That's because it is not “rock'n'roll”, but atmospheric and ambient-oriented, or at least it is what we tried to create. So that's a compliment, thank you.
On your promo photos you looks like some real Italian bastards from the 60’s, 70’s.
Thank you for the “bastards” and the vintage rust.
You are from Vicenza, North Italy, what is the best and what is the worst thing to be Italian? How is the life in Vicenza?
Life here is dreary and pretty alcoholic. About being Italian, we prefer to skip the question.
Milan or Inter? Fellini or Antonioni? Sophia Loren or Claudia Cardinale? Morricone or Badalamenti?
1 Lanerossi Vicenza.
2 Fellini indeed.
3 Don't be silly, Claudia Cardinale was smokin' hot.
4 Absolutely Morricone
What is your next step? Tour? Video? Or both?
We are trying to film a nice video, first time doing that, it’s not easy but we will do a good job.
A tour by now is wish-full-thinking, one of us is going to be abroad all the year and that's an obstacle indeed, even more than the kind of music we make: to take it live we would need four more people, it would be a big mayhem and big money. We just cannot afford it, and that's a pity.
Thank you for your time the last thoughts are yours:
The bottles are empty, and the running record is over. That means we are done here. Thanks for your time.
by Mirgilus, February 2015