Interview with Thrawsunblat
Thrawsunblat are folk/black metal band from Canada. They released their 2nd album, Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings last month. Find out more about the album, its recording process and also plans for their 3rd album in my interview with vocalist/guitarist Joel Violette
Hi Joel, congrats on the release of your new album. How does it feel now that the album has been released?
Thank you, Peter! It feels very, very good. It’s been a long haul, and it’s just so satisfying to have the finished product. It’s a thing where you just want it to be done, immediately, and give everyone the album! But there are so many intermediary steps and so many people working on the project that it just takes time. I want to thank all the people involved for their hard work and dedication, and the fans for their patience and understanding.
Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings is a concept album. Can you tell us about it?
Sure. It draws greatly from Joseph Campbell’s work on mythology, his concept of the “Hero’s Journey” or “monomyth”, the storyline the he found to underlie most of the world’s myths. Myths, and even today’s books and movies, all have a common set of archetypes and major plot points that we, as humans, universally connect with. It’s a sort of subconscious set of entities, from which all myth and otherwise satistfying stories draw. Wanderer… also draws from Campbell’s concept that we all, individually, can view our lives as some form of monomyth or another. So the album is the journey of a Wanderer, a character symbolic of most anyone in North America today, and this Wanderer’s challenges dealing with our modern versions of age-old problems, including finding purpose, substance, meaning, and in dealing with death. Every culture in every era has had these problems, and each has had their own unique set of solutions for them. This album explores all of that stuff.
How different is the album compared to Thrawsunblat I: Canada 2010?
The first album was really a collection of demos, all written independently, and with independent thematic scopes, yet all within the same musical “environment within which” the listener experiences them. They were songs I’d written between 2004 (the first song I ever wrote was a (terribly rough) version of Misted Shores) and 2009.
For the second album, there was time to plan, so all the songs are really part of an overarching concept. Every song has its place, and every word in the lyrics really has a purpose, even in conjunction with other songs.
There’s a bit of a difference, instrumentally as well. Thrawsunblat II has a lot more clean singing, has fiddles, has tin whistle, and even some backup vocals from Rae. The production is also fantastic, with Siegfried Meier at the helm. I think it’s a perfect blend of polish, yet with certain rawness to it.
What was the songwriting and recording process like with Rae Amitay and Brendan Hayter based in Boston, USA and you based in Fredericton, Canada?
It was great. Brendan and Rae are fantastic musicians and equally fantastic people, so to work with them is great. The way it worked was this: I would write a demo, send it to Rae and Brendan, each of them would record a video of themselves playing their part, and I would watch that video and usually say “Done! That part is it.” and that would be the end of it!
The recording worked a bit differently. Rae recorded her drum parts in Boston, sent the files to Siegfried Meier at Beach Road Studios in Goderich, Ontario, who mixed them. As the base of the song, the drums really have to go first, so once they were done, I recorded rhythm guitars in New Brunswick, and sent those mixes to Brendan, who recorded the bass. Once Siegfried put these together as rough mixes I was able to add the solos, leads, keys, tin whistles, and vocals, as well as record Jeff Mott’s fiddles. Then it all got shipped back to Sig who worked his magic.
The album was produced by Siegfried Meier in the Beach Road Studios. How was it working with Siegfried again?
It was fantastic. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him not only once, but twice! Sig is very, very talented, and really fun to work with. He also has a knack for adding cool, edgy, and tasteful little bits to songs that really improve a track. Anything you hear on the album that’s cool, effects-wise, that was Sig. He also helped a huge amount when I was recording my parts, even though he was in Ontario and I was in New Brunswick. He always had a tip for mic placement, or technical stuff, or whatever. If I had a question, Sig had an answer.
Thrawsunblat II was funded through Thrawsunfundraising. Were you surprised by the response that you received?
We really were surprised, and terribly humbled. The amount of support was unreal. We 100% could not have done this album without the support of these generous people. What I’m deeply pleased about is that these supporters seem to really love the album, which is so very important. We created a lot of hype and expectation with the fundraiser, and above all we wanted the donors to feel like they’ve made a good investment. Granted, they got lots of unique swag as fundraiser incentives, but it’s also important that they like the album! I got an email from our biggest donor the other day saying he’d had very high expectations of the album and that the album had somehow surpassed them. That really makes it worth it.
What are your plans for 2013? Any tours planned?
I’m afraid not, yet! Plans for 2013 are to promote the album and perhaps search for a label for T3. And then writing of T3. There are two albums I’ve got brewing. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one to do first. One is an all acoustic album–yet still Thrawsunblat through and through– with fiddles, drums, tin whistles, and more vocals from Rae. The second is another folk/black metal album, similar to Canada 2010, yet where Canada 2010 was green, for trees, this album will be red, for fire.
Any final words?
Thank you for the great questions, Peter! I really enjoyed this! Cheers!
Listen/Download Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings here.
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