What would ETHER look like if its music was a series of paintings?
that is an interesting question. it would be very contrasting with not much middle ground, somewhere between beauty and tragedy with an overall tone of sadness and anger.
Expressionist or impressionist then?
I would say it could be either at any given point. There is some kind of deep connection between us as people and the music, and that may sound corny to say, but it is truly a cathartic experience for all of us.
“Sabbath meets Crowbar meets Isis, but much, much sadder” is the description for you playing shows. What saddens you these days?
Life is a generally sad experience, and fuck that “life is what you make it” generic epithet. That is simply a mechanism to downplay people’s existence and experience. During the early stages of writing the record, my wife left me to be a travelling hippie and not be tied down, so that loss is a recurring theme of the record, and that was one of the most traumatic events I’ve experienced thus far, and I should be thankful in perspective, but the following year or so after that was quite emotional for me and it is definitely reflected in the songs, even if lyrically, they are separate ideas. Outside of that, America is a sad place as a whole, depending on who you ask. If you are a patriot, you don’t have a concept of truth and/or reality or simply refuse to acknowledge it. If you are a dissenter (if you have been following Amerikan politics, and many Europeans do, you understand the severity of what is going on politically and socially), its a fucking nightmare. It’s extremely disheartening to see people so polarized, and moreso on the side of the state, which is against their best interests anyhow. It’s complete degradation of values and people refuse to admit that their main objective in voting for the Orange one was to protect whiteness.
Your social media handles feature the appendix “coven” to the name ETHER – so, are you guys witchers? 😉
We are not witches, but we are a secret or tight-knit group of associates.
How did the band meet?
On a short Remembering Never tour, we brought out our friends in a band called My Amends, on a drive from Philly to VA somewhere I rode in their van sitting next to one of their guitar players whom i wasnt really close to but we bonded over our love of doom stuff and New Orleans metal bands. As the age old “we should start a band like this…” conversation has taken place too many times, this one came to fruition. I was FB friend with our bass player Chip and put out a “who plays bass that can sound nasty?” post, and he responded, and my roommate at the time played drums for a couple practices, but he was more of a hardcore drummer so we asked Danny from RN to play and everything fell into place. Danny is more of a jazz influenced metal drummer (his dad is like the Dave Lombardo of jazz drumming) so it was a challenge at first but it definitely adds a huge dynamic that is atypical of doom.
What do you (all) love about doom?
Personally, it is the riffs (for the few remaining doom bands that riff) and how vast the genre is, ranging anywhere from Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats to Lycus. That is a huge spectrum of scale. I know some of us love it because of how heavy it is or how expressive it can be. At this point with this new record we’ve reached around the box so much it is difficult to properly describe us a doom band but it is the only thing we personally identify as.
Who plays strings on Under Ice and Sky on HUMAN ERROR?
Our good friend George, who is the 5th member, or part of the Ether extension. George is easily one of the most talented people I have ever met and runs a solo act as Yankee Roses, which is fucking killer. George is also the vocalist for Miami HC band, Homestretch.
By the way, what’s the biggest human error in your opinion?
The greatest human error is simply existing. If people disappeared from the planet, the planet would flourish. Aside from that basic answer, any form of abuse, or physical and emotion infringement on others, would all fall under the category of error. Capitalism is a huge error, because with that perpetuates every harmful -ism against marginalized people. The list of human errors could take years to compile.
And how do you write songs?
Typically me or Devin (from now on referred to UD for Uncle Devin, long story) come up with some riff or riffs and just vibe out the rest. I write maybe 70% of the foundational riffs and UD writes some shit that kicks the riff up. It is a much easier process than any other band I’ve ever been in. I only write (use) riffs and parts that either make me want to punch thru a wall or hang myself, no room for in between.
Where are you based and what is the scene like there?
We are from south Florida. There is a cyclical hardcore scene and a much more subtle doom scene, but doom is on the way up. There are a few bands that were around that are still very much active and on top of their games like Shroud Eater, Consular, Orbweaver, Holly Hunt, and some others from Miami (south of us) and newer bands in our town and Lake Worth are coming up like Iron Buddha and Seven Serpents. We like to book diverse gigs because A) variety is the spice of life they say and B) south Florida has a lot of cool bands that don’t fit in anywhere really. I am really excited about the upshift of doom bands down here. Other cities in FL have great scenes with a lot of cool bands, Yashira, Shadow Hunter, Hollow Leg, and Unearthly Child from Jacksonville and Ad Nauseum and Junior Bruce from Orlando.
With which bands in general would you like to share the stage or go touring with?
Oh man, another thing we could talk about all day. Here is an abbreviated list: every aforementioned band, especially Uncle Acid, Oathbreaker, Wiegedood, Funerary, Crowbar, Braveyoung, Chelsea Wolfe, Windhand, King Woman, Neurosis, Zao, Full of Hell, Machine Head, Hirs, Life of Agony, Ultramantis Black or any band that we’re friends with have similar values with.
If you compare the doom/sludge/metal scene to hardcore, what vast difference are you becoming aware of?
For better or worse, doom is far less clicky, but HC has more organization and community. Its weird being on both sides of that, I don’t really know how to operate out of punk/HC ethic, because that’s all I’ve ever toured with.
We always witness the overall sentiment, that metal is apolitical or even problematic (NSBM) while hardcore punk (not all of it of course) tries to smash the patriarchy, battle sexism, homophobia, racism and other oppressive mechanisms. What do you think about this?
I would say that is pretty spot on. Its awesome to see a resurgence of HC bands getting pissed again and speaking about things. I recently saw Wolf Down and they spoke their beliefs during their set and it felt very real. Bands like Gouge Away kill it every performance, not necessarily because the band is on point every night, but moreso they speak from a place of authentic frustration. I would like to see more of this in metal, doom specifically. It’s definitely cool to see more women, people of color, LGBT people in bands, but I think society as a whole is shifting more progressively regardless, so people can feel more at ease when wanting to start a band or be a part of a scene. The boys club is dead. Existing in that box is a dangerous place.
“There is Nothing Left for Me Here”, your new album, want to walk us through this one?
The name was from a conversation with my ex wife when she told me her mother thought she should focus on herself and not on her marriage. The only thing I could think of was how unsalvageable our relationship was at that point. The name can be applied to many things, especially from a political standpoint, which I’ve learned to adapt it into. The record is as personal as it is political, as a majority of the lyrics were written in prime time election season. We touch on a few things such as the monstrosity of politics / public reaction to demagoguery, the demonizing of “other” and normalization of WASP values, capitalism as a stifling agent, etc. Musically, we have so many influences and for most of the writing I listened to Giant (and Braveyoung) for weeks and months on end, so I imagine there is some spillover there. There really is no other band to communicate emotion with minimal words quite like them. Aside from that, we like to incorporate everything we think represents the genre as we know it aka a lot of Sabbath-esque riffs for punch and softer Pink Floyd-esque parts for atmosphere. As a main rule for writing, if it isn’t sad or pissed it goes straight to the garbage. Danny from Remembering Never plays drums so for a doom band, its all over the place, and the 3 string players also do some form of vocalizing and we all have significantly different voices. We are less individual players and more a collective of people with focused intent. Where the last record was written and recorded almost 5 years ago now and was really just heavy for the majority of the time, us as older, hopefully wiser people have grown up a bit. We went less for the wow factor of “how heavy we can make things” to more of a “how much we can make people feel”.
Ava Maria is a song inspired by the novel, And The Rat Laughed, by Nava Semel, what fascinated you about the story there that made you turn it into a song?
If you are unfamiliar with the book, it is both fiction and non-fiction. Bare bones version, its a story about a little girl as a hidden child of the Holocaust (non-fiction) (and I will spare the details, but everyone should read the book, though its very taxing) and her experiences, and a later chapter is the fiction portion that is about a future that white washes the victim’s experience and creates a hero in the namesake of the girl’s major source of trauma. I took a Holocaust class and this was one of the few books we read. This hits home in a lot of ways, and the downplaying of victims experiences is something that is seen every day.
Other inspirations you want to share with us (books, art, events, people, genres)?
Really, living and learning. Interaction with others and seeing how they tick and how their brain works with respect to their mother culture. It fascinating to see people so deeply indoctrinated into “normal” culture: beer, steak, & football Sundays, binary man/women relationships, frequenting major corporate stores and restaurants, surface value politics, religion, etc… these are the things that influence and frustrate us. My biggest inspirations are Fred Hampton, Harry Belafonte, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Daniel Quinn, Ella Baker, Emma Goldman, Huey P Newton, Angela Davis…. the list goes on really. And Sabbath. always Sabbath.