Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview: Seeds In Barren Fields

After a rather long break, although promised otherwise, I'm back with yet another interview. This time I collaborated with Luka and we managed to have a nice talk with "Seeds In Barren Fields", a dark force erupting from Sweden and furiously creeping over Europe. Most of you should know about this band by now, but even if that is not the case you should definitely read the text bellow since we are discussing about some very interesting topics. Hope you enjoy it, we most certainly did!

1. First I'd like to thank you for talking to us and doing this interview! Please, introduce yourself and the rest of the band.

Hello, we´re sitting in the van on the way back home from a European tour, it is Jens: vocals, Kalle: guitar, David: bass, Svante: Guitar, Yohanna: driver, merch seller and unofficial band therapist and Herr Snöskred: stand in drums and soundscapes. Also in the band yet not with us on this tour is Niclas: drums. Svante is pretty much answering the questions.

2. The name of your band is quite interesting, so please explain to us what the secret behind it is. How did you come up with it?

It´s a line taken from the Catharsis song “Obsession” on the album “Passion” – one main influence on Seeds in Barren Fields. I interpret it in several ways, depending on my mood. Hopeful, as in sowing seeds even thought it might be in vain (kind of like the old ´68-print and Martin Luther King quote “Even if the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today.”) – to never give up. Hopeless, as in, it IS all in vain. It might also be a taken as a little elitist, when hatred and anger sets in, as referring to few individuals or patches of communities still resisting, although against all odds, the beat of the machine and the death of monoculture.

3. "Seeds In Barren Fields" is a green-anarcho band. Can you tell us something more about the way you personally interpret this ideology and how you implement it into the project?

Well, first of all, Seeds in Barren Fields consist of five members all with their different interests. Not all of us have the time, interest or priorities to put effort into any anarcho-primitivist or green-anarcho activities (or much interest to dig that very deep into ideological reasoning). Although as punks we might try to put some effort in our everyday lives to make some kind of difference (the social revolution bla bla). To make music in this setting consisting of fixed bars and notes etc might in itself be hypocritical towards a serious critique of civilization and symbolic culture, it is however the closest we have come to get our feelings and frustrations out, fucked up from birth as we might be - indoctrinated by culture (ironically even by our own subculture if one would take it to extremes) in ways that seem hard to surmount. We then simply implement our ideology lyric-wise and in some ways through our esthetics (which actually might make one think about how much more we could try to deepen the merging of making music with challenging culture – however that would probably call for another project and another surrounding than a hardcore punk/metal environment; I believe Norwegian eco-philosopher Sigmund Kvalöy tried to find analogies between ecology and jazz, it its improvising and floating form for example). On another note I would say that I don’t think we focus that much on, or care about, actual environmental issues. I for one have no hope for solutions within this political and economic system (a thought maybe similar to what Naess referred to as “shallow ecology”) and I´m also not that interested in alternative political and economic systems. We probably focus more on the inner conflicts between what would be our (humans) current situation and what might be some sort of archaic longings and belongings. (if that make any sense?) 

4. Thus far you have four releases; a demo, a split 7"with "Peregrine", S/t CD and a split with the band "Marnost" from the Czech Republic. Tell us the general story of these releases. How they came to pass, any interesting stories and which one is the most significant for you?

Well, we put a few of our first recorded songs on a CD  to spread it, I guess that became a demo. Those songs are still planned to be released in more official formats, all thought newly recorded. The split with “Peregrine” had one of those songs on it. I don’t recall really how that split came about, apart from us having common acquaintances and made contact, and since both bands share a similar world view. The CD (“Sounding the Siren Song in Vain”) was just us recording all our songs that we by that time hadn’t already recorded and which time-wise was well suited for a full length. Our friend Austin of “Panopticon” offered to release it as a limited edition CD on his label “Lundr Records” – he did a stunning job, hand printing everything, which we feel gives it a beauty business never could accomplish (not very hard to comprehend that cooperation built on relations and friendship outdo deals based on economic interests). The “Marnost” split is by far the most important, partly because “Marnost” are great friends of ours and partly because it set a new standard for us musically and lyrically. We feel we´ve gotten closer to the way we are meant to sound with that one.

For the tour that we´ve just finished we also had with us a limited edition CD which we named “Replaced by Static Death” and which features remixes of previous recorded songs, based on the setting we had on this tour - remixed by Elliot Berlin, a friend of ours who is involved with lots of bands, mostly electronic but also punk rock ones, and who helped us out tremendously in this project.

5. As much as I managed to see on the internet, there is some news about a split with "Panopticon". Is this true and, if yes, is there any news when can we expect it to be released? Additionally, Austin was featured on your split with "Marnost" as a guest vocalist. Tell us something about the collaboration with him.

Yes, there is a planned split seven inch with “Panopticon”. We have talked about it for a few years now. Hopefully it will be out sometime during 2013. We´ve been in contact with Austin for quite some time and he has visited us a couple of times here in Sweden, I consider him a dear friend of mine. On one of these occasions we were recording the “Marnost” split and asked him if he´d like to do a guest appearance which he accepted. We are honored to have him on it and feel he did a great job adding the right elements to that song.

6. The artwork on your releases tends to be dark and heavily inspired by the medieval times. Who does the art and where did the Middle Age influence come from?

I guess it´s me (Svante) who does the artwork that is referred to as medieval inspired. (Kevin Tucker of “Peregrine” did the “Peregrine” split). I have none whatsoever interest in medieval times (apart from some sweeping interest in how history has led us up to this fucked up point). The artwork is more meant to symbolically connect with the themes of our songs and what we as a band portray; often suggesting feelings of hopelessness, despair, angst, depression and loneliness – disconnection. I fucked up a lot of Gustave Dore’s images for this. The image on "Sounding the Siren Song in Vain" was taken from an article I found in some glossy artsy magazine on Ted Kaczynski which illustrates the ship of fools (I know nothing of that artwork apart from that).  As far as esthetics goes I would say that it has just as much connection to subculture where we pay homage to the old “Catharsis”, “Gehenna”, “Constrito”, “All Out War” etc. etc. etc. records and “CrimethInc.” images. Woodcuts are just so grim looking.

7. There is a lot to be heard in your music as far as styles go, from hardcore punk to black and death metal, even some folk. How do you "label" your tunes and in the end does it really matter to you how other people see you?

Yes, we draw on influences from those directions and way more. We aren’t maybe that interested in being musically genre pinpointed but more concerning atmosphere and theme wise – in that way we probably always will consider ourselves punk. Those who get us will probably understand where we come from.

8. Connected to the question above, which bands influenced your style?

Influenced and influencing:

“Catharsis”, “His hero is gone”, “Undying”, “Sacrilege GBG”, old school “At the Gates” and “Dark Tranquility”, “Dissection”, “Ire”, “Gehenna”, “Starkweather”, “Neurosis”, “Wolves in the Throne Room”, “Weakling”, “Satyricon”, “Ulver”, “Abnegation”, “Twilight”, “Earth Crisis”, “Nachtmystium”, “Deathspell Omega”, “Tragedy”, “Amebix”, “Thursday”, “Uranus”, “Majority Rule”, “Buried Inside”, “ Iskra”, “Bolt Thrower”, “Morbid Angel”, “Leviathan”, “Gorgoroth”, “Integrity”, “Liar”, “Heaven Shall Burn”, “Sunrise”, “Constrito”, “Carahter”, “Ekkaia”, “Remains of the day”; to name a whole lot yet probably missing out on even more.

9. From our perspective over here, Sweden has an amazing and thriving music scene and some of Luka’s and my favorite bands come from that country .Tell us something more about your scene, which local bands managed to inspire you the most and to which projects you grew up with?

Uh, see the answer on the question above. Some of us grew up with hardcore and punk and some of us didn’t. I guess we all missed out on the Gothenburg death metal heyday. I for one got into all that way later. Of course the 90’s Hardcore scene of Sweden had great impact on several of us, bands like “Refused”, “Breach”, “Saidiwas”, “Outlast”, “Final Exit” etc. Scene-wise I got into all this quite late (way later then Kalle and David), around the millennium, but had the great opportunity to find myself at home in both the hardcore and crust scenes of Gothenburg at the time, being able to draw the best out of both. I don’t think however that there were that many Swedish bands that inspired me (musically for “Seeds in Barren Fields”), maybe with the exceptions of “Kontrovers” and “Skitsystem” which I hold as some of Sweden’s greatest bands.

10. Can you recommend to us and the readers some new, upcoming bands from Sweden?

Jens play in “Lose the Life” and “Spiknykter” – both local hardcore acts worth checking out if you´re into clevo style and/or no frills fast hardcore. Apart from that; no (I´m totally out of step with what´s happening and don’t know of any new bands that apply to me at the moment). Still existing and established local bands that I like is “Martyrdöd”, “Agrimonia” and “Monachus” (ex-“Icos”) – and of course “Skitsystem” (who doesn’t like them?)

11. You are getting ready to tour, so tell us where can people manage to see you live? Will you be traveling alone or along with other bands?

Sorry, answered this too late. The tour has taken place. We didn’t travel with any band but had the opportunity to play with several great bands: “Marnost”, “Sangre De Muerdago”, “Gattaca”, “Resurrectionists”, “Cloud rat”, “Blood in our wells”, “Lawine”, a band without a name, “Light Bearer”, “Jungbluth”, “Reset/mankind”, “Indoctrinate”, “Drom”, “Toxic codendron”, “Vidargängr”, “Krokodil”, “Exterminating Angel”, “Lautsturmer”, “Marantuta”, “Ruined Nation”, “Positive Impact”. We actually didn’t share the stage with any band that we didn’t like on at least some level.

12. Aside of playing in "Seeds..." do you guys have any other hobbies, other music projects, studying something, jobs, sports?

Jens and Kalle plays in “Spiknykter” and “Katastrofen”. Jens plays in “Lose the life”. Niclas plays in “Fredag den 13:e” and “High hats” and follows a whole lot of  football. Jens writes and studies a lot, and cooks vegan food for shows etc. He´s also putting some time into activism – such as going to Palestine, animal rights (I´d prefer the term liberation though) and immigration politics etc. Kalle has three sons, Svante is a social worker, practice wing chun and studies some, David is a sound engineer and handles all the recording for us.

13. We mentioned green-anarchism before. How do you reflect this ideology on your life outside of the band? What are your thoughts about what is happening in the world today, in those regards?

I wouldn’t even know where to start. I consider us fucked (not to be read in an Armageddon kind of way but more in a disconnection kind of way). Anything and everything we might do to somehow reconnect with something more in line with what it might be to be animal, although a big brained one, and less confined to cultural shackles, although it might be in our nature to order ourselves as such, I would say ought to be healthy and positive. To fuck up patriarchy, science, order, systems, politics, dogma, ideologies; to seek to find balance between rationality and feeling and not dismiss feeling as of lower worth, to find some kind of spiritual rooting, to find ways to communicate with each other less biased by hierarchies – yet also not be afraid of actually looking in to positive aspects of how we order ourselves in groups. So, as you can see, I don’t care that much for what’s happening “in the world” as referring to politics, news, conflicts – it´s great that shit is happening – let´s hope it happens enough for everything to crumble yet without too many catastrophes taking place so that we might start living together again (bear in mind that I´m pretty aware of that my take on existence is filtered through my own “psychological structure”).

14. Time for you to ask a question!

According to scholars: How numerous might the human population had been before the agricultural revolution?

This is a very interesting and difficult question that could morph into a long debate. Given the fact that most of our human history has been falsified and mutated by the said scholars, or well those “mainstream” ones thus not counting the “heretical” hermetic orders which revered real science and spirituality, I will lean onto data that is publicly available and is thought in schools. So to answer your question, it is believed that the human population numbered between five and ten million just before the agricultural revolution, after which it exploded and expanded to well over 300 million in the first century of C.E. 

 15. As much as I (Luka) realized, you are a big owl lover. Where did this adoration come from? If you ever decide to go on a winter holiday and travel these parts, it will be great pleasure to guest you at my place. Kikinda is the city of owls and a winter standpoint for Long-eared owls, so I'm sure you'll like it here!

Haha, no, I´m not a big owl-lover. I pretty much know nothing about owls, I just think they look cool and have a certain aura about them. I might wish I knew more about birds in general. Birds have, I believe, a symbolic value to many of us – just consider the amount of birds used as punk bands logos. We´d love to come to Kikinda and see owls though.

16. 2012 is well behind us. What were the top ten releases that marked that year for you?

1. “Nachmystium - Silencing Machine”
2. “Martyrdöd –Paranoia”
3. “Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead”
4. “Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay” 

And then in no known order: “Blood of the Black Owl - Light the Fires!”, “Circle Takes the Square - Rites of Initiation”, “Wovenhand -The Laughing Stalk”, “Marduk - Serpent Omega”, “Blut aus nord - 777 Cosmosophy”, “Panopticon - Kentucky”, “Earth - Angels of Darkness,Demons of Light pt II”, “Deathspell Omega – Drought” (The Catharsis discography doesn’t count). Sorry, I can never keep to that top ten limit.

17. That would be it! Once again, thank you for answering our questions, we hope you enjoyed it. Do you have any final messages for the readers?

Please consider: Hardcore, punk, anarchism, veganism, straight edge, black metal…, whatever is your thing; is a great start. But a good idea might be to work towards not getting stuck into scenes, genres or upholding values as a means to presenting one’s identity. To always strive further, deeper, and higher, reconsider and re-evaluate. Stay open minded. Destroy and rebuild everything, over and over again. Stagnation is death (as the Polish band is called) if counter culture is supposed to be really countering. And stop fucking judging the paths others may take in this (“we´re all black sheep and we know it”).

And thank you for reading this.