This is an interview I did last year for Old Skull underground fanzine in Hungary.
Interview conducted by Balazs Caseres.
Greetings, I’m doing great!
ATTAKKR "Blade of Ithiel" EP (2006)
Lets talk about a little bit about the beginning. When was the band founded? What were the purposes of the band? Which bands influenced you?
Well, I had another solo project called ATTAKKR that existed around 2006-2007. ATTAKKR was very experimental, I was at a stage in my musical output where I couldn't decide which style to play. I was constantly writing and recording songs, but I was always being influenced by what I was listening to, and my tastes were changing. I was getting interested in what was happening in black metal. I was fascinated by the harsh minimalism of bands like ILDJARN and even WOLD, but I was equally intrigued by what the French scene was up to, with bands like AMESOEURS and LANTLOS doing exciting stuff, at the beginning of “shoegaze” black metal. At some point those influences came together and I started writing black metal songs, and I was more focused. ATTAKKR had fulfilled its purpose, so I called it quits for that project and MOONKNIGHT was born. I took the name MOONKNIGHT from the Marvel Comics character. I am still influenced by what I am currently listening to, and these days my favorite style is depressive black metal, so MOONKNIGHT tends to be sad and melancholic.
MOONKNIGHT "Toplov" debut LP (2010)
“Toplov” was my debut release, there were no demos or recordings released prior. Most of “Toplov” was recorded in my home studio in several different sessions, and from a large group of songs I chose the ones that would become “Toplov”. I had so many songs it was no problem to put together a full-length album. These were my first attempts at doing solo black metal again, and I felt a freedom to try pushing the envelope and combining that raw harshness with beautiful guitar riffs. I am still proud of “Toplov”; even though I have evolved a lot since then you can hear the roots of MOONKNIGHT in those songs.
MOONKNIGHT "Ligeia" LP #2 (2012)
Cover art by William David Pollard
“Ligeia” was recorded at home, just like “Toplov”. Even though “Ligeia" came out later, it was recorded before a lot of the songs on “Toplov”. I took a break from experimenting with the noisy, shoegaze style, and I did a batch of songs that were more straightforward, at least to me. They were inspired by a more “classic” 2nd wave Norwegian sound, but then I was worried that they were not as innovative or exciting and I put them aside for a long time and I didn’t even plan to release them. But my artist friend David Pollard, who does a lot of artwork for MOONKNIGHT, really pushed me to finish the songs and release them. He was very supportive and I dedicated that release to him. Many fans have told me that “”Ligeia” is their favorite release. I plan to re-issue the cassette as soon as I can. The name “Ligeia” comes from an Edgar Allan Poe story.
MOONKNIGHT / MOLOCH Split 7" EP (2013)
Cover art by Johnny Ryan
I really like doing splits. I think you can achieve more by uniting forces with another artist. That’s my strategy with doing splits. And, it’s easier for me to do one song or a few songs for a split than to do a whole full-length, so I can get more releases out there. I’m currently in talks for a couple more splits this year. News to come!
Lyrics are very challenging for me but I feel if the song calls for it, it’s worth the effort. I usually start with a blank piece of paper and write whatever comes to mind. But generally my lyric themes have to do with misanthropy, isolation, despair, that type of thing.
Los Angeles, California
LA has a surprisingly small underground metal scene, considering what a big city it is. But, I find that people going to underground shows are often supportive, open-minded, and genuine. I have a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles. Everything I want is here, but there are too many damn people and too much traffic for me. I am not very interested in sports, but my girlfriend loves NHL and her favorite team is the Boston Bruins.
You are the owner of Rising Beast Recordings. When founded your label and for what purposes? Can you tell us about your label and the bands who are in your interest? How do you choose the music you release? What kind of materials will Rising Beast Recordings releases in 2015?
Rising Beast happened really naturally. I started out doing CD-Rs for my earlier solo stuff like ATTAKKR, but as I kept going I thought I should go ahead and have my own label. I named it after the first song on the first LORD FOUL demo, “Rising Beast”. I never planned to release anyone else’s music, but that just sort of happened as well. I seem to gravitate towards death metal, but really it just depends on whether a band grabs me or not. I have more releases planned for this year, I have just started a deal with Nuclear War Now! Productions to license cassette versions of some of their releases. The first one I am doing is INFRA from Portugal, it’s really great atmospheric death metal.
Rising Beast has done only cassette and vinyl releases. Why did you choose these formats and do you hope to branch out further into other formats in the future (CD’s, DVD’s)?
I am a big fan of cassettes, that’s what I grew up listening to and collecting, so there is a sentimental feeling towards the format. I like vinyl as well, but for my label I don’t like doing vinyl as much, it’s very expensive and more of a hassle. Cassettes are cheap and easy, I can cover more ground doing cassettes. I have no plans to do any more CDs.
Son of Dog circa 1992
Left to right: Roach/Horus, Greg Mattingly, Vic De La Cruz
Actually, FORSAKEN was first. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and back then there were very few people into death or black metal. The first death metal band in Louisville was called NOTHING, and after they broke up the members Vic and Greg started a new band called FORSAKEN. I knew the singer Jason, he was dating my girlfriend’s sister and we became friends. When I heard about FORSAKEN I begged them to let me join the band, it was my dream to play death metal. Later we changed the name to SON OF DOG. We toured and released 3 7”s before we broke up. We did a SON OF DOG reunion in 2010, it was a lot of fun.
HARASSOR live at The Regent Theater, Los Angeles 5/16/2016
Left to right: Roach/Horus, Sandor GF, Pete Majors
The members of Harassor met while working at the record store Amoeba Music in Hollywood. We all were interested in black metal and the idea of starting a band just happened naturally. Our main influences were VON and ILDJARN. We were very interested in “de-constructing” riffs and songs to a primitive simplicity. We’ve evolved since then, with different types of songs, and better production, but our primitive approach is still the same. We've been playing together about 12 years now. We have played lots of shows Los Angeles and have gained respect in the local scene. Sandor is Hungarian, his family moved to LA from Budapest. He always tells us about Hungarian culture, music and food.
I actually have learned more about Hungarian music from Sandor than anywhere else. I’ve been to Europe, but only to Britain, France and Belgium.
You took part in a quite interesting release: you wrote partly the music for Adam Rehmeier's movie, 'The Bunny Game'. How did this come to happen? Did he give you freedom in composing the music? Do you like horror movies? If you do, who is your favorite director and which film?
I used to work at a production company with the director of “The Bunny Game”, Adam Rehmeier. When he was finishing up the film he needed music for the soundtrack, so I gave him some songs from HARASSOR as well as some of my solo experimental recordings. I really like horror movies, some favorite directors are John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Stuart Gordon, Mario Bava, Roman Polanski, etc. etc.
When did you first discover metal? What were the first band that made you fall in love with this so misunderstood musical genre?
I have to say it was METALLICA “Master of Puppets” that was my first metal cassette, it got me interested in the genre and from there it was SLAYER, TESTAMENT and VOIVOD. I was always looking for darker, faster, and more extreme music, this led me to eventually discover underground metal, which was an exciting world to explore, especially in those early days from 1988-1992.
Is the USA a dream land with thousands of opportunities to become a millionaire?
I don’t know about that as I have been out of a job for a long time now! Hahaha
I’ve got lots of favourite USBM bands, like Xasthur, Leviathan, Moonknight, Von, Lurker of Chalice, etc. Nowadays in Europe there's a tendency to not like the American BM bands, mostly from the side of „true” metalhead assholes. What do you think how strong is the American scene comparing to the world's others? How many people are going to shows and buy vinyls, CDs, tapes? Here if you have 100 people at a show it's really good…
I listen to metal from all over the world. But yes here in America there is “hipster” black metal with trendy styles. I don’t pay attention to trends, I just listen to whatever I like, there’s plenty of room for everything. Los Angeles doesn’t have as many underground fans as you would think but there is still a good scene. We can get 100-200 people usually at a good show.
I am finishing up the new full-length “Valinor”, it has 8 new songs of depressive atmospheric BM. After that there will be a new EP "Zhora" and there is talk of a couple more splits but it’s too early to mention yet! I would also love to do some merchandise like t-shirts, patches, stickers, etc.
Thanks and cheers to you for the support! And thanks for listening to my music! ~Roach/Horus