Black Sun interview


Glasgow's Black Sun have been crushing heads with their twisted version of doom sludge since their debut,Fleshmarket,was released a few years back.With truly maniacal vocals and nuke bomb riffs,Black Sun manage to create a sound all their own in a scene filled with thousands of like-minded acts.

With the release of their follow up to 2007's amazing Hour of the Wolf just being released,I sat down to chat with the guys about the new LP,Paralyser,and the process that got them here.



SO,TELL THE READERS WHAT STARTED BLACK SUN,AND WHAT YOU GUYS WERE DOING PRIOR TO THAT.

[Russell McEwan] Initially the band was called Black Sun Machine in
reference to the sample-based approach I took at the time. Partially I based
the band name on the Dead Can Dance song and also Geoffrey Wolff’s
biography ‘Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby’.

[Kevin Hare] I was in a kinda Kyuss meets Tool band called Lotus Lounge, I
was always into the likes of Grief, Eyehategod, 16 and Deadguy, then I met
Russell and I collaborated with him on some of the songs that became
Fleshmarket. Shortly after Graeme joined on bass and the Black Sun you
know and love was born.

I'VE HEARD SOME CRAZY STORIES ABOUT YOUR EARLY LIVE SHOWS.POLEDANCERS,5 GUITARISTS...TRUE STORIES?ANYTHING CRAZY IN THE LIVE ACT THESE DAYS?

[KH] Yes indeed all true! The early days were a blast, though NOW we're
actually much more focused in the live environment and as such much more
powerful. I wouldn't say it's crazy more like an all-encompassing, hate fuelled
thrill ride into the depths of our darkness. Some like it; others have been
emotionally affected with rather interesting results.... Yeah, and the time with
5 guitarists was because I was on holiday, ha ha! The core of Black Sun is
always myself Russell and Graeme, though we very often welcome
collaborators.

[RMcE] The early experimentation days have helped shape our focus over the
years to a greater sense of confidence and power.

YOU GUYS PLAYED SUPERSONIC FEST.ANY PARTICULAR ACTS THAT IMPRESSED YOU?HOW DID YOUR SET GO?
[KH] Supersonic was fantastic to play, and we did the damage. It was a great
crowd response both during and after, which made the whole experience
more intense and exhilarating, we always give 100%, anything less quite
simply wouldn't be Black Sun. It's great that a festival like this with such a high
profile, and mix of genres for music fans exists. I have to say I think my band
of the weekend were Red Sparrowes, closely followed by Earth, Asva, Oxbow
and Battles. It's hard to choose though as most of these bands I’ve followed
for years anyway, it was very satisfying to play with all of them.

[RMcE] We were there for the entire weekend in order to really soak up the
atmosphere as much as possible. I’m sure all the guys have different bands
they liked but on the Friday I really enjoyed Dokkebi Q and Dalek. In the case
of Dalek I loved the live sound where the drum machine was much more
prominent than on record. Dokkebi Q’s take on dub was really fresh and
interesting. Early on I was influenced by a lot of the artists on the ON U Sound
label like Mark Stewart and Dub Syndicate and Graeme’s downtuned sub-
bass approach really resonates with me in the same manner. It was amazing
to play alongside bands such as Oxbow on the Saturday and Asva on the
Sunday. The intensity and mood both those bands create always raises the
hairs at the back of the neck.

YOU GUYS HAVE ALREADY HAD YOUR SOUNDS WORKED ON BY JAMES PLOTKIN AND BILLY ANDERSON,TWO OF THE ALL-TIME HEAVYWEIGHTS.WHAT DID THESE GUYS BRING TO THE BLACK SUN SOUND?

[KH] Both Billy and James understand where we're coming from and that's
what's most important. In short I feel that Billy captures the intensity and
claustrophobia of Black Sun and James captures the sheer weight of the
music. On our new release Paralyser, we went for a production that best
captured the rawness of our sound and the development in our song writing
and thus we went to Duncan Cameron, he has a great sense of the vibe of a
track and its dynamics.

[RMcE] James and Billy worked from separated dry tracks recorded by Scott
Walker in our studio in the centre of Glasgow and sent over to them in New
Jersey and San Francisco at the time. Over a period of a couple of months we
exchanged mixes and ideas over the Internet and because we’re both coming
from a commonality of bands and artists we admire, the process was very
enjoyable indeed. James is an excellent musician and collaborator and his
work can be heard in ‘Disintegrate to Khrist’ from ‘Hour of the Wolf’ where he
took a tiny section at the end of the song and processed it into a very moving
outro.

There was room for Billy to add in subtle ideas of his own and it’s always good
to have an outside pair of ears and opinion as to how the song might sound.
I think in many cases producer and band select each other with a view to
making as positive a recording as possible.

THE INTRO TO PRISON OF THE CROSS IS COMPLETELY INSANE.HOW IMPORTANT ARE VOCALS TO YOUR OVERALL SOUND?

[KH] The vocals in Black Sun are of the utmost importance. Without them
Black Sun would not be the band it is. Very often the feel of the music will be
determined by a lyrical theme established in the early stages of writing, and in
the live performance it is the frontline of our attack. We're in the business of
confrontation and as such we aim to put people at unease.

[RMcE] I wouldn’t say that I attempt to set any specific state of mind for the
listener at all. It’s impossible to be inside anyone’s head. The lyrics and vocals
come out the way they come out. I like the distinction between lyrics and
poetry, vocals and singing. The vocals are an integral part of the rhythm
sometimes repeated to the nth degree to alter their meaning in my head.
HOUR OF THE WOLF MADE PLENTY OF BEST OF LISTS FOR '07.DID YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO FOLLOW IT UP?

[KH] I wouldn't say there was a sense of pressure, it was more a question of
how can we build on Hour Of The Wolf? To simply re-hash HOTW would do a
disservice both to our fans and us. With Paralyser we've brought in more
interesting structures and soundscapes whilst not straying from the now
recognised sound we've established. Added to that the new material we've
written is again equally as punishing as our previous work but further pushes
the song writing, the intensity and the bleakness of Black Sun.

[RMcE] The greatest momentum in Black Sun is the determination to
constantly develop new material. We can control the internal workings of the
band and music and there lies our focus. External forces are outwith our direct
control and therefore it becomes a dialogue with our fans, audience and
press. I think I always imagine progression in our music and constantly
moving forward.

YOU GUYS ARE COMING TO NEW YORK CITY FOR A HALLOWEEN GIG NADJA.HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE STATES YET,AND HOW'D YOU SCORE SUCH A SWEET GIG?

[RMcE] This will be Black Sun’s first trip to the States and we’re really excited
about it. As well as playing with the excellent Nadja, James Plotkin will be
acting as DJ for the evening. It’s a steadily growing process of gaining positive
awareness throughout Europe and the States really.

YOU GUYS ALWAYS HAVE SUCH A SICK,FULL SOUND.WHAT GEAR YOU GUYS USING?

[KH] I use a 1980 Gibson SG wit it's original pickups, a Peavey XXX head live
and in the studio, and 2nd guitar tracks were recorded with my Fender
Bassman 100 head from 1973. I also use a trusty old 2nd hand Rak Phaser
pedal.

[RMcE] Pearl Export kick and toms, Mapex Black Panther snare, Paiste
cymbals, and Vic Firth 2B drumsticks. Graeme Leggate (Bass Guitar) uses
Ashdown heads and cabs.

FAVORITE SABBATH SONG?

[KH] Without question, A National Acrobat from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
(HSJ-YES,ANOTHER ONE) From its era it's the best example of heaviness, melancholy and melody, you
can't forget Vol. 4's Wheels Of Confusion and Deep Purple's Fool's on
Fireball!


[RMcE] Hole in the Sky from Sabotage.

TELL US ABOUT FUTURE PLANS FOR BLACK SUN.

[KH] Ideally a proper tour of the States, and some label backing to get our
new full length recorded, because it's going to blow people's minds!

[RMcE] We’ve been invited on European tour with Asva in 2009. We’ve
played with Asva a couple of times and they’re a great bunch of guys. Stuart
(Dahlquist) invited us on to their dates down at Supersonic and we’ll stay in
touch over the next couple of months. We’re very enthusiastic about touring
live in Black Sun as we love to play so we follow up as many leads as
possible. Drop us a line if you want Black Sun in your town.


We currently have around 25 songs at varying stages of development. We
decided to work on material a lot longer than previously in order to fully
explore the ideas contained. It also allows more advanced lyrics.

There is a Doomed Forever Doomed Forum compilation CD in progress
where each band has their track voted on or off. We’ve submitted an
unreleased track and we’ll see how that goes.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?

Line-Up:
Sergeant Russell McEwan: Vocals, Drums & Programming
Kevin Hare: Guitar & Vocals
Graeme Leggate: Bass Guitar

Previous and upcoming live appearances 2008:
Ramesses, Knut, Lazarus Blackstar, and They Are Cowards (ex Atavist).
Supersonic UK 12 July 2008 with Harvey Milk and Oxbow.
October 2008 New Jersey with Grief & Unearthly Trance (TBC)
October 2008 New York USA with Nadja & James Plotkin
February 2009 Europe with Asva


Discography:
Fleshmarket (Over Records)
Circus of the Fallen (Over Records)
Rip Yourself Open EP (Black Sun)
Sacred Eternal Eclipse (Distortion Project)
Hour Of the Wolf (Maximum Volume)
Paralyser (At War With False Noise)

www.myspace.com/legionofblacksun
black_sun_1000@yahoo.com
www.myspace.com/atwarwithfalsenoise

Black Sun rules,guys.Check em out.

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