ZT INTERROGATION: NECHOCHWEN

NechochwenNechochwen from West Virginia, U.S.A., formed in 2005 after singer/guitarist/mainman Nechochwen stopped playing in Angelrust. Nechochwen describe themselves as “the passionate exploration of Native American Indian heritage” through music. With the band citing “preservation of the Shawnee/Lenape and other Woodland tribal traditions and languages” as interests, the duet of Nechochwen and Pohonasin seems to be doing something right as their albums found a place in Brook County, West Virginia’s museum!

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“It makes me feel great. It’s not just self-promotion; I don’t care much about that” mainman Nechochwen starts. “I want local people to know the history of where they live, not just White and Black history but also Native history. It’s not taught much in school here, and there are lots of kids with some Indian ancestry that don’t know much about the specifics. Maybe they like metal, or dark folk, and they hear Nechochwen and it leads them to learn more about their heritage or the area where they live”. But how did it come about? “The curator maintains a trail in the town where I live that has the largest elm tree east of the Mississippi River, a tree from the early 1600’s. A friend took the Oto LP to her and she was amazed that there was a song on there that honors this tree (which is sacred to her as well) and also incorporates local Indian history into music that is being released around the world. It was maybe a bigger deal to her than to me!” he explains.

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I can’t help thinking that the rebellious spirit of metal might seem strange and out of place in a museum. What is Nechochwen’s take on this? “West Virginia was born of rebellion! It became a state because we disagreed with and subsequently seceded from Virginia. The museum has remains of the town jail cells, so maybe there is already a rebellious spirit present there as well. Furthermore, the earliest instance of metal music at least as I see it, was Link Wray. He was the inventor of the power chord and first to use distortion on a guitar in a recording. He rebelled against traditional rock music and made it heavier. I’m mentioning this because he was a Shawnee Indian and his work has been featured in the National Museum of the Native American Indian. His influence is one of the main reasons that Nechochwen started using metal elements with Native themes.” Nechochwen names “the Creator and Master of Life, the infinite power of nature, good beer, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Six Superbowl victories, and the positive people, especially the artists, in my life” as other main sources of inspiration.

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The people at Nechochwen may be encountered in other bands of the metal underground as well: “About six months ago, I joined the Greek black metal band End as vocalist, we’ll soon have a three-way split out with Awe and Vacantfield.” Nechochwen explains. Drummer/bassist Pohonasin “plays bass in Brimstone Coven who just got signed to Metal Blade recently and you’ll probably be seeing them live in Europe quite soon. He’s also the drummer in Obsequiae, who recently signed to 20 Buck Spin” Nechochwen is not the only band the two play together, either: “Pohonasin plays drums and bass for Infirmary, a project where I write the songs and do guitars and vocals. We just had a split released recently with Aetherium Mors through Eihwaz Recordings. We have another death metal project called Unwilling Flesh that has a very Swedish buzzsaw guitar sound to it. I’m not sure when the debut is getting released. We’ve also done two albums and an EP together for the folk/classical/acoustic rock project Forest of the Soul. Our last album, Restless In Flight, was released by Bindrune Recordings. I’m also very excited about a very new, very quickly formed project called Coldfells. It’s Tolkien-inspired black doom written by a guy named Jonny Doyle. I do vocals and Pohonasin plays the drums. The Coldfells EP was released as a free download and has been very well received! I love it, it takes me to a far away place every time I hear it.”

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Despite their involvement in all these different bands, Nechochwen’s vision is still under exploration. The new album is “coming along quite well, hopefully will be out by the end of the year on Bindrune Recordings” and, “like the other Nechochwen albums, it does have a loose binding theme, this one being inter-connectedness, the great mystery that weaves itself through all things”.

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Nechochwen (the person)’s other plans include doing “an acoustic release where each song (or atmospheric soundscape) represents one of the many earthly and celestial thanksgivings shared by most woodland Indians. It would probably be quite different from what most people know of recent Nechochwen releases; maybe musically closer to the first album, Algonkian Mythos but less concerned with history and more focused on capturing the essence of things like the eagle’s connection to the sun or how ancient foods sustain life. I think songs about those kinds of things would be good; I don’t really want to write metal songs about them though. I’d rather songs like that be meditative or at least acoustic in nature. I’d really enjoy continuing the collaborations we collectively have going on with brilliant artists like Tanner Anderson, Draenzarth, Jonny Doyle and others. I’d love to work with quite a few artists in the underground. The list is long and the level of talent is constantly increasing in the albums people are releasing these days!”

 

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