ZT INTERROGATION: OSSIFIC START TO LAY DOWN THEIR ROOTS
Canadian black metal outfit Ossific are currently on the Euro tour trail with Negura Bunget. Here, frontman Trauma tells ZT’s Paul Castles how things are shaping up and shares his thoughts on the band’s impressive debut album …as Roots Burn.
ZT: Hi and many thanks for taking time out from your tour with Negura Bunget to chat with Zero Tolerance– tell us how you got the support slot and your reaction to it?
Of course, it’s our pleasure! We met Negura Bunget in October 2015 when they were on their North American tour. We played a show with them, and Tibor (Vocals, Guitars) stayed with us for a few days. We got along quite well, which was the starting point.
ZT: How have the first few shows gone?
Well the first show was in Cluj for an outdoor festival called ‘We are Rocking the City’. The crowd must have been 1,500-2,000 nearing the end, so it was quite a big show to start off with. The first few shows, technically speaking, haven’t been seamless behind the scenes. But those issues worked out quick and didn’t affect our performances. Sorta the nature of music. From the start the reaction has been very positive. Bucharest. Constanta, and Galati all stick out as being particularly special.
ZT:It’s a very long tour, two months. Have you made any special preparations for being on the road for so long?
Pack light, be in good health, and work out any kinks in performing technique. For example, I had to do some vocal coaching to ensure my technique was strong. Two months is a long tour, and we have very little days off (maybe three), and screaming that much daily is only possible if technique is good. Same goes for myself and others when it comes to playing our instruments. Other than that we’re Canadian so living out of a backpack is pretty common practice on canoe trips… well for some of us!
ZT:I know when playing live you create a very intense atmosphere to reflect the serious content of many of your songs. Was that a conscious approach or something that has just evolved naturally?
It’s true. By and large due to the serious subject matter, it really isn’t possible to fake the emotion that comes out when performing live so this aspect was entirely natural. In terms of the stage show, we knew we wanted to create an atmosphere beyond the music that reflected that sincere emotion. This aspect was more conscious. Our set follows a sequence, and that sequence is reflected in the show through ritualistic actions and progressions.
ZT: Your debut album …as Roots Burn has just been released. Are you all pleased with how it came out?
That’s difficult to answer! I think I fall into the category of many musicians in so far as that because the music has been listened to hundreds of times throughout the process it’s not something that feels finished. Add on to that it feels like old news, and if I am being entirely honest I am not totally satisfied with how it came out. There were some lags in the recording process, and then a line-up change. I didn’t want to scrap it, it just took ages to finish because of some dual obligations. Not to sound too dissatisfied, I like it for what it is.
ZT:Were the songs all new arrangements or were there things you had been sitting on for some time.
Initially the songs for this record were written in 2011-2013. We (RC and myself) had about seven songs, but through some complications only released the five. All the ambient music, and synth was created in 2013 once the songs had been mixed, so they are the new arrangements. At this point the writing for the next record has been finished, and we are performing a few of those new songs on this tour. It feels good to have a mix of the old and new, they mesh together well.
ZT:Was there any theme or concept involved when working on the songs?
All the songs I write come from experience. I did not plan out this album with a conscious theme, but the band certainly has one, and those major concepts are very present in every song. The album was no more planned than the events that they draw from were, if that makes any sense…
ZT:For anyone wanting to snap up a copy of the album is it available on both vinyl and CD format?
Unfortunately no vinyl, just CD and digital. There has been a large demand for vinyl, so perhaps that is one of the next steps, whether with this record or the next.
ZT:Just tells us something about the sleeve artwork?
The front cover is a paper and pencil piece by an artist from Winnipeg named Rebecca Froese. It has two trees, with fully visible roots. On one tree there is a child’s swing hanging from one of the branches. On the other tree there is a noose. They are two separate trees joined by the roots. Interpret that as you may. The back cover has a dead ruffed grouse (a common bird in our forests). Its wings are spread, and it’s eyes are closed. The sleeve artwork was created by me. It features a burned wood texture, swirling ink and various dark imagery, dates, names, and last words subtly added. I never really wanted to release lyrics so I made the text very decayed, and truth be told withheld much of the lyrics. If you follow along there will be numerous words, passages etc that have been omitted from the type. Unfortunately, there was some issues with the pressing company, and the booklet came out much darker than expected (one of a couple issues we had). That being said, the digital version is a much better representation of what the sleeve should have looked like. Oh well haha, limited edition first pressing quirks.
ZT:Did the process in the studio run to plan? Not exactly. We recruited some help for recording the drums. The home base of the band is in a converted church, and the drums were recorded in the pulpit. The drums were completed in about 12 hours, on two separate occasions. The problem was that they were mic’d differently each time so there was a fairly drastic difference in sound. That was the first problem, and led to cutting a few tracks (we still have them, and I’m sure they’ll surface at some point). The second issue came with the eventual departure of RC. He was getting married, and had child number two on the way, and as one can assume this made it difficult to participate further on the recording and live side of things. This left the majority of bass/guitar/voice/synth up to me. Instead of continuing in a studio setting, I just recorded it with the equipment I had at the jam space, in the midst of completing a degree.
ZT: You’re from Winnipeg, Canada. Is there a strong underground scene there at the moment?
There is a strong metal community. Winnipeg has some real gems when it comes to music as a whole, not simply metal. In terms of gathering places, one of our last dedicated “metal” venues shut down last year. There are still plenty of venues to gather at, but it was a blow to the community. House shows, and DIY festivals have picked up some slack, and we’ve had a Manitoba Metalfest going for many years too.
ZT:You’ve obviously played live in your home city on a few occasions. Have you been able to develop a good fanbase there?
Yeah, Winnipeg has been very kind to us. We spent a year (2014) really pushing the band out to build an awareness that we are ready and willing to play out. 2014/15 were very successful years for us locally and abroad. We played a couple festivals, one being an underground outdoor festival, and the other being Manitoba’s Metalfest with some high ranking Canadian acts. Furthermore, we drove to Alberta for the inaugural Black Mourning Light festival. This is a dedicated black/death/doom metal festival. It’s certainly a highlight as the crowd was geared towards the kind of music we play, and the promoter was very passionate and dedicated.
ZT:What will you be looking forward to the most when you finally get back to Winnipeg?
Speaking for myself I look forward to recording the next album, and spending time with some people I feel I’ve neglected in preparations for this tour. I’m also looking forward to the open skies and fresh air. It’s been a bit unusual playing shows where the air is thick with cigarette smoke! This all being said, give it a week or two after arriving back home, I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to the road again. Seems to be the way it works. Thanks for taking the time to ask some questions! Looking forward to London on Saturday (Oct 22).