Germ, the solo band of Tim Yatras (Austere, Grey Waters, ex-Nazxul, ex-Woods Of Desolation, etc.), had always been lurking beneath the shadows of his other bands. That is until 2012, when Germ came bursting onto the scene with the debut album Wish, and follow-up EP Loss. In that journey, Tim employs sounds that come as much from the ‘atmospheric’ side of black metal (think Burzum or Arcturus) as from the shoegaze movement. Especially with Germ’s third album, Grief, the weight starts to multiply and to clearly shift towards the metal side of things. ZT’s Aimilianos Sideris caught up with Tim to unite in Grief…


What difference does Tim see between Grief and the other bands he’s participated in? “I guess the main difference is that Germ is a solo project. I don’t want to seem arrogant, but the main difference with Germ compared to my previous musical endeavours is that this is 100% my vision. If there is anyone else playing on the songs, then I have written a part and asked them specifically to play it a certain way. Germ is basically one man’s fears, hopes, desires and weaknesses.”


Granted, Germ is an altogether different creature from Tim’s previous endeavours. More catchy, more straightforward, but with a boldness that could take you by surprise. At Metal Archives they are described as a post-black metal/shoegaze/electronica band; in the press release as a black metal/post-metal/depressive rock band. Germ’s music sounds quite bright and uplifting (in the best possible sense!) to me. What is the core of the band’s aesthetic? Which influences have shaped it?: “There’s so many bands and artists I take inspiration from, and who have helped me to become the musician and composer I am today. I take inspiration from a wide range of bands and genres, from My Bloody Valentine to Jean Michel Jarre and Oasis to Burzum. I try to be very open-minded when it comes to music, and I guess that has helped shape what Germ has become. Beneath all that, though, the main thing I want to do is to create music that is close to me, music that reflects my inner thoughts and feelings. Lyrically speaking, Germ is very dark and personal.”


The above answer really helps build a context in which to understand Germ’s music. Their compositions seem to be based on a convergence of different elements – light and darkness, eerie melodies and crushing chords… The whole picture, as well as the individual parts work on all levels – they make much sense, while transposing the listener to a world beyond words. The balance is such that I found myself wondering: Does Tim follow his mind or his heart when composing? “Oh, definitely my heart. I mean, of course you have to think about things – what works and what doesn’t – but I definitely try to do what comes naturally to me. I’m not a big fan of all this clinical and technically perfect music around nowadays. Give me some ragged old blues over that any day! Music can be the most powerful tool there is for expressing emotion, why over think things?!”


Grief is by and large the result of one man. Yet, one participation shines bright- Audrey Sylvain of Amesoeurs’ fame. “I wrote the song ‘Butterfly’ back in early 2012. I had the whole song done, except the verses. I often listen to Amesoeurs, and have marvelled at Audrey’s voice for many years. Anyway, I remember listening to ‘Tunic’ by Sonic Youth, and thinking a female vocal would be perfect for that section in ‘Butterfly’. Immediately, I knew it had to be Audrey. Luckily I was already in contact with her, and so I sent her an email asking if she would like to do it, and luckily she said yes. Very luckily, in fact, as if she had said no I would have probably scrapped the song, haha!”

A few months ago Germ played their first live show supporting Enslaved in Sydney. Given that both bands straddle similar sonic soundscapes nowadays (albeit with significantly different results), the combination was probably a well-thought one. “I guess it could be said that at the moment we both reside in a vaguely similar area of progressive black metal, however I don’t really see that many similarities between our music. That being said, the first Enslaved album is an all time masterpiece, and one of my favourite albums.”


Wait a minute! A one-man band, performing live? How? Asking the question, I find that the Enslaved show was not a one-off appearance as I thought at first. “Since that first show with Enslaved, Germ has also played shows in Australia with Moonsorrow and Deafheaven, and we also are booked to play a festival in a city around 1000km away from here next month. The live lineup consists of session members from various Australian metal bands. They are all great players, and close friends to me. Regardless of the future of Germ as a live band, in the studio it will always remain a solo project.”


Future plans? “At the moment we have one more live show scheduled with Germ, beyond that I’m not sure when the next will be. I’m also slowly composing material for what will eventually become the third Germ full length album, as well as working with some friends on a couple of other projects.”


You can find Grief at Eisenwald Tonschmiede‘s bandcamp page.

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