I’m doing a crap ton of interviews lately…..get used to it! Anyways I have the dissonant black metal badasses Voidthrone on tap for my latest piece. “Kur” is a killer album that is arriving May 4th, which is very soon……preorder the album on their bandcamp right meow. It’s a great album….I wouldn’t mislead you. Well, here it is. We hope we didn’t bore you but in fact entertain you. Hail Voidthrone!
TMR: What influenced the band to create such unusual music? I’m awfully interested, it being such an original sound.
Ron: I have a day job that involves a lot of structure, order, and methodical, deliberate planning. Writing music that was improvised, strange, and original is a great contrast to my work and very freeing. Also, I have never learned any cover songs, so my guitar style may have benefited somewhat from the Galapagos Island effect. Also, we take our time with writing. Since most of our riffs come from improvising during jam sessions, we have to be comfortable coming to practice and after 2 hours produce nothing salvageable!
TMR: How did the band come to be?
Ron and Josh started playing together in the Fall of 2015. After several months of unscrewing ourselves and getting the makings of two songs down, the band grew. Everyone in the band was recruited on Craigslist, which is pretty popular on the West Coast of the USA. The only exception is Zhenya, our new singer who found us on facebook once Dan, our old singer (and he IS old. And bald!) had to move to California.
Tryouts were strange and somewhat interesting. One guitarist showed up and was basically expecting to jam on Pantera and Prong or something. About 45 disastrous minutes later, he stopped us and said, “I should probably go.”
TMR: How was the name Voidthrone conceived?
The original name was going to be Rotfeast, but that was a stupid idea. It sounds like a 90s death metal cover band name. Voidthrone was Josh’s idea. As it turns out, the word “Void” has exploded in popularity so maybe we will change our name to Feasthrone or Thronethrone.
…On second thought, we will probably keep Voidthrone because we already have merch made and the logo is cool.
TMR: What made the band want to experiment with such unique instruments like the Thai flute and Phin?
Ron’s wife is Thai and she gave him the three stringed instrument called the Phin to experiment with. It is a very particular instrument and is mostly found in northeast Thailand and Laos.
Ron: I am going to keep messing around with the Phin to see what opportunities it opens up for incorporation into metal.
As far as the flute and “ao”, which is a stringed instrument played with a bow, we met some thai musicians who were temporarily living in the Olympia, WA area working at a buddhist temple. There is probably a lot more exploration that could be done with this, but we only had them over to record music for an evening. I don’t think they had ever heard metal like this before, but they liked it and had fun. There was a very, very silly flute part that we recorded for Phantasm Epoch, but it was so silly that it completely deflated the song like a pin popping an inflated tire. It sounded like a song bird whistling at the heaviest moment, the break in the middle when Zhenya goes “blech”. Then this happy silly whistle. Hilarious to me, but ultimately just seemed forced.
TMR: How is Spiritual War Tactics different from your upcoming album Kur?
In a few ways. One, Kur’s songwriting was a little more “song-oriented” and less riff-oriented like in Spiritual War Tactics. We probably paid more attention to emotion and movement in the songs. Secondly, we actually had a real mastering engineer master Kur. Ron mastered SWT himself. You can probably hear the difference! Kur has a fuller sound and is less fatiguing to listen to. Lastly, we have a new singer, Zhenya, who has a very different style from Dan, our previous singer. It gives everything a very different feel.
TMR: How did the songwriting evolve for Kur?
Mac: As a guitarist coming into a band with an existing guitarist, I didn’t want to be a soloist. Instead, I wanted to embellish the stuff Ron wrote. Writing the beginning of Kur was the point where I finally understood what Voidthrone needed sound-wise. That was when Ron and I started to write in a point/counterpoint style where every part one of us wrote was complemented by the other. Instead of taking the typical ‘lead guitarist plays the high parts’ and ‘rhythm guitarist plays only rhythm’ playing/writing approach, we organically shift our roles.
Josh: Dissonance and psychedelia was a focus. We had drive to create more dissonance than Spiritual War Tactics. We wanted to build on what we had already released; make it weirder. The more we played together, the more we figured out how to accomplish these goals. Including Mac and Austin in the songwriting process was a huge step up from doing it solely between Ron and me.
Zhenya: I can’t speak for the writing of Spiritual War Tactics. For Kur, I channeled the mindstate of me a couple of years ago when I went off my rocker for a hot minute. Writing and playing with Voidthrone is an emotionally exhausting endeavor. Delving beyond the veil feels like I’m scratching open old, festering wounds.
TMR: Any plans for playing shows?
Zhenya: Since lyrics and screaming is a pretty damn easy aspect of metal compared to the actual instrumentation, my efforts go into the performances we take part in. It’s my intention to make every show we do entertaining, exhausting, and enigmatic. I have been enjoying making the typical black/death metal performance style my own- the most recent addition to the live repertoire is the use of black lights and photo-reactive body paint that I smear over my black-and-white-and-blood visage. That’s not to say that what I do is all that original, of course! In any case, the more we play, the more chances I have to try new things, and the better we get!
TMR: What music are you guys into? What new releases is everyone looking forward to in 2018?
The wonder of discovering music, new and old, is hard to beat. The digital frontier is rife with renowned artists that we hadn’t yet encountered (Zhenya was recently exposed to Igorrr and, boy, is that his jam nowadays) and new musicians in various stages of starting out (so so so many excellent local acts that we’ve been blown away by). Some of the bands we’re excited about/have enjoyed in the very recent past: Pig Destroyer, Noceur, Slayer, Rabitrup, Igorrr, Orator, Iron Monkey, Empyrean. There are countless others, of course.
TMR: What are your opinions on the rising popularity of extended range instruments? There’s plenty of pros and cons, if you ask me.
Ron: I play a 7 string, fanned fret Ibanez guitar. For me, it was just time to grow up and “put on my big-boy pants” and stop playing 7 string tuning on my 6-string. The intonation is much, much better, the string tension more even, and in the case of the fanned frets, it is actually easier to play. I see no real downside to playing the 7 string, especially since we have always played in B. For now, I don’t think playing lower than B would make sense for Voidthrone’s music, so we probably won’t be djenting any time soon.
TMR:Double Bubble Gum or Big League Chew?
TMR: Provide any links here for any of your personal endeavors outside of your band and any projects outside of Voidthrone.
Mac: I wanna start a funk band with Austin.
Clearly Voidthrone and I have colorful senses of humor….I think we understand each other. Maybe?
Check out a recent show the band played this year right below here and don’t be a fool and support this cool ass band right now.