Blackened Death Metallers Oubliette are releasing their second full length in a few weeks. I digitally sat down with the band members concerning their upcoming album “The Passage” out in a few weeks next month, their inspirations, love for music, and a bunch of random related and unrelated questions discovering the band and their personality. I was a fan of their debut album, but gonna have to say the title track they released recently makes it look like a joke. It sounds like the band’s writing has dramatically evolved and the rest of the extreme metal world should look the fuck out (that goes for the Artisan Era label in general!).
I really got into this band more with the recent release, and glad this album is getting put out. Apparitions was a raw and heavy debut album, The Passage seems like it is going to be a totally different monster. After seeing their answers to my questions, I really like Oubliette even more. Hope everyone reading enjoys the conversation!
Mike Low – guitar
Todd Harris – guitar
Andrew Wampler – guitar
James Turk – bass
Greg Vance – drums
TMR: What made you guys get into extreme metal and what do you like most about it?
Mike: I guess the first rock bands I started listening to were bands like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, then some friends introduced me to Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura, and Pantera, which were kind of my top 4 for a while. I wanted to see what else was out there so I randomly bought some CDs when I had my first job. I got Cannibal Corpse “Bloodthirst,” Decapitated “Winds of Creation,” and some other stuff. That was my first dive into the truly extreme metal and it just went on from there. It’s an indescribable attraction… the larger-than-life sound, the feeling that you are watching a movie with just your ears, the endless possibilities of what can be created.
Greg: From a young age, I dealt with some childhood trauma and struggled to find outlets. I was bullied in school, and was essentially looking for some type of outlet. I had gotten into some of the darker 60’s and 70’s music my dad listened to, The Doors, Led Zeppelin etc, and from there, discovered Metallica and some of the 90’s mainstream metal before discovering Cannibal Corpse in a Jim Carrey movie. From there, I decided to mow lawns and save up for piecing together a drum kit to take aggression out. After playing for a few years, I wanted to push myself more and more into the extreme side, enter the love of death and black metal.
Todd: I got into extreme metal many years back when I discovered bands like Cannibal Corpse, Carcass and Deicide. Shortly after that, I got turned onto Emperor and Enslaved and started to develop an affinity for black metal. I started playing death metal and doom metal in my mid 20’s and that developed into playing more black metal inspired music.
Emily: I randomly bought a couple of CDs because I liked the album covers, which happened to be Dissection and Death. The first moment I listened to those, I wanted more! Dissection still happens to be one of our biggest influences today.
TMR: How was the triple guitar attack influenced?
Mike: I’ve always loved melodeath where there is a rhythm part, a melody, and a harmony. This has been a big part of the writing for Apparitions, back when I had only planned on it being a studio project. Whenever we decided to put together a live lineup after that album came out, I realized that the songs would be expressed better if we had three guitars so that we could cover all of the harmonized parts happening in the music. I feel like I might be starting to stray away from that a tiny bit and writing more riffs where everyone is playing something completely different to make up something massive, instead of something based all around the same idea.
TMR: How does the band feel The Passage is different from your debut album Apparitions?
Mike: I think it has matured musically and is more focused.
Andrew: It feels different playing songs between the two albums. I enjoy both, but playing Apparitions is about trying to play like Mike, which can be tough on a couple songs because he has a very wide finger span. The Passage was written with this group of musicians in mind and each of the guitar parts plays to our strengths. We really click in rehearsals. These songs were meant to be played live.
Todd: I’m extremely pleased with the progression from Apparitions to The Passage. I feel like there’s been growth since the last album musically and I know that everyone wants to continue to expand on our sound. I definitely feel like we work well together as writers and are quite willing to try things that we have yet to explore. I look forward to continuing that progression.
Emily: I feel like it’s different in the sense that Apparitions was just me and Mike putting it together musically and lyrically, but with The Passage we had more people involved. I feel like it still has the sound we were going for originally but now we have some outside input. Also, Apparitions was more based on personal experiences whereas The Passage was a story we created.
TMR: Did you guys do anything differently recording wise or writing wise for The Passage?
Mike: I wrote nearly all of the music for Apparitions myself. For The Passage, I had some input from the other guys. Most of it was based off of ideas that I already had, but we did get to sit down in the same room and bounce ideas off of each other, so that was great. I didn’t really contribute a whole lot lyrically this time, but did help to shape the story a bit. Recording-wise, it was still more or less the same, DIY.
Greg: As the new drummer for this record, I felt relieved to be able to bring in a fresh perspective into the percussive aspects of the band, that shows a different side to my playing with Enfold Darkness. This record felt very close to all of us, because we would all bounce ideas off of each other, sometimes over a couple of IPA’s and a fire in Mike and Emily’s back yard. I love the first release and am excited to be a part of a group with dedicated, talented musicians, who are also my best friends.
TMR: I didn’t even know your vocalist was female until recently! I’m a big abnormality fan, and also dig your chance to die and sisters of suffocation. I don’t think gender should be a big deal at all with the rise of the “female fronted” label. It’s crap to me, at least. To a metalhead, it’s cool to see females do what they want musically that isn’t a pop band or a folk artist for a change! More females in death metal! What do you think of the “label”?
Mike: We prefer not to cling to that label as to not skew one’s opinion of the music.
Emily: From the very beginning, I never wanted to be promoted as a female fronted band because there should be no difference. I would rather people enjoy the music for what it is and what gender created it.
TMR: What do you guys think of the experimentation in death metal lately? I really dig the dissonance, synth, keys, strings, flute and other wild ideas some bands have had like Coma Cluster Void, Voidthrone, Burial In The Sky and Dischordia.
Mike: It’s not my forte, but I do like some of the off-the-wall bands like Dodecahedron, Oranssi Pazuzu, and Igorrr to name a few.
Todd: In all for genre pushing. I think it keeps things fresh. If a genre doesn’t grow, it eventually stagnates. I always like to hear something new and I have a penchant for the avant-garde, so I’m all for it.
TMR: What shows does Oubliette have planned for the upcoming future?
Mike: We’ve got an album release show in Nashville in mid-July, then we’re leaving to play at Metaldays in Slovenia the following week. We are working on some shows within our region later in the year.
TMR: How did you guys get into music and learn your craft?
Mike: My parents bought me an acoustic guitar at a flea market when I was 9. I took lessons for a short while, but have mostly been self taught. I downloaded a lot of guitar tabs back in the day and also did a lot of learning by ear.
Andrew: I played drums in middle school but 1st picked up a guitar at 13. I was in garage bands in high school and studied music in college. I also started teaching guitar at 18 and still do to this day.
Greg: As someone who never could afford to take steady lessons, my approach was always to play with feeling, and to take whatever was on my mind and put it behind the drums. It’s a blessing and a curse, because I have missed out on a lot of fundamentals, but I’ve also been able to take a unique approach and do what feels natural to me. I don’t think music is something you can force and yield something truly unique.
Todd: I picked up Guitar at 14 and cut my teeth on Black Sabbath and Nirvana records starting out. I’ve played all sorts of music over the years, but I feel most at home playing extreme metal. I feel it allows you to be a touch more creative and take more chances.
Emily: I grew up in a musical family. Both of my parents played instruments. I learned to read music at a young age, played clarinet and sang in choir throughout middle and high school. Growing up, my family and I would listen to classical and Celtic music all the time, which is why we incorporate some clean vocals in our songs.
TMR: What is it like to be Oubliette for a day?
Mike: I cook for a caterer/meal prep service during the day, and by night I’m doing whatever band or label things I need to do for that day. It could be mixing, practicing, planning out releases, or a plethora of other things.
TMR: Who would you love to play with on any given day that you haven’t been on a bill with yet?
Emily: Insomnium, not that they are my favorite band but I think a lot of their fans would like our music. They have had a lot of influence on the direction we’ve taken with Oubliette.
TMR: What is your dream venue to play at?
Mike: In a cave
Andrew: Tough question. I’d like to bring the show to a nice theater sometime. Outer space would be cool too.
Greg: An old theater, with a theatrical show.
TMR: What does everything like to do outside of the band? Hobbies or activities?
Mike: I co-own the label we are on, The Artisan Era. I record and mix bands too, some on the label and some are local.
Greg: I am a chef, a stock market trader, and also enjoy doing a lot of activities outdoors. I am also extremely nerdy when it comes to taking on new activities and having them consume me from time to time.
Emily: I love being outdoors, hiking, and spending time with our dogs and cat. I also work two jobs and run a promotion company in Nashville.
TMR: Favorite foods and drinks?
Mike: Beer, hummus, and Mexican food in general
Andrew: Dr. Pepper, sandwiches, spicy stuff, festival food.
Todd: Pizza, beer, Mexican food
Greg: Asian food, southern comfort food.
Emily: Mexican, Asian, beer
TMR: What album is everyone looking forward to this year? And any favorites that are released?
Mike: I’ve been jamming the hell out of Uada and Gruesome.
Andrew: So far been listening to the new Judas Priest record Firepower alot.
Todd: The Secret’s new ep
Greg: Skull Fist
TMR: What’s the meaning behind the artwork and lyrics of the passage? Any sort of concept?
Mike: The Passage is indeed a concept album. It’s a story we created based in Victorian times. A family of three moves into a house built upon a land that had long been cursed. Soon after, the baby falls ill and passes away. While the parents are both extremely distraught, the mother really becomes hysterical and falls into a deep depression. She begins feeling like her child is calling for her to join in death, so she takes her own life. In the last song, “The Passage,” she realizes it was an illusion and that they will never be reunited.
TMR: Link anything here you guys do outside of the band whether it’s musical or not.