2012 proved to be a fruitful year so far within the more underground experimental metal subgenres. Ides Of Gemini, Incoming Celebral Overdrive and Ufomammut delivered their finest works to date. Worm Ouroboros did very much the same with their latest album, entitled “Come The Thaw”. Reason enough for Christine Hager to catch up with Lorraine Rath and Aesop Dekker in order to hear the latest on the new album, the philosophy behind the band and touring with Agalloch…
Lyrically, even in comparison to your last album, you tend to take a narrative route. What sort of story were you trying to convey with “Come The Thaw”?
Lorraine: We did have a narrative in mind, which just kind of grew organically out of our particular life situations at the time. With our first album, the themes were more centered around the full cycles of life and death, renewal and change. But with “Come The Thaw”, we found ourselves dealing in our own lives with a more specific moment within that full cycle: the frozen point in time after something cataclysmic and life-changing happens, but before we know how such events will forever change us. Will we emerge stronger, broken, or will we emerge at all? Sounds like a downer, but there’s hope there too. After all, as our album title suggests, the thaw will come and with it an inevitable spring.
You seem quite influenced by nature, cycles and life and death. Do you see your future writings branching out to other things or is this an endless well that you plan to keep dipping into, maintain a sort of identity for the band?
Lorraine: I wouldn’t say we are intentionally trying to maintain any certain identity by restricting our themes to nature. In fact, most of our songs have more to do with human relationships and experiences, but our language and the imagery we draw from to express those emotions come from that which we know most. I grew up in the woods of Oregon on a subsistence farm surrounded by animals and nature. Jessica grew up hiking and exploring in the gorgeous Oakland Hills here in the Bay Area. We can’t help but be influenced by such environments, and by what is so close to our hearts. And when you think about it, there really isn’t much else but the cycles of life and death and all stages in between for humans to experience and write about.
Evoking a very tranquil sound, regardless of the darkness underneath it all, I’ve heard you joke around with the term girlfriend metal, since of course “girls can’t like metal” (note the heavy sarcasm). Though as a teen, I was always searching for something darker, heavier and more intense but it wouldn’t surprise me if Worm Ouroboros became a starting point for some women just sparking their interest in more intense genres of music. Have you noticed that a large majority of your fan base at this point is female?
Lorraine: I haven’t noticed this. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say that more males than females are fans, but there’s a good balance. If there are more male fans, it is probably because they are more familiar/comfortable with the heavier music genres with which we are associated. But I think that is rapidly changing and that’s a good thing. And just for the record…I hate the term “girlfriend metal.” Shame on me if I were overheard using that term!
What has your experience been like working with Profound Lore, a label I truly adore for their eclectic and brilliant range of quality bands?
Lorraine: Chris Bruni of Profound Lore is a man of integrity, not only in being true to his own eclectic tastes, but also in the way he treats his bands. At least that’s been our experience. He takes risks and he’s not afraid to back a band that he sees promise in, even when others might initially not “get it.” There’s a certain consistent artistic sincerity and intensity that I think he looks for in his bands which transcends genre. It’s a thread that runs through his incredibly diverse roster.
Before your self-titled album and “Come The Thaw”, had you recorded any demos or an EP that weren’t overly publicized? What was it that caught the ear of Profound Lore or was it just the confidence they had already placed with your members in other bands they were currently backing?
Lorraine: We initially recorded a few of the songs that are on our self-titled album ourselves as a demo. Since I knew that Chris Bruni had been a fan of two of my prior projects (The Gault and Amber Asylum), I sent him the songs and his reaction was immediately very positive. Even though we had a few other options, we honestly couldn’t imagine any label we would have felt more at home on. Profound Lore was our first and only real choice. It was and is a great fit.
Collectively, do you feel like past/current projects (Amber Asylum, Agalloch) affect the direction you’re taken with Worm Ouroboros or do you make a conscious effort to keep separate projects separate?
Lorraine: I think our collective backgrounds can’t help but influence who we are as musicians and even how we write. Speaking of my own background, I’m sure fans of The Gault and Amber Asylum can easily hear certain similarities. I don’t try to keep anything “separate” because I’m always just writing what’s in my heart and head. But that writing is also influenced and molded by the people you’re writing and playing with. Jessica and I have created our own personal writing chemistry which is unique to this project. We bring things out in each other’s playing that simply wouldn’t be the same with anyone else. It becomes its own entity.
I love the dynamic of splitting the vocals between you and Jessica.It adds for a greater level of complexity and depth to your sound. Do you each write your own sections or are the lyrics written together and divvied up after however you see fit?
Lorraine: We typically each write our own lyrics for an entire song and usually come to the table with a general skeletal arrangement or melody/theme for it. This method gives each song a single narrative perspective which I think is important to its integrity. But after that, the writing process is extremely collaborative. There are often interesting developments and unexpected surprises that happens with that initial idea’s arrangement and shape that ends up making the song better than either of us expected or heard in our heads. We also like to keep the balance between us pretty equal, so there’s an interwoven almost call and response to the album as a whole.
Rath, is the artwork on “Come The Thaw” also one of your paintings? The cover for both albums just seems to fit the music so flawlessly.
Lorraine: Yes it is, and thank you. I do try to make the cover image a visual interpretation of what the album is about. With “Come The Thaw”, I wanted to show a frozen moment in time of inertia and vulnerability. The moment after great loss or trauma, before we regain our strength and are able to rebuild our sense of self. Or, it’s just a deer that lost its antlers. Viewer’s choice.
Dekker, touring with Agalloch alongside Worm Ouroboros must have been a different experience at first. What was it like touring in two independent acts, playing the same night?
Aesop: It was great to play with my favorite people every night and it wasn’t too strenuous. My only complaint is that I had very little time to see friends and catch up in some places. I would do it again.
What is your touring schedule looking like for 2012?
Lorraine: We’re definitely planning a west coast tour sometime in the next several months. And perhaps a little longer tour later in the year. Next year, Europe, which will be very exciting. Details to come.