SL: Hi there guys, welcome to “The Somber Lane” blog and thank you for giving us the possibility for this interview!
First of all could you please introduce yourself to our readers and explain your musical project to the ones who still didn’t hear about you?
Z: Hi and thank you for your attention.
Earth and Pillars is something I had in mind for a long time: I (Z) and the bass player (I) have been playing together since the teenage, but it was not until we met F, back in 2012, that the project and the ideas behind it started to take its shape.
For several reasons, we have not been a proper band until the beginning of 2013, when we really started rehearsing and finalizing the arrangements of the tracks of the first album.
From then on, everything came pretty naturally: most of the ideas, the atmosphere, the concepts behind the project have always been there. I was just waiting for the right time to concretize what was just a vague but strong impression in my mind.
SL: Would you please tell us about your debut album? Is there any concept behind it?
Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re writing your music? And also where did you record it?
Z: The main inspiration to Earth and Pillars, and in particular to “Earth I”, is nature: the name of the project itself is referred to the conflict between earth (seen as nature) and the world (the pillars). This deep mutual relationship, between our experience and what surrounds us, is the main topic I’m trying to investigate: I always had/have the feeling that something veiled lies there, between me and nature. Probably, the sense of sublime (as the Latin says, “sub-limen”, what comes until the edge) is what comes closer to what I’m trying to explain: it is not merely a portrait of landscapes what I aim to, it’s a deepening into what my feelings towards nature hide.
“Earth I” aims to describe this relationship, the images and emotions that nature is capable of projecting into my mind: when I composed music and lyrics, the ever-changing essence of these feelings had been naturally connected to water. This is the reason why all the songs are related to a water-form of nature.
The album was recorded partly in our rehearsing room, but mainly in Stravert studio with Radok: I have been lucky to find such a person to work with, since the very beginning we were completely in touch, with the same intent and ideas to create the sound you can hear in the album. Needless to say that I’ll always be thankful to him for his great work and support.
SL: Let me say that the concept behind the album is quite interesting.
This may sounds a bit weird, but it’s like you guys came out of nowhere. Let me explain, you didn’t record any demos (or stuff like that) apparently and you came out with this great debut album named “Earth I”. Moreover it has been released via Avantgarde Music (which is one of the best underground labels we have in Italy). So how did you made to get a deal with Avantgarde being an (almost) unknown band?
Are you happy with the collaboration with such a label?
Z: All you’re saying is true, we came out of nowhere.
There was a time, at the end of 2013, when we felt ready to start recording the music we arranged during previous months: we discussed in the rehearsing room and simply started doing it. Before we started the mixing and mastering process of the songs, we had a sort of really rough version of the songs: no synth and keys, no vocals, simply guitars, bass and drums. We decided to make it available to the few labels we were interested in working with. We wanted to have both a feedback and if possible to find a “deal” for printing the album: honestly, till “Earth I”, I had never made my music available to a real audience, so it was kind of coming out from my den for the first time and see what the reaction was. I’m composing music for myself, not for the others, so I don’t’ feel the need to have a positive response to do it: yet, the feedbacks we got were simply beyond our expectations, we were a bit blown away by the attention we got.
Roberto of Avantgarde was the one who had the biggest response: from the very beginning, he was really positive even if the “demo” was really rough sound and minimal. And between all the positive response we got, Avantgarde was the right choice to make: when Roberto showed real interest in printing the album, we immediately said yes. Personally, (but I think I’m speaking for all the members involved in the project) I feel really honored to be part of Avantgarde: we have a great support from the label but above all, Roberto is a really trustable and reliable person to work with. It’s a pleasure to find such a guy inside the business: no pressure, no requests, no dictates, he simply leaves us doing what we want, in the way we want.
SL: I’d like to ask you one more question on this topic.
You said you never recorded music for a real audience, so what made you think that “Earth I” deserved to be spread to a wider audience?
Z: Really interesting question…well, the answer is not easy.
I would say that, somehow, part of the decision was irrational, something that came naturally at a certain point of my journey: I think it is possible to say a similar thing for most of the decisions we take in our lives. You don’t know why, but you know it is time to do it.
At the same time, the rational part has an important role: I felt that I accomplished something, the music itself was exactly the impression I had in mind, pure, deep, vivid and the topic I was investigating was simply enclosed in those songs and lyrics. I’m really bonded to “Earth I”, every time I listen to it a lot of memories, images, moments of my life come back to life.
Furthermore, I felt the need to move on: I needed space in my mind to really focus on new material. Everything in life is matter of progression, you follow a certain trail and at a certain point you need to leave something behind to search for new places and thoughts: I see this album as a sort of farewell to a chapter of my life, something that remains inside me, in my blood and in my flesh, forever. But it was the right time to go on, to continue on my personal trail.
SL: Let’s talk about the musical side. What artists/bands do you listen to the most at the moment?
And what are the major influences that stand behind the sound of “Earth And Pillars”?
Z: In general, the music I listen to is somehow connected to the atmosphere I’m looking for: it can be ambient, drone, folk but most of all, (of course) I listen to black metal. I’m a bit stuck in my old listening, since I hardly find newer bands that really impress me: this doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to new music at all but often, the new albums I really get connected with are from old bands.
The increasing easiness to record and produce music and thus the huge amount of releases make almost impossible to listen to most of the possible releases I would be interested into: the new era of music (mp3, i-Pod etc etc) is far from being a deep and thoughtful listening. A lot of people gets excited for new releases without giving the proper time to make the music decant: I think it’s a matter of time, when I was (really) young I used to have just my walkman or cd player and each album played at least for one day or two, before being changed. When I bought “Storm of the Light’s Bane”, I think I listened to it for a week continuously. Nowadays, the shuffle mode reflects a schizophrenic way of listening to music, jumping from one band to another, from one style to a completely different one. It is something I really do not understand.
Getting back to your question, the biggest influences I would mention are Paysage d’Hiver, Darkspace, Lunar Aurora and Blut Aus Nord…and yes, surely Burzum. These are the bands whose sound influenced me the most.
SL: If I have to be honest I’m happy that you guys are from Italy, because I (but probably not just me) was feeling the need to have a band like yours in our underground scene.
So I’d like to ask you what do you think about Italy’s underground music?
Do you believe the situation to be more thriving in other countries?
Z: Well, I suppose your question is mainly referred to black metal.
I think it is really hard to speak about the Italian underground, first because there isn’t really a scene and second because there is no homogeneity in the Italian black metal. Concerning the second point, this in general shouldn’t be a drawback: the problem is that Italy has often lacked a personal and distinctive sound.
Most of the European countries has a sort of trademark, something you recognize after 20-30 seconds in a song. If I think of Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia, the USA etc. etc., I find easily a common line, a thread between the bands in the underground: even nowadays, some countries are able to evolve without losing their personality/roots, for instance I’m thinking about Sweden and the bands involved in Nordvis. Something we never had in Italy, with one exception. Trentino Alto Adige is the hidden Italian gem: a lot of bands with a characteristic sound, with personal and really typical atmosphere to communicate can be found in that area. Beatrìk, Tenebrae in Perpetuum, Lorn, Near just to name a few. I can hardly find something else I would define remarkable in the Italian black metal underground.
The reasons for this difference between Italy and the rest of Europe are something really complicated to explain and honestly I don’t think I’m even able to understand them completely: something related to history and culture to put it in a simple way.
SL: That’s a quite smart answer. It’s a good point of view, in my opinion.
Unfortunately we have come to end of our little chat. I’ve to say that it has been a very nice “talk” with you.
But before we wrap up this interview, if you have any final thoughts or something you want to say this space is completely yours.
Thank you very much.
Z: I would like to thank you for the really interesting interview and for your interest in Earth and Pillars, much appreciated. It is rare to find the possibility to have such an open interview, so again, thank you very much.
My last words are not mine, but from a wiser and greater man, a huge influence in my life. Words I hope will inspire some of the readers…as I hope “Earth I” will (even though in a much smaller way).
Earth, is it not this that you want: to rise
invisibly in us? – Is that not your dream,
to be invisible, one day? – Earth! Invisible!
What is your urgent command if not transformation?
Earth, beloved, I will. O, believe me, you need
no more Spring-times to win me: only one,
ah, one, is already more than my blood can stand.
Namelessly, I have been truly yours, from the first.
You were always right, and your most sacred inspiration
is that familiar Death.
See I live. On what? Neither childhood nor future
grows less……Excess of being
wells up in my heart.
- M. Rilke