Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hollow Branches Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have
never heard of you before?

Robert: When I first started working on music as Hollow Branches, I
was creating something more in line with doom metal. Honestly, it
sounded derivative. At the time I also had my experimental noise
project, Conversations about the Light, and I had asked Marius to
collaborate on some tracks. There is a lot of terrible material from
this period that I'm happy was never released. A consequence of
working on this unreleased material together was that I found Marius
to be of like mind with similar goals. I scrapped nearly everything,
cancelled the Conversations about the Light albums and collaborations
that I was working on, and we started fresh on the three songs that
make up our first EP, "Words are Fire."

Marius: "Words are Fire" defined much of the aesthetics found and
developed on "Anchored in Sleep" and "Okanagana Waves". Robert's
earlier work on Conversations About The Light combined with our shared
interest in prog rock and darker rock music resulted in that EP which
defined future material.

2. How would you describe your musical sound?
Robert: Dark, progressive, acoustic, and atmospheric, with vocals
influenced by everyone from Neil Young to Garm and Jérôme Reuter. We
don't want to sterilize the music in the studio environment, but let
it be breath which includes leaving elements from impulsive recordings
and improvisational sessions. Describing music is difficult for me
because it's so subjective. Nearly all the reviews I've seen have
compared us to bands we don't listen to. But who am I to say that the
reviewers are wrong? We all have a different set of music from which
to draw our comparisons.
I'd like to take a moment to thank the bass players that have
contributed to our various releases, Jason Walton, and Mathew Kennedy.
They both have really unique styles that brought our compositions to a
whole new level.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores
with the music?
Robert: My lyrics cover a lot of ground, but have some red threads
holding them all together. "Rumor the Past" and "Afterward" which
bookend the new album are about nostalgia and the fallibility of
memory. "Habitual" is about the emptiness of spending five days a week
in the same stale environment with the same people. I think everyone
can relate, be they student or CEO. "Okanagana Waves" the title track
of our first full length is about anxiety and panic attacks, something
I have first hand experience with. Many of the tracks on both EPs and
the new full length have been about or contain references to the sun,
stars, moon, and the grandeur of the universe and nature. Perhaps the
idea that I come back to the most is the absurdity of the universe.
None of us matters in the grand scheme. Perhaps this is dogmatic
thinking on my part, but I see no reason to believe anything about
death except that once the neurons stop firing, we cease to exist. Our
music, this interview, my words will all someday not matter. One could
argue that they don't matter now, but I occupy my time with the things
I enjoy.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
Robert: I had some pretty grand ideas behind the band name when I
first picked it. The first album was going to be an assault on hollow
ideas: religion (not just the Abrahamic religions), superstition, and
all the peddlers of unreality touting homeopathic cures and fuzzy
logic. I've calmed down in the years since and think the name fits
quite well regardless.

5. Has the band had any opportunities to do any live shows, if so what
are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how
would you describe your stage performance?
Robert: At this time, playing live isn't feasible. Marius lives in
Norway, I'm living in the US, and we don't have a drummer. It's
something we would do if our situation were different, but not at this
time.

6. Currently the band is unsigned. Are you looking for a label and if
so what kind of label do you think would be a perfect for the band?
Robert: We're fairly content releasing albums on our own imprint,
Strix Records, but we're terrible at promoting new releases. Working
with another label would allow us to focus more on music and less on
the business aspects. I guess the most important thing a label could
offer is a contract that let us maintain our autonomy. We write the
music we want to hear, and the artwork/packaging is just as important
to us. We don't want someone else meddling in our aesthetic choices
because these are not their creations.

7. On a worldwide level how has your music been received by music fans?
Robert: There are not a lot of reviews out there, but I know that our
music has reached people in Iraq, Japan, Russia, all across Europe and
the United States. We don't sell many albums (but our free EPs have
been downloaded in the thousands), but nothing means more than
receiving a compliment from someone who was touched by our music.

8. Are there any other projects besides this band or is this a full
time line up?
Robert: Marius and I are both active in several other projects.
Together we also create music as Indelible, a project where we put all
our ideas that don't fit elsewhere. So far we have released a dark
prog rock concept album, as well as an electro rock EP. Our next
release features mostly piano, ambience and choir-like vocals. Marius
has an ambient/experimental project called Sjøli, and also his longest
running band, Formloff, which plays black metal. Their second album,
"Spyhorelandet" will be released on Eisenwald in March.
On top of all that, we are both contributing members of Self Spiller,
the experimental black metal project of Jason Walton (Agalloch). Our
first album is out soon on Vendlus Records.


9.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
Robert: I don't think we're done exploring this sound. We will
probably continue in this vein but incorporate new influences as time
goes by. Tastes evolve, and hopefully the music will follow suit.

Marius: Hard to tell. While writing and producing things often take
unexpected turns, and it's often those events that makes each album
evolve into something new. Still, the core elements will remain mostly
the same, and there's plenty of musical territories for us to explore
within the style we defined for our previous releases. We've just
started writing for the next Hollow Branches album and it seems like
there will be more electric guitars present this time.

10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your
music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Robert: As I type this, I'm listening to "In the Last Waking Moments"
by Edison's Children. Recently I've been listening to a lot of
Arch/Matheos, Rome, Vektor, Elbow, Absu, Blotted Science, and Pain of
Salvation. For my part, bands/musicians that have been influential to
Hollow Branches include Thomas Feiner, Talk Talk, Marillion, David
Sylvian, King Crimson, Ulver, Neil Young, and Van der Graaf Generator.
I listen to a lot of jazz as well. Some favorites are pianists like
Brad Mehldau & Aaron Parks, and the compositions of Coleman,
Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, and Davis.

Marius: While writing for "Okanagana Waves" much of the inspiration
came from various Neofolk acts. I was also listening a lot to
Änglagård and other prog bands at the time which can explain why the
album at times mix up the two genres. Besides that I was also
listening a lot to David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto at that time.
Recently I've been listening to Thomas Feiner's new single "Many
Names", Rome and Toshimaru Nakamura among many others.


11. What role does Paganism and Occultism play in your music and how
would you describe your views on these topics?
Robert: I think my comments above cover my thoughts on Paganism, the
Occult, or any religious doctrine that does not lead one to the truth.
I went to a Peter Boghossian lecture last night where he talked about
faith and this very thing. His main thesis was: unreliable processes
lead to unreliable conclusions. In my view, Occultism is an unreliable
process for discerning the truth about how the universe or even the
world works. Similarly, a literal interpretation of the bible tells us
that the earth is flat and has us living in a geocentric universe. How
humble.

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Robert: Camping, travel, craft beer, reading, attending lectures,
classical, jazz and rock/metal concerts.
Marius: Besides working on music I do graphic design. I enjoy being
outside, forest walks, traveling, hiking, camping, reading etc...

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Robert: Thank you for the kind words in your review and giving us a
chance to answer your questions. Readers interested in hearing our
music can head to www.strixrecords.com or hollowbranches.bandcamp.com
where we have free downloads of some releases as well as all our music
streaming. You can also find Hollow Branches shirts, and CDs from a
variety of bands we have been involved in through the years. Be sure
to check out Indelible, Formloff and Self Spiller as we all have new
releases coming soon.

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