How is Neurosis doing at the moment?
Neurosis is inspired and moving forward. We are working on new Neurosis material, overseeing our current releases, reissues, getting ready for some gigs this winter, and generally feeling lucky to have been around for the last 25 years.
We're conducting this interview because we just received the re-release of 'Enemy Of The Sun', could you tell me what the occasion was to have it re-released (If I'm not mistaken you already re-released it once, didn't you?)
The original reissues of 'Enemy And Souls' were the first releases on Neurot Recordings. We didn't even have our label logo back when we first reissued those. When the last pressings of the old design ran out, we decided to revisit the artwork to give our entire catalog a similar look, so that our entire collection might start to have artistic continuity with the packaging. The artwork back then was also the first time people were using photoshop and digital layout instead of the traditional films. Unfortunately some of the old original files and images have been corrupted or lost over the years. Digital isn't permanent.
Does Neurot have the rights to the other Neurosis releases as well? And can we expect any other re-releases any time soon? I noticed 'The Word As Law' went out of print since Lookout Records no longer exists...
We do have the rights to almost our entire catalog in Europe. 'Souls At Zero' will see a similar reissue as 'Enemy' next year. 'Word As Law' is in our control, and will probably see new light some day.
Ok, onto 'Enemy Of The Sun', in your opinion, how has it aged? Do you still listen to it? What kind of significance does it have for you?
I think it stands strong as a major point in our evolution. I don't listen to our music much once we are done with a record. That would be a bit weird and egocentric to sit around and listen to your own music. It represents a major period of growth and expansion for us. That period of time is when we first began to understand the trance like nature of our music and we were beginning to recognize the ability to leave our bodies and become vehicles for the music to flow through us in a pure manner.
What can you remember of the recording process? Was it any different from the other records?
Every record is different. I remember it being a very comfortable and relaxed experience. We finally had enough studio experience to not be intimidated by the process. Working with Billy Anderson was also the first time we worked with someone who was a peer from our age group and music scene so we didn't have to worry about if the engineer would understand the vibe of what we were trying to accomplish. I believe we originally were going to record an EP, but we finished recording so fast and were so inspired we went back to the rehearsal studio for a couple weeks and put together the rest of it.
Would you agree that it was a bit of a 'breakthrough' release for Neurosis? Did you feel you were onto something with 'Enemy Of The Sun'? Or would you say 'Souls To Zero' was more important because it instigated the first major change in the Neurosis sound?
I can't really place one above the other. Each record in our catalog is a personal and spiritual milestone. 'Enemy' wouldn't have happened without 'Souls'. 'Silver' wouldn't have happened without 'Enemy', etc. Each step in our evolution is of equal importance.
In any case, it spawned a couple of rumors, for example: I heard Swan's Michael Gira asked Neurosis to become his band after listening to 'Enemy Of The Sun', is that true?
No, that is an exaggeration, we met him and Jarboe after they had heard 'Enemy of the Sun'. We talked and were honored that they liked the intensity of what we were doing. We were huge Swans fans. Later we shared the same management and booking agent and crossed paths often.
I've also heard stories that around 1992-1993, RoadRunner were interested in signing Neurosis after being personally recommended by Max Cavalera, the people at RoadRunner heard the demos to 'Enemy of The Sun' and didn't like them, they allegedly asked the band to tweak the material (clean it and commercialize it), the band declined, and eventually RoadRunner decided to go with Machine Head instead. Did this ever happen? Was there any talks with RoadRunner about a potential deal?
No, that never happened. There were no demos of enemy material. I don't think there were any serious talks with RoadRunner. Where do people make up this kind of shit…
The record has a lot of amazing samples, like the Paul Bowles sample in 'Lost', and of course 'Burning Flesh...' who came up with these samples? Is there a reason why you are not using so much (if any) samples in your contemporary work?
We prefer to make our own voices and soundbytes now, rather than steal from the media. At the time it felt like a legitimate form of sound art / found sound collage. I think we played that as far as we wanted, and now we create our own.
Amazing are also the vocals, by (I believe) Erica Little in 'Raze The Stray'. What were the origins of the song she is singing?
We originally wanted to sample a vocal part from a lament sung in an odd Klaus Kinski movie, but we couldn't get it in the right pitch and tempo, so we asked my good friend Erica to imitate it. We set up my four-track cassette recorder in my house and she did an amazing job of not only recreating but improving upon the really depressing vibe of the original.
Do you have a favorite song on the record?
I like the whole thing. It challenged our abilities and pushed through our boundaries as people and musicians in so many ways.
In hindsight, would there be anything on the record that you wanted to be different?
Can't change the past!
This month also saw the release of 'Live At Roadburn 2007'. Can you tell how this album came together?
It was just the simple reality that the recording that the Roadburn people made of that performance turned out really great, and had such great energy that we thought it would be a good document of our recent live performances. There are not many quality recordings of Neurosis throughout the years, so when we come across one that has the right feel to it, we honor it with a release.
Do similar recordings exist of the show you played at Roadburn in 2009? And is there is possibility that these recordings will find their way to the audience as well?
I haven't heard those recordings. I suppose it is possible, but there are no plans.
Don't get me wrong, I really love the live album, but given that Neurosis studio recordings are pretty much live in their own right, what does an actual live album have to add? Obviously, witnessing an actual live show is a completely different beast, but only little of that transpires into a live album.
Simply to document an event.
What are your immediate future plans with the Neurot label?
We are gearing up for the reissue of Souls at Zero, another U.S. Christmas record, and look forward to the next Neurosis studio album.
Is there any word on a new Neurosis record?
We are working on the material right now. It is coming along well.
Thanks ever so much for your time and patience, good luck for the future and hopefully see you soon at a future gig in the Netherlands!
Thank you for your time and effort. Take care!