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Owl is one of the musical projects that Christian Kolf is part of. They started out as a death metal band, but the new album 'Nights In Distortion' shows they have evolved their sound into something that cannot easily be labeled but that caresses the ears with dark oblivion. Christian talked to us about this new album and the history of Owl.

By: Bart M. | Archive under doom metal

First I want to say that I really admire that 'Nights In Distortion' has been finished, and what it turned out to be. How do you feel about the "finished product"?
Thank you very much. I’m happy that this album is finally out. It was the first Owl album that took that long. All in all, from beginning to its release, it took like four years.

A thing that is very evident is how much different this album sounds from your debut album, 'Owl', and also from your second one, 'You Are The Moon, I Am The Night'. Those two albums were a unique kind of death metal, and 'Nights In Distortion', even though it is very hard to label, comes across more as doom. Please tell us how and why your music developed.
That was no conscious decision. With 'You Are The Moon, I Am The Night', I started to write more out of my guts, and after that I followed this path and released three EPs. I just did what felt right to me and not follow some kind of metal rules.

Owl was created by Christian as a means to further explore his musical creativity. He is also part of Valborg, and my question is why people (in this case Christian) play in multiple bands. Are they different kinds of outlets?
Because it makes fun to create music. I’m not able to concentrate only on one thing musically in my life.

Is it easy to keep different bands and projects separated or is it unavoidable that eventually they "contaminate" each other?
No, not really. I use different tunings in Owl than in Valborg. Each band has its own vibe and this influences the approach on how to create music.

Let's go back to the beginning some more. Your bandname. I used to work with owls so I think I can think of various things why you would name this band Owl. Please explain.
It was back in 2009, I was not aware of the Owl-hype that was to come. You know, there was this time where Owls were very super hip. Anyway, I just thought that it would be a perfect name for a Death Metal project. I thought of the Owl, that was living at the place where I grew up.

Another thing I really dig are the super long titles on your debut album. Somehow this is a thing that is inherent to certain kinds of metal and they usually border on a very thin edge between utter darkness and ludicrousness. I am a big fan of this. Can you explain the thinking/reasoning behind some of them?
I just liked the extremity of it. Absu were an inspiration for this. And with the debut album, I really wanted to exaggerate things and make it extreme. That was kind of poetic, romantic and dreamy for me.

None of your songs (on previous albums, EP's and on 'Nights In Distortion') come from a particularly happy place. They all seem steeped in tragedy of one kind or another. What is the general inspiration of your music, and what is that of 'Nights In Distortion' in particular?
When I wrote the songs for 'Nights In Distortion' on guitar, I was not in a bad place. For me, the vocals contribute a lot to the atmosphere. When I recorded them, I felt not well and this influenced how I had sang, which words I had chosen. After the vocal session, the album became bleaker to me.

band image

During the creation of this album, your friend and bass player René Marquis passed away - for which my sincere condolences. You described the struggle you had in deciding whether or not to continue working on this album, and you decided that you would do it. What made you decide this and how did finishing the album go?
The album was already finished when René passed away. We were just waiting for the album release. The thing is, this album is about some unhappy times and then on top René died. It turned everything around. And sometimes, when I lamented, that producing this album is just too emaciating, René just said „no, no, go on, this is good“. And I just did it. Because he was a very optimistic guy. Working with him brought some light into this whole thing.

As far as I can tell you have released this album only on vinyl and in digital format. As a big fan of cd's I want to ask you: why?
It was a label decision and it’s always a question of money.

And what are your thoughts on the digitalization of the music industry?
These are just the side effects of the internet. You can’t stop it. Good things come out of it, bad things come out of it.

There is a lot of talk about the underground scene, and sometimes people seem to insinuate that it is a scene that is actively being kept alive, or in this case being kept underground. Apparently it is a capital sin to go aboveground. What would you say are the differences between an underground band and a more commercial band?
Most underground bands don’t do it for a living, so they make music they like.

Do you consider Owl an underground band? And my follow-up question: do you even care about these things?
Owl is an underground band, but I don’t care about these things.

To end things on a lighter note: another thing that comes to mind when talking about underground and other scenes is the, what I consider, typical German sound. Even though this is mostly apparent in the power metal genre, it is also evident in a lot of German thrash and death metal bands (Kreator, for instance). There is absolutely not a trace of this in your music, and it makes me wonder about what bands you guys listen(ed) to while growing up. What music/bands got you into heavy music?
I guess my first Death Doom album was 'Lost Paradise' of Paradise Lost. And I just got it for Christmas in 1994. I had all Paradise Lost albums on my wishlist and my mother chose the one with the robot on the cover. So that’s how I got into Death Doom. I also listened to Sepultura, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Neurosis, Deftones, Korn, Devin Townsend, Anathema, My Dying Bride and Type O Negative. In my early twenties I listened to Hardcore, like Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Will Haven, Meshuggah, Gorguts and Morbid Angel.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview! Is there anything you would like to add or say?
When somebody asks me that question, I always don’t know what to say, except „thank you“.

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