Such an honour to be able to get in touch with a super group filled with musicians of the highest regard in the world of metal music. Before jumping into the deep with questions that will dazzle your minds (since now I must ask what I can, as this is not an opportunity I wish to waste), I’d like to ask you to tell us a bit about yourselves. What’s so “non-euclidian” about Noneuclid?
First of all, thanks for the compliments! But we hardly think of ourselves as a "super group". We're a bunch of old good friends who decided to put a band together ten years ago, since after many years of musical meanderings, I felt the need to go back to metal more actively than when I studied composition and flamenco guitar in Rotterdam. In principle, all we set out to be was "just" an extreme metal band. But I guess due to our love for progressive and innovative music and my background as classical composer, our music became more multi-layered than usual. We're a polyphonic band, meaning everyone plays a different part than the others, often in their own tonality, often also in a different rhythm than the others, different tempi even, and with complex harmonies. We want to give our music depth, and this layered way of composing gives the music and lyrics an extra dimension. The same goes for the words and atmospheres we strive to create, which we want to open doors to unusual places in the minds of our listeners. It's important maybe to mention that this came about unplanned and spontaneously; we never intended to be extra freaky or anything, but we did always take complete artistic freedom to do whatever the hell we want. Through the years that has taken us further and further away from standard metal. We had a few collaborations with orchestras, which allowed us to extend the band's vision to a magnificent scale with sometimes 80 musicians behind us, and with pieces of fifteen or 25 minutes long. We've had a bizarre history; we've had it tough getting signed in the metal world, the last fifteen-twenty years the scene has oriented itself mainly backwards towards the 80s, and the attempt to do anything more original was not always appreciated. Now, that seems to have changed again, luckily, and what we got criticised for a few years back -"is this death metal, thrash, black, or what?" - seems to bring a breath of fresh air these days, since we're getting a lot of great feedback on our second album which finally came out this spring.
With the exception of Linus (Klausenitzer), you all hail from the reigns of Dark Fortress. What made you decide to start another project next to your so busy musical schedules (for example: Seraph is occupied with playing in at least four bands, not counting Noneuclid? Was Dark Fortress not the right home for some of your musical designs?
We started in 2004, long before I joined Dark Fortress. Seraph, Bruce, V Santura and I had been very close personal friends for years, and we just decided to create an outlet for our wilder ideas. Also, back then, our schedules were not quite as crazy as they have become lately. Back then, we could still spontaneously spend a summer writing and recording music; something we'd have to plan ahead for years now since we all got so busy in our other bands and jobs. Dark Fortress is actually a quite open band, considering it's seen as black metal, but what Noneuclid do would go miles too far. In that sense, it's an advantage to start something new without the ballast and expectations from the past if the band's already established. We also were surprised to se that there is next to no cross-feed of fans of one band for what the other does; the fact that the name Noneuclid is becoming a tiny bit more know now, we owe completely to Obscura actually, and Linus joining them a few years ago. Their fans seem to dig much more what we do than DF fans.
It took eight long years for Noneuclid to release its sophomore album ‘Metatheosis’ to follow up the 2006 debut ‘The Crawling Chaos’. Have busy schedules put the project on hold with the promise of returning to work when time would be available? Or was there never a promise and was the band reinstated after renewed mutual interest had convinced you all to return to this experiment? Actually, the album spent like seven years finished in the drawer. The problem was that no-one would sign us! Everyone said "yeah, awesome", but when it got down to business, everyone chickened out until Blood Music made us an offer last year. We tried hard for a few years to get it released and go down the usual path of a metal band, but nothing came of it. Instead, we kept getting these orchestra offers, so we focused on that for a while. I had started writing material that will be on our third album before the first one (recorded in 2004 already) had even been released. Add to that all the commotion with the other bands, DF, Obscura, Revamp, and not least Celtic Frost and Triptykon for V Santura, and there was little time left for a small band like Noneuclid, even tho we were always into it.
Returning to the subject of Noneuclid as a new experimental home for the fruit of mind that couldn’t find fertile ground in the premises of Dark Fortress. Searching a bit for through the lyrics, I found that your main interest in the band lies with very alternative and dark fantasies that’d best fit a science fiction story. The lyrics, however, for ‘Metatheosis’ were not available to me and I may have missed a more profound meaning. What exactly is it that you try to tell the listener with your texts, and what concepts have laid the foundation for these lines?
It's true that I'm always fascinated by alternative worlds. Lyrically, ‘Metatheosis’ picks up where ‘The Crawling Chaos’ left off, but ‘Metatheosis’ is even bleaker and more nihilistic. When I dug into myself, I found a combination of hallucinatory visions on one hand and disgust at our irrelevance and idiocy (especially philosophically and with regard to "religion") on the other. That made for a slightly insane cocktail of rants, drug trips and detached cosmic despair. The centre piece of the album, ‘Into The Light’, is an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story ‘The Outsider’, which fit perfectly between the rest of the songs and stories.
I regard your music as being avant-garde, which is a term I loosely paste to anything that sounds like it has been manufactured by thinking outside the box. In order to create avant-garde without it sounding too weird and disjointed there ought to be a lot of experience with different genres and influence from at least more than one style of music. As with the band members on ‘Metatheosis’ you bring in influences from technical death metal, but also black metal and lot of more modern thrash, there are undoubtedly enough ingredients for an interesting mash-up. How did you manage to combine all the elements into a coherent constellation, without losing sight of the initial aim? And also, without wanting to break each other’s necks over disagreements?
Artistic disagreements were never an issue; it was clear from the beginning that I'd write most of the music, and the others always gave me great freedom there and pretty much would just accept what I'd written, even though the music got a little bit too weird and complex at a certain point for our singer Bruce, which is why he quit in 2010. But he had a very important role as kind of a “Rock'n'Roll policeman". He comes from way straighter music than we others do, and we found out that if there's a beat you can follow, and kind of straight, hooky vocals, you can get away with pretty much anything in the rest of the instruments. I guess what we're trying to do is offer original and adventurous music that is intricate and complex in its construction, but doesn't necessarily sound like that at first glance. It's very important to me that a band like this one doesn't become just one giant nerd fest, but that also non-musicians can enjoy it, even if they don't follow all the details. The impact of the music can never be compromised or sacrificed to complexity for complexity's sake. We handle a certain roughness in sound and playing, but also in the emotions behind the songs, which balances the intricate note work a bit, hopefully.
A lot changes in a human’s life over eight years of finding other stuff to distract the mind with. What is left of the importance of ‘The Crawling Chaos’? Do you consider it to be part of a time long gone, or still as a stepping stone towards ‘Metatheosis’? Or maybe as a stepping stone to other points in your musical lives – which themselves were stepping stones to take you to the situation you were in whilst writing ‘Metatheosis’? And how do you feel about the material on ‘The Crawling Chaos’: does it still represent you as a band – or you as individuals? Good question. Looking back, I'd say ‘The Crawling Chaos’ aged better than expected, especially considering it was the first thing we ever did as a band, and had thrown it together in a month - songwriting, recording, everything. I remember recording all my guitars and bass through a Behringer V-Amp in a single 16-hour session, having to use a super crappy Korea BC Rich 7-string guitar because we just didn't have better equipment at our disposal. We even recorded the drums for Murder Of Worlds before the actual song was written, due to a toothache on a studio day planned for that. But Santura did a great job with the mix, which still sounds pretty OK considering what we had to work with, and how far we and he have moved up now. I think for an album to withstand the tooth of time, the crucial element is authenticity. ‘The Crawling Chaos’ just came blurting out of us, without any pre-conceived ideas of what we were going to do, we didn't create it for anybody else, and there was no artistic compromise of any kind. We made this album just after Dark Fortress had completed Stab Wounds, and that feels like an eternity ago now. It was the first proper album production I had done - in my youth, it was all demos and stuff and shitty sounding four-track "albums", so holding that CD in my hand and then seeing it released officially did rekindle my hunger for metal in a big way, and now metal eats up a lot of my time. I play a lot more shows now also, thanks to metal, and even in my classical career, I profit from the fact that the classical crowd sees me as an active metal musician also. There have been a bunch of guys switching from metal bands to composing, but usually that means they get away from metal. So yes, all this metal did bring a lot of good things for me, and it all started with ‘The Crawling Chaos’.
On ‘Metatheosis’, Bruce was your lead-vocalist. I found out that you chose to part ways, and even that you have done so before in 2012. What’s the story behind this vague relationship? Why the split-up, and what is your relationship to Bruce now?
I have been friends with Bruce for more than 25 years now, we kind of started out making music together, and he remains a good friend. His decision to leave the band came about after the Transition Metal project. He told us that since the music became more and more spaced out, and the stylistic orientation went away from thrash brutality to favor symphonic worlds, doing shows and learning ever-more complex new music in odd meters and strange tonalities for hugely prestigious one-off gigs like we've been doing, meant that Noneuclid became more stress than fun for him at a certain point. We accepted his decision of course, and parted ways amicably. Since then, we've played only one pure metal show as a band where I tried out doing the vocals on top of my (already rather challenging) guitar parts. It was OK, but I don't know if in the future we might bring another singer on board again because doing guitars and vocals at the same time in this band really fries your brain, since the two almost never go parallel together like in "normal" metal. We'll see.
Within ‘Metatheosis’ there is the sub-story of ‘Into The Light’. Tell me more about this three-part underlying tale.
Lovecraft's story ‘The Outsider’ is a mere six pages of text. It was Bruce's idea to turn that into a song, and once I got composing, I felt a long piece coming about. The story is about a guy / creature roaming around in complete isolation from others in a bizarre underground world, not knowing who he is or where he came from. Desperate for company, he finds a way out and ends up by a castle where a ball is in progress. This is part one of the song. But when he enters, everyone runs away screaming, and he has no idea why (- this is part two), until he sees his own reflection in a mirror in the now deserted halls. The horrifying realisation what he is, a hideous monster, and the emotional turnaround, are told in part three. The album cover, although not created with this story in mind by Aeron Alfrey, for me represents the face of this Outsider actually.
Professor Ulf Klausenitzer, Linus’ father, leader of the Sinfonetta Essenbach, played a classical music set accompanied by Noneuclid. A DVD was shot and named ‘Transitional Metal’. Is this the future of metal music? Endless fusion into now unknown styles and genres as the one you adhere to yourselves, seeking input from wherever in the world of music really? What is the importance and impact you think projects like ‘Transitional Metal’ will have on the way people think about music?
For many decades now, one can feel that every genre in itself is resorting to merely repeating itself. Kind of like incest. The consequence is that a style of music like the different metal subgenres, but also traditional jazz, pop, rock n’ roll, Punk, avantgarde music etc turns itself from a living thing into a museum, even before it got to unleash its full potential. "Prog metal" in the 00's, for example: it struck me as bizarre that a genre with this name has churned out hundreds of bands that all sound pretty much the same, and all seem to have the exact same one 80's Fates Warning album as inspiration. Sorry, that's not prog, that's just ripping off a fancier band than others do. The same with all these stickers, "djent", "math metal" etc, but also the classic genres like thrash, black etc. It's like a consensus is reached what [...]-metal is, and the box is closed and put into a vitrine. It got a little bit better in recent years I think, because finally even the most retro listeners seem to tire at a certain point from hearing the same three riffs, beats and lines for decades. Those that don't follow their brothers into buying that one late Johnny Cash album at this point, and subsequently annoying the world with their discovery like it's the only other kind of music out there, are the ones hopefully curious enough to be open for something a tiny bit different. The question is, how can you even think of new songs with all these bands, all this history around, and only twelve pitches to choose from every time? The wheel has already been invented, the extremes in speed and density and brutality have been fathomed by now as well, so looking around in other genres is one graceful way out. A lot of art comes about by putting two or more things together that had not been put together before. Look at Opeth for example. For me, it was a natural path to take, since I always liked different things and was never able to really choose between them. But to bring two styles together, you have to be a master of both of them, because mere juxtaposition is cheap and shallow if there's no resonance in their essences as well. It took me decades of trying out these fusions, this musical alchemy, before I felt things starting to make sense. It's been a very worthy life quest for me, even if there have been some real musical abortions on the way as well.
Is it going to take another eight years before Noneuclid will come up with another release?
Haha, well, hopefully not! We want to release an album with our orchestral work on it, much of which is already recorded. Blood Music expressed interest in releasing that as well, so hopefully, maybe next year we can finally release those tracks as well. We're still really psyched about them. We just have to see when our thousand other bands and jobs permit us to sit dow and finish the job.
Thank you very much for your precious time! Add any shout-out to the readers below and don’t lose yourselves in the multitude of your musical endeavours. I’m out.
Thanks! It's too late for me not to lose myself in too much music I guess, but I always manage to remember who I am on the way. Thanks to everyone for checking us out! It's just metal, a bunch of songs like everyone else's, maybe with a bit more personal angle here and there. Give it a listen, maybe two or three, and we're confident a lot of you can find things they like in what we came up with.