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Last Leaf Down

Zwitserse shoegaze dudes Last Leaf Down brachten vorige maand een pracht van een plaat uit met ‘Bright Wide Colder’. Het is altijd interessant om te vragen naar de werkwijze van een band met zo’n heerlijke sound en daarom schroomde we niet om gitaristen Benjamin Schenk en Sasha Jeger aan de tand te voelen over wat de band nu zo uniek maakt.

Door: Job | Archiveer onder post rock / post metal

Hi! Before we start off, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions and congratulations on the release of ‘Bright Wide Colder’! How have you been?
Benjamin Schenk: Thank you very much! We had an intense start into 2017 with finishing the new album. Now we are really excited and looking forward to the release! As well, we rehearse the new songs for upcoming shows.

Would you mind introducing the band to our readers that might not yet have heard of you?
Sascha Jeger: We formed in 2003 and played back then a kind of doom-metal influenced by bands like Katatonia, Anathema or Daylight Dies. In 2007 we had to change our singer and our drummer and went for a more Post-Rock-/ Shoegaze-Sound.

Benjamin Schenk: For me, Last Leaf Down is about intense emotions, wide landscapes of sound and always love to the simple song and the touching melodies. If you love melancholic, foggy autumn days, you could like us.

I greatly enjoyed the album, and loved the mesh of serene atmosphere with intense musicianship. The shoegaze is strong with this one; I heard a lot of Alcest and Katatonia in your sound. Tell me, are there any bands that you consider influences yourself?
Benjamin Schenk: There are many bands, for example Feeder, Anathema, Snow Patrol, Saybia or indeed Katatonia, who inspired me in any way. In my younger days, I was also a fan of Michael Jackson. So there are influences everywhere…

Sascha Jeger: Well, I listened to a lot of post-black metal stuff the last years, bands like Deafheaven, Ellende or Alcest. On the softer side, I listen to Daughter, Harold Budd, Danny Cavannagh and old 80s stuff.

I’d love to go in-depth with ‘Bright Wide Colder’, if you don’t mind, and I’d like to start off with some songs that stood out to me, like ‘Ghost Trails’. It’s a song you shot a video for and to me, is one of the catchier songs because it’s a tad faster than the rest. What went into writing this song?
Sascha Jeger: I wrote this song maybe two months before our first album 'Fake Lights' was released. After recording the very mellow sounding debut , I was probably looking for a bit more edgy sound and something that contrasts our live set. The song is about letting go. We play that song for already two years live.

’The Path’ is another song that really grabbed me instantly, and I noticed how differently you use vocals compared to bands in the genre; they are deeper and sound more sincere. Is this a conscious decision or do the words just come out naturally this way?
Benjamin Schenk: I don’t think this is a decision, it’s more the way we write songs. Vocals should always be touching for me. And in all my influences, the vocals are very important. If I don’t like the vocals of a band, I don’t like the band.

The further we get into the album, it becomes apparent that your style of shoegaze isn’t as mellow as many other bands’ style, and most of that has to do with the energetic drums and catchier song structures – never really surpassing five minutes. Are the shorter songs a choice or do they just end up short when you write them?
Sascha Jeger: I guess you still can hear here and there our metal-roots, the heavier drumming as usual in this genre for example. So maybe not every indie-kid will become our fan. I was listening to many post-rock bands but for myself I wanted to write songs like some of the early Dredg. So yes, we prefer to write short songs but it's no written law, so maybe there will be some longer songs on the next record.

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Songs like ‘Cold Wind’, ‘Existence’ ‘Suspire’ and ‘Dust’ all display catchy, almost poppy drums and are good examples of what I meant with catchier song structures. How does a Last Leaf Down song generally come to be?
Benjamin Schenk: My songwriting starts with a guitar picking or rarely with a chord sequence. I loop it and try to play a second guitar line or try out some vocals. If this sounds interesting, I start recording a demo. Most of my songs starts with a verse. During the recording, many new ideas are added and more and more it becomes a complete song. I think the catchy songs are a result of a catchy taste.

What was the recording process like and what can you tell me about the gear used on the album?
Benjamin Schenk: We recorded all by ourself in our small studio. This way of working is very comfortable for us. We can work on our records for a long time without needing any help. The core of our guitar-sounds are maybe the BigSky (Strymon) or the Hall of Fame (TC electronic), we used both. We also used different choruses, delays like the Flashback X4, various Phasers and overdrive, distortion and fuzz-pedals.

Sascha Jeger: We mainly use Fender Teles and Jaguars and a strange Fernandes Jaguar copy from Japan that sounds like a Stratocaster, very glassy but nice. For giving textures we used some special Pedals, especially on 'Ghost Trails' you can hear the Afterneath Reverb from EarthQuaker Devices. On other songs the Dark Star from Old Blood Noise Endeavors was used for some special atmospheres.

Benjamin Schenk: For an extended mastering, Tony Lindgren from Fascination Street Studios did an amazing job!

You guys hail from Switzerland, a country that isn’t as widely represented in metal. Do you find it’s harder to find a fitting fanbase due to lack of similar bands in your direct area at all?
Benjamin Schenk: Right, it’s not easy to find a similar band to support, but we like to do a unique sound. I think it would be much easier with a more „usual“ kind of sound to play gigs in Switzerland, but if we look over the border of our country, this unique sound could also be an interesting advantage compared with this more „usual“ bands. You don’t find much bands who sounds similar. But in the end we just do the sound we like.

I greatly enjoyed ‘Bright Wide Colder’ and really want to see what you can do live. Any plans of hitting the road in support of the album and maybe visiting Holland as a result?
Benjamin Schenk: Unfortunately we have no tour plans out of Switzerland, but maybe we can play some Europe shows in autumn/winter this year. So Holland could be a possibility.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Benjamin Schenk: We really enjoyed the interview and thank you for the support. We hope, all your readers like the new album as you do.

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