Vast desolate landscapes bereft of life is what comes to mind once Avgrunden starts to play. A surreal minimalism that shows come obvious references to the American band Earth. The background of it all is just one of the topics of this interview.
Why did you pick this name? How does Avgrunden and the music that you play go hand in hand?
In the early begining Avgrunden was a one man project focusing on heavy drone/doom in the vein of Sunn O))) and early Earth with longer songs focusing on minimalism and repetition. So I choose the name “Avgrunden”(which is Swedish for Abyss) for two reasons first being that Nietzche quote “If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you” it also refers to a place in Thelema where the abyss is a space between what’s real and what’s ideal. The name came about when I realised that if I repeated a riff a certain amount of time, the way I heard and played it would automatically change.
Where are you from? The Metal Archives lists you as an American band, while on Bandcamp there is Sweden mentioned.
We have always been in Sweden, we used Olympia WA as our hometown on Myspace as a joke.
Your music shows a considerable amount of similarities to the American band Earth. Why do you play this kind of music? What is its fascination for you?
It has alot to do with me(Victor) being in a bad place right at the start of Avgrunden I hadn’t played music in about 3-4 years and had given up on trying to find new music. Then one day my roomate at the time showed me “The Bees made honey” and It gave me the exact same feeling that I had gotten from Nirvana when I was around 13. So I dove headfirst into Earths discography and basically just listened to Earth the next 4 years. What fascinated me was the slow tempo and heavyness of it, I had never heard a band that could create such a powerfull ambiance, and at the time I ate alot of hallucinogenic drugs and Earth was the perfect soundtrack.
Where are the differences between their and your music?
I would say that we have a more “anything goes”-mentality, we mix the western-americana vibe from Earth with shoe-gaze & noise elements from bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr as well as old swedish folk tunes and some of the “kraut”-rock & postrock elements. Our first label manager(Johan Strömvall Hammarstedt of Ominous Recordings) described us as “Earth if Dylan Carlson had attention span problems”
Do you have an idea to which you like to progress towards? A certain sound you would like to create and might even point to as definite?
Well we’re currently restructuring the band (our drummer will leave us next year) and we’ve talked about trying to do more of the shoe-gaze/noise stuff, there’s also going to be a “American-primitive guitar” type album where it’s just me a electric guitar and amps. And a Death/Doom type album, but we haven’t got a time frame for when we’re recording them,
How do you keep the music interesting and how do you avoid a so-called conceptual stalemate?
We’ve acctually gotten into a conceptual stalemate this year due to us being burned out by playing/touring almost all of 2013, so we are currently not that active. In the past we’ve tried doing concepts that aren’t what we usually do (Blue Lotus) and also the most important thing, letting every member of the band have a say in what the final result should be.
Is there something that you want to create in the mind of the listener? An image, a colour, an impression?
We’ve always been inspired by a visual concept, for The Cursed Earth it was the old swedish movie “The Phantom Carriage” for “…vid världens ände” it was “the Seventh Seal”, on our other albums like Blue Lotus we made up a whole back story and had plans of trying to do some kind of radio theater thing about a blind paranormal detective who ate hallucinogens in order to open his third eye, who lived in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by Black Metal mafiosos, who was searching for the Blue Lotus the most rare of all hallucinogens. But all the “acting” became super-cheezy so we just scrapped it. But when writing music we all have some sort of visual referens, on our upcoming album it’s Blade Runner/Cyber-punk.
What kind of equipment do you use for your recordings? Does the music play on stage differ from the stuff on the releases?
We’re using basically the same equipment live as on stage, except we do overdubs with different guitars/basses.
Is there a special reason for not using lyrics? Or am I very much mistaken and you have indeed some texts somewhere?
None of us likes music where there’s clean cut lyrics, I used to sing in a band when I was around 15-16 and lyrics are by the far the hardest part to write. Also we all prefer music without lyrics.
Can you explain the idea behind “Deepsleep #2 (Another Blaze in the Northern Sky)“ of the “…vid världens ände” album, Blå Lotus’s “Transilvanian Munchies” and the title of your latest release “Live in Leipzig”? It is curious to find these references on several releases of a band, whose music is quite some way of the black metal genre.
Live in Leipzig is a homage to Mayhem and the most iconic bootleg of all time, I’m(as was Daniel & Cecilia) really into Norwegian Black Metal and was living in the same area(Töyen) in Oslo where Euronymous was murdered at the time of writing those two songs.
You are working on a new album, aren’t you? How far has it progressed and how does it differ from what you have released so far? Any release date, yet?
Yes we are working on a new album, we’ve recorded all the songs and are going to do the overdubs/mix/master during the winter. It’s a really different album since every song is written by us as a band instead of it being me coming up with a riff and everybody playing around that, we’ve also recorded a remix of the swedish pop-band JJ’s song “Fågelsången” that will be the first ever Avgrunden track with lyrics, I also finally get to tremolopick on some tracks which is really cool. It’s also alot less “western-americana” and more electronic, we’ve also never had as complex arrangements on previous albums.
Are there releases available right now? Some of them are rather rare. Is there a chance to see some stuff re-released at some point – physically and not digitally?
There are a few copies of “The Cursed Earth” left at http://lecrepusculedusoir.yolasite.com/limited-releases.php If someone is interested in re-releasing our old albums then sure, if not then we’ll have to see, I would rather go on to new and exciting things rather than trying to make the past relevant again.
Aside from this, what can be expected from you in the future?
We’re aiming to be more obscure, right now there’s a wave of shitty Stoner Rock bands in Sweden and we want nothing to do with a bunch of bearded guys with bootcut jeans, Gibson SGs & Orange Amps pretending it’s 1990 all over, so we’re going to go against the current norm and cut out some of the “rock”-elements and try to be more of a noise/shoe-gaze type band.
Hopefully we’ll tour more in the future but we’ll just have to see.