Saturday, March 12, 2011

Interview: Greg Edwards of Necronoclast

Necronoclast, the one-man black metal force from Scotland, recently released a fourth album of stark atmospheres and spine-numbing metallic aggression in the form of Ashes (read the Harvest Moon Music review) via Moribund Records. Greg Edwards, the man behind the metal, graciously devoted part of his schedule to answering a few questions about Necronoclast, Ashes, and what spawns his creativity.

[HMM] Please tell us a little bit about Necronoclast. Not so much from a historical perspective, but from a more personal and emotional one. What drove you to taking the step of forming the entity, and for what purpose does Necronoclast exist?
[Greg Edwards] Necronoclast has always been essentially for myself.  It is a way of connecting with certain aspects of life and existence which are often buried beneath mediocrity and routine in most people's lives.  Many people find music and particularly metal to be ways of immersing themselves in these elements, but I found that I was not satisfied unless I was creating the havoc which I sought.  Necronoclast is an exudate of my reality, it is a tool for me to connect with myself.

Do you foresee a time when Necronoclast will no longer be a sufficient vessel for you? If so, will you experiment with another musical outlet?
I wouldn't ever rule something like that out, but I don't foresee it at the moment.  Since Necronoclast is directly linked to myself, it will evolve as I evolve.  I don't envisage any massive shifts in musical style since Necronoclast is designed to reflect certain elements of reality, but the manner in which this darkness is presented is not set in stone.

To what extent do your physical surroundings influence the music and lyrics of Necronoclast?  Do you draw solely on humanity (and the lack thereof) for inspiration, or do the historical and social aspects of Scotland affect your writing?
I think everyone's physical surroundings influence them in many ways, some conscious and some less apparent.  No doubt the reality I live in has influenced my mindset and creativity greatly.  However I do not take lyrical inspiration from my surroundings.  The Scottish Highlands might make a good setting for some kind of fantasy metal, but I have no interest in fairy tales or reverie.  The cold realities of life and humanity are a universal language, crossing borders and seas of all civilisations.

Are you pleased with the feedback that Ashes, your most recent release, has been receiving?
To a degree.  I haven't seen anything negative really, there has been a lot of positive feedback and also some ambivalence, probably from people who don't connect with or understand what I am doing and why I am doing it.  I am always intrigued by reactions and impressions, but feedback is not that important to me.  I have achieved that which I sought to do with Ashes, so I move onto whatever comes next.

In terms of atmosphere, how do you feel Ashes compares to your previous works?
Different.  If I had to sum up the previous album Haven briefly, I would use the words "isolation" or "solitude".  There was a lot of hopelessness on that album.  This time, there is more anger, more power, more forcefulness. Haven has a palpable bleakness to it, but Ashes is more morbid, more suffocating.

I've read that you attribute the mood of Ashes to such dark subjects as nightmares and superstition. To what degree, if any, to you feel that the actions of "society" are driven by superstition?
Where do superstitions end and religions begin?  You could argue that modern society lives and dies by superstitions.  The power that can be contained within fables which are entirely devoid of logic and reality is quite incredible.  If you removed superstition and that type of belief from the world, what would you be left with?  These are fundamentals of existence, whether or not we are followers, or even interested.

The last track on Ashes, "Kajicnicke Saty", stood out to me due to the doomy riffs and admirable solos. What is the meaning of the title, and from where did you draw inspiration for the song?
"Kajicnicke Saty" is a Czech term.  The track was inspired by a museum I visited in Prague which is devoted to all mediaevel torture of various forms and presentations.  The kajicnicke saty was an item of clothing worn as a mark of public humiliation, so that someone who had committed a crime could be easily singled out by the public and pilloried.  The track is based on the premise that our lives are bathed in such criminality through the ways in which society is structured and the way it has evolved.  The true mark of shame is a human face.

The cover for Ashes was done by American artist Gabriel Byrne.  How did your collaboration with him come about, and do you feel that his is an accurate representation of the mood Ashes is meant to convey?
I worked with Gabriel on Haven, and will do so again in the near future. He had done some previous work for my label Moribund Records, and so they put me in touch with him.  On Ashes, I took a concept to him and he added his input and shaped it into the final result.  I think the cover works very well with the album.  There is chaos in the image, there is fog, there is cloud, there is ash.  The only clarity in the image is the face of death.

Have you begun writing for the follow-up to Ashes?  If so, will you be shifting musical directions at all?
I have some concepts and have begun some writing, but it is at a very early stage.  I never want to feel like I am writing the same album twice, so you can expect some variation.  However the core elements of Necronoclast will surface once again.

Please describe your writing process.  Is there any particular element (guitars, keys, etc.) that you start with?
I need a mood first of all, a focal point for the song.  At that stage there doesn't need to be any lyrics or title, just the correct feeling. Guitars are always first, built up in layers to paint the picture in my mind.  The lyrics are always written last, which allows me to give them the required depth to describe the completed musical creation.

I appreciate your time and look forward to the next chapter in the Necronoclast story. Are there any parting words you wish to share?
I thank you for your recent review and interest.  Hail!

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