[Interview] Don Anderson (AGALLOCH,SCULPTURED)

Agalloch Live lebt wieder - und das nach ziemlich langer Wartezeit auch wieder in Deutschland. Das steht zumindest seit der gestrigen Bekanntgabe des Ragnarök Festivals 2012 fest.

Da wir erst vor kurzem ein Interview mit Agallochfrontmann John Haughm geführt haben, wollte ich die Gelegenheit nutzen, dem Leadgitarristen Don Anderson in diesem Interview ein paar allgemeiner gehaltene Fragen zu stellen. Neben seiner Tätigkeit bei Agalloch ist der frischgebackene Professor noch als Frontmann bei Sculptured tätig und unterrichtet an einer Universität in den USA. Wenn ihr mehr über Agalloch erfahren wollt lest unser Interview mit John Haughm. Fragen gestellt von Morian und Thyrm. Viel Spass beim Lesen!

If you are interested in some more information about Agalloch. Read our Interview with John Haughm here.

Thyrm: Hello Don! How are you doing? I hope everything's fine in Washington?

Don Anderson: Yes, but I'm currently living again in Portland, Oregon after being away for eight years. Considering the hurricanes on the east coast, I'm very happy to be here.

Thyrm: So let's start with some questions based around Agalloch. It seems as if Nature has a big influence on Agalloch's music and image. This can be seen and heard again on your newest record "Marrow of the Spirit" So what does nature mean to you personally?

Don Anderson: I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in the Pacific Northwest part of the US. After having seen most of the US, I can say that this is the most beautiful part of the country. There are incredible mountain ranges, tons of ancient evergreen trees, lakes, waterfalls, and volcanos. So, it is very hard not to be inspired by my surroundings. I can drive an hour out of town and be surrounded by snow, or I can drive to the coast. There's a lot of natural diversity here. I live in downtown Portland, so going out to the farms to pick berries, fruit, or to drive down the Columbian gorge is really an "escape" of sorts. I love the city, but certainly the rural areas offer more peace and quiet and is the perfect place to reflect.

Thyrm: How would you describe the atmosphere on "Marrow of the Spirit" compared to your past records?

Don Anderson: I think it is darker and rougher around the edges. This is an anti-modern record in the sense that we avoided all the studio techniques that are popular in modern metal: drum triggers, vocal correction/auto tune, excessive editing via pro tools, etc. Of course technology was a major factor in the recording, as always, but we were conscious about using it too much for fear that it would take away the "human" element from the music. I hope that metal, death metal, black metal records will return to a more organic and natural sound. I can't stand the way that double-kicks now sound like snares. This is something that will be regretted in the future when metal history looks back.

Thyrm: The music you are playing with your band "Sculptured" sounds a lot different than your work with Agalloch. Can you tell us something about your visions you have with Sculptured?

Don Anderson: Sculptured is very, very different. I write all the guitar parts, lyrics, and arrange the songs. Sculptured has its history in the music of Death, Atheist, and Cynic. It is progressive, technical death metal. Everyone in Agalloch has had a part in Sculptured. With Sculptured I'm more interested in experimenting with harmony and rhythm than I am in Agalloch. It has very different goals than Agalloch and is interested in different musical questions. I'm currently writing new material for a fourth record, but with Agalloch's schedule, I don't know when it will be ready.

Thyrm: Agalloch's message seems quite cold and misanthropic. It seems as if we are really starting to notice the effects that Global Warming has on the world. How do you see the future of mankind?

Don Anderson: I think global warming is a significant issue, but I'm currently anxious over the state of the US: terrible economy, incredible national debt, and a criminal health care system. All the more reason to retire and grow old in France...

Thyrm: I read that you're a big movie fan. In Agalloch's music we can hear these influences. For example on the "White EP" where you have outtakes of the 1973 Film "The Wicker Man". Which films are your all time favourites and why?

Don Anderson: As with music, there are many, many films and such a list would change all the time depending on my mood and the day. My favorite film, however, is Woody Allen's "Annie Hall." In fact, I am a fan of all his films.
Not many people realize he made a series of very dark, moody, and existential films: Interiors, Another Woman, and September to name a few. Otherwise, I'm currently exploring Eastern European cinema and directors like Tarkovosky and Tarr. I also got into cinema through the typical means: french, german, italian classics.

Thyrm: Reading different interviews you had done I found out that you work as a teacher at a university. Which classes do you teach mainly and are there problems between your life as a musician and as a teacher? I can imagine you get a lot of students that know you as the guitarist of Agalloch.

Don Anderson: Being a teacher is the best job to have if you are in a band because you get a lot of time off. So we can tour in the summer or over other breaks. It's only difficult if you want to tour during a time when I'm in the middle of teaching a course, but most tours happen during spring break or summer break.
I have had some students who were familiar with Agalloch, but it's never been a problem. They are usually very bright which further indicates to me that metal is an intellectual genre. I teach a variety of courses that have ranged from American literature, Postmodernism, general Literature, and critical/analytical writing.

Thyrm: How old were you when you picked up the guitar for the first time? Did you take lessons?

Don Anderson: I was nine years old and took lessons for about four or five years. I then studied music in college for two years.

Thyrm: As I know you also are a Facebook User. What's your opinion on social networks in general? I think there are good and bad sides about them.

Don Anderson: I miss the old days of the underground where I used to get really excited about getting mail with flyers in each envelope from all kinds of strange and new bands all over the world. I used to do a 'zine in the mid-90s so I was fortunate enough to experience the underground scene before the internet really changed everything. I enjoy social networks for the obvious reason: staying in touch with all my contacts (other bands, labels, magazines, etc.). I keep my personal page now separate from a "fan" page that I reserve for people who like my music. I don't like how these networks are all market-driven in that you are categorized as a specific kind of consumer and then all the ads are targeted right to you. Ultimately these networks make it easier to be targeted by consumer culture. It's something to be aware of.

Thyrm: Let's talk about the current metal scene. All bands you're involved with have a unquique sound to them, which is very rare in my opinion. What do you think about all the "same" sounding bands out there?

Don Anderson: I'm very harsh about this: if you have nothing new to offer the genre, don't bother. I think all artists are measured by how they contribute to the language of their medium. I don't think you have to be a technically great artist to do this--The Ramones changed rock music profoundly with incredible simple means, but, so did King Crimson. Obviously Agalloch has identifiable influences, but I do think we are offering something new to the scene, but I'll let history decide how significant we are.

Thyrm: I know this topic is often discussed, but what's your opinion on the "Download Culture" and "Digital Generation"? Do you think CDs and Vinyl will die out one day?

Don Anderson: I think CDs will, but not vinyl. I think a good thing about the "download generation" is that it has further spotlighted how important merch is like t-shirts, hoodies, and special editions. I think most bands at our level can easily say they make their money from merch--not CD sales. So for us, the download becomes promotion for the concert experience. Then if you want a powerful and real listening experience you can buy the vinyl or a limited/special edition. I also think vinyl has increaed in popularity as a kind of resistance to digital downloads. Again, this is great for us because we can respond to free downloads by shifting our attention to other ways that fans can support the band. If you download free music you should go to shows, buy shirts, spread the word about the band, and buy limited editions from the band. I actually think downloading and independent bands can mutually, and rewardingly, co-exist. CDs are not, nor have they ever been, the only way bands were supported. If the download generation makes CDs, and even certain kinds of record labels, obsolete--so be it. I won't miss them.

Thyrm: What are your favourite records that came out this year?

Don Anderson: Yob "Atma," Dark Castle "Surrender to all Life Beyond Form," and 40 Watt Sun "The Inside Room."

Thyrm: What type of music and artists do you listen to other than metal?

Don Anderson: I listen to a lot of modern classical music. I'm listening to Bitches Brew right now. My ears are always open to new music.

Thyrm: Okay, now we're almost finished! Please give us a comment on the following catchwords:

- Apocalypse 2012:

Don Anderson: Won't happen.

- Suicidal Depressive Black Metal:

Don Anderson:
Black metal was always suicidal and depressive. This is just a trendy sub-genre title.

- Atomic Plants:

Don Anderson: I don't know anything about these. Or is this some obscure 60s/70s garage band?

Thyrm: Allright Don! I have to thank you for taking your time to answer my questions and I hope to see you on tour in Germany next year! The last words are yours.

Don Anderson: Thanks for the support and interview! Best wishes to you!

( Julian - www.ginnungagapmetal.de )

All Pictures were taken from Agallochs Official Facebookpage