[Interview] John Haughm (AGALLOCH)

Geboren in den Wäldern Portlands hat sich AGALLOCH zu einer der Bands entwickelt, die es schafft völlig unterschiedliche Musikstile, zu einer einzigartigen, wundervollen Komposition zu verbinden - Wer die Band kennt weiß, jedes Album, jede LP die die Band veröffentlicht ist einzigartig, so auch die kommende Scheibe "Marrow of the Spirit", die Anfang nächster Woche in den Läden erhältlich sein wird.

Ich unterhielt mich mit Mastermind John Haughm über "Marrow of the Spirit", und hoffe, es gefällt. Viel Spass!

Thyrm: Hello John! How have you and the rest of Agalloch been doing?

John Haughm: Quite busy with tour preparations and pre-release press…

Thyrm: This month you guys will release your longawaited fourth Studioalbum "Marrow of the Spririt". I've listened to the preview of "The Watchers Monolith" and "Ghost of the Midwinterfires" so far and the songs really impress me! Id say the album goes into a much darker direction than "Ashes against the Grain". Do you agree?

John Haughm: Yeah. We wanted a much more dirty and murky sound for this new album. The aesthetic of the sound should match the visual aesthetic and I think it matches nicely. I also think the song writing on the new album is much better than what was on “Ashes” but, you know, they are two very different albums; as all of our albums are. They should not be compared to each other.

Thyrm: I'm interested in your inspiration for this album, musically aswell as lyrically. Do you think this album really fits to the winter season?

John Haughm:
Lyrically I was inspired by a lot of ideas presented in Quantum physics. I like the microcosmic duality of the macro-universe inside of a plant cell and the mega-universe beyond Earth. I like the idea that time can exist in different parallel time planes and that we are ghosts or gods to those in another dimension. Things like this really inspired me. The music needed to go back into a “colder” direction as noted in the sound and the album artwork. So yes, I can see this as a very Autumn or Winter type of album. I can foresee our next album going in an even colder direction. Time shall tell…

Thyrm: This is the first Album with Aesop Dekker on drums. His drumstyle tends to be a bit more aggressive as the past drumming. Even blastbeats are featured in the new songs which have never been heard before in an Agalloch song. Is it a relief for you to have a studiodrummer now?

John Haughm: That is not true. We have used blast beats on our first demo and on every album except “Ashes”. It was nothing new to us. Aesop is a member of the band so it was natural that he played on this album and let his style of drumming add to the pallet of our sound. Had I played drums on the album, it would have sounded a bit different, sure, but it is nice not to worry so much about that aspect of our work.

Thyrm: I saw the interview you guys put on your DVD "The Silence of Forgotten Landscapes" and I really enjoyed listening to you talking about your inspiration you had for "Pale Folklore" and "The Mantle". How does your music composition take place? Do you have something in your head planned out that you want the music to sound like? Or do you just pick up the guitar and start playing until you find something that sounds good to you?

John Haughm: I usually compose the riffs and structure in my head and then figure it out on guitar. Sometimes in that process, I’ll create even better riffs and arrangements. But it all starts in my head. Once I make a demo of the arrangement, it goes to the other guys and we finish it together.

Albumcover "Marrow of the Spirit"

Thyrm: "Marrow of the Spirit" is the first Agalloch album since four years and I don't see much promotion or advertising. A lot of bands for example will post bulletins every day on Myspace to promote their new stuff. You guys don't. And I personally really respect your attitude of keeping your profile "low". Is there any reason behind that?

John Haughm: We do not see a purpose in giving news updates if there is no news. I find it kind of pathetic and moronic when bands constantly give updates about useless crap in their camp that likely no one cares about. It is cheesy, stupid, and I have no respect for it. We have always preferred staying in the shadows and doing things at our own quiet pace.

Thyrm: I know that you do graphic designing. Did you create the new Albumcover aswell? Can you tell us some thoughts behind the Cover?

John Haughm: The album cover and back cover art was created by British fine arts painter, Mark Thompson. The photographs were taken by Veleda Thorsson. As always, yes, I took care of the graphic design of the American and European editions of the album as well as everything else (T-shirts, etc). I wanted the cover art to be the beginning point of the album's journey. It is relative to the first song on the album which begins with a river in a cold forest...

Thyrm: Agalloch's message has always been cold and misanthropic in a way - but always with positive thoughts aswell. How do you see the world and life right now?

John Haughm Life is what you make it. I can’t change the bullshit in the world but I can make my own life interesting while I have it. This is my outlook nowadays. The misanthropy still exists in me but it is a more cold, soulless view than just pure irrational hate. I think I have grown to appreciate the things that matter to me than bother myself with other people, for better or worse.

Thyrm: You use heathanism in some of your lyrics. What does heathanism mean to you personally? Lately there have been a lot of bands that use paganism in a more unserious way, what's your opinion on that?

John Haughm: Heathenism is a positive influence for me. Odin is a role model. It is a state of mind that helps me make better decisions for myself and my environment. Pagan bands who use Paganism in an unserious way are as much garbage to me as any other unserious band. I wish this jolly, happy, power folk metal trend would go the fuck away!

Thyrm: Your music is mostly influenced by nature. I'd be interested how you capture the different feelings and the spirit outside. Do you have nice landscapes in your hometown/state? Do you wander a lot in the woods?

John Haughm: I live in one of the most beautiful natural regions of the USA. Near Portland there are mountains, the ocean, dense forests, Cliffside vistas, and many other places of wonder and inspiration within a short drive in any direction. I visit these places often.

Thyrm: Okay, now a question regarding the current metalscene. You come out of a country that is mostly known for Death and Thrash Metal Bands I believe.
So Agalloch is a very unique band with a very unique style of music. Why do you think it is that bands like Agalloch are so seldom in the States?

John Haughm: Actually there is a growing scene here in the Pacific Northwest with several bands who are quite inspired by the local spirit, just as we are. I think it is a regional thing within the (very large) USA. Consider Florida and its classic Death Metal scene, San Francisco and Thrash Metal, New York and Hardcore, etc. The Pacific Northwest is home to the "Cascadian" black metal and doom scene.

Thyrm: Which styles or bands do you listen most to currently? Do you have any recommendations?

John Haughm I listen to so much stuff, some of it just being abstract space sounds and such. As of late I have also been listening a lot to ColdWorld, Paysage d’hiver, Popul Vuh, Hawkwind, Circle, Mathias Grassow, Daniel A.I.U. Higgs, The Chameleons, Aluk Todolo, Black Wreath, Sólstafir, Rome, Fushitsusha, Yøga, Wolfhetan and many many others. I recommend them all.

Thyrm: You are going to do a West Coast Tour very soon. Do you have plans for some more tours already? Maybe in Europe in the future?

John Haughm: Yeah we are already thinking about doing a couple European tours not long after the two US tours so, as they say, keep your ears to the ground...

Thyrm: Ok John, thats it! Thank you very much for answering the questions! The last words are yours.

John Haughm: Thank you for the interview and thank you for understanding our work.

( Thyrm & Morian - www.ginnungagapmetal.de )