Analysis Of Bison Kills originally started out life as Tear Gas and Plate Glass back in 2001 but with pressure from Waxploitation Records, a name change was in order and Analysis of Bison Kills was born and with it they expanded from the 2 piece of brothers Matthew and Nathan to a full, more stable line up. Their new album ‘Vantage’ has now finally been released by UK label Sound Devastation which is the result of 5 years hard work, crafting and honing their now more progressive sound and with that, I caught up with guitarist Matt to ask him a few questions.
Hi Matt, hope you’re keeping well, right lets start this interview by giving us a brief introduction to the band, your current members and what they do?
Things tend to be in a constant state of flux with AOBK, so I’ll give you a run down of the line up we had for ‘Vantage’. Nathan and I are the core members of the band. Nathan handles vocals and I play guitar. We’ve been adding members since our second demo and we’ve slowly expanded our ranks to something resembling a fully fledged band.
Andries van der Boom is our drummer, he’s based in Tilburg in the Netherlands, an old friend of ours and the most talented drummer I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. Andries has a background in technical death metal but he’s very much a jazz/funk drummer these days.
Scott Tyrell plays bass. He’s currently in exile in Grimsby. I’d played bass on the last two recording but I’m not a bassist by trade, so we wanted someone who could bring something extra to the album. That man was Scott.
For those that have yet to hear Analysis of Bison Kills, how would you describe your music?
It’s heavy and eclectic. The roots of the music lie in sludge and doom but we’ve put a far more progressive twist on things. The overall tempo of the music has definitely increased over the years! We don’t tend to limit ourselves to any one particular genre, so it’s very much a hybrid of genres taking in stoner rock, doom, sludge and post rock. You’d be hard pressed to pin us down to one particular genre but we strive to retain a coherent sound that we can call our own.
Love it or hate it, you will at times be compared to the likes of Isis/Neurosis/Mogwai as their influence can certainly be heard throughout your music, but how do you feel about being tagged with the aforementioned bands, and what are your thoughts on the fast becoming over-saturated ‘post-rock’ genre?
I can understand why people make the comparisons to Isis and Neurosis, but whilst such comparisons are definitely flattering, I do think they’re a little lazy. To be brutally honest, I don’t think we sound too much like either band. Sure, what we do incorporate some elements of ‘post-rock’ or ‘post-metal’ but it’s just one small facet of our sound. To me, post-rock definitely isn’t the presiding corner stone of our music. We don’t rely too heavily on quiet / loud dynamics, nor do we tend to use slow building crescendos. Most of the material on ‘Vantage’ has too much of an up tempo swagger to fall into the post-rock category! We have a few long songs that hit the 8-9 minute mark but that does not necessarily equate to post-rock. I’d sooner compare us to bands like Knut or Breach than I would Isis and Neurosis. Our quieter, more reflective moments are influenced by Krautrock rather than post rock, bands like Neu and Can. I’ve always been a fan of that particular brand of hypnotic repetition and it’s something I think you can hear back in our music.
Personally, I’m painfully aware of the over abundance of bands out there that draw, perhaps too heavily, from the Neurosis and Isis template. It gets tired awfully fast and it’s not a trap I ever want to fall into. If people take the time to listen carefully to ‘Vantage’ I think they’ll discover that we’re not seeking to emulate this style. If anything, we’re coming from an entirely different angle. The sound we’ve arrived at is the result of 5 years hard work and if a reviewer wants to use his limited bag of comparison tricks to describe us as an Isis tribute band, or worse yet, a new Cult of Luna then I’m not going to pay much attention. The comparisons make our stomachs turn and our eyes roll all too often though, I’ll tell you that much.
Following on from this, who would you say has been a major influence on your sound from both a musical and non-musical perspective?
When we started out as a two piece, all we really wanted to do was to make slow and heavy music. We spent all summer overdosing on Electric Wizard, Iron Monkey, Sleep, Kyuss, 5ive, Old Man Gloom, High on Fire and Warhorse. That’s the music that inspired us to give it a try ourselves. Since then, our scope has simply broadened. We’ve always been into a wide range of music, so it was only a matter of time before that mentality crept into our own music. We’re not that concerned with keeping it ‘true’.
Whilst I was writing ‘Vantage’ I was very inspired by bands like Can, Neu and Amon Duul. I’ve also got a lot of time for Circle and Shora who’ve also taken a lot from Krautrock and 70s kosmische music, it’s a genre that’s been of great interest to most of the band. I’ve also been absolutely fascinated by the 80s British ‘industrial’ scene. I’ve been devouring the back catalogues of Coil, Nurse with Wound, Throbbing Gristle and Current 93. Obviously, those influences aren’t particularly obvious or prevalent in our music but it’s still something that has shaped my musical perspective and has kept me excited about music. Everyone in the band is into different things as well. Andries isn’t really into metal, his influences come from jazz, funk and fusion. He doesn’t think like a metal drummer, nor does he have any real modern points of reference within the metal genre. Talk about Neurosis and he’ll give you a blank look. He comes at the music from a totally different an angle to the rest of us, which is why I love working with him.
You were originally called Tear Gas and Plate Glass, so why the name change?
Just after releasing our second demo we were contacted by Waxploitation records, who also have a band on their roster called Teargas & Plateglass. They’d already taken out copyright on the band name in the UK, so we had little choice but to change our name. We weren’t best pleased but Waxploitation were really nice about the whole thing, so we made the change. We did our best to come up with something bizarre enough to avoid the same situation again, although we honestly thought we’d done that first time round.
Are lyrics important to the band and who writes them/what subjects do they cover?
Nath writes all the lyrics and keeps them pretty close to his chest if I’m honest. He’s never talked about them much to anyone in the band and just sort of grins when you ask him about them. A little disconcerting, but it’s all he does in the band so I guess maybe he’s a bit protective (he was pretty intent we didn’t print the lyrics). In any case we’re not political, although maybe we were once, Nathan’s not pissed off, nor depressed, neither does he have problems ‘fitting in’. There is a theme to ‘Vantage’ though, the whole EP is about having an advantage over someone else, having power or exerting influence, having the upper hand. This doesn’t always manifest itself in a ‘nice’ way, so I suppose that’s why some of the vocals aren’t very ‘nice’.
What about equipment? Can you give us a run down on the gear you use?
Well, my main axe is an old Hamer Slammer Series, with I’ve modded over the years, the main change being some Seymour Duncan pickups. My amp setup is an ENGL Fireball running into a vintage 4×12 Marhsall 1960A cab. Effects wise I usually keep it pretty basic and use a Boss reverb, a Keeley modded Line6 delay modeller and an ISP Decimator to keep things under control.
Scott uses an old beaten up bass of unknown origin, paired with a Hartke head and some beastly 70s Fender cab. All of which is Nath’s gear anyway.
Andries plays Sonor drums, they look very expensive. I have no idea when it comes to drums.
Your album ‘Vantage’ is due out anytime now so can you tell us a little bit more about this, what people can expect from the 4 tracks on offer and how you hooked up with Sound Devastation Records?
We heard from Sound Devastation some time after the release of our second demo ‘The Sea Stranded Whipjack’. They liked what we were doing so invited us to re-release/record something for the label. The end result was ‘Vantage’. To get a record professionally released is more than we’d ever hoped for when we started in our parents kitchen all those year ago. Mind you we had to blag the whole thing, free studio, free engineer, beaten up old van, free design layout, free website…the list goes on. We owe a lot to friends who have helped us out.
I think the album manages to encompass everything we love about metal. It’s heavy, progressive and has some genuine venom to it. There’s everything from raging up tempo riffing to mellow cyclical atmospherics. I think we ended up with a record that’s far more complex and varied than our earlier material. At the end of the day we’re really pleased with ‘Vantage’ and that’s what counts. I’d just advise people listen for themselves and make up their own minds.
Your drummer Andries van der Boom resides in Tilburg, Holland, whereas the rest of you are based in York in the UK, so firstly as Adam mentioned in your review, is that his real name?
Yep, ‘van der Boom’ actually translates to ‘of the tree’, which makes it slightly less bizarre? Maybe? And don’t forget that Scotty is in Grimsby…for his sins.
And on a more serious note, how did he become involved with Analysis of Bison Kills and how does his geographical location affect the band? Do you at times find it difficult to rehearse as a full line up and have you in the past had to turn down more local gigs due simply to where he lives?
Well, Nath and I grew up in Holland, we moved out there when we were fairly young and spent most of our teenage years there, before returning to the UK to study. Andries is one of the close friends we picked up along the way. I used to play in a technical death metal band with Andries, since we were both devoted Death and Cynic fans at the time! We still are actually…
When AOBK started out we were using a drum machine, this got a little limiting after a while. When we recorded ‘The Sea Stranded Whipjack’ demo, we flew Andries over to do drums. We were so blown away by his contributions that we decided we wanted him as a full member of the band. Since then we’ve worked with Andries by sending CDs back and forth in the mail.
The geographical issue does mean we can’t really gig but it’s a trade off I think we can live with. Andries is by far the best drummer we’ve worked with and he has a totally unique approach to the music.
And with that in mind, how easy is it for you to not only get gigs, but to be able to play them as well?
Unfortunately, we don’t really do gigs. When it boils down to it, AOBK has always, and most likely will always, be a studio project.
Are any members of Analysis of Bison Kills involved in any other projects/bands?
Yeah, Nath and I are in a York based band called ‘Celebrity Love Crisis’. We’ve been going around 8 months now and we’ve been actively gigging around the North. It’s a different beast to AOBK but there are elements of crossover. Musically we sound like a four car pile up of prog, metal, noisecore and psych. We have a demo coming out which is pretty much available now, so keep your eyes peeled for that. In the mean time the tracks are up on our Myspace here: www.myspace.com/celebritylovecrisiss.
We guarantee you’ll be hearing more from Celebrity Love Crisis, we’ll also be peddling AOBK wares at Celebrity Love Crisis shows.
Nath and Scott were also in a band called National Grid High Voltage Research Project, who split some time ago. They’ve just put out their demo posthumously, which is well worth a look. At least half of National Grid ended up in Celebrity Love Crisis so there’s a bit of a rock family tree thing going on there. If you happen to like prog, krautrock and post rock you should definitely check them out at www.myspace.com/nationalgridhighvoltageresearchproject .
Scott also does some solo stuff under the guise of Mirror Mirror. Very ambient stuff, perhaps not a million miles away from what Nadja do. Also worth keeping an eye on, he’s a great songwriter, www.myspace.com/babymawson.
There have been plenty of good releases in 2008 already, so can you give us your fave 3 albums of the year so far and with the exception of your own CD are there any albums you’re eagerly waiting to be released?
1. Harvey Milk – Life…The Best Game in Town
2. Grails – Take Refuge in Clean Living
3. Torche – Meanderthall
There’s a new Current 93 record on the cards which is always cause for excitement. I’m also dead curious to hear the new Cynic album when that hits. Nath is itching to get his mits on the new Dob Cab album, he likes to listen to things he can’t play…and then tries to play them.
What are your thoughts on people obtaining music for free via file sharing programs such as SoulSeek and Bit Torrents?
I think that very much depends on how people use it. As a tool to check out new music I think file sharing is great, in so much that it gives people the freedom to investigate a band’s discography before laying down their cash. I have absolutely no problem with people using it as a ‘try before you buy’ system, as long as the end result is them buying music and supporting bands.
If you download an album and you like it, then for god’s sake buy it. That my philosophy. I firmly believe that real music fans buy music, be it digitally or on CD and Vinyl and give something back to the musicians who probably broke their backs and the bank to make in the first place.
Besides the release of your album what else does the future hold for Analysis of Bison Kills?
I have absolutely no idea. We’ll see what happens!
Thanks for the interview and please use this space for any final words, plugs or abuse…
Likewise, thanks for taking the time to interview us. The record should be out by the time this interview hits the web, so I’d urge everyone to please go check it out at Sound Devastation Records.
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards