Psych Blues Doomsters Alunah (formerly Aluna) hail from deep within the West Midlands in the UK and although initially, opinions on the band were divided, the release of their latest EP ‘Fall To Earth’ was unleashed to show Alunah are a forced to be reckoned with within the ‘Doom’ community, so read on to see what drummer Jake and guitarist/vocalist Soph had to say when I fired some questions over to them which also includes the news that a name change might be forced upon them.
Hi Jake & Soph, hope all is well with you and Alunah and firstly, can you give us a brief introduction to the band along with its current members?
Formed in a sweaty rehearsal room somewhere in Brum 2006.
Soph: vocals, guitar
To the uninitiated, how would you describe the Alunah sound?
JAKE: Well we’ve had the obvious “Psych Blues Doom” tag, which we’ve adopted as our slogan. Live we’ve had everything from Sabbath, St.Vitus & Goatsnake with female vocals to L7…so now we’re as confused as anyone.
SOPH: I think Ollie described us the best on the Sleeping Shaman review for “Fall To Earth”… “St Vitus with a dose of female hormones, or imagine a less shit version of Jefferson Airplane with more testosterone”. Someone in Wolverhampton the other night told us we were like “Down shagging Hole at Orange Goblin’s house while Witchcraft watch” – so from that you can pretty much see that the verdict is still out regarding what we sound like!!
Where did the name Alunah come from?
JAKE: The initial idea came from the Mindfunk song title (off “People Who Fell From The Sky” – awesome album) then we realised it was also the name of the worlds first tidal powered moon clock which kind of fitted in with the whole mother nature slant of the lyrics that Soph was coming up with. We are having some problems with the name at the moment, which we can’t go into, but it’s a distinct possibility it will be changed in the near future.
SOPH: Yeah, in the next 6 months something will be happening to our name but there will be an official statement when the time comes, keep your eyes open.
What about influences, who would you say has inspired Alunah over the years?
JAKE: Well obviously the whole “stoner/doom scene” – that goes without saying, but mainly any bands that just do what they want without worrying about being seen as uncool or whatever. Anyone who has made the most of what they’ve got, stuck to what they believe in and worked there arse off makes good inspiration.
SOPH: Music wise, my inspiration comes from the likes of Janis Joplin, John Garcia and Robert Plant – great singers and great melody writers!! Lyric wise – love, mountains, water, earth, sky, witches, wizards and faeries are great subject matters to sing about. I don’t have anything in my life to complain about, and (touch wood) never have, so my lyrics tend to reflect that – the darkest song we have is about a poisonous lake in Italy!!
Your latest release is the 3 track CDEP ‘Fall To Earth’ released via your own Catacomb Records, so how have sales been going so far? And what have the reviews/feedback/comments been like?
JAKE: Well it’s our proper release to be honest which people seem to forget. The recordings before were just demo’s… they were pretty shoddy recording wise so I guess if you make them available you have to take the feedback. Reviews and sales for “Fall to Earth” have been really positive on the whole. You can’t please everyone and to be honest we don’t really try to…we just want to get better and better for ourselves really and hope more and more people will like it.
SOPH: I think what Jake said is pretty true; we had some negative remarks about the “Crystal Voyage” demo regarding the recording quality. We took all of that on board, ditched the joke of a guy who recorded it and got Migg from our practice studio on board, for our first official release we’re pretty pleased with it… although the vocals could have been mixed in slightly better.
How did the deal come about with Nasoni Records to re-release the EP on a limited edition vinyl format? Also any news on when this will be available?
JAKE: Basically we were touting around to try and find a label interested in putting out the full-length album next year, which we are writing for at the moment. Nasoni said they were interested in doing it but didn’t have UK distribution, which obviously is something we were after as the logical next step…especially as “Fall to Earth” has it as well. So we talked it over and this seemed like a good way of still working with them without compromising our future plans, which we are really happy about. Plus it’s going to have an extra track on it which will be recorded hopefully end of October so maybe it will see the light of day around the turn of the new year.
SOPH: Yeah, Nasoni are a German psychedelic label that mainly deals in limited edition vinyl. They have such bands as Colour Haze, Los Natas and Mos Generator on their roster and it’s a privilege to be listed alongside those bands. The Vinyl will be a 10″, which is sweet!!! Especially alongside our Queen Elephantine split 7″.
Your also releasing a split EP with Queen Elephantine, we covered this a little in the interview we did with Catacomb Records, so can you briefly tell us what Alunah tracks will it feature and when you hopefully think you’ll get this released?
JAKE: It will hopefully be released around turn of year, as the song it will feature (“Song of the Sun” which we’ve played live a fair few times) will be recorded in the same session as the Nasoni bonus track. That’s the plan anyway…unless we end up spending the studio time snorting expensive coke off stripper’s arses, which is obviously a distinct possibility in glamorous Birmingham.
SOPH: God, I wouldn’t touch Birmingham strippers with a very big barge pole… on a serious note, once the name issues are cleared up we will then be releasing the vinyl, which is looking likely to be either very late 2008 or very early 2009. We hate to dick Queen Elephantine around, but why spend loads on vinyl if you have to recall them all to change the name. Queen Elephantine have been really patient with us. It’s quite nice actually to get it all out in the open as to why it’s been held up, we’ve been pretty cagey about it the last few months for legal reasons.
It has been commented that your vocal arrangements with Alunah have, at times, divided opinion on the band and I will say it took me a while to fully appreciate them, so how do you take on board comments like these and is this something you’ve been working on as a band as on your latest EP, they do seem to fit and flow a lot more naturally with the music than before?
JAKE: Well opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got them. As I say this is the first time anything has been recorded anywhere near “properly” and even then we were obviously under financial & time restraints like all bands at our level. Soph’s vocals aren’t the only thing to fit better this time… the drums actually sound like they weren’t recorded using Fisher Price mics and the guitars don’t sound like they are under water either. Comment wise we don’t mind constructive pointers to be honest…would rather have people talking about us than ignoring us! We haven’t spent years releasing demo’s before properly releasing stuff so it’s all a learning curve in public and maybe things will fit together even more over time but fuck it…we’d rather be getting out there doing something, than be stuck in a rehearsal room getting ready to unleash our so called “overall masterpiece” on the world. We’ve got broad shoulders.
SOPH: Yeah we’re like marmite – you either love or hate!! Some doom fans love the music but don’t like the vocals and some stoner, classic / general rock fans like the vocals but not the music. I’ve had some harsh things said about me on forums (not to my face – that would involve them leaving the house!!) in the past, “fat chav” being my favourite!! When we first started I took it all to heart, but as we’ve grown as a band I’ve realised that the people saying these things aren’t the people going to gigs, they aren’t the people actively involved in the music scene – whether it be bands, labels or magazines, they aren’t the people who matter, they are the gimps sitting on the internet all day, talking to, and talking about people they ain’t ever gonna meet. I much prefer being the “fat chav” in Alunah than spending an hour in their shoes!
And while on the topic of vocals, who writes the lyrics and what subjects do they cover?
SOPH: I write the lyrics and they cover subjects such as love, appreciation for life, poisonous lakes, Mother Nature and Stonehenge. “Call of Avernus” is our new song and is about as dark as we get!!
Along with a fair bit of radio airplay, you’ve also been featured on 4 compilation albums, namely your own (Sounds of the Catacombs), Ninehertz, Stonerrock.com Vol. VIII & Droning Earth Vol. VIII, the latter 2 being free downloads, so do you think the exposure from these has helped spread the word of Alunah on a world stage and with it, picked up a few more fans and EP sales along the way?
JAKE: Hopefully so…at least with the Catacomb & Ninehertz comps. The others you mention have only just come out so it’s a bit early to tell but fingers crossed. We’ve had quite a few comments before over the net from Europe and America so the plan is to build on that I guess.
Is it important for Alunah to play live and how easy have you found it to get gigs considering your guitarist Dave’s involvement with his other projects Sonic Lord and Godsize?
JAKE: Extremely important. We’ve actually had friends ask us why we are doing so many which kind of defies belief but then I guess it shows what being in a band actually means to a lot of people. Since we started playing live 18 months ago we’ve supported well-known bands and also played to two men and a dog at the bar. We kind of see it like a boxer getting in as many rounds of sparring as pos. before a big fight. It’s all experience and now all four of us have the logic of “Who cares – maybe we’ll turn someone onto us tonight”. We played a gig the other week where we had a shocker with equipment going wrong from the off and yet still had people buying the cd after so there’s always a point to getting “out there”.
In terms of the Godsize & Sonic Lord issue…it’s never really a problem to be honest. All three bands respect each other and the schedules are pretty transparent.
SOPH: Playing live has been at the forefront from the beginning. Our first few shows were with Trouble, Winnebago Deal and Winters… all amazing bands and amazing experiences for us as a new band. We then went onto play with Paradise Lost, which blew our minds, especially when we heard our bass sound in the Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall!! As for clashes, all 3 bands respect each other, we all check Dave’s calendar out before booking gigs so we don’t have clashes. If Alunah have a gig in a shitty pub where we know no-one will be there and Godsize get offered Black Sabbath… then it’s common sense to cancel the Alunah gig but luckily we have never been in that situation. The person who it’s hardest on is Dave cos he’s always knackered!! Especially when 2 or sometimes all 3 of the bands gig together!!
Can you tell us a little more about how you hooked up with the peeps from Land Of Nod and are you looking forward to Nodfest 1 in September where you’ll be playing alongside label mates Grifter?
JAKE: I believe we kept in touch with the Land OF Nod guys after playing the Battlewitch and Ninehertz endorsed “Awesomefest” in Bristol last year and it’s just come from that really. Happy to be doing it – Bristol was ace last time, I think we found an all you can eat Pizza buffet and free parking which set us up nicely so more of the same will do…maybe we’ll step it up to a Chinese and taxi back to the venue this time round.
SOPH: Yeah, Dave and Andy got talking to Fin outside the pub and said he was interested in working with us. We kept in touch, Ollie from Grifter got involved and we’re now on the “Nodfest I” bill. I’m well excited about it; we don’t see the Grifter guys as much as we should due to us living about 5 hours away from each other (even though Foz is from my hometown!!). There’s gonna be some surprises on the night which may result in people believing that Ollie is homosexual…
Any other gigs you have planned you can tell us about?
JAKE: The plan is to keep gigging up until end of year to spread the word, potentially with a couple of decent support slots chucked in although that’s in the air at the mo. We’ve pretty much expired most of the good will with our employers for this year so other than the gigs already announced we are limited to weekends for any long distance ones.
SOPH: We’re supporting Orange Goblin at The Old Angel on October 10th, and on the 12th we’re playing with War Pigs (Black Sabbath tribute), it could be an ace gig or a shambles; it’s probably the closest we’ll get to Sabbath though!! Keep checking our websites as gigs are constantly being added.
Besides the split release with Queen Elephantine and the ‘Fall to Earth’ vinyl release what else does the future hold for Alunah?
JAKE: Well the above covers us until the end of the year…. then hopefully next year will see the recording of the next release.
SOPH: Yeah we want to record and release our debut album in 2009, and try and play with even better bands than we have this year and last.
And finally, thanks for the interview and please use this space for any final words…
JAKE: Cheers for your time
SOPH: Yeah thanks for the interview Lee, if you want to check us out please go to www.alunaband.co.uk or www.myspace.com/alunatheband or email email@example.com and remember to keep your eyes peeled for the statement regarding our name change.
More info on Alunah at: http://alunah.weebly.com/
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards