Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance have covered a lot of ground since they last visited the UK touring with Ramesses for the 3rd time in 2009, so I felt it was a good time to catch up with Ryan (vocals/guitar) and find out what he’s been up to with UT and the numerous other projects he’s involved with.
After recording three albums for Relapse Records, Touring with the Melvins & High on Fire, are we talking big cars, heated swimming pools and air conditioned dog houses, that is the reality of it all…… Isn’t it?
Yeah I just got back from getting a fitting for my platinum teeth. We all drive Scion tricycles and we have hair extensions now. Oh, and of course; a true black metal stylist. Darren actually may be purchasing a sports team and I’ve purchased a beach house/studio in Antarctica. Jay has purchased a colony of wolves and will be travelling with them and a shaman to South America by foot in an animal spirit journey. Other than that it’s just business as usual for Unearthly Trance.
If I remember correctly you originally signed a three album deal with Relapse Records, with the third album now finished and released back in 2010 and receiving some cracking reviews deservedly, what happens next, where do you go from here?
The future is wide open for us! The hardest part for us was surviving this long and not letting all the trials and tribulations destroy our will. But we keep coming back even when we are convinced we are never doing it again. We come back like Freddy Krueger every time ha-ha
Yes we had a 3 album deal with Relapse and now we are pondering our options. We were happy with Relapse but we all believe that it’s probably best for us to try something new. We aren’t a super active band in terms of touring, so more and more over the years – we weren’t really the right type of band for Relapse ultimately. We’ve developed into some sort of cult occult band. Ha-ha And that is just fine with me.
As for the future, since I’ve been back from Japan, I’ve written enough songs/lyrics for a new album [#6]! So when we finally get into the lab and start working on these songs I have, it wont take long for us to be prepared to hit the studio with another full length of material. It will be next year some time…
Earlier this year you toured Japan for the first time with The Melvins & High on Fire, that’s some line up I must say. How did this all come about and most importantly do have any good tales to tell, what was it like?
Yeah the line up was amazing. Really inspired us to play our best and take it all in as it seemed like a dream come true! This offer came through Mr. Nambu from Japan reaching out to Relapse to have us open “Extreme the Dojo” heavy music series they’ve been having for a while now.
Good tales??? Ha-ha It was unreal. Just being able to hang out with the exact people who influenced my playing was the biggest reward and experience for me! And seeing that they were down to earth and most importantly passionately dedicated to their craft was just fucking amazing. The Japanese people are very honourable and cool people. It was astounding just walking the streets of Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. Easily the most foreign yet exciting experience I’ve had on tour. We had tour roadies and people who carted our gear and set it up every night. They were incredible. For those two shows I felt like a real musician and that everything we did up to that point was for the right reasons…
One random story was – I took a walk with Buzz the morning after the EQ and we got canned hot coffees and took a stroll towards the intersection that was usually the busiest part of Tokyo. It was eerily dead and there were huge black crows everywhere crowing loudly. Never forget that…
Another was when UT went out with Matt Pike drinking at Konton bar in Osaka for our first night in Japan. Fucking awesome time!!!
Just seeing both bands set up and sound check and destroy every night was inspiring and rewarding! I feel like a lucky person to have done that.
But, there are too many stories to tell and most of them are pretty traumatic in terms of our Tokyo experience. But I wouldn’t take back a second of it…
And if that wasn’t enough, Australia also got the chance to experience the crushing sounds of Unearthly Trance. Could you fill us in on your trip down under?
Australia was one part vacation style tour and towards the end it was other part stress city! Ha-ha, we had lots of time in Melbourne, which is an incredible city! But as time went on things went wrong and there were lots of insane distances to cover. People are very nice and overall it was an insane yet fun time down under.
Are the touring logistics/attitudes much the same within Australia and Japan, to what your used you in other parts of the world?
Australia and Japan are worlds apart. We travelled around in Australia with Eagle Twin and Monarch all in one big van. Stayed at hostels or other very modest accommodations. We are totally used to that. But compared to our Japanese experience, it was more like a US tour except everything was much more expensive in terms of Dollars. In Japan it was a new world for us. Bullet trains, Backline, Backline workers, Separate Backline Van, Vans to the Gigs, Back Stage Room, Translator!, Lots of Japanese Beer, Amazing hotels with heated toilets, Cranking PA systems and some Autographs for very cool Japanese fans! We had a blast until the quake hit for sure.
Over the years you’ve always supported smaller labels by being involved with split releases, and working with bands you know, is this still the case?
Yeah but we wont be doing splits anymore, got burnt out on those. But we always like to work with people we know or people we respect.
Who have you worked with recently and why? What tasty treats should we be looking forward to?
Last small release we did was UT “V” CASSETTE released on Witch Sermon Productions. I also do a side project with Andy/Witch Sermon called “RL:ZZ”. It’s an experimental noise music project. In the future we are working with Vendetta Records for a new 12” called “Human Lesson”.
Thralldom, Abandoner, Pollution, The Howling Wind and the Humanless Recordings label, is constant reminder of how prolific you are in terms of projects surrounding the Unearthly Trance collective so to speak, and most recently the UT members have joined up with Tim Bagshaw from UK doom merchants Ramesses, jamming under the name Serpentine Path, would you be so kind as to enlighten us with this new beast?
Sure! Tim has been a good friend of ours ever since the 2002 Electric Wizard, Sons Of Otis, Unearthly Trance USA tour. That was the last wizard tour with the original line-up. After that we toured with Ramesses 3 times overseas so we know Tim well. IN a chance twist of fate Tim wound up living in New Jersey recently. He is always writing so he showed us some riffs and we decided to start a project. He plays guitar, Jay and Darren of UT on bass drums and I JUST sing. It’s going to be a throwback style to the class sounds of death doom. Not trying to invent the wheel. Just crushing and doing what we do best. No clean singing just morbid slow metal. To be honest it sounds like Unearthly RamWizard. Ha-ha no it’s certainly got its own identity and it’s the least bit stoner but we certainly can smoke it down. It sounds like an ugly massive beast so far. Our first vinyl release will be a 7” on Parastic Records.
Going back to the last question slightly, I mentioned Thralldom, Abandoner, Pollution, The Howling Wind and your Humanless Recordings label, are you planning any further adventures with existing projects?
Thralldom – We broked up in 2006. But I’ve been planning to do a project with Jared/Jaldagar [Thralldom Drummer] for a while now. The only problem is that we live far away from each other. Compared to being in the same county, like in the Thralldom days. I am in Brooklyn and he is out east on Long Island. The name of the future project is called “The Mentu Dynasty” after the last song on the last Thralldom album. The new project will be more experimental for certain.
Abandoner – Project is dormant at the moment. Really a question for Jay Newman, as it’s his thing. But I would imagine new recordings will manifest eventually…
Pollution – We broke up! The drummer and guitarist have started a new band called “Shoxx” [I think]. I’m very proud of the music I made with those guys. Even if it was, relatively, a short run for a band.
The Howling Wind – Tim Parasitic and I have been busy demoing songs for the past year. We keep refining our material and we will hit the studio early next year I hope for album # 3 “Of Babalon”.
Humanless – We haven’t released anything in a while. Not sure where the future holds at the moment. But Humanless will always exist!
No other new projects at the moment.
What’s your local area like in Brooklyn, in terms of bands, promoters, record labels and records shops?
Bands? I don’t pay attention. I find being disconnected and a bit isolated is how I work and write best as a musician. I don’t need a sense of community I just want to have my space to create. So many competing shows and “scenes”, I don’t care ultimately.
Good venues to me are places like “the Acheron” and “Saint Vitus” in Brooklyn have their finger on the pulse of underground metal at the moment and places like “538 Johnson” and “Death By Audio” have great all ages shows for punk and hardcore shows. I like hunting in used vinyl bins at flea markets for records. Brooklyn has lots of good stuff like that.
What was the last book you read or film you watched?
“Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries”. Really immersed myself in that book for an entire weekend when I got it.
Finally, anything else you wish to mentioned please do so?
To all the UT supporters throughout the world: We are not going anywhere and I apologize for making premature in correct statements on the future of the band on the Internet. I learned my lesson from that ha-ha. Cheers to you all!
Listen below to ‘God Is A Beast’ taken from Unearthly Trance’s 4th album ‘Electrocution’.
More info on Unearthly Trance at: www.unearthlytrance.com
Interviewed by: Dave Ward