THE NEW DEATH CULT: Chasing Unfamiliar Ideas

The New Death Cult

Humanoid aliens in The New Death Cult have served one of the most surprising releases in 2019 in the shape of their self-titled debut album released via Indie Recordings. 

“Dubbed a brilliant Alt-Rock cross-over between Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro and Pink Floyd, the band drives heavy rock in a forward direction primed for the 21st century, while sonically staying true to the greatest ’90s rock acts.”

Guitarist and singler Alpha, lead guitarist Beta, bassist Gamma and drummer Delta speak for Prog Sphere about the album, their view on technology in music, their upcoming appearance at the Prognosis Festival in Eindhoven, and more.

How did you come to do what you do?

We are 4 very different musicians who share a huge passion for Rock music, and having done several different projects between us during the last years, we wanted to start fresh by exploring something new together. Getting this bands sound and debut album together resulted in a quite proggy form of Alternative Rock, which is a exciting new muse which we continue to tap into in 2020.

You released the self-titled album in 2019. How did the creative process for the album go?

Our starting point is always the actual song structure, usually in the form of a rough sketch consisting of “bare elements” such as a riff/verse and a chorus.

This initial idea tends to spend some time maturing before the band takes a first look at the arrangement, and add new ideas, rhythmic patterns, lead voices, bass lines, and where any creative idea is fully explored until we feel like we have a song that we immediately could take to the stage.

We spent some time rehearsing leading up to the recording of the album, so we had a good handle on the songs, but we still did a lot of executive creative decisions together inside of the recording process, like setting final tempos, leads and other small but important details. Our producer Stamos Koliousis did a great job in keeping the ropes and getting the best out of everyone throughout the recording.

The New Death Cult

Where was the album recorded and how long did it take you to complete the work on it?

We recorded the album at Røffsound Recordings (Roffsound.no) in Oslo (Norway) which at the time was situated inside of a huge industry building, and incidentally surrounded by a fleet of heavy machinery used for by a local workshop for welding, woodwork and other loud activities.

Therefore, to avoid sound bleeding from operating machines into the most sensitive mics, we did most of the recordings in the evening/night time when they were off, and mixed during daytime.

Most of our time was spent getting the right sounds, and being well prepared, the actual recording went by in less than a couple of weeks.

We spent some time mixing, having the luxury of letting it rest for a few days/weeks at a time so that we could revisit every revision with a set of fresh ears.

We also tried a few different mastering houses before sealing it with Nick Terry and his very cool tube-tech gear.

To someone who hasn’t heard the album, what can he or she expect from “The New Death Cult”?

Punchy, fresh and intriguing Heavy Alternative Rock drenched in strange beautiful chords and melodies, delivered in a short song format, with straight forward lyrics.

A definitive prog rock/metal bite that is nudging in a lot of different directions if you have your ears tuned in on the right frequencies.

As a whole, it’s a surprisingly varied album that, for a sonically straight sounding rock record, bursts with a variety of different musical colours. The longest track “Home” is guaranteed to take you far into another galaxy as it ripples out into the vastness of space…

What were the biggest challenges you faced when working on the album?

Our biggest endeavor and challenge was getting the sounds right, achieving the best combination of instruments and mics, placements, etc. It definitely resulted in some interesting choices in terms of guitar pedals… the cheapest fuzz pedals completely outperformed the expensive ones!

Have you managed to make any new discoveries as the time passed during the creative process? Do you think that at some point of that process your writing approach changed drastically?

The writing process is very much still the same, but we did find our feet in terms of sound in a very big way, thanks to Stamos being a great producer and engineer.

Understanding your own sound as a band is like trying to bite your own neck, so getting the sound of the album in our DNA has definitely shaped us as a live band, and while the songwriting process is pretty much unchanged, the actual content is probably more in tune with the sonic landscape that is our debut album.

Tell me about the complexities of creating this album.

Initially, the bare structured songs that made the album was a totally chimerical explosion of ideas while pondering the infinite vastness of space. That was the musical starting point and the focal point while creating this record.

The rough sketches came together very quickly, and lyrically, the words and meaning followed very naturally. It soon became clear that these songs were going to be about topics that, when writing lyrics, felt more important than the intricacies of our own egos and everything surrounding it.

What types of change do you feel this music can initiate?

Following the music and melodies intuitively, it soon became clear that our lyrics would have to be about something other than our own ego minds, and feelings directly related to them.

The resulting lyrics do touch on heavy political subjects such as war, environmental destruction, corruption and greed, but equally, there’s a strong omnipresent message of universal love and equality that kind of illuminates this and brings about a message of hope and peace. That is definitely something that we really feel is sorely needed at this time.

We’re not here to try and save the world or anything, but we do hope that our lyrics can invite our listeners to think deeper and love themselves as human beings a lot more, and ultimately also extend the same universal love and empathy towards other living beings and nature.

At the same time, we as a band want to facilitate an escape from daily life and into our alternative universe… maybe one that’s a lot more like we as people really deeply yearn for? One that is free from all this hate, hurting and destruction, where equality and tolerance has paved the way for incredible human achievement in a thriving and abundant natural environment?

One thing is for certain: thoughts become things, and if we can be a thought provoking band in a positive sense, that’s probably the biggest change we can make.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

No, quite the opposite, actually. As songwriters, we will only chase the musical idea that is most unfamiliar to us.

As musicians, we quickly tend to get stuck in ruts, but trying to be very mindful about that and actively seeking to avoid the pitfalls of comfort is something that has always helped to keep a creative flow when composing. A lot of times, it’s just getting out of the old comfort zone.

What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?

Outer space, as vague as it may sound. Outer space with the mind boggling variety of different planets stars and galaxies has certainly painted a clear picture for us musically and partly lyrically, too.

Nature is also a deep inspiration in everything we create.

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

We used only the coolest vintage equipment that we could get our hands on – some of our own and some borrowed. The drums was a set of orange Vistalite, recorded with Coles mics. Fender Jazzbass into a Orange head. For guitars, we ended up using a Gibson ES-335, Les Paul 57 Gold Top, 1987 SG and a 90′s-something Telecaster. Amps, mainly a Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ amp, and some Fender Reverb Deluxe. There was a lot of pedals circulating as well, some of which were home made by friends and colleagues and which sounded awesome. For vocals, we used a neutral Neumann U87 and double tracked everything, as in typical 90′s style fashion.

What is your view on technology in music?

We’re big fans of prog rock, so the use of technology in terms of synthesizers is something we think is super cool! We’re 4 different dudes with a certain variation in taste aside form rock, but 80′s music is definitely Alpha’s guilty pleasure.

As for technology as a helping hand in a live setting, like the use of backing tracks, it’s not for us. We do everything live and in the moment, and we’d rather have our show be real, something spontanious and special than calculated and precise… but that’s just us.

We’re in no way condemning any band that’s using technology to back up their show – everyone should do their own thing and be totally unapologetic about it. If it’s cool, it’s cool.

You are scheduled to play at this year’s Prognosis festival in Eindhoven. What can lovers of prog and beyond expect from your set?

Lovers of prog can look forward to getting a lot of interesting melodic content delivered in a easily-to-absorb short song format. As songwriters, we’ve spent countless hours in our youth listening to prog rock and metal (and still do!), so there’s definitely a lot of info that can be tuned into for those with the same background.

Visually, expect a very unique blacklight experience and 4 masked bois that sweat in different colours.

Expect an organic and dynamic sounding rock band playing highlights form our debut album + some brand new tracks as well!

The New Death Cult

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

Go with the flow. If you’re in a band, learn to appreciate eachother. If you’re aspiring to do a lot, it’s going to be countless hours making advance logistics, driving, hauling gear, rehearsing, writing, etc.

Learn to appreciate the efforts of every one in your team. Grow together, fail together and win together. Learn from your mistakes. Always do the very best you can, and don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Most importantly, remember that we’re all essentially just tiny embodiments of the entire universe having a human experience for a little while before moving further into infinite realities and possibilities, so HAVE FUN!

Grab a copy of The New Death Cult from Indie Recordings’ web store. Follow the band on Facebook.

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