Interview with Vincent “Jake” Jones from AETHER REALM – Insight of “Redneck Vikings from Hell”
First of all, I want to say congrats to you about the signing with Napalm Records! Did that drastically change your life as a musician?
Jake: Thank you Kumi! If we hadn’t had you in our corner we’d be way worse off.
Not really at all! At least, not yet. The main change has been the fact that we didn’t have to figure out how to pay to make this one - Napalm took that weight off our backs (and ya’lls back, if I’m never again in charge of shipping hundreds of packages across the world it’ll still be too soon, ha). But I still work my regular job to pay the rent (I’m a pharmacy technician). And the Napalm team is getting our music into many more ears than we would have been able to achieve on our own, that’s an exciting change. They do a whole lot of promotional stuff that - taken in isolation - might seem insignificant, but they do so much of it that it all adds together in a major way.
I was glad to know that your new album will be out within three years from the previous full-length “Tarot”. You had been struggling so much to finalize the second album and it took about five years after the first full-length “One Chosen by The Gods” then. Did your recording process and mix/mastering go smooth this time? Arrangements and the sound production through the album are killer anyway though.
Jake: I have yet to experience an album where it all goes “smooth” haha. Something about the way my brain is wired, Kile and I always seem to wind up with one huge final all night grind mixing session to bring it all together. I don’t think we put stuff off, it’s more like you can always do more work to a song, so you have to set a deadline to finish, and the closer the deadline the more frantic and unhinged the work becomes.
I’m already in love with the new album “Redneck Vikings from Hell” and feel it’s the strongest candidate for Album of The Year in 2020 so far. I think “Redneck Vikings from Hell” is not only the best album ever but also the most down-to-earth album among ÆTHER REALM’s releases. And the great fact is you’ve been showing us a lot of different colors album by album without losing anything. This time, there are a couple of songs that doesn’t sound like your typical melodeath / folk metal style. Is that your natural evolution or some sort of strategic approach for attracting more metal fans?
Jake: We’ve always just written the songs we want to write - and this time we wanted to try writing a bangers album. Shorter, denser songs that don’t attempt to maintain any overarching story or theme (Kalmah’s The Black Waltz and Children of Bodom’s Are You Dead Yet? are two of my favorite albums that seem to do this). I’m not blind to it when we write something like Goodbye or Guardian that is gonna be perceived by the metal community as sort of “oh no the label’s making them write pop metal to sell out”, but if that’s how the song comes out it’s like, do people expect us to re-write the song to try to make it less accessible? That seems bonkers!
Thankfully, we haven’t really gotten a ton of negative response toward trying new stuff - seems like most people that like our old stuff are on board. And it’s cool to get bigger but if I had to play or write songs that I didn’t believe in and enjoy to do that, I’d pass. We’re just writing what we want to write.
The title track “Redneck Vikings from Hell” sounds kinda your party-piece style but it’s disclosing your identity through the total unique lyrics, for example ‘We spell Valhalla the redneck way, C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A’ (that’s my fave line). It feels like I go back and forth between a legend and the reality all the time. I love it. I feel your strength and pride for you are who you are. How did you come up with the idea of the song?
Jake: Before we released tarot actually. It was first intended to be a secret track at the end of Tarot (it was an entirely different song then, but the title and core idea were there). It didn’t work back then, since that album was so long (72 minutes!). If we put any more up there the cd printer would have to do it as a double album, and we couldn’t afford that at the time.
But we thought a bit more about that joke, and how it’s actually the most like...honest idea for a song we’ve ever had. Like there’s something a little silly about 4 guys from Greenville, North Carolina singing songs about odin and questing for glorious battle, right? NC is right in the southern United States - a place not often associated with battle within the raging snows of the north. It’s associated with...well...bein redneck.
So it made us think a bit more - stereotypically redneck culture is associated with several negative traits, chiefly racism and ignorance. And if we can’t stop someone from perceiving us as rednecks, why don’t we just decide what that means? For us that means lyrically embracing all the elements of redneck culture we like as a tall tale about the band’s own backstory. We party so hard that the towns we visit are left as a pile of smouldering ash. But simultaneously we get to declare that “it doesn’t matter where you were born or how you were raised, being a redneck viking is about one thing. Whether you know how to fuckin party”. It seems a bit silly to say out loud, but I’m serious about the sentiment - I want to continue building this fan community where anyone with any kind of background feels welcome and supported.
We tried to explore that dichotomy in the music too, mashing up sort of turisas “varangian guard” sounding big brass (Orchestrations done by Gloryhammer’s Ben Turk, by the way, he knocked it out of the park!) with elements of american folk music (banjo and slide guitar provided by Wayne Ingram from Wilderun, thanks Wayne!) I’m not quite sure who exactly is the target audience for this, but it sounds like you enjoyed it, so maybe we did something right! Ha!
Honestly, I was half worried and half curious about an outcome of your new album when I listened to the first single “Goodbye” for the first time via the music video. Of course, I felt good with the song, but it was the only source from the album at that time, you know what I mean. Anyway, I found the song is standing out in the album and I sensed a strong determination for what you do with your music. You can do anything you want to do with your band cos it’s your music. (I’m always thankful for your amazing music!) The guitar solos are emotional and fantastic. Could you tell us what’s on your mind about the song?
Jake: Ha! You aren’t alone. I think a lot of people may have had an expectation of Tarot 2, and were confused by this like...arena metal song. All I know to say is we wrote the album we wanted to make, and I reckon we sound our best at our most genuine, so I’m glad we didn’t phone it in or repeat ourselves.
I had just gone through a hard breakup that saw me move back to my hometown. I was sorta broke and Donny was nice enough to let me move in with him while I got my shit back together. While I was living with him, we started having nightly writing sessions - just sitting down and experimenting. That wound up turning into Goodbye. I was listening to a lot of Carpenter Brut and Perturbator, which led to some of the synth elements, and I was also really enjoying The Bee by Amorphis. My natural vocal range is pretty low, sorta like the dude from that band, so I thought maybe we could try to play into that by doing something that didn’t require any crazy power metal vocals.
And the quality of the music video looks awesome! Just look like a big rock band. How did you come up with the nostalgic atmosphere?
Jake: I had an incredible amount of help from the Banana The Lemon crew. Jaraad Nageer directed and produced, Ana Maria Hecho was the director of photography (so she was in charge of everything camera related). I told Jaraad I wanted it to feel sorta synthwave - a genre that borrows a lot of it’s aesthetic from sort of a romanticized 80s dystopia. He took that and assembled an unbelievable team (worth way more than we could afford - huge thanks to all of them for the favor). They took a vague idea from us and made it into an aesthetic reality.
Ana Maria Manso
On The Mark Media
Diamonds and Coal Jewelry
“Lean into the Wind” starts with solid orchestrations. It’s fast and aggressive total death metal tune and especially the drumming is killer! This is the only track themed ‘death’ in the album, right? Is it based on a personal feeling?
Jake: The phrase “lean into the wind” came into my head during one of the many times I’ve caught myself outside in the cold without any sleeves. I find that once I get over the initial shock, there’s something primal about taking the full force of a cold wind straight to the skin. It feels like a battle against nature. And I realized it’s a fair metaphor for the obstacles we all face in our journeys. For me, when I’m feeling sort of beaten, I can turn to a song like Guardian that makes me feel safe, or I can turn to Lean Into The Wind, a song that makes me feel defiant.
After listening through the album for a couple of times, the ear-catching chorus part of “Hunger” started swimming around my head over again. I love it! And some melodies from the track reminded me “The Magician” somehow. The vengeful words behind the metaphorical lyrics make it brutal anyway. Have you been feeling like exploited or so these past years?
Jake: I wouldn’t say I’ve felt exploited really - Hunger was written in 2016, while we were on our first big support slot for a tour, opening for Alestorm and Nekrogoblikon across the US. Before that tour I was exhausted - it was before Tarot had been released, and we worked for so long on that album without having anything to release or show for it that that project was feeling rather hopeless. I think if Chris and the gang hadn’t invited us to join them, we might have thrown in the towel before we were finished. While we were out with them we got a bit of a taste of what it feels like to be, well, a real band. That taste renewed a lot of the desire that had grown cool after a few seemingly stagnant years. The song was about feeling hungry for success again, whatever that means to you.
With your lower clean vocals and the lyrics, “Guardian” sounds sentimental and personal. Beautiful track. How do you feel for using clean vocals entirely through a song?
Jake: Thank you Kumi! I was terrified to be honest. I’ve been practicing a lot at home to try to be ready to nail the vocals when we finally do it live. We just barely manage to sneak one little scream in there just before the first big chorus - gotta stay a LITTLE bit metal. It seems like it’s gone over pretty well though, thanks to everyone that is down to experiment with us!
No doubt, “One Hollow Word” is one of my fave tracks in the album. The arrangement is huge. Did you dedicate the song to a specific person?
Jake: Yeah, Justin Shearer. Justin one of the most welcoming people when I first moved to Asheville, NC. He and his fiance Erin helped introduce me to all the good food and beer in Asheville, and also introduced me to a ton of metal I’d never listened to before (Shade Empire - Ruins, awesome song).
Justin died before he should have, in a motorcycle accident. I figured he would want his own song, so we made one for him. It’s about how the people we love, when they’re not longer with us, still accompany us in our memories.
You had Greg Burgess from Allegaeon as a guest guitar player for the song, right? What a gorgeous collaboration! How did it happen?
Jake: Greg was also a friend of Justin’s. It felt right. We asked him if he would contribute, and he wrote and recorded the acoustic outro of the song.
Actually, I was almost jumping up from my chair (of course with THE phrase!) when I started listening to “She’s Back” for the first time. I feel the song would be a gift for your long-time fans! Did you get conscious about it when you started writing the song?
Jake: Yeah, I think even in its earliest iterations, we knew this song was gonna be Swampwitch part 2. We even managed to get Eric W Brown to come back and do another round of guest vocals! I’ve always enjoyed a little bit of fanservice in my art - when other bands reference their own older material in their work it feels complete to me, and I was itching to work on a fast song.
I say it again, you guys are absolutely unique. I don’t think there is anyone who gets an idea of a song with lyrics like “Slave to The Riff” except you! Does it reflect your struggles for a song-writing process?
Jake: Thanks Kumi! We’re certainly not the first band to write about the struggles of striving to create good music (one of my favorite tracks that describes this is Blood by the band Anima!), but I think we did alright in our portrayal. You give up a lot of comfort to pursue meaningful art - it truly feels like you have no choice but to throw yourself again and again, as if guided by a will that is not your own, and the impossible task of perfecting a piece of music.
“Cycles” has bittersweet images on the beautiful melodies. As I mentioned above, I feel the album is the most down-to-earth one among your albums. It’s built on your struggles for a gap between your daily life and life as a musician, isn’t it?
Jake: Yeah, this one is sort of an attempt to recognize my own patterns in my mental health. When I get to the bottom of my cycle, it can be hard to remember what it feels like to be hopeful. Every time for me though, I’ve been able to weather it, and it can be nice to have a reminder that these ups and downs are normal. You can’t always control when you’re up or down, but you can always choose to try to help yourself. When that fails, you can still always try to bring happiness to others. Sometimes helping someone else is a good way to gain some perspective on your own problems.
“TMHC” has the thick blood from “The Chariot” plus some Bodom-Kalmah-like phrases. It would be the highlight of the album for your big fans! Is it a song about a bond between the band and your loyal street-team?
Jake: Absolutely! I feel like our fanbase is uniquely dedicated (we have people like you after all!) They definitely deserve their own song, and I have a not so secret hope to hear the audience yell “TMHC” and “TELL EM WHERE THE CREW’S AT” every night on tour.
Basically, each of the tracks in the album is shorter than your past releases. “Craft and the Creator” is the only long track in the album and it’s a great instrumental tune. Who did bring the idea to write the long instrumental track and place into the album as the closer?
Jake: Well, there’s a long tradition in folk metal of the like, “long epic song” at the end of the album - Equilibrium, Ensiferum, our last album...and on top of that, I love bringing back melodies from other songs for one final spin, and that only works if you’ve already heard the rest of the album, so it naturally goes last. The idea of the song was to try and write an instrumental interpretation of the different emotional states that you feel while you’re creating - the initial inspiration, feeling “stuck” and depressed, getting angry at the piece itself, having triumphant breakthroughs - I don’t know whether we captured that or not, but I think we did alright in making it slap.
Well, as everybody knows, the upcoming tour with “Redneck Vikings from Hell” has been postponed because of COVID-19. So, I’d prefer to ask you about your first experience for 70000 tons of metal as the band. How did you have fun on/off stage there?
Jake: Oh man it was sick - I racked up a pretty big bar tab by then end of it, so that was one big ol source of fun. I crowdsurfed during wintersun’s first set (I did it in sandals, and cut my toe up on the barrier! Bled all in my boots when we played our show a bit later). Found a little time to relax - spent the whole day the ship was in Mexico just sitting and reading a book on the deck.
Onstage, my favorite bit was we dressed up in bathing suits and towels and sunglasses and then went and played the star lounge (it’s the smallest and lowest stage) and acted confused the whole time that it wasn’t the pool deck.
So, are you excited to get feedbacks from a lot of people about the new album?
Jake: Oh yeah - we’ve been done for so long now, it’s odd to think the release is right around the corner. I hope it goes off!
Again, “Redneck Vikings from Hell” is the best album in 2020 for me so far. Hope everything goes well soon, and you can hit the road with the great new album! My fingers crossed for you guys!
Jake: Thank you Kumi. We love you! /m|
AETHER REALM :
Vincent "Jake" Jones – bass, vocals
Heinrich Arnold – guitar, vocals
Tyler Gresham – drums
Donny Burbage — guitar
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Interview with Aether Realm about the second full-length “Tarot”
Finally our long waited time is coming to an end.
ÆTHER REALM the super talented DIY folk metal band from North Carolina has finished preparing for the second-full length “Tarot” and I luckily joined the first listening party for crowdfunding backers. It was absolutely exciting moment with full of mind-blowing tunes! I’m still in love with their first full-length “One Chosen By The Gods” but “Tarot” actually showed me much wider range of their musical universe with various amazing tracks than I experienced with the debuted album. “Tarot” is a prime candidate for the best metal album in 2017 for sure.
So I quickly decided to send a couple of questions to Jake about the album.
It was in 2013 that I had an interview with you for the first time, Jake. Time flied so quickly, the upcoming album “Tarot” already showed me a huge development of your band, congrats!
First of all, could you explain the reason why you guys took such a long time to finalize the album after the successful crowdfunding campaign?
Jake: Well I think there are a lot of factors here, but I’ll try to cover the big ones. For one, despite having much more success with our crowdfunding campaign than I envisioned, compared to bands signed to big labels, our budget was really really small. What that means when it comes to working with other talented people to try to achieve our “musical vision”, is that if we want really good work, we have to be okay with being pushed back when bigger budget projects come along for them. Kile Odell (the talented producer/engineer we worked with) has projects that are significantly easier than ours on a regular basis, and they usually pay more. He did us a huge favor with all the time he put towards making Tarot sound the way we envisioned it sounding. A related factor is that Aether Realm is a fun project that we’re all passionate about (shit, it’s basically my life), but it doesn’t make us any money. Anything coming in through merch or digital sales or anything, just goes directly to help offset the cost of trying to make cool art. We all have full time jobs, so we have do a lot of work to make sure we can take the time off required to do things like tour or spend time in the studio. In my case, when we were deep in the mixing process, I was working days as a pharmacy tech at Walgreens, then driving ~3 hours to Greensboro, working on the mix all night with Kile, then coming back to work in the morning. Rinse. Repeat. It didn’t work out very well, I eventually had a pretty bad car accident where I fell asleep driving and totaled my 4runner (Our normal touring vehicle actually. I’ve got a replacement vehicle, but it’s not exactly suitable for tour, so I’ve still got to figure out how we’re gonna take care of that. One thing at a time I guess). The work situation wasn’t great, we were understaffed and I ended up with more responsibility and less pay than I wanted-ended up quitting and spending 2 weeks just basically living with Kile at the studio to finish the mix.
All this was after some pretty significant delays (originally we had hoped to get everything by October 2016, the Alestorm, Nekrogoblikon tour…what a wild thought!)
TL;DR - There’s a old saying that everyone wants work to be good, cheap, and fast-but you can only ever pick two. We’re not wealthy, but we don’t want to compromise the quality of the music, so fast was the option that was sacrificed.
I noticed “The Magician” has no place in the new album. Originally, the song was written for the album, right? Why did you do that?
Jake: It was a tough call-if we could have figured out a way to include it and still get the album out when we wanted to, we would have. The first hurdle was that the stem files for the recording have been lost to time-a side effect of recording related songs years apart I guess. We could take the original master file and try to EQ match it to the rest of the stuff (and that’s likely how we’ll do it for the vinyl release), but then we run into a second hurdle. We wrote about 80 minutes of music within the Tarot theme, and I don’t know if it’s a quirk of the replication process (when you just burn a CD at home, that’s called duplication, and generally you can have up to 80 minutes per cd, but you end up with a CD that doesn’t consistently work with all players. Professionally, you generally go with replication-a process that involves some kind of glass master disc? I don’t know a lot about it other than it results in a more consistent product) but the company we work with for CD production has a limit of 74 minutes per disc. We could have done a double album, but again, that’s more money, and we just don’t have a lot to waste there. After discussing it a whole lot, we decided that if something had to go, it had to be The Magician. It’s still one of my favorite songs I’ve written, and it hurt not being able to include it. In my mind it’s part of the album, and if I could compress down all 80 minutes of music do a single bite sized song, it would either be The Magician or Tarot. We just didn’t want to deny anyone the ability to listen to new music for the sake of something fans had already heard.
To be honest, tarot cards are kind of mumbo jumbo fantasies for me like any other fortune-telling tools and I’m not familiar with meanings behind those cards. So, could you specify the album cover art? I like the mysterious art anyway!
Jake: Well for the CD cover, we worked with KolaHari . Tyler found his work first (he and Heinrich follow a lot of really talented artists on social media, and tend to introduce me to artists that I realize I’d like to work with in the context of band commissions). We didn’t give him much direction actually - he’s a tattoo artist based in *I think* London? He’s done tarot themes in his work before, and we just told him about the theme of the album, talked about some elements he’s used in his work that we like (he’s used that phases of the moon motif a few times and I think that looks really cool, and I think his style of clouds is nice) and mentioned maybe just having some kind of character doing a reading would work well. He took that and ran with it, and we were very pleased with the result. He presented us with a few options (his art photoshopped with different backgrounds) but ultimately we took the black and white version, and tyler worked some of his own graphic design magic on it, made it grungier, and did some manipulation to the text for the album title and the Aether Realm rune at the top, as well as modifying the dimensions of the entire piece to make it fit both a square (for digital purposes) and a slightly wide rectangle (for the digipak).
For some of the other art in the CD package (manly the insert) we used photography from Randy Edwards some tiled textures from Adrian Baxter and by the way, Adrian did the art for the vinyl edition of the album whenever we finish with that, it’s AMAZING) and a piece by Michael Meadors.
Sorry for the wall of text-just so many people have provided us with really fantastic art for this whole project and I want to make sure everyone gets acknowledged.
As far as the theme for the album itself, it all started with The Golden Tarot (authored by Liz Dean, illustrated by Melissa Launay). My friend Casey had bought the deck in 2012 or 2013 maybe? It became a regular activity when our group got together-play games, maybe go out and hike the railroad tracks, and at night light some candles and read each other’s fortunes. I’ve always been a skeptic with any sort of supernatural stuff, but I think there’s a kind of magic in allowing yourself to believe something that you rationally know is just powered by suggestion. Sparked by Melissa’s magical renditions of the major arcana (check them out here, still my favorite tarot art to date https://www.melissalaunay.com/gallery/books/the-golden-tarot/ ) I presented Heinrich with the idea to do a themed album one night while driving back from a late cookout run. I liked the idea because I’m absolutely terrible at thinking of things to write lyrics about, and this gave me a framework to build on. Heinrich seemed to agree this was cool, and so everything we worked on from then on was with that theme in mind. Initially my interest in tarot cards was pretty shallow, but 5 years of writing about them has granted me at least a little bit of relevant knowledge. We hadn’t started any sort of focused effort on planning a new album yet, though we were still writing riffs and coming up with ideas. We’d I think done 2 or 3 DIY tours at this point, and were all still living in Greenville, NC. Jack Rodriguez-Dougherty (then still unmarried and just Jack Dougherty) was still in the band.
I remember The Magician starting out as a Guitar Pro file, and later a Logic file, called Wish. Strength was mostly written around the same time and we debated which we would record, and there were ideas that made it into TSTMTS that were already in existence in Guitar Pro or just as piano ideas. Later came The Chariot, though at that point most of the songs had been started, with some ideas for songs that never made the final cut (I’ve still got a guitar pro file somewhere for a song called “the lovers” that was a RIPPER, but just never got fleshed out. Will probably re-use).
Okay, let’s move on to the track by track insight. Could you add your interpretation to the following track list?
Track01 - The Fool (7:54)
The dramatic opening track discloses you a lot of new aspects of the band already and leads you to their brand new musical journey.
Jake: So the Fool, the card itself, depicts a carefree traveller taking the first step on their journey. Face turned the sky, head in the clouds, they don’t realize that their step will lead them tumbling down a cliff. There’s a dog tugging at The Fool’s leg, representing reason and realism, trying to stop them from hurting themselves.
I’ve seen aspects of myself in different cards over the years of working on this (I saw myself in the Magician for a long time when things were going well and I was a little more, uh…full of myself). Now though, I see myself most in The Fool-head in the clouds, very gung ho about going on new adventures (like big tours with Alestorm, or grandiose musical ideas), and perhaps the most apt parallel, hopelessly disorganized, forgetful, and prone to wanting to do “big things” despite being a broke ass 24 yr old in a band, haha.
So that manifests lyrically in this song as a bit of self reflection. During some of the darker times during the creation of this one, I felt like attempting to continue to create music was pretty hopeless, and I hated everything I was making, and led me to feel like I was continuing to live in the shadow of what we had done in 2012 with OCBTG. I (kind of cryptically I guess) describe attempts by others to bring me out of that state, and how facing your own flaws and shining a light on your own personal problems can hurt a lot (…the light she shined on me, it burned me deep down to my bones…) despite the fact that that’s probably the healthiest thing for a person in that situation (…but the flesh that sloughed from the bone was blackened and diseased. That flesh was not my flesh…), and kind of punctuated at the end by an attempt to command myself to try to do the shit I want to do, because we have a finite amount of time to do it. Not intended as a lecture towards anyone that finds themselves deep in the grip of depression, but just a personal coping mechanism.
Musically, I was being influenced a lot by Mike Low’s writing style in my old band Oubliette, Wilderun, Opeth, and Insomnium. Heinrich did some sick sound design in this one as well, and really fleshed out a lot of the guitar parts to include some good harmonies.
Track02 - Tarot (4:23)
I’m sure the title track immediately blows you away. It’s just intensive and easy to make you into the song!
Jake: Heinrich took this melody/chord progression I had written for the chorus and made this insane rhythm guitar part for it. That kind of set the stage for the writing of the whole thing-fast, riffy, but anchored by a catchy chorus melody, and polished with 2 great guitar solos (first Taylor Washington of Paladin did a guest solo, followed by Heinrich), a really fun breakdown section by Donny, and overall some of my favorite orchestral work by Dan Müller of Wilderun (who, by the way, did all of the big orchestral arranging for the entire album. Thanks Dan!) I think this song kind of encompasses most of the elements of what we want to be as a band.
Track03 – The Tower (2:56)
Short but there are full of tasty guitar melodies in this track.
Jake:Yeah, this is one of the ones we started a long time ago. The hook in this song has been written since 2012, and we figured we wanted to kind of test ourselves in a way-could we do a song without any synth elements? I guess people that listen are gonna decide, but I’m at least glad to have a song we can faithfully re-create live even if my computer explodes mid concert and we lose all our orchestral tracks.
Track04 – King of Cups (4:59)
Great party piece and has some similar vibe with “The Chariot”. It would be a lot of fun if you experience the song at them live!
Jake: I can describe all the shorter, fun ones more or less the same way. We take a melody and chord progression, Heinrich fleshes it out into interesting guitar parts, tyler takes my boring programmed drums and plays them in a fun way, and (at least for this album), Donny throws in cool ideas for breakdowns or leads or solo sections (this one is the same way. Heinrich and Donny have back to back solos, and Donny wrote this fun like, 80s hair metal riff/solo-I think it’s cool juxtaposed against Heinrich’s more like, Jeff Loomis style approach here). Oh and Chris Bowes from Alestorm did a guest verse. We got drunk at his house one night and wrote some ridiculous lyrics!
Track05 – Death (4:28)
It has some impressive combination between killer blasts and guitar harmonies right before the beautiful chorus part.
Jake: The musical inspiration on this one ranged from Bodom & Hypocrisy (the “theme riff” in this song reminds me a lot of Eraser, and I hope (perhaps unrealistically) that it can be even a fraction as beloved by the metal community) to Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (go play the Ice World, you may hear some similarities in the chord progression).
There’s a combination of my own layered voice and Philip Reed’s choir arrangement going on in the chorus, and it’s probably the first time I’ve heard my own singing voice in a song and not really had any problems with it. I think it came out well!
Lyrically, this is one of the songs describing more personal issues as opposed to being a fun short fantasy story. Working on the same thing for so long and not really having much to show for it put me in a bad spot emotionally multiple times. Like with most of my lyrical stuff, there isn’t really some big point I’m trying to make, more just doing my best to describe the feelings and emotions that I have experience with.
Feeling so bad that you want to die is something I think a lot of people have dealt with, certainly more people that admit to having dealt with it, and I guess I hope if anyone that likes this is in that state, they can listen to songs like this and maybe feel less alone.
Track06 – The Chariot (6:24)
The song became their flagship tune since it was released as a new single in 2015. You may know the song as their first music video as well.
Jake: Not much to say. You’ve heard it, it’s a fun bouncy banger about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at you!
Track07 – The Devil (8:45)
Black, symphonic and melancholic but absolutely punchy piece! You can see obvious new aspects of their music through the song. One of my favorites.
Jake: This was a really neat one I think, because it’s one of the ones we stepped out of our comfort zone on the most. Kind of a spiritual successor to the title track from One Chosen I think. Big evil sounding riffs and chord progressions, amazing orchestrations by Dan, Tyler pushed to complete exhaustion from the speed we’re making him blast (sorry dude!), Heinrich facing the same issue from the speed of the string skipping verse riff, Donny with a flamenco influenced acoustic interlude out of nowhere (he originally wrote it as a joke, but I told him we had to keep it)-it goes all over the place. We didn’t do it like that on purpose, it’s just where the music happened to go, you know? Shout out to Escher (NC) for being the primary influence on the big staccato diminished riff just before the outro.
Track08 – The Emperor (2:48)
The shortest track in the album has some tasty Bodom vibe in its melodies.
Jake: Not too much to say on this one-just a fun track. I was listening to a lot of Kalmah at the time, haha.
Track09 – Strength (6:17)
Simply soak into the groove and you may encounter with some nice surprise by the guitar solo somewhere in the second half.
Jake: One of the earliest ones we started working on within the Tarot theme, I’ve been off and on worried that it wouldn’t really “fit”. I think with Kile’s consistent production style, the way Heinrich altered the chorus riff in the second half for a more “metal” chuggy feel, and tyler’s use of like, uh, double kick flams? (I’m not sure what the actual term is, but whenever he leads into a beat with a quick one or two kicks), it ends up working and feeling like Aether Realm-whatever that means, haha. Donny’s solo on this one is one of my favorites too-you can hear jazz background I think!
Track10 – Temperance (5:27)
You can feel the band’s musical growth and depth with this track. And you may find Jake can manage not only killer shouts but also gorgeous clean vocals.
Jake: Donny wrote the whole acoustic part up until before the vocals, and I think it serves well to bring the listener out of Strength and into the kind of repetitive prayer/chant in Temperance. Philip and his choir knocked the choir vocals out of the park, Dan did fantastically on the orchestrations, and Heinrich’s guitar work when it gets heavy has got a lot of nuance (like it always does)
Lyrically it’s just kind of a self reminder that sometimes you need to slow down, find your quiet place, and take a breath. I’m guilty of judging my self worth based around my artistic output often, and that means that when I take breaks I feel pretty guilty, but people definitely can’t just go all out all of the time.
Track11 – The Sun, The Moon, The Star (19:09)
Needless to say, this is the longest track in their entire releases. The colorful hymn should spread into your body and soul. It’s appropriate to close their new musical journey.
Jake: I’ve already written such a wall of text in here already, I wouldn’t really be able to cover this one in depth without making it unreadable I think, haha. Heinrich and I shared the writing here, and everyone involved did a great job. It’s a story about what it means to leave the comfort of home, go on an adventure, and a reflection of what you’re giving up when you decide to do that. I hope people can listen all the way through, it’s a doozy of a song, and we hid some of our favorite parts on the whole album near the end.
There was a replacement of a guitarist after the previous interview with you, right? Could you introduce Donny Burbage to your fans?
Jake: Hey fans, this is DONNY!
Donny, this is fans!
I’ve find you’re going to have a big European Tour with Alestorm this year, woohoo. Could you show us the tour dates so far?
28.9 - Bochum, DE @ Zeche
29.9 - Berlin, DE @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
30.9 - Munich, DE @ Backstage
1.10 - Budapest, HU @ Barba Negra
2.10 - Zwickau, DE @ Break Out Festival
3.10 - Frankfurt, DE @ Batschkapp
4.10 - Hamburg, DE @ Grünspann
5.10 - Hannover, DE @ Faust
6.10 - Vienna, AT @ Simm City
7.10 - Cologne, DE @ Essigfabrik
8.10 - Bern, CH @ Gaskessel
9.10 - Toulouse, FR @ Bikini
10.10 - Rennes, FR @ L’etage
11.10 - Rouen, FR @ Le 106
13.10 - Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg
14.10 - Nijmegen, NL @ Doornroosje
15.10 - Pratteln, CH @ Z7
16.10 - Nuremberg, DE @ Hirsch
17.10 - Stutgart, DE @ Club Universum
18.10 - Lyon, FR @ Transbordeur
19.10 - Sion, CH @ Le Pont Franc
20.10 - Selestat, FR @ Rock Your Brain Fest
21.10 - Paris, FR @ Elysee Montmarte
22.10 - Antwerpen, BE @ Trix"
How about Asian tour or any other countries?
Jake: We’d love to do it, and I hope we have enough money one day (touring is expensive when you’re a little band!)
Do you have any information/thoughts about “Tarot” you want to share with your fans?
Jake: I think we covered it all here. I’m really just excited that anyone at all wants to hear music that we’ve made. Thank you for enjoying it!
ÆTHER REALM - "Tarot"
Available on June 7th, 2017
ÆTHER REALM are:
Vincent "Jake" Jones – bass, vocals
Heinrich Arnold – guitar, vocals
Tyler Gresham – drums
Donny Burbage — guitar
Band photos by Randy Edwards
AETHER REALM’s Music Video “The Chariot” is out now!
ÆTHER REALM the epic folk metal from North Carolina released the first official music video "The Chariot" from their upcoming second full-length!!!
If you like it and want to support them, please visit ÆTHER REALM Bandcamp page and buy the song. It's worth paying, isn't it?
They are going to start a domestic tour with Wilderun within a couple of days.
ÆTHER REALM interview on April 2013
“…we’re just a bunch of dudes that want to play our music for as many people as we can.”
I’m still stoked so much and totally into the amazing album “One Chosen By The Gods” you released on this January. Such a great band you are! When did you start ÆTHER REALM? Could you tell me about the history of the band?
Jake: Well it’s not as exciting a story as many people hope for. Heinrich and I used to be in a band together, and we started Æther Realm as a side project in early 2010. Tyler joined the band on drums, and we had our friends George and Robbie on guitar and keyboards. They both left after about a year, and Jack joined at the beginning of summer 2011. We played our first big show shortly afterwards, opening for Finntroll and Ensiferum, and then went into the studio with Jamie King to record our first demo, Odin Will Provide, later that summer. It came out in September 2011.
After we had some positive response from that, we went back to the studio as soon as we could, and recorded One Chosen by the Gods in January and February of 2012. We decided not to release it as soon as it was ready, and looked to get picked up by a record label. We toured the USA’s east coast that summer, and continued to play shows and negotiate with labels the remainder of that year.
The negotiations moved too slowly for us, so we decided to go ahead and release the album in January. The response on this has been far beyond what we were expecting (I mean shit, we’re still a little local band from Greenville, NC).
I was absolutely amused at your own description “We are not from Finland” when I checked your facebook page at the first time, haha. Yes your music sounds pureblooded Finnish metal. So, which bands have you been influenced for the formation of the band?
Jake: Definitely the obvious choices (Wintersun, Turisas, Ensiferum, Kalmah) make up a great deal of the metal I find myself listening to. However, we’re also influenced by several straight forward melodic death metal bands (In Flames, Soilwork, The Black Dahlia Murder). I personally am also very influenced by several artists outside of the metal realm altogether (Beirut, La Roux, Metric, and I’m actually a big fan of Ke$ha if you believe me).
Such a fabulous band name “ÆTHER REALM” with solemn and sublime images. What is
“ÆTHER REALM” for you?
Jake: Well Æther means a few different things, it can be a substance or a place. The translation from Greek means "realm of the sky". When we started the band, I hadn't looked too much into it though. I was just an impulsive 17 year old that wanted a "cool" band name. The result is that our band name is actually redundant it translates literally to "realm of the sky realm". Oops.
The album “One Chosen By The Gods” deals with North mythology, right? Could you tell me about its concept?
Jake: Well when I first started writing the songs, I intended to have them all deal with Scandinavian mythology. However, the more I wrote, the more I found I enjoyed just writing the fantasies and epic tales from my own mind. The result is kind of a mix of stories that are partially based in ancient myths, and partially from my own mind.
Could you describe each of the songs in the album shortly?
Journey of Discovery is the intro of the album, and contains some melodies from Hourglass and Oak, the first and last songs on the album I guess kind of an overture of sorts.
Hourglass, the first real song, is about the fleeting nature of time, and how one should do the most that they can with the time they have.
Æther Realm is the tale of band of warriors on their journey to return home, and is the first song that I wrote on the album.
Swampwitch is about what you would expect a swamp witch! After years of having her land intruded upon by the residents of a nearby town, she lays it to waste.
One Chosen by the Gods is a story about a soldier that runs from an impending battle. He’s visited by a shadowy figure, who convinces him to turn back and return to the battle. However it’s too late his brothers in arms have all been killed. The shadowy figure returns to him in his despair, and imbues him with the strength he needs to carry out his revenge. He single handedly slaughters the remaining soldiers of the opposing army, before succumbing to death himself.
Ravensong was written when I was back in college, a reflects a lot of the feelings I had back then. I felt very restrained during that time, and wanted very much to devote much more of my time to music. The song is literally about a man who feels restrained in his human body, and carries out an ancient magic ritual to allow him to fly with the ravens. It appeared on our first demo, Odin Will Provide.
Winter’s Grasp is pretty simple just about a massive blizzard!
Odin Will Provide is the other song from our first demo. It starts out with a high speed chase on horse-back, and ends with a vicious one on one fight to the death.
Oak is another song that reflects real life. Like Ravensong, it takes me back to my shortlived college years. I struggled a lot with depression during that time, and thought a lot about suicide. It was a very unhappy time for me, but ultimately I realized that I wasn’t bound to my situation, and decided to leave school to focus on music. This song is essentially about those feelings struggling with and ultimately making it out of depression. I decided to draw themes from one of my favorite short stories, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and just make the material a little more grim, haha.
What happened between tracks “One Chosen By The Gods” and “Ravensong”? My copy has a physically different order from the track list then.
Jake: Haha, oh yea, that. Well as we're a young, unknown band, we have to do all of our stuff ourselves, even creating the CD packaging and assembling them all by hand. The first 200 or so CDs that we sent out contain an error with the track-listing on the back. We've fixed it since then, and hopefully we're a bit more careful on future releases.
(all live photos by Aaron Taylor Pace)
You had played a gig with Turisas, right? How was the show with them? They have many enthusiastic fans in Japan as well, paint its own face like the band and shout out fanatic “battle metal!” at them live, by the way.
Jake: We've played two shows with them, and they've totally blown us away both times. While we're still honing our skills and trying to figure out how exactly we want, they've totally perfected their craft and always deliver a great show. I hope we can make it to that level someday.
As you know, the album is selling well in Japan. What do you think about it?
Jake: Well we certainly didn't expect it, that's for sure! I’m still not sure I even can really get my head around it. We’re seriously a totally unknown band we’re not signed, we don’t have like a booking agency or a manager, we’re just a bunch of dudes that want to play our music for as many people as we can. I don’t know how soon we’ll be able to make to Japan to play shows, or whether we’ll be able to at all, but I know is that I’ll definitely do my best to make it out there as soon as possible.
Could you tell me about your upcoming plans for concerts and other stuff?
Jake: Well we’re announcing an American summer tour any day now, so watch out for that. Mainly we’re playing headlining shows in our state here and there, and the occasional opening gig for the larger folk metal bands that come through. Aside from actual shows, I’ve been busy programming the band’s light show as well as learning how to use the new audio software I have. We’ve just started demoing stuff for the new album too, so hopefully we’ll be back in the studio this year to record album number two.
Please leave some message to ÆTHER REALM fans in Japan.