Interview Art Against Agony (English)Catégories : Interviews
Art Against Agony’s Shiva Appreciation Society has been one of my revelation of this year in Progressive Metal. Luckily, the members of the band have had the kindness to answer to some of my questions and we’ve dived into their universe and secrets.
Radio Metal Sound: Does each song follow a precise basis or are you completely free to incorporate what you want?
Art Against Agony: Both.Some songs originate in a clear statement that we want to tell (Write a Word: THC), so we are very restricted/determined in our choice of songwriting tools, instrumentation, composition.Other songs result just from a small idea, a riff, a melody, a drum beat, a piano harmony, and grow over time and we incorporate whatever we want.
Radio Metal Sound: Your songs have incredibly complex structures, as a band, how do you get all the parts together?
Art Against Agony: Complex song structures arise because of the way we compose. We meet once or twice a week in our recording studio and record some musical ideas. We use digital instruments for all of this, because digital instruments can be modified by anybody very easily online at home. After a recording session, the results are uploaded into a web-cloud and everybody in the project can listen to it. Next session we meet, we discuss the progress, and record some more ideas on top of what has already been recorded. Very often this process takes months and years: Songs are in the cloud for a very long time and are being changed all the time. It can happen that a song starts as a guitar riff, but after a few recording sessions we decide that the direction that the song is going is actually more like an EDM piece, so we delete all guitars and write synthesizers. Or some song starts as a soft piano piece, and during a few recording sessions we put some interesting drums over it and then decide that the soft piano should develop into a hard djent riff with heavy drums. Anything can happen! But with time and with more and more recording sessions, complexity always grows. And of course everybody in the band brings in new ideas from time to time and all musicians need to respect the choices of others. The drummer decides to experiment with rhythms, and when he has written some new rhythms, the guitarists could decide that they must re-record all old guitars in the song, so they will fit the new ryhthm of the drums. Very often the finished song therefore sounds very different than the first ideas. But every songs ends very complex, because with each recording session we add ore colours, more flavour, more harmonic layers, more rhythmic ideas. In the end, you can hear a song in many different ways, like a caleidoscope.
Maybe that’s a little bit confusing when you hear such a song for the first time, but then you can discover something new each time you listen to the song. Even we discover new stuff in our own songs each time we hear them or play them live.
RMS: How do you keep a musical coherence between all these influences you have?
AAA: We don’t really care about coherence, to be honest. We keep something if we think it sounds cool, we throw something away if we think it sounds aweful. However – we don’t believe in musical genres. There is no jazz or metal, there is just music, because all music is constantly developing. Somebody who played Jazz in 1960 will no longer recognize Jazz in 2020, it has become something totally different. Same with metal of course. Metal in its current form is such a young sound, it literally didn’t exist some years ago. So we see no real point in talking genres, and therefore there is also no problem of coherence. What we want to say is basically this: What people think sounds ‘coherent’ and what not is changing all the time.
RMS: Why is Shiva Appreciation Society cut in two halves (8 songs – Interlude – 8 songs)? Is it a deliberate choice for your concept or a mere musical choice?
AAA: All of our albums are concept albums and split into separate parts. For the Shiva Appreciation Society it was more of a musical choice, to keep a balance of heavier songs and softer songs – so we decided to go for an hourglass approach: Start heavy, become soft, end heavy.
RMS: Do you think that idealistic philosophy and progressive metal may be somehow linked or is this fusion but an aesthetic choice?
AAA: We don’t believe there is any link is idealistic philosophy and progressive metal, because progressive music can be representing any philosophy, not necessarily idealist concepts. However, we play progressive music, because progressive music is usually consumed by people who are open to progressive philosophical ideas. We could play pop music or popular metal (see Ghost, Slipknot etc.) and still use masks, but we could not sell our philosophy, because people won’t care or won’t be interested or simply don’t understand. Therefore, its easier for us to sell our philosophy together with progressive music.
RMS: Beside idealistic philosophy, what are your main influences for the core of your project?
AAA: Regarding philosophical ideas, we are mixing Plato’s ontological idealism with Nietzsche’s epistemological realism: We are idealists through and through, however, we also are aware that we are part of an industry that doesn’t give a fuck about idealism, so we’ve decided to get into the fight and fuck everybody in their asses. Its free for all, everybody against everybody, and its actually all about money and contacts in the business. Whoever has the most money and the most contacts in the scene will get the best slots for tours, the best marketing, the most fans, the most money. Of course quality in music also plays a huge role, but aside from the technical side of music production all bands on the market fight for attention and money. So all idealism aside, if we want to gain anybodies attention, we must take compromises on our idealism. Latest example: We really believe that names, bodies and faces don’t matter, and that’s the reason why we wear masks and stay anonymous, but then we put our female bassist in a barrel, naked, and made her rise out of black water in the end of our latest video Nandi. That’s actually all our philosophy is against! But sex sells – and indeed, many people (men…) asked us for that girl in the end of the video, and we believe a huge amount of views for the video on YouTube is just because of our beautiful bassist and her tits. Well, hail Nietzsche!
RMS: As your concept is deeply rooted in idealistic philosophy, do you think your music succeeds in conveying your message?
AAA: Additionally to the concept of anonymity, that our names, bodies and faces don’t matter, we also believe that none of our music actually originates from us. We are no authors, we are mediators. If we realize a certain variant of sound, pitch of loudness in music, that certain variant is not original and doesn’t belong to us – in fact, all music already exists in the universe, it just hasn’t been played yet. In 2017 we have released an EP called The Forgotten Story, which is basically five songs from our first album Three Short Stories in their current form, how the songs have developed over time on stage. So here is our idealism again: For us, these songs are still the same ideas, although the songs sound very different from 2014 versions to 2017 versions. And of course, these ideas belong to us, we have just mediated them through our bodies. But here comes Nietzsche: You don’t need to agree with our philosophy it all! If you like it, buy it! We will be happy to earn some money with you and make more music!
RMS: Don't you think that the struggle against agony is somehow related to embodiment thanks to/because of which we feel pain and pleasure? Thus, why do you conceal the relationship to the body in concert?
AAA: Yes, sure, absolutely. We feel pain and pleasure, and we want to grow all the time. We are animals, life. All life needs to grow all the time, duplicate cells, grow, grow, grow. Life is growth through a dynamic circle of production, consumption and decomposition. Our animalistic side can’t stop to consume, to produce, and defecate. Its our body, it’s the shell that we live in. However, it is this shell that won’t allow us to find peace, its our bodies that make us fare war, earn more and more money, make us want more and more and never be satisfied. Bodies are important about who we are when it comes to our animalistic side, when we talk about growth, about pain and pleasure, right. But our philosophy is against all of it, because bodies don’t matter to ideas. Bodies are just shells, they grow, become older, wither and die. Ideas are infinite constructs. Ideas matter, bodies don’t. Ideas matter, pain and pleasure doesn’t matter.
RMS: Are you all into idealistic philosophy? If no, how do you receive this message all together?
AAA: Not all of us are idealists. But even a hardcore idealist must agree, that you can not perform alone on stage, and you must accept that your other musicians are not hardcore idealists, in order to be able to produce music, tour and earn money. We are part of the system, we must also grow, produce, consume, earn money. Therefore it doesn’t matter whether all of us are idealists. It’s the core idea of the band, and as long as everybody stays anonymous and wears a mask on stage, there are no problems. Hello Nietzsche, again – lets celebrate idealism…in a realistic way!
RMS: What do you plan and/or hope for Art Against Agony?
AAA: We will continue to record music, produce films and art of all categories. We hope that as many people as possible will notice the ideas behind the music, because after all the ideas are what its all about, not our bodies, names and faces.
There is also a very personal chance how fans can help us: Last year we have decided to create a platform on Patreon Every musicians knows that the music industry is shrinking, and there is no more money in CDs and especially no money in streaming. Therefore, fans who love our ideas are able to help the project directly – from a monthly contribution between 5-15$ fans will get all over music and future music for free, all of our merch for free, and even all free entry to future shows! For 2018, we’ve have made some wonderful experiences on Patreon and we’ve been able to do some special events for all our supporters. For 2019, there will be a new album release, a new music video, a new tour, and many more things that might surprise the one or the other…
That’s it for this interview which dwells on the ideas behind Art Against Agony. I recommend you to check out their Patreon, their YouTube channel where you may find some videos, their website where you’ll discover their talents as photographers, their Facebook to keep in touch with them and obviously their Bandcamp to buy their merch’ or CDs.
Par Baptiste - 16/01/2019