I had a chance to speak with the Dutch horror masterminds Carach Angren about their new upcoming album, horror movies, collaborations, originality and much more. Speaking with the guitarist and vocalist Seregor. Excerpts:
MJM. How are you doing today?
Seregor (CA): I’m doing fine. Thank you very much.
MJM. How did Carach Angren start? Could you tell us the beginning of this horror tale?
Seregor (CA): Well, The Netherlands is a small country. Back in the day in the beginning of the millennium, Ardek and I had our first metal bands. So we found ourselves pretty easily because we had the same taste for music. Ardek was the one calling me one day if I was interested. I declined because I was too busy at the time. Later on he got caught up in a band that needed a singer. They asked me to help out and there Ardek and I where together. Carach Angren started as a project. Ardek told me he had a younger brother who was able to drum. That’s where Namtar came in.
MJM. Your new album comes out this June 2017. How satisfied are you with the overall initial response to the singles that were out from the album?
Seregor (CA): Very satisfied. I mean you can never please the full 100 % off course but that’s how it works in music and taste. Especially with the complexity in our music. But in general all reactions I’ve seen so far are great for this album.
MJM. Who took over the artworks?
Seregor (CA): We have always worked together with Erik Wijnands when it comes to photography and artworks but on this album we chose to collaborate with Costin Chioreanu who did an amazing job. He’s responsible for our animated horror-lyric videos and his style projects CA in a perfect way.
MJM. How was the studio process this time? Tell us about how it progressed?
Seregor (CA): It went more controlled or streamlined this time. We always work on pre-productions to have an image of how a song should sound for real. We work with different people like Patrick Damiani, Peter Tägtgren and Jonas Kjelgren etc. So actually there are more studios’s involved for recording, mixing and mastering the whole album. This time our brother Ardek took a great responsibility by not only composing but also mixing and recording main parts of the album before it went to Peter Tägtgren. For example; Ardek set up a little studio in his own place to record and edit the vocal parts I was screaming in next door. Our equipment was good enough and it gave us the opportunity to have a certain freedom to experiment with different styles of vocals.
MJM. Some bands do everything in the studio, while others are able to bring raw material into the studio and stick closer to the budget. How do you guys work when writing? Do you write at home or does most of it happen inside the studio.
Seregor (CA): No we definitely write the whole process at home. Off course things can change during the recordings but like said we always work on a pre-production. I literally need to have that song here in my fucking face for weeks and months hehe. I see it as raw statue we work on. It takes time. Like one of my handmade masks. It would cost us a fortune if we had to go into a studio starting from scrap. We could invent some parts during a jam-session. But only if they’re good enough they’ll be taken home to be analysed and dissected like some fucking alien organism. In order to be rebuilt until we are satisfied.
MJM. Each record by Carach Angren has always featured a very complex and brilliant orchestration along with its story telling, how do you work to combine the two elements?
Seregor (CA): Thank you! In most cases we come up with a story and we simply start to compose in its atmosphere. Especially in Ardek’s area there’s much room for instruments in order to make it already sound like the story without any lyrics at that time. If you listen to our second album you’ll hear many sounds associated with a nautical environment. Ghost ships and seas! It’s not that complex. We simply write music as if we’re directing a film. If you’re deep into composing it will take all your time! And I believe that’s the trick. You begin to like what you compose, you’ll fall in love with it until a point it becomes obsessive. You cannot let it go until it’s perfect and that’s the way Carach Angren composes. From musical arrangements, drum rhythms to storytelling.
MJM. How was the overall response to new single Charlie?
Seregor (CA): There was a great response! Before ‘Charlie” we released ‘Song for the dead”. I noticed that some people didn’t know what to expect because this song was not that complex and fast compared to our previous material. But this was a conscious choice. With ‘Song for the dead” we wanted to create a very sickening and emotional atmosphere. No use here for blast beats and aggression. But off course CA will always be a metal band. That’s where ‘Charlie’ came in. ‘Charlie’ has that typical threatening Carach Angren feeling in it. It makes you feel uneasy but powerful in a way. “Charlie” is a perfect first track for this album.
MJM. Carach Angren is often linked to bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, etc. What is your opinion about that?
Seregor (CA): That’s understandable because that’s the area of music we come from and these are the bands we grew up with. Since the beginning of our time these bands ruled their scene so when we came up with corpse paint and keyboards we had to prove ourselves. We are simply not the first band who invented this kind of music/image so we had to work hard to create our own unique style. There were hundreds of bands who tried this since the late nineties but we can prove with our albums that Carach Angren has created its own world.
MJM. The production on Carach Angren albums has always been very polished and clear compared to many Black Metal records. How do you work to achieve such perfect balance between clarity and atmosphere?
Seregor (CA): That’s comes with the style of music. Since the beginning it was clear that Carach Angren is a band that needed a pure sound. We don’t need too much distortion on guitars or delay/ reverb on those vocals. That’s because we have so much to tell in our music. And when you want everything to be heard it can be a challenge for the sound engineer. We always have to make choices because certain melodies can drown within the sounds-spectrum when there’s too much going on. Off course sound engineers will determine how it sounds in the end after mixing/ mastering. But most of it we automatically decide when the writing process begins.
MJM. Carach Angren’s lyrics have always been one of the very well made. Who’s the mastermind behind the lyrics of Carach Angren and how are the stories chosen and written ?
Seregor (CA): We come up with appropriate stories all together. If we like a certain tale it starts to grow in our imagination and later we decide if this story works for on album. For ‘Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten’ Ardek and I are responsible for writing the lyrics.
MJM. Now, speaking about the new album. Who came up with the title?
Seregor (CA): That’s a phrase from the track ‘Song for the dead’ written by Ardek.
MJM. Your new album was recorded in Tidalwave Studios’ and Abyss Studios in Sweden. I understand this is the second time you work with Peter Tägtgren. How was it and what did he bring in musically into the bands sound?
Seregor (CA): It was great as always! I myself never had to be physically present at the Abyss Studios but Namtar and Ardek worked some time with Peter to record the drums. They always come back with fun stories. But Peter did an awesome job. We are very satisfied with his work because manages to make the album sound really powerful. It’s easy to pump up an album and make it sound ‘full’. But its art to make it pounding like a hammer and let the rings, bells and melodies come out perfect at the same time. Peter Tägtgren is simply one of the best sound-artists out there.
MJM. What are your thoughts about the overall metal scene today with streamings, and albums being leaked almost even before they are written?
Seregor (CA): Well it’s the way of the world now and if you take care of business you should be fine. These are the changes you have to go along with anyway. The internet is a great tool to promote your band but off course it has its ups and downs.
MJM. CD sales are dropping and vinyl sales are increasing. Do you find this is a growing problem for you and other bands ?
Seregor (CA): If it would compensate I don’t see it as a problem. These kind of changes can be difficult for bands but I believe that people always want something in their hands. A record, CD, LP whatever. This is a time where you have to stay sharp, release strong albums and keep doing live performances to sell your products.
MJM. Carach Angren is known as a three piece band most of time but you have emphasised on using live musicians even without a bass player. What is the reason behind it?
Seregor (CA): We started as Keys (Ardek), Drums (Namtar) and myself on guitars and vocals. We called ourselves ’the triangle’ because we collaborated with different musicians and it never worked out for several reasons. That’s when we decided CA will always be a three piece band. Meanwhile, it became more difficult to combine the guitars and vocals for me and it resulted in an injury. So 2 years ago we decided to permanently use live-guitarists. Luckily we have some good friends, ‘Bastiaan’ and ‘Ludo” who have been doing a great job on it! The guitars are much tighter now, my vocals more controlled and my stage performance became more explosive.
MJM. Have you ever considered to score a horror movie ?
Seregor (CA): As I speak for myself, I thought about acting now and then and it would be great to have a fitting act. It shouldn’t be that difficult for me being a good ‘bad guy’.
MJM. Could you tell us about your upcoming tours lined up? What are your plans for Carach Angren in 2017?
Seregor (CA): There are some tour plans but nothing has been confirmed yet so more news on that later. For now we are doing some European festivals in Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Finland and Italy.
MJM. Do you have any final words to your fans and followers?
Seregor (CA): Many thanks for your support and see you soon at our show… to Dance and laugh amongst the rotten.