MEET THE ARTIST: ALTAR OF ERIS
Before I listen to your new EP "Isolation" I was prepared for some grunge-sound as you come from Seattle. Does this cliché still exist? A rock-band from Seattle has to sound like Nirvana or Soundgarden?
Brandon: It’s very interesting to me that Seattle still has that gundge reputation. I definitely feel as though that cliche is dead and gone. The local music scene has evolved many times over since the 90’s and I think that the types of bands that are around Seattle these days are incredibly diverse in sound. No, a rock band from Seattle doesn’t have to sound like Nirvana or Soundgarden, even though we pay homage to those bands for putting Seattle on the map in the first place.
Travis: I feel like a lot of grunge bands from this region captured an abstract feeling of being isolated while at the same time being surrounded by enormous evergreen trees that give you a comfortable feeling of being protected. That sound has all but disappeared from our region and has been replaced with an enormous spectrum of musicians creating music of all genres.The northwest has classically had great punk scenes as well that influenced the grunge movement. I think even though grunge doesn’t really exist anymore, a lot of "soundcloud rappers" carry the spirit of that genre, I also don’t actively listen to them, but I think they are carrying the grunge torch.
However: Did you or do you still listen to grunge?
Brandon: I never was really into grunge music much growing up, I was more influenced by metal and punk-hardcore bands.
Travis: When grunge was really big I was just a kid learning about punk rock, skateboarding and discovering music like Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, and Echo and the Bunnymen. During that era I was also listening to the first 3 Danzig albums backward in order. Those albums lead me to Samhain and that led me to the original Misfits. That was when all of those subcultures (punk, goth, skateboarding and outsider/lowbrow art) engrained themselves in me.
You are a young band, yet not well known in Europe, especially in Germany. Tell us something about you coming together...
Brandon: Well, I met Travis at a tattoo shop in Olympia Washington and we started bonding a lot over music. Then we started collaborating on his personal project Static Ghost. Once we realized we worked well together, we incorporated my friend Nick Trimmer into the group to play bass and help with the production. We started making music from our home studios and collaborating remotely and that’s how the Table of Discord came together.
Travis: We work well together. That is a very hard thing to find. I originally intended to make ugly destroyed industrial and darkwave music influenced by dark acid and EBM like DAF and Tzusing. Working with Brandon has shown me having collaborators can help you see a situation with a different set of eyes. Working with Nick has been like listening to our music with another set of ears and I’m grateful for him as well.
At the moment, you are a classical diy-group without a record label. Do you want to keep this artistic licence or are you in search of a record label?
Travis: We are 100% proudly a DIY band. If we decided to work with a label it would be with a label who respects artists and their vision. I have very specific topics and subjects I am touching on in my lyrics and it is a very cathartic thing. If I couldn't express the decaying darkness inside myself, this project would not be something I would continue. We have no interest in churning out mindless pop music (there is enough of that) or producing manufactured music with no character, real emotion or truth behind it. I feel if there is no honest intent behind what you're making it shows. Maybe all of that is too idealistic and we will never find a label. Danzig did Plan 9 and released his own music in the late 70’s and early 80’s, however. So for now, until we do find a label which matches our goals, we will be keeping our artistic license.
Why did you choose post-punk as your form of expression?
Travis: I think we also have elements of darkwave, industrial, post-punk and death rock in our sound and for me, that all comes from being a huge fan of those genres and being immersed in them. They have always been my favorite genre. Even when I sang in hardcore and metal bands, I would usually be wearing a Bauhaus or Sisters of Mercy shirt. I chose this culmination of styles because I was tired of making traditional rock music with 4 or 5 other people. I also found confidence over time to start playing/programming instruments and do more than scream into a microphone with the cord around my neck while being punched in the face.
Brandon: Post-punk speaks to me and became my mode of expression for a number of reasons. The genre is incredibly diverse in what falls under that nomenclature, so it allows me to express myself in a variety of ways while still staying on theme within the genre. The scene has also been the most accepting (in my experience) of unconventional sounds and that allows my creative side to flow much easier. Lastly, it allows me to connect to my roots of playing punk-hardcore, while being able to branch out into realms that are darker, more melodic, and require more from me than to just play power chords all day.
"Isolation" comes out just right in time, where the whole world is confronted with the corona-virus and the lockdown in almost every country. Weird, isn't it?
Brandon: It’s certainly a very intense time to be alive. It’s a weird thing for everyone across the globe to be facing similar lockdown conditions, there is some solidarity to be found in a situation like this, knowing that millions of other people are going through what we are going through. But the virus isn’t the only major issue we are facing as a country. Millions of people in America are currently out of work (myself included), many are recovering from the virus or have been hit by it, and this week there have been riots and protests in almost every major U.S. City in the face of extreme police brutality. So yes, it’s a very unusual time.
Especially the american way to handle this pandemic is harshly criticizedall over the world. Do you feel safe in these times and secured by your government?
Brandon: As someone who works in American politics as a profession, I have a ton of thoughts on this topic but, I’ll keep it short. The way the Trump Administration has handled the pandemic is appalling. Billions of dollars were given away to big corporations while the American people received a one-time $1,200 check and were told to shut up. Many people are not able to make rent, put food on the table, or see a doctor because of the costs. The Trump Administration failed to institute social distancing measures as soon as they found out about the virus, thousands of lives could have been saved, but they didn’t take it seriously enough and now people are dead. American lives and voices have been killed and locked up because of this maniac. I believe it’s safe to say that many of us do not feel secured by our government. Trump has sent the national guard across the country to stomp out protests for change and that is also appalling. I believe our country will remain in shambles for as long as the orange buffoon remains in office.
The Isolation you are talking about is certainly not relying on that virus. It seems more to me, this is the soundtrack for a self-imposed life in absolute solitude, am I right?
Travis: It seemed like a fitting title given the nature of what is currently happening and the overall arching theme of the songs, to some degree, is different shades of loneliness are explored while being lost in a void of morbid thoughts pondering what this reality is. I’m sure a lot of people who are alone in quarantine can relate to that. We are trying to make music we can relate to. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a rural suburb of Tacoma, Washington and kept to myself as a child, teenager and even now as an adult. I loved this music when it wasn't cool to like bands like The Cure or Bauhaus, they were passe bands in that era of hot topic “goth” bands. If I wasn’t fighting racist rednecks, I was fighting with kids who liked Nu-metal or rich kids who had nothing better to do than to mess with someone who is different. I have never fit in with anything I have ever done and can easily be described as a loner. I’m never in step with what’s hip or cool, I’m very much an outsider. There is so much personal and creative freedom when you cut societal constructs and walk your own path. You can be yourself and survive in this cold world if you’re willing to sacrifice and work hard.
Are you also the type of guys who can easily shut the door to the "world outside", somehow live the life of a hermit?
Travis: I am definitely a hermit. I’m not very social at all. I’m friendly, but I’m probably not a very "warm" person. I go to work and I tattoo all day, I come home and I work on music, I paint, I watch old horror movies (italian gothic horror is my favorite), I read a lot as well. I’m always busy in my own reality, I’m never bored because I am constantly creating and I am constantly learning. I always say "I’m just keeping myself interested in living". I find a lot of American society to be regressive and a vapid "dog and pony show". I have no interest in participating in a lemming society. I do my shopping late at night and tend to avoid large crowds as much as I possibly can. When I heard handshakes might be a thing of the past, I felt relief. I’d rather stay up late and paint or write.
Some intellectual game: if you have to live on your own, which album and which book would you take with you?
Travis: The first album that comes to mind is Iggy Pop’s "The Idiot". I can listen to that album over and over and never tire of it. It is timeless in the way it simultaneously exists in the past and the future while always being relevant in the present. The book would be "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Albert Camus. That book has helped me be at ease with existing and finding what I can approximate as happiness while interacting with a reality that is truly absurd and in my opinion has no real meaning.
Even though the album as a form of publication loses significance, can we expect a full-length from you in the next time after two EPs?
Travis: I think we will try to do another ep or two during lock-down. Eps are better for us to make because we can get six songs out in a few months compared to writing 20 songs, cutting 8 and then doing a 12 track album in several months. We want to give people something to listen to during this time and it also gives us a creative project to immerse ourselves in and helps us stay current by having fresh music more frequently. There is a wonderful two piece band in Portland, Oregon named Xibling and they have released at least 5 or 6 eps during the quarantine already and it’s all beautiful music! A lot of bands like She Past Away and Soft Moon have also recently released awesome remix albums. Maybe some like-minded, creative people will want to remix our stuff, let us know.
|| INTERVIEW: DANIEL DRESSLER | DATE: 06/15/20 | CONTACT >
PHOTOGRAPHY © DYLAN MILLER
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