(Amiensus agreed to answer some of the questions to our guest writer Nattramn. We personally want to thank every band member for their time.)
How do you describe “Restoration”? Clearly this isn’t just a black metal album, it has lots of influences.
James: We typically shy away from calling ourselves black metal at all because we quickly realized (and even before we released it) that this album was… Somewhat eclectic. We are obviously very influenced by black metal but this band is about using what every band member has, talents, and those are not all necessarily “metal” talents. We have used “progressive black metal” to the dismay of some purists, but I think it’s the most logical choice we have. Usually we just say melodic metal in reference to Restoration.
Aaron: “Restoration” is a combination of all our influences mashed into one. All of us in the band have a common love for metal, but each of us have very distinct tastes in comparison to each other. We wanted to put all of our unique talents as individuals into this record and not contain it within a genre so that the result would be something very special and meaningful to us.
Zack: What I wrote on Restoration was the result of us consciously trying not trying to fit any sort of mold whatsoever. We simply wrote what we wanted to hear, all while trying to keep it consistent and within good taste.
Joe: I would classify our sound as post-metal or avant-garde metal. Black metal is one of the many influences that goes into the creation of Amiensus’ sound, but I would not call it black metal at all.
What motivated you the most when recording “Restoration”? Some of you were students by that time.
James: This is a tough question because for each of us, there were LOTS of things to write and motivate us when recording. I think we could write you about 15 pages on just this topic. For some of us, we were just getting done with a band that we’d spent 4 years doing but never feeling like we were really able to express ourselves. Coupled with some personal struggles, this was a driving force in writing something that truly expressed who we were (and are!). I think that is the best way to condense our answers. Also to some degree it was a giant experiment. The previous group of us (Aaron, Zack, James, Duke) had worked together for years, where as when Joe and Chelsi joined we’d never worked with them, though we’d played locally with them and that’s what inspired us to become friends, and eventually band mates. I think if you want to see a transition from who we were to what Restoration is, you can listen to our first release “The Last EP” and see a giant philosophical shift. We were trying to fit a mold that wasn’t exactly fitting then. The album was called “Restoration” because it was kind of a soul fulfilling (over dramatic?) restoration for us, really it wasn’t aimed to please any audience, it was for us, because we wanted to grow.
Aaron: This kind of goes with what was talked about with the first question. Many of us in the band had played in bands before but they were usually pretty specific genres of music. When we got together and decided to start recording music, we wanted it to make sure that everyone would have a voice in the band as that we would be willing to explore any musical path. This was an exciting prospect because it allowed us to experiment with a lot of different progressions and riffs without the initial fear of it being rejected by another member. There were of course plenty of riffs and progressions that didn’t make it into the record, but the ones that did were usually very different from what they originally were because everyone in the band added their own flair or take on the riff that really made it fun to watch the progression of a song.
Zack: For me music is a compulsion as much as it is a passion. My urge to write was further influenced by some crazy stuff that was going on at my life at the time. I just couldn’t fully process what had happened to me, it only seemed real once I put it to music. I guess you could say it’s a coping mechanism.
There are female voices in some of the songs, but no real lines. Why?
James: This is kind of an ongoing joke in our camp that might seem mean but really we didn’t think about this until the album was published. We were thinking, wow Chelsi sang on like 5 songs, but never actually said any words? She definitely had clearance to do so, but never did. This will change on our next release, be sure.
Aaron: We joke about this quite a bit in our band actually. We didn’t purposefully have the female vocals not sing lyrics, it just kind of worked out that way. It was one of those things we didn’t really realize had happened until after the album was done.
Zack: We’d really love to add some female vocals to our stuff that has actual lyrical content, but I think the reason we chose to stick with Aaron/Joe/Jimmy is that Jim wrote a lot of the lyrics and therefore wrote the singing parts for a guy/himself.
Joe: The female vocals were added for atmosphere and texture, more or less. They were never intended to deliver actual lyrics, but rather to complement the overall sound.
Do underground bands get the necessary attention? How do you feel about this? Do you need to be a part of a commercial label for more people to notice you?
James: Underground bands are definitely experiencing a high due to websites and blogs like this one. We like to read up on smaller, underground bands because we like making connections, and because music can cross all cultural and national boundaries.
No definitely not. The Internet has changed that completely. You need some decent music, smart marketing, knowing your audience, and distribution. I really like the part that Tridroid Records is playing in our home state, Minnesota. They print and distribute for smaller bands like us (They did our split from November, 2013 with Oak Pantheon, Gathering).
Aaron: I think that technology has really changed how bands are found now. Bands can interact and share information very easily through facebook, or they can sell their album through bandcamp. We have done both and have found both to be very fruitful. Most of our sales come through bandcamp and we seem to get a good amount of feedback from our fans through facebook. Because of this, bands don’t have to have a big recording deal to get their music heard. Technology has allowed smaller bands (like us) to share our music with thousands of people. This allows the fans to respond and share the music if they think others will like it.
Zack: I personally was incredibly surprised with the reception our album got. I wasn’t expecting half of the fans we made over 2013.
Joe: It depends on how widespread you want your reach to be. Some of my favorite bands are relatively unknown, but they have a respectable number of very loyal fans. With this sort of music, the right people find it. We don’t come to them. We just create it and let them discover it. Within the context of whatever genre we fall into, being forced upon people by a commercial label would ruin the discovery.
Are you working on a new material? What and when should we expect it?
James: We’ve been working on material since 2011 for our next album. I can tell you that so far we’ve got about 4 songs done, and three times that many halfway done. We hope to have a record out by the end of 2014 or spring 2015. We’ve been noticing that the “extremes” in our music have gotten more extreme. I think current fans and friends will really enjoy it, but it might be too polarizing for some new listeners. We’ll see when it is released! We do plan on doing everything on our own again (Except Roman aka Arsafes will mix and master this album).
Aaron: When we work on new material it usually consists of us building off riff ideas that have been proposed and slowing fleshing it out until we have a fairly complete demo of the song.
Todd: I’m new to the band and come from a largely technical death metal background, as the other band I play in is, but I’m hoping to branch out and really explore the melodic side of my bass playing while maintaining a heavy and fast low end when needed.
Zack: We were hoping for fall 2014 – spring 2015 for release.
Joe: My time is split between four different projects at the moment. I am primarily focused on finishing my black metal project’s debut at the moment, but I’m always writing for Amiensus.
Do you plan on doing live gigs or remain as a studio band for the moment?
James: We’ve discussed the live thing and at the current time it just doesn’t fit in with our schedules. Some day down the road it’s a possibility, and shoot even the right offer and we can get it together. We’ve all played lived together before and we know the chemistry we have, so we aren’t afraid of playing live, its just rather our personal availability.
Aaron: As of right now we are staying a studio band, but live gigs have been discussed. It’s mostly an issue of distance as one of our members is in College in Washington. Depending on what is going on with everyone we may be able to start playing shows.
Zack: Yeah. At some point we would like to play live, but currently school doesn’t allow me.
Maybe a question I shouldn’t ask, but does “Restoration” meet all or most of your criteria and expectations?
James: As a musician, there is always lots of things you usually look back on after an album and go “ahh I should have played it like this, or sang right here”. There are quite a few of those moments, and frankly because it was such an experience for us to put out our first full length album I’m not surprised. But I am not dissatisfied because it was a great learning experience. Restoration meets my personal criteria because I wanted to create an album that I could be proud of and listen to. I think it hit the mark there and that’s all my expectations were.
Aaron: In terms of how it turned out I think it is safe to say that everyone in the band was satisfied with how it turn out. We didn’t know if anyone else would like it or if even that many people would hear it, but we were proud that we were able to make an album together. In terms of the response we got for the album, we were blown away! I think we had around 230 fans on facebook and a year later are over 2,000. We have sold lots of merch as well as several hundred digital copies of the album which is far beyond anything we were expecting! We are very proud with the response we have gotten for “Restoration”.
Zack: Yeah, it in many ways surpassed them.
Joe: Yes and no. I’m proud of it, but I am a very, very harsh critic. Especially when referring to material that I have been involved with. I hear many mistakes in “Restoration” and I’m not a big fan of the production, except for the Prometheus, which by the way, is to this day the only song I’ve ever been a part of and released that I have absolutely no complaints about. It is flawless to me.
I saved this for the end since it’s a question aside from Amiensus. I’m a “die hard” into the melodic death/doom genre as I tend to call it, both you and Joe are members of Adora Vivos, a band I also discovered thanks to Amiensus. E.P Toward the Empyrean came out February, 2013 which I also find mind-blowing. Is there a full length debut coming?
James: We have a full length and another release in the works right now. It’s the fine details that need to be worked out yet. But there will also be a digipak of the Toward the Empyrean EP coming out very soon, we just finished the art!
Joe: We are currently working on a split with another project of mine, VII. We will each be doing three or four tracks for the split with a wide range of guest musicians, many of which are quite well known in the metal world. Aside from this, we are planning a full length release in the not so distant future as well.
It’s become a cliché question but any words you like to share with the community and the fans?
James: We really appreciate the response we’ve gotten in the last year… This was all for fun and to keep a group of friends in contact as we went to school all across the US. Thank you everyone who has downloaded, shared, purchased, ripped, or stolen our music.
Aaron: We are so thankful and constantly blown away with the response we have gotten over the last year from our fans! They have allowed us to push our music much further and give us even more reason to continue on as a band. Whether you bought or downloaded our music for free, we thank you for listening to our music!
Zack: “Insert Mayhem quote”