It's been a long, long time since my last interview (well, about two years) and since hearing this band four years ago I've wanted to interview them and decided it was finally time. So, if you haven't heard these guys then read on to learn more. Also definitely consider seeking out their brilliant work, especially their more recent release, 'Hail Wind and Hewn Oak,' available through Morbid Winter Records.
JM: Greetings, sir, let us began this interview by having you tell the readers a little bit about how the band was formed, what you've accomplished thus far and any other details you feel might be relevant to someone that has never heard your music before.
Aaron: The band was formed in the latter half of 2005 and at the time it was composed of just Ray and myself. As stated in another interview, it was more of a "blackened" neo-folk sound at the start. There were no clear plans to create a "band", rather he and I wanted a creative outlet and weren't in any active bands at the time. After deciding that we wanted to create a blend of black metal/neo-folk and whatever else came to mind, we went over his music space/shack of sorts and mostly improvised the track "Contemplation of the Forgotten" that evening. This was our method for all of those demo songs. We'd "write" and record it all in one session.
JM: Metal-Archives states that your name is taken from Tolkien's, 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, though personally even after reading those books a few times and watching the movies dozens of times over the past decade or so I don't recall ever hearing the name pop up. Could you explain what the Falls of Rauros are/is and why you choose the name? Likewise for the sake of my own personal clarity how is Rauros properly pronounced ('Raw-Ross' is what I've been saying for the past four years)?
A: The Falls of Rauros are mentioned in the "Lament for Boromir" in which it is stated: "The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days."
They are the falls down which Boromir is sent after he is slain. The reason for choosing the name was mostly just from being a fan of Tolkien's works as a whole. More specifically though, the events at the Falls of Rauros represent the power of the natural world and the inevitable return to the Earth that we all take part in. It is one of the many examples found in Tolkien's work of mankind's inseparable connection with nature and the untameable wild. Keep in mind that despite the name, we shouldn't be viewed as a "fantasy metal" band, as none of the lyrics pertain to Tolkien/fantasy at all. The pronunciation, to the best of my knowledge, would be Row-Ross (as in "how"). If you wanted to get fancy you could add a very slight alveolar trill to it as well.
JM: There's a lot of mystery behind the band. Thus far only one indistinct promo photo has surfaced while the booklet of, 'Hail Wind and Hewn Oak' simply states that, 'all material was captured by four individuals...' Why the desire for such anonymity?
A: There's no specific requirement of anonymity for us. I suppose none of us like our picture taken, especially posing or such things. It's very difficult when we try as almost all the pictures end up being jokes. Also, since we had not been playing live for most of our existence we figured our names in a booklet were rather pointless and didn't aid the record in any way. We did however think we should specify that we were no longer a 2 piece on "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak."
JM: I briefly glanced at your only other interview and read how Falls originally began as a blackened neo folk band, but gradually introduced more metal before arriving at your current style. Do you suppose in the future you'll consider revisiting this early concept or perhaps just write a pure sounding neo folk piece someday?
A: We've thought about it and discussed it a bit, but nothing is in the works right now. If we were to do a "softer" record it would most likely not be purely neo-folk, we would want to experiment with other sounds which would probably include electric instruments as well. At this point it's uncertain.
JM: All of your songs, even the demo songs, are very long in length. Was it a conscious decision from the start to write long songs or did it just happen naturally during the writing process?
A: Writing long songs was definitely not a conscious decision. It just came naturally. The styles of music we try to blend often use repetition to their advantage, and we consider that an important element in the atmosphere we attempt to create. It's not a requirement though and maybe we'll write some shorter tracks down the road. Maybe.
JM: Prior to the release of, 'Hail Wind and Hewn Oak' in 2008 you had two demos and a full-length album, which were gathered together recently and released in very limited cassette format under the name, 'Revisitation.' Do you see all of this early material as simply demos and therefore view, 'Hail Wind...' as your true debut full-length?
A: "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak" certainly felt like our first full-length by the way it was recorded all at once as opposed to one song at a time. However, the physical copies of the "Window of the Eye" demo were very scarce (one small run) so when we recorded the rest of the demo tracks and compiled them as "Into the Archaic" that could be seen as our first full-length. "Into the Archaic" was also released in a small batch on spray painted CD-Rs. I suppose you could consider it a demo OR a full-length in that regard.
JM: Speaking of these early releases were there any physical formats prior to the, 'Revisitation' tape? I think most people (myself including) originally discovered Falls of Rauros through the free downloads of this early material.
A: I suppose I answered that in the last question. A very small run of both "Window of the Eye" and "Into the Archaic" were made DIY style and mostly given out for free or sent out to various places.
JM: There are some brief cleanly sung parts on the early material, but none on, 'Hail Wind...' Do you suppose you'll experiment with them in the future or is that a thing of the past for the band now?
A: I wouldn't consider it a thing of the past for us. We wrote "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak" mostly as an album that could be translated to a live performance without stripping it down too much, hence the general lack of layers. I'm no good at singing so I generally avoid that for live performances. I do expect there to be some clean singing on future material though since Jordan can sing quite well. Perhaps he can take care of that during gigs as well for me!
JM: I realize the band is still fairly new to performing live, but is there a certain mood you wish to achieve while playing gigs? Do you use any special stage props (candles, incense, fog, etc.) or anything of that variety?
A: It's always been expected for black metal bands to use props and such for live performances. Perhaps it goes with the fact that we don't like to pose in pictures, but we also like to avoid too many props and/or gimmicks to aid us. Maybe this detracts from our performances for some, who knows? I'm personally not a fan of overly contrived/theatrical metal shows. Candles are a nice touch... incense as well maybe, but neither are part of our repertoire or to be expected continually. The ideal is for the location of a show to be appropriate. For example, we played on a farm in Vermont this summer and that alone set the mood rather than props. To us that's preferable and I think everyone there really felt the energy of our surroundings that night. We're used to house/basement/punk shows which are generally very simple and stripped down...
JM: Through your logo its clear immediately you don't favor the Christian way of life. What are your thoughts on Christianity? Likewise do you have any personal reason for disliking it? For example was it forced into your life when you were a child?
A: Heh, it's true that none of us are Christians of any sort but it's not some rebellion stemming from our youth. The ills of Christianity and related religions include not only the spiritual, mental and physical captivity of humans but also the massive harm caused to the Earth. Such religions claim dominion of mankind over the planet as well as taming, domesticating and harvesting its life forms for our benefit. If you pair those beliefs with civilization what you end up with is a species completely alienated from the natural world, and a natural world that is reduced to mere resources. Eventually you end up where we are now. I'm not saying Christianity is the only factor contributing to this problem as many modern atheists have replaced religion with technology, science and/or government bodies to do their world-eating.
JM: I've started to notice recently that various bands across the USA/North America are starting to fully embrace some sort of Pagan or pre-Christian religion way of life. Does Falls of Rauros' members belong to this group of bands?
A: Here in Maine we're quite isolated and thus don't associate too much with others on a personal level. There are many bands that are perhaps ideologically on the same page as us, but I would only consider us truly associated with people we know directly.
JM: It's also quite clear through the bands album/demo covers and layouts that you highly appreciate nature. Do you feel a special connection to the natural world and does it empower you mentally, spiritually or physically?
A: I don't want to beat a dead horse but yes, the natural world is a wonderful guide. I feel as though most people understand the balance of nature and its lasting power but for some reason refuse to look there for answers or guidance. I suppose they vote instead. Men in suits are our only hope, of course.
JM: Going back to the anonymity issue you've also chosen to not publish your lyrics. With that in mind could you tell us a little bit about your writings? Is there any special meaning or message you hope to pass onto the listeners?
A: In regard to lyrics, I tend to be rather self-conscious when it comes to lyrics and many of them are quite personal to me. That is the major reason for not publishing them. As far as our older material is concerned, many of those lyrics are lost and I now only know bits and pieces. Since there were no long term plans in those days I simply didn't hold onto them. The lyrics of future material may be published provided I don't dislike them as much as I usually do. The content of them is what you might expect based off this interview... largely misanthropic, frustrated, modernity scorning drivel. That or simply about nature in it's purest form.
JM: Are you satisfied with Morbid Winter Records work on, 'Hail Wind...' and will they be releasing future material from the band as well?
A: Yes, we're very satisfied with his work. He's done a great job of distributing the album to many quality underground distros. I keep seeing it pop up in various places, which is great! As far as future material goes, that's up in the air at the moment. We're starting to record new tracks now and have a couple prospective labels in mind. It really is up in the air though, and as we complete a rough version to demo to labels we'll have a more clear idea of who might release it.
JM: Are the members of Falls of Rauros involved in any other bands at the moment or in the past?
A: None worth mentioning, that's for sure. We've played in some bands throughout the years but you know how that goes... rather not discuss them. None of us are really involved in other bands right now either. It's been hard enough for us to find time for this project...
JM: I personally think in a few years the North American black metal scene might be just as strong if not slightly stronger than the European scene. What are your thoughts on the United States/North American Black Metal scene at the moment?
A: I'd say North American black metal has gone in both directions for me. I've discovered a lot more that I enjoy the past several years, but much of it is losing me as well. Honestly when it comes to black metal it's usually the classics that get the most play. I do appreciate the ideological strength of many bands in North America these days as opposed to stale cliches. Anyhow, there are quite a few bands from here that we all enjoy such as (commence namedropping) Judas Iscariot, Forteresse, Cult of Daath, Panopticon, Sapthuran and the list goes on...
JM: The bands hails from Maine. Unfortunately off the top of my head I can't think of any other bands from this state. Are there any other interesting bands in your area that you feel deserve attention?
A: Ocean. They've got some underground notoriety anyway. They do the whole slowww sludge/art doom thing perfectly to my ears. They're from the same town as us, and have been a band a bit longer than us too. Don't confuse them with the Metal Blade band The Ocean though. Very different. There's also a really great folk group called Fire on Fire who are worth checking out.
JM: It's rather obvious you spend a lot of time on your music, but I'm sure you have other interests, and probably have a full time job or attend college as well. So what do you do when you're not creating music?
A: We all have jobs but generally we try to keep our hours to a minimum and live more simply than most. It's preferable to have more time on hand. I don't really want to get into specifics but I can tell you the other folks in the band are certainly busier than I am most of the time. I just take it easy.
JM: If you could re-visit any point in history where might you go and what might you do while there?
A: That's a tough one. Nothing really jumps out as being a time period I would truly enjoy myself in. It would probably be very, very far back. I'd most likely lay on a rock under the sun if it were a nice day. Perhaps sit under a tree if it got too hot. I don't know...
JM: I don't know if you've had a chance to take a look at Lunar Hypnosis in detail, but if you have what are your thoughts on the zine/blog?
A: I have a little bit, but not too thoroughly. Much of what I've read was from the old website you had up. Everything I have looked at though has certainly been quality, as well as tasteful. It's always good to see a range of styles/genres included. I don't read reviews too often but when I'm feeling up to it I'll give it a closer look.
JM: Lastly, what can we expect from Falls of Rauros during the remainder of 2010 and throughout 2011?
A: We've recently begun recording a new full-length. Hopefully this won't take too long to complete, but issues always seem to come up. Austin Lunn (Panopticon, Seidr) is performing drums on this record as a session musician and he's done a great job. He really saved us from our lack-of-drummer inactivity the past couple years. Other than that, we have a track recorded for a split with Hallowed Butchery, a prog/psych/doom project also from Maine. It will just be one song by each band on this, so most likely a 7" record. Once he completes his half we'll begin searching for a label to release it. Ray decided to practice drums since finding a drummer in Maine is not at all easy. He played drums on the split track and will continue to on future recordings as well as live shows.
JM: I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and wish you the very best for the future. Feel free to say the final words.
A: The final words...