Spawning from the bay area, the band Cormorant broke forth into the metal scene by creating two unique releases titled The Last Tree (an EP) and Metazoa. With a fusion of talent, diverse influences, minds, and immense passion the band Cormorant have gained love and fans across oceans without ever playing outside of their native California. In a few moments, you’ll be reading my attempt at picking the brain of Arthur von Nagel, the long winded, kind, and very intelligent bassist and vocalist of the band.
The teeth of lions sown by the wind,
Spurned by the salt of the
Earth’s fallow and barren skin,
Find fertile ground in me.
Rains of red poppies
Burst from the blue.
Fireflies and harpies
Beat their wings anew.
The wine from man’s fountains
Imparts courage to implore:
“Gods, step down from your mountains.
Fish, rise up from the shore.”
[wpaudio url=”http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Salt-of-the-Earth.mp3″ text=”Cormorant – Salt of the Earth” dl=”0″]
MW: How old were you when you first got into music, and how did the interest come about?
AvN: My first musical memory was my mother taking me to see Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. I was 3 or 4. Looking back on it now, the whole production was very metal. Huge sets, bombastic music, crushing drums, horses, betrayal, myth, swords, blood. All it needed was Manowar. I regret that I fell asleep halfway through, but then again the damn thing was four hours long. I still love opera. I’m looking forward to the San Francisco Opera’s take on Faust later this year.
Growing up there was always music. My father was into lots of late 60s counter-culture stuff like Captain Beefheart, Bob Dylan, and King Crimson. My mother always had me listening to classical, lots of Tchaikovsky, Handel and Bach. We had a beautiful old jukebox stacked with French traditionals and classic rock songs. When I was a kid, I would fall in and out of love with different genres. I had a hip-hop stage, a jazz stage, a folk stage, and I even recall not being interested in music at all sometime in my early teens. I don’t know what I was thinking. Probably rebelling against nothing.
How did you decide you wanted to make Cormorant a band?
Brennan Kunkel (drums) and I met playing in a thrash/punk band when I was 16. It was fun but a bit limiting. We got bored. So we started creating quirky, poorly produced progressive black metal demos as a two-piece. While the sound quality was garbage and we had no idea what we were doing, there were some cool ideas there and a lot of those early riffs went on to become parts of Cormorant songs. We brought in Nick Cohon (guitars), a friend of Brennan’s from high school, and his style immediately clicked with ours. We recorded our EP The Last Tree as a three-piece. Apart from the song Ballad of the Beast, I don’t think we had quite discovered our sound yet. It was when we met Matt Solis (guitars/vocals) at an Enslaved gig that we were really able to fully realize that expansive, progressive style the EP hints at, and Metazoa embraces.
How do you go about mixing the influence from other genres in your music? Or does it just come naturally?
We don’t really think about it. It’s a natural thing. We’re just writing what we enjoy listening to. I don’t know what genre Cormorant falls into anymore anyway. That’s why we laugh along with the silly “Tiberian Ass Bastard Folk” tag fans have given us: it’s just as accurate as any of the more convoluted descriptions of our sound. “Progressive blackened death-folk NWOBHM?” I’ll pass.