If I had a to pick a single album that has caught my attention so far in 2015, it’d definitely be Vattnet Viskar’s upcoming release, Settler. Not only is it a shoe-in for my end of year list, based solely on the handful of tracks I’ve heard pre-release, but I also believe it to be a serious contender for my 2015 AOTY. Bold statement? Perhaps — but with good reason. I was extremely stoked, then, to mosey on down to Toronto’s Hard Luck this past week to hear live for my first time some of these bangers-to-be. I was equally stoked, and perhaps a little nervous, to sit down with the boys beforehand and shoot the shit about how they’re feeling in the weeks leading up to the release of their sophomore album. Minutes into the interview, my anxiety was eased, however, by a mutual love of three of the most important things in my life – metal, beer, and PUPPIES!!!! Peep the full interview after the jump.
You have just started out on a three week tour, have you settled into the grind yet?
Nick: Getting used to it I’d say. I’d say it takes about a week or so to get into the groove of things. Luckily we had shows a couple of weeks ago to kinda warm up which was good but we’ve kinda had a rough start in the sense that we haven’t gotten a lot of sleep so far on this one. But the songs feel good and everything!
Chris, I know you’re vegan. How is that on the road? Is it ever a struggle?
Chris: It can be. It’s really not a big deal. I usually just have to walk like an extra half a mile sometimes than they do. But there’s always back-ups that I have, like protein bars in the van. As long as you plan ahead you’re good!
I also see you’re something of an animal enthusiast in general!
Chris: We all are!
I follow your Twitter, I love the whole dog theme. What’s your favourite breed?
I love labradors and Nick loves pugs. But we like all dogs equally. But, I just love labradors.
I have a black lab! Okay, I’ll get back to music-related questions now, haha. You’re coming into the last couple weeks before the release of Settler which is your sophomore album. You’ve released a lot of songs from it already. How are you feeling going into this? Are you feeling pressured ‘cause it’s your second album, or are you just excited for people to hear the music?
Nick: I think we’re just excited. I think we’re all pretty much in agreeance that Sky Swallower we were happy with and everything, but this one we just sort of like had our shit together more. We had more time to organize everything, a solid line-up. Everything was kinda tumultuous around the recording of Sky Swallower. But we’re super happy with this one, like could not be happier. Very, very excited for it to come out and for people to hear it.
Awesome. I definitely love what I’ve heard so far! Most of the criticism I did see was actually towards the album art. How have you responded to that?
Chris: We don’t. It is what it is. That is the only option we had for the art work in our minds.
The story behind it’s really interesting, about Christa McAuliffe.
Nick: Thank you! Obviously there’s the Christa McAuliffe story, but then there’s our own different personal experiences with it. Like I was two weeks old when it happened, so I remember my mom saying she was sitting on the couch just having me home from the hospital and watching it go up on TV. Chris is a little bit older than me so I’m sure he has a little bit more of a recollection.
Chris: I was four. I don’t remember it, but I remember my parents’ reaction. I just remember it was a very polarizing thing. We ascribe it a lot to becoming greater than you are and sacrificing greatly for that.
Nick: When we originally saw the picture, it’s just kinda like, the huge highs and lows of life. Like, to see her so happy, and everything like that, and then to know what happened after. It’s dark in its own way, but we’re not doing it to be disrespectful or anything. It’s more of a tribute.
I also know that the photograph itself was inspiration for some of the guitar parts.
Chris: I wrote “Impact” staring at that picture. So, musically, I think that some of that situation came through. And lyrically, I think.
Nick: Yeah, that’s the one song on the album, too, that’s lyrically about that. Everything else is about, you know, whatever happened to be on my mind at the time. That one is kind of shifting point of views, but mainly her point of view of the whole thing. I took some quotes from her and changed them, bastardized them into lyrics.
Is the whole space theme something you’d had a prior fascination with?
Chris: Me, personally, yeah. Science and space.
Nick: I think we’re all pretty big into that stuff.
So it’s not so much a concept album about this photo, but the photo was the inspiration?
Nick: No, it’s all different stuff. This one’s much more, at least lyrically, personal. Not every song is a super personal thing, but we all just had some bad crap going on last year. I had a bad divorce, Casey lost his dad. It’s been a rough year. But I feel like that’s a typical band thing to say.
Chris: I lost my lab.
Oh no! That’s very sad.
Nick: Yeah, Chris lost his lab, too. I feel like we’re kinda letting those experiences go to waste if we don’t draw on them. You know, writing guitar parts, or writing lyrics, try to take something positive out of it, and use it.
Definitely. Another thing I’ve seen a lot of in response to the Settler tracks is people trying to classify you. How would you classify yourselves, or is that something you don’t see a point in doing?
Nick: We’re a metal band. Metal? Ambient metal? I don’t know. We’re not thinking of a genre specifically when we’re writing stuff. It is what it is.
Chris: Yeah, like whatever people wanna call us that works for them. Sure.
I saw a quote on one review of “Glory” saying how it was sort of a “grimier” song and that’s the direction you wanted to take the album.
Chris: We wanted more rock production, more indicative of our live show. We’re fairly tight as a band, but we put off as much energy as we can. So we wanna just try to get that live performance aspect of it. If we hit squirrely notes or anything we kinda just went for it.
That sense of energy definitely comes across in the music! Nick, I know for previous releases, you did most of the writing, lyrically. Is that still the case?
Nick: Yep! I do all the lyric writing. I don’t like writing lyrics. It’s hard. Actually, one of the songs on Sky Swallower, “Mythos”, is about how I hate writing lyrics. There’s a line in that song that says basically that I’m trying to find the “fading line between idiocy and grandeur”, because I don’t want stupid, cheesy, metal lyrics. It’s not us at all. And I don’t want overly preachy lyrics, either. I don’t want to be a political band. I feel like getting into that stuff, you get in over your head real fast. I’m not a political science major. I have my beliefs on things, and I’m sure they creep into everything, but I’m not here to tell people they’re wrong about things. I wouldn’t write something if the band disagreed with it. Even though I’m the one writing the lyrics, I’m still kinda like speaking for the band. I try to keep it kind of open.
For sure. I also have to ask, because I’ve heard that you’re an IPA enthusiast, and have one before every show.
Nick: Yes! Casey, too, now. We both like beer.
Do you have a preference, a favourite kind? Or do you like to sample different ones?
Nick : I always try to try different beer, especially if there’s like a local one, that’s always first choice. Half the time I just go to the bar and ask them what they recommend! It’s weird at shows, though, ‘cause you get so used to something crappy like PBR or whatever, that I almost don’t like to have a good beer, sometimes, ‘cause it throws you off like, “Oh, now I get to go back to PBR, that’s good, yeah.”
Haha, awesome. Welp, I don’t wanna take up too much of your time, but thank you so much and best of luck!
Chris: Thank you, that ruled!
Vattnet Viskar’s Settler will be released June 16 via Century Media. You can (should absolutely) preorder it here!