Interview: Winterus

Winterus are a North American black metal band hailing from Michigan, USA. The band was originally formed in December, 2009 under the name ‘The Ancient’ and quickly recorded and released a 5-song EP entitled ‘A Frozen Path’ nationally to critical acclaim in May, 2010. Soon after, the EP caught the attention of Lifeforce Records and Winterus were signed to a multi-album deal.

The band cites Immortal, Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room, and In Flames as key influences to creating their chilling atmospheric sound and ominously heavy tone. Blue lights and mystic fog line the stage as the band performs their intense brand of metal at near trance-like precision. Radiating maturity, Winterus covers themes of brutal honesty, isolation, philosophy, and real human emotion. Experimentation and melody are also highly encouraged as Winterus creates genre-defying psychedelic landscapes and pummelling metal textures.

With the release of their album on 16th May here in the UK, I had the opportunity to submit some questions to the band earlier in the month which vocalist Christopher Erich Neu took time to respond to. Since the question were submitted the band has announced a brand new line-up which saw the departure of guitarist Nathan Barnes (guitar) and Cody McCoy (drums), guitarist Les Paul and drummer Kollin Perpignani have been added to the mix, along with bassist Donovan Bates, to round out the strongest Winterus line-up yet.

First I would like to thank you for taking some time to answer some questions. The album has now been out for just over a week in the US with the European release still to come. How has the reception been to the album so far?

You’re welcome. Everyone really enjoys what they have heard here in the US. We are not a very palpable genre for everyone here, but with bands like Behemoth and Dark Funeral bringing more out for the genre of black metal it is a lot easier for us to find fans that confide in a raw and barely produced sound; which is how black metal should be.

This is your debut album so what can people expect to hear from your music if they check you out; how would you describe your sound?

USBM is expanding and it’s important to note that we will not weaken what it stands for. We will make sure that everyone is educated with the Americans pseudo-religious agenda and pseudo-science. It is all detrimental to our advancement as people.

Our lyrics also consist of absolute depression, it is what comes out of someone who wants to die every day. It is something that I write about because I truly understand what it is to feel remorse and absolute depression. I will write what I feel in effort to dwell in the sanctity of what black metal is. It’s not packaged up and played out like Deathcore.

When you put in our CD you will hear fast melodic instrumentals, and raw pummelling
USBM tracks that put you in a trance and spit you back out.

I saw a comment by Matthew in which he states the band is looking to try push the boundaries of black metal. Do you think it was achieved with the final result?

We don’t want to come off pretentious to anyone. If we write something that can trail your mind to a different place and inspire you then that’s awesome. But maybe it’s a good example of why he is not in the band anymore. Sometimes it is better to just write and do what you know and is familiar to you. We are familiar with oppression, sadness and hardships, so we will write that way.

What influences your writing, do you take in what is happening around you in the world or do you look to build upon visual elements that you see to create something a little different?

Honestly, when I wrote Solace Forever it was completely improvisation. I wrote it out in 15 minutes and just felt the track take me. I threw a few layers over it and words would come to me left and right.

It’s not hard for me to reach into one of the thousands of thoughts that run through my mind lyrically; it works the same way when we write and awesome riff and end up jamming it all night and creating a song. I like to write a lot about seclusion and killing Christians mainly. It’s just something as a person I feel is poisoning people’s lives and while most of these people profess in being Christ-like they are failing considerably.

First of all when you take a label that literally means to be “of Christ” or “Christ-like”, I see problem with the pedestal that you are putting yourself on, not only that but the automatic hypocrisy – being humans we are somewhat built for mistakes and to learn from them. As a young Christian growing up I found it hard to form my own thoughts in the cloud of opinions people would derive because they are too lazy and weak to be themselves or just give credit to themselves for the things they have accomplished. There is nothing more that angers me when people give credit to thin air. Delusion.

The obvious difference for this album compared to others is the way the tracks are built as you have went with six studio recording and three live songs, what was the decision to go with this?

We had some songs that were filling a darker and more mature sound and we had songs that thrash also. I thought it would be better to compartmentalise the album into different moods and feelings. Honestly, the whole part of pressing music is for people, give them something that tells them somewhat of a story and they can just throw in a song or two so they can thrash out or burn down.

Winterus Band PictureThe album was of course self-produced by Chris, was it something that you really wanted to do in-house, have that control over the music and your debut without anyone tinkering too much?

It wasn’t really like that at all. I had these guys push themselves and find riffs to bring to the table, but they made a lot of in-studio decisions. Not only that but they wrote incredible songs, I had more of a say on arrangement and stuff like that. We all produced it.

A few of the complaints I have seen about the album did come down to the production but would it be fair to say that it was done in this way to give it more of a raw honest sound rather than polishing it up, something that just doesn’t work for black metal?

It works out plenty for black metal, you have bands like Ov Hell and Black Altar that pull it off, but for a freshman release and for the sake of artist maturing, one should be a little more understanding. But who the fuck cares, turn it off if you don’t like it – it’s not like we made it for some spineless asshole to critique how he can’t hear a floor tom in his car stereo.

How has the experience been working with Lifeforce who signed you quite quickly after your EP? Does it give you that extra bit of confidence knowing they wanted to sign you on a multi-album deal?

Lifeforce is a powerhouse of strong willed and honest musicians. Everyone that I have been referred to and have met because of Lifeforce has been organic and not relied on Facebook or MySpace. I like that I can trust everyone because they understand we aren’t trying to carbon copy them a genre and hand it to them like we are re-inventing the way our instruments are being played. We are grateful for this opportunity. We can only hope move forward in this stepping stone freshman release.

What do you think of social networks from this point, do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

I think that it is all out of touch and hard to interact with any band. We are making a blog application in Facebook that helps us interact with people more. Kind of like when MySpace first started, mixed with a blog. We don’t want to spam everyone with information. We will have a merchandise store up with a full interface so we can do that thanks to and the awesome programmer Tom Miller that is working with me to promote my band.

What are your plans for the rest of 2011, continue writing or begin touring in support? I noticed you signed with Avocado who have put on some great European and UK tours before.

Our plans are to tour and go to Europe as soon as possible where most of our fans contact and reach us. Avacado is a well-established booking agency and we hope to grab a good tour and see all of these awesome fans, and eat at different places.

We are writing as we speak. We will record a few demos and start looking for a producer to work with. We all feel that with a second look at things and some nicer recording gear this time around we can deliver an ever maturing sound and capture a more pummelling album one after the next.

Thanks for taking time to answer some questions, please feel free to add anything you wish.

Hails to everyone that has been grabbing our music, you can look forward to us recording new music shortly. We are going through a new line up and our shit is only getting more evil and pummelling.


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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