Interview with vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Josh Graham | by Eric May
A Storm of Light is a post-metal act influenced by bands like Neurosis, Ministry, and even Killing Joke, turning your common “post” stereotypes into mush. The music that these guys make is right up there with the noted influence of Ministry’s classic The Land Of Rape And Honey, which is just not something you think of when you hear the term “post-metal.” That’s what separates A Storm of Light from other acts. Rest assured, you’ve never heard it done like this before.
How long have you been playing music and how did the band come about?
We started in Brooklyn in late 2007. I was playing in Red Sparowes and Battle of Mice and wanted to do something darker and heavier. Domenic Seita (bass) and I started talking about a new project. He was playing in Tombs at the time and wanted to branch out as well. Although we still operate more as a music collective (almost every tour has had some sort of a different line-up), we solidified the three-piece core with drummer Billy Graves (Generation of Vipers/U.S. Christmas) a couple of records back. I started playing in bands over 20 years ago, about the same for Dom, and Billy has been playing drums since he was a youngster, though he’s still young at 10 years behind Domenic and me.
The album is called Nations To Flames. Do you think it would be better if there were no ruling nations at all? Has everyone been corrupted by greed?
I believe the world would be better a place without countries, nationalism, and religion. None of it matters anyway. We are all on a tiny rock in the middle of a vacuum. Most people are shortsighted and believe they are better, their religion is better, their country is better, blah blah blah. It’s ridiculous and shortsighted. I say burn it all down and start again from scratch, or don’t start again and give the planet back to nature. We’re all corrupted by some sort of personal Manifest Destiny, believing that we are some great force that needs to spread. I disagree.
If any, what is the concept of this album? Lyrically, what did you want to address most? There are two songs in particular, “You are the Hunted” and “The Year is One,” that seem to deal with a post-apocalypse.
It’s been sort of an overall concept since the band formed, which is a pro-nature/environment stance against the current state of humanity, the all-consuming destroyers. This record looks at one possible future: a systemic collapse of our society, followed by a group of stragglers biding time until their ultimate demise.
What do you have to say regarding the controlling elite? Do you believe there is one? How can we break free of their grasp?
When you take into account that 85 of the richest people on earth have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people, there is definitely a controlling elite. Those figures are pretty insane. That reality will not be changed without some sort of catastrophic event(s): disease, comet, maybe even a full- scale global riot. And who even knows at that point, the elite would probably be the only survivors in all of those instances anyway [laughs]. Then there would just be 85 bored, rich people on one fucked planet.
Let’s talk about the recording process. Where did you record the album and how long did it take?
We recorded in six days with Travis Kammeyer at Fahrenheit Studios in Johnson City, TN. We mixed over five days with Matt Bayles at Red Room in Seattle. Both processes and engineers were amazing. I’d say the only issue that came up was two massively long vocal days, during which I got a migraine that would not go away. Made screaming very pleasant!
There’s a lot of post-metal influence on the album like Neurosis and Isis, yet I also hear things that remind me of Ministry and Killing Joke. Is this intentional? What influences you?
Ministry definitely changed my perception of music when I was a kid. I remember when Land of Rape and Honey came out. I was 13 or 14 and I was like ‘what the fuck is that?!’ I had already been listening to a lot of West Coast punk. Black Flag was my favorite at that point, also The Cure and Joy Division, so I was pretty open minded. While the Ministry recordings are fairly dated now, it was a perfect mix of a metal/punk ideal vs. keyboards and noise. On this record, I let those influences come out a bit more in my parts. I felt like I’d been trying to bury that shit for so long. I just said fuck it and let everything flow naturally.
Who have you toured with and where might we see you? What can you say is one of the best experiences/shows while on tour?
We’ve toured with Corrosion of Conformity, Torche, Neurosis, Sleep, Converge, The Secret, Shrinebuilder, Tombs, Minsk, Intronaut, and a slew more. Our best experience was playing [the] All Tomorrow’s Parties [festival] with Slayer, Yob, Sleep, and Wolves in the Throne Room. That was amazing. We have tours coming up with Junius, MGR, and Hark. We’ll be all over Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Northeastern U.S., hopefully. I hope more U.S. dates will come together later this year.
What do you guys do when you’re not playing metal?
I make music videos, design record covers, create concert visuals, cook a lot, and play folk music, (suspendedinlight.com). Domenic is a finish carpenter and could build you the nicest house you’ve ever had the pleasure of living in. Billy plays drums full time amongst his three bands and is a bonafide U.S. postman in his downtime.
What albums are you guys currently listening to? If I were to check out your record collection, what would I find? Anything surprising?
I’m listening to Oranssi Pazuzu a lot, as well as Nick Cave, Push the Sky Away, Ides of Gemini, Of the Wand and the Moon, Johnny Cash, Wovenhand, Melvins, Discharge, Gillian Welch, Neko Case, Meshugga, Gojira. I think we are all listening to Chelsea Wolfe a lot, PJ Harvey as well. Billy suggested Beast Milk, but I haven’t heard it yet. Probably the most surprising thing may be a ton of non-metal music. Playing metal for so long has opened all of our ears to other stuff. When we are on tour, the last thing we want to do at the end of long day is throw more metal into the van stereo. We need some chill time.