Interview with Rasmus | By Eric May | Photo by Susanne Alexandra Maathuis
New Keepers Of The Water Towers is a Swedish doom metal act with obvious nods to progressive acts such as Pink Floyd. As a matter of fact, their new album The Cosmic Child has been heralded by some to be “the dark side of the doom” as in reference to the Pink Floyd classic. I spoke with Rasmus about the disc and a couple of other topics relating to belief and influence, as well as to what these guys are listening to right now.
Tell me a bit about your new album, The Cosmic Child. You’ve considered it to be an “epic” of sorts. Could you go into detail about that?
The idea was to take some long songs and a couple of shorter ones, and then tie them together to one another so that the listener gets the sense of hearing one consistent journey, or epic if you will; thus eliminating the tedious “single” phenomena heard so often in music today.
What was it like recording The Cosmic Child? Where did you record it and how long did it take? Did you ever run into any hang-ups while writing or recording the album? If so, what were they?
It was very much fun and a lot of work since we did it all by ourselves. The foundation was recorded in a studio in central Stockholm and then we took it to our rehearsal space west of town where we recorded the vocals, more guitar, percussion and sounds. The song “Lapse” was almost entirely recorded at this location. For the grand piano we used the auditorium in the school where Rasmus works. Finally he took it home with him for mixing and mastering at Studio Booberg. There never really where any hang-ups. It took about two years to write and record so I guess that was the only frustrating thing about it at times. But then again, the magic behind the album and its sound is that it got to mature and grow with us for that time, so in the end; it was all for the best.
How does this album improve upon your previous releases? What do you think makes this album stand out?
The biggest difference from our previous releases is in the length of the songs. With this one the songs have grown longer as we’ve incorporated more melodies and ambiance into them. The production has also seen a major lift giving the material a bigger and wider soundscape. These are all crucial ingredients in what has become this new sound of ours. We definitely feel that we have found something we can continue working on that feels as our own.
What kinds of instruments (guitars, bass, and drums exc.) did you use to record this album and do you have any preferred brands?
We mainly use Japanese craftsmanship. The electric guitars you hear on the album are a 1980 Yamaha SG and a 1976 Ibanez Artist. The acoustic and bass guitars are also Yamaha’s as well as the Yamaha Oak Custom drum kit. The main amp used is a Marshall JMP but you can also hear a Marchless DC30 and a Laney GH100L. Then there are all sorts of different percussion instruments and flute, synthesizers, as well as the grand piano.
This album has been considered by some to be “Dark Side Of The Doom,” which is an obvious reference to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. How do you feel about this statement?
That is an album that we all love and draw a lot of influence from, so it’s a cool comparison. I don’t think our music sounds that much like Pink Floyd’s though. I guess it is more a general feel to the music that resembles theirs and perhaps some of the lyrical themes. It is honorable that someone thought of that record while listening to ours, but I hope that people find more to our music than just that.
There are clearly songs on this album about death and birth, or one might say rebirth, in some instances. What is it about these events that appeals to you?
Well, death and birth are both things everyone will experience at some point so I guess that makes them pretty appealing. This album is more about cosmic awareness though.
Where do you stand as far as beliefs go? Are you religious, spiritual, or neither?
We are firm believers in reason, scientifically proven knowledge and the will to find answers within the unknown. It would be foolish to rule out and stop the mind’s expansion because of some presumed “eye in the sky”. Religious beliefs are counterproductive and have already set human evolution back thousands of years. It is time we let go of these fairy tales and address our thoughts to some of the more relevant topics.
What bands would you consider inspirations to your act? What bands inspired you to play music in general?
That depends on who in the band you’re asking. The common nominator for everyone is heavy prog rock acts of the ’70s, contemporary post-rock and doom metal and of course, Iron Maiden.
If I looked over at your mp3 player or cellphone playlists, what are some of the things that I would find on it? Is there anything there that I wouldn’t expect?
Some of my native favorites include bands such as Gösta Berlings Saga, Junip, Death Breath and In Solitude. Some of the more classical stuff would be King Crimson, Neil Young, Captain Beyond and Tangerine Dream if you’re up for a psych-out.
What are your impressions of the current metal scene? What do you think about the state of music in general?
One of the best metal bands these days is Yob. In Solitude, as I mentioned above; make very interesting and genre-transcending heavy metal music. There are an abundance of bands these days so you have to go through a lot of shit before hearing something good. But when you do find it it’s usually real original and mind-bending stuff.
What’s been your best and worst tour experience?
Best: Probably the most recent one, when we played and hung out at the Zwarte Cross festival in Holland.
Worst: Having to ride in our fartbox-minivan without AC to get there and back again.
What does New Keepers Of The Water Towers refer to and who came up with the title?
It refers to five guys playing instruments together. Rasmus and Tor came up with the title some years ago. Thanks and enjoy the music!
Purchase The Cosmic Child here: http://shop.listenable.net/product.php?id_product=3828