THE HOWLING WIND talk about their recent “Vortex” vinyl release on Throne
“It’s all just labelling for the sake of it. To me, the only question is if there is something worth listening to or not. That is all”
The Howling Wind should need no introduction at this point. They’ve been going on since the mid 2000’s, and “Vortex” is their 4th album, which is quite an accomplishment for a band comprised of two minds and bodies 4000 kilometers away from each other. With the vinyl release of “Vortex” out there since a few months ago, and the announcement of THW’s first live appearance ever (!) I think it is the right time to delve into details.
When wondering what’s different or improved in “Vortex” when compared to the three previous albums, Ryan comments ““Vortex” has already been out for quite a while but in a sense it is brand new that has been recently released on vinyl, which is the preferred format. The idea is very much a concept album based on the forces of nature and the beyond. The swirling force that could be seen in a brutal storm or an inescapable invisible super natural feeling. Unknown scientific subjects and esoteric theories that control the earth. The main difference between “Vortex” and the previous 2 albums “Into the Cyosphere” and “Of Babalon” is that we returned to being a self recorded band. We are no longer on Profound Lore and we are now completely a DIY band that is self sufficient in creating music and recording. It was awesome to work with Colin Marston on the past two albums but it was also very rewarding to work on guitar parts and idea [sometimes obsessing] over a longer period of time and in isolation on “Vortex”. I think in the future we will continue to work in this self recorded manner as I feel it works best in regards to the obvious geographic obstacles between Tim Call [drummer] and myself as we both live on opposite sides of the country. I am now in New Jersey and Tim is in Portland. The Howling Wind is through and through an underground band that goes down our own path with zero concern of trends or popularity”.
So, I wonder how do you two manage to practice and record when living so far away from each other! “The procedure is always the same. We go through several phases and stages of demoing songs. Tim in the past has sent me raw drums and I have written riffs to them. Each stage we further tweak and improve on the ideas. We usually write more than enough songs for an album and then pick the songs we both like best. The vocals always come last after all the music is totally recorded and set. We have done this for so long that I find working like this very easy. The key to this is Tim’s ability to play drums to the idea in his head and remember the amounts of repetitions and things like that. Interestingly, on the new stuff we are writing we have changed up the process a bit where a few of the new ideas I have demoed with a drum machine and sent it to Tim to get his take on it. But there are no rules with writing. We also work things out until we are satisfied. We are never in a rush and it is very helpful to have long periods of time to go back and revisit ideas. But yeah, this is always how we have done it and will continue to do so”.
How you two decided to set up a project band like The Howling Wind in the first place, then? As Ryan points out: “Tim used to release albums by my previous Black Metal influenced project Thralldom. After Thralldom broke up, I asked him if was interested in working on a project together. I knew he was a great drummer and a like-minded individual. We have known each other for a while as he also released records by my other band Unearthly Trance on his great label Parasitic. The approach was made out of necessity and but purposely doing things unconventionally. I think home recording and the internet has certainly made our process easy. I think in the early days Tim would send me CDrs of ideas but these days he just uploads drum files and I do the same for him to check out”.
Do you feel comfortable with being labeled as Black Metal? What non-BM elements in THW you’d like to stand out (if any)? “I am a die hard fan of the classic real black metal like Bathory! I used to give a shit if we were labelled as Black Metal but now I don’t care. I see so many shitty sub-par bad bands flying the shredded flag of BM these days that it is pointless to care. What do we sound like? That’s up to you. I can only be myself and inject my personality and creative force into my music. But technically speaking, The Howling Wind is not a satanic band so we are not Black Metal. Dark Metal? Fine. Death Metal? not exactly. Doom Metal? nope. Extreme Metal? perhaps. Occult Metal, sometimes. It’s all just labelling for the sake of it. To me, the only question is if there is something worth listening to or not. That is all”.
Some might think the only step between remain a side-project and become a “real” band, would be the live performance. THW have some surprising news regarding this! “We are playing the Martyrdoom Fest in Brooklyn, NY at Saint Vitus Bar November 9th 2015. Tim is going to fly out and I will show someone who plays in one of my other bands the bass parts. It will be exciting and challenging to finally play some of these songs live! It will be the first ever The Howling Wind live performance”.