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ALUNAH


ALUNA: "Serene Misery"

Interview by Earthdog

 Aluna were kind enough to do this interview with me, make sure to check out their EP "Fall To Earth" out on Catacombs Records.


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First of all I have to say the "psych doom" tag seems to fit you but I also hear a lot of late 60's Psychedelic influences also. Are any of those bands a influence and if so which bands?

JAKE: Well we've pretty much adopted the "psych blues doom" tag. I'm not really sure where it came from but I think it suits us pretty well. The "psych" thing mostly comes from Soph's contribution to the band.

Soph: Yeah, I'm in love with the psychedelic style, whether it be the art of the poster artists or the music, and even though I wouldn't put us in the same category of say 13th Floor Elevators or The Grateful Dead (even though If I had my own way then who knows), I'd like to think that some of my influences shine through. I would love to have been in San Francisco around 1967 or Paris around 1895, both exciting times and areas for psychedelia.

WC: The one thing that sets you apart from other bands is female vocals, which makes a refreshing change in the world of Doom and Stoner Rock. What is the general reaction you get from people regarding this?

Jake: Well it's definitely been a talking point. Some people love it, some hate it but hey...we feel it works and more importantly we are all friends...this is what ALUNA is so take it or leave it is the attitude. Obviously we would prefer if you take it (laughs).

Soph: We've been criticized for not being true doom (whatever that is??) and it's a bit of a joke with the band to be honest. The people who matter to us are the ones who listen to our music with an open mind. A lot of the time, the doom heads prefer the music to the vocals and the classic rock / stoner heads like the vocals but would prefer a less heavy sound. We get a lot of, let's say, mature fans... generally people who have grown up with Sabbath and Zeppelin, which is pretty sweet.

WC: Speaking of vocals, I love the laid back approach to singing that Sophie has. It gives the music a serene quality...was this something you set out to achieve or did it just happen naturally?

Jake: Naturally, really. I don't think we have had a master plan other than we wanted to have "songs" and maybe try a stand out a little from the crowd for better or worse (laughs). We know we aren't re-inventing the wheel but it would be nice to think we kinda have our own sound. I think all of us are improving with our own instruments and so on.

Soph: Thanks, I'm not a balls out, loud, in your face singer and even though my voice has developed I've never trained it so the voice you hear is just how I naturally sound. I think the contrast to the heavy, doomy nature of the music makes my voice appear even more laid back. The contrast has happened naturally, but we're happy with it.

WC: You come from a famous part of the UK for Hard Rock/Metal... is this an inspiration for you?

Jake: Well, I guess I kinda take it from granted about how cool it is to come from the same region as Sabbath, Priest, Napalm etc. If you stop and think about it ,then yeah, it's a really positive thing to be able to say you come from that area. To be honest ,though, I think the local scene is pretty shit now in terms of both local bands wanting to do something even 1% original and turnouts to gigs for anything other the emo or deathcore/hardcore/applecore or whatever the "in type" of music is at the moment. Having said that there are a couple of new venues recently opened up in Birmingham so maybe that will help get people out to see live bands.

Soph: Lots of people who live outside of the UK always point out that it must be really cool to come from The West Midlands and we never really think of it... it would have been cooler for us to have been around in the late sixties / seventies when we would have played amongst the legends. Robert Plant occasionally pops up at our guitarist's other band's gigs, Zeppelin are my favourite band so hopefully one day he'll come to an Aluna gig, Napalm Death practice in the same studios as us, we see Lee Dorrian of Cathedral around at gigs, Slade used to play my local town hall and I see Roy Wood from Wizard down the supermarket (laughs) so I suppose it is pretty cool!!

WC: The "Fall to Earth EP" has been getting some great reviews, are you happy with the reaction so far?

Jake: Yeah, mostly. You can't please everyone all the time and we've no desire to but it is nice to have the positive feedback. I think the album will be a step forward again though - we can't wait to do that.

Soph: It's always nice for people to appreciate your work especially when so much time, effort and money has gone on it. The EP was a vast improvement on the demos and the next release will be a vast improvement on the EP.

WC: I am a big fan of vinyl and I read somewhere that the EP is going to be re-released on Vinyl on Nasoni Records. Any more news on that?

Jake: We're due to record the extra bonus track "Halo" mid November for it so hopefully Nasoni will get it out early '09. No date set in stone yet though. I think it's planned to be a ltd 10" release so that sounds cool.

WC: You played with some killer bands, is there any one band or gig that stands out above the rest?

Jake: Well the "big" bands that we've played with have never been anything other than 100% really friendly & encouraging towards us. To have guys from Trouble & Paradise Lost say they enjoyed your set is obviously a bit weird but they are conversations we'll remember for the rest of our lives. The gig that stands out for me though was the one put on by Ninehertz (kinda like the UK version of Stonerrock.com) where we supported Toner Low in Sheffield. It was probably the best we'd played and gone down in terms of a stonerish/doomy kinda crowd and I think that gave us heaps of confidence in terms of moving forward and forgetting any negative crap after playing to two men and a dog propping up the bar in Birmingham.

Soph: Yeah Trouble, Paradise Lost and Orange Goblin were the best gigs for me in terms of how we played and how friendly and accommodating the bands were, I don't think I managed to say a lot to Trouble.. far too star struck, I let Jake and Dave do the talking!! The Toner Low gig was amazing, I hadn't really heard of them before and they blew me away. One of the top gigs for me was in Bristol courtesy of Land of Nod Promotions, we played with our friends and label mates Grifter, we invaded each others sets and it was a really fun night!! We now have the attitude that it doesn't matter who you're playing with or where you're playing, play it like it's your last!!

WC: Tell us a bit about inspiration for lyrics?

Soph: Mother Nature is at the forefront of my inspiration; she's the driving force of everything we do and how we feel on a day-to-day basis. All of the songs are pretty happy and positive, the only "dark" song I have written is called "Call of Avernus" which is about a poisonous lake in Italy whose fumes are so toxic, birds are believed to fall right out of the sky… I thought that was pretty amazing so it became our "dark" song (laughs).

WC: What is the scene like in the UK for this style of music? Are shows easy to get and how often to you like to play live?

Jake: Mixed at best, I'd say. There's like a circle of venues/promoters throughout the country that will put the decent shows on but I've been to some where I wonder how they get anywhere near to breaking even. Thankfully they care enough to keep putting the gigs on otherwise we'd all be screwed. We play live as much as we can, though. So far this year we've done about 30 gigs up and down England with some more in the pipeline. It's the only way to get ourselves out there and we love doing it.

Soph: Yeah, we have promoters such as Land of Nod and Ninehertz who specialize in stoner / doom, and venues such as The Old Angel in Nottingham, The Civic Halls in Wolverhampton and The Barfly & The Academy in Birmingham where bands such as High on Fire, Clutch, Orange Goblin, Baroness, Brant Bjork, Hermano and Taint play. We hassle promoters on an hourly basis if there is a show we want to play and it generally works out for us.

WC: Tell us about what you think is the best track on the EP and is there a track that the crowd at shows seems to enjoy more than others?

Jake: I think "Spend My Time" is the strongest on the EP, we tend to close with that live. But I have a soft spot for "Show Me How" as well - it's really simple but really catchy. Saying that, the new stuff we've come up with recently is a big progression in terms of writing...we really want this stuff to be heard now.

Soph: My favourite is "Spend My Time", live I prefer "Circle of Stone" or our new one "Call of Avernus". The one which seems to get the crowd going is "Living Fast in An Ancient Land".

WC: Tell us what are your favorite bands and what does the band listen to while at home relaxing if you get much time to do that. You seem to be pretty busy.

Jake: Well I'm lucky - I work from home so get to play music all day. I like a lot of different styles really. Stoner/doomy stuff I guess is my first love but it can be anything from Slayer, Entombed to industrial, Electro..whatever (Guess that means I loose my Doom credibility now?). At the moment though I can't stop listening to The Dawn...a British Rock band from the late 90's. They only recorded two six track mini albums before splitting but are well worth checking out if you get chance...very classic bluesy sounding with dreamy vocals.

Soph: I listen to all my music in my car on the way to and back from work. At the moment I'm listening to a real mix such as Jeff Beck, Janis Joplin, Goatsnake, Life of Agony, Acid King, May Blitz, Captain Beyond and Jethro Tull.

WC: What is planned for "Aluna" in the upcoming next 12 months?

Jake: Well, from the 1st of January we'll be known as "ALUNAH" due to minor irritation on this side of the pond which we've had to take care of!!! We've got the "Fall To Earth" vinyl coming out, a split 7" with Queen Elephantine on Catacomb Records then we want to record the album and do a stupid amount of gigs...that's the plan at least.

Soph: Pretty much what Jake said.

WC: I would love to see you come to the USA.Is there any chance of that happening anytime soon?

Jake: We'd love to but there aren't any plans due to money/time/work. If a tour cames up and we could somehow find a way we'd jump at the chance. We're open to offers !!!

Soph: I would LOVE to come to America, I've never been but I know Jake and Dave have, and for my first time to be with the band would be amazing.

WC: Finally is playing at the Roadburn Festival something you would be interested in?

Jake: Yeah ,just to see the other bands would be awesome, I was watching the Solace Dvd from there the other day funnily enough. If we were offered it, we wouldn't think twice.

Soph: Yep, it would be ace. I would be happy with just visiting as I've never been. Playing would be awesome!!

WC: Thanks for spending the time answering these questions,would you like to add anything?

Jake: Only a massive thanks to you for your help & time. Very grateful to people like yourself for caring.

Soph: Yeah ,cheers for the interest and your time. Check out www.alunaband.co.uk or www.myspace.com/alunatheband and our label at www.catacomb-records.co.uk or www.myspace.com/catacombrecords.