PETRICHORUS “Power of the Hawk” 

By Octopi Mills

In the misty hills and hollers of Arkansas, an ancient spirit is brooding and has found voice through music. One might think that Wiley’s Cove, AR might be an unusual place to find a folk/black/metal ambient band with close ties to the pagan days of Europe, but so it is. The music is brought forth through an entity known as Petrichorus and Petrichorus happens to be Derek Hage.

Here kindred soul and fellow hill dweller Octopi Mills seeks to delve into the heart of Petrichorus to discover what makes this hawk soar….

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Welcome, Derek, on behalf of the good Dr. Mality and myself, to the Wormwood Chronicles. I would like to start this interview by asking you about Petrichorus and the origins of this project, and your older releases. How did this project come about and such?

DEREK HAGE: In 2007 or 2008(I do not remember!), I decided to start the project, and took quite a bit of time to record. I had the logo done by a great artist by the name of Alemsahim and I decided to do a 3 way split with two bands,Pagan Hammer(USA) and Eldenor(RUS), and it was an honor to work with everyone involved. The preperation took quite some time. I was working on the songs before I ever looked for a logo or decided on a split or anything like that.

A friend from another band(Lord S. of Frost)helped me find a label to release it. Werewolf Promotion is that label, and they do great work and have been releasing quality stuff for years. Also I should mention the split was a dual label release between Werewolf Promotion and Hammerbund of Germany.

Later, the CD "Beyond the Ancient Bluffs" was released by Hammerbund. This all turned out very well and so on, as well as the later tape version with Werewolf Promotion and Achtung! records from the Netherlands. The "metal" songs on the first full length were extremely difficult to record properly with the equipment I had at the time, and in the end I was not very happy with my sound quality I achieved. At that time I didn't have as much knowledge of proper mixing or mastering and worked with what I had at the time. It was a solid effort, but my sound quality suffered from my lack of recording knowledge. The first album was half metal and half ambient tracks. 

The album "Hawkraft" released on 6/6 through Werewolf Promotion is something of an odd creature... It is a kind of instrumental concept album, if that is possible to even explain. It was heavily influenced by the woods of the Ozarks and the Red-tailed hawks here. I will, of course go into this later.

WWC: I know the format of magnetic tape is important to you and these releases, which are limited. Would you tell us a bit about your interest in releasing material on tape in this manner and what it means to your vision of Petrichorus and the music of these albums?

DH: I am fascinated by tapes, and it fits the mentality of my project, and myself. It comes second only to vinyl in my eyes as far as sound quality and analogue warmth. CDs are also great, and it seems everyone wants to release only on CD, because that is the current format for the world, and I totally understand it and also support it in many ways! There will be a CD version of "Hawkraft" in the future on Inductive Oppression Records of Mexico!

However, people are making a mistake throwing cassettes out the window, and anyone who likes underground music can attest to that, I am sure. I know of many albums/splits/demos/compilations that were ONLY released on tape. I like the way they slowly deteriorate as well, like our own physical bodies. Not to mention the fact that many old black metal releases that I hold above all others were recorded and released or BOTH on tape. I also have a fascination with old reel to reel recordings as well, and the interesting way that they function!

Also, regarding limitation... I would prefer all of my releases to be limited because this music is meant for those that actually want to hear it.

WWC: Your latest release, "Hawkraft", is now available. What was the process of creating this album like? There is a certain flow maintained, and it is certainly somber and has an atmosphere of deep mood...Why did you choose to make it an instrumental, and how did you go about choosing the themes and concepts for this album? Tell us, if you will, what this album means to you and how you went about making it?

DH: "Hawkraft" was a different concept to me and was largely inspired by the hawks that fly over these mountains, and their spiritual significance as messengers. This album was very deep for me, and is essentially my personal message to the spiritual realm... In most ways, it was very ritualistic during recording and also writing. I chose to make it in an instrumental because it is supposed to be heard in it's entirety, and speak for itself. I think that it does.

WWC: "Hawkraft" certainly has a natural, organic theme running in it's threads; from the song titles to the cover art, there is a symbolism that is very "pagan" and close to natural aspects...How were you inspired, in this sense, to incorporate these elements into your sound and does it go to a certain belief or philosophical stance?

DH: The Hawk represents many things to me, personally. Hawk-Kraft means two things. Magic and also the Strength of the Hawk. This album is a concept album in many ways, both "pagan" and philosophical. I see and feel a lot of these things during fishing, hiking, hunting, etc.... that is where the visual aspect comes in. All of my music is intentionally visual and close to nature.

There is a certain belief that I hold, and that is actually being a PART of nature or "in synch" with it. Also knowing that you are alone in the woods, exposed to elements and more. I've walked miles and miles through these hills in a single day, and I will probably roam them as long as I have a bone to break in my body. 

I do have some philosophical stances but they are always "full circle", if that makes sense... I like positive things.

In a nutshell, this album was HEAVILY inspired through nature, magic/ritual, Paganism and mythology(Gatherings of Tiwaz, for instance), Native American Shamanism, and most importantly, the Hawk and it's spiritual significance to me. Also a heavy dose of hatred for the modern world we live in today. As someone born in the U.S.A., I do have some Native American ancestry(and I'm sure most do) and that is an important factor to the music as well, hence the Hawk in this album. I am not going to sit here and claim that I am Native American, though, because that would be mostly untrue, except for some relatives that are long gone. These woods we walk in the U.S.A. were once walked by them, and I feel a sense of connection there.

If you look at the album cover by Chadwick St. John they will see that the man has danger all around him, but up above him the Hawk above him opening the clouds. It is symbolic of the album as a whole, really.

WWC: Do you have any plans for further releases planned?

DH:Yes. I will have something else, with elements of both both metal and acoustic instrumentation. After that I am not sure.

WWC: How has living in Arkansas affected the music you compose? Are you affected by the countryside of the region you live when you make the music? What can you say about this matter?

DH: I couldn't do any of this without these woods. I've always wanted to visit other mountain ranges and explore them as well, and I surely will. There is a very long trail called the Ozark Highlands trail and I intend to try to complete it with no stops. I really enjoy just simply being in the woods. It is meditative and soothing to the mind, body, and soul. The Ozarks are a great place of beauty, but there is beauty in nature in every region on the planet! 

WWC: All who pass here under my watch must eventually be asked this question...What are you ideas of the supernatural or paranormal? Have you ever had an experience, or perhaps a tale to share with us at this time?

DH: I do believe in the supernatural, magic, and things of the sort. I have had a few that you could call paranormal or supernatural. I will tell you one. I once I woke up in my room to a hooded figure that held it's hand out to me and  telecommunicated words to me. I could not move or breathe, only see and hear. When the figure disappeared I could breathe and hear and move again. It was NOT a case of simple sleep paralysis though. It was too real and certainly in contact with me.

WWC: With this music do you ever plan on a performance or to play any of the music in a live setting, or is this strictly a studio affair? 

DH: So far it is strictly studio. It's entirely possible to work the songs out live, but it would take very special individuals to play this music in some sort of grand live setting. No one knows what the future holds really, but at some point it may be a live setting.

WWC: Are there any sort of books, authors, films, or other art that inspire you or you enjoy? What albums or music do you yourself hold to have merit or value?

DH: Yes! I like quite a bit of metal(black, death, doom, thrash, power), but also many other genres of music as well, such as folk and ambient music. My personal favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Bathory, Nachtfalke, Judas Iscariot, Graveland, Nokturnal Mortum, Burzum, Drudkh, Alcest, Early Mortiis, Darkthone, Mutiilation, Vlad Tepes, Inquisition, Emperor, Windir, the Xibalba(Mex) Demos, Rotting Christ, etc...

ALL musical influences worth mentioning would be a very long "name dropping" style of list(especially the black metal part) and I'd rather not do that! There are some good local bands from Arkansas worth mentioning though like Count Beetle, Funeral Sky, Napalm Christ, Ozark Shaman, and Apothecary. 

As far as reading goes, as a kid I read many books, but as an adult I must say there are many things I missed out on, such as "Walden" by Thoreau.(Thanks Namter and Teddy!) It is a very great book that has led me further into reading more works of other authors. As a kid I read many fantasy novels, and some horror stuff, but as an adult I think I have many books to read... As a child you cannot comprehend some of these books quite as well as when you are an adult. I have many books I feel the desire to read, and others to re-read. I also enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons as much as possible.

I like many films but I will note some I enjoy. Blue Velvet, STALKER, Withnail & I, Sunshine, Microcosmos, Rambo: First Blood, The Fourth Kind, Star Wars.... The list could go on and on!

WWC: Thank you for your time and for the interview. If you have any last words to impart to our readers, feel free at this time. 

DH: I would like to thank you guys for keeping Wormwood Chronicles such an interesting site, and I am honored to have done an interview with you fellows. My final words are that I have many people to thank other than myself for this band. My friends and the labels I have worked with have been highly important for this band. I sometimes receive emails or kind words from people who are fans of my music and that is what keeps me working on Petrichorus. I initially write the songs for myself, but it is all inspired by music and other forms of art too, and I've found that there are people who wish to hear this music, which is very inspiring in itself.