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maandag 04 maart 2019
OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON US: A cautious crafted piece of art!

Interview with vocalist/guitarist Mucho Kolb by Vera in February 2019

Listening to an album of the Austrian collective Our Survival Depends On Us is not just a musical experience. It is a sacral event while escaping this – mostly hectic – world. This happens on ’Melting The Ice In The Hearts Of Men’ in four extensive ritual compositions that give you an empyrean feel. Amazing that there are still musicians who go against all popular trends and consider every album as a cautiously crafted piece of art! We had a nice chat with vocalist/guitarist Mucho Kolb about the philosophy of the band and much more…

Hi Mucho! In 2015 we did our first interview, but now that ‘Melting The Ice In The Hearts Of Men’ has been created, let’s have our next ritual of words that focuses on the new album. How are you doing at the moment?
I am doing totally fine! We feel free after the trials and tribulations of the creation and writing of this album, and now we are all glad to be a little bit further away from each other. The pressure of the creation process has calmed down, and now we’re good and prepared for forthcoming shows.

At the time of our first encounter, you were planning to go to Iceland in November 2015 and make a video clip. What came out of this plans? Please tell us about your trip to Iceland...
Like most things in life, there was a slightly different outcome with our plans in Iceland. We did everything else besides making a video clip! Iceland became a home for us. We had so many amazing experiences up there - and in a way, everything started up there. When we were standing at the geyser, shortly before it erupted, we were talking about future plans. After it erupted, we got a phone call and were offered a tour with Secrets of the Moon and Dødheimsgard. Also our connection to the Ásatrú Fellowship in Iceland has heightened our love for this wonderful country and its people. It is so impressive being in a country where they can read the books they wrote 800 years ago, they are so proud of their traditions, culture and history. We played the Vetrnæur festival in October 2016, with the likes of Phurpa, and we were invited to a fire ritual outside of Reykjavik. We have a family up in Iceland since that time.

When looking back, are you satisfied with the reception of ‘Scouts...’ by the people? Could you play gigs or tour enough to support the previous album ‘Scouts...’? Can you tell a bit more about these live experiences?
The feedback for ‘Scouts...’ was much better than we expected. From this album and from Vàn Records, we had a possibility to play a European tour. We played a lot of festivals and gigs. Because we played a lot more with this album, we had much more possibility to create this live atmosphere from show to show. We grew with every show and that was helpful for us to establish this atmosphere we’ve became somewhat renowned for. The feedback on our live shows and the songs from ‘Scouts...’ was absolutely amazing and impressive for us.

In 2017 you started working on the new album ‘Melting The Ice In The Hearts Of Men’. It was built up in a cautious way, so please tell us about your rehearsals in the mountains first...
The best component of having this rehearsal space is to be far away from disturbance; no traffic, no people, no city life. We had the gift of being able to focus and have time to establish the feelings and moods for this album. To rehearse and practise and bring the things together. We need these surroundings and this time together. When we recorded ‘Scouts...’ I was up there nine days long with all weather conditions. It’s so separated, it’s like having a different world, creativity, working together in a collective with this process, cooking together and spending time together, instead of going to a studio and caring for time and money. There is no stress. We came together and worked on one priority. It’s an emotional and intense atmosphere when we’re up there working.

No short songs came out of that, but four extensive ceremonies. Did it just turn out that way or did you plan it before?
The original plan was to produce five songs, but the extra song felt like an add-on. We realised through the creative process that four songs were perfect and fitted together in a way that we could not plan. The length of the songs creates this soundtrack feeling. It is like four chapters of a book and if you do too much different chapters in stylistic directions you be at the risk to lose the story. That`s also the reason for that moderate climax and the narrative development.

In 2018 the art of fine-tuning the material was your main goal, with the help of Michael Zech and V. Santura. Please tell us about this part of the creation of art...
We always try to be that open and empathic that one of us or all of us realise that it’s wiser to take things out or place things differently. We never stop the creative process, even with basics or fine-tuning. Sometimes it’s one word in the lyrics or one note in the guitar, but we remove it if it ruins the flow. Within the band, there exists empathy trust and interaction, within the band. We rely on each other’s trust to make our vision realised. Victor and Michael, as friends, as musicians, as producers, are like family now for us. They did an incredible job and it is much more than mixing and mastering, they did a full post-production. When we arrived in the Woodshed studios, they presented us a first mix and they called their interpretation “poisonous” and “psychedelic”. It was exactly what we wanted!

It must have been a warm welcome, working with V. Santura again! And he even played a guest guitar solo on the album...
I personally think that a good sound engineer, in the case of Michael and Victor, must have the skills of a musician to bring out the best in an album in the process of mixing. Some bands are so focussed on their vision that they do not trust sound engineers in bringing out the components that make the album bigger and better. Our guys gave us an epic sound! And on top of that Victor Santura performed a furious guest guitar solo. Thom always wanted to have a rivalling solo-guitar part and the heavy doom Metal riffing was perfect for that!

Another guest appearance happens to be Nemtheanga from Primordial, in my eyes one of the most intense performers in heathen metal scène. I am eager to find out how did your contact come into being and about this cooperation...
Alan became our friend a few years ago when we played with Primordial in Austria. He watched our show, during a thunderstorm with thunderbolts behind the stage. It was intense. Alan came to us and said very nice and friendly words because of the show. We had a good party with Primordial and, during the night, Alan offered his help to us and volunteered as a guest vocalist. That’s the reason we are still in contact and close friends. Alan also played at House of the Holy with his bands Primordial and Dread Sovereign. We’d organised to meet him after PRIMORDIAL played in Vienna last year and managed to get the recording. Take a look on our Facebook site, you will see a picture of this session at two o clock in the morning!

How did you end up with the title of this album ‘Melting The Ice In The Hearts Of Men’?
The world needs it. Since we started with this album, the lyrics and the music, I had a vision of this sentence in my mind. Maybe because it’s a trigger message for the universe that’s important for the world we are living in. A few years afterwards I met a Greenlandic shaman who wrote a book with almost the same title. I asked his permission to use this title; we should do that, he said, go forward.

It is a concept album, but how do you see that? I mean, we are not dealing with a story here, but you approach it in the OSDOU way... 
Yeah! It is definitely a concept album! It is four chapters about the difficulties of being human - but also the possibilities we have as humans. As I see it, we were a bit too clever to just live using our basic and primitive needs, in peace and harmony like nature is - we are a bit too stupid to have what is within reach. Also it is about how history always repeats itself - the album is a cycle.

Please tell a bit more about the song ‘Galahad’...
‘Galahad’ was the first song we started to compose. The most important thing for people to understand about ‘Galahad’ is that the song is not about Galahad himself. The lyrics are not necessarily about him, he is just the symbol or the connection the lyrics grew around. He is just an example, the song is about all of us and society. We all have the possibility to choose the path that is right, to be a bright shining symbol of loyalty and honesty, qualities that are somewhat missing from our modern society. To some people nowadays, these qualities are old-fashioned, but I think that they make it easier for us to survive. There is a book I was reading called ‘Irisch-Keltische Mystik Nördlich der Alpen’ about Saints Virgil and Rupert, Irish monks who came to Salzburg and established the city as a religious and academic stronghold. The Irish are connected to Salzburg’s history and that resonated with me so strongly.

’Gold And Silver’ is inspired by the book of Ezekiel from the Old Testament. In which way and please tell a bit more about the way this composition has grown into a lengthy one...
We were working on this gloomy and dark ritual part, with this repetitive drumbeat patterns. We wanted to create an intensive psychedelic loop. The whole song is based on the tribal drums which is unusual for metal. In the end ‘Gold And Silver’ is a monster of epic proportions. The Book of Ezekiel has four parts. Ezekiel was the son of a high priest enslaved by King Nebuchadnezzar II, and one of the first Israelites in Babylon. He was the father of theology. The teachings in this book are extremely interesting to me. Jewish tradition says that the teaching of the book of Ezekiel is selective - students deemed not wise enough do not get taught these stories.

You have created an amazing video clip for it! As you said: this is not just a clip! Can you tell about the idea of working out this result and about the making of and the thoughts beyond this ritual?
The production of the Clip was an adventure! Martin Dimitz the director was full of passion and energy. After first day and night of shooting we woke up in the morning and there was snow upon the hills. Exactly what we wanted for the last “Sergio Leone showdown”! The shooting was finish within two days and this was possible only because of the huge trust everyone gave to each other. The subtitle is “Which god, which king, which law condemns us to everlasting slavery?” It is a story about avarice and the misuse of power. The video shows in a simple and effective way what this temptation is doing with weak characters. It shows a process of enduring life and recognising, with pain, what is going on around the main character. It is all about human liberation.

’Song Of The Lower Classes’ is the most political song of OSDOU. Can you lift a veil about the deeper thoughts behind this and the person Ernest Charles Jones?
If people would be more interested in history, they would probably recognise that history is repeating itself, in cycles, especially the worst parts of human history, always again. Ernest Charles Jones` biography is outstanding. He was born in Germany and the future king of Hannover was one of his godfathers. He was a friend of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. ‘Song of the Lower Classes’ is a musical motif for a modern type of slavery, similar to the English Industrial Revolution. Of course, it was another time and another society, but the machinations are the same. After all our efforts, the enlightenment, the revolutions, the war and the countless victims during the last century, we are starting to do the same bullshit again and again. The sentence “…the rich are high for me make them so...” is up to the minute!

’Sky Burial’ might be your most experimental song on this album. Do you agree? And it has an interesting ritual philosophy behind it. Please explain...
We feel a connection to death ambient and psychedelic folk music. And if we have four elements on this album, sky burial is air. It was clear that we needed something to bring this album up to the gods, like the ways of the vultures in Persia and Tibet - like the end of life, up into eternity. Soaring. With this song we close the circle, but in fact it is not about “the end” it is about transformation.

Thomas (or was it Thom?) appears to be the traveller of the band. Can you tell something about his adventures and what could you use within the band?
We are all travellers in a way; but Hajot is the real traveller in this band, the tough guy is always the first of us to cross foreign territories. He is our scout for these frozen northern lands and the Antarctica sitting at the edge of nowhere with a xylophone. He travels for freedom and isolation. Thom is the desert traveller, going to Libya and Australia for the heat. Barth is always on tour, he has friends in every town around the world. Everybody knows Barth! I go to Scandinavia and mainly Scotland now for connections and these crucial historical and cultural inputs. I also believe it is so important to travel and to see these cultures and lands firsthand, to experience it for yourself.

Are there plans for more video clips? Have you been working with Walter Fanniger again?
We always have plans. I would personally like to do another short movie. But it’s difficult to find the time and resources. It’s not easy to produce one clip after another. We have good connections to Hallstatt and a permission to shoot in the old salt mines…we`ll see!

What can you say about the artwork?
Our vision was always to create an absolutely timeless cover that stands for itself and also that touches people in the same way the music does. It took eight or nine months to create and build this incredible artwork with Elijah Tamu and Alex “Irrwisch” Trinkl. It is connected to the songs and fits perfectly. I always had a vision of this universe with these layers beneath. It was hard work and it took hours of discussions with all band members because we are all passionate in paintings and graphic arts. Elijah created the crucial basis and Alex overworked with his own incredible concepts. We wanted an album cover that was purely OSDOU with those timeless cosmic spaces.

What are the plans for the near future and for bringing this live on stage? Any future gigs confirmed or in the making?
In terms of future gigs, we are playing Rise of Chaos Festival, Vienna Metal Meeting and some special shows. We hope we can promote the album all over Europe. We are looking forward to doing a tour this year.

If there is anything you’d like to add, feel free to do it right here...
Thank you for the interview! We hope to play the Netherlands again sometime soon. Never surrender! Vrede en een lang en vervullend leven!

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 04 maart 2019 - 21:52:38
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