Friday, May 20, 2016

Shramana Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before,can you tell us a little bit about the band?

Since we're from Montana, which is a very sparsely populated yet very large state in the US, not many people have heard of us. I (Reggie) started this band in 2009, mostly just for fun to teach myself how to play the guitar. As I improved, I became more serious about my creations, and as the sound evolved, so did the lineup. Nearly seven years later, I don't play three-chord punk anymore, and our current lineup has a great chemistry for the blackened crust/post metal music that we like to make.


2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

We've been influenced a lot by black metal for these songs, but because of the very closed nature of the genre as a whole, we certainly wouldn't venture so far as to call ourselves a black metal band. I would say that there are obvious crust/hardcore, black metal and post metal/atmosphereic sludge elements on this record. This album is building on the framework that "Toska," our previous release, laid for us. The song "Manufactured Essence" (the last track off of our new release, "Mythos: Logos") was written in the same time frame as the "Toska" songs but wasn't able to make it onto that record. You can hear the progression into the crust and black metal at the end of that song, which led us into the sounds you hear on the rest of "Mythos: Logos." Our earlier releases had more of a punk/grunge sound.


3.Originally the band started out in more of a punk direction, what was the decision behind going into the style that you play now?

There was really no decision made, it just evolved with time and ability. The lineup changed over the course of this evolution, and I (Reggie) found myself drawn more and more to heavier music, so that's what we wrote. It's not a huge jump from hardcore punk to doomy grunge (a la early Melvins), from that to sludge (a la Eyehategod,etc) and from that to post-metal (a la Neurosis). Unfortunately, most of this evolution is unrecorded, songs written between 2012-2014. With ensuing lineup changes and my interest in creating moving, dark yet melodic atmospheres, metal seemed to just naturally occur.


4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?

"Mythos: Logos" has its own artists statement, which encapsulates the meaning behind most of the songs:  "The humans of the world have lost sight of their belonging to the animal kingdom due to the myth of human superiority that has corrupted their ability to reason. This myth is now self-sustaining and has permeated the fabric of their self-identity. Not knowing they belong to the Mother, they now seek to destroy that which birthed them."


5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name ;Shramana'?

Shramanas were aesthetic monks in the evolution of the Hindu religion. They were the first to reject many of the teachings of the Vedas, as they fundamentally disagreed with the caste system and animal sacrifice. They led aesthetic lives in order to find their own enlightenment outside the structure of the religion that birthed them. We are not Hindu, nor do we claim to fully understand the etymology of this word. However, we identify with the rejection of the hegemonic nature of our mother culture and often, civilization in general, instead attempting to define our own moral and spiritual journey for ourselves. As a sidenote, Shramana (and the variant Sramana) now seems to be a popular woman's name in India. We often mistakenly get tagged in photos taken by teenage girls in India doing duckface poses on Facebook.


6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

We recently played a show in Bozeman, MT (our home state) with Woman Is the Earth from Rapid City, South Dakota that was one of our best performances. The crowd was great and we played well. In a different lineup, we played TotalFest, a larger regional festival to a standing-room only crowd and were received well there, too. We also had fun playing to the other bands in Reno last year.
Live, we're fast and punishing and don't really talk to the crowd much. I view our performances as spiritual experiences in which we commune with the divine, as music is the purest form of human expression and the closest humans can come to invoking the divine. I take our performances seriously, and often will burn sage or sweetgrass before playing. Because of this, we do not consume alcohol before or during our set, as this is holy medicine to many people and we do not wish to disrespect it. I'm severely visually impaired (I'm effectually blind) so I can't really look up from my guitar much and we must always bring additional lighting for me. I've been told we put on a good show.


7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
None nailed down. We'll probably play a few small mini-tours before the year is out, but our next multi-week long excursion will have to wait until 2017.


8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
We are looking for a label but we have not received any interest. We would be very interested in working with a label.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of post black metal?
We're not really sure yet. We've been trying to reach a wider audience with limited success.

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Hopefully our song composition skills will continue to develop in conjunction with our technical skills. There will continue to be elements of crust, post metal and black metal, but which of these we lean on heavily will depend on the weather.


11.The band is from Montana a state that I barely got album or interview requests from and this is probably the first in 4 to 5 years, how was the metal scene in your home state evolved over the years?

Montana is very, very big. It's the fourth largest state in the US behind Alaska, Texas and California, so some bands on the other side of the state might have more ties to bands in Wyoming or Colorado while we have more ties to bands in Washington and Oregon. Bands in rural areas don't last as long, as people either move on with their lives, leaving music to the nostalgic angst of youth, or move away, hoping to find their music careers elsewhere. So, you've got your radio metal bands in every larger city, the ones who try and sound like Pantera and Machinehead or what have you, they're the ones with the fans. Then you've got a handful of DIY bands who have actually discovered underground music. There's a small deposit of them in every town with 10,000 people or more, often just one or two, but there's a stoner metal band and then either a thrash, doom, grind, death or black metal band as well. In the last year or so Montana metal bands have been working together a little bit more, mostly thanks to the guys in Arkheron Thodol (Bozeman), Rusty (formerly of BATTLEFIELDS) in Billings, Cory with Erosion Fest out of Great Falls, and me and the guys in Swamp Ritual here in Missoula.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Some of the very most important bands in my life have been Fall of Efrafa, Neurosis, The Melvins, Skagos, Orwell, Isis and At the Gates.
I have a radio show on the University of Montana's college radio station, KBGA, called Dirty Flannel. It's two hours weekly so I have to continuously find new music to keep the playlist fresh. Because of this, my tastes evolve quickly. Currently, I really enjoy blackened crust, and I just found Ancst and Thranenkind (both from Germany, they're on tour together) and I'll be listening to them for some time, I'd imagine.


13.What are some of your non musical interests?
For me (Reggie), every moment I can be, I'm in the mountains hiking or camping. That's where I receive my inspiration, both good and bad. Good in the obvious ways, bad because I know that with human civilization continuing on with industry, the days in which this landscape will live and be viable are numbered. I am also an actor and enjoy working on screen and stage. Jeremy our guitarist enjoys exploring new recording techniques, music gear, micro-brews and Taco Bell. Austin our bassist is a video game enthusiast. Josh, our drummer, enjoys playing with his technical deathmetal band Arctodus and is a student working on his degree in entertainment management.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Our music is free, please download it and share it with the world and drop us a line anytime.

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