Douaumont is an underground technical death metal band from Minnesota that exists as a duo comprised of Pale Noise Media label owners Matt Wees (arts, vocals) and Andy Meyer (extended range basses and composition). (AM/MW)
2.So far you have released one full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?
Musically, having recently released Rictus’ Leprotic Mass (2018), I felt that I needed to create an album that was composed more impulsively. The challenge with this, as with any composition, is to not lose sight of any focus or intention. Douaumont’s Chironex Fleckeri was the result of locking myself in a room for several hours and just seeing what sounds I could make on my instrument that could eventually evolve into a greater refined aesthetic as the production went on.
We knew this album was going to be more consistently/traditionally heavier than our previous releases, and it was decided to supplement that with adding in more dissonant colors in the harmonies and phrasing and of the tracks early on. This took influence from a number of different late 19th-mid 20th century classical composers, and helped refine the genre of technical/dissonant death metal to our aesthetic. (AM)
3.The only amplified instrument on the album is the bass, can you tell us a little bit more about going for this approach instead of adding regular guitars?
My living situation at the time of composing the record had a very constricted area for me to work, and the only instruments I had with me were my basses. Being that I play extended ranged instruments for all of my projects and have studied classical arrangement/performance on them for a number of years, I felt comfortable with creating and articulating chord progressions and melodic figures that someone might achieve with a traditional guitar. One of my instruments in particular is a 7 string bass, which I tune with 3 extra high strings. This gives me almost the range of an entire guitar as well as a traditional 4 string bass.
This bass was the only instrument I had at my disposal. I wanted to take the inspiration I had for the composition in that moment and further experiment with what the instrument could produce, as well as try to blur the line with what the role of the “bass” is when in traditional metal instrumentation. At some points on the record, the “guitar” sounding basses are playing just as low as where the “bass” sounding instruments are, and other times, the opposite can be true. I felt that this only increased the interest within the (at some points nauseating/dizzying) riffs and progressions, as well as just generally providing a unique sound that more closely represents what I personally wanted the record to represent. (AM)
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band has explored so far with the music?
Lyrically, the record revolves around reflecting the instrumental writing and recording process, being that that process took place in a very confined and personal space. This was reflected on by using an overarching theme of introspection/self awareness and looking at how one deals with the mental boundaries they give themselves when they create.
Comparing this release to Rictus’ Leprotic Mass, Leprotic was much more of a think-piece/conceptual record that used a fictional universe with fictional characters to commentate socioeconomically/ethically on the world around us, whereas Douaumont’s Chironex Fleckeri was much more grounded in self-actualization and realization.
Even if not about the process of creation, its reflective of the point that true freedom is in fact extremely restricting, and that is one of the core statements that I based my words on. Getting more specific with certain lyrics in particular isn’t something that I feel like I need to do, as it is intended that this practice of self awareness should be experienced differently for every listener, and each should take their own realizations from Chironex as they hear and read the record. (MW)
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Douaumont'?
“Douaumont” (referring to the Douaumont Ossuary) contains more than 100,000 unknown soldiers from various wars of both German and French descent. Rather than take this name/representation as a political statement, we took it aesthetically to reflect on how the ends of these lives (which can be assumed to have been relatively gruesome) can be turned into this very ‘open’ and aesthetically utilitarian and self aware monument in that it stands tall above ground. This felt like an appropriate way to brand the first impression everyone would see from us, being that no one had heard anything from this project before. (AM/MW)
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the album cover?
As with all the releases I do with Pale Noise Media, the art is always done in-house. Chironex does not break this format, and is on my (now relatively standard) 18x24 canvas painting. These canvas paintings are then photographed/digitized by Andy, who then later crops and edits them into the final album covers.
Conceptually, I tried to have my art represent the album, rather than the band. For “Chironex Fleckeri” - one of the world’s most venomous types of jellyfish - it is treated as a perspective of having physical metamorphosis of inner dramatizations that exist more ambiguously, and which seem to ‘sting’ in only the most inopportune moments. I use things such as strong color aesthetics contrary to what I see in other artists in this genre to help articulate this, as well as provide more ambiguous subjects to prove harder to define facsimiles within the work. (MW)
7.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you open to expanding the line up or do you prefer to remain a duo?
Every project we’ve begun has essentially just been both of us, and this project has the potential to continue with the same intention. That being said, we are unsure of future lineups and could be open to expansion, but we do know that the compositional process will remain the same for the time being. (AM/MW)
8.The album was released on 'Pale Noise Media', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Pale Noise Media was started to essentially justify the creative output that Matt and myself realize. We treat it (existing as a multimedia label) as our ‘band’, and the projects within it our albums. The sheer quantity and variety of what we want to produce is too vast for one ‘band name’, so this is our way of keeping everything consistent for any given name under the label.
Being branded as a multimedia label also helps justify the original intention of Rictus- our first project (beginning in mid 2014). It was always decided that Rictus would not just be a band, but rather, every release would pair with theatrical and visual output, so why would the label be any different? Paintings, photography, sculptures, ambient records, dissonant death metal records, progressive metal records; all of these things fall under the umbrella of what we want to represent ourselves as, and this is how we want the world to perceive what we do as artists. (AM/MW)
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black and death metal?
We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from our core friend/fan group in Minnesota. Within all of our releases, our intention is to promote thought. Whether it be before actions or after conflicts/experiences via reflection, we want to encourage people to be congansent of the world around them, and ideally, help promote a place where conversations can be had much more easily that lead to positive growth and change. (AM/MW)
10.What is going on with 'Rictus' these days, a band that also shares the same members?
Rictus is comprised of, yes, Andy (Bass/Secondary Vocals) and Matt (Lead Vocals/Guitar), but also features Kieran Eckberg on Drums/Percussion. The three of us have been working intensely on focused rehearsals and have been diligently crafting what will become the next Rictus LP. We expect production for this to start this coming year.
Following Rictus’ Leprotic Mass, we filmed 2 music videos, and have only released one (Rictus - V. Dorian - Official Music Video). The second of which will be releasing on the one year anniversary of Leprotic on November 23rd next month, as well as new video material from our rehearsals this summer. All of these links can help you find more information as it is released:
11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
We want to sit with Douaumont for a brief period before trying to jump into new ideas. The band could take several turns but we want to keep the elements that made Chironex what it is consistent. I think there is a necessary reflection period that exists after releasing an album; to gather your thoughts and look at the choices you made in hindsight.
That being said, there are many places I’d like to take Douaumont with the next record. There are also several factors that we aren’t yet ready to talk about regarding the label that the next release depends on. Part of what made Chironex what it is was the impulsivity guiding the growing intention and aesthetic of the release, and I think I will know more about what Dou 2 will sound like once I begin that sporadic phase of initial composition. (AM)
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?
Speaking in regards to Douaumont, I took heavy influence from composers like Anton Webern, Dmitri Shostakovich, Claude Debussey, Arnold Shoenberg, Giacinto Scelsi, and Igor Stravinski. I would be studying these composers every day before coming home to write for Chiro with my current University studies of Music Theory & Composition. With this, I could draw parallels to bands I was into in those moments, and take what elements I liked and discard the ones I didn’t feel were necessary for my own work.
In terms of my general music listening, I have always been a huge Krallice head. There is another interesting band called An Isolated Mind that I have been re-discovering. Other mentions should be; Botanist, Sumac, Sunn O))), Bell Witch, Scott Walker, Tim Hecker, Dystopia Na!, Sunless (from MN), Convulsing, Vukari, and Gorguts. (AM)
13.What are some of your non musical interests?
Everything I do pretty much revolves around music. I have been studying photography on my own for the past few years and get a great deal of fulfillment from doing that, but I also treat it as work. I shoot a lot of concerts around the Twin Cities/Duluth area, and I also am the one behind the camera for painting digitization. So far I have also been the director of photography on all of our videos we have put out through our Youtube page.
I think the only thing I can say that I do that has no relationship with music is playing pool. I started this last year at University as a way to just not think about anything for a while and have been playing it with on and off consistency ever since. (AM)
Up until I was seventeen or eighteen I was undecided as a “musician”. I had dedicated the majority of my previous years solely to visual arts and some minor performing and martial arts (how Andy and I met). I was a casual guitarist and I could fake a growl here or there but Rictus and my friendship with Andy has inspired every progression musically from there on. I have also been creating costumes and “acting” at a haunt for eight years now. Most of my time outside of the studio is spent creating a variety of physical arts as I feel it equals and often overpowers my urge or ability to articulate my musical expression. (MW)
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
We want to thoroughly thank you for your time and questions. Being able to spread what we do while still in our younger years as a label is incredibly gratifying and we sincerely appreciate your offer to help get our words out.
We also thank anyone who checks out our label/music/art from this interview. To make it easy to find, here is all of our associated links. All of our releases are name your price, and the more support we receive, the more possible it is to put out more music and on more formats (CDs, LPs, Merch, etc.). If anyone has any more questions from this interview, please feel free to reach out. Thank you again:
Latest release: Douaumont - Chironex Fleckeri :: palenoisemedia.bandcamp.com/album/chironex-fleckeri
Official Youtube Streaming:
Chironex Fleckeri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKQZBx_20Qs&t=959s
Latest Music Video: Rictus - V. Dorian - Official Music Video ::