Neanderthalensis is a single-member black metal project. It started out as an outlet for the more atmospheric riffs I would write when I was in d-beat crust bands, powerviolence bands, death metal bands, and grindcore bands. It doesn't take many influences from these genres, so these riffs were set aside for a couple years until most of my other projects dissolved, and all I had left were the riffs on Rain Over Scorched Earth. I am primarily a drummer, but all the drums are programmed, and the guitars were recorded simply in my bedroom using pedals I built myself on breadboards. There's no amp for the guitars, just custom circuits direct to my laptop soundcard. Neanderthalensis will be my primary artistic outlet for the foreseeable future.
2.So far you have released one album, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?
Growing up on the west coast of USA, I listened strictly to grindcore bands like Pig Destroyer and Brutal Truth and d-beat crust bands like Skitsystem and Martyrdöd, but I started getting heavily into dark Bay Area blackened crust bands like Akatharsia and Negative Standards. That facilitated my love of Norwegian black metal like Darkthrone, pre-Gaahl Gorgoroth, Emperor, Burzum, Enslaved, etc. and great USBM acts like Weakling, Inter Arma, and False, but all the black metal I would see live were cascadian acts heavily influenced by Wolves In the Throne Room. This made me interested in atmospheric black metal in general with bands like Velvet Cacoon, Void Omnia, and especially Paysage D'Hiver. I also really like Sunn O))), Hell, Thou, Dispirit, and other doom sludge acts.
3.In your lyrics I can see references to politics, Occultism and Social Darwinism, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?
I used to hate politics in black metal lyrics, because as a nihilistic artform it shouldn't tell people what to do. But when I became nihilistic towards my nihilism, I just write lyrics that mean something to me, something I want to scream at people without worrying about how kvlt the lyrics are, and I put the meaning of the song in the title for minimal ambiguity. Claim Your Only Life is a song about being a rebel and a recognition of the various forces that are actively trying to control people for other people's benefit, and that if you do nothing about it, those forces will win. Pity Is the Worst Thing You Can Give Someone is a poetic exploration of why I refuse to feel sorry for someone who is strong enough to take control of their lives, because when you begin to feel pity for someone, you have recognized their incapability and weakness. The song describes someone who does deserve your pity, and he may remind you of yourself because it's easy to resign yourself to weakness and pity, but do so at your own peril. Take Your Fists and Make Your Life is me venting frustration at people's inability to accurately acknowledge the forces tearing apart their self-determination. The Social Darwinism reference is a recognition that those who conform to the Capitalist system acquire the most money and therefore claim more of the benefits of society's productivity in a "survival of the most deranged" scenario.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Neanderthalensis'?
Neanderthalensis is the specific epithet for the taxon Homo neanderthalensis, which represents the well-known "Neanderthals". The name should hearken back to a time before concentrated power, to a dark and mysterious world where virtually no truths are known, when hominids lived alongside wild beasts of the Earth yet did not dominate landscapes, before society told people what proper conduct looks like, what people "are supposed to do". Its a landscape where self-expression is instant, unabashed, and unique to the life experience of the person. Neanderthalensis is banging clubs against an ancient tree trunk, it is a melody of bones clacking against bones, a howl from a mountaintop after a glorious hunt that nearly killed you, an expressive gesture without explanation. Neanderthalensis means doing what you are compelled to do as an individual without a society full of biases and assumptions telling you that what you are doing does not appeal to their sense of proper aesthetics.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the album cover?
Just after I left California, the 2018 Camp Fire burned down my home town, and all my best friends houses including my family's houses, and the album is dedicated to the Camp Fire. The picture is a photograph I received from the California Native Plant Society showing the desolate landscape after the Carr fire burned an entire mountainside to an ash heap. The name Rain Over Scorched Earth represents the cycle of life and death, and that tragedy is around the corner for everyone but strong people learn from their mistakes and move one with the next phase, and weak people drown in pity while the rest of the world takes the rain and rebuilds their lives in fertile scorched soil.
6.Originally your from the United States but recently located to Germany, can you tell us a little bit more about the move?
I am a botanist, and I am in Germany getting a Master's a degree at Ludwig-Maximilans Universität München. It would cost considerably more money to get my Master's degree in California because Germany has no tuition for universities, and I already have about $20,000 in student loan debt and I don't want to get any more. That's pretty much it: cheap school, great quality of instruction, great living standards, no Trump and people talking about Trump, and most importantly adventure.
7.On the album you recorded everything by yourself, are you open to working with other musicians or do you prefer to work solo?
This was my first solo project, and I greatly enjoyed the lack of pressure to quickly write music, and that I could take time to compose and craft the music. That being said, I would love to play the songs live and collaborate with other musicians in a non-solo project. That may or may not happen in the future, but I would be open to it for sure. It probably would not be Neanderthalensis though, I think I want to keep it as an outlet for atmospheric musings.
8.Recently 'Corpse Torture Records' released the album on cassette, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Corpse Torture Records is a small label that makes ultra-limited productions of music that inspires the guy who runs it. He asked me if he could print cassettes of Neanderthalensis, and I gave full permission. We don't have a contract or a deal, I don't get paid, he barely makes money, it's a private distro that supports bands he likes with exposure. It's just to get the name out there.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of atmospheric black metal?
I honestly don't know. Some people have really liked it according to comments on blogs and Youtube. I haven't heard any negative criticism of it yet, but it is still pretty underground. Half the comments are in English, and the other half are in Russian, so I suppose that those are the two biggest realms where it is receiving attention.
10.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?
I want to start a d-beat crust band in Germany, and Neanderthalensis will continue to get more atmospheric. I want the next recording to have significant ambient themes truncated with bursts of life and energy. The future is wide-open at this point, so I don't really have a well-defined path forward. I'm just doing what I am compelled to do.
11.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?
I think I mostly answered this on the second question. The top five most influential bands for Neanderthalensis would be Weakling, Burzum, Wolves In the Throne Room, Paysage d'Hiver, and Velvet Cacoon. Five things I'm currently listening to are Sutekh Hexen, Nordlicht, all things from Gilead media, Halshug, and A Diadem of Dead Stars.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Foraging wild food, anarchist political theory, tabletop RPG, forest pathology research, and smoking too much weed.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for the exposure and the review, I've loved your blog for months now, and maybe we can do this again after the next release.