And Now The Owls Are Smiling was born from needing a vent to scream. A way to release deep-rooted frustration, melancholy, despair and isolation.
2.In November you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
I don't know if it differs as such from stuff that has come before. I like to think of it as the next step on the ladder of maturity with the sound. If you listen to the first demo 'The Brooding', it's very raw and basic. 'Desolation' took that sound and honed it somewhat and I think last years ep 'Ignis Fatuus' carried that on. I don't want to do anything too different. Just keep progressing and polishing the sound that has come before. I still want everything to sound like ANTOAS, but each release, a little more grown up.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored so far with the music?
Three words: Misery. Nature. Misery. I try to write lyrics about what I know. I'm not going to write Satanic Black Metal because it would be untrue to who I am and what I'm trying to do. I have always loved the outdoors and the natural world. And I have always been a miserable fucker. For me to try and write about anything else would be a mockery because I don't understand anything else. I dislike falseness. I don't worship Satan and it would be ridiculous for me to sing that I do.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'And Now The Owls Are Smiling'?
I have been asked this many many times. I live in a rural village in North Norfolk. My commute to work takes me through some beautiful countryside. One morning as dawn broke I saw a Barn Owl in a tree. As I went past, it looked at me and I swear it smiled. It made me think, if the animals are now so unafraid of humans as to smile, then we as a species are totally doomed. The song 'An Idictment' on the new album deals with this very theme.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
The front cover of the new album was taken at Castle Acre priory one gloomy winter afternoon. The reason I chose it is because I can't be bothered with finding pictures and trying to obtain permission to use them so it's a lot easier to use my own photographs. It's a bleak picture and it fits vey well with the bleakness of the sound of the album. I hope anyway.
6.With this project you record everything by yourself, are you open to working with other musicians or do you prefer to work solo?
In theory, I'm not adverse to working with other people. But I do prefer working alone. I'm very much a loner anyway and I can take my time. For example the new album was complete back in February, and then I ditched half of it as it wasn't quite right. I don't have to show anyone new songs I've come up with or feel like their time has been wasted. Also, this is a very personal preject and if someone else tried to give me their opinion of how a riff/melody should be, it would piss me right off. So it's easier for me to be alone.
7.The new album is coming out on 'Clobber Records', how did you get in contact with this label?
I met the guys from Clobber after I had done a one off show at Darkness Over Cumbria back in June. I did some acoustic versions of songs from previous releases and Rebecca mentioned that they would possibly be interested in releasing future stuff and it went from there. They are great to work with and seem to really 'get' what I'm trying to do, which is so helpful.
8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of atmospheric and depressive black metal?
I have very limited experience in regards to this if I'm honest. Everything I've done before has been self-released and therefore hasn't had much exposure around the globe. But what little feedback I have had has been mostly positive. It's nice in a way. I write music and lyrics that a) I would enjoy listening to, and b) I can connect with on a personal level. If other people dig that, then great. Working with Clobber I think is going to really help with getting my music heard by the right crowd. Not all black metal fans will like it, I understand and accept that. But the ones that do 'get it', they're the ones I write for. Anyone who wants melody and despair.
9.Where do you see yourself heading into musically during the future?
Doing this really. Again, I think I'm done with playing with other people so as long as the drive is there for me to continue and there is a strong enough desire from others to hear what I have to say, I'll still be making music.
10.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 basically listen to Atmospheric Black Metal and traditional Folk music. Hopefully you can hear that in the sounds of ANTOAS. Both have had an equal effect in the music I create. If you can get it right, the harsh dirtyness of ABM mixed with the melody and feel of trad music is such an exciting recipe. From an outside stance, Folk is just morris dancing and drunk people playing fiddles, but 75% of the lyrics are dark, like really really dark. I try to combine the two genres. Artist wise, hmmm to describe ANTOAS sound take 20% each of Lustre, Nocturnal Depression, Steve Knightley and the melancholic side of Drudkh. I think that's a decent enough description.
11.What are some of your non musical interests?
Photography and alcohol.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Not really no, other than thank you so much to anyone and everyone who has checked out and understood what I'm doing. It really is appreciated.
Nre / And Now The Owls Are Smiling.