As I indicated in my review, I liked Krieg's new record, Transient. But I was also critical in some parts, as certain songs left me less impressed than others. Still, frontman Neill Jameson took it in stride and said nice things about the article. With that in mind, I decided to get in touch with him and let him elaborate on what went into the making of Transient, along with some fun banter about working at a record store.
Metal Injection: With Transient, what was your primary mission, musically speaking? What feelings or experiences were you trying to express?
Neill Jameson: I think the main objective in the simplest terms was to make a record that, if it turned out to be the last one I ever do, it would be something I could walk away satisfied with. I had a lot of anxiety going into the studio because it had been so long since the last full-length and I was such a different person when we did The Isolationist than I am now. I wanted to convey more human emotion through this record versus the last one which had a very detached and cold feeling to it. I wanted to express who I was at the time of writing and recording, a more anger and aggression fueled record, more focus. How I felt after getting off medication for depression and bi-polar disorder, like this veil that was lifted that I wasn't even aware of being wrapped around me in the first place. Outside of the deeper meaning I've just grown tired of working within what the black metal rulebook seems to dictate about sound aesthetics and because of this I was motivated to work outside of my comfort zone in terms of the writing. I listen to a lot of other music outside of metal and I wanted to use my interest in that to inform and reinforce Krieg's new music.
In my review of the album, I was a little critical of the spoken word track. Perhaps you'd like to take this chance to elaborate on "Home" a little more and speak to what it means to you.
I will be the first to admit that it is a rather self indulgent track but to me almost everything I do is indulging myself in some manner or another. I've always tried to include an instrumental track or two on each full length but this time around I wanted it to have more of a direct impact than just some sort of abstraction. Seeing that I never print my lyrics I thought this time around I would create a thesis for the record, something that spoke to exactly what the themes lyrically were. Besides the sort of writing I do for Decibel I also do a lot of private writing that doesn't necessarily connect to something of a comedic or observational nature and the two passages on this song are examples of that. The first voice represents anger and disgust, the aggression you feel when you're already introverted and, I suppose the best way to word it would be "sensitive" to the world and other people around you just continually do things that, to put it mildly, disagree with you. The second passage is representative of paranoia, distrust and the discomfort of being in a world you have little in common with. Two sides of the same coin.
I'm a big fan of Integrity, so I can't help but ask, how was it to work with Dwid? I got to shake hands with him at a show in Hartford last year, and he seemed like a great guy to be able to collaborate with.
Both he and Thurston were really great in their understanding and delivery of the material. They both have very distinct voices and speech delivery and were absolutely perfect to complete the idea I had for this track. Dwid has been incredibly supportive of Krieg's music between agreeing to take part in this track to introducing me to different like minded people to releasing the split with Leviathan through his Holy Terror Records. I'm very humbled and grateful for both of their participation in the record.
There is simply so much metal out there now, with piles and piles of records out each week. Do you have a few that have come out recently that make you say "man…this record is awesome!"
Whenever I talk to anyone on this subject my mind generally just goes blank, which is horseshit because there is a lot of great bands operating from the demo level and up right now making metal that is both interesting and engaging. One thing that came to mind instantly would be the new Earth record, which I don't know if you could classify as metal really but it's the first thing they've done since the fourth record that really caught me. I really enjoyed the new Entombed record, or Entombed AD or whatever the fuck you want to call it now. It felt like the missing link after "Wolverine Blues". Outer Heaven and Sangus are two bands that are working on 7 inch material that have really left a strong impression on me as well.
Working at a record store adds an extra-level of day-to-day to being in the music world. So with that in mind, how do you keep yourself passionate about music? How do you stop yourself from becoming jaded?
I don't. It's a natural process, I can't really stop it. But I do take advantage of being in a store like ours where we deal in basically every genre – and through that I look into different genres and artists I normally wouldn't be drawn to if I were just a regular customer. I suppose a negative side effect there is I've developed a strong love for a lot of dad rock shit which I should feel ashamed about but somehow do not. In terms of my own music and writing I don't let an overload of stimuli burn me out and I only work on writing when I feel that it's time, so as not to force anything.
Would you care to elaborate on who some of those dad rock bands are? Feel free to plead the 5th amendment otherwise.
It really hasn't just been dad rock, this job has exposed me to a lot of different music that I never really considered for myself. I know it's the lame white guy thing to say but being exposed to jazz through this place has been great, stuff like Coltrane's "Sun Ship" or Thelonious Monk's "Underground" which I never would have given a fair chance to otherwise. I listen to a lot of ZZ Top, Neil Young, Jethro Tull etc now as well. It's as if part of my musical taste is run by a 45 year old white dad who's going through a mid life crisis and trying to reconnect to his youth while his wife is fucking the plumber or whatever cliche' that fits this scenario. It's something I've tried to avoid for a long time but I suppose it was inevitable. If I ever find myself saying " this Fleetwood Mac record isn't too bad" then hopefully fifteen minutes later you'll also find me with a gun in my mouth.
In order to make music like Krieg or extreme metal in general, do you think a person needs to be bitter or unhappy? If so, do you think people try to stay unhappy on purpose, just to keep the creative forces going?
There is that concern, isn't there? You hear people say they don't take their medicine because they can't create. People are afraid of being happy or fixing their lives because they think it could cause them to lose what makes their art vibrant and expressive. You hurt so you create but you're terrified that you could be happy and stop creating which is a massive circle since you create to deal with pain in the first place. That's a pretty shallow example but it's a small piece to the answer of your question. I don't think you need to be bitter or unhappy to make aggressive and violent music, but it does help, at least in my case.
But I don't fear being content in my life as a means of degrading my music or writing. If that ever were to happen to me then I would just see where it takes me.