Saor interview (10/2016)
|Conducted by:||Bad English (e-mail)|
Bad English: Hi, and thank you for doing this interview with us at Metal Storm.
Andy Marshall: Thanks!
BE: Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your musical background? How did you become a metalhead and what music do you listen to on your own time?
AM: I grew up listening to a lot of different rock and metal bands in High School. I got my first guitar when I was about 12/13 I think. I started jamming with friends in a local studio, nothing serious, just playing covers and goofing around. I properly started writing and recording music in my late teens, when I was about 16 or 17. I played in a few shitty metal and post-rock projects during my late teens till early 20's but I didn't start writing and recording music seriously until I started Saor in 2012 when I was 23/24.
I don't consider myself a metalhead, I am a music fan. I am listening to less and less metal as I get older. I like some metal, I like some rock, I like some folků you get the point. I just happen to be writing metal music at the moment. I'm a big fan of the original black metal scene (late '80s - mid-'90s), some folk metal, classic and power metal. I mainly listen to older stuff. I listen to a lot of different music in my spare time. At the moment I'm really enjoying Bathory - Blood On Ice and Cnoc An Tursa's new album The Forty Five.
BE: This might be a somewhat provocative question, but do you consider yourself primarily British or Scottish?
BE: Can you speak Gaelic?
AM: No, I only know a few phrases and words.
BE: Many German, Scandinavian, and Finnish bands record material in their native tongues. Have you ever thought about doing songs in Gaelic?
AM: If I could speak Gaelic, I would have done that from the start. Gaelic isn't Scotland's native tongue, it's a minority language now, mainly spoken in the Highlands and Western Isles. 99% of Scots speak English (badly).
BE: On the flip side of that, have you ever thought about doing a spoken word track or an intro or something to show off the Glaswegian accent? Many people say that Glaswegians are impossible to understand, but I can get 99% of Rab C. Nesbitt's conversations.
AM: I've not thought about doing any spoken word but I'd not be against it. I'm not actually from Glasgow but it's the closest city. I think my accent is pretty tame compared to some of my friends who were born and bred in Glasgow.
BE: You started Fuath in 2015, but the style is rather similar to that of Saor. Why begin a new project, rather than releasing I under the Saor name?
AM: I wanted to do something darker, more black metal and I had a few ideas I didn't want to use in Saor. It didn't really turn out the way I thought it would but it's still a decent album. I don't know if I'll do much more with it.
BE: Why did you change Àrsaidh's name to Saor?
AM: I just grew to dislike it and Saor looks and sounds better.
BE: Saor and Fen are two British black metal bands that stand out to me from other acts (possibly Winterfylleth as well, though I am less familiar with them). What is your formula for distinguishing yourself?
AM: Saor isn't black metal. It never was and never will be. Put on the new Saor album and then listen to Darkthrone or Burzum. It's not even the same genre of music in my opinion. Saor is more folk metal/atmospheric metal in my opinion. Black Metal died in the mid-'90s and I don't even listen to it anymore apart from the old classics. I guess the Celtic folk and Scottish elements distinguish it from those bands.
BE: Your songs are about nature, landscapes, and the seasons, not about St. Ann (if you catch my drift). What sparked the deviation from typical black metal themes?
AM: I've always felt a connection to nature and landscapes. When I used to listen to black metal in my teens, I was never really interested in all the evil and Satanic bullshit. The same goes for all that Pagan shit. I guess I was attracted to the cover art too, with forests, castles and mountains.
BE: I always think that the best black metal acts are those that sing about the nature surrounding the places where they live. You clearly share an interest in that subject matter; do you find this to be true of the bands you listen to?
AM: I prefer themes like nature and heritage, yeah. It's great when you find bands with the same interests as yourself. But to be honest, I listen to music if it sounds good, I don't care much about the themes.
BE: Recently I was watching a British black metal documentary, and one band (I don't recall which) said, "Norway has nature, forests, fog, but it's not part of the British landscape; we have a more industrial environment." Do you agree with this statement?
AM: That is a pretty dumb comment to make. They are obviously not looking hard enough.
BE: To clear my head, I usually walk through a dead Swedish forest in the summer or along an icy road on a cold winter day. How do you find inspiration?
AM: Nature, hillwalking, films, books, music, life.
The wild Andy Marshall in nature.
BE: This is purely speculation, but if you were able to spend a few months in north Sweden, would you choose summer, when the sun never sets, or the winter, when there is lots of snow and the sun doesn't shine for days at a time? How would it change your musical creativity?
AM: I prefer the atmosphere of winter. I like how dead and frosty everything looks. I don't think the seasons would change my musical creativity much.
BE: To me, Àrsaidh's Roots and Saor's Aura are equally good albums; I think they will become classics in the genre. Which of the two was more challenging to produce?
AM: You mean Saor's Roots? The official release is actually under the Saor name now. Aura was more challenging because more people were involved but the production ended up sounding worse than Roots.
BE: Could you perhaps share some interesting trivia about the new album, Guardians?
AM: Well, we recorded the album in cottages in the Isle of Skye and Cairndow. The album has a lot of great session musicians on it such as Bryan Hamilton (Cnoc An Tursa) on drums, John Becker on strings, Meri Tadic (Irij, ex-Eluveitie) on fiddle and Kevin Murphy on bagpipes. The album was mixed and mastered by Spenser Morris in the US.
BE: Who came up with the artwork for the album?
AM: Sebastian Wagner - http://www.sebastianwagner-art.com/
BE: Are you still a one-man band when it comes to studio work? Do Reni McDonald, Martyn Moffat, and Bryan Hamilton work in the studio, too, or are they just the live line-up?
AM: I write most of the songs and play most of the instruments but I worked with some amazing guest musicians on Aura and Guardians. The fiddle, string and bagpipe players usually come up with their own parts and I send a guide track to the session drummers and they come up with their parts.
Martyn helped me record the first two albums and helped me record some of the guitars on Guardians. Reni recorded the majority of Guardians and Bryan plays drums on Guardians. I hope to work with Bryan in the future; he's a great drummer and a close friend.
BE: As a live band, how many shows have you played?
AM: I don't know exactly but I'd say about 8-10 shows. We no longer play live shows, I hate playing live.
BE: You play bass and sing when performing. Why did you choose bass over guitar?
AM: I always preferred playing bass live. I also found it easier to sing and play bass.
BE: Many similar artists also have neofolk projects on the side. Have you ever thought about something like that?
AM: I've thought about doing some non-metal music with Saor. I think I might do some acoustic stuff in the future but I don't see the point of doing it as a side project.
BE: How do you listen to music: mp3s, CDs, vinyl? Do you ever listen to your own bands?
AM: I mainly stream stuff and buy LPs nowadays. I can't remember the last time I bought a CD to be honest. The only time I listen to my stuff is when I'm recording demos or mixing the album.
BE: To me, Saor calls for a good imperial stout, a fireplace, and a whole album play-through. Do you prefer beer or whisky?
AM: I prefer real ale.
BE: I have never been a fan of British pub culture, since it doesn't exactly fit in with the Swedish climate; if it's 20¤c or worse, it's no fun. How often do you go to the pub?
AM: Probably about 2 or 3 times a month.
BE: This might be the stupidest question of all, but a lot of metal artists we talk to have favorite football teams that they support. Is your home turf Ibrox Stadium or Celtic Park? Do you care about this kind of stuff?
AM: I support Scotland national team and Rangers FC. I am a football fan but I'm not obsessive about it.
BE: Thank you once again for your time. Do you have any last words for our readers?
AM: Cheers. "Guardians" is available for pre-order @ Bandcamp and Northern Silence.
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