Torpor and Sonance are perhaps two of the heaviest Sludge Bands the UK has to offer at the moment. Both different sounding bands but each with the same objective in making some of the heaviest Sludge Metal around.
Torpor released a stunning debut album earlier this year with From Nothing Comes Everything. Sonance have been creating bleak experimental Sludge/Post-Metal for the last few years now. I've became a fan of these great bands over the last few years.
So when Lauren (Bass/Vox) from Torpor and Ben (Guitar) & Will (Vox/Guitar) from Sonance contacted me recently to discuss their forthcoming split record they will be recording and releasing next year, I couldn't say no. It was also a great chance to catch up with these two awesome bands.
So here's the interview with Lauren, Ben and Will.
Hi Ben, Will and Lauren. Thanks for doing this interview, how are things with you today.
Lauren – Hey Steve! Really good thanks, just enjoying a day off in the rain. Much tea and sofa time…
Torpor - Photo by Torpor
So we are here to talk about the forthcoming split record between Torpor and Sonance. What can we expect from this release.
Lauren – 20 minutes of stumbling mammoth riffs and swirling vortices of harmony and noise.
Will – Heavy as fuck, low and slow. We're writing shorter songs this time around rather than single tracks lasting a whole side.
When will it be released.
Lauren – I think we’re aiming for spring 2016.
Will – First part of next year, with our usual pattern of getting the download out asap and other formats/vinyl following soon after.
When did you get the idea to release a split record.
Will – We're huge Torpor fans and have shared the stage a few times, they seemed like the ideal band to reach out to.
Lauren – The idea came about while we were planning a weekender earlier this year, which didn’t quite come together. If I remember, Ben felt guilty that he didn’t ask us to play their Blackflower release show, so the split was a consolation prize! Haha.
Ben - We asked torpor a while back. i've never done a split before, it seems like a fun thing to do with a band you love.
Whilst Torpor and Sonance are both heavy sludge based bands. Both bands have a different sound to each other. Does the sound of both bands work together for the new record. As I never thought both of your bands releasing a split record together.
Lauren – I feel that we share a lot of common ground with Sonance, without especially sounding similar. For me that’s the perfect kind of creative alliance – inspiring but not stepping on each other’s toes. The beauty of a split is that fans of each band get to hear something they might not check out otherwise, so the two sides could be polar opposite and still work as a whole because they are joined by a thread of inspiration or values.
Ben - We'll see. i'd imagine so, torpor have a raw sound to me, something i love to see live and on record so far has left me wanting more. splits work better when they are not the same style bands anyway....i think converge/hellchild was immense.
Will – We're collaborating a bit on material, for example I'm doing vocals on a track of theirs. We have a very special guest vocalist lined up for one of our tracks too.
Does the split record feature entirely new material.
Ben - From us yep.
Will – Yep, all new material, we're writing a lot at the moment so have a few tracks to choose from.
Lauren – We’ve written two new songs for this record. One of them was pretty much done when the split idea was finalised, but it just so happened that it felt perfect for this release.
Will you be touring together to promote the record at all.
Lauren – We’re planning a weekender or short tour for late spring 2016 I think.
Will – The aim is to do a short tour together to promote the release. We're hoping to do a show at The Cube in Bristol where we did the Blackflower release earlier this year. It's a cinema so the situation is optimal for visuals/atmosphere.
Ben - We'll do at least a weekender covering Bristol and London.
Both bands are well regarded within the UK Doom/Sludge Metal scene. Has it surprised you the response to your music by fans and critics alike.
Lauren – We still feel like nobody has really heard of us outside of our little community, so it’s nice but surprising when people like you say things like that! We’re still mostly opening shows, although those opening slots are getting a bit more high profile recently (like for Amenra!) I think playing in London makes it hard to judge how people respond to you – folded arms and a general air of indifference are pretty standard! We really like going to smaller towns and cities where people are a lot more forthcoming, and you think “oh right, people do like us!”
Will – We've been very lucky to have so much positive response to our music. It fuels our fire.
Ben - We got a great response after like ghosts and blackflower, in my opinion was not as well received, which was fine by me. They're two different records and i can see what people may like or not like in each release. What's important is for this band to keep writing and releasing music.
Lauren – Torpor’s new album – From Nothing Comes Everything – was released earlier this year. That was a brutal and quite frankly brilliant album. It received some lovely praise all over the place. Did that surprise you. Would you change anything about that album. Or would you leave it as it is.
Lauren – Thank you! We were really pleased at the amount of positive press it received. We didn’t have any expectations, but we worked very hard on that record, we spent a long time crafting it and I think people can hear that in the finished album. It was a true reflection of the band at that time, and with that in mind I wouldn’t change anything about it – we’re all really proud of it. Torpor is constantly changing and evolving, most obviously with Nats leaving quite recently, so the new songs sound different and we are really looking forward to going back into the studio and seeing how the next recording turns out. We’ve lost one very strong influence, and it’s set us free creatively. You’ll hear much more of our individual tastes coming through, we’re stretching our wings again.
Ben, Will – Sonance have just released a new album with Mirror And Vie. Another experimental offering from you guys which you’ve said can be played by itself or with previous albums. How did that idea come about releasing a record such as that. Was it an easy record to write and record for. I don’t know if you were influenced by BORIS who did something similar years ago.
Will – More influenced by Neurosis's Grace/Times of Grace combination from nearly 20 years ago. The intention is for Mirror and Vie to be an on going release i.e. we'll add to it with more experimental and ambient content, that can be listened to alone or in combination with our future releases.
Ben - refer to will's answer.... it's been done before sure, but it's something we feel we can keep doing over the years.
Both bands are both fairly active with the UK Live Doom/Sludge Metal scene. Some people are saying that the scene is thriving whilst offers are saying it’s in major decline. What’s your own verdict on this. And if it is declining, how can we improve it.
Lauren – We have a fantastic, supportive community around us but we’re naturally loners and kind of keep ourselves to ourselves. We don’t bother with people we don’t like and don’t inspire us – why waste time bitching about stuff like that or spending hours you’ll never live again watching music that does nothing for you?! We leave them to it and just focus on what we’re doing. My verdict? There are some fantastic bands around and it’s a real privilege to count them as friends and peers, and there is (as there always has and always will be) a fair bit of derivative stuff. We all have different tastes and music serves different purposes for us, if someone wants to get drunk and listen to recycled Down riffs then who am I to play judge! The pundits could use their time better by creating something positive rather than trying to define a moment in time when ‘the scene’ declined or moaning about a lack of originality – that just highlights a short-sightedness on their part.
Ben - The scene is great, but i'll happily go on record saying that stoner metal or sludge metal in the UK or worldwide has become boring. Slabdragger are exempt!
With 2015 almost drawing to a close, what have been your fave records you’ve listened to this year.
Ben - i'll sound like a twat and say i can't recall any.
Lauren – I’ve been mostly listening to records that friends and bands we know have released, including ‘Spectrum’ by Human Future; ‘The Finest Day…’ by Monolithian; Dead Existence’s absolute blinder of an album ‘Endless Misery’, and revisiting old ground like Grails ‘Burning off Impurities’, feeding an obsession with Me’Shell Ndegeocello, and some Ornette Coleman. There’s loads I’ve forgotten, I have a terrible memory!
Will – I wasn't expecting to like it as much but Harm's Way - Rust hasn't left my player since I got it. Really, really looking forward to the Dragged into sunlight/Gnaw their tongues collaboration.
Do you have any exciting plans happening in 2016 that you can tell us about.
Will – We're concentrating on writing a lot more than we have in the past so 2016 should see more releases than usual from Sonance.
Lauren – We’ll be doing a couple of weekenders with friends, and writing a lot. If people would like to book us for some festivals that would be fantastic, thanks. Haha.
Ben - Write......maybe plan a tour....release this split....
Well thanks for doing this interview. All the best with the new record. Can’t wait to hear it.
Lauren – Neither can we! Thanks Steve.
I want to thank Lauren, Ben and Will for taking the time out to talk to me. It was great catching up. Can't wait to hear the new split record next year. You know one thing, with these two bands, it's going to be HEAVY....
Words by Steve Howe, Lauren, Ben and Will.