Monday 18 April 2022

Meeting Your Nemesis Lately: An Interview With SOMNUS THRONE

Doom/Stoner Metallers Somnus Throne first came to my attention back in 2020 when I reviewed their debut album which became one of my favourite albums of the year. With it's seedy and dirty style of Electric Wizard, SLEEP and Black Sabbath inspired sounds. However, there was more to the band if you listened to the cool and bleak lyrics the band had written for the album.

Fast forward 18 months and Somnus Throne are back with their even better second album "Nemesis Lately" due for release in June 2022 via Heavy Psych Sounds. This album is way more Psychedelic and contains a different sound. 

I finally caught up with the band to discussion the evolution of the band, their new sound and signing to different labels. These guys are very frank, honest and forthright with their answers.

Read on IF YOU DARE....

Hi guys. Thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you today.

The sun itself leaves the bituminous wretch that is our souls yet unkindled. 

For folks not in the know, can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

So, we all used to be pretty damn crazy. We mostly still are, but we used to, too. Haley and I started the band with another drummer long ago around 2016. We basically spent all our time in either venues, house shows, under the bridge punk shows, woods shows, or the warehouse where Evan lived. 

In that warehouse we would often throw epic parties. Without going into specifics about what went on at those parties, one time Evan made a grown man curl up into a ball and start crying because he was typing aggressively on a type-writer which had no paper. Another time, all the girls at our party decided they didn’t need to wear shirts if they just sprayed glue on their chest and then poured glitter on themselves. That was really cool until the sun came up and we had to clean it. 

Also, one time Conan played our living room to like nine people. You want to talk about overkill? Think of your average living room and then put Conan’s rig in one half and us, going deaf, with nine other people in the other half. Twas’ fuckin’ awesome. Got to meet the entire band and pick their brains about the industry, gear, etc.

The stress of recording and releasing the last album split Haley and I up as a band. We’re cool, though. She’s doing a thing in Texas called Midnight Burial and they have their own thing going 
on. Luke got a real job. So, now we are Ansel Bretz on  bass and Matt Davis on drums with Evan still doing vox and guitar. Matt used to live in that warehouse with Evan. Not sure if he was there for living room Conan…

How would you describe your own sound. As it’s quite hard to describe and I admire how you guys show the seedier side of WEEDIAN based themes, ideas and grooves.

Man, that is the million dollar question. We’re definitely evolving and changing as a band constantly. To date, we haven’t really completely defined what Somnus Throne is. It’s possible that we might never fall into just one sound. When you look at bands we all know and love like Sleep, Electric Wizard, The Sword, etc, you definitely see a consistent sound. But, when you look back further, you see bands like Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd and they changed from album to album, song to song even. We’re undecided where exactly we’ll land. Why can't a band do an OM album, then a Clutch album, then a Dead Meadow album?

If you want to push us for an answer, we’d say we definitely make loud-ass jams.

You first grabbed my attention with your incredible self titled debut album back in 2020 that was released on Burning World Records. How did you hook up with that great label. Quite surreal to release your debut album on that great label.

We did a lot of research before submitting the first LP to any labels. We got a few offers straight away. Both times we made a record, the first people we sent it to wanted to buy it. Burning World had prestige like we liked, the people were being forthcoming (a rarity in the dream industry), and they were willing to do a give and take process in negotiating what we wanted. Releasing our first recording with them was definitely a boost!

Were you surprised by the response the album received by fans and critics alike.

Yeah. we were surprised by the critics for sure. Like, what? I’m sorry. The album sounds too much like Sleep and Electric Wizard? This is doom. Saying that is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. Mephistofeles literally has long segments of the exact same riff as Electric Wizard in some of their most famous releases. There is a band named Dope Throne. I mean, the band, it’s named after an Electric Wizard album. Perhaps we’re just getting gate-kept, and we wouldn’t really have it any other way… but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting the a-team when someone says something like that.

Of course, not every critic said something like that. You and a whole lot of other people have been supportive since day one. It’s cool starting out to be able to connect with fans and critics all over the world. We had write ups in like 6-7 languages last time. It was nice to see that.

Was your debut album a hard experience to write and record for.

That process probably took several years off of our lives. Every single thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong. The guitar amp head broke. Three bass amps broke. The first studio really tried to rip us off and Evan almost ended up fighting the guy as he tried to escape. A plane broke during take off on the runway during the recording trip… stressful isn’t really a good word for it… it’s more like… labor. It was like giving birth. 

It gets easier, but the first time is a whole thing.

Looking back would you change anything about your debut album or your experiences with your album.

We would spend more time building hype before the release. We placed pretty low on the doom charts because honestly, nobody knew to look for us. Other than that, no. Not really.

You guys have come roaring back with your brilliant new album Nemesis Lately. What can people expect with that album.

This time, we pulled out all of the stops. You can expect a lot less drone and a lot more action. It still manages to be heavy in all the right places. It’s definitely an homage to all of our favorite bands.

Nemesis Lately is quite a different sounding album. I felt like I was listening to another band. Whilst your debut was on the seedier side of Doom/Stoner Metal. This one is cleaner and dare I say more upbeat whilst retaining that “Psychedelic Drug” based atmosphere. Was that your original plan to release something different.

Yeah, we decided to try for a different tack. We’d never want us to be pigeon-holed. We can play whatever we want. We went more for Motorhead in some ways this time, but this album probably has heavier parts than the first album ever did as well. 

What was the writing and recording process like for Nemesis Lately. Did you have challenges recording this album during the pandemic.

Writing basically was the same process it always is. Nah. Pandemic was mostly over.

Why did you call the album Nemesis Lately.

In a word, it’s about nihilism. People more or less project their hatred onto whatever their society tells them to, or, if they are contrarian, then they do the opposite. Very seldom, if at all, do you see people suddenly and apropos of nothing deciding their own nemesis. A person who does so would probably be seen as insane. 

These causes people seem to have, the enemies we create, it’s about as vacuous as the latest hair-cut. It’s a fad. “Here, this is the new thing to hate.” All of this enmity we breed into ourselves, it’s all just belief, none of it is factual. As a nihilist, this is immensely tedious. Tell you what, chalk up a couple points against free-will on that one. This, we could talk about all day… but it has little to do with the music.

You’ve signed to Heavy Psych Sounds Records for this release. How did this come about and did you have any offers from other labels. 

We only sent the album to them in our first round of emails and they got back to us, so we never got any other offers. We couldn't really believe it. We sent it more or less as a shot in the dark. It happened. We’re more than stoked. It’s like a level of legitimacy we couldn’t have anticipated. It’s definitely propelled us in a lot of ways which will carry into the future.

The artwork is freaking awesome. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the overall design of this.

Sick!! We’re glad to hear that. Yet again, we found her on Instagram. It’s an English woman from the countryside with the Instagram @man_the_river. She did a piece for a band called Butcher in The Fog, we saw it and they pointed us to her. It’s rad. Buying art is one of the coolest parts of making an album.

Do you have any other musical projects outside of Somnus Throne that folks can check out.

Not as of yet. That will definitely change for all of us.

Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom for your fans (such as myself) out there.

Play life to the click. Keep your circle small. Drink beer. Smell bad. Hail Satan.

Words by Steve Howe and Somnus Throne

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for arranging this interview and Thanks to Somnus Throne for doing this interview.

Nemesis Lately will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from June 03rd 2022 via Heavy Psych Sounds Records.