Tuesday, 14 April 2015

INTERVIEW: Undersmile

Oxford sludge doom outfit Undersmile released their second full-length  album Anhedonia on the 1st April, a follow up to the bands 2012 full-length album Narwhal.  We saw the band at Bloodstock 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed their set - we were quick to buy a stylish Narwhal Tee and pick up the new album when it was released.

Femetalism were fortunate enough to have Taz and Olly from the band, answer some of our questions in this recent interview:

Can you give us a quick introduction to the band? Who's who, and what do you do?

Oh, hello. Undersmile is Hel Sterne on vocals and lead guitar, Taz Corona-Brown on vocals and guitar, Tom Mckibbin bangs the drums and Olly Corona-Brown provides the brown notes with his bass guitar.

Your new album Anhedonia was released on the 1st April. What can we expect from this release?

On Anhedonia, we've gone for a more sparse and sombre guitar sound than on our previous album Narwhal. There are a lot of passages of clean guitar. The most notable difference is the addition of cello (provided by the incredible Jo Quail).  Our friend, Oxford-based artist and  musician Lee Riley also provides some dirty guitar drones. Where Narwhal was described as sounding like drowning, Anhedonia is perhaps more like dragging yourself to the shore. But only just.

Your sound is pretty unique and seems to shift with each release.  Did you always have a plan for the band’s sound or has it grown organically?

It has definitely grown organically. We started life as a grungy sludge band but quickly realised we preferred to play our slower songs. So we did. Over time we just got slower and slower and slower still ... We've always been drawn to the discordant and lamenting. We try not to plan too much what each record is going to sound like and enjoy seeing what comes out naturally.

The names and lyrics of your songs seem somewhat strange and ambiguous. Who writes them, and where does the inspiration come from?

Taz and Hel write all the lyrics and most of the song titles. We like to keep the titles ambiguous. Lyrical inspiration comes from everything - from dreams and nightmares to books, films, and games.

For this release, you have been signed to Black Bow Records.  How did this come about and how do you see it shaping the future of the band?

We have known Jon Davis since a mini-tour we did with Conan back in 2012. We recorded at Jon's studio with Chris Fielding producing and were extremely humbled and happy when Jon offered to release the album too. They have some really great releases coming up from the likes of Headless Cross, as well as a back-catalogue that includes the mighty Slomatics and we're really pleased to be a part of it.

The album was recorded at Skyhammer Studios and you were able to utilise some of their vintage equipment and other instruments such as a cello. How did you find the experience and how has that influenced the final recordings?

We found Chris Fielding really easy to work with.  He definitely pushed us to do our best.  They have loads of amazing amps and pedals there and Chris understood the sound we were going for.  As a result, the record sounds great, really punchy and heavy when it needs to be.  The cello and drones were added afterwards and the whole thing was mixed in a 16-hour straight marathon.

You have some great tour dates planned in the very near future, including Roadburn Festival, Holland. Where else are you planning to play this year?

We're really looking forward to playing Roadburn as both Undersmile and Coma Wall (our doom folk band).  After that, we're playing the No Fun Intended weekender with sludge legends Noothgrush among others.  We're also playing in May with Dead Existence and Space Witch at the Black Heart, Camden.

What do you enjoy most about playing live? Is there anywhere you would like to perform that you haven’t yet?

The Koko in Camden is a great venue we'd like to play, it has all that Lynchian red light! Our friends from Bismuth told us about a crypt in Bristol where they played - claustrophobia aside that'd be cool.

We were lucky enough to catch you at Bloodstock last year and thoroughly enjoyed your set. How was Bloodstock 2014 for you?

Surreal!  Olly had pleurisy so had to sit down during the set.  The stage on which we played was tiny and next to a bar selling Jagermeister. It was a great gig though and we had fun.

What’s next for Undersmile?

We're taking it easy after a couple of gigs in May and will hopefully have some Coma Wall recordings before the year is out.

Undersmile are:

Hel Sterne – vocals, lead/rhythm guitar
Taz Corona-Brown – vocals, rhythm guitar
Olly Corona-Brown – bass
Tom McKibbin – drums

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.