Agalloch interview (01/2005)

With: Don Anderson [guitars, piano, songwriting]
Conducted by: Demonic Tutor
Published: 20.01.2005

Band profile:


- First, can you introduce the band in a few words for our ignorant readers?

Agalloch is comprised of [John] Haughm (guitars, vocals), [Don] Anderson (guitars, piano), and JWW [Jason William Walton] (bass). For live purposes we are rounded out by C. Greene (drums).

- Is Portland, Oregon a good city in terms of underground scene or do you sometimes wish you were born someplace in Europe?

In terms of a "scene," none of us really know. We don't hang out with other people or participate in what would be called a "scene." We are all pretty reclusive and don't go to shows regularly. We don't really value being part of a scene. We all really love Portland and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Certainly, I would love to live for a time in France, Italy, Israel, or Norway, but not because of a "scene" rather because of the culture.

- I had the chance to review your wonderful album "The Mantle" courtesy of your label The End Records. I was amazed to see so much creativity in an American band since the masters in the discipline are usually European [Opeth, Katatonia]. Where does this inspiration come from and what do you think of being compared to such bands? (Sorry but European listeners generally underestimate the creativity potential of US bands, Agalloch is the perfect "in your face" example that would break this image, I hope!)

Thank you for the kind words. It's too bad that Europeans find it difficult to appreciate US bands, I mean, the US is the home of legendary bands like Cynic, Atheist, Death, Morbid Angel, and countless other creative groups. As for our inspiration, it won't surprise you to know that we are heavily influenced by European bands like Katatonia, Ulver, as well as Sol Invictus, Forseti, and Death In June. Being compared to these bands like Opeth and Katatonia is fine with us, because for me personally, it's a complement. I don't see the Opeth comparisons. I feel the comparisons to Opeth are only because we use acoustic guitars, melody, and have long songs. But many bands have those same elements. It's just that Opeth is the current band for whom other bands are measured against. In some ways, this is very unfair. But, I'd rather be compared to Opeth than Dark Funeral, or Cannibal Corpse.

The Mantle

- Are you satisfied by the feedback you received from this particular album and which of your albums is the most precious to you?

Yes, we are all very happy with the reception for The Mantle. We were surprised by how successful it was. I would have to say that The Mantle is the most precious to me since it is the last one we did and is most representative of our current songwriting.

- What is new concerning Agalloch? I saw you have a new EP, which is already available through your label. Is it part of a forthcoming album or older material?

The Gray EP, to which you are referring to, consists of an electric and completely reworked version of "The Lodge" from The Mantle. There is also a Nothing remix of "Odal." I wouldn't interpret the EP as a sign of things to come. It was a chance for us to evoke other influences and stretch our writing and playing abilities. "The Lodge" was the song we used to close our shows on both of the mini-tours we did last year, so it is special to us and we are happy to have it available. Currently we are writing new material for the next full-length album.

The Grey EP

- Do you have any touring project scheduled yet? If so, how are you resolving the "problem" about John playing guitars, drums and handling the vocals in studio?

We have a drummer who joins us for live shows. John only plays guitar and sings live. There are no plans to tour and we don't expect to make any plans until we have new material to perform. The Mantle is already a little old.

- Are you fully happy with your current trio configuration or do you envision to include other members in the future?

I don't envision including anyone in the future. John, myself, and Jason all work very well together.

- The wide use of acoustic guitars in your work sounds like an Agalloch "trademark". Was it part of a calculated plan from the beginning or more of a "that would sound good if" thing?

I wouldn't say that it's our "trademark" since so many other bands use them. It think what may be different for us is that we use it in a very traditional folk manner as opposed to a more neo-classical approach. Our use of acoustic guitars come from our admiration for the neo-folk scene, bands like: Death in June, Forseti, Sonne Hagal, Scivias, Sol Invictus, Orplid, Darkwood, Werkraum, etc.

- Has any of you followed music school of some type? By the quality of your music, it almost seems impossible to say no!

I was a music major for two years before switching to literature. I studied Jazz guitar for roughly 4-5 years. But, no one else in the band has had any formal training. Currently I am finishing my MA degree in literature and teaching.

- Could you name the biggest influences in your music, bands that brought you to play music or bands you absolutely love in the current scene?

I would have to say that Ulver's "Bergtatt" album is the foundation for everything we do. From that foundation we build from other influences, taking references from Swans, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Sol Invictus, Nick Cave, Arvo Part, and Fields of the Nephilim. If anyone is into the music of Agalloch, I highly recommend all those bands and artists. Currently, I think one of the best bands in the scene is a band from Toronto, Canada called Woods of Ypres. They are brilliant. Likewise, Ludicra from San Francisco are also incredible. We had the wonderful opportunity to play with them during our first tour through the west coast. I am also really into the new Orphaned Land.

- Your bass player, Jason William Walton, is also part of Subterranean Masquerade, which last EP is also a wonderful piece of art. How did that happen?

Tomer [Tomer Pink, main man of Subterranean Masquerade] simply asked him to play on it. Jason does a lot of music; I don't know how he finds time for it all.

- I've been surprised to see that you have no official website yet. Do you plan on creating one soon?

Yes, it is in the works.

- Thanks for your time! I wish you all the best, hoping to hear from you soon. Your last word?

Thank you very much for the interview and best of luck to you. Thank you to everyone who has listened to our music.

Thanks again to the guys of Agalloch and to Jake at The End Records who made this interview possible.


Posted on 20.01.2005 by Bringing you reviews of quality music and interesting questions such as:

"A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a song worth?"

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