Chaos Moon interview (12/2017)

With: Alexander "Alex" Poole
Conducted by: Apothecary (e-mail)
Published: 14.12.2017

Band profile:

Chaos Moon

Alex Poole is a name that should definitely be on more black metal fans' radar. The mastermind behind many creative, hallucinatory twists on the black metal sound, Poole has always delivered interesting things, but has been particularly hyperactive in the past year especially, which has seen him drop releases through four different bands. Considerably impressed with the guy's work as of late, I hunted him down to talk about the creative process, recent endeavors, and plans for the future.

Che: Hey Alex, thanks a bunch for taking the time out to talk with me today. Let's start with some basics. When did you really first begin taking an interest in metal, or black metal specifically? What drew you towards it?

Alex: I don't remember my exact first exposure to the genre, but I do remember hearing something on maybe college radio or something like that. Being very young at the time, I couldn't make much sense out of what I was hearing, but I knew it was radically different from anything I had heard before. It didn't stick with me until I heard some random songs from Emperor's Anthems record, then all of In The Nightside Eclipse. The speed and aggression they maintained while keeping atmosphere at the forefront was instantly captivating. I had never experienced a feeling quite like that, and it was exactly what I wanted out of music.

Che: And naturally, you wanted to create some of your own from there. You know, just taking a general look over your discography, across your various bands, it seems as though you've actually been involved with music for a while, but have just never really been the type to bombard people with a huge pile of releases. Do you think your more moderate pace might be owed to the fact that you've tended to work alone?

Alex: Exactly. I had just started learning guitar around the same time I discovered black metal. The second I could play something of my own, I started writing. Ildjarn and Sort Vokter were really big for me during the early songwriting days, so the sound was sort of similar: feral and simplistic. Releasing music, then and now, is a byproduct of my passion for creating. I have hours upon hours of unreleased material that I never sought to put out and never will. Some stuff, however, will get dragged out of the vaults for release. A few old items will see release in 2018 via Mystiskaos. Overall, I don't understand my own methodology on what gets released or what doesn't. It's very situational.

Che: With your work, where is the line drawn exactly between working individually and working as part of a group? Because it seems you've been doing a lot more of the latter lately, playing more in bands with other members as opposed to just doing things all yourself.

Alex: It depends. Some things I write don't really fit anything else and aren't worth dedicating a project to. Sometimes it's just like writing in a journal, jotting down ideas or concepts to be hashed out. There were a few songs I wrote in 2005 or so that were the first seeds of Skáphe. But lately, I've been tossing these one off ideas to other musicians, and that sparks a lot of creativity. It's something I never really did much of in the past. For some of the collaborative efforts, I will write all of the music and find musicians who can fill in areas that I'm not great at or capable of for the particular project. Others will be a full collaborative experience, which is something I'm slowly preferring. It's cool to see how someone else can build off of your ideas and how they perceive music. And the same goes for building off of others' ideas. It can trigger a lot of inspiration that wouldn't be there if working alone. I still enjoy the creative freedoms of my solo work, but I'm not sure if I'll release a 100% solo album again.

Che: Interesting how there's been that shift for you lately. And yes, recently you have been up to many interesting things musically. Most significant would perhaps have to be the new Chaos Moon album from this year, Eschaton Mémoire. Does that band hold a sort of special weight for you, being your longest running one?

Alex: Chaos Moon is my most personal experiment. If you listen to the music throughout its lifespan, you'll see there are plenty of stylistic successes and failures. It's a reflection of myself. Even now, when I've surrendered some creative control to other amazing musicians, I still see it as my child. I've tried to leave it behind, but I always go back. Chaos Moon is also a representation of what drove me into this genre, capturing chaos and majesty, and trying to blend those elements together in a way that works. It's impossible to leave behind my foundation. I'll continue it until the creative spark goes completely sterile or I die.

Che: And Chaos Moon is a prime example of an instance where, like you said and I was getting at, you've been kind of branching out lately by working more with other musicians. The new album is, from what I understand, the first recorded as a full band. What really fueled that transition?

Alex: After I finished up the first Eschaton Mémoire demo, I couldn't picture my vocals over what I had written. Then in comes Eric Baker, who had a style more appropriate for the album's vision. Jack and Steve Blackburn both had been in the band on and off since 2007 or so, mainly as live members, but also doing some recordings on EPs and splits. But for the first version of the album, I had Jack record drums and Steve handled recording/mixing. We scrapped that album, as it didn't age well and wasn't a true step forward. With Eschaton Mémoire Version 2, everyone contributed with the writing process. It sealed us as a full band. Completely organically, as well. Steve and I were on the same page with the writing and composition, Jack added an additional layer of musicality with his insane drum performance, and Eric tied the thematic room together. All natural. We've known each other for over a decade and have been writing and playing together just as long, so we function as a collective mind versus individual players. I couldn't ask for a better lineup.

Che: So it seems as though this is a more "complete" version of the band that you're ultimately far more satisfied with?

Alex: Absolutely. We are all equally enthusiastic about the next steps we will take.

Mystískaos, a realm of lawless devouring psychedelia.

Che: And I know both myself and others are eagerly anticipating those next steps. Another partnership you've forged lately that seems to be yielding some very promising results is your friendship with HV Lyngdal, and what your'e doing now with Mystískaos. When and how did you two really get to know each other?

Alex: I'm a huge fan of Wormlust. I contacted Hafsteinn a few years ago about working together on a project, which later became Martröð. We spent a massive amount of time sending ideas to each other, figuring out how to do long distance collaborative song writing. We figured it out and It hasn't stopped since. We are constantly assisting each other. He provided a lot of the background ambiance on the latest Skáphe EP, I have helped him on some sections on his upcoming Wormlust LP, and of course, the Wormlust/Skáphe collaboration is coming next year. On top of all of that, his overall sense of art, design, and photography is some of my favorite. He's an absolute visionary. All of our constant interaction led to the creation of Mystiskaos, which now functions as sort of a collective of like minded artists.

Che: And what do you think might be next going into the future for Mystiskaos? As of right now it seems like it's going to be featuring bands only involving you or Lyngdal, so is that something that could change with new recruits or will probably remain standard policy?

Alex: Next year will see a lot of expansion. Each one of us plays some part in a few of these releases, but it's only what is needed. It's all very fluid. But, we definitely have a lot scheduled from new and existing projects/artists. Many are being recorded right now, in fact.

Che: Interesting, I'll definitely be looking forward to the growth! So with all this new collaborating you've been doing, it seems to have given your work a really sharp, new international dimension. Between Lyngdal and your work with DG for Skáphe, it's working to sort of bridge the gap between the American and Icelandic black metal communities. How do you really feel about becoming more intimately involved with these like minded artists, and the whole networking process?

Alex: It's rewarding. It also makes the creative process less frustrating. It helps to have all sorts of perspectives. These varied perspectives help with creating something that's beyond being cornered into a certain sound or scene, with creating something unfamiliar. We are from different cultures/backgrounds and that element definitely plays a part as well.

Che: One other new beast you've gotten going lately is Entheogen, this new band with Steven Blackburn on guitar. How did that one emerge, and how did you end up doing only vocals for it?

Alex: Entheogen is the long time brain child of fellow Chaos Moon songwriter Steve Blackburn. He had been sitting on those songs for quite some time. I remember hearing demos years ago, but he totally revamped them earlier this year. He needed a vocalist, so I volunteered, sort of as a challenge. Up until that point, I hadn't done any vocal recordings in years, and I was totally out of shape. Same with writing lyrics. So it was invigorating to switch roles up and focus solely on the nonmusical element.

Che: Always nice to have an appetite for switching things up, indeed. I remember listening to that Entheogen album for the first time though and thinking that even without you there on guitar, it still bears a considerable musical similarity to your other work, like I do hear traces of Chaos Moon and Skáphe in it as well. Even though you didn't actually play, did you still end up exerting some sort of influence over the songwriting process?

Alex: I didn't, actually, those songs were mostly completed way before I was involved. I think though that Steve and I have been on the same page concerning music since we met, so perhaps that similarity you hear is just reflective of our natural progression. We've always been slightly unhinged in our music and certainly with our actions.

Che: Very nice. And other than all that we've discussed, anything else exciting planned for the future?

Alex: Too much. But most immediately, we are looking to finish up the Wormlust/Skáphe collaboration in January. The Martröð and Gudveiki debuts will see the light, an Ancient Records/Mystiskaos collaboration, and a few other things. Maybe more, maybe less. We will see. Skáphe will also be playing Torment is Flesh in PDX in January, but no touring is planned. I'm sure future collaborations with new artists will happen as well, but usually these things just pop up or happen on a whim, rarely is it something preplanned. So we will see.

Che: Well whatever happens, I and I'm sure others as well will be keeping a close eye out. On behalf of myself as well as all at Metal Storm, thanks again for a great interview and all the awesome jamz you've been hitting us with lately. Keep the chaos and majesty coming, Alex.


Posted on 14.12.2017 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.


Comments: 6   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 145 users
14.12.2017 - 18:41
Niiiiiiiiiiice. I'll read through it later.
14.12.2017 - 20:09
proofread free
Such an impressive musical force! Great interview Che.
I owe his work a lot as it had a huge influence on me and pushed me into trying to write Black Metal the same way he describes the effect that Emperor's music had on him. And the new album is an ACE!
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
14.12.2017 - 20:35
Written by InnerSelf on 14.12.2017 at 20:09

Such an impressive musical force! Great interview Che.
I owe his work a lot as it had a huge influence on me and pushed me into trying to write Black Metal the same way he describes the effect that Emperor's music had on him. And the new album is an ACE!

Thanks man! And yeah, the new Chaos Moon is just superb, though Skaphe is probably my favorite Poole-related release of the year though
Now who should I call? Should I call Mr. Strawberry?
No, I don't think I'll call Mr. Strawberry. I don't think he's taking calls.
15.12.2017 - 02:46
Timely interview, Che! I too have really been impressed and enjoyed his output from this year. Thanks for this.
15.12.2017 - 16:29
Written by Neachy on 15.12.2017 at 02:46

Timely interview, Che! I too have really been impressed and enjoyed his output from this year. Thanks for this.

Yeah it was the plan to do this pretty much ever since word came out that a new Chaos Moon would be coming this year, since I thought "oh, that, Skaphe, Martrod, dude's pretty on fire right now, might be a good time for a chat," as you said
Glad you enjoyed man
Now who should I call? Should I call Mr. Strawberry?
No, I don't think I'll call Mr. Strawberry. I don't think he's taking calls.
21.12.2017 - 22:00
Bad English
Some dead thing came alive, next one will follow? always nice to read your work
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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