Ethereal (Iyaan and Naut) @ Bloodstock, Catton Park

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Iyaan and Naut of Ethereal

Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Park

9th August 2015

Interview by Jarod Lawley

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After thrilling a large crowd at the Sophie Lancaster stage on Saturday, we spoke to vocalist Naut and band founder Iyaan from the “Beasts of UK darkness”, Ethereal at Bloodstock Open Air.

How you guys doing today?

Iyaan: Good, yeah.

Naut: Alright.

Have you been enjoying B.O.A. so far, have you been seeing lots of bands?

Iyaan: Yeah, it’s been my first time at Bloodstock and it’s got good atmosphere and good crowds.

Have you been before, Naut?

Naut: Yeah I’ve been coming for the last, maybe six years? I’ve been every year. It’s always a good time.

You played the Sophie Lancaster Stage yesterday, how was it to finally fulfill this goal?

Naut: Yeah I think for any underground band in the U.K. it’s kind of on the bucket list, so it’s a good thing to have done it.

Iyaan: It’s the biggest crowd we’ve played to so far; we’ve never played an English festival like this. It was really good- good crowd.

Naut: There have been a lot of firsts for Ethereal this past year or so, we seem to be doing bigger and better things. Now we’ve done this, it’s like, “what we can achieve next?”

How was it playing on such a large stage to a crowd that size? How was the reaction?

Iyaan: It’s a good festival with a mix of genres so we thought it might be a little difficult…

Naut: We were quite apprehensive because of the clash with 1349, I thought maybe all the black metal fans we’re going to see 1349 instead but I think it goes to show we’ve developed a pretty solid fan base here in the UK. Playing a festival like this, you see a few familiar faces out there that you know from different venues up and down the country…

Iyaan: It was good to see the solid support that we’ve been building up the last year, so it was a good experience, you know.

Iyaan, as the founder of the band how has it been to watch the band grow over the past 15 years?

Iyaan: Yeah over the last couple of years it’s been a good experience. The first ten years we’re a bit frustrating at times, trying to get a good line up and to try and push ourselves and achieve our own goals. So over the last couple of years this line up has really taken off. Everyone’s on the same page and has their own goals but they are are collective with the rest of the band.

Naut: It’s been difficult to get the right individuals together to play in an extreme black metal band. You’ve got to be a certain kind of person and you’ve got to be a good musician as well. I think with social media and stuff like that it’s got a little easier to the band together but when Ethereal first started…

Iyaan: There was no social media really, Facebook and things didn’t exist back then, it was just about who you knew and trying to get other people involved. It was just really slow and frustrating for me as a musician trying to push the band forward, but this line up has been together solid for the last two years and we’ve achieved quite a lot in this short amount of time with the record deal with Candlelight and the tours we’ve been doing. It’s all been good so far so it’s probably only going to get better with bigger tours.

Where are you guys based now? Everywhere on the internet says Liverpool but I know Naut, you live in Manchester…

Iyaan: It’s still Liverpool, we rehearse there and the people come down from Nottingham, Manchester. It’s not a hard thing; it’s quite easy because everyone wants to do it. So yeah, we’ll probably be always based in Liverpool.

You been playing a lot of European dates recently as well but do you think most of your support is based here in the UK or is it more spread out?

Iyaan: It’s more spread out really, we get a lot of emails from Germany, Poland and places like that…

Naut: South America as well. I think so far the international shows are something we’ve just started doing and something we’re aiming to do a lot more. Obviously we’re still going to be gigging in the UK too, we’re based around here.

Iyaan: A lot of Europeans look at the UK black metal scene as a bit watered down but for us we’ve only had good experiences.

Naut: People tend to consider UK black metal in not the same light as Scandinavian black metal but I think there’s a lot to be said for what certain bands are doing over here.

Iyaan: I don’t think we’re the typical English black metal really, we have a lot of influences from Europe and you can hear that in the music.

I see you are both wearing Dissection t-shirts…

Naut: (laughs) Yeah, a Swedish influence.

Iyaan: I think we’re certainly not one of these heritage (British) metal bands.

You do see quite a lot of bands that are quite passionate about being a UK black metal band- they put it on their t-shirts and now a documentary has been made about the scene…

Iyaan: We don’t see ourselves as part of the UK scene really…

Naut: Obviously this is where we’re from but being British doesn’t really make any impact on our music, we just do what we want to do. I think to be honest, we want to do black metal the way we want to feel; certain bands think maybe we shouldn’t be wearing the paint because that’s a Scandinavian thing, but this is how I want black metal to look, how I want black to sound and obviously we want to do new things with the genre but we want to still focus on brutality…

Iyaan: We try and push ourselves and we don’t have moments where we think we have to sound like any other band. We write music how we think it should be written and to please ourselves.

Naut: The ways things are shaping up (for the next album) is definitely Ethereal but you’re not going to hear a repeat of Opus Aethereum.

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I was going to ask you about that actually because it’s been six months since Opus Aethereum, so you are looking ahead to future releases?

Iyaan: Yeah it’s in our head; we’ve got about ten tracks, guitar and drums tracks and we’re going to get some symphony stuff to go with it and lyrics.

Naut: I think it’s a question of figuring out how we’re going balance our input(s) on the sound because around the time of Opus Aethereum when I joined the band the album was already written so I did the vocal arrangements and that was that, but over the past couple of years we’ve come closer and everybody’s contributing ideas so we’re thinking how it’s best to use everybody’s input and make the best possible record. So far it’s been pretty fruitful I think. It’s going to take some time but you know, we’re definitely aiming towards a second album in the not too distant future.

That’s good. I think one of the best things about your debut album was how memorable the songs were; they had good choruses and riffs that stuck in peoples’ heads. Can you see that in the crowd the audience is familiar with the songs?

Naut: I think so. I think a lot of extreme metal bands are a little shy of using something like a chorus. Not all our songs are like that but I think that a good hook line is a necessity in every kind of song, every genre of music. The people out there, they know the songs and when people come to see us a couple of times they know the words I think the shows have made a good impact on people.

You used to play a lot of the album material live before it was released, how was that?

Iyaan: It was just testing the water really with the new material and things.

Naut: I imagine we’ll probably do that again when we finish off the writing for this new album we’ll probably try a few songs live. I think playing a song live, that’s when you really get a feel for it. So I think for the next one we’ll be giving the songs a try live and in rehearsal,

Have you got any gig dates coming up soon?

Iyaan: We’re back in Poland to play a couple of shows, we got invited back to play in Byczyna, where Dark Fest was. When you go to a different country, especially a country like Poland you can polarise people using backing tracks and symphony stuff but it was a great reaction.

Naut: It went really well yeah. To be invited back just goes to show that it was successful. Beyond that we’re certainly looking ahead but before anything is confirmed I can’t say anything about it.

Hopefully we’ll catch up with you again, is there anything else you want to say?

Iyaan: Just thanks to everyone for the support, yourself, and fans and new fans that are willing to give the band a listen and see that we are a prolific band that are gonna keep pushing forward all the time. So thanks to everyone who bought the album and checked us out and came to support us.

Naut: And thanks for the great reaction at Bloodstock, it was an awesome experience and we’d love to do it again.

Hopefully you will, thanks Ethereal.

Ethereal can be found on Facebook. Opus Aethereum was reviewed by Jarod Lawley (read) and is available to buy here.