Plague Weaver – Interview with J.C. (vocals) & R.M. (guitars/keyboards)
Interview By: Beandog
Excited by Plague Weaver’s latest collection of blackened doom metal riffs, Metal Rules were pleased to make contact with the band and talk to them about how Ascendant Blasphemy came together.
JC: Hi. I’m Jon, the vocalist. I handle the lyrics and vocals in Plague Weaver.
RM: RM here. I play guitars/bass/keyboards and all music in Plague Weaver.
MR: Thank you. What’s the latest – How are you guys doing?
JC/RM: We’re doing well. Since our area has been under pretty heavy pandemic restrictions lately, jams are on pause. We are currently just working on the release of ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’.
MR: For those of our readers who don’t yet know the band, can you tell us a quick history of the band. Tell us how you came together and how you’ve evolved?
JC: Plague Weaver was started in 2018, as a solo project by RM. RM produced a demo, and an EP soon after – entitled ‘Through the Sulphur Eyes’. I joined the project in 2020, responding to the band’s search for a vocalist. After a few auditions and some conversations about music, the two of us realized we had similar visions, and then set out to produce Plague Weaver’s first debut album – and here we are!
MR: Indeed! And with a brand new album too (Ascendant Blasphemy). It’s out now. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard the band before? What can they expect from this release?
RM: I tried to incorporate everything I love about metal into this album – diabolic, cold atmosphere and aggression. Compared to the previous EP, ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ is definitely faster, but I think it still keeps those doom elements blended with Black Metal.
JC: ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ is a blend of black, death and doom. RM’s songwriting is pretty effective at maintaining atmosphere while also incorporating some more aggressive elements. It’s pretty complimentary for me, as I like to consider myself somewhere between a DM and BM vocalist. The album is a pretty cold journey from start to finish, and we hope it has something for BM and DM heads alike.
MR: What is your writing process like – How do you pull the elements together?
RM: I usually start with riffs. I build the whole track around this… I had written most of the songs by the time JC had joined the band, so I think that our process in the next album could be a little bit different. Especially since we’re thinking about expanding our lineup –we hope that COVID will end soon and we will go back to reality where we can play live!
JC: For this album, RM wrote and performed all instrumentation. I usually begin writing lyrics without any music in mind. When RM has a rough draft of a song ready, I’ll start arranging the vocals. We both make many small compositional changes from this point onward. We try to work on a couple of songs at a time, and move on to new tracks fairly quickly so that we can return later for a few more listens, before deciding the song to be completed.
MR: You are clearly influenced by the darker, denser side of heavy music – Tell us about your experience of that. When did you first experience the appeal of heavy music?
JC: I grew up on brutal death metal. My first influences were the obvious choices, I guess – Aeon, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Hate Eternal. I think I just enjoyed loud music as a young child and didn’t think much of it until I heard these bands later on. Brutal death metal really opened my eyes to the rest of the extreme metal umbrella, and when I started to play in bands, I found that I enjoyed playing/performing black metal the most. Something about the slow shaping of the atmosphere feels really rewarding in a live setting. It goes further to say that black metal allows for cathartic vocals in a way death metal does not.
RM: My journey started many years ago with Slayer and then Death Metal happened. I’ve always had a strong connection to those more dark and evil songs like ‘South of heaven’, and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. From there I found Morbid Angel, Incantation, and a lot of Swedish Death Metal, etc. I realized that it had an element of metal I was looking for everywhere.
MR: It’s always great to hear about a musician’s influences. What other bands would you credit as giving you inspiration?
JC: As a fan/listener, I’ve always been really focused on death metal and black metal, compared to the rest of the extreme metal world. The bands listed above are pretty responsible for ‘drawing me in’. For the black metal side of things, I could add Cradle of Filth, and Gorgoroth to that list. Death metal and black metal are just two perfect models for conveying the type of art that I think we, as musicians in this regard, are looking for. There’s certainly a specific way I approach life, and my experience. The art that I want to create out of that perspective has always been in line with the aesthetics that death metal and black metal carry. To me, life only makes sense when accompanied by a brutal metal soundtrack.
MR: Were you playing instruments before you discovered heavy music… or did the metal inspire you to pick up the guitars/drums/etc. How did you get into playing?
JC: I played piano as a child – not particularly well. I wasn’t interested in playing music again until I discovered extreme metal. In early high school, I met a classmate who needed a bassist for a bedroom death metal project. He assured me it would be easy, so I gave it a shot. We wrote and recorded a few demos, and I began practising death metal vocals shortly after. After a few years of vocal practice, I found that to be my true musical passion. I still play guitar and bass, but maintain harsh vocals as my main instrument.
RM: I started with classical guitar and piano as a kid, and then found Slayer and never looked back.
MR: Given the intensity and extreme nature of your music, do you have any records in your collection that might surprise people?
JC: I sure do! I have a few artist-specific interests outside of metal. I’m a huge Billy Talent fan – that’s the main guilty pleasure, I suppose. I also have a lot of interest in rap, industrial, and dark pop. I think it’s likely pretty difficult to be as involved in music as we are, and not find any value in anything outside of metal. Though, we’re bound to poke fun at each other for our specific preferences, hahaha!
RM: I don’t think that surprises everyone I love Dead Can Dance. I’m also into dark ambient/industrial music and other strange ritual genres… I even have a side-project called ‘Bisclaveret’ where I explore my musical interests beyond metal.
MR: What other things influence or inspire you, aside from music?
JC: I’m really into horror films. I try to watch a new one every week or two. I’ve always considered cinematography and special effects to be incredible art. There’s nothing like being captivated in a great horror movie. Feeling distressed, horrified, traumatized, or worried always inspires me to think creatively.
MR: Speaking of visuals, you’ve put out a couple of lyric videos now, “Deicidal Usurper” and “Nothing Is Sacred”. What was it that led you to pick those particular songs as a focus, and what can you tell us about the lyrical themes?
JC/RM: We picked those songs purely for their power as promo-material. We felt that as a couple, they were a good representation of the album. We also hoped that they’d be the right tracks to draw listeners in. The lyrics on ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’ are a loose concept, revolving around the usurpation of weakened heaven by an expanding Hell. Lyrically, ‘Nothing is Sacred’ opens the album, hoping to indicate to the listener, very plainly, the album’s intentions. The album is largely about Satanic self-empowerment, and these two songs are an illustration of the war we wage within ourselves to achieve our perceived moral justice. ‘Nothing is Sacred’ is an accusation and a threat to a ‘heavenly’ moral system. While ‘Deicidal Usurper’ is a depiction of enacted vengeance based on that accusation – the adoption of ‘Nemesis’ in the self.
MR: On the theme of “self empowerment,” you’ve put your latest album out as a self-release – Is this something you would prefer to continue with or are you looking to collaborate with a label?
JC/RM: We are always open to collaborating with a label, given the circumstances are agreeable. We released this album independently because we had a prospective timeline for the release, and didn’t want to hinge that date on any other party’s involvement. We will absolutely welcome any possible future collaborations.
MR: What are your general feelings about the music industry in a changing world, where streaming services are taking a big chunk of cash and Covid has ground things to a halt – Is there any room for optimism?
JC: I surely think there is room for optimism. I think that, unfortunately, it lies in live performance. COVID ensures that music will largely be consumed through online media, and so many of us (fan and performer alike) just want to get back out there. We’ve been locked down for a while, but restrictions will lift eventually, and we’ll be able to play and meet fans, and other bands, in a live setting. My optimism lies waiting for live performance, I think.
MR: What would be your dream gig… Any bands you’d love to perform with?
RM: It’s a really tough question. There are so many bands I would love to play with, so we’d really need a big festival to accommodate everyone!
MR: What aspirations do you have as a band? What would you like your legacy to be?
JC/RM: We only hope to create music that people will enjoy as much as we enjoyed making it. As for legacy.. we’d like it to be cold, and dark.
MR: Thanks for speaking to us. One final question, just for fun… imagine you could only listen to one more riff, just one more time – What riff would it be?
RM: Anything from ‘Ascendant Blasphemy’, hahaha!
MR: Ha! Cheeky! We like it.
You can listen to Ascendant Blasphemy here: plagueweaver.bandcamp.com/album/ascendant-blasphemy