EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GREG ANDERSON OF SUNN O))) AND SOUTHERN LORD RECORDS
Legendary dronesters Sunn o))) and record label Southern Lord share not just a penchant for original, outside-the-box thinking but a man by the name of Greg Anderson, who splits his time between playing guitar for the former and running all operations of the latter. In the interest of full disclosure I’m not really much of a fan of either the band or the label for no other reason than it’s just not my thing, but I have the utmost respect for the legacy of Sunn o))) and the business acumen, foresight and individuality of Southern Lord and all the bands thereon. I was recently given an opportunity to email a few questions to Mr. Anderson himself, and the man was so kind as to respond with his thoughts on the roles the band and label play in the metal community, his thoughts on the metal community at large, and what’s in store for both Sunn o))) and Southern Lord in 2009. Our chat transcript, after the jump.
Sunn o))) has enjoyed something of a legendary reputation in certain circles. How do you feel about the heaps of praise donned upon you by the indie press?
Yes we have been very fortunate in that regard. I think writers/journalists and readers in general are interested in learning or reading about something that is out of the ordinary. Honestly how interesting is it to hear about how the lyrics and riffs came about for the 12th Cannibal Corpse album that is exactly like the 11 before it? No offense meant to CC, I like them and what they do serves an important purpose, but what I’m getting at is that music and art that pushes boundaries and progresses is often times more interesting to read/learn about then how many ways you can talk about disemboweling and then eating a corpse while riffing alternate versions of Angel of Death.
Similarly, Southern Lord seems to be something of a “cult” label. What do you think it is about the label that appeals to a certain type of music fan?
Again I think what we offer is something unique and a worthy alternative to the generic shit that is continually pooped out by the majority of labels. I think our consistent commitment to releasing albums that are stimulating to both the ears AND eyes has resonated with some.
Did Southern Lord rise out of a passion to sign and distribute cool bands to the world, or out of necessity for a label for sunn o)))?
Southern Lord is an artist run platform to release music/art that is passionate, intense and heavy.
What’s it like to live the dual life of a working musician and a record label owner? Do you ever find those two things to be at odds with each other? How do you balance the needs of the label with life on the road?
I actually think that potentially it can be the best way a label is run. As a musician who is running a label I have empathy for other artists/musicians and try to treat bands on the label how I would want a label to treat me. I think many other labels do not have this insight into the minds of their bands. These days I don’t do much touring but when I’m out on the road I have a kick ass staff that takes care of business while I’m away.
So you have any other sources of income outside of these two projects?
Not at this time.
What do you think of the terms “hipster metal” and “beard metal”? Do you think they apply to Southern Lord?
I DON’T think of those terms! Seems silly to equate facial hair or body parts with a style of music. I think genre tags are restrictive and I don’t want my music to be limited in any way.
What do you think of the state of the overall metal scene today? Any new bands that are impressing you?
It is very rare that a new band catches my interest these days. Part of the problem is that there are simply too many bands out there and it becomes harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Eagle Twin and Black Cobra are 2 exceptions to this. Both bands’ vigilant heaviness resonated immediately with me. Eagle Twin is comprised of one of my favorite guitar players: Gentry Densley, whom I met in the late eighties, and his work with Iceburn and other groups has always been a favorite of mine. Black Cobra to me embody several elements that a lot of bands lack these days. Their DIY ethos and relentless battering set them apart from many. I have also been enjoying: Thou and Black Breath as of late.
Metallica’s Death Magnetic: a return to form, or a return to bore?
I have not heard it and am not really interested. I lost interest after Master of Puppets. It does give me hope that when I’m in my late fourties I’m still plugging away in front of stacks of amplifiers!
We hear your tour riders are pretty crazy. Care to elaborate?
I don’t care to elaborate but just say in the words of Oren Ambarchis’ grandma: “You don’t know if you don’t ask”.
What’s in the near future for both Sunn o))) and Southern Lord?
2009 is going to be an exciting year for both Southern Lord and sunn 0))). Southern Lord has several killer releases coming in the first half of the year. The debut solo album from Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Saint Vitus, Obsessed, The Hidden Hand) entitled: “Punctuated Equilibrium,” [read the MetalSucks review], the debut album from Norwegian black metal band Orcustus (featuring members of Enslaved, Gorgoroth). The third studio album from Northwest Black Metal band Wolves In The Throne Room. And the albums from the two bands mentioned above: Eagle Twin and Black Cobra. The seventh Sunn 0))) studio album “Monoliths/Dimensions” will be released in April or May. The second half of the year is also starting to take shape and this may go down as our most prolific and eclectic year as a label yet!