EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SERA TIMMS OF BLACK MATH HORSEMAN
Black Math Horseman have been around a relatively short while, but have quickly risen to prominence. With Wyllt, the band’s Scott Reeder produced/MetalSucks approved debut, they’ve created a subtle space of OG-psychedelicambience and post-/doom metal riffs and crescendos.
A big part of the band’s distinctiveness is vocalist Sera Timms’ droning voice, occasionally veering over to screaming but usually sticking to singing. In an email interview Sera was kind enough to grant us, she eloquently discusses the origins of Wyllt, working with Scott Reeder, and the current climate of music in the twilight of the record industry.
How have people been reacting the new album? Are you pleased?
Almost all of the feedback we’ve received has been incredibly positive. Considering the fact that the album was originally meant to be a demo, and recorded in three days, we’re very pleased.
How did Wyllt come together? What’s behind the name?
Myrddin Wyllt was in part an impetus to the creation of this album, because in his story, there is a heavy theme of being out of balance with a modern society that has become disconnected from nature, working against it instead of in harmony with it. This theme resonated in all of us, because it has parallels to what is and has been happening in the world for thousands of years.
We actually started out calling the band Wyllt, and mentioned a character in the story we had been creating to go with the music called “Black Math Horseman” – and Bryan [Tulao, guitars] immediately convinced us that BMH was a way better band name than Wyllt… and he was right. Wyllt is another character in the story-influenced by Myrddin’s character, but his life follows a much different path.
The last two songs on the record are heavier than the previous four. Was this a conscious decision?
The story is in part a symbolic landscape of conscious evolution. This album explores early human origins, and the repressing governing bodies that seek to control the masses, and the apex is the ultimate struggle to separate ones self from these bounds. Observation leads to realization, to anger, and then to freedom.
How did you guys come to work with Scott Reeder? Were you Kyuss/Obsessed fans beforehand?
Sasha [Popovic, drums] played in a band called Butcher with Scott Reeder. Bryan had played with Sash in Mother Tongue, and we (Ian [Barry, guitars], Bryan and myself) had booked a show but didn’t have a drummer yet. Sash started playing with us about a month before the show, and a couple weeks into it he suggested we record a demo at Scott’s. So after a month of playing together, we played our first show, then packed up the next day and headed out to the desert to record our “demo,” which has now become three of the six songs on Wyllt.
We were all definitely fans of both Obsessed and Kyuss.
Did Scott’s studio locale shape the sound of the record at all?
I would say that Scott’s studio enabled the music to flow naturally. The songs were all written prior to entering the studio, and we all had a good idea of what we wanted to capture in the studio. The wide open landscape of the desert and surrounding mountains put us in the right state of mind to record these songs. And Scott captured the sound like nobody else possibly could.
What influenced Wyllt, both musically and externally?
We make our best effort to leave our musical influences behind when we’re writing, but of course they creep in, and hopefully are woven seamlessly in and become our own. We tried instead to create a soundtrack to the story-thinking of different landscapes, mythology, and historical events that repeat themselves over and over again throughout time. Sometimes the story guided the music, and sometimes it was the other way around.
What bands does Black Math Horseman consider contemporaries? Influences?
Hmmm… as far as peers/local bands go, I would say, Ancestors.
Our influences are really all over the place-Swans, Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green Years), Siouxee and the Banshees, Neurosis, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Melvins, early U2… the list could go on and on.
This seems to be a really fertile time for metal bands that experiment more than just buying a keyboard or playing with an orchestra. How do you feel about the musical climate into which Black Math Horseman is entering?
The musical climate is pretty amazing right now because of the collapse of the record industry. It seems like there are more bands making music just for the sake of making music, because there is such a slim margin of bands that get big record deals these days – and when they do, they loose much of their freedom. Somehow in spite all of the advancements in technology and access to everything, music in our relative genre is more rooted in what it started out as rather than what can be more easily packaged. We feel very fortunate to be playing music in and around a time when there are so many great bands emerging.
How do you feel about being called “post-metal?”
People are always tying to label things. The way I see it, labels are place holders and I think it’s every person’s obligation to pull the label off and just do their thing.
Why did you initially refer to yourselves as “religious?”
The idea of being “religious” actually seems like a great one – if you consider the fact that “religion” can be defined as simply, “Something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience.” You could find anything and turn it into a religion, and free thinking people could in fact be “religious”… Unfortunately, the term “religious” has been villified by alternative culture, and immediately conjures up Jesus Rock, which we’re definitely not… we’re not a part of any kind of religion or cult, except our own.
What lead you guys to sign with Tee Pee Records?
Apparently several people mentioned BMH to Steve Dolcemaschio at TeePee after we’d played a show here in LA with Ancestors and several other bands. He asked us to send him our material (five songs at the time). When he asked if we had anymore songs we wanted to record to add to the album, we did – so we went back into the studio with Scott to complete the album, and that was that.
What’s next for the band?
We’re busy writing our next album at the moment, playing local shows, and possibly a bit of touring in the fall.
Why the hell are you called Black Math Horseman?
Basically, it’s completely Bryan’s fault.
Visit Black Math Horseman on MySpace.