Blood and Sun im Interview

Blood and Sun im Interview

Als BLOOD AND SUN im Jahr 2014 ihr ers­tes regu­lä­res Album »White Storms Fall« ver­öf­fent­licht haben, staun­te die Neo­folk-Sze­ne (und nicht nur die) nicht schlecht. Ein so rele­van­tes Album hat­te man lan­ge nicht gehört, die Sze­ne düm­pel­te doch lei­der ein wenig bedeu­tungs- und belang­los vor sich hin. Jeden­falls fal­len mir – mit Aus­nah­me von OF THE WAND AND THE MOON, SONNE HAGAL und DARKWOOD – nicht vie­le Bands ein, die in die­ser Zeit Alben ver­öf­fent­licht haben, die ich auch heu­te noch regel­mä­ßig auf den Plat­ten­spie­ler lege.

Am 28. Febru­ar erscheint nun end­lich der Nach­fol­ger, »Love and Ashes«, auf dem schwe­di­schen Label NORDVIS. Wir haben die Gele­gen­heit genutzt, um mit LUKE TROMICZAK, dem Kopf hin­ter BLOOD AND SUN, zu spre­chen: Über das neue Album, sei­ne krea­ti­ven Ein­flüs­se, Live­au­f­trit­te und noch viel mehr:

»Love and Ashes«, Album­co­ver, Blood and Sun 2020. Erschie­nen bei Nord­vis
Hi Luke! First of all: Thank you for taking some time for us! It‘s been five years sin­ce your last album »White Storms Fall« was released. Could you give us a short sum­ma­ry of what hap­pen­ed sin­ce then?
Sin­ce then I’ve tou­red Euro­pe, I’ve tou­red Cana­da a few times, per­for­med with many of my influ­en­ces, spent time in Nort­hern Cali­for­nia, pain­ted in rural Mexi­co, visi­ted holy sites in Ice­land, and found solace in the trees of New Eng­land. I’ve been through some rough times, some self inflic­ted, some lob­bed against me, and through it all I’ve been lucky enough to find and build on love. This release will coin­ci­de with the two year anni­ver­s­a­ry of a friend’s death from can­cer, my two year anni­ver­s­a­ry of beco­m­ing sober, and five years from mee­ting my part­ner who has stay­ed with me through thick and thin.
So I guess it’s not just ›ano­t­her album‹ for you? But then you real­ly don’t seem to be the run-of-the-mill band in music anyway …
I sup­po­se I’m not a run-of-the-mill band. And yes, »Love and Ashes« is real­ly important to me per­so­nal­ly. I beca­me ena­mo­red with and a part of the under­ground over a deca­de ago: music made, not for mind­less con­sump­ti­on, but with thought and expe­ri­ence intert­wi­ned with it.

Tape tra­ding and mail orders, home record­ing, xero­xed fliers, and hid­den shows beca­me my world. So the indus­try is still for­eign to my way of under­stan­ding music cul­tu­re. This is not to say I kept hard lines of liking gen­res, and in the last few years I’ve been try­ing to fill in rock and roll and folk music histo­ry. That said, I know that working on art and music ful­fills me, and so I would like to release with more regu­la­ri­ty as an exer­cise of will. We’ll see how things pro­gress from here.
How do you wri­te your songs? Sin­ce your last album, you released two sin­gles (one of them a split with BRITTSOMMAR). Did the songs on the new album and the sin­gles deve­lop one after ano­t­her or did you wri­te the songs altog­e­ther and cho­se later when and whe­re to release them?
I wri­te them when I can. »At Rest« came in the fall of 2013, »Cain’s Orchard« and »Laven­der Let­ters« in 2014, and »The Hunt and the Fall« and »The Con­fes­si­on« in the spring of 2016. »Love and Ashes«, howe­ver, was gene­ra­ted from 2014 – 2018 by drawing on expe­ri­en­ces from the last six years.

The songs touch on lea­ving my home­town, the deaths of clo­se friends, bro­ken hearts in a bur­ning buil­ding, fin­ding love in a snow-swept city, cas­ting thorns at vile sna­kes, com­ing clo­se to dis­so­lu­ti­on in fli­cke­ring fires hal­lu­ci­na­ti­ons and rains of Hum­boldt coun­ty, deli­ri­um tre­mens on the old man’s road, rekind­ling love that was hol­ding on des­pi­te all, by a gol­den thread. »Until the Dawn« is the eldest song, and »Love and Ashes« is the youn­gest but per­fect cap to the tale of the­se years.

Tape tra­ding and mail orders, home record­ing, xero­xed fliers, and hid­den shows beca­me my world. So the indus­try is still for­eign to my way of under­stan­ding music culture.

Your new album was pro­du­ced by Robert ›Bob‹ Fer­ba­che, which is pro­bab­ly known to most of our rea­ders from his work with BLOOD AXIS. How was it like to work with him?
Bob and I have been fast friends sin­ce he mixed and mas­te­red »White Storms Fall«. He sin­ce relo­ca­ted to New Eng­land and more or less reti­red. But in his reti­re­ment he pro­du­ced and had released three or four records this last year. He approa­ched me at a fes­ti­val some time ago and expres­sed inte­rest in working on the next album I wan­ted to record.

To have Bob work on your record is to have a man dedi­ca­ted to rock and roll sin­ce see­ing THE BEATLES live as a child put his years of craf­ting influ­en­ti­al under­ground records behind your visi­on. He builds and works tireless­ly and pati­ent­ly though stern­ly on allowing the pro­jects to blossom and unfold. Co-pro­du­cing many WOVEN HAND and 16 HORSEPOWER albums as well as to, IN GOWING RING, MUNLY, BOBBY BEAUSOLEIL, NON, FIRE + ICE, TARANTELLA, DEVOTCHKA, LILIUM, ITCHY‑O, IAN COOKE,  and most recent­ly, bes­i­des mys­elf,  Brook­lyn based, EVA GOODMAN’s Ghost­ly Dream Folk pro­ject NIGHTTIME’s debut album »Hand in the Dark«.  

We worked in three or four blocks of time each span­ning a few mon­ths. We got the bones laid out for four songs in the sum­mer of 2017, and then picked back up in Febru­a­ry 2018. I wro­te the final song in June 2018 and in the win­ter of 2019 I tra­v­eled to record accom­pany­ing instru­ments. We final­ly had all tracks by March of 2019 and we mixed and mas­te­red until sum­mer sol­sti­ce of 2019.

Bob hel­ped me learn to use his equip­ment and taught me some of his tech­ni­ques. Often he let me steer the ship and then when necessa­ry, as it often was, bring the pro­ject back to cohe­si­on with his expe­ri­en­ced hands.
You men­tio­ned Bob’s work on your first album »White Storms Fall«, which was released on Pesan­ta. Are the­re any plans of reis­suing that album? It’s real­ly hard to get the­se day and the pri­ces that are cal­led for it on Dis­cogs are real­ly, real­ly high.
The­re will be a time when »White Storms Fall« is re-released. Most likely without the same book as befo­re for the sake of get­ting it into people’s hands at a more rea­son­ab­le pri­ce. But with the new album we worked real­ly hard on making sure the lay­out was on par if not bet­ter than the first album. Atten­ti­on to detail and aes­the­tic is some­thing I will not devia­te from.

The­re is no par­ti­cu­lar set date for a re-release. I know the­re are still copies some­whe­re, but it shame­ful­ly never got pro­per Euro­pean dis­tri­bu­ti­on. I will work to rec­ti­fy this in the next year: a loo­se goal of this sum­mer 2020.
Spea­king of »White Storms Fall«: To many peop­le, me inclu­ded, this album is pro­bab­ly one of the most rele­vant and beloved neo­folk albums in the last deca­de, along the side of OF THE WAND AND THE MOON’s »The Lone Descent«. What dou you per­so­nal­ly think of the album today?
»White Storms Fall« was a magi­cal album to work on. I had finis­hed my under­gra­dua­te stu­dies, had been accep­ted to grad-school, and recei­ved a grant, which let me stay on in Min­ne­so­ta ano­t­her year. I had been making nar­ra­ti­ve figu­ra­ti­ve work which in aca­de­mic cir­cles is immedia­te­ly con­si­de­red reac­tion­a­ry, and nai­ve. The des­kil­ling of the 60s and Cle­ment Greenburg’s cri­ti­cal wri­ting about pain­ting still loo­ms hea­vy in the fine art world. I fought tooth and nail to work the way I did and bes­ted some of the facul­ty of the school in recei­ving the grant. It was a tri­um­phant moment. This offe­red me the time to work on lar­ge pain­tings and, as it would hap­pen, meet Adam of Pesan­ta and start working on »White Storms Fall«.

We worked real­ly hard on that album. I had a tireless engi­neer who worked count­less hours in exchan­ge for a lar­ge pain­ting. Thank­ful­ly we were pret­ty well rehe­ar­sed and the tracking came tog­e­ther in a few mon­ths time.

»White Storms Fall« is a dedi­ca­ti­on to wil­ling my way out of whe­re I was from, and a sonic tri­bu­te to much of the music that influ­en­ced me. OF THE WAND AND THE MOON of cour­se being one. I’m glad it was recei­ved well by fans of the genre.
Given the huge respect the peop­le have towards your last album, the­re are also high expec­ta­ti­ons to the hew one, I guess. Did you feel any pres­su­re for wri­ting and releasing the album?
Yes abso­lute­ly. It was a call to grow. What does the next album look like? What chan­ges in your song­wri­ting when you lea­ve the soil you grew up on? How do you make a record when peop­le you work with are scat­te­red across the coun­try? In »White Storms Fall« ever­ything play­ed all at once on every song: punk rock with cel­lo and a ham­me­red dul­ci­mer. So with that in mind, how do I arran­ge for the next record to bring more dyna­mism? Spe­ci­fi­cal­ly what should chan­ge with my gui­tar play­ing? But the grea­ter con­cern was, how will this be released? How do I make sure it gets to tho­se who will appre­cia­te it? Of cour­se, even now I don’t know how it will be recei­ved, but I am incredi­b­ly gra­te­ful and exci­ted to get it out there.
»Land­s­cape« Blood and Sun
When your new label, Nord­vis, talks about BLOOD AND SUN, they use the term »Luke Tro­mic­zak and friends«. Would you descri­be the band like that? Is BLOOD AND SUN your pro­ject or could it also exist without you (not that I wish for it!)?
BLOOD AND SUN from the begin­ning was my pro­ject. I’ve had the utmost plea­su­re of having some excep­tio­nal­ly talen­ted peop­le help it along but it‘s a revol­ving door. It makes it easier for me to tra­vel alo­ne when necessa­ry and keep the artis­tic aim of the pro­ject as clo­se to my visi­on as pos­si­ble.

If someo­ne wan­ted to per­form one of my my songs at my fun­e­ral that would be a wel­co­me par­ting gift, but no one in their right mind would want to car­ry BLOOD AND SUN and no one can usurp the pro­ject as I brea­the. But I should also men­ti­on they should play some other tunes as well in case of my unti­me­ly ending. 
That’s an inte­res­ting thought. Which songs would you actual­ly choo­se yourself for your funeral?
For my fun­e­ral ide­al­ly I’d like 40 minu­tes of ren­di­ti­ons of Raf­fi songs sung by a sopra­no accom­pa­nied by a slight­ly out of tune pia­no … The recep­ti­on fol­lowing would be cate­red with bolo­gna sand­wi­ches, decaff­ein­a­ted cof­fee, and ancho­vies labe­led as »dehy­dra­ted her­ring.»

But real­ly? If I could have a few trus­ted musi­ci­ans do ren­di­ti­ons of the­se songs as a con­cert sur­roun­ding my death that would be an honor I’d show up for. In no par­ti­cu­lar order:

1. If It Be Your Will – Leo­nard Cohen
2. Dirt in the ground – Tom Waits
3. The See­ker – Fire and Ice
4. Way­fa­ring Stran­ger – Trad
5. Hope the­res someo­ne – Ant­o­ny and the John­sons
6. In a robe of fire – Of The Wand And The Moon
7. 60 hor­ses in my herd – Mon­go­li­an Tra­di­tio­nal
8. Her­ja Father – Blood Axis
9. The Skye Boat Song – Scot­tish Trad

The recep­ti­on fol­lowing would be cate­red with bolo­gna sand­wi­ches, decaff­ein­a­ted cof­fee, and ancho­vies labe­led as »dehy­dra­ted herring.«

Whe­re do you take your inspi­ra­ti­on for your music from? Is it most­ly other bands/music? Or also lite­ra­tu­re, the arts and nature?
Well of cour­se the­re are inspi­ra­ti­ons from music — after all it’s a lan­guage with incredi­ble cul­tu­ral sub­t­le­ty. Soni­cal­ly, my music cer­tain­ly shares com­mo­na­li­ties with friend­ly con­tem­pora­ries. The­ma­ti­cal­ly, it wrest­les bet­ween the mythic influ­ence I see play out in life, the tapes­try of the sea­sons, and per­so­nal expe­ri­en­ces.

I hope it does­n’t rest too hea­vi­ly on any one of tho­se poles. I think it oscil­la­tes bet­ween the tem­po­ral, per­so­nal, mythic, and ima­gi­na­ry. Other things that influ­ence my artis­tic helm are defi­ni­te­ly film, lite­ra­tu­re, and phi­lo­so­phy.  
Can you name the most important ones for us? Or may­be even sug­gest some­thing? In times of the inter­net there’s pret­ty much ever­ything avail­ab­le, but it’s some­ti­mes hard to choo­se. So recom­men­da­ti­ons are always welcome!
You will now expe­ri­ence a ran­ting list – I hope it’s wel­co­me:
»Carl Jung: The Earth Has A Soul Edi­ted« by Mer­edith Sabi­ni, »Gods and Myths of Nort­hern Euro­pe« by H.R Ellis David­son, »Songs Dance and Cus­toms of peasant Poland« by Sula Benet, »Socie­ty Must be Defen­ded – Lec­tures« by Michel Fou­cault, »The Eld­ritch World« by Nigel Pen­nick, »The Man who Plan­ted Trees« by Jean Gio­no, »The Kind­red of the Kib­bo Kift« by Ana­bel­la Pol­len, and »Bali: Atlas Kebu­da­ja­an (Cults and Cus­toms)«. The »Fox­fire« book seri­es, which is a prac­ti­cal jour­nal of rural Appa­la­chi­an living. Neil Gaiman’s »Ame­ri­can Gods« I think is a must read for anyo­ne living in North Ame­ri­ca who is inte­res­ted in the Old Gods whoms ante­ce­dents ori­gi­na­ted from else­whe­re in the world. 

Pod­casts worth men­tio­ning: »Weird Stu­dies«, »Bru­te Nor­se«, »The Fair Folk«, Dan Carlin’s »Hard­core Histo­ry« (any and all, but espe­cial­ly »Step­pe Sto­ries« and »The Wrath of the Khans«)! 

Radio­lab, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly the spe­ci­fic epi­so­de »From Tree to Shi­ning Tree«, Paul Sta­mets on the Joe Rogan Expe­ri­ence, and »Mushrooms as Medi­ci­ne« with Paul Sta­mets at Expo­nen­ti­al Medi­ci­ne on You­tube.

I haven’t been kee­ping up with cine­ma as much as I’d like, but some standouts are »Syn­ec­do­che N.Y.«, »Jacob’s Lad­der«, »Angel Heart«, »La Vie Nou­vel­le«, »Un Lac«, »Melan­cho­lia«, »The Turin Hor­se«, »Moon­light«, »Satan Don’t Deli­ver Us From Evil«, »The Grand Buda­pest Hotel«, »Good Time«, »Vic­to­ria« (2015), »Taso­ga­re Saka­ba« (Twi­light Saloon), and »Embrace the Ser­pent«. Most recent­ly, »Mid­som­mar«, »The Light House«, and »Para­si­te« were all worth the pop­corn.

Also, the B.B.C. mini­se­ries based on Ter­ry Pratchett’s »The Hog Father« has been on year­ly repeat around Yule. Death has a gre­at mono­lo­gue about holi­day tra­di­ti­ons in that.
Do you plan to tour with the new album? Any tours in Euro­pe plan­ned maybe?
I’ve been tou­ring this past year – small enga­ge­ments across the U.S. and Cana­da. They have been a real tre­at. I will tour on this record, but it pro­bab­ly won’t be stan­dard. I’d rather play for small groups of fans than have a care­er-buil­ding ope­ning slot. This art is serious to me, to a fault. It’s not just enter­tain­ment to be jost­led about in the con­su­mer mar­ket. I don’t want to enter­tain tou­rists. So yes, if you want to see me per­form, plea­se get in touch. 

Also, the B.B.C. mini­se­ries based on Ter­ry Pratchett’s »The Hog Father« has been on year­ly repeat around Yule. Death has a gre­at mono­lo­gue about holi­day tra­di­ti­ons in that.

Last ques­ti­on: What was your favo­ri­te place to play live until today? I can ima­gi­ne you play­ing all sorts of venues, but play­ing at open air fes­ti­vals some­whe­re in the woods or the moun­tains (like »House of the Holy«, »L‘homme sau­va­ge« or »Mėnuo Juo­dar­a­gis«) seems to be the per­fect sur­roun­ding to me.
From big fes­ti­vals to small invi­te-only house par­ties, I enjoy any oppor­tu­ni­ty to play for friends. Play­ing lar­ger fes­ti­vals in Ger­ma­ny whe­re – to my sur­pri­se – peop­le sing my songs back to me, or small rehe­ar­sal spaces in Cana­da whe­re peop­le cram them­sel­ves in like sar­di­nes to see the per­for­mance, is incredi­b­ly flat­te­ring. It is also an honor being invi­ted into people’s homes to per­form for their neigh­bors, fami­ly, and friends. I’ve had expe­ri­en­ces across Euro­pe, the United Sta­tes, and Cana­da like the­se. I’d like to see more of the world bes­i­des so hope­ful­ly the­re will be more oppor­tu­nities on the hori­zon.

Out­door fes­ti­vals away from the bust­le of the city, with a mind to slow down for a few days and cele­bra­te natu­re, and the old spi­rits, is always pre­fer­red. But hands down my favo­ri­te per­for­mance was play­ing to a room of for­ty peop­le. It was popu­la­ted by fel­low artists and friends, with a six cour­se meal of tra­di­tio­nal Eas­tern Euro­pean food, and an offe­ring table set to Frigg, Frau Hol­le, and the atten­de­es‹ loved ones who had pas­sed to the other side. I car­ri­ed offe­rings from that night across the coun­try and buried them in the moun­tains not far from New York. It was a night that would be hard to repli­ca­te, but I hope for oppor­tu­nities to share in that spi­rit again.
Thank you for taking your time, Luke! Hope to see you soon in Europe!
Thanks for the thought­ful ques­ti­ons! I hope to meet you on your side of the pond as well!

For more infor­ma­ti­on on Blood and Sun: 

Nord­vis / Band­camp / Offi­cial Home­page / Insta­gram