Armageddon – The Toilet ov Hell interview
We chat here about Sadomasochist ex-convicts, delicious bass tones, metal music to listen while running naked on a field and music writing!
Given the good response of the community of this eminent blog, and even other places, about Armageddon’s Captivity & Devourment, I moved sky and mountains to get a brief chat with Sara Claudius, bassist and lyricist of the band. She sat in our beloved Toilet to discuss about the record and the aspirations on this project. Accompany us in this interview!
Link Leonhart: I’m very appreciated to talk to you about this record and your job in the band. Thanks for answering!
Sara Claudius: Thank you, Link!
LL: First of all: how did you get that bass tone? It’s so crunchy, tastes like chocolate.
SC: Haha thanks- for the recording, I laid down all of my tracks DI (direct input), which was an interesting way to record. It lacked some vibe but I really focused in on getting my parts super tight so they would sound extra heavy. Then we sent the tracks off to Sweden and they were re-amped through an Ampeg SVT 2.
Live, I get my crunch by putting a RAT distortion pedal in front of my Ashdown Mag 300. The Ashdown has built in overdrive, compression, and subharmonics controls, so I am able to get a very beefy and satisfying sound.
LL: You wrote some of the lyrics. How was the process to stick some themes and lyrical lines to the heavily melodic songs like Equalizer or Thanatron? What inspired you to write about that weird death imaginary?
SC: Yes, I wrote most of the lyrics and Chris and I collaborated on “Rendition” (which may be my favorite).
I usually just listen to the song over and over again until a rhythm or melody line comes to me, and then some words will come. I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by darkness and death, but there are hopeful themes on this album too.
LL: I got good feelings hearing the entire album. Lyrical-wise: it got an overall theme? Death seems recurrent in the cover art from Paolo Girardi and some lines I could catch.
SC: Yes, plenty of destruction on this album. The album is loosely based around a concept of an ex-criminal traveling through space to try and find life on another planet after the destruction of his home planet. He ends up on another planet with traces of past life, which is still inhabited by a cognitive destructive force.
The album goes inside the main character’s mind to explore his frustrations and hopes, sadomasochistic tendencies, and also outside to explore the things he encounters on his journey. Paolo read the lyrics and took inspiration for his painting, which we are very proud to have as an artistic representation of this story.
LL: What do you think it’s the best aspect of Captivity & Devourment? (Don’t tell that it’s the bass, jajajaja).
SC: Definitely the killer guitar playing! And the songs- Chris and I really pushed and worked these songs until we were satisfied. I can say that we love and believe in this album and have a lot of fun playing the material.
LL: Since Christopher Amott left Arch Enemy he wrote one more solo album that is very good (I recommend them). That gives a gap of 2 years since he left that band and reactivated Armageddon. You were there since the beginning? If so, how was the compositional process?
SC: Yes, Chris’s solo albums are awesome. Check ’em out! We actually worked together for the first time on “Follow Your Heart”. Chris asked me to write some lyrics and vocal parts on 1 or 2 songs. After Chris left Arch Enemy, he wanted to get heavy again and I was excited and inspired by the riffs and melodies he was coming up with. We had a strong feeling that we wanted to resurrect Armageddon, having a very direct vision for the music and concept, and so we did. For Captivity & Devourment, Chris mostly brought songs to me with the core parts of guitars and drums demoed. I would sometimes add a riff or chorus, etc, arrange or critique if necessary, and then I would write the vocal parts and demo them for the singers.
LL: I have heard some music you shared and you seem very enthusiast of old-school hard rock & doomy doom like Saint Vitus, Blue Öyster Cult, Trouble or Black Sabbath. How do you incorporate that kind of styles to this music you made in the album?
SC: Yeah I love it! It’s a part of who I am, and I put it into the music. I’m inspired by dystopian themes and stuff that hits hard. It doesn’t have to be fast to kick you in the guts. For example, the intro riff to Thanatron was one I wrote, or the chorus in Captivity- you could say those feel rock n roll or doomy. Chris brought the second riff in Thanatron which I thought was an interesting contrast, feels very European.
LL: The songs are straight-forward play between raw and melodic, but still have good hooks and complex changes in some parts. Which was the most difficult song to record?
SC: Wow, cool description there. Hmm… Maybe something like Equalizer. I’m keeping time with the double kicks a lot and I wanted everything dead on the metronome, and steady/even dynamics within that kind of rhythmic monotony. It seems easy on the surface til you start trying to get it too perfect, haha!
LL: The album has a very dynamic style in the songs you’ve shared in the past months, with some guitar harmonies and bass leads between the drum fills still rolling in the back, even songs like The Watcher and Equalizer have clean vocals. How do you reproduce that sound live?
SC: We try to fill it out as much as possible. We just started using 3 part vocal harmonies between Antony, Joey, and Chris on this last tour and I was so happy. It sounds so full and thick, it’s great. I was really pushing to find the right live vocal dynamic and when the guys tried that it totally blew my mind. I want to investigate the possibilities of 3 part or more vocal harmonies on later releases.
LL: The production is very raw and in-your-face, but still very good to enjoy the more melodic parts, like in Fugitive Dust. Did you do a separate mastering for the vinyl? How it sounds the record in that format?
SC: Yeah it sounds awesome! Vinyl is great and it’s so cool to have this record on wax, so to speak. I’m not sure about the mastering process there. We did a separate packaging layout, of course. That was fun to put together knowing that everything will be nice and big, and easy to see.
LL: You did a February tour in the United States. How’s the band doing with Antony Hämäläinen in the microphone?
SC: He’s awesome!! We love working with him. The tour went great and we truly enjoy him as a person, musician, and performer. We decided to make him a full-on member.
LL: When you start a record with a tour immediately it’s a good signal. I know that some metalheads would want a few Armageddon+Arch Enemy gigs when you change band members just for fun, Jajaja. Do you have more gigs in mind?
SC: We are looking to tour as much and as far as possible, and are taking the steps to do so. Right now, we are proving ourselves in the live arena. This little east coast tour went awesomely well for us with great response.
LL: Do you plan to recapture some old Armageddon songs? Or this is a full reboot of the band name?
SC: We toss the idea around sometimes. We all like songs from those older albums but I guess we are mostly excited about making new material. So we shall see!
LL: Give us a recommendation to listen Captivity & Devourment (for example: with beer, with diet coke, high volume, in the cellphone speaker, in the woods).
SC: Hahaha hmm… Running naked through a field…
LL: Recommend us three records (any genre), including one of a local band that you like. GO!
Candlemass – Nightfall
JJ Cale – 5
Local band… Brooklyn…
Moonmen on the Moon, Man – Maan EP
LL: For the final words, this is your space. Make some nerdy quotes, express good feelings, or kick the posers… Everything you want to say to the world and the fellow Toiletters.
SC: Metal or Die
Thanks, Link- you rock! We hope to get to South America soon.
¡Eso es todo por los momentos, amigos y amigas!
Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did (mostly because in the final answer she told me that I rule!, jajaja!), now, make the moshpit in the comments and spread the word like a disease! Stay tuned for more.
Photos: VIA (Credits: Khaos Photography), VIA (Credits: Keith Marrow, Hits from the Pit), VIA (Credits: Keith Marrow, Hits from the Pit).