Monday, December 23, 2019

interview: Overwrought (Washington State) [conclusion]

interview: Overwrought, black metal from Bellingham, Washington State, U.S.
This is the second and concluding part of the interview. If you already have read the first part, scroll down to the pictures: the second part begins after the pictures below.
Hello! What is up with Overwrought heading into the new year of 2020?! For people who do not know much about your part of the country, is Overwrought based in the city of Bellingham (a few hours north of Seattle)?
Greetings MBPZ, thanks for the interview! Overwrought has a CD release show for our "Volatility" EP on December 21st in Bellingham, then we'll be gearing up to enter the studio to record our first full-length album in early 2020. Other than that, we'll be playing Idaho Deathfest in April and I'm sure a slew of other shows to help promote said album whenever it comes out.
Overwrought is fully based in the beautiful city of Bellingham, WA. This city always used to be one of Washington's best kept secrets, but with time, both the city and naturally, our metal scene, has grown exponentially; I'd liken it very much to Olympia (shoutout to Grim Earth). There are plenty of places to play here for a metal band, such as The Shakedown, The Firefly, Make.Shift Art Space, and some buddies of ours are even trying to book shows at the local veterans’ hall.
Is Overwrought the only metal band in Bellingham or is there a metal scene? If there are other bands, what metal bands do you like in Bellingham? Do Bellingham metal bands share anything in common, such as a sound?
As I touched on before, Bellingham has a very healthy scene right now, though we have taken a few casualties in the metal department as of recent, but there are plenty of new projects in the wings that we know of that are close to being gig ready. That being said, our brothers in Gallows Hymn are also from Bellingham and are absolutely killing it. Aside from them, Bellingham has plenty of other great metal bands: Melancholia, Serpent Sun, Cavurn, Necrotic Divine, Noceur, Mount Saturn, Dryland, Thoughts for the Builders, Tetrachromat, Purulent Conception, and our drummer is in a new death/doom band called Inexorable. Otherwise, there's plenty of other awesome punk and oddball bands such as Done to Death, Monstress, Gallowmaker, Proud Failures, Earth Years, Boxcutter, Slothmonger, The Sheen, and I'm sure plenty of others I'm forgetting. We are especially excited to see what our friends in Ex Nihilo are brewing up in 2020.
As for a Bellingham "sound", there was definitely quite a large amount of black metal bands running in Bellingham as of last year, but since some bands called it quits and new projects have gotten off the ground, there's been a healthy leveling out of different sounds within the metal scene as of recent.
Did you grow up going to metal shows in Bellingham? Are there older bands from the 1980s and 1990s from Bellingham? Or, are you a pioneering metal band in Bellingham?
We all grew up playing and going to different local metal and punk shows in Bellingham (outside of Andrew, who spent more of his teenage years in Lake Stevens). Full Frontal Assault was a huge band for Bellingham back in the day and any project that has been touched by a member of that band since has turned to absolute gold. Black Breath is without a doubt the biggest metal band to originate from Bellingham, but I have no clue as to their current status. We did also have another local progressive metal band called Wild Throne that ended up getting signed with Roadrunner records, but unfortunately split up after one album.
There were bands here back in the 80's, though that's a little before our time; the only one I know of for sure is Catastrophic Disaster. Then through the 90's and early 00's there was more of an influx of metal with bands such as Immoral Intent (which eventually sort of became Umbillical Parricide), Blood Shit, Piano Mover, and some others.
We are definitely not pioneers in this scene; it's only from all the massive groundwork that was laid out by other bands, artists, and scene supporting folk (like photographers, interviewers, promoters, etc.) before us that we have the opportunity and privilege of getting to play shows and have people attend them.
Your first recording is from 2018 and it was a demo, correct? Did you record that demo by yourselves at home? Overall, how was that experience?
Yes, our first recording was "Demo 2018". The demo was recorded entirely by our bassist, Andrew Shore, in our rehearsal space. Andrew had recorded for a few bands back in the day, such as Abject Offering, and even did some mixing and mastering on an EP by Gallows Hymn's proto-band, Empyrean.
Overall, we don't have many fond memories of the recording experience for the demo. We were working with pretty subpar recording equipment that failed numerous times within the process. Laptops crashing, headphones cutting out, mics clipping, overall, not the best time (and the demo took entirely too long to get released). But looking back on it all, we’re immensely proud we stuck it out and got those songs recorded with some level of quality.
Before the demo, how did Overwrought form and how long were you all active in the Bellingham area before recording some music?
Overwrought was originally formed as a side project by our guitarists, Trevor and Nate, and our drummer, Drake. Andrew and Keanen joined shortly afterwards on bass and vocals respectively. Trevor was playing in a tech-death band called Defenestrator at the time and Drake and Andrew were playing together in a doom project called None. Both of those projects ended around the same time at which point Overwrought became all members’ main musical focus. Trevor, Nate, and Keanen had also previously played together in a band called Bastard Son, so the formation and quick transition came very natural.
Trevor and Keanen have been playing longest in the Bellingham scene, with their first serious band being a black metal band by the name of Harlot. Overwrought has deep roots in everybody knowing each other, as Keanen and Drake were childhood neighbors, and Keanen, Trevor, Drake, and Nate all grew up in a small outskirt of southern Bellingham called Sudden Valley. It's very forested and isolated, so naturally we developed a pretty deep connection to nature and music there.
Who started this band and what were the main reasons to form a band and what were your influences? How did you all gravitate towards black metal, as opposed to other genres?
Trevor was sort of sick of all the stress that came from playing in a tech death band and had wanted to rekindle some of his initial musical loves in black metal and classic heavy metal. Trevor, Nate, and Drake all started Overwrought together to overall play anything we thought was just plain good music, and we've generally stuck with that mindset ever since.
Probably the two biggest mutual love bands we had starting out were Nachtmystium and Dissection. I'm not honestly sure how we all gravitated more towards black metal, it probably has to deal with growing up in such an isolated part of Bellingham. Living basically in a forest, we all got really absorbed in our individual instruments and artistic passions, and those early childhood experiences have continued to follow us even into adulthood.
Do you feel content within the framework of melodic black metal? Is a there a particular person driving the music of your band?
We are only interested in playing what feels natural and honest to us at any given moment in time. Lately, some more of the stuff we've been writing has been a little more thrashy, which really harkens back to some of our members early roots. Overall, we believe that if you're going to create music, you should ultimately be trying to ADD SOMETHING to the music scene as a whole, so I actively seek to add new dimensions to our sound and not get comfortable in just one particular styling. We play this music to expose and express the inner contents of our being, even if that means lifting the veil on really ugly or delicate parts of our personalities. But worthwhile art is, above all things, honest, and should never seek to put its performers on a pedestal. If we ever feel we need to write a song to cater to a certain crowd, that's when we'll know it's time to throw in the towel.
Generally speaking, Trevor and Drake do the majority of the writing, but with that being said, everybody in this band adds their own personal touches to help shape and contour the sound of each song we have, and without these contributions, our songs would undoubtedly not be as strong as they are. Nate has written a song and a few chunks for others, and Andrew and Keanen are both in the process of writing material as well. We'd love to get to the point where everybody is regularly contributing songs to this project.
Being such a young band, do you care at all about an old band like Dissection? Is that simply too old for you and you grew up listening to younger bands?
We're all in our mid to late 20s, so we weren't around for that time. That being said, there's been a lot of great bands that came out of the post-2000 scene that were huge in helping to mold us into who we are today (such as Nachtmystium and Crebain). And yes, we all love Dissection and the other Swedish black metal bands. We all grew up mainly on the old stuff, it wasn't until we got older that we started paying more attention to newer bands.
How would you describe to fans the objectives of your music?
The objective of our music is to be honest about ourselves within our art and with our audience. We have an undying respect for bands that keep their noses to the grindstone (i.e., Abigail Williams, Crowbar, Motorhead, etc) and stay true to themselves in the face of goofy trends or fan expectations. Hopefully, a listener feels we've been honest with them, first and foremost, and if we're ever able to help someone out with our music during a tough time, that would mean all the world.
In 2019 you have the EP Volatility. Compared to the 2018 demo, how is the EP different? Your logo is now more legible!
"Volatility" was recorded with all the same guys, but this time around we enlisted the help of Rich Canut, a tried and true producer with an actual studio. Sound wise, the difference between the two recordings are night and day, with "Volatility" being the far and away superior product. We stayed local and recorded in Bellingham.
I think this EP has a better continuity throughout than the demo, which was very intentional. The demo was essentially recorded just to give to friends and prove to venues that we're a competent enough band to book for shows. With this EP, we walked in with way more to prove. We wanted to experiment a little more with a producer who could take our really crude, ambiguous ideas and be able to flesh them out without a hitch. That's the benefit of working with a guy who's been around the block and has heard every "mouthed out" guitar part in existence. There was also a lot of duality to this recording, with the first song being more of a straightforward asskicker written by Trevor (which just so happens to feature the nastiest riff we've ever had in a song at the end). Then "Labor" takes a complete 180, with it being really melodic and written by Drake.
In regards to the logo change, basically, the logo seen on the cover of "Volatility" we've actually been working with for quite some time. When we initially formed Overwrought, Gage from Melancholia whipped us out a logo immediately. All the while, Keanen had been working furiously on a logo for quite some time. When it came time to release the demo, Keanen still had some finishing touches to add to his logo, so we decided to use Gage's. Consistently, gigs we've played always feature our old logo on flyers, so we really wanted to make a point to feature our new logo on this cover as we're immensely proud of the work Keanen put into it and think it's distinct look helps to separate us from most bands within this genre.
What can you tell us about “Telepathic Hallucinations”?
Telepathic Hallucinations is basically about a general annoyance and disregard for certain people who believe they are psychic or intuitive who are in fact just reading too far into nothing and making wild assumptions based off a vibe they claim to pick up on. I feel like we all know a person or two like that. It’s sort of an obscure, Chuck Schuldiner-esque idea that we thought would be an interesting theme for a song. All this being said, we aren’t discounting the possibility that ESP is real, especially as we do have some pretty big X-Files fans in this band!
What about “Labor”?
Drake wrote the music and lyrics for Labor. The music was written in the very initial stages of Overwrought's existence and was actually the very first song Drake wrote for the band. We ended up shelving it for a while because it's initial form was too long and needed some changes. We always kept that song on the backburner though and after cutting the length and making some other changes, the song became the version you hear on the record today.
Lyrically, the song is essentially about life having no intrinsic point and humanity's capability to dictate that point. Generally speaking, we'll all be living a lot longer than we think, and each day that passes counts towards our future and who we are, whether that's to our individual benefit or detriment. "Labor" is an exploration of that choice we make every day.
What cities in Washington State have you played in so far? Have you played in Everett yet?!
We've played all over Western Washington and would love to play anywhere else in the US or great white North, it just hasn't been in the cards for us yet, but anyone who might be reading this in a different state or country, please feel free to hit us up to play your show! And yes, we have played Everett and would love to play there again, just book the show and we'll be there.
So far, your band has five songs released to the public. Are you going to use these songs for the album? If you were going to record the songs again, what would you change?
We're beyond satisfied with the production on "Volatility" so we'll leave those songs be, but we absolutely want to re-record all of the demo tracks for a full-length album now that we're a little more "studio smart". There's a lot of things we've changed or wanted to add in the studio for those songs as well, so they're past due for a recording touch up. When we do re-record the songs, we obviously want to beef up the sound quality, but also add a few more atmospheric elements with keyboard and other sound effects, as well as change up the arrangement a bit potentially where we see fit.
How can fans support your band at this point?
Anybody interested in our band can check out the following links:
Music/merch on bandcamp: Booking/Info on facebook: Booking inquiries:
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview us, it seriously means a lot. Keep an eye out on our social media for information regarding shows and future album updates. Thanks also to everyone who's ever supported us, you know who you are!

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