SCOTT ADAMS: TERROR AUSTRALIS
11th May 2011
"I think you have hit the nail on the head with your question. It's about "getting your art" to people. I imagine this would be completely different for a band like Metallica who have a lot invested in their album's commercial performance, but we don't have to pay staff or a mortgage based on musical income.
"All we are interested in is making extreme art and getting it in as many faces as possible. Obviously we would prefer to do this and make some money but money was never a factor in my decision to play extreme music. I would have been pretty deluded to see this as my path to fortune".
Amenta Keyboardist Tim Pope is responding to the question I've just asked him. That question, not unreasonable I feel in the circumstances, was "why have you just given away your new album, 'Vo1d', for free over the internet? Do you see this as the best way to get your art to people in this age of mass illegality on the download front?"
The server on which 'Vo1d' was placed collapsed almost immediately the band made this offer to their fans public on the internet, which is at once comforting and disturbing news. Would that many people have bothered making the trip down to their local record n' tape exchange to shell out ten quid for the product? You know the answer to that as well as I do, and you have to see Pope's point that at least the band had some control over the distribution of their album by doing things this way. But is this the future for all artists?
"I don't know about the future but it is certainly a possible future. One of the record company's early models to combat downloading was to offer deluxe albums with extra packaging, video content or bundled with a t-shirt. Obviously it didn't work but it was a step in the right direction.
"I think mixed media is very appropriate for our band as we consider ourselves an audio/visual band. Our live shows are visual affairs; we smear our faces in paint and dirt and we are very physical onstage and video is a great opportunity to give the casual listener a full, immersive experience.
"One of the commonly ignored aspects of extreme music is its theatricality. It can take on aspects of all media, from theatre to film, spoken word to modern composition, and combine it into a Theatre of Cruelty style onslaught".
So the plain old CD is as redundant as its vinyl grandaddy?
"CDs are definitely becoming less viable. There is definitely still a market for them and I know that we will release physical products such as CDs or vinyl in the future but they are not the alpha and omega of music presentation anymore. It's a generational thing. People my age and older still appreciate a physical product; it's what we grew up with and comes prepackaged with nostalgic memories of trips to record shops.
"Younger people interact with the world in a completely different way. They don't invest as much, emotionally, into a physical product. For better or for worse, the main way people listen to music nowadays is digitally, whether it is on a computer or MP3 player. Music becomes less communal and more personal".
He's right of course, but I can't help thinking this change in attitudes isn't really a change for the better. Whatever, when you head out to see the band at somewhere on tour in Europe with Deicide later this year, make sure you buy an Amenta t-shirt whilst you're there – their mortgages might not depend on it, but they deserve some beer money, right?
And talking of touring, by the time you read this the band will be girding their loins for a couple of shows in Australia with the newly-resurgent Morbid Angel before heading your way for a slew of shows Europe wide. What are Tim's thoughts on this?
"The European tour with Deicide, Belphegor and Hour Of Penance is a very exciting one for us. We've toured in Europe with Deicide before and we had a blast. The crowds were big and responsive and it was great to see Deicide every night. We've got the added bonus of taking our new line-up over.
"We've toured with this line-up (minus our new guitarist, Tim Aldridge) all around Australia and the US so it will be awesome to show the European fans how strong we are now. It'll also be excellent to hit some territories that we haven't had the chance to play before such as the UK.
"Europe is a really strange territory for us. I think, considering that we take pride in our music's originality and lack of defining genre, that a lot of 'scenes' in Europe have a hard time processing what we do. We aren't thrash, or black Metal or death Metal and I think that throws a lot of people at first.
"Europe is great because, while people may be initially taken aback by our extreme music, they eventually find correlations between our music and their 'scene'. We have elements of all types of different extreme music from across the spectrum. So some places we play in Europe can be quite quiet for us, as people just watch in shock.
"Other places, such as Katowice in Poland, were screaming our name throughout our set. It will be fucking unreal to get back there and see if people have edged closer to our brand of dirty, ugly music".
So you do detect some very vital differences in the way we enjoy our extremity from place to place?
"I think Europe has a very different flavour, extreme music wise. I always say that Australian extreme music is a blend of European and American flavours of extremity. To horribly generalise: American Music is often hard, aggressive and violent whereas European music can be more bombastic and strident. Australian music, and us particularly, take that aggression and the violence of American music but hopefully remove the meathead element and blend it with the melodicism and bombast of European music while hopefully avoiding cheese."
The Amenta is a highly complex, challenging beast – how hard is it to fit into a support slot with bands that perhaps don't offer such a challenge to the critical faculties?
"It's always an interesting thing to tour with large bands such as Deicide and Morbid Angel. Obviously you are aware that 99% of the audience is not there for you. You are just the bread roll on the table while they wait for the meal. But that's a fucking liberating experience. If you play your heart out and commit to your performance 100% then you find you are converting people and they start paying attention.
"I find it much more rewarding to convert a hostile or disinterested crowd (or turn a crowd from disinterested to hostile) than playing a crowd who will fucking love every note you play. We are here to convert, not to retain".
I get the feeling the man means business. The Amenta is heading your way soon – don't miss 'em.