My ongoing fixation with melancholic themed Metal continues! There´s nothing quite like it, when an album resonates with you and takes you on a journey filled with cathartic moments. Woccon did just that with their impressive debut album “Solace In Decay”. It´s not only drenched with potent introspective atmospheres but the crafting of these emotional charges contains multiple layers of elegant songwriting and mental forethought. Tim Rowland is a busy man. He´s a multi-instrumentalist, main songwriter and is involved in most of the creative processes concerning the band. He kindly took time to answer some of my questions.
Good day to you Tim! How are you doing today?
Besides all the packing and getting ready to move, good I suppose.
I´m always interested in the relation between a band and its geography. You live in Athens in the state of Georgia. Can you tell a bit about what it´s like living here and if your surroundings inspire your creative work?
I pretty much grew up in and around Athens my whole life and never lived anywhere else. I don’t really put much thought into the area because I’m almost numb to it. I would say it’s a split between being a big college/football town and a hipster retirement city. The music scene is pretty big and diverse here but metal is almost nonexistent. Also, if you turn your head in any direction downtown, there’s a bar. This town only inspires me to look for inspiration elsewhere using my imagination. With that being said, it’s home.
Obvious statement, I really love “Solace In Decay”! It´s been awhile since an album encompassed so much Doom Metal excellence. Do you still feel there´s a buzz around the album a year after its release?
Thanks man. Yeah, with the powers of the internet it seems to constantly build, though gradually. It’s been consistent and I’ve yet to hear a negative opinion about it, so that’s good.
How has the feedback been compared to your EP, which I´ve read had a great hype around it?
The EP got a lot of great response, but it’s clear that in comparison “Solace In Decay” is a big step up in terms of the overall quality. That’s what I got out of most of the feedback I’ve received. I guess that was kinda the point. More variety while being more focused. If that makes any sense.
Let´s talk a bit about the music. I really enjoy the guitar tapestries in the songs here, the arrangements sound like they´re really worked through. Can you tell a bit about the whole process of getting the album shaped and recorded?
Well it’s a lot of trial and error. I was a lot more into trashing anything and everything this time around, so majority of the ideas I created didn’t make it on the album. For the most part I write as I record. That way I can see the bigger picture earlier in the process. I treat a rhythm and lead almost as one guitar and build songs in unison that way. The whole time I’m imagining drums in my head so I write to specific rhythms. When an idea is complete and ready to be tracked, I just record the wall of guitars against a click track, then everything else gets filled in after. Kinda backwards I know.
I guess for someone who´s been into this particular sound of Metal for years and years, it´s not hard to guess some of the inspirational sources. Like I said, there are some obvious Daylight Dies influences in play. Would it be justified to say that´s one of your main influences?
I would say yes, but not totally in a conscious way. The biggest thing I gather from their music in a compositional sense is their tendency to make “left-turns” all the time with chord progressions and harmonies. It’s hard to guess where the next section or riff will lead. That quality is probably the one thing that engrained in my creative process long ago with this style. It just sounds more interesting to my ear.
There´s a rather special track on the album that really hit me. “Valadilene” has a slightly different atmosphere that resembles a mix of Metal, shoegaze and Post Rock. Care to tell something about the creation of this track and if you had something special you wanted to say with it?
I wrote and recorded the guitars while being snowed in, which is kind of a rare occurrence in this part of Georgia. I just stared the the snow falling outside my window and wrote. And we’ve discussed many times about wanting to do something with a post-rock feel so I finally did it. The title of the track itself came from a video game called Syberia. It’s the name of a town near the beginning of the game. I don’t know why I made that connection. Just went with it.
So what´s happening in the Woccon camp lately? Seeing as you don´t play a lot live or, I have a hunch you want to keep things low profile with the band, that correctly understood?
Well, we all have busy lives. It’s not a conscious decision to keep a low profile. We’re still planning stuff constantly. We intend to work to get this stuff in order for the future. We have time. We’ll be out there touring at some point with Woccon when the time is right for us.
I have a question that you might just have to use some political rhetorics and confuse me instead of saying anything. I saw a banner on the band´s Facebook page with 2015 written on it. New album already? If yes, what can one expect?
Yes, we’re slowly working on a new album and it’s hard to say what to expect because it’s changing constantly. I would simply say, something much better than the last album. If we don’t think it is, we won’t release it. I’m trying toward a much more emotional and focused album. Probably darker and heavier too with the lower tuning.
Woccon is your band more or less, you´re pretty much involved in all aspects concerning the band. You also play several instruments. Might I ask how you came to start having an interest in music, and more specifically, how you got an interest in instruments?
It seems like I was obsessed with music as far back as I can remember. When I was a kid, I didn’t go anywhere with my Walkman. But I can say my interest in playing instruments grew out of skateboarding. I was introduced to the punk scene through skating. Bands like NOFX, Pennywise, Strung Out, and Rancid were my favorites at the time. My brother also had a big role to play because soon after he got his first guitar, he saved up and bought me a drum kit so we could play together. My first drum kit was a Gretsch Blackhawk. We jammed all through our childhood and teens together learning so many styles of music from punk, to progressive rock, to metal. In between practicing all my drum beats, rudiments, and techniques, I’d pick up his guitar and learn whatever I could at the time. I also dabbled in other instruments too. That was the most pure and fun I’ve had as a musician; being a kid excited to learn and absorb everything I could with my brother.
I imagine doing Woccon must be a time consuming workload, even if it´s not that big a band. Do you pursue other musical projects or is your schedule full with your main band?
Well we do have another band in the works that has taken a lot of our focus. It’s not metal at all. It’s more geared up to be a working band and probably more widely accessible when all is said and done. With that said, it’s not taking anything away from Woccon. It’s just a new venture; trying a completely new thing for us and I’m sure it will be rewarding. Anyways, most of the workload between the two bands is on my shoulders, but I don’t have a problem with that. Makes me stronger in the end.
The music industry is pretty chaotic at the moment. What´s your view on things like spotify, social media, labels not wanting to risk new bands, the amount of bands coming out of nowhere etc?
Social media has been a great thing for smaller bands to get their name out. More so with Youtube and maybe Twitter, but Facebook is making it harder unless you pay to promote. Someone needs to make money on everything I suppose. I would say Spotify has curbed a lot of pirating because now you can just conveniently stream whatever you want, so it makes things easier, but you’re lining the pockets of a corporation just to give bands a few pennies. I don’t know. I try not to think about these things too much. I’m just gonna do my thing and take advantage of whatever opportunity I need to to move forward. Yes, I agree that every scene is suffering from an over-saturation of bands. That’s probably why I chose the least saturated one.
How are things working with Deathbound Records? I mean, they were interested in you already at the time when “The Wither Fields” was being made. Do you feel the relationship is growing with those guys?
Fred and Oli are really good dudes. It’s easy to tell they have a passion for music and will support what they love to hear. For me personally, I consider them really great friends and I appreciate all the work they’ve put into Woccon and I’m certain there’s a lot more ahead of us working together.
Are there a lot of opportunities in playing live in Athens? Can one speak of a scene where you have bands, promoters etc?
Yeah, that all exists here and it’s strong, but not for metal necessarily. We have to look toward Atlanta as the “local scene” instead or just try to make one here. Maybe we should put more work into our town and see where it goes.
Do you have plans on taking Woccon to the stages in the future?
Yes, it will happen. Most definitely. We just need the right timing with our personal lives and other projects to balance.
Alright Tim, well thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts here on Extreme Metal Voyager. Any last words to the audience?
“Make like a tree and fuck off.”
For more info about the band, check out their Facebook page here
“Solace In Decay” is out now through Deathbound Records
Extreme Metal Voyager review here