Melodic, symphonic, and atmospheric walk into a bar and proceed to drunken obliteration with their new found friend, ripping black metal – such is the case with the UK’s Necronautical on their upcoming third full length Apotheosis. This smorgasbord is nothing new, of course, but the band’s approach to it is staggering and a damn joy to experience, to say the least. Debut Black Sea Misanthropy was a melodic, aggressive, and catchy first effort but while it was very confident in itself it lacked a stone cold identity. Then on The Endurance At Night the band awakened their symphonic third eye and abruptly fixed the identity crisis while keeping a firm hold on their striking power. Now, the lessons learned result in an epic and majestic 50 minutes of black metal that borrows equally from those barflys we met earlier and as cliche as this may seem, Apotheosis is unique, immersive, and captivating. Ahead of the album’s release, we reached out with our set of Profile questions and Naut (vocals, guitar, keys) answered the call with a fury. Head below to see how it went down and DO NOT miss the preorder on this one, links are contained within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
I’ve always loved music, so I’ve been dabbling with various instruments for as long as I can remember. My grandmother had a baby-grand piano in her house when I was growing up, and I used to love playing around on that. Probably because of that I started piano lessons when I was a kid. Then when I went to high school I wanted to join a band, and so I got into playing the drums, because drummers are never short of a band. I enjoyed drumming all through my teenage years but always had a strong inclination to write music and songs, and so when I was 21 I got a guitar and a pro tools rig and started to teach myself how to do that, I’ve been kind of obsessed with that ever since. It’s been a life-long passion. I’ve played a lot of roles in several bands over the years, I think that by being around music so long and trying to make the music I wanted to make, it kind of taught me through trial and error what I wanted to do and the kinds of people I wanted to work with, and because of that Necronautical has certainly been the most fulfilling project I’ve worked on, and it’s great to share it with three awesome musicians who are also my best friends.
As far as ‘success’ goes, I don’t think it’s healthy to worry about that too much. I simply enjoy the process of making music, and I’d be doing that whether anybody was listening or not. But at this point we’re signed to one of our all time favorite record labels, we’ve been able to travel and perform with artists that have inspired us and we have people who come to our shows and listen to our music, and that is more than enough to content us! Of course we feel privileged by any exciting opportunities that come our way, but I think the main point to remember is that we love doing this in the first place, and because of that it doesn’t matter how much ‘success’ we achieve.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
That’s a strange question. I can’t think how an artist might debase themselves for exposure, but in any case I don’t think that’s something we’d do. We’re not into popularity contests or pay-to-play touring or anything like that, we’re not trying to force ourselves onto people, and we try to have integrity in how we operate within the music scene.
But if you are looking for an embarrassing story, I do have one from this year. We were about to go onstage at Incineration festival, and it was a particularly hot day. In a moment of idiocy, I thought it would be wise to spray some anti-perspirant along my hairline to stop sweat getting into my eyes – it didn’t. About one song into the performance I feel this awful burning sensation in my eyes, like they were being dried out with salt. I remembered what I had done and immediately saw the idiocy of my decision. I had to play the rest of the show completely blinded and in absolute agony. We had an amazing response from the crowd but that has to be my single worst onstage experience. After the show I spent two hours at the bar with ice cubes on my eyeballs, concerned I had done some permanent damage. My bandmates thought this was hilarious, of course.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
The best thing happening in metal right now is simply the music! It feels to me like there are so many exciting new artists and sounds out there right now. More than that, it’s exciting to see bands that have pushed the envelope and done their own thing are gaining success and recognition, like Gojira, for instance. I think Black Metal music has seen real growth in this last decade as well, the breadth and diversity in the genre is seriously unreal. Obviously, the internet ‘revolution’ has had some very damaging effects upon the industry itself, but on a positive note, music is now more accessible than ever, and so it’s the bands that truly stand out to the listeners that are making their mark, and that’s exciting to see.
I guess the negatives I feel about the metal scene right now are maybe just the other side of the same coin, it’s amazing that there is so much music out there and there are so many great bands performing in our cities every night, but consequently we (as music consumers) are spoiled for choice, that can kind of devalue music as well. Maybe I’m romantic about it, but when I was a teenager I could get a hold of maybe one or two albums a month. I would make efforts to seek out what I was looking for, and sometimes it was challenging to get a hold of some music, and that made it feel like more of a passion. When I managed to get a hold of those albums I would really engage with them, enjoy the artwork and lyrics and listen to it many times over and let it sink in, I felt like it was more personal to me due to the lengths I would have to take to discover it. I think in the way that we enjoy music today, listeners can often pay less attention. And that can be a shame because you see some incredible stuff that seems to just pass people by, but of course there is no going back, and of course I do enjoy all the positives of having such a vast array of music readily available to me.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
Typically our lyrical themes are philosophical or esoteric, and because of this political or social concerns don’t tend to emerge too strongly in our output. That’s not say that we as individuals don’t have such passions, it’s just that we are expressing those outside of our artwork. We want to keep Necronautical very pure to its conceptual ideas. However, I would say that I feel a lot of the issues we face in today’s world are born of an overarching egoic and greedy mentality across the human populace, where long term improvements are forsaken for short term gain, and I do feel that we are very damning of that particular mentality through our work.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Since childhood I always enjoyed the sounds of distorted guitars, aggressive drumming and impressive instrumentation. Even as a young child I loved hearing my father’s favorite music; stuff like Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Pink Floyd. When I got into high school I met some other people (including our bass player) who were like minded and together we were discovering classic metal bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Pantera. As I grew older I continued to search for new extremes, and it wasn’t long before I was enjoying stuff like Nile and Morbid Angel, and then I discovered black metal bands like Emperor and Dissection, it’s been a passion ever since. I enjoy a lot of different genres these days, but metal will always be my first and strongest love. I don’t think it really came as “news” to my family as I think the inclination was there before I even understood it, and it was my father who first introduced me to Rock and Blues music. In any case, I don’t think they ever saw it as a negative thing, they’ve always been totally supportive, even if they don’t quite ‘get’ the black metal sounds I work with as a musician.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
We’ve been fortunate to always be well received by critics. Sometimes I feel like the responses can be a little reductive, I sometimes find critics are quick to make assumptions or comparisons based on “surface level” aspects of a band, like their image or band name, rather than engaging with the music itself and its content. But at the same time, that can give an artist a good reflection of the initial impression that they make, before someone delves deeper into what they do, and I do think that’s important. I think critics and media outlets play a vital role in getting music out there to new listeners, and I know that much like for the artists, many are doing it solely for the passion for the music, rather than for a living, and I think it’s very commendable to work for those reasons.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Our primary goal is to create the music that we love and to enjoy doing it, and we are doing just that. We love performing live, and some of our best experiences have been touring and travelling, performing our music, so I suppose in that respect, the ambition to invade a new continent is not completely preposterous. As far as starting a cult, there is a conceptual link there with what we’ve done lyrically on “Apotheosis,” so who knows what could follow!
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
As a listener I spend half my time checking out new stuff, and the rest revisiting old favorites. I’ve been enjoying some new releases from extreme metal bands in the UK, I’ve recently been enjoying new music from friends in the scene such as “Temporal” by Sidious, “All Pain as Penance” from Abduction, “A Fine Game of Nil” by Damim and “Devourer” by Skaldic Curse, which is an older album that has criminally just seen its first physical release. They’re all phenomenal albums. Heavy/Extreme metal classics are in constant rotation with me, and I’m always revisiting my all time favorites like Emperors “Nightside…” or Opeth’s “Still Life.” Newer bands I’ve been listening to a lot are Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Havukrunnu (who we are playing with in October), Uada and Wiegedood. Outside of metal, I’ve been listening to Drab Majesty, Fever Ray, Bjork, Funkadelic, Ludovico Einaudi… I like to listen to a lot of scores and soundtracks, too. Also as it’s summertime I’m playing a lot of stuff like old Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Frank Zappa and Boston in the car, I’m a big fan of that era in rock. A big mix all the time, really.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
We’re playing a headline set with songs from all three of our albums at Beermageddon Festival in Bromsgrove this month, beyond that we just have a few select shows to round off this year. We’ll be joining Sojourner and Havukruunu on the 11th of October in Manchester, and then we’ll be performing with A Forest of Stars at Nambucca in London on November 30th. We have some exciting stuff still to announce for 2020, including some international performances. We’re hoping to perform on a few festivals next year, as well as hopefully some touring. We’ve started making some demos for what will eventually become our next album as well.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Naut for his time!