Interview / Ggu:ll – Grumpy Existentialist Doom

Hey guys, how are you all doing?

We’re healthy and sane. Not much more you can wish for. 

How does it feel to finally get Ex Est out into the world?

It feels great! We’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. Due to different reasons the realisation of the album took a lot longer than expected. I think we’ve experienced some delay in almost every part of the process. But in the end, we are glad we can present our work. The response so far is overwhelming. It’s great to hear what people think and feel about our album. 

Tell me a little about the writing process for this record? Where were you all? What was different?

We wrote the music for Ex Est quite a long time ago. Right after releasing Dwaling, we started working on new ideas. Our writing process is slow and time-consuming. We write the songs as a collective, with ideas from the four of us. Then we play them over and over until we’re sure the song works. Most ideas end up thrown away though, so what you hear on the album is the small portion of ideas that passed the test.

It’s a diverse record, I can hear influences coming from noise and atmospheric black metal. What were you all listening to when you were writing the record? Was it a natural evolution for these new sounds to emerge in your music?

I guess the main difference with the first album is that we’ve broadened our horizons. We all listen to a great variety of music and these influences find their way into the music on a subconscious level. We never sit down and try to make this kind of song like that band. But we do recognise some elements of music we love. It ranges from a hardcore-like riff like Catharsis to a drumpattern in the vein of Bölzer. We like it when bands find new ways to convey emotions in the crowded spectrum of metal. Like the tormented misery of Bell Witch or the nihilistic aggression of Funeral Mist.

Tell me a little bit about the title Ex Est, my understanding is it roughly translates into “After Everything”, is that correct?

Yes almost, we meant it as After Being. All that is, will one day not be. It’s a realisation that can bring meaning or make everything meaningless. It causes a nihilistic worldview because in the end, nothing matters. But it can also urge you to fully make the most of things, because there is only this moment. Take this album we created. It has meaning now, for us and the people who connect to it. But it will be completely obsolete in the distant future. We’ve built a brand new ruin to be. As human beings we try to find meaning in this meaninglessness by realising what is important and acting accordingly. 

Can you give us a bit of an insight into the lyrics on this record? What ideas were you drawing from?

Actually not, because we don’t have any lyrics. We started out as an instrumental band until one day there was a microphone stand in the rehearsal room we were renting. William started screaming and we all felt it was a perfect addition to our sound. In some way we still make instrumental music because we use vocals as an extra layer of sound.

Because of the lack of lyrics, it can be a challenge to come up with a fitting song title. It’s a very personal feeling that comes with the music and any title can guide the listener in a certain direction. But the 7 titles that ended up on the record, all have a connection with the album title. Each of them explore a different aspect of the theme, without it becoming a concept album. 

For your UK listeners can you tell us a little bit about what the Netherlands scene is like? Who are the bands breaking out with you?

We are not the young guys trying to catch up with every new wave of something. We are just four men that intensely enjoy making miserable music and are quite good at it. We are not really part of any scene, but over the years we met a lot of like-minded musicians. In our hometown we have a group of close friends who support each other under the flag of Kwaadeind [evil end]. We love playing with Dutch bands such as Terzij de Horde, Dool, Verwoed, and many more. 

I believe you guys are based in the city of Tilburg? Does having the Roadburn festival come through every year give heavy music kind of a boost there?

Absolutely! It used to be the high mass of everything heavy and we visit the festival every year. It’s an amazing platform to discover great bands and we had the privilege of playing there twice. Recent years their interpretation of ‘heavy’ shifted away from our personal taste. But we’ll gladly play the role of grumpy old men claiming that everything used to be better. It’s still a great weekend with the most lovely people from all over the world coming to our little city to celebrate obscure and dark culture. 

What are your touring plans for the new album? Any visits planned for the UK?

There are no concrete plans, but we’d love to come to the UK. Our lives besides the band don’t really allow extensive touring. But being a member of the excellent Doomstar family, we hope to do some short weekend trips across Europe in the future.  

What’s next for you guys?

Enjoying the response to Ex Est. Play some good shows and cool festivals. There is a split EP coming out this spring with Terzij de Horde. We played Roadburn this year with them, where we presented two collaborative tracks. We’ve recorded these tracks and they will end up on vinyl through Consouling records. And we will probably need to get writing again on new material, being the sloths we are. 

Ex Est is out now and can be ordered here.

Words: Dan Cadwallader

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