Published in the March 2014 issue of Pure Metal Magazine
Interview conducted by Kamil Trombik
Pure Metal: I warmly welcome musicians from Minsk. I
am very pleased that you found some time for a few questions
from my side. At first I would like to know how things are
in Minsk. I was really shocked when I found out that Minsk
had suspended. It was in 2011. But you have returned a few
moths ago. And it’s one of the best news in this year.
But now tell me what was the reason of suspension of the
band in 2011? And how are you feeling being able to play
Tim: Thanks for your interest, Kamil. Thanks for the
kind words. It’s really great to be able to answer
some questions about Minsk. It feels incredible to be
playing together again and moving things forward once again.
As far as the suspension, we had basically just
reached a creative and personal impasse as far as certain
individual members go. It was getting harder and
harder to make things happen, and when we finally parted
ways with Anthony, we needed some time to reflect and to
decide what was next and whether continuing was possible and
was the right thing to do. We all had things going on
in our lives that needed some attention, and we had some
soul searching to do. Once the decision to continue
was made, it reopened that space and that joy of playing
Pure Metal: I know that Minsk played several concerts in
recent months (in the USA). But there is no news about new
studio album. Do you compose new songs? Is there a chance
that you will recording new album?
Chris: Yes, we have been composing new material for quite awhile now. Even during our hiatus, we were actively writing and conceptualizing new ideas for future Minsk endeavors. We are more separated geographically now than we once were, so a large part of the writing process has been an exercise in navigating a way to function cohesively. We have had no obligations to rush into recording a new record, so we have made a concerted effort to take our time in writing and fine tuning these new songs.
Aaron: The short tour you mentioned was a big part of that process. Feeling out these new songs in a live setting and being able to see the energy and response was definitely inspiring. Since then, we have been concentrating on finishing the bulk of the writing and we are currently working towards finishing demos for all the new material. Right now our plan is to be in the studio in early/midsummer. We are all very excited about whats coming in the very near future.
Pure Metal: Could you tell us a few things about the concept
of the album (if you are going to release new album)? Both
musical and lyrical?
Tim: We are still in the process of actually writing the new
album. The writing is going great, and we’re all
very excited about the new songs and what the new album will
become. We’ve been demo-ing new songs for the
album. It is, I think, too soon to wrap my head around
what it actually is, conceptually. No doubt there will
be strong themes of overcoming, growth through suffering,
and rediscovery, simply because we have always wanted Minsk
material to be a genuine reflection of where we are as
individuals and as a collective. Musically, I think
the new songs are definitely a continuation of where Minsk
left off as well as something entirely fresh and new.
Hopefully we’ll be able to take listeners on a
journey that captures the full extent of the human
experience, from the very deepest depths to the most
triumphant high’s. That seems to have always been
our goal, and there’s certainly no change there.
Pure Metal: Minsk have returned with a new line. Could you
tell us something about new members: Aaron Austin, Zachary
Livingston and Ryan Thomas?
Chris: Aaron actually joined us in 2010 and played one show with us before we took a break. He has been a close friend of the band for many years. Before becoming a permanent member, he accompanied us on several tours, helping out with everything from merchandise sales to guitar repair. I was fortunate to contribute bass on an EP for Aaron’s previous band Cloud Burial, so we have worked together extensively and seem to have an uncanny ability to communicate non-verbally through sound. Zach and Ryan were the driving forces behind We The Prey, a brutal buzzsaw of a band which featured Tim on vocals. When We The Prey dissolved, it coincided perfectly with Minsk needing to extend our musical family, so it made perfect sense to have them join us. Ryan has been a musical peer for many years, and his focused approach to drumming was an immediate fit for Minsk. Zach is an accomplished guitar player, and to see how he has applied his
knowledge and expertise to the bass, has been enlightening and exciting.
Aaron: Peoria is a small city, and we have all been involved musically for quite some time in various projects, so we seem to have a built in sense of what it means to approach our songs collectively and intuitively. We all grew up listening to and being heavily influenced by our musical peers within this general area, so our musical worldview has followed a consistent plane. This probably manifests itself more philosophically than in any specific musical genre. It is proof that the population of a town does not always dictate the amount of creative output.
Pure Metal: What’s about past members? Do you keep in
Tim: Anthony is doing well, still making music on his own
and painting. I am still in touch with him on
occasion, though his journey and ours have parted ways
dramatically. We really do wish him all the best,
despite the split. We are definitely in touch with and
involved with Sanford still, even though he’s not as
involved as he once was. As we said several months ago
when we ended our hiatus, Sanford will always be a member of
the Minsk tribe from a distance. He is doing lots of
other things as a producer and as a musician that fill up
his life, most recently European and US tours with the
awesome Corrections House. He did perform with us in
Chicago back in July, and we will most certainly be working
together with him when it comes time to record this new
album. As we’ve extended the Minsk family, it has
opened up many possibilities for differing levels of
participation. As we move forward, Sanford will
definitely be involved, even if he’s not on stage with
us every time.
Pure Metal: From what I know, the name “Minsk”
suggested Chris. The word is meaning (to you) strength,
endurance, rebirth. After returning this word acquires
particular importance, don’t you?
Chris: The history of the city of Minsk, with it being rebuilt from the ashes many times, was an initial source of inspiration for the band. This thread has remained throughout the years of us being a band. Those concepts you mention, strength, endurance, rebirth, all hold specific importance to us not just from a musical perspective, but in the journey of living here on this planet. The WILL to persevere, to create, to transcend, to die and be reborn; these threads resonate with us each and every day. Our hope is that we can somehow translate these ideals into sound in a way that can illustrate the connection between the macro and the micro. And yes, to be able to continue making music as Minsk, we feel an intimate connection to the concepts of rebirth and renewal. One cannot truly “live” without the acceptance of death playing an integral part in that process.
Pure Metal: It seems to me that Minsk is very specific band.
I think that music is very important for you but equally
important is the atmosphere in the team. You respect each
other and you have your own way of life, something like
philosophy. And finally you don’t care what others
think about you. Am I right?
Tim: I’m not sure that I understand the question
completely, but if you are pointing to something deeper
within the relationships of the members and our outlooks on
life, then yes, I think that is correct. I’ve
always liked to say that Minsk happens in that creative
space that is opened up when we as a group get together.
We do, indeed, have our own ways of life and
philosophies, and we respect each other a great deal.
There are ways of thinking and being in the world that
the other members possess that I do not, and that sharpening
of one another through creative sharing and collaboration is
something unique that I would miss tremendously if Minsk
wasn’t a part of my life. I feel so fortunate that
5 or 6 completely different individuals can come together in
a way that creates something deeper than the sum of all of
our parts, individually. That thing, that in between,
is what makes Minsk really special as far as I’m
Pure Metal: Let’s get to the music. It’s amazing
that after several years of recording you have created your
own sound. Generally in most reviews falls words like
„primary” etc. Primarily with “The Ritual
Fires of Abandonment” you have brought to the metal
music breath of fresh air. So what distinguishes Minsk from
the other bands in your opinion?
Chris: The words you used are words that we hope to try to invoke as we write and perform our songs. The element of trance is something that we desire when we listen to music for pleasure, but also connects music to something deeper within the human psyche. These are motifs which seem to evoke emotions not easily explained, but which are essential to those wanting to dig deeper. At least that is how we are able to translate such concepts. I have no clue what distinguishes Minsk from any band or anything else, other than the fact that we are individuals trying to translate the human condition into some sort of effective sound. We want to try to form some representation of the intangible and to remind ourselves and anyone who might listen that we are all beings full of curiosity and wonder.
Aaron: Throughout musical history, and possibly now more than ever, so many bands seem to exist simply to make songs and perform them. I think what distinguishes Minsk is a desire for something more, something deeper, and above all a willingness to seek illumination in the act of creation. I think it’s also important to recognize that there are many kindred spirits who similarly desire a deeper understanding of the self, of truth, and empowerment.
Pure Metal: In the past you had recorded cover-songs. You
had made “Stand For The Fire Demon” (from the
great album “Evil One”), then you covered
Eyehategods (“Ruptured Heart Theory”) and the
last you made over three songs of old Hawkwind’s
collection (“Seven by Seven”, “Assault And
Battery”, „Children of The Sun”) which
have been issued on “Hawkwind Triad”. Are you
going to record some covers in the future? And why did you
change the title of “Assault And Battery”?
Tim: We don’t have any current plans for any more
covers, but it’s certainly a possibility that we’d
do more if the right situation presented itself. We
always have fun joking around about what songs we’d
eventually love to cover. Doing the covers has always
been enjoyable because we get to work together on something
that is altogether different from our normal process.
I think that I learned something every time we did a
cover, whether it was learning about how other bands write
songs through reverse engineering them so we could actually
play them, or having to think “how in the world did he
sing like that?” As for the Hawkwind song, we
didn’t actually change the title of “Assault and
Battery.” Our recording on The Triad is actually
two of their songs, that one and “The Golden
Void” run together, hence the title.
Pure Metal: I admit that I love songs like “Wisp of
Tow” or “The Orphans of Piety”. Are you
going to resume cooperation with Bruce Lamont? And what are
you thinking about his new project Bloodiest? Have you ever
listened to “Descent”?
Chris: Bruce has always been considered a part of the Minsk family, and I don’t see that changing. We will always welcome his contribution if it fits, and he/we are happy with the results. He understands what we do, and what we want to convey through our music. I think Bloodiest are a great band and seeing them in a live setting is quite an impressive spectacle of sound. “Descent” is a great record for sure. The record really made a bigger impact on me personally when I was able to see them perform it live for the first time.
Pure Metal: You’ve played in Poland in 2009 at the
Asymmetry Festival. Do you remember that concert? Do you
have any memories of that performance?
Tim: Yes, we definitely remember that performance. The
Asymmetry Festival was awesome. I remember a very
enthusiastic crowd, very supportive of us. I remember
feeling pretty overwhelmed that we were the farthest from
home we’d ever been at that time and yet being able to
connect with so many like-minded people and so many fans of
the band. I remember that Wroclaw was an incredibly
intriguing city, and seeing a huge banner promoting the
festival in the main city square was surreal.
Something like that would never happen for an event of
that nature in the US. We’d love to play Asymmetry
again in the future.
Pure Metal: Any chance of coming to Poland?
Chris: Absolutely. Minsk has only played one show in Poland so far, but the friendships we made from that one show are astounding. The way that we were able to connect with people really made an impression on us. Next time we are in that section of the world we will undoubtedly spend much more time. I have met and now correspond with some brilliant and inspiring people from Poland, and I feel a kinship which defies my ability to explain it properly. So yes, we are very much looking forward to being there again.
Pure Metal: Which bands or albums made the biggest
impression on you last months? Did you listen to new
materials of Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Swans, Nick Cave? Or
maybe Wolvserpent? This band messed up in my head
Tim: You mentioned many of the great ones already in the
question. I’ve also been listening to great albums
from Grails, Kowloon Walled City, Wizard Rifle, Goat, Yob,
The Body, and Men of Fortune.
Aaron: I’ve been pretty blown away by the recent albums from Junius, Constants, Jakob, Longwave, the Black Angels, and Alcest. The stuff you mentioned is fantastic too. The new Mark Kozelek/Jimmy Lavalle album and the new Appleseed Cast has also been on heavy rotation. Hammock and Stars of the Lid have been somewhat of a daily meditation for me as well.
Chris: Anytitme a new Neurosis or Swans record is released then I am personally full on into it. And really that goes for Nick Cave as well. I was very impressed with the Wolvserpent-“Perigea Antahkarana” record. There are so many textures within that album. I think The Ruins Of Beverast-Blood Vaults album is incredible. Probably at the top of my list. Carcass releasing a new album was a highlight for 2013 as well. Also, I can’t get enough of the new Indian album, “From All Purity”. It is such an oppressively beautiful record. We live in a time when there are so many mind-blowing bands that it makes my head spin.
Pure Metal: I am a big fan o books. Maybe is there a book or
author whom you particularly recommended reading?
Tim: Read the classics. Read the obscure, the
occulted. Read the books that “they”
don’t want you to read. Free your mind and free
yourself. Books are freedom.
Chris: I think Tim summed up this question perfectly. We could base a whole conversation solely on inspiring pieces of literature. Henry David Thoreau, Henry Miller, Lysander Spooner, and Robert Green Ingersoll are some writers from this part of the world who have been inspirational to me. I would also re-iterate Tim’s point; books are the necessary tool on the path of the great work.
Pure Metal: Hmm, that’s all. I thank you for your
time! Minsk has many fans in Poland. Any last words for
Tim: I’d just like to say thank you to all of our Polish
fans that have been so supportive of us over the years, and
who have been so patiently waiting for us to get another
album completed and get back over there. We read your
e-mails and comments online, and they always inspire us to
keep moving forward. Hopefully we’ll get to see
you all in person again soon!
Chris: Thank you for the interview. We really appreciate all of the support and encouraging words. We will see you soon.