It was the year 2007 when The Flight Of Sleipnir was given birth and since then, they've never stopped producing majestic tunes. Their third full length album, Essence Of Nine, was released a few months ago through Eyes Like Snow and is something to behold if you -like me, consider yourself a fan of heavy music. That being said, I thought that an interview with the band would be really interesting -and I was right. Clayton Cushman, who's one of the two founding members of the band -his other band-half being David Csicsely, was happy to share some of his thoughts on their newest album and the band in general, with Phantasmagoria.
First of all congratulations on the Essence Of Nine album. It really is majestic.
-Thank you, I really appreciate it
The majority of the reviews i've read about it, are truly positive. Did you expect this reaction from the press and the fans alike, and how you feel about it?
-We never really know how people are going to react to an album-- especially since we got a pretty strong reaction to the previous one (LORE). Of course, as artists you always want a good reaction to your work, but often that is not the case. I try not to let reviews affect my perception of the band, but it never hurts when people are enjoying the album enough to make a statement in public about it!
As far as i know, you're deeply into Scandinavian mythology. So, is there any specific lyrical concept on Essence Of Nine and is there any "hidden message" in the title of the album?
-There is no "hidden message" but there is a loose theme surrounding the songs on that album. This album was approached from a standpoint rooted more in the sonics and the imagery instead of a lyrical concept. However, you will find that each song has a reference to water, the ocean, and the various deities that played a part in some of those stories.
The flow of the album is something that deserves special praise and although, it sounds a bit mellower to me, i think that the musical content of it is pretty intense. What are your thoughts on that?
-I think that the album is just as "intense" as previous ones, just in a different way. Just like our other albums, it's a snapshot of where the band is musically and sonically at that given point in time. We certainly didn't decide that we wanted to make a "mellow" album, we just let it form naturally.
Would you please provide us with some info about the production of the album and about the writing process of it? Where did the recordings took place and how your songs are given birth?
-The recording is largely done by myself with David assisting. I usually do all of the mixing and mastering. We record in a studio that we assembled in his basement. Our writing process basically is stemmed from one or more of the following scenarios: sometimes we get together with acoustic guitars, sit down and piece together songs, sometimes we go downstairs and work at full volume with myself at the guitar and David on drums, and sometimes David or I will show up with a song we’ve written on our own and proceed to arrange it together.
The only things i know about the artwork is that firstly, it's for one more time, astonishing and secondly, you guys are responsible for its creation. Any further info about it would be extremely welcome. Lastly, are you willing to do artwork for an other band or project?
-David is the man responsible for all of the artwork and layout. Sometimes he asks me for opinions but it is 99.9% him in the end. He has done some artwork for other projects, and I think he works on a case by case basis.
The album was out on Eyes Like Snow if i'm not mistaken. Are you happy with them and is there any contract in force between you and them for more releases?
-We are very pleased with Eyes Like Snow's releases, especially the vinyl. As for the next release I cannot discuss anything at the moment, but we will post updates on the website when we get them.
This year, you've also released a three way split with Apostle Of Solitude and Rituals Of The Oak. Splits may not be something rare these days, but still, this one includes three bands, and that makes it a bit more unusual and interesting. Anyway, can you give us some info about the two songs of yours in it? And what's your opinion on the other band's songs?
-We were approached with the offer to be on the split right when we were trying to finish Essence of Nine. Originally, David was just going to do the artwork for the split, but someone else involved suggested that we throw some tracks on there as well. David and I basically came up with one song each, recorded them in about 2-3 weeks and then sent them out. I enjoy the other band's tunes and I think that what makes the split work as a whole is the diversity of sound between us all.
Your lyrical and artwork aesthetics, are clearly inspired by the Scandinavian mythology, so i think it would be interesting if you name some of your musical influences.
-My personal influences are bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Borknagar-- I like some ambient music as well, and heavy metal in general.
Your music can not be easily labeled. So, which genres you think that it might suit your tunes?
-I think the phrase "Psychedelic Metal" fits us well. A lot of people label us as a doom band, or a stoner band, or a viking band, and while we have some elements of those things, I don't really consider it as such. It's all really in the ear of the listener though, who cares what I think!
The band was created 3 years ago. I know the two of you have been previously working together in the same bands but how did it all started? What's the reason that lead you to form another band?
-We just wanted to do something where we could both write music unrestricted by previous expectations. The other bands were becoming stagnant in one way or another. Don't get me wrong-- there are very talented people in our circle, and we still employ them to help us recreate our music live. We will always support our former bandmates and their projects- some of which have turned out great.
The Scandinavian influences are recognisable not only in your lyrics but from the name of the band as well. Is this -the Scandinavian avocation, something unswerving?
-That's a hard question to answer, since you never know what may happen in the future. Basically: yes, we are a Scandinavian themed band, but we do take a lot of artistic liberty with the source material, and I personally try to find ways to tie it into other subjects or themes.
In the short time that The Flight Of Sleipnir exist, the band have been quiet active in the studio. Are you planing to keep it this way? If yes, you're not afraid of repetitiveness?
-We are definitely more of a studio band than anything else. However, playing live is important and we always try to make an effort to play out several times a year. As for repetitiveness--- I certainly don't feel that way about what we do, in fact I enjoy working in the studio a great degree. It's much less stressful than rehearsal.
Considering that, your not perfoming live so often, i think that you're considered an underground band from the majority of people digging this kind of music. Is that something (the underground status) that concerns you?
-Not really. And that's certainly not something that I could have any degree of control over-- we'll just continue to make music and proceed down our own path.
You're more of a studio band, but you don't completely reject live shows. I can understand, that since the band contains only two permanent members, it's not so easy to play gigs, but are you planning any kind of extensive touring (in the U.S. and/or Europe)?
-There will come a time when we can play out more, but there are a lot of factors involved in organizing session musicians as well as other commitments that would make touring full time an undertaking that would require careful planning.
The musicians you hire for live shows, are always the same persons or not? Is there any thoughts of the band stop being a two-man business or not -and why?
-The three people that currently play with us: Dave Borrusch, Justin Siegler, and Peter Slivkanch, have been playing with us more or less since we started playing live. Justin and Dave used to play with David and I in Acheronian Dirge, and Peter's been with us for almost two years, so there is a lot of familiarity which makes things easier in some respects. As for the studio, it will always be the two-man band for the simple reason that it is working well and I don't feel the need to change that.
How do you feel about the band's existance and achievements until now? Were your targets reached or not yet?
-We have been pleasantly surprised with how things have unfolded so far. We are always looking forward, however, and when a target or goal is met we set out to create another one.
What are your plans for the forseeable future? Shall we expect a new album in 2012?
-We are still in the recording process for our next album. We are hoping to have it released in 2012, probably near the beginning of the year. We’ll see what happens.
What are your long-term plans in general and your ambitions regarding the band?
-My long term plan is to continue creating music, and find our way outside of the United States to play some shows abroad. My ambitions are limitless, but we'll take it one step at a time.
Thank you very much for this interview and once more, congratulations on your great works. The epilogue is yours.
-Thank you for your interest and support!
"It reaches beyond the grasp of man
Stretching further than a mortal’s glance
No wisdom will see its final day
For it ends when time began"