, 2011. gada 23. janvārī, plkst. 22:35
Ferrum.lt pārstāvja Odiumas saruna ar Fen līderi Frenku Alleinu (angļu val.)

1. What is there so special about the marshes and wetlands that they influence you so much? Even the band name is also related with these objects?
Quite simply, it is where I grew up and I think that the landscape that surrounds you during your formative years has a profound impact on your character. The Fens are very bleak and carry a sense of despondent reflection and as an isolated, lonely teenager they came to symbolize a lot of what I felt internally. Therefore, these landscapes have become the perfect metaphor for an internal landscape – the external representing the internal if you will.

2. FEN’s style is described as the mix of Post Rock and Atmospheric Black Metal. Where do you personally see your band – among harder Post Rock, or among wider range of BM bands? Does such placing is any important for you?
I think we are first and foremost an atmospheric metal band. We are rooted in black metal as this is the genre that has traditionally placed a great deal of emphasis on atmosphere but it is not important for me to be considered a ‘traditional’ black metal band. Genre descriptions are simply a straightforward means to enable the uninitiated to obtain a foothold into how a band sounds so I don’t mind such labels. I think it would be somewhat naïve and/or presumptive of us to call our selves an ‘out-and-out’ post-rock band though. This is a very wide-ranging genre and whilst we certainly draw influence and inspiration from some aspects of this music, it would be a little disingenuous to claim this as our predominant style.

3. Correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the main topics in your lyrics is nostalgia. You usually speak about the past things, something that were earlier, the history, etc. Why is this so important for you? In general, I believe that today’s Black Metal, realized in DSBM, Post Rock/Black Metal, or Shoegaze/Black Metal styles is very much influenced and created on the basics of nostalgia. What's your opinion regarding this question?
It isn’t really nostalgia so much as reflection. Nostalgia suggests a yearning for the past whereas our lyrics tend to focus on a more general, all-encompassing reflection on oneself, one’s existence and the nature of reality. History and older times are used as a springboard for this reflection, as part of the analysis into one’s origins and the origins of where we find ourselves now.

It is difficult to answer specifically with regards to the lyrics – each song fundamentally tends to deal with a particular facet of existence from a personal point of view – but these stories are told through metaphors of landscape and through comparison/analogy with events throughout history. Carrier of Echoes for example addresses the profound impact that events earlier within an individual’s life can carry throughout the rest of their existence but told through the imagery of ancient souls that dwell within the gaps between realities – the shades of ancient, extinct and unknown civilizations whose presence still pervades the present. At the risk of sounding pretentious, there is a very definite duality to our lyrical themes.

4. Personal question – what kind of music are you into as a listener ? Do you listen much of music ? Is there any connection between your personal taste and music of FEN ?
Of course, I listen to a great deal of music as it is the fundamental aspect of my life. My tastes can vary considerably depending on my mood, time of year and so on. I enjoy a lot of different types of metal music – black/death metal, classic metal, thrash, doom, e.t.c. – as well as classic rock, prog, neo-folk, post-rock, ambient, electronic stuff, classical, all sorts of things. The music I listen to will undeniably have an influence on what I am writing for Fen – if not directly but certainly in terms of the atmospheres inspired by the soundscapes therein.

Just recently I have been listening to lots of The Future Sound of London and Black Dog stuff, really dark, layered and melancholic electronica. This has been the perfect soundtrack to the gloom of the wintry city and is certainly having a profound effect on the ambiences I wish to create.

5. In your MySpace profile we can see ALCEST, AMESOEURS, NEGURA BUNGET, AGALLOCH and other bands as your top friends. Strangely or not, but these are the names that FEN is often compared to. How do you feel being compared with those projects? I personally think that ALCEST, together FEN, we one of the first bands, who started to mix Post Rock and Shoegaze music with Black Metal. Is there any truth in this statement ?
For me, it is an honour to be mentioned alongside these acts as they are all artists I have a great deal of respect for. Having met the members of these bands on several occasions, it is apparent that musically and atmospherically we are all drawing from similar wellsprings, sharing influences from a variety of fundamental sources – in this, the similarity between what we are doing is undeniable. Nevertheless, I think all of these bands are distinctly individual and have given their take on this approach a unique character of their own. They are without a doubt the leaders of their field.

As for ourselves and Alcest being amongst the first to bring shoegaze and post-rock into black metal, it is hard to say. When we formed in 2006, we made a conscious decision to incorporate these atmospherics into black metal as we felt it was a logical development of the more reflective side of the genre – however, speaking personally, I think that bands such as Ved Buens Ende, Fleurety and Beyond Dawn pre-dated us both by about ten years – they perhaps delivered a more avant-garde approach (and it was this that captured the headlines) but to these ears, there’s plenty of shoegazey and post-rock elements in what they were doing quite some time ago.

6. As far as I know, your performance in “Trejos Šešerios” festival will be your first live appearance behind the borders of UK, right ? How do you feel about it? Is it important for you that your first live in foreign country is not in such huge Metal markets, like France, Germany, but in some kind of a small Eastern European country?
Actually, I’m not sure where you gathered this information from as we have played in Europe several times previously! We played a show with Agalloch in Belgium in 2008 and did a two week tour with Negura Bunget earlier this year which took in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

Nevertheless, we are all very excited to head to Lithuania – I have never been before so it will be interesting to head to a completely new place and share our music with a totally fresh audience. It is incredibly satisfying to travel to a country you have never played before and meet people who know your music, I never fail to find this a humbling experience. Indeed, our goal for 2011 is to play abroad as much as possible – having played plenty of gigs here in England, we really want to head to Europe (and then onto the rest of the world). Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain and Greece are all places we really want to travel to, as well as the US.

7. It is said that FEN was initially intended to stay just as a studio project. But the decision was different. What has changed so dramatically that FEN became a full time band?
We just decided it was something we wanted to do. The three founder members of Fen (myself, Grungyn and Theutus) had all played in bands before and were feeling somewhat jaded of the – often quite claustrophobic and disappointing – underground metal scene. We had tired of playing the same old venues to the same old faces and felt we had lost sight of why we had decided to play music in the first place.

Therefore, Fen was formed as a way of the three of us to just jam out some ideas, create and atmosphere and forge material free from the external pressures of playing gigs, getting an audience and so on. It was only when we passed our first demo to a handful of close friends that people started to make noises about us playing live. At this point, the music was coming together so well in the rehearsal room and we were feeling confident, we thought ‘why not’? This coincided with people starting to take interest in the music we were making so it felt like a natural progression to start playing live shows.

8. Coming back to the past – if I’m not mistaking, Frank, you are now aproximately 30 years old. And we know that FEN as a project is very young – counting just a few years of history. It’s curious about your prior FEN activity ? Where you creating music back then ? Participating in some bands or projects ? Or maybe you learned to ...
, 2011. gada 23. janvārī, plkst. 22:36
8. Coming back to the past – if I’m not mistaking, Frank, you are now aproximately 30 years old. And we know that FEN as a project is very young – counting just a few years of history. It’s curious about your prior FEN activity ? Where you creating music back then ? Participating in some bands or projects ? Or maybe you learned to play guitar at age 25 only ? 
Hah, if only – then I would have an excuse for my guitar-playing clumsiness! I have been making music for 15-16 years now and it is true that Fen it its current guise has only been in existence for 4 or 5 years. However, myself and Grungyn have been making music together since 1996 and one could argue that the first genesis of Fen began all of those years ago. Indeed, we did briefly dabble in a project of that name. Since then, I have played (and in some cases, still do play) in a variety of bands. I have always had an overwhelming creative drive and the compulsion to create music is the focus of my life. There are so many facets of musical creativity I wish to explore and for me to channel this all into one outlet would create chaos – therefore, to fully satisfy each aspect of my being, it is necessary to be involved with a number of projects, bands and sonic outlets. This is predominantly extreme metal but I have also recently been experimenting with some acoustic/ambient solo material as well as creating atmospheric electronica.

9. Tell us some words about your upcoming new album "Epoch". How it would be different from your debut "The Malediction Fields". After all, you've been working on it for almost two years... Maybe there will be a chance to buy it already on the 28th of January, at "Trejos Šešerios" festival?

For me, ‘Epoch’ represents a real journey for both ourselves as a band and me as an individual. We have worked very hard on this material – composition, rehearsing, recording and performance-wise – and I personally think that the results have paid off. This is without a doubt the most accomplished musical release I have been involved with. It has really fulfilled my expectations for what we set out to achieve with the album – it is darker, more involved, denser and has more of an introspective, reflective ambience.

It is very important for me that each record we create has its own identifiable character and I think we have achieved this on the latest record. ‘The Malediction Fields’, whilst it certainly had dark moments, also contains moments of triumph, exultation and strength. ‘Epoch’ is conceptually more somber and musically at once bleaker and more involved.

Unfortunately, ‘Epoch’ is not due to be officially released until the 11th February so it is unlikely that we will have any copies for sale at the festival.

10. Your band is counting just five years of existing, but you have already been playing and touring with Agalloch, Skyforger and Negura Bunget, and other bands. What does it give for FEN to be alongside such musicians? What is your general opinion about the live performances? Do you admire to play in front of big crowds?
It is always an honour when we share stages with bands who we respect as artists, that goes without saying. Whilst live shows can be stressful experiences, very tiring and involve a great deal of expense/organization, few things in life are better than playing a good set in front of an appreciative audience. Like any band, we have played some poorly attended shows or there have been gigs when we haven’t played particularly well – however, these pale into insignificance compared to the gigs where the atmosphere has been right. The two gigs we have played with Agalloch were awesome experiences and some of the shows we played on our tour earlier this year were quite emotional experiences. We are really hoping this is something we can do more of in the next year – fingers crossed, Lithuania will be up there with our most special performances!

11. Standard question about your upcoming show in Vilnius – what is the first thing, that comes to your head, when you hear country name Lithuania ?
Cold! I have never been to Lithuania before but I have it on good authority that it is likely to be somewhat chilly in January… In terms of extreme metal, my knowledge is a little thin. I am aware of Ledo Takas records and have heard several releases by Dissimulation which I quite enjoyed. Other than that, I really do not know what to expect. I am looking forward to being surprised!


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