(L to R) Atom Bouris (guitar), Eric Eiden (synths, guitar), Kasey Marcusky (drums), Erin Gruwell (guitar), Caleb Jarzemkoski (bass)
This is a band who's CD I reviewed for WSIA. Upon listening to the music I knew it was a band that I needed to talk to. I looked them up, found an email, and it was simple as that. The drummer Kasey responded to me, and we were on our way. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I did on that first time listening. Look for this article in an upcoming issue of Broken Records Magazine.
(Listen to the album while you read)
Who is Ninth Moon Black, and how did you all get together?
We are a five piece progressive metal band from the Pacific north west: Erin Gruwell on guitar, Caleb Jarzemkoski on bass, Kasey Marcusky on drums, Eric Eiden on synths and guitar, and Atom Bouris on guitar.
Erin and Caleb met while playing in Ahisma and fuckgodintheface, and had always talked about starting a band together. Erin began composing music for NMB on an 8-track recorder, eventually leading to a three piece band. From there keys and a second guitar were added and we now have a band of solid, committed musicians. Where did you get the name of the band from?
Erin was on a country drive and the words just came to him.
Why not have a vocalist? Did you ever, will you ever?
We enjoy letting the music speak for itself. Without a vocalist the listener is able to take away an individual experience. It also gives us a wider platform for creating melodies and soundscapes, which we are all drawn to. Though we sometimes suggest themes for the music with vocal samples, we will never have a traditional front person or singer.
I read that you guys are big on visuals during the live performance. How do you come up with these visuals and concepts?
Erin and Caleb were into the idea of having a visual backdrop for live performances and created black and white video to accompany NMB’s set. The intention of the images were not so much to make a statement, but rather to evoke emotions as well as accent the music. As well as our DIY video, we also show experimental films such as Begotten, Decasia and Man with a Movie Camera.
For people who don't get it, how does Kalyug flow and feel like a concept album? What's the story?
The music coincides with the themes brought up in the vocal samples and track titles; the heavier, more disjointed song first and the more emotional song last. There’s no cut and dry story, that is up to the listener.
Who's voice is sampled over the music, and what do the song titles mean?
The samples on the album were provided by an author/philosopher named Michael Cremo. Our artist, Helder Pedro, created the album art with Michael’s samples and the track titles in mind. Two of the song titles are taken from the Hindu scriptures Michael references in the opening track, Harbinger. Kalyug refers to the age of destruction; and Causatum, the aftermath. Satya Yuga is the age of truth and purity and represents a new beginning.
How does the crowd react to a vocal-less band?
Some people have a difficult time wrapping their head around it but mostly they are open, especially when they have visuals to take in.
How does the writing process work, and does it go hand in hand with the concepts? We all understand what the band is about. This makes the writing process really open, and allows us to keep our sound as a band coherent while incorporating a lot of different styles. In the past we wrote the music first then found a concept that fit the mood of the piece. However, we are currently working on a record for which the theme came first, thus creating a more focused musical composition.
What's NMB's biggest rock star moment? Biggest failure moment? Signing autographs for some seven year olds outside of an In’N’Out Burger was super rad. We were also fortunate enough to open a slew of west coast dates for Wolves In The Throne Room and Minsk, both really great bands as well as people. That tour gave us the opportunity to play for some large crowds in classic venues. As for biggest failure…? Booking a tour while mercury was in retrograde. Our friends in a band called Blckws were flying over from Germany to join us for the tour and were deported the moment they set foot in the US because they did not have work visas to play a couple of five dollar shows. They were treated like terrorists. Much to our dismay we pressed on without them only to have endless troubles with our van. Midway through the tour mercury went out of retrograde and all the van issues magically stopped. It was very bizarre.
What are the long term aspirations for the band and where do you plan to be in 5 years? We’d like to make a film and score the soundtrack for it. Touring for a project like that would be amazing. Ideally we’d book in old, independent movie theaters and perform the soundtrack live. In five years we’ll still be doing the same thing we are now, recording and touring. We’re always progressing, and have talked about incorporating other instruments, but who knows what we’ll sound like in five years?
Is Ninth Moon Black part of a collective group of other bands and artists, and do you work to promote something bigger than music? It’s not that we’re part of a collective so much as the scene in Eugene is very tight, with all of us doing what we can to make good promotion and shows happen for everyone. Eugene is a small city, therefore we strongly rely on and support the heavy music bands in town.
As for something bigger, we all have our worldviews but would prefer not to use the music as a platform for our beliefs.
Anything else you want to add?
For anyone who would like to check out Kalyug, you can download it for free at our Bandcamp site: