Machine Music's Albums of the Decade: An Interview with Wolves in the Throne Room
This is the 27th installment of the Albums of the Decade series of interviews. For the rest of the series go HERE.]
Artist: Wolves in the Throne Room
Album: Celestial Lineage
Label: Southern Lord Recordings
Favorite Song: "Astral Blood"
The Bare Bones: Celestial Lineage is the fourth full length by American black metal pioneers Wolves in the Throne Room, founded by brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver, and representing the culmination of a trilogy that began with 2007's Two Hunters.
The Beating Heart: Celestial Lineage is not only a masterpiece of modern black metal and a milestone in the further development of American black metal, it is, perhaps more than any other contemporary work of black metal, that point where the melodic melancholy of so-called Cascadian black metal met with the grandoise fierceness of the American post-rock and post-metal tradition. Injecting miles of evergreen space into its already finely honed brand of black metal, Celestial Lineage was an artistic statement not only of a time and style but of a place, incorporating atmospheric, electronic, and sung elements that echo the wide expanses of their American Northwest breeding ground. It also boasts some fascinating collaborations, including chants by ISIS's Aaron Turner (another member of the Albums of the Decade club), along with Turner's longtime partner and collaborator, Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia, vocalist Jessika Kenney, and many others.
Interestingly in terms of this interview series, this interview with Aaron Weaver came about a week following the interview with Cobalt's Erik Wunder some months ago, that latter fortuitously published in as the previous Albums of the Decade installment. I mention this since the proximity of these two conversations and some of the themes discussed in both contributed greatly to my ongoing interest in American black metal, one that has at least for the time being manifested in the article I posted a few weeks back regarding the American metal scene in the previous decade, 2010-2019.
Before proceeding to my conversation with Aaron I would like, as always, to encourage you to read the rest of this ongoing interview project, which will be running until the end of the year (and probably spilling into the beginning of 2020), with a lot more exciting conversations to be published. You can follow us on any one of our social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Spotify) and also, if so inclined, support us on Patreon. My aim has been to use whatever support we can get to produce interviews like these, focusing on the art and life of that art, as well as other projects supporting our local scene, such as our compilation MILIM KASHOT VOL. 1 of amazing local black metal, death metal, grindcore, folk, and more. To the interview. Enjoy!
Can you remember a moment when you were a kid, or a teenager, sometime around that period in your life, where you encountered a song or an album that changed how you thought about music, a watershed moment? Can you remember something like that?
Yeah. There's a local university, it's kind of a hippie school close to where we live, and they had a radio station and every year they would sell extra CDs and LPs. And I was going through a box – I must have been maybe a senior in high school, so I'm 17 years old – and flipping through one of the boxes I came across first Emperor record.
I had friends who are into black metal, and even in the mid 90s they were just a very few very underground people in the northwest who were doing black metal at the same time as it was happening in Norway. But, those people were living out in the woods, and they were really extreme, super underground people that I would only just catch glimpses of sometimes. And so I never had any access to any recorded material, and just a notion of this big misty thing happening somewhere else that I had heard glimpses of. So this was the first physical object I encountered. I remember just being really struck by it, it looked completely unlike anything else that I've seen, in terms of metal. At that time I was super into stuff like Deicide and Morbid Angel and then thrash metal like Metallica, Slayer and that kind of thing, but In the Nightside Eclipse had this quality to it, a magical quality or kind of a shimmering quality, that felt unlike anything else I've ever heard. It really stuck with me and always there in the background. And then a few years later we started Wolves in the Throne Room, and that was the first time we're really touched into that current, and I’ve kind of been dealing with it ever since .
Dealing with what? With the with the aftereffect of listening to that?
Yeah, it's a weird music, you know? It opens up to a very strange space, emotionally, and psychologically, and spiritually, that’s not easy to deal with. It’s dark and tricky realm. And I'm grateful for it, it's been very fruitful.
Yeah, it's interesting because Emperor has a very kind of unique position in the general thinking of black metal I think, and also, maybe and it's possible effect about American black metal, but which we can get to a bit later when we talk about that. I think a lot of people's conception of black metal, for better or worse, is that it's an aesthetic of making music that is about about downsizing, about going back, about reverting, and all these kinds of words. And there's very little about downscaling that has to do with Emperor, it's maximalist music. It, maybe even indulges in its own maximalism.
Very, yeah. It’s very grandiose.
Very much so, even more so as they incorporated more and more keyboards later on. And I'm struck by this opposition: on the one hand, black metal, and you guys, I think, represent that ideal well, is about the natural world, and rejecting the artifice of modernity, to be simplistic about it. But on the other hand here comes this band that is really celebrating its own artifice in a way, and producing a very wrought kind of music. So, I guess my question would be: Do you see that as an opposition, the kind of desire to talk about nature to be in nature, and at the same time, make very grandiose musical statements?
No, I don't think so. So many of those feelings that you get through black metal music are very grand feelings. It's not necessarily the feeling of a peaceful meadow, it's the feeling of a storm on the top of a mountain. And those feelings do feel very grand and very epic. And another thing that I'll say is that black metal very explicitly communicates with the spirit world, it communicates with spirits and the mythology of those original Norwegian bands, of troll or the fairies, the gnomes and sprites or spirits, whatever the local name is for those otherworldly creatures. Black metal connects to that world, in some way. Whether it’s imaginary, storytelling, or real in some sense is not a very interesting or important question to me. But a lot of the spirits that one encounters in dreams or in deep creative states are very grand creatures, are terrifying creatures, are awe-inspiring, like gods and demons. And black metal very explicitly is allowed to go there in a way that one could not with regular rock and roll music. Black metal is extreme in the jump off the deep end into this world of fantasy and imagination and dreams and to a certain degree madness or insanity in a way that is really unique in music.
A lot has been made in music about authenticity, and perhaps black metal is one of those genres in which that discussion is being held, but I think it's others as well. This idea of authenticity as very important, the expression of an authentic state of mind or state of being. And so I guess what comes from what you're saying is that there's a possibility that there is a way of being authentic that isn't being anchored by physical existence. That you can be authentic by tapping into what you are calling the spirit world, in a way.
Yeah, or at least authentically projecting the story that you are. I don’t know, I’ve always thought that it was funny that black metal and West Coast gangster rap appeared at the same time. They have a lot in common, I think. So much of it is “How well one can posture?” or “How well can one weave an illusion of authenticity?” That’s the craft, that’s the art of it. And no one really wants to look at the man behind the curtain. And in my experience, in meeting all of these people that make the music, it’s a mix. With some people it's very much a theatrical presentation, and there's definitely other people who are deeply in it and are possessed, and for whom it's not an act at all. It's even beyond being authentic or inauthentic, it’s just coming from a very deep wellspring. But to the listener, it's all the same. It doesn't really matter what the experience of the creator is. You put on a piece of music and it becomes your own, and it becomes about your own interaction with that artefact.
I mean, that is obviously true. One of my favorite poems, is “Open House” by Theodore Roethke. And in one of the lines there, and I'm going to botch this, but something like “with nakedness, my shield.” This idea that no matter how much you think you expose in your art, no one is going to see you exposed, they're going to see themselves. And so there is that idea that there is no need to even have the discussion of whether or not this is an expression of authentic creation and so on and so forth. But I would qualify that by saying that it does seem that there are kinds of artists for which the artifice is a conscious exercise. You understand what I'm saying?
Yeah, but maybe give me some more clarification.
So, I can imagine a gangsta rapper, who when he stepped into the studio or walks on stage, is living a persona. And once he steps off that stage, that persona ceases to be and that's not a problem for him, because he knows that's the profession, that's the job, to act like something you're not. I always think about that in metal terms of the moment in which you watch the corpse paint in the sink, right? That moment of: “What is happening here?” and for some people what's happening there is just, you know, work. But I think that for some artists artifice is a very interesting concept, one that they can’t easily separate from real life to art, that they in a way, build through who they are in real life through their art, and vice versa. Does that make sense?
Oh, yeah, I definitely identify with that. There’s definitely artifice in Wolves in the Throne Room that made me into the real-life person that I am.
How? Or, in what way?
You know, the music is a tool to dig deeper into one's own inner self, the place where dreams come from. There's just a lot in there and it is absolutely the case that the process of going on a stage and assuming a persona to a certain degree.opens up who you really are. And then you know those two selves, which influence each other and switch places sometimes, and transform. I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 41, and I'm able to look back over a certain amount of life and look at my old self and be like: “Fuck, man, I don't even know who that person was.”
You’re talking about your own self in music or your own self from memories and pictures and things like that?
In both, yeah, just in listening to old records, or looking at old pictures, or even just thinking back to memories, having these memories of being so sure about: “Oh, yeah, this is who I am.” And as I get older, it just becomes more and more clear that there is no fixed self and that the distinction between the persona on stage and the real person is malleable. And also that we have some power and agency to choose.
I mean, I'm talking from personal experience and to answer your questions, I'm 38. So that transitioning from a person who has at least the illusion of having a fixed sense of self, to a person who is able to look at what you're calling “malleability,” or a constant change in flux of the self as a kind of wellspring of artistic potential, there's something in the middle there that at least I experienced as a crisis. Because it didn't feel, not to me at least, like: “Cool, this is a game. I can be who I want to be. I can switch,” right? The stage before that was: “Oh shit, I’m not who I thought I was.” So I guess I’m asking did you recognize that switch and would be interesting for me to ask whether that switch happened somewhere in your musical career. Did you reach a point where you said: “Oh shit, I'm not the person I was,” which became, I guess, “crisis music,” that then later accepted the more playful aspect of it?
Yeah, definitely. When I listen to our old records of course I hear what I was going through just in terms of growing as a person. And those transformations are painful, it's just the business of life. It’s the work. And, I don’t know, maybe it’s because of midlife, but it’s just so clear that it will just continue to occur like that. Each phase in life is going to unfold into something else. It's like an event horizon, just like you can’t know what it's like to be a parent until you're there, and you can't know what it's like to be old until you're there, you can know what it's like to cross any of those thresholds. Sometimes with our own volition, sometimes just as a matter of fate. It's uncharted territory.
And do you feel like making music is your way of dealing with that uncharted territory? Not by way of solving the problem, but as a way to figure out where you are on the map?
Absolutely, yeah. I mean, if I listen to any one of our records I hear exactly what was happening in my life at that time. I think as a younger person, the more arrogant person who feels like you can control things or has a desire to control things or achieve certain outcomes. My younger self was trying to do stuff with music, magic or whatever. Trying to achieve certain things or change things. It came from a place of wanting and craving. And, definitely, as I’ve gotten older the music more is just a reflection. It feels different. Not more passive, but it just feels like a natural flow or natural outgrowth of whatever work is being done inside my heart and soul. It’s hard, you know? Making records, it's really hard. And maybe I shouldn't even say that because, it has been really hard, but, like I said before, each phase in life is going to feel so different as that I can't say what it's going to be. The music that we’re making right now feels very different than making Thrice Woven, which feels very different from making Celestite and, going back to Celestial Lineage. The process was different each time.
I mean, if I could selfishly kind of let you know where I'm sitting right now. So I'm sitting in my parked car which has become something of an interview studio for me, because I have kids who are asleep at home and usually, I interview American artists and I can't which tends to happen late at night, and I don’t want to wake my kids up.
[Laughs] Yeah, I can get that.
And when I first did this, maybe five years ago, when it started really kind of getting into calling people up and not being afraid and you know, not running to the questionnaire email thing and saying, and forced myself to face my demons, I felt like a loser. Because here I am this guy who's going nowhere and whatever, sitting in his car talking with, I think it was Greg Anderson at the time. And I felt like a failure, because the optics of it were weird. There was no point of reference for me to say: “You know, people sitting in cars talking to their phone is acceptable.” And here I am now, like, not that long after really, and I've had so many beautiful moments in these settings that I'm not a loser anymore. So, I guess it took living. And it took, in a way, something you could call dumb persistence. And I don't think it's dumb persistence out of stubbornness. I think it's a necessity, right? You discover things that help you live. And so you find yourself forced to do them because living is something you would like to do. And so they require work, but you do them because you want to be alive, and so on. From that kind of persistence I get lovely conversations, like the present conversation, that completely started out of me doing something that I thought was completely lame.
So I don't know if this kind of speaks to what you're saying, but it felt like it did. But I wanted to ask because I have a fascination with American black metal and I think the reason I have that fascination is because I think I've always been more an American metal type of guy. But I also think there's something about the aesthetic that I'm trying to figure out for the last decade. And I'm pretty sure Wolves in the Throne Room is a very important stepping stone in trying to figure that out. And in the interest of that conversation I’m going to drop a name that seemingly has nothing to do with what I've been talking about just now, and that name is Neurosis.
Now, I interviewed Erik from Cobalt like a week ago, and we talked about Neurosis for like 10 minutes, and that was interesting because I felt like Cobalt was one of those bands that captured that whatever it is that is unique about American black metal fairly early on. And then in preparation for today I surprisingly bumped against Neurosis again and again, which leads me to think that maybe one spark in the primordial ooze that was American black metal is, for whatever reason, Neurosis.
Yeah, of course.
So I'd like to hear your thoughts about that, but then maybe asking what was the importance of Neurosis in development of your music?
Neurosis was absolutely crucial, and I know exactly why: Because Neurosis is a mythic band, they’re very explicitly entering a mythic space, an archetypal mythical space. In a way all music does, but they did it very specifically, unvarnished. It was like: “Hey we’re doing a mythical, spiritual, psychedelic, heart Journey, and that's just what we're doing. And we're the ones who are doing it.” They’re the most influential underground heavy band in the U.S.A. That's a big statement.
That sounds about right.
Yeah, it’s undeniable. And they were doing the same thing that Emperor were doing in their way, in that they were entering the dream world and the mythic space, the archetypal space, through the music and through the shared ritual performance. When me and Nathan we're growing up there was a punk venue, like a DIY venue in Olympia. And we'd go and help out set up bands and load bands in. Nathan was 15 and I was 17. And we helped Neurosis load in and watched their show during their Through Silver in Blood tour, so this must have been ‘95. And it was just fucking crazy, I just had never seen anything like it. They were, especially in that time, like this explicitly tribal warrior cult traveling around and performing these explicitly ritualistic performances. And one of my strongest memories of that show is the people that came to the show, just like the craziest motherfuckers came out of the woodwork. Just the weirdest, gnarliest, living-up-in-the-mountains, weird tripped-out hippies. That night felt like a trance, like a transmissions. In Buddhism and other traditions you get the transmission from the guru, who got the transmission from their guru, going back. And that’s how I felt like, that I was receiving a transmission of knowledge or a sacred understanding that can’t really be put into words. That was definitely a gate-opening experience for me, and for thousands of other people.
So one of the things that I’ve been toying around with in my head regarding what draws me to the American black metal acts is that they’re not trying to just emulate the European tradition, they're trying to do something American, even unconsciously, with that template. And so one concept that keeps coming to mind is “space.” And that concept can be manifested through, say, longer songs or through elongated intervals, or through using acoustic instruments, or clean singing. But one of the things that kind of ties in this idea of space and Neurosis for me, and this may be completely off, is the drumming. Because in Neurosis drums do something different than what a drum set does in the normal band. It's almost like, as you said, it was a heart journey than the drums are the heart, in a way. And also a lot of what you call “tribal” seems to me to be coming from there as well. And so that also ties in one of my other fascinations with American black metal and that's the drums. To me, the drums there sound completely different. And so all this nonsense has to tie into something that resembles a question, which is: being the drummer how much do you feel like you what your role in kind of securing that holy tribal dream space? What does a drummer do in order to achieve that?
Yeah, that’s the thing. I think for me the practice is being in my own heart when playing drums. Just really actively putting my consciousness in my heart and my guts to a certain degree. It's like everything from the neck down, basically. I can talk about drumming for weeks probably, I've got a lot of specific practices around it.
I'm here for it!
[Laughs] We’ll have to schedule other calls. But let me put it this way: there are a few drummers who I really, really love, and not many metal drummers. I like a lot of rap producers, like hip hop producers, and the two that spring to mind are Jay Dilla and RZA. And what they both have in common is that, when you really listen to the drums, they’re wrong. They’re fucked up, the timing is off and it's just weirdly syncopated and doesn't sound right. Like there's something that's incorrect about it. But if you are able to turn off that judgmental mind and you feel the drums in your body, it feels right, and it does something inside your body that you can't put a name to. And those are the drummers I really like. And that’s something I don't like about a lot of European metal, or even just metal in general, that the drums are run through a computer to be quantized, they don't have that, that raw humaneness imperfection. And that's why my favorite metal drummer is Lars Ulrich, hands down. People make fun of him – “the worst drummer in metal, the worst drummer in rock n’ roll” – but he’s my favorite. Because he’s all groove, all heart. He’s a terrible drummer, he’s got terrible technique, if you want to look at if from that perspective, but he has this extremely powerful groove and Metallica is the biggest band in the world partially for that reason.
Yeah, I have a thing on my blog where I do breakdowns of songs to like milliseconds and stuff like that. And I did a breakdown of I think it was “Fight Fire with Fire” and I called Lars Ulrich the best hesitater in the history of rock drumming.
He has the best hesitations. Which I'm not sure always he's completely conscious of.
Oh, definitely, I’m the same way. You can call it “playing in the pocket,” or you can call it “dragging,” that's how I like to play live, I like to wait until the very last possible second.
You know who's kind of like that in metal? I mean, I'm not a drummer, but there are two drummers that come to mind, which are very dear to me personally. One is Chris Reifert from Autopsy, he drums like he has no idea what time it is.
Like, the timing is just not an issue with him at all, but somehow it stays afloat. And then the second drummer is Gar Samuelson, he's used to drum for Megadeth back in the day…
Oh, yeah. Totally.
And that was his art. So anyway, that's just me on a tangent. But I feel like for me, one of the things that draws me to drums in say, American black metal or a sense of tribalism, I think in a way, which I wonder if there's a Native American element to that this idea that drums are central to a spiritual experience that is idiosyncratic to the American experience of spirituality, but also the way the drums are placed in the mix, super upfront. You can hear them. They're an equal instrument, if that sounds right. I know you're not going to talk about drawing because you said it would take weeks, but how much thought Do you give to where you place the drums in the mix when you're making records?
Well, I mean, the mix is the mix. So I never really about any particular piece of the mix. It's like standing back and looking. That’s kind of the kiss of death, if you’re you're thinking about any individual piece in the mix. But, I guess the one element that we always give primacy to is the kick drum. Because that's the heartbeat, that's the root chakra pulsation. That’s the part of the drums, especially in black metal, that does have a connection to these shamanic-trance drumming techniques that are common to all cultures, but especially in northern cultures that tend to have this very monotonous four-four with an accent on the one. I think that’s a very northern thing that is cross-cultural, and I’m very conscious of that on the kick drum.
It's funny, the reason I started playing that way is because, you know, we came up essentially as a punk band, or as a crust-punk band. So we're playing in places without any amplification, maybe there's a microphone for the kick drum and a microphone for the vocals, and that's it. So, a big part of my drumming style has to do with just being heard, being able to play an unamplified drum set over raging guitar and bass amplifiers. Hitting the one really hard was just kind of a survival tactic, which over time that has become central to my technique and just philosophy around drumming and music in general.
But that sounds like a very old problem to me, right? I would think that drummers or people who had a drum, whether it was handheld, or whatever, have always had to work very hard at being heard or being felt. Drums were also a mode of communication in some cultures. So a drum being heard as a mode of survival is a very old, traditional problem. So, maybe by being confronted by that problem you tapped into something like that.
Yeah, I mean, it's just so ancient, drumming is so ancient.
I’m sorry for all the drum talk.
No, it’s good. We’re writing a new record right now, I'm working on the record every day, just getting to the place where I'm starting to think really hard about the drums. So it's good to do some conceptual visualization about what I want to do on the drums on this record.
Hey man, I'm here for you, my nights are free.
So I wanted to ask about at least I wanted to get to Celestial Lineage. So, for a lot of people Celestial Lineage was that album that came before Celestite, the reason being that Celestite pissed a lot of people off. And they felt like you know, whatever it was that was happening on Celestial Lineage, that exploring of what we've been calling the spatial, or the atmospheric, kind of morphed into an album that was for some people not even metal, or whatever. And that makes Celestial Lineage into a very interesting threshold album, in which, whatever it was that you were doing before, you're kind of processing that and working it out and stretching it out, and to the point of maybe even losing the form of what you were looking for, to begin with. So I wanted to ask, what was your mindset, biographically or aesthetically, when you were recording that album? What were the things that you remember that you wanted to explore, hints of which perhaps appeared on Black Cascade or any of the previous releases, that that you wanted to push forward?
We drew this kind of map, almost, that was mostly words but there were some pictures. And it was a picture of a world that we wanted to make with the record, create a world. On one hand it’s like creating a story, like Lord of the Rings, like creating a fantasy world, a world of imagination. But also we wanted to actually change the real world. We wanted for some of the forms and concepts and ideas from the record to leak out into physical reality. And so every song on that record and all of the interludes, and just all the sounds, every guitar tone, every synthesizer tone, every drumbeat, they all come from this image, this vision that me and Nathan had. And I’ll add Randall [Dunn] there too, who produced all of our records.
And we had this image, it was very visual, architectural. And this gets to your insight about space, absolutely having to do with creating physical spaces that are both internal, inside of our bodies, and we can go inside and move around in there. Every time we were trying to get a synthesizer tone or a guitar tone I'd have this image that it was a physical object – it’s like a crystal, or a stone, or a piece of burnished metal, or an axe or, you know, whatever, a book. And each one of those synthesizer sounds or guitar sounds is a physical object that you can touch and turn over, inspect the back of it, or take it apart. How the crafts and make this thing? So, yeah, it was a very spatial process, making that record. And, I can’t speak for Nathan, but I definitely had the intention of making those concepts emerge into real life.
We talked before about an arrogant, younger you trying to make things in the real world? So when you look back at that attempt, that intent, would you say you look down on it, do you feel estranged from that kind of motivation now?
Well, it was just too much. It was just that kind of old “sorcerer's apprentice” kind of stuff, every magician goes through it sooner or later, to the point that you just start thinking that you can make things happen in the real world through magic. Which, yeah you can, but it's just not that big of a deal. It's something that everyone does. A lot of people get into magic, or the occult, or whatever, that whole system of thought and those technologies, and at a certain point you kind of go nuts. It’s part of the process.
I wanted to ask a question about that album that has to do with what you just said and also to do with my cockamamie theories about American black. And it’s weird, to me, to even think of Celestial Lineage as a black metal album, it feels closer to a Neurosis album than it does to anything that's explicitly black metal. But one of the things that I think about when I compare American black metal to a European black metal is that American black metal feels to me melancholy.
And I think it's safe to say that Celestial Lineage is quite a melancholy album, whether because of the music and the tonality of the music, or because of the clean singing in it, and those little interludes. And so I guess I wanted to ask whether that emotion informs your music? This idea of grief? Because the way I see grief coming from the American tradition is that…. So Black Metal works in this space where the modern sense of spirituality turns out to be vacant, right? And so and a lot of European black metal seems pretty ready with answers: “Whatever is happening right now is bullshit, and we have the old world to rely on.” I'm being simplistic. Yeah. And in the American side, it's a lot more complicated, to me. It feels like: “Yes, there's nothing here right now, but, really, we don't have an idea of what comes next.” And so there's a sense of a melancholic void, an empty space where you're not really sure where you are. And so all that is to ask: Does melancholy and grief play into the lesson learned specifically about your music?
Oh, of course, yeah. Mourning and grief are very much central to what we do. And there's a sense that we're doing some sort of cultural grieving work for, that that's one of the roles of artists, to do grief work for the culture. We do that. Grief for our ancestral lines or for the earth or whatever. It takes many forms. But, yeah, there’s a sense of alienation and loss. You know, we're not going to start worshipping Odin. It's just not going to happen for us. Americans, I think, are uniquely bereft of any sort of spiritual tradition. For me that was always something that ran through all of our records, a yearning for tradition, a yearning for elders, for mentors. For spirituality in life. But as I've gotten older I've come to realize that actually those people were there the whole time.
In what way? Family?
Family or friends. I've just been lucky to have some really good mentors in my life, some really good teachers and people have been through it, have been down that same road I was, feeling completely lost spiritually, and just moving through it. It's not like you ever get anywhere, it's like you ever get to a place like: “Oh, thank goodness I finally figured it out, I have something to hold on to”. Just making peace with the fact that there is nothing solid to hold on to, apart from just the present moment.
Is there a way in which the process of making art is the process of making mentors for yourself also? Not just like relying on someone else?
Yeah, I mean, like I said, I'm old, so I ‘ve noticed that I feel like I'm a mentor to people. And any sort of wisdom that I have, I've gotten that through through art, mostly. Also from being in relationships and family and just those sort of karmic relationships that teach us so much. But it's been the art and the music that's been the form and the practice that has been most consistent in my life. I'm a pretty spotty meditator, and I go in and out of a yoga practice, and all this stuff, but music is the practice that has been there my whole life. It's a great blessing.
I actually just wanted to ask one more thing, I feel like it doesn't even fit here. But I have a form as well, so I try to stick to it. Even though Celestial Lineage was ages ago, eons ago, when you look back at that, do you have a sense of being proud or happy with one element having to do with that album? Is there something when you look back at that album through the fog of time and say: “I don't recognize myself in some of this stuff, but I am happy that I did that”?
I love it. A lot of artists can’t look back at their old material without
seeing the flaws and the failures. But I love it as a document, because it was so raw. There was no filter and there was no artifice, there was nothing beyond just the pure expression of creativity and of heart. And I hear in it in all kinds of places, I hear it in the production, in the architecture of it, and I hear it in the drums, and I hear in the lyrics. And maybe that, to me, is what feels most enduring is the lyrics on that record. It does still feel really true to me. It does still feel real to me. It does still feel relevant and timeless, just to me as a person.