The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Spider God
Ever since their debut release, the wonderful Den Inre Borgen / The Interior Castle I have been in L.O.V.E love with UK black metal project Spider God. And, as I stated in my very first write-up about them, the secret to their success is in their unlikely marrying of harsh, at times raw black metal with the kind of melodic sensibility one usually finds in sweet, pop melodies of the mid 80s to early 90s. I've often repeated my love for raw black metal done right, and what I mean by "right" is this magical coming together of the most ugly with the most pretty, whether that pretty by a goth sensibility (Lamp of Murmuur), the use of classical themes (Ebony Pendany), or ice-cream-truck kitsch (Old Nick). But Spider God's angle into the world of ugly is so viciously strange and wonderfully addictive, that the case might be made for them being my favorite of the bunch. There's just something flagrant about their love for sweetness along with how well they perform ruthlessness that captures my confused heart.
Now, after a series of absolutely brilliant, must-listen EPs and cover collections (in which they exhibited their unadulterated love to pop in all its glory), and after generously participating in our most recent compilation with a brilliant cover of Men at Works' "Down Under," they have arrived with a debut full length that pushes their beautiful duality, only increasing both the intensity and the beauty. The album, Fly in the Trap, is out now via the great Repose Records, and you would be very unwise not to give it a listen and/or pick it up. And to celebrate its release I was more than happy to talk with Spider God mastermind G. and discuss some of the influences that stand at the heart of their bittersweet masterpieces. Let's go.
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What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
One of the first albums I remember buying was a bootleg tape of Oasis' Definitely Maybe, which I picked up at a market down at the dog tracks in Bristol. I was too young to notice that it was a bootleg until I got it home and realized it looked and sounded like shit! I used to have this Oasis songbook with tabs, and that's basically how I learned to play guitar. Except I hadn't heard any of the songs on Definitely Maybe, so I just guessed how they sounded. When I finally picked up this tape I was excited, because even though it was a crap bootleg it was still amazing to hear how the songs were supposed to sound, compared to my interpretations!
What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?
When I was very young I listened to Holst's Planet Suite a lot. My mum had it on vinyl and I was fascinated by the stories and images that Holst conjured through music. It was my first influence in terms of concept albums. When I was around 12 I randomly picked up Punk-o-Rama III because I was really into comics and loved the cartoony cover. That album was pivotal for my interest in punk and I played it to death. Also, around the same time I went to a boarding school and one night we found an unmarked CD under one of the beds in the boarding house, which we listened to on repeat. I'd never heard music like that – so diverse and uncategorizable (at least at the time). This album turned out to be the self-titled album by Sublime.
What albums taught you the most about the technical aspect of making music?
When I was at university I was very much into indie music and scrutinized three albums in particular. The first is Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, which was recorded entirely analogue and played around with tape saturation and loops etc. The second was Sufjan Stevens' Illinois, which was so clean-sounding and absolutely meticulously arranged and recorded, even though he mainly used SM37s on everything and recorded at the wrong bitrate. The third was The Microphones' The Glow Pt.2 – Phil Elverum is another analogue worshipper and I loved stories about his solitary life and the experimental, eclectic music he produced on that album. Totally unique.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
I never gave much airtime to Bathory's viking metal period, but I recently listened to Hammerheart and it totally floored me. Absolutely beautiful record with a real organic sound that I absolutely love.
What album relaxes you or centers you the most?
The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid is an album I used to listen to while studying or reading, and although I usually turn to extreme metal to relax, I have to say that this album instantly puts me in a calm mood. They use a subtle sample from the film Stalker and so I always think of this record as the musical equivalent of Tarkovsky movies, which are equally meditative.
What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?
I've been returning to classic death metal recently, and I really can't get enough of Cannibal Corpse, especially The Wretched Spawn and Bloodthirst. Oh, and the new Coheed and Cambria is the best one they've made in years. It's almost straight-up pop music and the hooks on some of those songs are masterful.
What album is grossly underrated?
What album would you recommend from your local scene?
Somalgia's Inverted World is honestly a modern masterpiece. Such a well-conceived, catchy and beautifully recorded album of politically-charged prog-pop-metal gems. It deserves to be so much more widely appreciated than it is.