Interviews

Published on August 10th, 2015 | by LiYang

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Frown

10387201_188078351362444_4804881579222377483_nFrown was one of the unexpected hit bands I discovered last year, and not only because I met their head man Fergus Smith on their Japan tour last year with Dreamtime and Rollfast.

I haven’t been into metal for quite some time, but my metal phase was turned back on again when I listen to Frown’s Harpocrates Unborn streaming on CVLT Nation.

With the headbanging riffs and dark melodies, I was transported back to 17 years old again.

We chatted with Fergus about how the band came together…

BNU: Unlike many new metal bands, Frown’s music is really mature, and it has a very distinctive sound. How long have you actually been playing? I’ve watched your music videos and the live footage was dated 3/10/99. 

Haha, no, we haven’t been around that long, just coming up to our third year since conception. The live footage you saw was filmed with an old VHS camera that prints the date onto the film. The date printed on that film is 3-1-1999. Put a mirror on top of those digits and you what do you get? 6661-1-3. Triple six—the mark of the great beast.

Add 6+6+6+1+1+3 you get 23, which is the 23 enigma, a powerful number in itself. Expect plenty more VHS footage of us, we like things recorded on tape.

In regards to the sound of the band, we listen to a lot of older music that was recorded in a far superior way to today’s digital static. We try to bring these recording techniques to a new audience with our music. We haven’t quite reached the studio sound that we desire; our next album should bring us closer to it.

11391328_264074467096165_8189990016123534049_nI want to go very deep within the recorded music this time round and really fuck with people, make them question what they are really into.

Every metalhead has their own story of getting into the world of metal. When did you became a metalhead? And how did you meet and come up with Frown?

From a young age I was into the usual sort of metal that was floating around, I wore the same Metallica t-shirt for about five years straight. But I truly discovered my love for all things heavy when I was a teenager and started listening to some more underground death and black metal.

When I was 13, a good friend gave me Death is Just the Begging Vol: 1 on VHS, this was a compilation put together by the German record label Nuclear Blast (when they weren’t releasing poxy Euro trash).

I started searching for slower death metal. And in turn found the underground.

It had some really cool songs on it, including a filmclip by Winter, Servants of the Warsman. This had a strong impact on me. The combination of slow death metal/doom and Celtic Frost was a winner.

I started searching for slower death metal. And in turn found the underground.

The formation of Frown was out of this need from my childhood to hear and play slow death/black metal. In 2012 I started putting together the Songs of Praise demo recording, myself on 4-track with a drum machine.

The demo turned out better than expected and this gave me a way to directly show people what I envisioned Frown to be. The very first line-up of Frown was much different sounding to what it is today.

I listen to a lot of krautrock and other deep music from the ’70s

A friend that plays in Brisbane bands Impetuous Ritual and Portal was on guitar, another friend on drums, and me on bass. I had planned to get a singer, but when one could not be found, I realised I would have to do this myself. I never had any intention of singing.

10847995_188078361362443_7840447753457052773_nThis original line-up fell apart quite quickly with the other band obligations of the two other guys not really allowing us to continue.

Frown was on ice for about half a year when I got in contact with an old friend who plays in the band Smoke. Two of the members joined Frown and we were up and running again.

I approached the format differently this time around being a three-piece. Two guitars and drums. It seemed to work.

How do you come up with ideas for material? Do all of you play in other bands besides Frown?

Personally, I seek a lot of inspiration from nature; it’s pretty simple. I like to think about the natural world that surrounds us. The micro-worlds that find our human values so insignificant.

11073911_226247474212198_2541340862405047344_oTheme- and music-wise, with Frown songs, it has to be evil. Horror is a great inspiration. I personally like tales of extreme hardship of humans.

Yep, I play in a few, Smoke, Dreamtime, Chemical Cascades, and Childbirth. I would like to do more but the hands of time only allow so much. I’ve always had the problem that if I hear something I like, I go and try to recreate the vibe that I felt.

The closest thing to Frown I could think of is some of Nachtmystium’s recordings, but not exactly the same, Frown sounds more raw and doomy. How would you define your music? 

I would call it heavy metal to keep it simple. We definitely fall into the genre of doom. I am more influenced by classic heavy metal than modern doom bands. I listen to a lot of krautrock and other deep music from the ’70s. I really enjoy the quality of the recordings and the approach to music.

I set my gear up where Al Cisneros had been playing and I noticed he had spat out a piece of gum…

Frown musically is meant to be a slow version of ’80s death metal with shades of classic black metal thrown in. That was the original recipe. Now it has just grown into what ever it is. I think people get let down when they hear we are a doom band then they come to see us live and get something else.

Ever since your debut album The Greatest Gift to Give was released, Frown has been playing shows around Australia and supporting many super-star doom metal bands. Which genre of metal bands do you play with the most often? Have you had any special experiences on tour?

Typically we play with a lot of crust and metal bands locally. These are always great shows to play where there is real energy floating around the stage and room.

We always love to play with black metal or death metal bands as I enjoy this genre of music a lot. It is always nice to play to some virgin ears.

10360960_182153565288256_9191079766278261901_nHaha, no, not too many special experiences apart from when you get a really tasty sausage roll from the bakery while travelling.

When we played with Sleep, I watched their epically heavy soundcheck trying not to get blown off my feet by their walls of amps. After they had finished we got to do a many sound check. I set my gear up where Al Cisneros had been playing and I noticed he had spat out a piece of gum. I thought about for a second, and then picked it up and started chewing on it. I was hoping to steal some of his bass power by chewing his gum, not sure if that worked or not.

It’s great to see Frown appeared on that CVLT Nation Sleep tribute compilation. Can you tell us about that?

We were very fortunate to be asked to take part in that compilation with a lot of other great bands from around the world. Unfortunately we were the slowest in replying to the email about what song we were going to cover and all the most recognizable songs had been taken, leaving only Nain’s Baptism or Some Grass.

11043215_224718261031786_8339101952885387110_nWe slept on that one… So we decided to sew the two together, that was the idea at first, but the reality of doing this proved to be a bit more difficult. We smashed them together somehow and the final result turned out pretty good, being true to the originals and having a bit of our own touch.

I’m from Taiwan and people here don’t know so much about Australia’s metal scene. Maybe Portal is the most famous one to the rest of the world? What is the metal scene like from Frown’s point of view?

The metal scene in Australia is strong; I’m lucky to be able to have so many great bands come from my home country. Some of my favourite metal bands are Australian and I don’t have a hard time saying that.

I think Australia has always produced good quality underground metal because we feel a bit isolated from the rest of the world.

Early on, we would only get one or two heavy metal bands touring Australia in a year and you would be lucky if they were from the more extreme side of things. I think this forced a lot of people to go out and make death/thrash/black metal bands themselves, because there just wasn’t any chance of any of those bands touring here.

Last question, do you have any tours coming up in 2015 or 2016?

We will tour Australia before the end of year and if all goes to plan will be in Europe in 2016. Thanks for the interview, drink goon and worship fire. Infernal Hails!

Frown’s debut LP and demo are available on Bandcamp. Follow on Facebook for tour info.


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