Interview: Our Survival Depends On Us
Just to shake things up a bit, we’re featuring a guest piece from a man better known to our German-language readers; Christoph Gütl‘s current collaborations include The Legacy and Stormbringer, and he has offered this translated interview with Austrian doom metal band Our Survival Depends On Us. Read on about one of the more interesting bands that Salzburg has to offer…
Four contemporaries who could not differ more from each other have united under one common denominator – music. That would be a rough description of Our Survival Depends On Us. For a long time the band from Salzburg, Austria have kept a low profile. This was reason enough for me to knock on the door of their rehearsal room, and to dig out some interesting news, both old and new things about the band.
The rehearsal room of Our Survival Depends On Us looks like the comfortable living room of your everyday aficionado of music, literature and hunting. Camouflage netting hangs from the ceiling and soft light gives the room a special touch. Under the gaze of some hunting trophies and heroes of musical and literary history, I gather around in a circle with Thom, Mucho, Barth and Mani to start up the interview. My first question: Why did Our Survival Depends On Us keep quiet for so long? “I think there is a qualitative difference between musicians and artists. The difference being that an artist needs inspiration for his work. Perhaps it sounds snobbish to you, but we consider ourselves artists.” These were the opening words of guitarist and singer Thom. “This means music does not end in itself for us or that we use a bunch of mathematical formulae with our musical instruments, but that we process and convert the inspiration life grants us. Now the time has come that we come back together and wait for what will happen, virtually determine the status quo to locate us on this big map and put a statement.”
A never-ending journey
We stay on the topic of transformation. Good bands live from their transformations; what about OSDOU? Does the journey go on like it used to, or are you off to new shores? “The journey never stops, the journey always goes on. We are not following any master plan. We are not four individuals who have come together and said we are founding a band, like for instance communities of interests and religious communities do. They have rules by which they live. You will not find such rules with us. The whole idea is the organic movement and the organic thing is this life itself.” Singer and second guitarist Mucho continues: “And all of that in a way to connect the to world itself. Like nature and all that surrounds us and makes us what we are. Just look at the band. We are four striking personalities with different paths in life that are not easily brought together. It is not easy to find agreement and common denominators for many other bands out there, but because of that difficulty I see a chance for an abundant amount of creative potential, like Thom said before, to be recovered after some time. Every track on our records has a very special meaning or has been a break-through point for each one of us.”
The songs of OSDOU speak for themselves. Listening to songs like “I Will Not Obey” or “A Stream That Won’t Run Dry” I always have to think about guitarist Mucho, whereas when I listen to “Ocean Of Inspiration” bass player Barth comes to my mind. He likes to spend his time outside, in nature. It is interesting to know how much of that affinity transgresses into their music. “Of course! You have to know that I do not own a TV! Sometimes there is nothing better for me then to head out to a creek, to sit down, look around and listen to nature what it has to say to me.” says Barth, “or when I am out in the woods or when I am together with drummer Mani at our mountain pasture. It is thrilling to hear what nature has to say and how much energy we can get from it, unbelievable!” The Neudegg Alm, said mountain pasture, is located in Abtenau near Salzburg and favoured place of residence of the four artists. The Neudegg Alm is also the place of the Sommer Sonnenwende festivals. In the 2013 edition the mighty Primordial will be headlining the festival. This event and everything that surrounds it is also in the mind of Our Survival Depends On Us, according to Barth.
Something new arises from old
It is also interesting to know what drummer Mani thinks about OSDOU: “Like Mucho said before, we are completely different personalities and there was often a point where I would have had enough of this band, but in the end everything makes sense together and nothing would have happened if it had not fit together, and that pushes me forward, because I can see that the ground is not fruitless; no, it is a new one – a fertile one.” Something new arises from the old and that is also one of the reasons for the long silence. Maybe also the connection was not there during that time? Mucho does not think so: “No, the connection was there, but you have to know for every song we created we threw three others in the trash. That is a part of our work process, we are very self-critical. We put every new song on a a set of scales and sometimes it sits there for months!”
And so we come to the sound of the band. How would you describe the music to somebody who is deaf and would want a description of the sound? Thom says: “That is not an easy thing to describe. I think when I have to describe it to some one with the limited things he knows, then it would most likely be silted forest soil that turns into brushwood, with a wild boar fur laying in it. So when you close your eyes and try to imagine yourself crawling over that forest soil and through the brushwood with the boar fur laying there, then you get the full sound aesthetics of our band. Yes, I think that is the best description for a guy who is deaf.” And what is the sound for the band itself? Thom also had something to say about that: “That is difficult too. Every artist has their own way of speaking and every one of us has their own stylistic element. What is important for the sound is that it sounds genuine and that it grows. That is the reason why we do not like experiments. We try to keep what we build in the rehearsal room over months and try to bring it safely to the recording sessions. In the live environment it always works out very well, because there you can work with everything that is there – the instruments, our expressive power and you have a powerful component – the audience. The things everyone there hears and feels! That is what Mucho means when he talks about magic. I mean music is one of the last great mysteries.” Drummer Mani also has his own point of view when it comes to the sound: “The good thing about our sound is that it has a really healing component. Every time I am down, the sound helps me up again and it is a great feeling when we are plowing through the ground and putting a new seed there!”
The thing about nature and inspiration
The well-known nature observer Viktor Schauberger and his theories about free energy is an example for the sound of Our Survival Depends On Us. “There you have a more similar connection to the music. There is this one image for example, that he takes from nature. He observers a trout that is swimming in the river and it looks like the trout is not moving. The reference point to the music is that we have this image – an inspiration – and we have to try to interpret it in a musical way.” Thom explains. “Do not forget, art – music and painting – is one of the last things every person on the globe understand and is touched by.” adds Mucho.
Soon we will be at the end of the interview, but there are still some interesting aspects to talk about. For example the lyrics are very aggressive on the one hand, and on the other hand filled with hope. Do the lyrics develop the same way the music does? “I think everyone will find their own interpretation of the lyrics,” drummer Mani starts to explain. “Also we invite the audience to find their own story, because of this process they, you and I move forward!” Guitarist Mucho adds: “It is the same with lyrics or a poem. It is important to have a crossing point, where you can connect with people or maybe you can connect with yourself. That is what we know and feel easily! Music and lyrics always are in permanent symbiosis! We try to work straight to the point with our lyrics, but we have to keep glancing at the bigger picture.” Guitarist Thom has something to say about this topic as well: “Sometimes it is very easy to connect with our audience, for example when you try to paint a picture of calmness with a song. “Collecting Tears Of A Phoenix” is the best example for that. The song has a run time of about eleven to twelve minutes and has three lines. It takes you eight minutes to sing only one sentence, then you arrive at this inner calmness. That is also one of the reasons why we always have some parts of our songs repeat themselves again and again.”
Four aspects, four people!
Music, lyrics, mother nature and the human itself. Four aspects, four people. It is interesting to know what the future will bring for the work of art called Our Survival Depends On Us. “We are in the studio at the moment, to finish the work on our new album! We have finished working on a live DVD, that will be released in summer or autumn this year,” says Thom about the current situation.
And your last words are?
“The basis is the same and because of that the music is different every time!” – drummer Mani
“Life is thrilling, sometimes it is very important to find your own style of living your life!” – guitarist Thom
“Keep the home fires burning! Keep the flames of liberty alive!” – guitarist Mucho
And bass player Barth: “The easiest way is not always the best one! People should have more respect for mother nature! Thank you!”