Czech post-rockers Postcards From Arkham drop by for a chat
Some bands sound intriguing right from the start. A post-rock band taking heavy influence from esteemed horror/fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft and including soundbites from his works in their songs quickly made our cultured ears prick up, so we took it upon ourselves to dig deeper into the world of Postcards From Arkham. All the way from the Czech Republic, the band take what could be considered an overdone genre and guide it in a new and unconventional direction. Read about the band’s influences, their love of Lovecraft and social media, and the current situation of post-rock at home.
You can find a link to a download of their début album Oceanize at the bottom of this interview.
Hey guys! Welcome to The Monolith, if you could please introduce yourselves and what you each play…
We are Postcards From Arkham, from the deep shadows of the heart of Europe, from a black cloud called Havirov where we started creating symphonies that are close to the post-rock genre. Actually we have four adventurers in our line-up; names are not necessary, what is important is our music, because that is what we love and what we want to do.
Collectively, you claim influences from God Is An Astronaut, Maybeshewill (personal favorites of mine) and If These Trees Could Talk. Outside of the post-rock genre, do any other bands influence you? In addition, given the prominent piano influence in your music, any classical composers you admire?
All of these bands are like gods for us and as inspiration, they have our utmost respect. We love any kind of atmospheric music with deep emotions and atmosphere. We are trying to combine guitar-based rock music with influences from film compositions and sounds. Also, some pop-rock influences are welcome or extreme metal in some forms are great. As I said, our priority is guitar-based music, but synths and pianos are good to create spheres of something beautiful.
On your début album Oceanize you took a well-established Depeche Mode classic (“Enjoy The Silence”) and re-made it into quite a different version from the original. Were you adding a personal touch to it, or did you have a particular direction you aimed the song in? Also, any other songs you’d like to put your own spin on?
Yep, this song has deep emotions and we wanted to show the dark side of it. I hope that our version is different enough from the original. That was our goal: to make different song in Arkham-style. I must say that we loved that process, and another cover of a famous song will come. Stay tuned for it…
In terms of a thematic concept, Oceanize was naturally related to oceans as well as your eternal love of famed sci-fi writer H.P. Lovecraft, who features heavily in spoken word samples. Will there be a new musical direction on Aeons as well, perhaps time-based?
The concept for Aeons is still open, as actually “Aeons” is still a working title and the final name of album may be different. We have a lot of material; strong material with lot of different sounds and riffs. There are dark ones, heavy songs and also songs that sounds like pop-rock, but everything is in Arkham style. We can’t wait to show it to our fans. The first song from this album was already recorded and released, it is called “You Know There’s Something…” and we shot a music video.
Why do you think people have such a fascination with Lovecraft? What is it about his work that attracts you? Any recommended stories for newcomers to start with?
I think that Lovecraft is a genius writer; his sense of tension and mystical atmosphere is breathtaking. A lot of people know Lovecraft as a writer of horror stories, and that he definitely is! I like another way in his stories. Call of Cthulhu or Dunwich Horror are amazing tales and I really love them. On the other hand I also like stories from the beginning of his career. A combination between horror and a romantic atmosphere is found in, for example, stories such as Color Out Space or Journey To Unknown Kadath - fantasy tales that take you into a world of many creatures and awesome adventures.
How is it that Lovecraft’s stories translate so smoothly into a musical format? What is it about them?
It’s not easy. There are lot of ways to translate and put Lovecraft into the music. I know many extreme metal bands with influences of Lovecraft, but our interpretation is different. We like the more romantic and dreamy side of Lovecraft’s stories. Look deep into his stories and you can find a beauty that no other writer in history has.
Is the intention to continue with Lovecraft as a literary influence? Or will you branch out to other authors you’ve mentioned before, such as Edgar Allen Poe or Arthur Conan Doyle?
That is a good question. In our music there will always be something with Lovecraft’s style, if maybe hidden. But we have a lot of inspirations in other writers, books, stories and also movies. I love Hitchcock, Kubrick and Tim Burton. When I’m in a good mood, I take my guitar and play to one of the films of these awesome directors. Melodies and riffs then start to come…
Moving on to discussing your role in social media and getting your name out there, you guys have created a real media presence, posting regularly on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Do you think that this is going to be the future of communication with fans, using all these various websites? Do you think that there may be a blurring of boundaries between musicians and their listeners?
You can’t stop technology; you can ignore it or you can use it. Modern technology helps us with many complicated things and problems.Technology is our friend. Facebook and other social sites are the easiest way to get fresh news, songs and pictures to the homes of our friends and fans. The age of proper websites is over; it’s much easier to create profiles on some social site where you can posts your news to thousands people. We will see how far this technology can go…
Is the Czech rock scene receptive to post-rock, or instrumental rock in general?
I have to say that in our country, there are not many post-rock bands, because there is not any scene for this genre. We have a really strong metal scene and underground, but there are not many post-rock bands in this form. I know some post-hardcore bands, but we are the only guitar-based band in the style of If These Trees Could Talk or God Is An Astronaut. Also, there are not any post-rock gigs for us, our only chance is go abroad to another country if we want to play a lot of gigs.
You recently signed a deal with Legacy Records, so firstly congratulations! With that secure, what are the plans for 2013?
Thanks a lot man, we are really happy with the cooperation of this label and we hope that everything will go fine. We have a lot of stuff planned; our main goal is to record the new album, so a lot of songwriting, testing, and also we want play a lot of gigs, so we will be locked in the rehearsal room and play, and play and play, and that is what we love.
Thanks very much for your time, the final words are yours!
Thanks for the chance that you gave us. Hope you all will like our new songs, and please support quality music from the heart.
Go here for a download of their first album Oceanize.