Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Ukraine’s Nonsun

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

Last week in this spot, we brought you rollicking, impish tech death.  The contrast this week couldn’t be starker.  Ukrainian duo Nonsun pour out a sludgy drone horror that’s light on pyrotechnics and heavy on being fucking heavy.  This isn’t music for throwing back beers and elbows; Nonsun will rob you of the will to live, then sock you in the guts just the way you know you deserve.  The opposing inertial forces of hunched, creeping motion and rhythm-less feedback stasis provide an intriguing source of unexpected and understated dynamism.  If you head to their Bandcamp page, you can hear (and download) their whole demo EP entitled Good Old Evil (what a great name!), and you can check out more about the band at their Facebook location.  Right here, right now, though, you can check out lead track “Jesus’ Age” streaming right from this page.  Decibel got in touch with primary doom dude Goatooth for the whole Nonsun story, so while you ponder thick, bassy terror you can also getcho’ read on.  Love it!

How did the members of Nonsun start making music together?

I had carried some ideas for this kind of project for a couple of years, but never really had a chance to bring them to life, because of lack of time and the people with a similar taste etc. I’m also a member of a death/doom metal band Apostate, and I always wanted to do something that would go beyond the boundaries of a death/doom genre, but that wasn’t possible in Apostate. I mean, those ideas would just be irrelevant to the course the band has taken and held since long ago. So, one day (in August 2011) my good old friend Andriy Alpha called me to jam together. He’s a very well-skilled and experienced drummer, and is always busy participating in many bands and projects, so I wasn’t thinking to invite him to make music together. Besides, he’s not a fan of heavy and slow stuff, he’s more into classic hard rock, funk, jazz. But when we were jamming, I was playing on guitar some of those my riffs, and this, together with drums [and] hall acoustics, started to create in my head the pictures of whole songs, my old ideas were starting to find their shapes. I talked to Andriy, he liked the idea of making an experimental stuff and agreed to join my project, so that’s how we started to rehearsal and eventually recorded those songs.

I’d like to add that we both were really involved in a creative process, and the whole creating and recording time was a real pleasure and great fun to us, despite the miserable tunes we have as a result.

What are the driving energies behind the music?

Primarily, for me it’s some kind of inner negative energy, which is created from an unacceptance of things I cannot change. Yeah it sounds complicated.  It’s an irrational thing, it’s something like a strength out of helplessness, and, by the way, I try to describe it in the lyrics to a song “Rain Have Mercy,” calling it Good Old Evil, which is, as you know, also the album’s title. Of course, apart from that, I find array of inspiration in the music I love, in other art, things that are beautiful and, foremost, close to me emotionally. So, to sum it up, the driving energies behind the music (for me) are: the things I love (music) and the things I hate (pretty much everything else). And alcohol, of course, I almost forgot!

Do you feel your location in the Ukraine has a particular effect on the music you produce, or do you feel it’s more personal than environmental?

It has an effect, surely, but I wouldn’t say ‘particular’. I’m an [introverted] person leading pretty much isolated existence, don’t watch TV, communicate with a narrow circle of people and try to insulate myself from the outer world as much as possible. But the environment, the place I live and was born, it all has shaped me and made me who I am now and what I do, so it’s a tough question. However, as far as I know, Nonsun is the only drone metal band in our city, so in this sense we’re outsiders!  Furthermore, for the last few years the whole metal movement, particularly doom, has been quite poor in Lviv, and it keeps getting worse. So we’re acting against the environment, which is apparently caused by the same damn environment… Fuck!

Are there certain chords you are interested in, or are your songs less planned out than that?

Every song on the EP had a different approach in creation. But no, they all weren’t much planned out consciously, if that’s what you mean, they were rather made in an intuitive, spontaneous way.

In our music, it’s all about an atmosphere, not the chords or riffs. Though, sometimes a riff comes first, and it has within itself that idea, that atmosphere, from which a song is being born. But mostly it comes from a sound itself, you know… The acoustics, the guitar or drums tune dictate what riffs should be played, what composition should be made, vocals etc. And it’s great, it’s the most exciting thing for me in a creation process. This is what I love the most about drone music, where the sound has a primary role.

What keyed instruments are you using on the demo? What do you like about including these sounds in your music?

Well, we’ve used a virtual organ, duduk and something else which I can’t remember at the moment. All these were processed through a lot of FX, in particular delay, to make them sound more ‘droney’ and suit them to a general spacey atmosphere. The keyboards were included in order to emphasize the mood, the vibe of a certain song, its meditative character. At first I didn’t plan to use keys at all, but at a certain point we both with Andriy felt like it would be reasonable to add supporting backgrounds to some parts. As it seems now, that’s worked. Hope so.

Do you enjoy putting down vocals?

Honestly, I have a problem with perceiving my own vocals – I’m never satisfied with the result. When I’m recording, it’s all well, I’m in the mood, but later I hear it and I don’t like it. But I have no clue how to go back and do it right.  On this record there was supposed to be less vocals, but some parts seemed somewhat empty to me and they needed something to be filled in. In other words, those parts sounded better with vocals and more complete than without them. So I’ve left it how it is, this time. But in the future I hope to get along without vocals or use them rarely. Bands like Earth, Pelican, Omega Massiff and many others do absolutely well without vocals.

What goals do you have for Nonsun in the future?

I look no further than a next release, and my goals are all about the creativity and further experimenting. I wish the next work would differ distinctively from Good Old Evil, but just not sure yet in what direction. Perhaps it’ll be less eclectic and more monolithic, but can’t say for sure. Of course, I’d like to gather a full line-up which would consist of musicians who’d share the common seeing of things and not lack the creative potential etc. But it doesn’t look very probable for now, so I’m not gonna simply waste time on the search, and better focus on making some new stuff in a current format.