Coming from a surprisingly unusual place for black metal, that being Olympia, Washington, Wolves in the Throne Room, comprised of brothers Nathan (guitar vocals) and Aaron Weaver (drums) and Rick Dahlin (guitar), unleashed their debut album Diadem of 12 Stars in February of 2006 , and have just recently released their brand new one on Southern Lord Records called Two Hunters. In the midst of a US tour, Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with the band while they were sitting on a broken down tour bus, and spoke about their new CD, and their place in the black metal universe.
SoT: Two Hunters continues on in the fine tradition of US black metal you started with Diadem of 12 Stars. What differentiates what you are doing with the rest of the non-Norwegian black metal scene?
Nathan Weaver: It seems as though Black Metal has been codified into a very narrow and dogmatic aesthetic. Most bands still adopt the hackneyed corpsepaint and satanic shock-rock style that was developed by a group of disaffected teenagers. WITRR is wholly uninterested in cartoon Satanism or grim posturing.
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the beginnings of Wolves in the Throne Room, and how the band came about?
Nathan Weaver: About 6 years ago I moved from the city to the decrepit old farm that is now my home. Around that time I began to reject the materialistic, rational worldview that, while politically "radical", lacked any cohesive spiritual underpinning. We have always been touched by the raw energy and primal fury of Black Metal. So WITTR was created as an artistic mirror of a new worldview and way of life.
SoT: What are some of your musical influences, as far as bands and other musicians go?
Nathan Weaver: Our roots are in the DIY punk community, so in our early teens we were influenced by bands like Neurosis and His Hero is Gone. We have all been into metal forever. Burzum is the black metal band that I am most inspired by. I think that the music taps into a powerful wellspring of archaic energy.
SoT: Are you at all influenced by film and art?
Nathan Weaver: I wouldn't say that we are influenced by film, but I think that there are similarities in structure. Our music does not follow a traditional "rock" format. The music is very slow to reveal itself over the course of a whole album, much like the pacing of a film.
SoT: What are your feelings on the current state of extreme metal, as well as progressive rock?
Nathan Weaver: I tend to have a rather low opinion of most metal. I really dislike the overproduced sound and style that characterizes most death-black-grind metal. We are band that plays live in basements and outside, so we never rely on a PA or drum triggers to create the intense roar that we desire. Our music has an intensely physical element: brutal drumming and intense screaming create a powerful emotional release and sense of catharsis.
SoT: What made you decide to add in a good amount of female vocals on the latest CD?
Nathan Weaver: We always try to honor the feminine energies that are a part of our lives. So much metal is macho posturing. Implicit in our worldview is a critique of modern patriarchal culture.
SoT: How hard is it to come up with lengthy songs that take the listener on an epic journey, keeping them interested at all times?
Nathan Weaver: Arranging our music is a very painstaking process and is not a matter of throwing riffs together in some random hodgepodge. Usually I think we succeed in creating long-form songs that have the proper pacing and dynamic changes to convey the mythic story that we hope to express. It is a difficult thing to do.
SoT: What are some of your favorite songs from the two albums, and why?
Nathan Weaver: Two Hunters is one piece of music divided into four parts, so there are not songs per se. My personal favorite moment is the first part of Cleansing. Jessika Kinney's vocals possess a huge amount of emotional power and drama that create an intense contrast with the melancholy blasting to come.
SoT: Are you planning any tours for the new CD? Any chance of an East Coast visit?
Nathan Weaver: As we speak we are touring the US and Canada. Currently we are broken down somewhere in central California. Happily our roadie is an accomplished mechanic and we should be on the road soon. We will be playing a few dates on the east coast. The dates can be easily located on the web.
SoT: If you could play a gig with any band of your choice (current or retired) who would that be?
Nathan Weaver: We would be exited to play with Neurosis, a band who are utterly committed to their ideals.
SoT: If you could describe Wolves in the Throne Room to someone who has never heard the band before, what would you say?
Nathan Weaver: WITTR plays music that, when we succeed, creates emotional landscapes that allow the listener to journey inward.
SoT: You guys are seemingly re-inventing how black metal is delivered-how important is it to keep the genre constantly changing and incorporating new ideas?
Nathan Weaver: I am of two minds. I do not believe that we should always strive for "progress" or improvement. Some things are perfect in their current state of being. Some cultures live for millennia in a state of homeostasis, passing down tradition from one generation to the next without the relentless drive to cast off the old in favor of the new. I think that Black Metal, however would benefit from growth and transformation. The hackneyed corpsepaint and spikes aesthetic no longer has any significance. The power within black metal is unrelated to the trappings.
SoT: Now that the new CD is out, what are your future plans over the next year or so?
Nathan Weaver: After we finish this tour, we will return to our home and concentrate on the other things that are important to us. We are beginning to discuss writing music for a new album as winter is fast approaching. Winter is time that we are inspired to write new music. A vinyl 2LP of Two Hunters will be released in the next few months. We would like to play in Europe in the next year.
(Click here to read our reviews of Two Hunters)