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Interview w/ Greg Anderson from Sunn O)))

One half the supreme drone duo Sunn O))) and co-founder of Southern Lord Records, Greg Anderson has been creating monolithic walls of noise for more than a decade. With no sign of relenting, Greg was kind enough to answer some questions about the chemistry behind the bands and what's happening in the realms of the Southern Lord.

Cynic: How do you feel the doom/drone scene has changed since back when you were in Burning Witch/Thorr's Hammer?

Greg Anderson: Its night and day really. There really wasn't a “scene” or a significant following for those groups in the late nineties. It's actually amazing that so many people have connected with the extreme sounds of doom/drone in the last few years.

Cynic: Both you and Stephen O'Malley have been incredibly prolific in the doom/drone scene - what is it that keeps you attracted to such slow, hypnotic music throughout all of your projects?

Greg: That is hard to put into words that would make sense. I dare to say it is an instinctual magnetic pull.

Cynic: Apart from the pioneering drone band Earth who are now signed to Southern Lord, who were the bands that inspired you to play such heavy drone and doom?

Greg: Definitely the Melvins. I was fortunate to see some of their early shows as a band in the mid-eighties. Their fusion of punk and Sabbath struck a chord with me and drove me to discover other heavy bands like Trouble, Saint Vitus, Pentagram etc...

Cynic: Southern Lord has just signed two new bands Eagle Twin and Black Cobra - how did you go about selecting them to add to the roster?

Greg: It is very rare that a new band catches my interest these days. Part of the problem is that there are simply too many bands out there and it becomes harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Eagle Twin and Black Cobras' vigilant heaviness resonated immediately with me. Eagle Twin is comprised of one of my favorite guitar players: Gentry Densley whom I met in the late eighties and his work with Iceburn and other groups has always been a favorite of mine. Black Cobra to me embody several elements that a lot of bands lack these days. Their DIY ethos and relentless battering set them apart from many.

Cynic: Is it tough juggling Southern Lord and touring with Sunn O))), writing etc?

Greg: Indeed, however I fully embrace the challenges... I can't imagine what life would be like with out them.

Cynic: What was it like touring and recording with Malefic from Xasthur?

Greg: Well first off they were two completely different experiences. The recording process was very productive and I'm proud of what was accomplished. Some of his contributions to that album ("Black One") were done solely by himself at his home studio and then were added/mixed into what we had previously recorded. The collaborations of his that were actually done in the studio with us were my personal favorite. Touring with Malefic was a completely different story. The intense challenges of touring in a band effect each person differently. The aesthetic of Malefic that I perceived from his albums was exactly what revealed itself on those tours. Depressive, isolation. Those qualities don't necessarily work in a group setting on the road. With that said his performances with sunn 0))) were consistently amazing night after night.

Cynic: It seems like where ever you tread truly unique vocalists seem to fall into your path i.e. Edgy 59, Runhild, Malefic, Wrest, and most recently Attila Csihar - are vocalists something that you're always looking out for? How did you meet Attila?

Greg: It's not something we consciously are “looking out for”. We have been very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented vocalists. Stephen met Attila Csihar when he interviewed Attila for his fanzine Descent in the mid-90s. I became aware of him from his contributions to the Mayhem album: "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". I was immediately blown away by how powerful and unique his voice was. Over the years its been a pleasure to work with him.

Cynic: Why is it that live albums are such a fixture from bands like Sunn O))), Earth, Boris, Khanate etc? Do you feel it's more important for .drone and doom bands to be able to recreate the heaviness and ambiance in a live situation compared to other genres?

Greg: Experiencing the bands you mentioned above, live is to me the ultimate and true way to understand where these bands are coming from. Honestly the live recordings really don't even do justice to the physical power of the volume at these artists shows. Often times these releases are released as a special memento for the fans that come see the bands and the money generated helps pay for the cost of the band being on the road.

Cynic: How does the writing relationship work between you and Stephen O'Malley?

Greg: A lot of it is intuitive. We have been close friends for 15+ years and have been playing music together for the majority of that time. The chemistry between us is second nature at this point. Its like an ever flowing stream! Hahahahah.

Cynic: How different are your approaches when it comes to a song or riff?

Greg: Ironically they are quite different. We often times joke that I'm the caveman and Steve is the artist/intellectual. I'm the brawn he's the brains. Hahahahah. But in all seriousness this difference is the core of why our relationship/chemistry works.

Cynic: Sunn O))) seems to get an amazing amount of mainstream press considering the experimental nature of the band - how do you and Stephen feel about this? Any ideas as to why the band has such a pull?

Greg: Yes we have been very fortunate in that regard. I think writers/journalists and readers in general are interested in learning or reading about something that is out of the ordinary. Honestly how interesting is it to hear about how the lyrics and riffs came about for the 12th Cannibal Corpse album that is exactly like the 11 before it? No offense meant to CC, I like them and what they do serves a purpose - what I'm getting at is that music and art that pushes boundaries and progresses is often times more interesting to read/learn about than how many ways you can talk about disemboweling then eating a corpse while riffing alternate versions of Angel of Death.

Cynic: What have you been up to since your collaboration with Gentry Densley in Ascend? What can we expect in the future?

Greg: After the release of that album we actually went back into the studio and recorded some more pieces for a forthcoming release. There will also be a vinyl version of “Ample Fire Within” coming soon. This will feature a few tracks not available on the cd version.

Cynic: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Greg, hope to hear plenty more crushing Southern Lord material in the future.

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4 Comments on "Interview w/ Greg Anderson from Sunn O)))"

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cruor's avatar


1. cruor writes:

Good interview Cynic.

# Jan 27, 2009 @ 12:18 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. absurdmusician writes:

Clearly he hasn't been paying attention to cannibal corpse's last few albums. They keep pushing the technicality. Can one honestly say that The Wretched Spawn sounds like Gallery of Suicide? Calling a band out for making albums that "sound the same" is pretty ironic when you're in Sunn 0))). Most people would probably say the same thing about Sunn 0))). I wouldn't, but I pay attention to the music so I can comment/criticize without sounding like an ignorant twat.

# Feb 5, 2009 @ 7:27 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar


3. RememberMetal? writes:

Great interview Cynic! Have been in a major doom kick lately and Sunn O))) have been an integral part of the journey, still have about 1/3 of their full lengths to digest. Excellent band.

Now Playing: Catacombs - "Echoes Through the Catacombs"

# Feb 8, 2009 @ 2:36 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

4. Cynic writes:

Thanks guys, pretty much anything touched by Greg or Stephen is worth checking out, but especially Burning Witch and Khanate. Catacombs - nice pick!

# Feb 8, 2009 @ 3:06 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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