Ancient VVisdom's Nathan Opposition Explains Live & Backyard Rituals
Ancient VVisdom (pronounced Ancient Wisdom) is quickly becoming entangled in the web of enchantment spun by occult rockers such as Ghost and Blood Ceremony. This retrofitted style praising the great mysteries of the universe has become a hot commodity (read what xFiruath has to say about this phenomenon) in the metal community.
Ancient VVisdom executes an accessible sound owing to folk, pop, psychedlia, doom and hard rock. Tribal drumming and whimsical tools of percussion such as knives, machete and chains, while acoustic and electric guitar create opposing/dualistic sounds. These instruments help drive home the images related through repetition of their chorus lines.
These images and ideas have emerged in great abundance in just a short time. After much correspondence, the group released a split 12” LP with the world’s most famous cult leader, Charles Manson. In June, the Austin group released it’s first full-length “A Godlike Inferno” (read the review) to a heap of media acclaim. Since then, the group added bassist TA (Hod, ex-Pleasant Valley) to bring about a deeper backdrop. TA joins the core of Justin “Ribs” Mason (acoustic guitar), Michael AVV (electric guitar) and Nathan Opposition (drums/percussion/vocals).
Often incorporating a projector to synch up images with their music, Ancient VVisdom uses the live setting not just to showcase their music but also to relate rituals. The group has opened for Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Wino, Swans and the Pentagram/Eyehategod SXSW showcase. Before opening for the mighty stoner rockers The Sword on Independence Day, Nathan Opposition spoke with Metalunderground.com about what makes this eclectic band tick.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): Ancient VVisdom’s music has a stripped-down campfire appeal. Did the group start as a bonfire-jamming session?
Nathan Opposition: The band started in 2009. Me and Ribs [Justin Mason] started writing a couple of tunes. We recorded our first album, our split with Charles Manson, with one microphone in a room, so we had this low-key vibe to the whole thing. It had a stripped down feel to it. As the first recording ended, we started doing bonfires and rituals in our back yard to amplify the intensity of the band. We wanted to create a mood within our own circle. Once we did that, it crept into our mind and evolved from there becoming what we are today. We did our record at The Bubble, which is a big step up from a back yard recording. Yeah, it definitely started as that and with that in mind, too. The first demos definitely have that sort of feel.
DC: Tell me more about these back yard rituals.
Opposition: I do a lot of breaking rituals. I’d start a big bonfire and then break glass inside of it. It feels like a release to me. It has that sort of sound, that sort of chaotic vibe. That’s one of the ways we took these rituals and made them real life, and made them part of what we do every day. The live show is another ritual. It’s our own version of a black mass but on stage.
DC: How did you come up with your band name? Is the double “V” an ode to St. Vitus?
Opposition: First of all: We came up with the name from a Time Life book called “Ancient Wisdom.” I read that book for a while, and have been into the occult for quite some time—studying and reading. I had the acronym AVV in my head for quite some time because I wanted to use the Greek alphabet as the image. AVV was something we came up with before Ancient Wisdom, and then the book fell into our hands and we started reading it. Then, we found out there was another band from Sweden called Ancient Wisdom, so we decided to change the name, take the two v’s and separate the w. It’s also like an old world sort of writing, so the name was appropriate in that way.
DC: You and your brother Michael AVV (electric guitar) both lived in Ohio and played in the hardcore band Integrity. Did you start AVV when you moved to Austin?
Opposition: The groundwork for AVV started in Ohio with me writing my own tunes. We were developing a sound I felt was interesting. I moved here and reacquainted with Ribs and Michael moved with me. Then, we started to develop a sound from the songs I had. We took all the ideas and formed a sound that we all felt was appropriate. I think the first time we jammed was in 2009. We had this really acoustic-driven vibe. Now, we are trying to develop more of a rock vibe and keep our folk foundation that we started out with.
I did an electronic recording with one of my friends who is in a band with me, Grudge Match. He’s a DJ who does all this electronic music. I had a song called “Sacrificial Lamb,” that was a song that I first recording for what is now called Ancient VVisdom. If that recording is somewhere, (laughs) I’d like to get a copy of it. That seemed appropriate at that time. In 2008, we did Fun Fun Fun Fest with Integrity, and saw Austin for all it was worth. We knew we had to go back there. Saw all my friends and got reacquainted with everybody, and decided to move out there and see what we could do there. AVV evolved from there.
DC: Michael Jochum (Michael AVV), Nathan “Opposition” Jochum and Justin “Ribs” Mason comprise the core of Ancient VVisdom. These musicians have a background in hardcore—Nathan and Michael played in Integrity and Justin play(s) in Iron Age. Considering your backgrounds in hardcore, were people surprised when you first showed them AV?
Opposition: I think they had expectations that it would be a heavier kind of band, a misconception of what we would sound like. I think once people understood the content and heard what I was singing about, they knew they were working with the same master, the same drive and presence. It’s just as heavy lyrically as any other band, and then when they hear the sound and it’s like nothing they expected. I think it caught a couple of people off guard, which is good because we expected that. We get a lot of reviews on metal blogs and sites where the writer thinks its going to be heavy, and then they hear it and they’re like “ohhhhh.” They have to think a little more about it, which is actually nice. They have to put a little more thought into it and decode it, instead of it being what they think it may be.
DC: Some AV shows have a projector playing images on the wall behind you. Do you use this for special shows only? What images do you use?
Opposition: I like to play one of my favorite Brazilian directors, Coffin Joe. Some of the music and the images work really well together. The film “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul” synchs up well with the content I write about, which has been a big influence on my lyrics in general. A lot of films, horror films have been a big influence, so I like to incorporate that into my lyrics as well as project it on stage. Having horrific images definitely adds to what we do. At the beginning, we put together footage of our favorite backyard rituals. I’ll take any movie that captures a certain vibe. Every time you see a ritual on film, it is part of our ritual on stage. It is part of our live show, even though it’s on film. Any time you bring those sorts of things to light, it is a ritual.
Darren Cowan owns and operates Louder Than Hell.net. He has written for several metal publications. An avid metal head for over twenty years, he has attended concerts throughout several regions of the U.S.
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