Nachtmystium's Blake Judd Discusses New Album "Silencing Machine"
Two years after "Assassins: Black Meddle Part II" (reviewed here), U.S. act Nachtmystium is shedding much of the psychedelic and experimental vibes from the previous two albums to bring back the harsh black metal sound for impending release "Silencing Machine."
The new album hits North America at the end of July, which will be preceded by a short run of live shows and a stop at the Gathering of Shadows fest. While the group gears up for the impending festivities, Nachtmystium front man Blake Judd took out some time to check in with us and discuss the new album. Check out the full interview below to see what Blake had to say about the changing sound on this new release, the guest musicians present on the album, and his distaste for the band Ghost.
xFiruath: I’ve heard two tracks off the new album “Silencing Machine” so far, and it seems like the psychedelic and disco aspects have been cut out this time around.
Blake: Yeah this record is more like a follow-up to “Instinct: Decay.” The “Black Meddle” series that preceded this album were meant to be their own thing, and “Instinct: Decay” and “Silencing Machine” are bookends on it. There’s still some psychedelic vibes here and there, but overall it’s much more on par towards our older material.
xFiruath: The last album “Addicts: Black Meddle Part 2” had a drug theme running through it. What’s going on with the theme on this new album?
Blake: This record is more about our personal lives. The last album definitely focused on substance abuse because a few of us were dealing with problems with that, and a lot of people around us. We all work in bars so we all see people kind of falling apart because of drugs and alcohol abuse. That album covered all that because it’s very present in all our lives in some form or another. This record is kind of like a more traditional Nachtmystium record in the sense that it deals with topics that are interesting to me or things in my personal life. There’s not really a concept to the record though, each song has its own theme or vibe.
xFiruath: Tell me about the writing of these songs. How does that process work for Nachtmystium?
Blake: These songs were written over the course of about a year prior to when we recorded in February. So throughout 2011 we worked on it, but the bulk of it was written in the couple of months before recording. I work better when I have a deadline. Some people don’t, but I find myself being more productive when I know I have to have something done by a certain time. It allows me to delegate the time between that moment and when the product is due. I give myself time so I’m not sitting with my thumb in my ass a week before the record is needing to be recorded. It’s a relatively easy process once I have that deadline in place. You can focus and get it figured out and work with the boys. It came together quite easily.
xFiruath: Let’s get into the recording process a little more. Did you bring on guest musicians?
Blake: For this record we used a noise musician from Chicago named Surachai. He was in the studio with us doing a piece for a blog or newspaper and he was there pretty much every day and we got to know him quite well. So he contributed a little bit to a song, and a guy named Matt Vogels, he’s in a band called Murmur. He’s a good friend of mine from Chicago here. He and I co-wrote the song “Reduced to Ashes” and he performed on that. But besides that there’s no guest musicians on the record.
xFiruath: Do you have new live shows lined up to support the album yet?
Blake: We have a small week run of dates at the end of July, the 25th to the 31st. We’re going out to a festival in Colorado called the Gathering of Shadows. It’s an underground black metal festival we played many years ago before the band was known as we are now. With this album going back to our roots we’re going back to that scene that nurtured us to a level that we were able to be noticed by the bigger metal community. As a way of showing that we’re still dedicated to those people and that scene we’re going back out to perform that festival. We’re playing for free just to be a part of it. It’s like 200 people maximum and it’s way up in the woods. It’s not at an address, it’s deep in the forest. Everybody meets up together and a caravan with 150-200 people in it goes to the mountains and we camp for the weekend. There’s generators but no lightning, all the lightning is campfires and the stage is actually a natural rock formation that’s flat enough to be a natural stage. It’s really cool. We’re playing a couple of shows around that to finance the trip since none of the bands get paid and it doesn’t cost anything to go to the festival. Aside from that there’s no touring plans, but we’re working on that right now. We have a bunch of offers on the table and we’re trying to sort through them all and figure out what’s best for the band.
xFiruath: In addition to releasing the new album, there’s also the EP “As Made,” which has two songs that will not appear on the album. What made you go that route and how are these songs different from the album tracks?
Blake: It’s kind of our tribute to the Chicago era of Industrial music. We were recording a Joy Division cover, which was going to get put on a 7” but we didn’t know what our original track would be. Chris Connelly, who is a former Ministry member, he’s a good friend of ours and lives in Chicago still, so he was willing to work with us. We thought what a cool opportunity it would be to do a song tribute to Ministry and that whole era. So the song we put out called “As Made” is in tribute to that style, and it’s totally unrelated to the record, it’s just a coincidence that it came out before the album.
xFiruath: I was listening to the trailer for that new Drug Honkey album, which sounds pretty interesting, and I understand you actually did a guest spot on the release. How did you end up doing that and what sort of sound can listeners expect from Drug Honkey?
Blake: This is cool, I’ve done like 40 interviews in the last three weeks and you’re the first to ask me about Drug Honkey. They are a great band from Chicago, they sound like Godflesh on Quaaludes. I don’t know how else to describe them. It’s really fucked up, dark, dreary, I can’t possibly tag a genre to it. It’s its own sludgy, doomy, industrial kind of thing. They just asked if I’d be interested in working with them and I’m very into what they are doing. They are one of the bands in Chicago that I think are doing their own thing, much like Nachtmystium, we always did our best to sound like us and nobody else, and they’re on that wavelength. It was a real easy decision when I was asked to participate. I went in and worked on a song called “Weight of the World” with them. They are going to play our record release show in Chicago, and hopefully down the line we can get them on tour with us.
xFiruath: Other than Drug Honkey and the new album what are you listening to lately?
Blake: I’m so caught up with Nachtmystium I haven’t been out buying new music, so I haven’t been listening to new stuff lately. I’m always just jamming to what I’ve always listened to. As far as metal goes the bands I’d be interested in are Blut Aus Nord from France, and I like the new Devil’s Blood album a lot. I’ve been really getting into this ‘70s singer named Gene Clark, who is the singer for The Byrds from San Francisco. He has some solo records I got turned onto that are really good.
xFiruath: You mentioned The Devil’s Blood, are you into Ghost and are you looking forward to that new album?
Blake: I heard they got signed to a major label too, so good for them, but I’m not really into it. It sounds like cheap Mercyful Fate in my opinion. I wonder if you took the gimmicks away if they would even be so popular, but that’s just my opinion. A lot of people seem to really like them and I’m not trying to knock what they do.
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