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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Arc of Ascent - Interview

Arc of Ascent are a Hamilton (New Zealand) bassed 3 piece  who's music what I'd describe as a groovy psychedelic stonerdoom rock/metal sound.  Whilst I hate comparing bands to others, If you can imagine Cathedral crossed with early Pink Floyd you're not far off the mark with AoA.  Everything else you need to know about them is in the following interview which was answered by Vocalist and Bass player Craig Williamson.  

1 - With out making reference to any other bands, artists or musical genre’s, describe your music in a away that will make readers of this interview want to check you out.


Rays of the third eye awaking the mountain and reascending in a path to freedom.

2 - What is the significance of the Nag Champa incense that you burn on stage at your shows? What inspires the psychedelic nature of your titles, lyrics and art work? Where do you think these inspirations originate from?
The Inscense burning has quite a few personal reasons, but mainly it's for calm and for focus while playing, but it has other greater significance, on a higher level....
Try this shit. It's awesome!

I wouldn't say my lyrics are especially psychedelic, not consiously anyway, i'd say they're more personal.

Like many things we do the source of inspiration hasn't been discussed alot, it just happens, it's same with the lyrics, they're just worked on until everything seems "right" I don't spend any time thinking about where riffs or lyrical ideas come from, it's more of an organic way, and hopefully gives our sound a more accuate feeling that it's from us and not fabricated. The artwork for "Circle of the Sun" was inspired by Greg Hodgsons visions of what we do, him and i spoke at length on how the cover and direction of the artwork in general would it reprasent Arc of Ascent, and with a little guidance it came out that way.

3 - How has the International response been to “Circle of the Sun”? Has it opened any doors for AoA? If so what? Are you happy with that release? Is there anything you would have done differently in retrospect? Why should people hear “Circle of the Sun”? Will we see a vinyl release?

The response has been very positive. Opened any doors? not really any that weren't open before, there are always things or offers in the pipeline with us - weather we do them or not is another thing. If you're talking about touring overseas then yes we have had offers, they must be right for us though, we will not play if we feel it's not a good idea or we'll go broke by doing it, but it depends - next year we'll follow up a few things.

Yes, i'm definately happy with Circle of the Sun, i guess when you look back you'll always think that you could've done something diferent, but that always happens, i've done a few albums now and there is always something, but that's just learning more about what you're doing for next time....the LP version will come out hopefully September or October too....

"Circle of the Sun" album cover
Why people should listen to Circle of the Sun? it has many ways for you to take the music & direction.....the more you listen the more different aspects will unveil themselves, there are deep deep things on that album, lyrically and musically that don't hit you right away, but they are there.

4 - Tell us about your Solo project “Lamp of the Universe”. How does it differ to AoA? Are there any links between the two? I understand there they are being released on Vinyl. How can people obtain them?

Lamp of the Universe is just me alone in the studio, that's the difference between Arc of Ascent mostly, it's been happening for awhile now - the style is a combination of eastern influenced psychedelic folk, acid rock, cosmic drone and a few other influences here and there. The links between the two would be that I write in the same way for both, just one is interpreted by a rock band and the other just by myself.....same songs really....a few of the songs on Circle of the Sun started out as Lamp of the Universe songs which i never used, so when the band started i brought them in to the mix, some of the other tracks on the album are songs that were written for Datura but never got used, for example Master of the Serpents i wrote around 1993 or 1994 which Datura used to play but never recorded.
The first two Lamp of the Universe albums have been reissued on LP, "The Cosmic Union" and "Echo in Light", a fair few on-line mailorder outlets have them. Also an album from 2005 "Earth, Spirit & Sky" came out on LP too.

5 - You are working on the next Arc release at the moment? What can we expect from that? How will it differ to “Circle of the Sun” what will it be called? When will it be available?

We're working on a new album at the moment, and are going into the studio to start recording in early September, so hopefully it'll be ready sometime early 2012, maybe March or April once everything has been done. The style has progressed a bit i'd say, more dynamic, it's hard to say being so close to the music, but it really has a more intense feel for me in places, Sandy and John are playing some amazing things on this new one, and i'll be of course doing the psych-trance-eastern-mystic thing on the new one again will be called "The Higher Key".

John's mid song back scratching trick captured on film.

6 - You were in band called Datura prior to forming Arc Of Ascent. Tell us about that. How did Datura lead to the forming of Arc of Ascent?

Datura was a stoner type band i formed at the end of 1992, somehow we managed to keep it all going until 1999, which now that i think about it was crazy, did three demos and two albums plus some other random songs here and there, but as many may already know NO ONE in New Zealand understood what we were trying to do at the time, so it kind of petered out....that led to me doing the solo Lamp of the Universe studio thing, vowing never to be in a band situation ever again after the whole experience was a little taxing to say the least, but after 10 or so years doing the solo thing a band situation, in the right way, sounded appealing to me. So I started looking for musicans
.7 - In the early 90s you were a member of Hamilton underground Black/Death Metal band Azazel. Do you believe that this may have had a long term influence on your musical out put? If so what?

No, i don't really think playing in that band influenced or helped me much long term - hell that was 20 years ago. I don't think something i did for 18 months when I was 18 years old has much bearing on what i do now.

Note: For those who are interested you can chech our both Azazel demos by following these links:  

Azazel - Azazel - Demo 1 - 1992
Azazel - Nocturnal Cognation - Demo 2 - 1992

8 - Link association time. What thoughts spring to mind when visiting each of the following links: - Looks interesting - The ultimate festival, man to play at this would be amazing.... - um, yea ok....pretty cool. - Anyone wanting to find out about some great NZ and Aussie stoner type bands check this out. - My good friend Richard's extremely vital blog on everything that is old and obscure to do with fuzz, stoner, acid
Sandy (Left) and Craig (Right)

9 - John (Drums) and Sandy (Guitar) have quite different musical back grounds to you. Please give a run down of these. What Atributes do each of them bring to Arc of Ascent?

I wouldn't say our musical backgrounds are that different really....we have diferent backgrounds sure, but everyone does, there are alot of areas where we all overlap at some point aswell. I guess generally John is more into modern sounds and Sandy more into the 70's....i'm somewhere in between, but like I said, we all have musical interests that cross over so everyone brings some cool new angle to the table, it would suck if we all listened to the same bands, had the same influences anyway....

10 - What else is in the future for Arc of Ascent? Anything else to add?

At the moment the future is just getting this new album done, then we'll take it from there. Thanks for the interview Chris.

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