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Neoandertals
Everything you ever wanted to know about NEOANDERTALS

-Just to introduce yourselves, could you tell us how Neoandertals was born?

Neoandertals was born in November 2003, when I started to compose arrangements and riffs that were more complex and heavy, but maintained a primitive vibe. We always jammed with Roland (the former drummer, who is also a close relative of mine) on weekends experimenting with different death metal formulas, but it was during that time I realized what path we would like to go. The original plan did not include to have a bass only band thought, that came by many mishappenings and forming processes of the bands sound. I had played with the idea to have a concept band about Neanderthals and other species of the Homo genus for years. I stumbled across a picture in a history book that showed some Neanderthals butchering a wild animal and removing some huge guts smeared with other parts of the insides. The display and aura of the idea of the picture was dark, brutal and all in all so true and distant because the creatures enjoying the slaughtering were not us. I wanted to go beyond that and add a nihilistic element of the downfall of mankind with the coming of neo-Neanderthals into the albums concept. It all did fit very well because my vocals had evolved into expressing a savage sound, and it did sound like a Neanderthal.

- It's clear that the lack of guitars makes Neoandertal a unique band in brutal death. Where did you get the idea of doing brutal death just with bass? I've read someone on internet describing your album as "Disgorge's demo 95 with no guitars". Is there any other band or recording that inspired you?

The idea to play only with the bass happened half-accidentally, when our guitarist decided to quit and not come to the studio to record our demo "Neander Valley". That did not stop us, I knew we could continue and achieve a more crushing noise inside the realms of brutal death metal without the aid of guitars. I am glad this happened, because otherwise my record would sound like a lot of other records out there and that is not something I would prefer.
The three masterpieces from the second wave of brutal death metal continue to be our main sources of inspiration. Those are the Disgorge (USA) album "Consume The Forsaken", Decrepit birth "...And Time Begins" and the Wormed record "Planisphaerium". Those are the main songwriting examples we would like to continue writing and expanding. But of course I listen to every kind of good death metal, as long as it's aggressive and unique. I enjoy a lot of the classic death metal albums from the '90s like Deicide "Deicide"/"Legion", Cannibal Corpse "Tomb Of The Mutilated", every record by Gorguts and so many more, but it is not something I would like to see replicated again by todays bands in the same form as it used to be. It would be cool, but it would not create nothing that much interesting.
Definitely the Wormed promo from 2001 was and continues to be a huge inspiration for the overall sound and feeling of this band. It was the first time I realized that you also can have the most brutal tunes with inaudible guitars.

- This question goes for Rain: what differences do you find from playing with guitars to playing just along the drums? And how do you do those crazy harmonics? Matti Way seems like a big influence on vocals. Is this intentional?

I have never followed the guitars to play tracks, it has always been the drums, so, it seems very natural that the bass follows the drums because both are to my ears very rhythmic instruments that also have a similar sound-sphere, like acoustically the bassdrum goes mostly hand-in-hand with the lower notes of the bass guitar in creating the similar low-end frequencies.

About my vocals, well, Roland said I would never be as brutal as Matti Way. I proved him that he was wrong. The vocal inventions on "Cranial Impalement" remain superb to this day and continue to be the most natural gutturals ever achieved, and they sound very inhuman, almost like us, but the power of the lungs sounds like it comes from another species of some sort.

Those harmonics I use is a technique, where on my right hand I pull with my index finger and let the string ring by slightly touching the string with the thumb.
But I think more interesting are my right hands three and four finger techniques. Like the powerful modified Webster's technique 3-2-1-3-2-1 with a special swivel like Kollias on feet, the 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1 and 3-2-1-2-3-2-1 for solos and the slower (a bit) 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 for heavy parts. I also have came up with a unique pattern named 3-2-4-3-2-1-3-2-1-2-3-4-3-2-4-3-2-1-3-2-1-2-3-4, but I rarely use it because it is too complex for my normal bass killing riffs. They are scattered all over the record and will be even more on future ones but it is impossible to dechipher them unless you see it live. I might tend to prefer on some occasions one technique over another, but only on some periods, because my bass playing is always in a change. Like in some 2005 bootleg live videos you can notice that I mainly use the 3-2-1-2-3-2-1 technique but I do not manage to achieve the really fast notes. For that I changed the main pattern to the what I like to call the modified Webster's 3-2-1-3-2-1 technique in 2006 right before recording "Neanderthals Were Master Butchers". I was always very impressed by the fast bass speeds executed by Chris Richards of Suffocation and Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse. It was the reason I picked up the bass, so I asked master Webster directly on their tour in a town nearby how the hell to do it fast and right. He was the nicest death metal veteran you could ever meet, so if anyone is more interested in playing fast death metal on the bass, just go ahead and ask him. Anyway I had the 3-2-1-3-2-1 in the muscle memory of my right hand, but I needed a way to relax them during playing. I turned for what the death metal drummers had used for years and it was the swiveling feet technique drummers like Pete Sandoval, Tim Yeung and George Kollias made popular in the realms of death metal. I adopted it to my right hand: moving with each pattern the wrist slightly from one side of pickup to the other. I think that this is a way of playing that suits for me, for everyone else maybe it might not suit, but for me, it makes perfect sense if you see it live. My plucking does sound a bit uncontrolled on the record, but I've managed to improve it a lot and hope to reveal my new (well, slightly) revision of the same pattern on the next record.

- Neoandertals has chosen a theme aside from the classic gore concepts of brutal death. Are you tired of them? The presentation of the cd is quite original and well-done. Who was on charge of it?

No, I'm not tired from the classically dark and brutal themes of death metal. But I would like to see more overly killer lyrical themes like the grandfathers Lord Worm and Chris Barnes (their old, classic eras) created and guided. Something with style that is so vile, dark and brutal than never before. I hope there will be some unique ideas and poetry that spice up the brutal death language.
The CD inlay was a combined work of Roland and me, but mostly it was done by Roland. Roland was in charge for the wonderful pictures and layout and I did the handwriting for the lyrics. It is supposed to be a diary of an old madman, describing the rising of the undead neo-Neanderthals and the war that Humanity had deserved for not defleshing the last Neanderthal carrions in Neander Valley some 30 000 years ago. I hope to come back to this in the third Neoandertals album, but right now I'm focusing on the second one. Roland is definitely looking for doing more artwork of any kind, so if you meet him somewhere in a abandoned bar somewhere in Spain, then hook him up.

- What gear did you use in the recording of the album? How did the recording go? Are there multiple bass tracks recorded?

The entire recording process for the "Neanderthals Were Master butchers" album lasted 2 hours. That included all the setting up and soundchecks. We were on a very tight budget so we only had one take for every tune. I and Roland played and recorded at the same time, but yes, I did add another bass track later on. But it is mixed to boost only the lowest frequencies and can be heard in the end of "Sliced By Man" and in the beginning of "Brooding Over A Dead Breed". It is very low in the mix.
Recording songs, on which I had been working on for almost 3 years, in one take is frustrating, because you can not always grab the best feeling of the fingers or the drums in one take. I would not like to record this way again.

For the recording I did use no bass amps or cabinets. The signal went straight to the recording board. This will not however happen on our next CD, because now I have my Ampeg SVT 4-Pro and I can't wait to use it. However I am not sure about which combination of cabinets to use. I had a pair of 18" subwoofer cabinets to rely on uber low sounds, but one caught actual fire during a local soundcheck here in Estonia. I must have been pushing too much power into it. Two 18" speakers do not move as much air as many smaller ones would, so I might take the opposite side in combinating cabinets to achieve a good low-end. That being adding smaller speaker to the color of my bass sound. I now want to restore an old 4x12 box which I also want to take on the road with me the next time we move out to play.
My bass for the record was and continues to be the Bc Rich Warlock 5-string NJ series from 2005. It's a big bass and its construction and feel wants to make me play and workout on it like crazy.

- Which was the reason of the exit of the former drummer, who recorded the album?

There were a combination of matters that did lead to the departure of Roland Seer from Neoandertals, nothing really horrible, but it was best for the future of this band. Namely before the recording session of "Neanderthals Were Master Butchers" I had taken a month of free time to concentrate on the the final rehearsal process. We had the material ready for 7 months by then and were in the practice mode 2 to 3 times a week at best. So before we went to the studio, I wanted to concentrate only on playing the material. It was a tough task, because most songs were thought out by me and Roland had to play and remember my parts and the latter was somehow not easy for him, thats however also his improvising skills exploded - by forgetting my original parts and reinventing something new on the spot, but this happened during every rehearsal. Anyway right before the studio a few weeks Roland had to go to another city to do his animation film practice for school and he told me this is something he would like to do for living. I was not willing to relocate, so I saw a deep cap coming in the upcoming rehearsals and the writing of any new material. It would not have worked out with the tempo we were moving on. Anyhow the studio session without proper practices before that was rusty and not one of our best, especially considering we only had one take for each song because of a very tight budget. In the future, we would need to practice a lot more.

Band practice on very regular basis is like an addiction, you can never be truly happy without it. Band rehearsals are the shit - the songs and ideas materialize into sound and playing them awakes a powerful adrenaline rush. And its too powerful to let it just go. I could not let this to come to an end with just some occasional rehearsals every few months or so, that would destroy me mentally. So after the recording I started to teach my girlfriend Sandra to play the drums and somehow it did work out really well. I don't know how, but she was a natural blaster from the beginning. I rushed her a lot, but we have and had our own private rehearsal place and the future seemed then and seems now with endless possibilities. So I said to Roland that he should concentrate on what he truly wants and I will take Neoandertals further with Sandra. Of course Roland got the offer to work for the National Animation Film Company in Estonia and rejected it. I do not know why. Instead he did quit his day-job as an artwork creator for advertisements and went on foot across Europe to travel without any money or real food. He slept in garbage bags on cold rainy nights somewhere in the coastal side in Sweden, camped in forests near Frankfurt, played his acoustic to earn some food on the streets of Helsinki, Stockholm, Amsterdam, London and everywhere else across Europe and ended up in Spain, where he is living now. Right now at the very moment he is crashing in an abandoned bar in a town I forget the name of. Eating stuff from the trees and streets or I don't know and camping sometimes in the mountains with freak festivals with a lot of drugs like he said. I'm not fond of that - I enjoy being with Sandra, living in a forest in a house I am rebuilding, practicing and being a gearshead on the 360. I'm also heavily into Fallout (The original post-apocalyptic role-playing game) and do think that the first from the series is one of the best pieces of entertainment ever created, if you count out good death metal of course. Roland continues to be a close relative of mine and we have played Neoandertals songs in the rehearsal space like 2 or 3 times since his departure. He has forgotten almost every part of the songs however and the last time we played he could only remember the beginning and end of the song "Neanderthals Were Master Butchers", and he couldn't even nail the opening riff from the complex structured song "Spawning Of Species". It amazes me that people can forget their own band songs but I guess this just shows that you have to think about your tunes all the time. Even about the old ones.

Roland was before his European travelings however slightly busy with jamming with non-metal stoners to create some mix of drums and psychedelic elements in an electronical music environment. I think it did not materialize because they were just too high from weed all the time.
To give this whole question a short answer: I wanted to play and we needed to practice more on the next one, but it would not have happened because of the logistics.

- This one goes to Sandra. Did you get the working rhythm of band easily? Did you find any trouble playing the songs? There are not many girls in the brutal scene, and even less on drums. Do you feel like you belong to a minority? Have you found anyone considering you less brutal because of it?

Actually it was pretty hard work to learn all the songs in few months, especially when I started from absolute zero. We rehearsed about 6 times a week. But when I figured out how to blast faster and grew my stamina, it started to be much easier. I do not feel that I belong to a minority. I have never had an attitude that hey, look at me, I am a girl and I play drums in extreme metal. I have 2 legs and 2 hands also like men. Yes, of course there has been comments like "The only reason why she get noticed is because she is a chick" and "What the fuck does she know, she is a girl" but I have grew a thick skin when it comes to these kind of comments. I have much more important things to concentrate on. Like the new upcoming album. I cannot wait!

- There are several bass solos on the cd, some of them could easily be taken out from a jazz album. What do you thing about it?

With the occasional solos I went into the direction that Chris Richards took on the "Breeding The Spawn" album in 1993. That mixed with the surreal notes created by Trey. Those give me the chills on the back every time I hear them.

Some of the audience at our local lives consist of people usually more into jazz. People have told me that it is because of the solos. But yeah, mostly it's classic metalheads like us who want some crushing noise into their moshpit and some earkiller material to soften or strengthen their minds at home. It depends usually on the venue where we are playing because our Estonian label organized some gigs for us in places that were usually used by jazz artist and dark-electro outfits. Our label's mother-label himself is a company usually distributing sci-fi and jazzy artist and we were the first from the metal line of bands.

I think on the CD the tone of the solo parts is not that good, that B.c Rich NJ series bass is my favorite for working out on the bass like a maniac, but I have not managed to produce that good sound for soloing from it. But it just might be that I have not discovered good knob settings on the amp for it.
There will be no solos on the next album, because I feel there is no need for them this time. I might change my mind in the final studio sessions, but I doubt it. Maybe on future releases you hear me soloing again.

- Not long ago Forensick Music began distributing the cd on a international level, but they should have done it quite before. What was the reason behind the delay?

The recording and final mixing of the album took part in the middle of 2006. Forensick Music contacted us in December '06 if I remember correctly. During the same week I got in contact with our Estonian label, who were very interested in releasing that CD of barbarian noise and said they could release it in two months. They did hold to their promises like gentlemen and released it in February 2007. It is a good deal, with 50/50 after the CD breaks even and also our disc was the start of a new sub-label for releasing even more experimental music than the label previously had.
So Forensick Music told us they could release it in four months in April. Did not happen. June, July? Nothing. Only in August I discovered the CD was out by visiting Martin's Forensick merch tent over at the Brutal Assault festival. So I do not know why they did not release it when they first announced they would. Even I did not receive any explanation whatsoever. I will say this - I insisted in having a written contract, but they couldn't write it! So our future label can release also the first CD without any legal hassle. Our win, their loss. The things they verbally promised were however almost all fulfilled, but a little throat cutting goes always on in this business.
Delays lasting over 6 months for putting out albums after they are done is perfectly normal for small labels these days. Bands like Defeated Sanity from Germany and Orchidectomy from Canada recorded their albums in the middle of 2006, like we did. Grindethic put out the Defeated Sanity CD in February 2007 and made a hell of a good job distributing and promoting it. It's a hell of a good release also by the way. The Orchidectomy debut, however, is still not yet out and it may take quite some time when it finally will. I believe it to be the prime example how the best new brutal death metal band gets totally screwed by studio engineers and producers. It is a shame, they released one of the most brutal demos ever and stashed ridiculous amount of cash into the debut and it still has not yet graced us, the fans yet. Good releases might be late these days on smaller labels (also medium ones might have those kind of delays by putting artist aside for a while), but if done right, then it is hell worth the wait. If not done right, well, at least it is out, somewhere.

- Which has been the general response to the cd?

The Estonian press hailed it with very good reviews. Estonia's largest weekly newspaper "Eesti Ekspress" named Neoandertals as something to look out for in '07 in their yearly cultural overview. But of course some mixed ones as well.

From the international press there are only a few official reviews of the actual CD, because Forensick Music did not bother to send out CD-s for reviewing. Most reviews I've seen are from the time when the CD was not even made available by Forensick and our Estonian label had not the license to send it abroad. Those are bad rip mp3 files which are not even closely as heavy as they should with lossless formats. As far as international reviews go then I remember reading an Italian 0/10 review that called us mentally insane from the former Soviet Union. I think that Sir might be correct. Or the 15/100 review on metal archives where the reviewer says we are mentally handicapped playing some noise he cannot understand. That is also correct.

I think that with the music of Neoandertals it is like that - if you have a good sound system and let the overall low-end boost through you, then you might get into it. There is no other way. Of course a live with good equipment gives you also a perfect overview about the meaning or the workout behind the tunes.

- You made a video for the song 'Neandertals were master butchers', what can you tell us about it?

Well, it is an amateur video first and foremost. It was the idea of a dutchman, who wanted to experiment a little with mixing different clips and live footage. The clay animation was made a year before we even started Neoandertals and was during the time he approached us just collecting dust in the shelves. So we thought why not use it and write a story for the video that goes .. the events on "Neanderthals Were Master Butchers". I would personally have cut the beginning drastically and start the video right with mixing the live footage with the film clip, but the creator of this video wanted to be that way. And so be it. I also would have preferred the live playing synthesized with the tune, but that was actually not possible because Roland changed up the song so drastically that it would never had matched. Improvising your material live a little can charge more energy and thought into the performance, but it makes the tune and footage unusable for any future use.

- How is the death scene in Estonia? Can you get shows around easily? Please tell us any other good Estonian brutal death band.

There is no-one here. Not that active ones at least. There are maybe 5 death metal bands that are semi-active and give a few shows a year, but that's it. Lots of pagan and folk metal bands thought, the latter ones selling more CD-s than mainstream pop acts. We do have a website with mp3-s of all the metal bands in Estonia that ever were. The address is http://www. estonianmetal. com where the Forfeit demos from '95 are my favorites - Suffocation worshiping technical brutal death metal at its finest.

- What are the plans of Neoandertals for the future? Is it true that you have some stuff written for a new album?

The goal is to make Neoandertals better and better, tour a lot more and write a record that is way better than the previous one. I think our second album will be a lot heavier than the first - lower, faster and overall more brutal, just like we love it. And the production will be better, the demo recordings right now sound even better than the first CD. I do have to admit that I faced a paradox in mixing the first album's string material. In abandoning the guitars I did yet not loose the desire to have a loud wall of distortion for the main bass as a substitute for the lack of any guitar frequencies. I think it messed the sound color with too many high and middle schemes in the bass sonance. This time we aim for a more natural yet still raw sound for the bass. My fingers will still kill the riffs deciphering process to make the listening experience not that easy. The vocals are more brutal than ever and with the arrival of Sandra into the picture, there will be much more controlled blasting and fills with less random and chaotic bashing.
We are currently gearing up to record our second album and we hope to be done with the tracking process mid-summer. The album is entitled "Ebu Gogo Gutting the Child" and it will contain a story that is too vile towards one little female. We will travel into the caves on the island of Flores in Indonesia and right into the 16th century, before the Portuguese arrived to ruin the fun. It is a time where the local tribes say that the Ebu Gogo aka the Homo floresiensis was still seen on many occasions. They also have tales about how the Ebu Gogo kidnapped human children, hoping to learn from them how to cook. The background story is inspired by an article which was released in the "New Scientist". There it is said that the children easily outwit the Ebu Gogo in the stories, but in a brutal death universe the story goes that the Ebu Gogo always easily outguts the small ladies and boys. "Gogo" means "he who eats meat", so that means that, instead of learning food making secrets, it is easier to boil and englut the soft boy-meat. That is what this album reflects - death, lots of guts, an abused carcass, anger and revenge from the village and finally the hopeless realization that the vile Ebu Gogo will never go away.

- That's all from Pitchline-Zine, feel free to add anything you may want. Thanks a lot for your time and stay brutal.

Thank you for the right questions. May this interview be an overview for any basic questions anyone has for Neoandertals at this point. Long live death metal and stay damn brutal!

Also anyone can hook me up in xbox live, my 'tag is: ConsumeForsaken.

Author: Jorge
Zine: Pitchline Zine
www.pitchline-zine.com

Check also:
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