Colorado USA’s own The Flight Of Sleipnir have returned once again with an incredible album with V., their first for new label Napalm Records. Combining a mix of doom, black, Viking metals and other genres have resulting in a unique, enigmatic and hard to describe sound from this two piece. I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with both David Csicsely (Drums, Vocals, Guitars) and Clayton Cushman (Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards) to try to get a little insight into their process….
Congratulations on another epic release in V. Can I presume that the title of the album is because it is your fifth full length album or is there some other hidden meaning?
David: Yes, that’s basically what the title implies. Originally we wanted to do a self titled release but then decided that since it’s our fifth album and with the album art being a portrayal of Gullveig (as well as being the fifth song) we decided to title it V. (Gullveig in Norse Mythology (“goldbranch”) is the sorceress and seer who had a great love and lust for gold – Jeff)
As much as we all want to categorize metal bands, you seem to have eluded a simple genre tag…is there one that suits you the best in your opinion?
David: We’ve always just called it “Psychedelic Metal”, we never felt the need to get carried away with genres or self-labeling.
You were signed to Napalm Records prior to the release of V. Did this alter your approach in recording the album and, if so, how? Were there higher expectations or pressure you put on yourselves to prove yourselves in some way?
Clayton: The answer is no. We make it a point to try to let the music flow as naturally as we can—we don’t mix any expectations into the process. Napalm’s involvement did affect the recording process since it allowed us to upgrade our gear and capture a wider range of sound.
You both played together in two black metal groups (Acheronian Dirge and Throcult). How did being in those projects together affect your work today if at all?
David: I think both bands had an impact on us which led us to where we are today. If it wasn’t for Throcult, Clay and I might have never met. After Throcult, we started up Acheronian Dirge (which was a band I was in previously that disbanded) and that’s when we got involved writing music together. It all led up to TFOS.
Clayton: It really helped solidify our natural chemistry. Playing for all those years made it easy to start a new project and have it start clicking right from the start.
Do you perceive that you have a “one-of-a-kind” sound? Do you think you sound like anyone else either within metal or other music styles?
David: I don’t think we necessarily have a “one of a kind sound” but I think what we have is definitely our own. People will always compare bands to other bands to help them identify or explain what something sounds like. Most of the bands we’re compared with aren’t bands we actually draw inspiration from but are still honored to be compared with.
Clayton: David is right, but I will add that if a musician is truly creating music from within themselves, a distinct sound or at least a distinct voice (either vocally or instrumentally) should emerge. If you listen closely you can pick out influences, but that is true of everyone.
Your lyrics read more like poems than “song lyrics”. Are they written with music already composed and then made to work with the music or is music composed and the lyrics come afterwards and a concept is formed?
David: The lyrics aren’t really done in a concrete formula so to speak. I think it just depends on where we are in the writing process. During V. we had some lyrics already written prior to the music and the rest came after. With an album like “Saga” however, we decided to do a concept album so we figured out what we wanted to do lyrically and what moods we wanted to purvey musically before we even started the song writing process. It all just depends on our initial approach to an album.
Do you both write the songs together or do you both bring ideas to the table and work on them? Who does what in the process?
David: It’s about half and half really. We always come to the table with at least a few songs already written or at least the foundation of a song figured out. The rest are typically done together, we’ll usually map them out acoustically and then transpose them with the “full band” treatment with electrics and drums.
Clayton: There are also a few songs that came from jamming/improvising as a drum / electric guitar two piece as well.
V. has fewer and much longer songs then your previous album, Saga. Did you consciously do this or is it just the way it came to be? Is there a simple specific concept to the album that made it so the songs needed more time to be played and then fulfill the concept?
David: I don’t think it was really a conscious decision to make the songs longer this time around. We just did what felt natural for the songs.
Clayton: The vinyl and the limited A5 releases have just about all of the completed songs that were done for the album. Some were cut from the standard CD release per Napalm. None of that was intentional, though—and there was not a concept on this album.
Does touring as a two member band have its challenges in terms of bringing others in to play your material? It seems that you have recruited some of your past bandmates to play with you live….Is there any sort of tension or uncomfortableness because of this situation?
David: Not at all. We’ve been playing with these guys for years and they’ve played every show with us since day one. Justin Siegler and Dave Borrusch have both been completely on board with rehearsing and playing the material live and have always been very supportive of the band.
The artwork that accompanies this album has a very “retro” feel to it, as have some of your previous efforts and merchandising (shirts, stickers, etc) Where did the idea come from if there is one to go in this direction or is it just coincidence? Is the artwork actually something you direct to have done or is it already completed and you purchase it to use?
David: We’ve wanted that look from the start, something incorporating the psychedelic aspect of our music with Scandinavian mythology. I’m actually responsible for all the artwork for the band and I’ll usually begin the illustrations and direction of the art work when we start the writing process for an album.
Does the rugged wilderness and glorious scenery of Colorado play a role in your song style or writing process in terms of inspiration or do other factors do that instead?
Clayton: – We both grew up here– I’m sure it is buried inside of our sub consciousness, so it probably seeps through here and there. Inspiration is a hard thing to explain, but whatever it is we just try to let it happen without thinking on it…
Any favorite albums of this past year in any genre?
David: There were some fantastic releases this year, I especially liked the new YOB album “Clearing the path to ascend”, Gridlink’s “Longhena”, Abigor’s “leytmotif luzifer” and of course the new Pink Floyd album “The Endless River”.
Clayton: – Pink Floyd “Endless River”, Aphex Twin “Syro”, Fu Manchu “Gigantoid”, I can’t wait to hear more from Sleep, I thought “The Clarity” was interesting. “Time to Die” by Electric Wizard was pretty good. YOB too, of course.
Will there be an upcoming tour to support the album? Any talk of other bands for the tour package?
David: There has been some talk of doing a couple tours this year but nothing concrete as of yet.
Any closing thoughts or comments??
David: Thank you for the interest, it’s greatly appreciated! Cheers
Clayton: Thank you for your time. Take care.