Aether Realm Interview
After reviewing their new album, Redneck Vikings from Hell, I reached out to Aether Realm for an interview. The guys from the band seemed very open to the idea, and we got some excellent meaningful answers in reply about the background of the album, how the pandemic affected the industry, and some of their self-referential songs.
Going of the lyrics on the album, there’s a lot of personal overtones dealing with topics like depression, and the darker effects of perfectionism. Did any of these themes factor into the background of the album and if so how?
“Oh for sure. We basically have two types of lyrics – fantasy adventure type (which I write because I want to) and the more personal in my feelings type (which I write because I feel like I have to). It’s nice taking a difficult moment or a painful feeling and working it into something you feel is beautiful. Make’s it feel more manageable you know?”
Compared to your earlier material there is quite a remarkable difference when compared to “Redneck Cowboys from Hell”. Could you describe what prompted the direction of your music and what the evolution was like.
“Pantera already took the Cowboys from Hell album title (which sucks because that’s a sick af name), but on Redneck Vikings From Hell, we just wanted to write songs that all stood on their own – short episodic experiences (think twilight zone as opposed to LOST). It’s not that I want to go this direction with it forever, but it’s important to me to try to push a little out of my comfort zone and enter territory where I don’t feel like I already know what the reaction will be before we release. I know how to write a big long epic themed album and tie the first and last songs together by starting and ending with the same riff – we’ve already done that! I didn’t know how to write a good collection of bangers until we did this. And even now, the jury’s still out! We haven’t been able to tour on this stuff yet, we may get onstage and start playing hunger and get booed off because they want to hear the sun the moon the star! We’ll see, it’s exciting to not know.”
Redneck Vikings From Hell
As for the album title itself, I’ve gotten quite interesting reactions when I brought up the album title with many people. And the song is unlike anything I at least have heard you put out. What was the mentality behind such a unique song?
“Well, we’ve presented ourselves a few different ways over our history as a band. 6 or 7 years ago I’d go onstage with a bear pelt over my back like a cape, with “war paint” on my face. We had songs like One Chosen By The Gods, and Odin Will Provide – that told stories like those you might hear in an Ensiferum or Amon Amarth song.
During the Tarot era about 3 years ago we transitioned a bit, with me wearing the same bear head uncomfortably affixed like a paldroon to my left shoulder. We were all wearing sort of intentionally ratty looking Behemoth style leather vests with bits of iron rings and shit hanging off of them (they were sick!). Lyrics moved away from intentionally jocking the heathen pantheon “viking metal” vibe, and more into the occult, some more personal struggle stuff, introduced the party song (king of cups), and some softer elements like in Temperance.
All this time we’ve been presenting ourselves as vikings and soothsayers, we’ve still been the same people – just 4 dudes growing up in North Carolina. At some point, it just seemed obvious that if we weren’t going to be a specific gimmick kinda band, we should try to reconcile these two facts.
Many musicians in the industry across genres have been hit hard by the current pandemic. With touring impacted, how does the band continue to reach out to fans and connect with them?
“We hang out in a facebook group called the TMHC – Aether Realm fans. We have a discord chat that you can access through there as well, and we’re in there often. I’m trying to be good about regularly posting what we’re working on or what’s going on with us, in addition to the big music and video releases. Donny’s been streaming on twitch a bit.
Been working on streaming some music – might even go as far as to try to put together a streamed show. We all work day jobs so it’s a bit difficult to coordinate, but if we make it happen you’ll hear about it if you follow us on anything.”
My last question may be a bit more obvious, but I’m sure newer fans or people unfamiliar with your band find be wondering what the story behind THMC is and how it ties back to your fandom.
“Rapidfire history, first dude to do the Tiny Metal Hand that I know of was Brian Shields from out in California. Brian’s no longer with us, but he was one of the nicest dudes I ever met, and he displayed that kindness to every metal band that played anywhere near him out on the west coast. He’d always make this really tiny metal hand in pictures with metal bands, and it was just…makes me laugh thinking about it. He didn’t call it anything though.
Fast forward to the Wilderealm II tour with Wilderun. We were eating burritos in Vermont and noticed a little family of aluminum foil humanoids, about an inch tall, living on top of the drink machine. We got to riffin about em, and it went from tiny metal man to a tiny metal fam, and a tiny metal band with a tiny metal hand. Rest of that tour was all tiny metal hands. We started getting the crowd to do it with us, and before we knew it we had our own little secret handshake of sorts. And if Children of Bodom can have the COBHC, then I reckon we’ve gotta have our own crew, the Tiny Metal Hand Crew!
Readers who haven’t already looked into Redneck Vikings From Hell can probably tell based on the title track alone if they’ll like the rest of the album. RVFH is available for purchase and for streaming on amazon, and a music video for TMHC has been released with help from the fans during lockdown.”