SUMERLAND - Interview
James of the Middle Pillar Label from New York was talking about a great band, named SUMERLAND, for a long time, and finally I received their debut album “Sivo”, which is really a masterpiece (read the review!). Of course, I thought about some interview questions at once and you will find the bands´s answers here...
? As you are not very well known in Europe yet, please tell us a few words of who, what, when why and everything else of interest...
! From our bio: Four sets of hearts and minds shape SUMERLAND (soo-mur land): Dorien Campbell (vocals and guitar), David Gibson (bass), Marshall Serna (keyboards), and Enrique Ugalde (drums, guitar, vocals). Sharing a similar musical vision, we formed the band in `97, taking the name after a progressive state of consciousness achieved on the way to the afterlife. Our first recording was the CDEP “…and all is always now”, released in February 2000. It featured the song “Circle Dance”, which helped us achieve international and US airplay, and praises from the press. Outburn Magazine noted “…SUMERLAND’s depth and individuality shine…”, while Starvox.net says, “the rich textures woven by these passionate musicians play counter melody to one of the most seductive vocal talents I’ve heard in ages.” Later in September 2000 we contributed the tribal “Morpheus (repraise)” to the Middle Pillar Presents Butoh CD compilation. Sumerland was then signed to the Middle Pillar label in early 2001.
? Your first album was released by the MIDDLE PILLAR label, how did you come in contact with them and how could you convince them to release your music?
! David: Just as we were becoming ready to shop the CDEP to labels, Nick Pagan (formerly of The Changelings) suggested we try Middle Pillar. I went to their web site and based on the vibe I got, I could tell that we would work very well together. I sent them our demo kit, and followed up with email. I thought that they would pass on us, as Sumerland’s sound is quite different from their previous releases. After a long time without an answer from them, I started to send very creative emails. These would vary in subject from weather reports to illegal fireworks, anything besides the music. I just kept bugging them until they agreed to sign us. Since then, there has not been any doubt in my mind about our decision to work together. I hope to become the band that made the label that made the band…
? As there are millions of CDs released every day, can you explain, why people should buy especially YOUR album? What is special in your music ?
! Enrique: It's genuine. A rarity in music today.
Marshall: We create music which is creatively connected.
David: It is a sexual masterpiece. Truly, one of a kind.
Dorien: For one, our album art is the prettiest on the market right now. The CD has this unique fold-out design that takes you into a psychedelic forest. Also, there is nothing quite like the Sumerland experience. This is evident in the expressions on the many faces of those who come to our shows. It is deeply moving even for the jaded music listener. We have a bizarre, yet sophisticated audience. It seems to be people who have evolved out of whatever genre they used to identify themselves with, and into an artistic expression of individuality. Sumerland is for the music connoisseur with exceptional tastes.
? Can you tell us a bit about your live show? Is it a „big“ show or more kind of „pure music“?
! David: Our music has a spiritual intensity that truly reveals its sincerity during a live performance. Our shows consistently leave audiences spellbound and slack-jawed. Occasionally we will have fire performers or other performance artists accompany us, but it is the music that makes the evening.
Marshall: there is a certain energy we create - it's definitely an experience, far from simply watching a group of boys play their instruments.
? Can we expect you in the near future in Europe?
! Dorien: I certainly hope so. I have traveled a bit in Europe during a vacation in '95. I tried busking with my guitar in Dublin but would always stop as soon as I had enough money for a Guinness. I'm hoping to get Sumerland over there by the time the second album is in circulation.
David: We don’t have our passports yet.
? Are you professional musicians or do you still have to work in a daily job to pay your rent? What are you doing?
! Dorien: We are professional musicians in the sense that we've all been playing in various projects over the last several years. We have a professional look and a professional sound but not a professional paycheck.
Marshall: I'm a Photoshop artist by ""day.""
David: I sell cigarettes to the bar where Enrique sells beer to people who buy sex toys from Dorien.
? A very “stupid” question now...which bands did influence your work?
! David: As individuals, there have been many bands that have influenced us. Speaking as a band, our common musical influences have been Swans, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, and other great ethereal artists. Sol Invictus and The Changelings have both helped and inspired Sumerland to rise up to a higher level.
? Do you think some kind of musical collaboration with other bands/musicians will happen in the future or is actually anything planned? With whom would you like to work mostly?
! Dorien: We plan to be working with Matt Howden of Sol Invictus for at least one of the tracks on the next album. This is very exciting, as we are fans of his work.
? Your music often has a very tribal atmosphere, especially the drumming, are you influenced/interested by ancient cultures and do you think, there could be possibly a conceptual work about such themes in the future by SUMERLAND?
! Enrique: I'm very persuaded by ancient wisdom, particularly in terms and applications of the spirit. It's natural that would bleed into the music. SIVO in itself is the classic metaphorical myth of the life and experience.
Dorien: Those things do seem to be a prominent influence lyrically. I've been doing personal studies in comparative mythology, shamanism, and various occult activities. SIVO is based on universal themes of the death/rebirth cycle. We have talked about future conceptional works, but it has been my experience that it is best to allow these things to surface of their own volition. Ideas that were previously hidden will sneak up on the band and take us by surprise.
? Can you give some short infos, what has changed for you personally and for your Country in genaral since the WTC-terror attack?
! Marshall: At first these events made all of my efforts seem insignificant. I think now there's more of a sense of urgency - of importance to this project, and art in general for that matter.
Dorien: There is rapid change everywhere, and heavy security increases. There is constant debate over how much of America's liberties will have to be sacrificed. There is a lot of paranoia, and understandably so. Anthrax is a real threat. What's really frustrating to me is that so many artists whom I respect have cancelled their tours. We need them now more than ever in order to escape the depressing media.
David: We are a long way from NYC, 3000 and some miles away. Things in Portland, Oregon have not changed a great deal. People have become more globally minded. For me, personally, my complaints are petty. Nick Cave cancelled, and the heightened security on the Canadian border has been made it more difficult to get good weed. But, I have never prayed for peace more than now.
? What will you do on Halloween this year?
! Marshall: Rent a room in a haunted hotel.
Dorien: We have a show on the 27th at Dante's here in Portland. This will probably be the extent of my celebrations this year.
David: Going to see Popewyrm and Soriah at the Satyricon in Portland.
? Anything important, I forgot to ask? Anything you want to add and tell our readers? Next plans, releases...?
! David: Yeah, I can ramble for a bit.
Our web site is at www.sumerland.com. Our CD “SIVO” is available at www.middlepillar.com. There are a lot of reviews and photos available at www.starvox.net .
Perhaps our greatest opportunity came when Kismet, the opening act for Sol Invictus’ West Coast Tour, cancelled. Enrique played our demo tape over the phone to the tour manager, and we were handed the last three shows of the tour. The shows went very well, we gained national attention, made some new friends, and had a really good time.
We have shows coming up: Oct. 27 @ Dante’s (Portland, OR), Nov. 23 @ Cat Club (San Francisco, CA), and Nov. 24 @ Bar Sinister (Hollywood, CA).
Watch for a U.s. Tour in the spring of 2002 and a second CD fall or winter 2002.
Thank you very much. It was a pleasure doing this interview.
Oh, it was a pleasure for me, too! SUMERLAND seem to be really nice people and hopefully, they will tour Europe in the future. I would like to meet them personally some day. And, of course, I would love to see them performing their music live. Until then, listen to “Sivo” and meet SUMERLAND in the www. (A.P.)
Webadresse der Band: www.middlepillar.com
SUMERLAND - Sivo
Erstveröffentlichung: CD 2001 / Eigenproduktion
This debut CD of the US band SUMERLAND was announced by the Middle Pillar label a long time and I was curious about it. It is strange, how a label can release only very good or perfect CDs, but Middle Pillar does! “Sivo” contains fantastic music. It seems, that the releases of Middle Pillar become more many sided in the last months. In the beginning, most albums had been very ambient, but with bands and projects like Loretta´s Doll, Thread and finally SUMERLAND, there is Gothic- and Electro stuff, too.
Because of the band´s name, I exspected something in the vein of Fields Of The Nephilim, but SUMERLAND do not sound like these 80s Gothic-Rockers, even, if they actually can be described as Gothic too, but more in a romantic way, not very rocky. The voice of singer Dorien Campbell is very gentle and sounds natural and releaxed. Actually, it is more Wave than Gothic-Rock and sometimes SUMERLAND are comparable to the brilliant band Audra or even Faith And The Muse (with male vocals), I think. What I like mostly on SUMERLAND, is the drumming, which is really powerful and has a certain tribal feeling, just listen to the Opener “Zarathustra” or the next track “Glorious”. But the band is also able to play more rough songs like “Bygones To The New Heaven”, which reminds me musically a bit on Rozz Williams/Christian Death, maybe the soundtrack for an ancient worship or something like that. The singing in “Interlude” has a bit of a Peter Murphy atmosphere, “Mother Earth” is a potential Club Hit, “Elaphim” would be a good track for a Single release and so the album goes on, sometimes calm and acoustic, then powerful and more straight, but always great! As the artwork of “Sivo” is very nice, too, it becomes one of my Top 10 albums in 2001. Don´t miss this masterpiece of very many-sided Gothic music! (A.P.)
Webadresse der Band: www.middlepillar.com
SUNDAY INN - Heroes When We Sleep
Erstveröffentlichung: CD 2001 / Two Friends Recording
Eine ganz wunderbare Perle erreicht uns hier in der Redaktion. SUNDAY INN aus Berlin, die sich im Jahre 1996 zusammengefunden haben, präsentieren mit „Heroes When We Sleep“ ihr erstes Full Length-Album. Was hier aus den Lautsprechern tönt, verzückt schon beim ersten Hören der CD. Im Grunde würde ich die Musik irgendwo mit den Cranberries vergleichen, nur daß Sängerin Catherine Harwardt eine eher straightere Stimme hat und nicht so sehr gluckst und sich nicht überschlägt. Auch von der Begleitung her geht man eher straightere Wege und arbeitet eher mit leicht rockigen, als mit wavigen Gitarren. Trotzdem hat man immer noch dieses „Independent Popsong“-Flair mit einer tiefen Melancholie, die begeistert. Ich kann SUNDAY INN bedingungslos empfehlen, ein wirklich wunderschönes Album! (H.H.)
SUNSHINE BLIND - Love The Sky To Death
Erstveröffentlichung: CD 1995 / Nytalopia / Ossia
SUNSHINE BLIND waren ja schon die Entdeckung de ""Death By Dawn Vol. 2""-Samplers und legen hier nun auf NYCTALOPIA eine komplette CD vor, die noch einiges an Aufsehen erregen dürfte. Die Ami-Band spielt recht eindeutig American Gothic mit einer gesunden Portion Härte und hat mit CAROLINE BLIND eine Ausnahmesängerin in ihren Reihen. Solch eine Energie auf CD gepresst habe ich schon eine ganze Weile nicht mehr gehört, man höre sich nur ""Crescent And The Stars"" oder auch ""Regodless"" an. Definitiv eines der besten Gothic-Alben der letzten Zeit. (A.P.)
SUPER GOUGE - Deep Sea Fishing
Erstveröffentlichung: CD / Lang / Langstrumpf Records / TIS
SUPER GOUGE ist die neue Band von den nicht mehr existierenden SPERMBIRDS-Mitgliedern Frank Rahm und Markus Weilemann. SUPER GOUGE gibt es zwar schon etwas länger als Projekt der beiden, doch heute hat man mit drei weiteren Leuten die Muße gefunden, eine richtige Band daraus zu machen. Stilistisch sind SUPER GOUGE nicht gerade einfach einzuordnen, also lassen wir das besser. Man kann hier Dinge hören, die industrialmäßig a la Ministry und sonstigen Bands daherknallen und das Ganze teilweise ziemlich tanzbar machen, auch wenn es speedtechnisch teils ziemlich in die Höhe geschraubt wird. Dann sind noch ganz viele Rockeinlagen, speziell auf der zweiten Hälfte der CD, zu hören und auch etwas Punk und etwas mehr Hardcore sind zu erkennen. Ganz besonders schön an SUPER GOUGE sind die noisigen Einlagen in den Songs und das sogenannte Schlagwerk, das mit metallenen Sounds das Digitalschlagzeug unterstützt. Bester Song der CD ist zweifelsohne ""Super Girl (Hospital)"" und das schnelle ""Home Sweet Home"". (H.H.)