Interview with LONEHUNTER
On your debut EP ‘Beyond the Portals of Death’ you cross over different subgenres of metal, namely thrash, death metal and black metal. The keyboards provide the EP with a carnivalesque feel. How did you develop this sound and how does it make you unique?
Marcos Júnior (guitars, vocals, mixing and production): I listen to several metal bands, but Death Metal is my major influence. I think our music is a mix of all the bands I grew up listening to. I always wanted to make music with some keyboard ideas like those created by Nocturnus. Juliano gave his vision about it and we started composing. My Death Metal guitar riffs joined with his Black Metal influences. LoneHunter was born.
Juliano Bonacini (keyboards, lyrics): I believe that the music we make is the sum of our particular influences, our personal reading of everything we hear. The guitar riffs that Marcos creates are pure old school Death Metal for me and I try to make the keyboard lines orbit a common center, trying to make synthesizers a dynamic instrument just like the guitars not limiting it. I really like what Limbonic Art, Falkenbach, Emperor and Nocturnus did in that regard.
Juliano: Surely every transition, every harmony, every detail is thought to exhaustion. We are very detailed in every aspect of LoneHunter and our songs are transformed during the songwriting process until they show their full potential. We are totally guided by the feelings at the time of creating, but we usually leave the "skeleton" of the instrumental part saved for a few days before we return to work on it with the necessary emotional detachment.
Marcos: We are always creating new arrangements and joining new ideas try to create a song. We make all necessary changes to fit time, order and number of simultaneous elements. We not finished a song rapidly. We make all adjustments until we listened and agree that’s OK. We like very much of this creation time. We try to put brutality and movement to the instrument concatenation.
The EP features instrumental pieces consisting entirely of keyboards. How are they meant to enhance the overall listening experience?
Juliano: In fact only the song "Interludium" is totally made on the keyboards and has a more Dark ambient approach. The intro “Preludium” begins a little bit dungeon synth but evolves into something more traditional Death Metal with guitars, bass and drums. The intent of these pieces is to bring to the listener a greater immersion into the black soundscapes of our own psyche.
Marcos: I like the kind of tension I created in “Interludium”. It reminds me the elements of albums produced by Scott Burns.
Who recorded the bass and drum tracks for ‘Beyond the Portals of Death’? Has the band considered hiring full time musicians to play those instruments? Who plays them when you perform live?
Juliano: We chose to concentrate the creation process on only the two of us. In the recording of the EP Marcos made the bass and drums lines, but LoneHunter's intention is to have a complete line-up playing live. We have some names in view for the other instruments but we will only announce in the right moment
Marcos: I created and wrote all drums and bass lines to the EP. Actually we don't found the guys for to be a full time member of LoneHunter. For live performances we have some names. At the right time they will called to war!
Was ‘Beyond the Portals of Death’ made to be a conceptual EP? Musically it resonates like one.
Marcos: It wasn't created as a conceptual EP, but you can interpret it that way. The lyrics was about death and the choices you can make.
Juliano: The instrumental was made with the idea of having a beginning, middle and end, with the intention that the music could flow. The lyrical part has a common theme, death. It could be said that the EP was an outline on the subject and the concept of death. The great lone hunter with a thousand eyes which will be better explored in our first full length.
What do you mean by describing death as a great lone hunter with a thousand eyes?
Marcos: The idea of the name LoneHunter is a reference to the personification of death.
Juliano: The figure of death. A solitary hunter who sees everything and never loses a prey. Nothing hides its vision, nothing matters too much or less and it accepts with the same respect since the smallest microorganisms till the biggest stars of the firmament. Nothing is fairer than death.
Does the band consider death something to be feared, or a natural part of life? From your perception, what comes after death?
Marcos: Like birth, death is a natural transition of life. Because of our limitations we can't see before or after that.
Juliano: Of course we fear death because it is unknown to us and as human beings this is an inherent characteristic of our species, but surely death is a natural and logical conclusion for life. We fear death, but we are fools therefore, Epicurus once said that "Death is nothing to us, for when we exist, there is no death, and when there is death, we no longer exist." and that's it. I believe that what is far worse than death is an unproductive life, a life without dreams and action to fulfill them, a useless life, what good would it be to be a tree and live a thousand years without leaving the place? I have not the slightest idea of what might be after death, if there is anything. One day we'll all discover...
How long have you been musicians? Were you in other bands before forming LoneHunter? How well does your experience benefit your songwriting today?
Juliano: I do not consider myself a musician, only a student because there is still a lot to learn. Before joining LoneHunter I played for a short time with a local Black Metal band called Ayperos, I participated in recording a demo called "black side" with them. In 2004 I and a friend formed Warlike Opus that played War Death Metal, but there came a point where I was busy with college and a pregnant wife at home and I preferred to leave the band, so as not to disturb them. Everything I've been through in these bands has been useful for the present. You learn from the correctness and mistakes of the way.
Marcos: I don't see myself as a musician. I think I'm just a guy who like very much of music. I try to make songs like bands I like with no rules, technically or melodically. If it sounds ok it is ok. I played in Pesticide, Cauterization, Immortal Majesty and now in LoneHunter. Time helps us to make things better and faster.
In what ways do you think keyboards immerse fans? Do you draw inspiration from any bands when writing your keyboard lines or rely completely on your own imagination?
Juliano: I believe that keyboards can bring more textures to the musical atmosphere, creating a more "cinematic" experience so to speak. About my main inspirations, I admire the work of several keyboardists and pianists, but the one that motivated me to interest in the instrument was Louis Panzer. I think that what he brought to the metal in the Nocturnus music was unprecedented. But we do not intend to sound like copies and the lines of keyboards of the LoneHunter are made to fill the needs of the song in question
Marcos: Sometimes I create a keyboard line, then I create a guitar riff to fit to it. Sometimes the keyboard lines come to fit the guitar riffs. As every kind of artistic creation there are no rules. New ideas come and go every time.
Name some examples of Panzer’s work with Nocturnus that you found most inspiring.
Juliano: For me the whole album "The Key" is a lesson on how to make death metal with keyboards. The tracks "Aquatica" and "Nocturne in B" taken from the album Thresholds have a tremendous wealth of textures and "Arctic Crypt" is a real music masterpiece. Listen to it and tell me if I'm mistaken. "Mummified", "Orbital Decay", "Search of the trident", "Outland". The guy knew what to do, haha. A pity he left the musical scene because I'm sure he would have much more to teach to this new generation.
Marcos: Panzer make a lot of experimentation with different kind of noises and harmonies in all songs and between them. The keyboards at the end of the songs “Arctic Cryptic” and “Aquatica” are amazing to me.
Have more Brazilian bands been using keyboards lately? How much has extreme metal grown there?
Juliano: About Brazilian bands that make good use of keyboards that come to my mind immediately I would cite Eternal Sacrifice. Their new album surprised me a lot. Le Chant Noir featuring Marcelo Vasco of Pátria and Kaiaphas of Thokkian Vortex has released a fantastic album that also makes a very different use of keyboards.
The metal scene in Brazil is very strong and there is an amazing amount of good bands in all the subgenres of the style.
Marcos: In recent years there are a lot of bands like us trying to make their own music. It's impossible to listen all those new bands. Sadly there are great bands that will never be known...
Tell the readers about the albums released by Le Chant Noir and Eternal Sacrifice that spoke to you.
Juliano: Le Chant Noir released the album "Ares Arcanum Vodum" on the label Heavy Metal Rock and the keyboards were put in charge of Leonardo D. Pagani who also plays in the Black Metal band Mysteriis and the man's work in this album caught my attention due to the "solutions out of the ordinary" that he found for the lines of synthesizers. Some passages are somewhat unexpected and flirt with the progressive sound. It’s amazing.
Eternal Sacrifice released in the year 2018 its third album by the label Hammer of Damnation called "Ad Tertivm Librvm Nigrvm" and the keyboardist is Leandro Kastiphas that among several other projects was already bassist and vocalist of the Black Metal band Mystifier. His style is pure feeling and I like it a lot.
How soon do you expect to start playing shows in support of the EP? Do you have any venues in mind for your performances, or possible fest appearances?
Juliano: Our main priority at the moment is to finish our first full length and we are working hard on that, but we already envision the possibility of live presentations for a very near future, we already have some conversations about it in progress, but we will only confirm if we can bring to the stage all that we did in the EP and in our music.
Marcos: We are working on two new songs now. Surprisingly we think it sounds better than the EP. We are very excited about it. We are searching for support from zines, blogs and the worldwide metal scene. A label to release the full length will be great too.
Have the lyrics to your album been penned yet? Will they be an improvement lyrically as well as musically?
Juliano: I have a bunch of lyrics at home. In one of the new songs we are finishing, that will probably be the title track of our first full length. We are writing the lyrics together and in a different way from the songs of the EP, doing some vocal test takes experimenting with various ideas and stoning the lyrical part in the process. The result has been fantastic. Personally, I think we should always work with the idea of constantly evolving, and for me the new songs get the best of what we did on the EP and take it to a level above. Maybe the listener agrees with what I say, maybe not, because listening to music is a subjective experience.
Marcos: We don’t lose focus on constantly improving our art creation. We are not accommodated and we will not stop improving everything we can.
What will be the subject matter of the band's debut full length?
Juliano: One of the songs we are working on at the moment and that will probably be the title track of our first full length basically deals with war, death again within that context and with the often absolute certainties of the individuals involved.
Marcos: And for the second song we're writing we deal once more with death, but this time with a more fictional approach. Imagine how it would be like if the walls separating the world of the living and the dead suddenly ceased to exist...
Is the band seeking labels to release the album? Have you mostly searched for labels in your country, or are you also searching abroad?
Juliano: We are looking for a label that can work together with us for the release of our first full length. Brazilian or foreign labels, as long as they treat our music with due respect we will open our doors to offers.
Are there yearly festivals being held in your area? Which of them would help you spread word about the new album?
Juliano: Yes, a longtime friend Sidinei Slaughterman, guitarist of the band Masturbator, is the founder of a festival called “Franca Metal Fest” facing the Brazilian metal, the festival exists a few years ago and has brought great names of our national scenery as “Krisiun” and “Headhunter DC” and also given opportunity to good names that has been emerging in the Brazilian underground. His plans for this year are very ambitious. Maybe one day? Robson of Storm Productions is also a friend who has always brought the best of the metal worldwide to Brazil and always opens up opportunities for emerging bands. Well, let's finish the album first and then we'll see...
Marcos: “Franca Metal Fest” could be the first. Storm Productions, hands down… There are a lot of festivals here I could tell about too: Hell Banger Fest, Guaru Metal Fest, Setembro Negro Festival, Interior SP Extremo Fest, Indaiá Metal Fest…
Are there any labels you are thinking of signing to at this point? How much distribution are you looking for?
Juliano: Man, it would be perfect to sign with Nuclear Blast or maybe the Season of Mist but.... We have nothing in sight with any label yet and the focus now is to finish the album. Then we will be looking for a record company to release it and seek the best possible distribution.
Marcos: For the EP we are working with an initial small print run, just as a way to present the material to some influential people and friends. We imagine doing something much bigger in the first full length. About the labels, signing with names with the influence that Juliano just said, well it would be the dream of several bands. We are making some contacts and we will see what future have to us…
Who designed the cover art? How will the artwork represent the songs?
Marcos: The cover art was designed by Tiago Medeiros. He is a very talented artist!
Juliano: Thiago did a superb job on the EP’s cover art. I think that it fits perfectly to the idea of death, of time haunting people with its passage, like an hourglass in which the sand flows continuously.
What do you want to tell the readers about Brazilian underground metal that they’re not yet aware of? And is there anything else you want to pass along to end the interview?
Marcos: I hope people will listen to our EP with much attention.
Juliano: The Brazilian underground is filled with bands in all styles of metal. This extreme wealth may not be perceived by everyone outside Brazil, but I would like to ask to your readers to give us a chance because there are many new bands who are worth it. Look for "Open The Coffin" "God Funeral," and "Sculpture" to get you started. And of course "LoneHunter".