Sunday, March 3, 2019

Interview with Andrew Mikhail of SERPENTS by Dave Wolff

Interview with Andrew Mikhail of SERPENTS

Serpents just released their new single 'The Sunset and the Silhouette' on social media. Where has the song been uploaded and how has the response been?
TSaTS was released a bit ago and is actually the second single from the new album Temet Nosce. So far, the majority of feedback on both singles reflects that listeners have been approaching the songs with an open mind and in return, walk away with more than they hoped for. Which is all I've wanted from the start of this project years ago. This album and all other Serpents albums are meant to be looked at through the same lens that you would digest a piece of art with, and I feel like people are finally doing so; as most listeners today are starved for substance and truth in my opinion. The self-produced music video for TSaTS, also an artistic statement in itself, was the first Serpents music video ever made. It's debut and exclusive partnership with the YouTube channel “beheading the traitor”, was something we felt necessary; as we believed it would inject ourselves into the eye of the very “storm” we wish to be free from. Other than that, all of our music and media is available online for streaming at most major social and digital media outlets. 

The second single has gotten a great deal of attention, as it has been announced by many independent webzines and blogs. How many did you contact about spreading the news?
I don't recall contacting any outlets during the release of TSaTS; as we worked with our friends Matt and James over at Hold Tight! PR on that particular release's campaign. It was their work in effect, that had gotten the single proper attention it deserved.

What was the first single taken from the album, and how well did it do upon its release?
The first single was "The Lust of the Lawless," and I honestly haven't bothered to see what the response has been thus far; as I have been very busy putting the final touches on the album. However, from what I have heard, people have been talking and it's been received well so far.

What was 'The Sunset and the Silhouette' written about, who penned them and how do the lyrics complement the music?
To answer this question, I would like to quote the late Stanley Kubrick:
“You're free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the [album]—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don't want to spell out a verbal road map for [Temet Nosce] that every [listener] will feel obligated to pursue or else fear [they've] missed the point.”
This explains the mystery and intricacies that lie within the album, art, and videos that accompany it.

Regarding your quote of Stanley Kubrick, is he an inspiration to you lyrically, or when it comes to your promotional videos?
I'm just a fan of his work honestly. The fact that, when it came to his art, he kept certain things close to the chest for many, many years; and I think that's how it's supposed to be! Music needs that mystique, in my eyes at least. But hey, if that's not a reason to dig Kubrick, or at least be curious on how a mind like that thinks; then I feel sorry for you!

In what movies does Stanley Kubrick’s art resonate with you and the band?
As a self-proclaimed cinephile, I’d say the mainstays: Eyes Wide Shut, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, and so on. They’re man-made great cerebral films with even greater visuals; He has influenced many metal acts with his approach... and in the greater scheme of things, we are no different.

Why did you choose to name the band Serpents? How should it be related to your music?
When it comes to the name, there are a lot of different rabbit holes that we could go down; ranging from biblical, historical, personal, allegorical, etc. The simplest answer, however, can be found if you look deeply within this quote: "Unless a serpent devour a serpent it will not become a dragon." - Erasmus

Who was Erasmus? What is his quote’s meaning and how do you intend to relate it to Serpents?
If I explained the quote, that would take most of the fun out of figuring it out. So let's just say it's a statement of sorts.

Serpents' Facebook community page mentions the biblical references connected with the band’s name. Was this something you intended in the beginning?
The biblical reference to the name is probably the most "approachable" explanation of the lot. So I went with that and ran with it. There's something for everyone to take away when thinking Serpents, but that is the most "notorious" reference.
The band formed in the early 2010s and released an EP, two singles and two full lengths. Describe each of your releases and how the band has progressed and grown since the beginning, musically and lyrically.
Without explaining too much, each album is a part of me and part of a greater storyline; and yet at the same time, can be enjoyed album by album and song by song if that is your choice. I leave a lot for the listener to discover within each release, but each also can be ingested at face value for what they are...great songs and stories. I'm very proud of the work I've done thus far, and the knowledge I've littered within each piece for those who are brave enough to discover. 

Are you doing Serpents as a solo undertaking, or are other musicians involved? How many bands were you involved in beforehand?
For years, Serpents has been a solo endeavor; for many reasons outside of my control and also for the sake of the art. It was never my intention for it to be a cross to bear alone, but I have carried it thus far with the help of close friends and artists alike. Due to my time in Oceano, Straight Line Stitch, and Defiler, I have made the best of friends and even the worst of enemies in this industry and for that I am eternally grateful for their kinship, support, and even hatred. They ALL keep this movement alive and well, along with the recent addition of a full lineup; finally. However, there have been new developments on the horizon for the next chapter for Serpents; and I am excited to announce when the time is right...stay tuned.

How long did you endeavor to make Serpents a full band before it became a solo project? At what point did things change for the better?
All in all, most have considered it a solo project from the start. For all these years, I have shuddered at the thought; "solo project"... as it has always sounded too pretentious for my liking. However, the start came from when I had material starting to build from the "Contagion" sessions (Oceano); songs written before the project's creation... by myself. Enter: "solo project pitch" by my inner circles. I laughed, but, it was about a year after my departure from the band, in where I decided to officially "start" the project and channel all my creative energy towards it. In the beginning, I had a very specific vision and worked to find people of like mind sets and ideals that were aligned with the vision. Sadly, for quite some time, I had welcomed and endured a lot of disappointment in the early years. Thankfully, one thing remained constant throughout, and that was the music and the vision; unfortunately still provided by myself. Again. Despite my disdain for working alone, I have tried to uphold the same vigor and passion as I had in the beginning; all the way to today. Then, something amazing had happened. It was about two years ago, wherein I had finally found the group I have been striving to find; and we have been preparing for this day all this time and I could not be more proud.

What were your experiences like working in Oceano, Straight Line Stitch, and Defiler? Who did you meet during that time who were supportive of Serpents?
I've met and worked with a lot of amazing people, and a lot of really toxic characters; and yes, I'm not perfect myself. But! I can proudly say that I've been honored to have shared stages all over the world with many of my heroes and friends; and for that, I am grateful for the good, bad, and in-between.

Who is working with you in the band today? Are the new members as like-minded as you hoped you would find when you started the band?
Today, I am joined by three other members (M. Ellegood, R. Petrov, J. King) that I believe will represent the band and its message well. And at this point, that's all I could have hoped for.

What positions do M. Ellegood, R. Petrov and J. King take on in the band? How well have you been working together since the lineup solidified?
Considering the fact that all the material has been written by myself up to this point; we have mainly been focusing on rehearsing as a unit and solidifying the band's dynamic. So as far as working together, I am confident in this lineup's abilities and I'm excited to work with them on the upcoming albums. M. Ellegood is on lead guitars, J. King on drums, and R. Petrov finalizes the group on bass; I am the vocalist and guitarist of the band.

How much promotion did Matt and James of Hold Tight! put into the release of 'The Sunset and the Silhouette'? Was it mostly on the internet or were postal mailings also involved?
I can proudly say they did a fantastic job in promoting the single overseas and stateside, and I am grateful for their belief in what we are doing here... and also to Autoeroticasphyxium for wanting to feature Serpents.

Has word about Temet Nosce spread faster and farther in Western or Eastern countries?
I'm not sure. However, I am floored to see that something that initially started in my bedroom--has spread all over the globe. That's all I know.

Is 'The Sunset and the Silhouette' a concept album of a sort? If so, how did the concept gestate and how did you develop it before recording the album?
The album has a few different parallel concepts, yes, but most important of all... it is a personal tale. All Serpents music thus far, has been building up to end this; the lyrics for each album has tied together a loosely interpreted concept that consists of "chapters" that essentially captures moments of my life and is told by a narrator-esque character. Now. As far as how "Temet Nosce" came to fruition, or the process. It was mainly from experience; living life, dying, and being born over and over and over again. In fact, telling my personal tale was so important to me for this album (along with including many other themes); that I had chosen to "re-live" the same hell that had inspired the album's creation in the first place. Haha. I had moved to a different state to "method write" the lyrics for this album, and lived in character for about two years. Eventually, when I felt that the "story" was complete, fresh in my mind, and starting to get a little dangerous; I had left town and moved to another state to be in solitude as I pieced together the lyrics, concepts, and storylines for the album. An alchemical process of sorts, I'd say. Would I do it again for the next album? We shall see what life has in store...

How much of your personal experiences went into 'The Sunset and the Silhouette', and what do you mean by saying you “method wrote” the storyline and lyrics?
"Method writing" is akin to what actors do when they "method act"; in which the actor (or writer in this case), dives deeper into their character by completely immersing themselves into the story and become the character. That means going through the day-to-day, still in character. The whole album is of personal experience, but I decided to dive in deeper into the "Character(s)" of this album's story and experiences... by re-living it all over again; but in a "controlled" environment.

Name the songs that were recorded for the new album.
The track listing (in order) is: The Flaming One, The Lust of the Lawless, The Salt and The Stone, The Black Sun, The Ecstasy of Nil, The Peacock's Tail, The Winds of Will, The Sunset and The Silhouette. 
Who are the “characters” appearing in the story depicted on the album, and what are their “roles” so to speak?
I'd like to leave that one for the listeners to discover... 

Pre-order packages of Temet Nosce are available from Is any merchandise available in this package in addition to the full length?
We have a few packages available with assorted merch exclusives, along with some that would be considered more of a "standard" package from us; but We have vinyl posters, tarot cards, work shirts, etc. and that alone is something we are excited to finally release. 

What is the projected release date for Temet Nosce? If you plan to tour in support of the album, where will you be performing?
We are setting the release date as I type this, along with booking select dates to support the album release and bring in the "new" era of Serpents once and for all.

-Dave Wolff

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