Interview – Damning Mankind with Ancient Altar

August 2015 Vandala Magazine - Ancient Altar InterviewAnother Psycho CA interview, this time with west coast darlings Ancient Altar, a band destined to call out mankinds bullshit and force us to look at the bleak reality we all live in. Come and join me in exploring what exactly these dudes think will f*ck us all over.

Interview By Matt Bacon
From August 2015 Vandala Magazine 

So what is up?

Barry: We just played Psycho and we’re really excited. Coming down from the high of

After playing a great show like tonight how do you feel?

Barry: I feel really good. We worked really hard to prepare for this. We played two songs today that we’ve never played live before and we wanted to make sure everything was cool. I personally feel great.

Scott: I do as well. At the last minute we found out we were playing outside instead of inside and that can be weird for sound but it ended up being fine. You always think things can go wrong, but it went pretty well. We all feel really good about it.

Barry: We’re privileged to be here!

Does this festival represent a step forward for Ancient Altar?

Scott: I don’t see how it couldn’t!

Barry: There’s exposure that we’re going to see from this that we wouldn’t get playing smaller shows or even just from our online presence. There’s probably a lot of people who stumbled outside not expecting to even see a band so hopefully we won a couple new fans.

What do you think Ancient Altar is building towards?

Barry: Definitely more touring. We’re going to do a southwest tour in August. We have a new record coming out in the summer. The record is going to be on Black Voodoo Records and the cassette is going to be on Midnight Collective. We’re just going to keep writing and playing as much as we can!

Scott: To me, I put it more on ourselves to just write better music, be better musicians and to tour better. We just want to get better all the time.

How is the new record an evolution on previous stuff?

Scott: There’s two different members who weren’t on past stuff. It’s a huge evolution. There’s clean vocals which we had never done before. We are longer as a band and we were able to grow more. If you’re not improving with every release you’re doing something wrong.

Barry: The new members allow us to do so much more. The old guys are amazing, but I just feel that our new guitarist Jesse has allowed us to open up a little space in the songs and let it breathe so it’s not just pounding all the time. The drumming too has propelled us to this point that we can be as creative as we want with no limitations. Even what Scott had said with the clean vocals, our last album maybe had some slight clean harmonizing but it wasn’t anything that stood out. With this it’s really prominent. What we want to do with each song is take the listener on our journey. Our last album would just pound you in a face for seven minutes.

Scott: I think we just stumbled across the clean vocals. It’s a happy accident I’d say.

Barry: I’ve sang in multiple bands before and have sang clean before. It wasn’t a stretch for me really but as far as this band it was something that was like “Oh shit, I can’t believe we’re actually doing this!” It was kind of scary at first because we weren’t really sure how people were going to take to it but the couple people that have heard the album are just like ‘wow’

How far along is the record now?

Barry: It’s at the pressing plant. So we’re just getting ready to wrap up artwork. We have a really awesome guy, a new artist from New York named Miles Karr and he’s very abstract in his work. He did a cover for us and it’s really mind-blowing. We’re excited to have it out and when people hear it they are going to be stoked.

Is there a concept behind it?

Barry: It actually turned into a concept by accident. Each song was written individually without worrying about how it tied in thematically to other songs. What ended up happening with the songs themselves. It’s about how us as a civilization have screwed things up and we’re obsessed with war and we’re obsessed with religion and let it dictate so much of how people live, not only people but also the environment and the planet. The progression of the songs goes from war to the religious aspect of these leaders who are just duping everybody to finally mankind getting to a point where they’re fed up and leave the earth. That’s the end point.

So what do you think is f*cking over mankind?

Scott: What isn’t?

Barry: It’s everything from the politicians to the religious leaders to people in general who get sucked into the most trivial stuff like watching reality television and not really caring about anything except for what’s happening in the moment and not even thinking about what they’re doing in the environment. You can look at what’s going on in California right now. They keep saying we have a years worth of water left but you can still see fountains going. These rich people don’t care because the fines are so small so they keep watering their lawns. You can look at ISIS or the Christians in the US who have no concern for human rights. It’s exciting to see how we’ve moved forward with gay rights but there’s still a lot of bigotry. It’s gotten to the point that people like Stephen Hawking say that we just need to leave this planet – we can’t survive here.

That’s going to make this next question sound super shitty…

Scott: (Laughter) Shoot

Ancient Altar TourI want you to finish this sentence for me “I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but…”

Barry: Well – with everything I’ve just said… about 15 years ago I was in a Christian rockabilly band. We got signed, toured the US a bunch of times. We played some major festivals.

That should blow some minds! I won’t even say the name of the band, we’ll leave it at that!

What do you love so much about music?

Scott: The expressiveness of it. The vastness of the sounds and how different sides of music can still speak to you and the universalness of it.

Ancient Altar

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