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Rosetta - Monstrous Undertakings

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by circus_brimstone, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. circus_brimstone

    circus_brimstone Forest: Sold Out

    Jul 5, 2003
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    [IMGLEFT] [/IMGLEFT]By Jason Jordan
    Photos by Ann Marie Casey

    Rosetta’s The Galilean Satellites, judging by the quality and sheer length, was a massive undertaking that turned out well in the end. The result is astounding: two discs, an hour apiece, that can be enjoyed separately or together. I talked with Armine (vocals, electronics) about a lot of things including their peers, the new record, and their touring plans. Oh yeah, I think Neurosis were mentioned at some point.

    I want to start by asking you about your peers and their work. Neurosis, Isis, Pelican, Red Sparowes, Jesu, Mouth of the Architect, Una Corda, Explosions in the Sky, Cult of Luna, Deadbird, Capricorns, Minsk, Tides, and Overmars. Out of those bands, which ones have you heard and what do you think of their music?

    I will start with our obvious influences, Neurosis and Isis. Those two bands spawned an entire movement due to their intense nature and willingness to be creative and experimental. So, it should not come as a surprise when I say that my bandmates and I have followed the growth and development of these two bands much like a scientist and his/her microscope. It is because of these two bands that Rosetta is what it is, and we are very open about that. We are the generation that Neurosis and Isis influenced. Jesu/Godflesh, another large influence to the majority of us. The Jesu record is loved by us all, however, I can only personally take two Godflesh recordings: Messiah and Songs of Love and Hate in Dub. Matt (guitar) swears by everything Godflesh has ever done, but I just can’t seem to handle the rest of it. Red Sparowes, another great band, as well as Pelican, MotA, Cult of Luna, and Minsk. We played a show with Minsk once, while on tour. They are nice guys and love what they do.

    We were introduced to Tides during our tour last winter. While we never got to play with them, the owner of their label did a few shows for us in Boston when we were on tour with Dysrhythmia. He gave us a copy of their CD and we were taken. Tides are a fabulous band, definitely worth one’s time to check out. They produce a very good hypnotic flow about them, more so than any other band doing this sort of style right now. We have a crush on Explosions in the Sky. We secretly want to tour with them. It’s not really a secret, but we really love what they do. We find their music good for all sorts of emotional on-goings.


    I must congratulate you on The Galilean Satellites, an excellent record that I praised highly in my review. I want to talk about the subgenre that Rosetta are being grouped in with. Some of these bands (found above) are being called everything from Neurosis-core to slowcore to post-rock. Do you think the music world hasn’t yet coined the proper terminology for the style you’re playing?

    Neurosis-core. I’d be interested to talk with the members of Neurosis to see how they feel about this. I’m sure a part of them wants to be flattered, and a part of them is really annoyed by this term. Neurosis are the originators of what we do (meaning all of the bands listed above), but I am sure even they can see the separation and the diversity that each of these bands bring to the field. Take Tides for example. They may be the best instrumental parts of Neurosis all blended into one, however Tides has a different feel about them. I use the term “feel” as in “feeling.” I hate to bring the term “emotional” up, but that is what it boils down to. This movement that Neurosis spawned is based around a core emotion, and each band (listed above) brings forth a different emotional feel to their recordings. That’s where the true separation occurs. Sure, we all play really loud full-stacks, we all scream, we all play very slow (and that is not always the case, thanks!), but we all bring a different emotional element to the mix, and we all bring in a different experimental flavor.

    I personally think the music community is putting too much emphasis on what they want to call it, and in a way, it’s killing the movement. All too often, a review will come along saying something like MotA is just another Neurosis spin-off, and that is not true by any means. There are large differences between MotA and Neurosis or Tides. People are not taking the time to really hear Neurosis, because all they hear are heavy guitars followed by a slow soft drone. The music community is too quick to pass this style off as Neurosis-core. Do I care? No. Do I think it’s a shame? Yes, a band like Tides will not get the proper respect they deserve, because some ill-minded hack is going to pass them off as Neurosis-core. What that says to me is just go buy Through Silver and Blood and call it day. There is so much more to what bands like MotA and Tides are doing, and people are not really paying attention to the subtle details that get put into their craft. But to answer your final question, the term that gets kicked around the Rosetta van is post-metal.

    Your debut was a massive undertaking. It’s two discs at an hour each that can stand alone or be synced. How long did it take you to craft The Galilean Satellites? Did you learn any tips for shortening the time you spend writing and recording the next album without sacrificing quality?

    The entire process took one year. For 4 months, every weekend, we would get together and record. We played a few shows here and there while doing it, but it was just about every weekend for 4 months of solid recording, and basically, playing. The songs for the first disc were recorded in that 4-month period, but getting them to flow and adding in all the small intricate transitions is what took a long time. We would record stuff, play with it for a while, and then scrap it. What was amazing was crafting the second disc. Because that disc is made to sync up with the first, we had to play the first disc like it was click track, and basically jam overtop of it with added samples, guitar, and bass tracks. There are a few vocal tracks in there as well. It was a challenge because we wrote a few parts that, when played overtop disc 1, sounded great! But when played alone, were rather lacking. We also wrote parts that were lacking when played over disc one, but were fantastic when played alone. So, we had to find a good middle ground. Needless to say, we got rid of a lot of parts that, one way or the other, sounded good.

    Mixing this record was a separate beast. All in all I believe Matt spent some 480 hours mixing this record. He put so much energy into that recording. That’s where the rest of the time was spent, mixing and mastering. We did not learn new ways to shorten up the writing and recording process, but we did learn how to hone our songwriting abilities. The recording process helped us click better with one another, and that’s going to make for a very strong follow up to TGS.


    Thus far I’ve only seen one negative review (4/10). In your opinion, what’s the role of the critic? Are you – or have you ever been – offended by unflattering things said about your music, and have you become comfortable with the fact that your material will be criticized if it’s up for public consumption?

    You have to be prepared for the good and the bad that goes along with having a record out. We have no problem with someone giving the record a 4/10. It’s really important for us to know why, so we can better ourselves in the future. But we also have to keep in mind that some reviewers will listen to the first 10 minutes of TGS and toss it up to Neurosis-core, give it a 4/10, make a snide remark, and call it a day. They will not go into detail about what makes TGS a bad record, they just say “Oh, ya know Neurosis…it’s like they had a bad day.” Well that’s saying to me that you really did not do your homework, and that you really did not listen to the record. And that’s not just the one review of TGS, I am talking very generally about record reviewing. Many of the zines I read don’t really tell you about the record in their review. They spend 75% of an 8 sentence review talking about some off-topic issue that they hope to magically tie into the review…and then never do. So we are up for criticism just as much as we are up for praise. We just want to know why people do and do not like the record. Just as much as I had a bad review that says nothing about the record, I have even more reviews that give it a 10/10 and again, say nothing about the CD! It’s like…come on…tell the public what it’s about, describe its sound, give them the information they are turning to you for. That’s the job of the critic. So offended, nope. In fact we are doing what we can to not let the press affect our mindset, because it’s all so new and all so surreal at the same time.

    You work at Translation Loss Records, so how much control were Rosetta able to exercise over their release? Did you report to someone higher up, or were you free to do as you pleased?

    I actually do not work for Translation Loss. I am more of a staff member by association. Sometimes they ask me about bands they are thinking of working with, and I let them know my opinion.

    I know Adam Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head Records) composed the artwork. What made you decide to use him in that respect? Where had you seen his work before?

    Each member of Rosetta owns the entire Hydra Head catalog. Aaron Turner’s work is all over that catalog and we really like what he produces. We all have a very large respect for Turner, both the visual art he produces and his music. So it was mind-blowing to have someone who influenced us so much, work for us in this way.

    Do you think it’s looked down upon when someone who works for a label releases his/her own material? Traditionally I think the results have been quite good, and not only do Turner and you (to a certain extent) serve as an example, but Greg Anderson (Sunn O))), Goatsnake, and others) does too. Does quality diminish when one takes the initiative to put something out his/herself?

    There are two ways to look at this situation. One way is to easily criticize the artist and say that his or her work is not good enough for anyone else to put out, so he or she has to do it. That opinion is no good. DIY culture thrives on doing things yourself, and putting out records is no different. If you believe in what you are producing, and you have the means to put it into production, then do so. So as far as quality diminishing, it doesn’t at all. I have a greater respect for bands that do all the work themselves, and see a vision come to life exactly the way they want it to.

    If the group formed in 2003, and released an album in 2005, then it only took two years to form and come up with The Galilean Satellites. Do you envision a similar time frame for the sophomore outing, or are you going to take more time with the next one?

    The timetable we are working on now is a little complex. We have new material written and ready to be recorded. We also have new material that we are still…bringing to life. But, seeing that TGS was just released, we have to and want to tour on that record. We have an entire summer tour worked out with Day Without Dawn (formally known as The Postman Syndrome), and just about every weekend up until then is booked (or being booked up) with shows. So we are keeping really busy promoting this release. What we are doing however, is taking some time to make a new demo to shop/sell while we are touring. This way, people can get a taste for what’s next. We will, because we have the means, take as much time as needed to make the sophomore release even better than TGS.


    As I write this, you guys are touring the U.S. What does a Rosetta live show entail? How are the electronics handled, and will the audience hear any of the second disc during performances?

    The live show is us and some lights. We are the show for now. We rely on our own energy, and the energy we get from the crowd, to produce raw emotion. We want the audience to really feel what we are playing, and we want them to be involved in our positive output of energy. The electronics are handled while I sing. I have some loops pre-programmed, and some soundscapes pre-programmed as well. They serve as the foundation to many of the songs. Then, when need be, I return to the sampler to add sounds. None of the second disc is heard during a regular live set. When we play ambient, or acoustic shows, I will break out samples from the second disc. But for a regular show, I like to bring in new sounds as well as the sounds produced on the first disc. We want the live show to be a different monster to digest, if you will. If we simply played the record, we would get bored, so we like to keep things fresh when we tour. We like to have a noise intro, a strong opening song, a short interlude, a strong finishing song, and noise outro.

    How’s the attendance been so far? Since Rosetta are a young band, has it been difficult gaining notoriety over the past couple years?

    Well, attendance as of late has been mind-blowing. We are really flattered by the amount of kids who come to shows. And we are even more stoked that some of them even come and talk to us. We really like talking with the people who are into what we do. We still love playing in basements for no more than 10 kids. That’s the best! If we could do a tour of the U.S. that was just basement shows, we would be so thrilled! But as far as gaining notoriety, that’s not something we really care about, so we are not keeping an eye out for it. We are touring because we enjoy the music we produce and we enjoy driving around with one another. We are all really close friends, and this is an opportunity to grow with one another more than anything else. More than the response, and record sales, and all that stuff. We really just care about driving from state to state, meeting awesome people, seeing the country, and experiencing life in the company of good friends.

    On a similar note, as far as exposure is concerned, what’s the best avenue for bands these days? Is a site such as MySpace really the key to gaining supporters and record deals, or should other outlets be pursued?

    This is not a simple question. The Internet and even MySpace are keys to networking in music these days. There are bands out there now that do not even have a regular webpage, because MySpace has everything a normal webpage would. You can hear music, see what tour dates there are, and keep track of a decent network. Sadly, I have to say that MySpace is good for promotion. I do not really like saying that, but it’s the fact of the matter. I say this because MySpace is one of the reasons for Rosetta’s success. Other outlets should still be pursued! Do not be fooled by MySpace. It has its limitations. Nothing can beat a phone call, or even a conversation at a show. God forbid bands talk to one another these days in person.


    Before we go, what are some of your favorite extreme bands/albums/labels? Also, what do you usually listen to, if not extreme metal?

    Wow, we actually don’t listen to much metal! Ha ha. As I compose this I have listened to the following records: Franklin’s Self-Titled, Planes Mistaken for Stars’s Up in Them Guts, Against Me! Against Me! is Reinventing Axl Rose, and Oddateee’s Steely Darkglasses. I’m about to spin a Mogwai record.

    As of late I’ve been listening to the new 27, Hum, Boards of Canada, Yage, Coalesce, 5ive, and A Tribe Called Quest. Matt listens to a lot of electronic/experimental. Dave and BJ both listen to just about everything from experimental hip-hop to free jazz to hardcore. They gather influence from a wide source, and I really admire them for that. My influence, as far as what I put into Rosetta comes from two clear sources, Coalesce and Tribes of Neurot, or at least that’s what I consciously realize.

    I think this is the part where you send us off with words of wisdom.

    Take care of each other.

    UltimateMetal’s Review of Rosetta – The Galilean Satellites
    Official Rosetta Website
    Official Translation Loss Records Website

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