D//E Interviews: God Is An Astronaut

The long awaited new album, Epitaph, by Irish post rock veterans, God Is An Astronaut, will be out April 27th, 2018 via Napalm Records. The band's own, Torsten Kinsella, talks to D//E about its darkness, the inspiration behind it and its technical aspects.

From the new album's captivating title track, it seems like Epitaph is going to be one of the darkest and most esoteric works you've released so far. How different or special was the creative process compared to the previous records?

This album is written in memory of our 7-year-old cousin whose life was tragically taken. It’s our way to say goodbye and come to terms with this tragic incomprehensible loss. The songs were mainly written in the immediate aftermath. It has reminded me of why we write music in the first place, it’s a therapeutic process, our way of expressing ourselves, music can convey an emotion when our words fail. It was an emotionally difficult record to make.

What did make you connect with the artwork of Fursy Teyssier and why did you choose his art for the new album's cover?

Seb from Napalm Records suggested Fursy Teyssier. I was familiar with his work with Alcest and Les Discrets so we were delighted to have him design the album cover. We gave him a few songs and he came back with something that I knew was straight from the heart, it resonated with us and captured the sentiment of this album.

You've stated before that the video for Epitaph was a second take. How different was the initial version and why do you think it didn't correspond with the music?

The video had nothing to do with what it was about, which is the overwhelming tragedy and loss of a 7-year-old boy. The song touches on the different stages we went through, shock, grief, anger, surrealism and the overwhelming reality is the finality of it all.
I find it hard to understand why a video maker cannot respect its meaning, if roles were reversed and I was to score a movie, it would be obvious that the music be suitable to the narrative. It’s hard enough to convey the emotions to the audience, the last thing we needed was a video that was extraneous.
We contacted Burns Archive to seek permission to use Post Mortem photographs, getting permission is next to impossible but Elizabeth Burns really understood our genuine sincerity in paying tribute to Oisín and was very supportive.

Do you usually prefer leaving your music open to interpretation or would you rather be exact about its meaning and ideas?

Usually yes but not on this occasion, it was important that the album dealt with the dark, traumatic and sombre moments we experienced.

As one of the archetypal bands for post rock, how do you feel about the genre's current state and its future? Are there any new bands that have caught your attention?

I don’t follow or pay attention to specific genres or trends, I rarely get the time. I’d prefer to watch a movie or read a book in my downtime, it allows me to switch off. Listening to music in general doesn’t do that for me, I guess that’s the downside when making your own music. Saying that I did get to listen to Irish group, Girl Band, which I did enjoy.

How would you describe the band's current creative dynamic? and how it has evolved since the early days of GIAA?

Every album reflects on what we have lived through, so musically it will tell its own story.
We have evolved in our ability to better convey our feelings and experiences into our compositions, it just flows out more organically. Medea for example, it’s discordant, bitter, its dark notations are unique to this record due to the disturbing subject matter. Structurally it’s more advanced, no basic quiet to loud songs.
We worked a lot on the style with the help of Xenon Field, conveying a feeling of deep seriousness and sadness.

We used Analogue tape and old echo devices to give the record a more lived in sound.
We wanted the sounds to be more imperfect by putting them through tape devices with bad tracking, the notes warbling in and out tune to create a more sinister ghostly effect. Using lots of tape saturation made it feel more stressed. The pianos were processed in a way to sound more vintage and broken, we recorded them onto an old 4 track Akai recorder, some even onto ferric cassette tape. We wanted the sounds to morph and develop and not be stagnant, we wanted the piano to move sonically throughout the different parts of Epitaph using distortion and filters.
We worked tirelessly on the background textures using devices like the Niio Iotine Core, Mutronics Mutator and Snazzy FX Tracer City to give the sounds a real Analog flavour. We also used experimental plugins liked unfiltered audio Spec Ops to really make the textures unusual and unique, unlike anything you have heard us do before. Lots of live amps on this record, amp simulation equipment didn’t quite fit the dynamic, it had to be as raw as possible. Jimmy Scanlon who owns Jimi’s Music store helped me out by supplying vintage amps and also played on our record. We used ribbon mics to keep the sound warm and used the lowest tunings (drop A) which we never used before. The drums were miked with a pair of Ribbon Coles 4038, it gave the drums a dark sound that the music craved for.

To top it off, we used Analog tube mastering and made sure the record was not brick-walled and over enhanced, instead we chose to ignore the trend of loud, schmaltzy, bright records in favour of something more authentic.

Any specific plans after the album's release? What does the near future hold for GIAA?

We will be actively supporting this record by touring but beyond that I really couldn’t say. I’ve no idea what’s around the bend.


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