Discussing influences with bands like Apparition is always interesting due to the fact that, while not following in the footsteps of any particular band, your music reflects an undeniable familiarity with many of the genre’s pillars. That said, where does Apparition come from musically? Are you one of those bands that are content serving as a tribute to the past, or are you looking to embrace everything from that past in order to eventually transcend it and establish your own independent identity?
Miles: Although we never intended to simply be a tribute to the past, Andrew and I started the band without a fully formed musical concept because we just wanted to be in a band together for fun. Through much experimentation we’ve allowed Apparition to grow into a relatively unique identity, just as we’ve grown as people. We aim to keep making things interesting for ourselves. Our musical influences are always changing but I’ll say a significant one for us during the writing of Feel that may or may not be apparent was Omnipotence by Wicked Innocence.
Apparently, Feel has also been heavily influenced by your past jazz studies and other music styles outside the death metal paradigm. Could you name some of them that Apparition owes at least a part of its sound and distinctiveness to?
Miles: Andrew and I were deeply immersed in the study and practice of Black improvisational music for years, which is sorta out of the ordinary for people who play death metal. Instead of listing specific artists or albums I think I’d rather say that that experience, in addition to dealing with mental illness and personal traumas in and out of therapy, synchronicities, and the inherent esoteric connection between us all, has influenced the band quite a bit on my end.
Andrew: I’m influenced by musicians who participate in free improvisation, the early music of artists such as Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, and many of the musicians associated with them. Jack DeJohnette is also another one of my favorite drummers. I can’t say those musicians had much influence on our music, they just kind of shape a philosophy, or an approach to music for me.
Would you say that standing on the shoulders of the bands and artists that came before you is equally worthwhile and genuine an artistic pursuit as standing behind them, in an endless queue of their better or worse replicas? Is the latter always and necessarily a path of least resistance, that cannot give birth to anything truly authentic?
Miles: Is authenticity the same as trying to transcend one’s influences? As long as there’s honesty involved in a creation, I believe it to be a worthwhile artistic pursuit. I’m also not the art police and don’t think it’s right to say there’s only one way to do something. There are enough clowns already doing that within underground music.
Is the word feel in the context of the album’s title used as a noun or as a verb? Did you name the album that way because you wanted a listener to feel a certain way while listening to it, or were you referring to its impact on the senses, its sonic texture so to speak?
Andrew: I think of it as a verb, but really, it’s more of a reminder to myself to feel. It’s important for me to do so. Your interpretations are not too far off. I can appreciate them because it is still relevant to the word.
According to Encyclopaedia Metallum website, there are seven more bands that are named Apparition. Notwithstanding that Apparition is an adequate, to the point name for a death metal band, that suits the atmosphere of your music rather well, were you aware that it’s not actually the most exclusive one around when you chose it?
Miles: Yes, we were aware, and it doesn’t keep us up at night. The band name, lyrics, and riffs contain many layers of meaning to us ˗ but because it’s all so personal, I don’t feel the need to explain, and can only hope that listeners find their own meaning in the material.
Since all of us are at all times present in the stream of consciousness, which is essentially the basic state of our conscious psyche, does drowning in it, figuratively speaking, imply a person’s inability to cope with the perception of reality as it is? Is that what you had in mind when you came up with the title Drowning In The Stream Of Consciousness?
Andrew: I would say that I am using that phrase metaphorically. It’s more like being overwhelmed with strong emotions, and how those emotions can affect one’s thoughts. It’s my way of describing a state of being.
Is it fair to say that, while successfully getting its point across in all its different tempos, your music truly excels when you slow things down a notch?
Miles: Certain tempos are more comfortable to us than others, but we are always actively working to change that. Where we truly excel is up to the listener to decide.
John McEntee of Incantation often insists in his interviews that a riff must make you feel a certain way, that it must carry energy and be brimmed with emotion, and that slow riffs in particular emphasize those qualities better than the fast ones. Is that in line with how you feel, do you also prefer death metal bands that combine ferocity with the heaviness and sluggishness of doom to those that are, in a manner of speaking, one-dimensionally violent?
Miles: Tempo is one of many important factors that go into a riff, but I don’t think slow riffs are necessarily superior in any way. I usually like bands that have variety and dynamics but it’s hard to make blanket statements about riffs and music preferences because I like different things at different times, so I’ll just say that that isn’t in line with how I feel.
What were some of the guidelines you gave to Abomination Hammer, that resulted in this rather abstract front cover? What does the image itself represent?
Andrew: The basic concept was that it was supposed to be an x-ray like image of the brain. The viewer is looking down, as if you could see down into the spinal column, giving you a glimpse of the void. We wanted there to be an ethereal energy around it. He did an excellent job transforming that idea into an image.
Do you feel that there is visual and sonic compatibility between the front cover and the music on the album, that both elevate each other in a way?
Andrew: The connection is with the lyrics. There is a physiological aspect to them. Particularly with the structure of the human body, and how the chemicals in a brain affect one’s psyche. My lyrics deal more with exaggerating those effects, exploring how intense feelings can get.
The Profound Lore roster is a good place to be for a young, unestablished death metal band, as some of the label’s eminence and reputation will inevitably rub off on it. According to your experience, what kind of person is Chris Bruni and what influenced your decision to work with him?
Miles: Chris Bruni and I have only ever communicated through email, but he seems to be a very focused guy who has been nothing but extremely supportive and helpful in a variety of ways. I’d say it was more his decision to work with us than the other way around, and we are very grateful to be so heavily supported in doing what we love. It was obviously a huge shock to go from playing one show straight to working with one of our favorite labels.
Is the only authentic art the one that comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable, as the old saying has it? Or should art be capable to entertain and provide escapism as well?
Andrew: I can’t speak on what art is authentic or not. I would say that if a piece of art made you feel a certain way, either ecstatic or indifferent, it was effective. Art will always be filtered through your emotions and your belief system, so its effect on you is simply that.
Which interpretation of the afterlife is more in line with your metaphysical sensibility, the one that sees it as the eternal nothingness or as some form of everlasting existence? When you die, would you like to die completely, both with body and with soul?
Miles: Something cannot exist without nothing. I view both as the same thing. Ayin and Yesh.
Andrew: I don’t really have a conception of what an afterlife would be. I would like it to be an existence that could not be described using language.
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