- only tape is real -

Interview: Charnia

I’m not sure how it is in other countries but over here in the Netherlands we often tend to focus on other countries and continents when it comes to new talent and therefor forgetting that there is also great talent in our own backyard. Or in the case of Charnia in Belgium.

Charnia logo

They were brought to my attention by a post on a forum i frequent and was rather impressed with their atmospheric sludge/doom. With their first demo about to be released somewhere next month it was time to ask these lads some questions.

First question is a bit of a cliche one but could you introduce the band and give us a bit of history?

Jelle: Me and Seppe started to jam together a few years ago. We had a great time but weren’t making any progress. So we wanted to get a little more productive and started to write an album. I started off by writing down five songtitles. When we had the basic structures of what now is ‘The Library’ and ‘Galilei’ we came across Ruben. And at Roadburn 2012 we kept asking him to join us. A few months later we started to jam for the first time as a trio.

Seppe: From there on, it only went uphill. More ideas and structures almost wove themselves together, if you like. After weeks and months of regular rehearsing, we finished our first three songs (which are now free to download!).


The only reference i found for the name Charnia is that it’s a fossil. Why did you chose this name?

Jelle: It had a chrystaline and ancient connotation that we liked.

Ruben: The name was there when I joined. I must say I did like the BBC documentary partially dedicated to it – all the more so because it featured our hero Sir David Attenborough. Now if only it weren’t for Walden Media deciding to adapt a certain series of novels into film, it would’ve been even better.

Your bandcamp page shows three songs, will the actual physical release contain more songs?

Jelle: The full demo features two extra songs. They’re called Longinus and The Great Architect. These songs are quite young but we decided to record them anyway because we had the time and tools to do so. They will be more complex when we ever get the chance to re-record the album in a professional studio.

Ruben: Longinus, for example, is at this point a slightly polished jam: we were jamming one day, decided we liked what we just played and therefore played it again, now recording it. It’s been fleshed out somewhat since then, but could still do with some additional refining.

Seppe: The Great Architect is somewhat of an exploration of our own capabilities. In a way you can almost call it an experiment. Those two extra songs stress the variety of our songs the most for me.

Your demo will be released on tape, why did you decide for this format and not, for instance, a cd?

Jelle: Because it’s easier to make them in smaller numbers. Plus, we don’t like the coldness of cd. We are all vinyl geeks to be honest.

Ruben: Smaller numbers also equal less harsh for our poor wallets. We all prefer vinyl, but first of all that would’ve been quite costly for a demo. Secondly, I’m not quite happy enough with my performance to have it released on vinyl.


The reviews i read mentioned Neurosis and Wolves in the Throne Room as influences, what would you consider to be influences for Charnia yourself?

Jelle: Wolves In The Trone Room and Black Metal in general is a big influence as you will hear on The Great Architect. But bands like Year Of No Light, Rosetta, Moss and even Sunn O))) really shaped my sound.
Our major influence is without doubt Amenra.

Ruben: I’m still quite new to the whole making music myself thing – only picked up an instrument about a year ago – but suppose I take bits and pieces from whatever it is I listen to. Which ranges from Skepticism to Summoning to, indeed, Amenra, and a slew of other bands, genres and composers.

Seppe: All the bands mentioned above were and are indeed huge influences. But for me as a drummer specifically drummers like the great John Bonham, Danny Carey, Bill Ward, Bjorn Lebon from Amenra (from whom I bought my ‘new’ secondhand drums), the drummers from YOB, YONL, ISIS, Down and also some riddles with the likes of Rosetta are to some extent an influence to me. I could go on…

What’s the idea behind the lyrics? With a title like The Silent Cartographer and songs like The Library and Galilei you would say there is some sort of concept?

Jelle: It’s kind of a concept album. It’s the Science vs. Religion debate. For example, the song Galilei is about religion oppressing Galileo Galilei’s work. The same goes for The Silent Cartographer but that one is about Gerard de Kremer. They suffered for their brilliant findings and observations. In The Great Architect I tried to capture the feeling of a person who finally stands up against this non-existent deity. It’s not autobiographical for those who might think it is. My battle against religion was proper and swift.

Ruben: Just for the record, as not everyone is equally familiar withour local history, Gerard de Kremer is more commonly known as Mercator.

Seppe: Aside from the overall concept, the whole process of making a demo was kind of a mental cleansing for me. But this will be fully completed when we play some more gigs.

If I’m not mistaken you are a fairly new band, have you been playing gigs? And what are the plans in that field for 2013?

Jelle: We did our first gig in October 2012. We played the songs that you can hear on Bandcamp. The other two didn’t even exist at that moment. Our second gig will be on the 20th of April in Ghent with Mournful Congregation and our friends of Monads.

Ruben: If things work out, we’ll be playing a few more small gigs left and right, together with other bands we know. All quite vague for now, but I suppose it’ll happen in due time.

Seppe: We are also trying to organise a small release show with befriended bands.


What else can we expect from Charnia this year?

Jelle: Ofcourse we’ll release our demo tape once it has arrived. There’s also a concept for the second album on the shelves but that will take a while to finish. And we’ll basically be on the lookout for gigs.

Ruben: Indeed. I suppose we’ll be rehearsing, writing new material and playing a few gigs left and right as opportunities arise.

Seppe: And try to reach as much people possibly interested in our music, establish bonds, get better on a personal level and hopefully things will drag themselves in a right direction for us this year.

That’s about it, feel free to add anything you like yourself

Jelle: Namaste!

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