Lo-fi British duo Blut make their home in fucked-up drone and doomed riffing, working hard to sound as inaccessible as possible at any given moment. This is completely on purpose. The band’s warped vision of psychedelic extremity feeds into an overall perspective that is disaffected and hinting at a core of cerebral violence. Such as it is, their motto, “Drop out and fucking kill,” fits them well.
Over the course of several cassette releases and two full-length CDs—those being the interrelated Ritual And Ceremony (2010) and Grief And Incurable Pain (2011)—the initials-only two-piece of bassist N.B. and drummer/guitarist/vocalist S.M. have inflicted upon unsuspecting (or possibly suspecting) ears a sound that is pure in its misanthropy and songs that range between excruciating and unlistenable. The two albums develop ideas one off the other, but there’s an undercurrent of cruelty that remains no matter what might be happening in any given five-minute stretch.
Wanting to find out just what it is that could be behind such utterly demented musicality, I figured it was time to hit up Blut for an email interview. Below, S.M. (joined by N.B. for the last question) provides answers to some of the band’s drives and motives. Please enjoy.
How did the two of you get together and start the band? Did you know what you wanted the sound to be going into it? There’s so much mystery around the band, with just the initials being given for the two of you. What’s the reasoning behind keeping that info so sparse?
We met whilst playing in a black metal band and decided to start Blut as a side-project, the sound of the band comes from our obsession with records like Earth 2 and Nightstick’s Blotter, also bands like Brighter Death Now and Deadwood. The basic idea was a style of music with heavy passages of psychedelic noise and drone with some doom riffs and slow, minimal drums.
In this band we basically are free to experiment with noise tapes, walls of guitar and bass distortion with no real boundaries or rules, if we want to write a 40-minute song, we will. The band is kind of a direct reaction against most modern types of extreme metal music, which have become stagnant, old, repetitive and boring.
As far as the initials-only thing, well, that was a necessity at the outset of the band due to a few problems with certain individuals. FUCK. After that, the initials-only thing just stayed, and also this band isn’t really about posing or anything like that, we don’t even tell people we play music. It’s just not necessary.
Take me through your writing process for the first album and for Grief And Incurable Pain. When you’re writing these huge walls of noise, how do you know a song is over? Was there something new you wanted to try the second time out?
The first album we had no real idea, we had a bunch of riffs and some ideas for drones so we sort of just pieced it all together over time. We rehearsed that record a lot more and it wasn’t as spontaneous-sounding as the newer material. On Grief And Incurable Pain, it was decided to have a less accessible sound. We wanted to delve deeper into the dark black metal-style psych drones.
Also, the bass guitar was a lot higher in the mix than the rhythm guitar, actually nearly all the riffs on the structured drum led parts of the new record are played on bass, allowing the guitar to then be used as an outlet for noise solos and heavily-delayed feedback improvisations. We basically wanted Grief And Incurable Pain to sound less like a metal record and more chaotic and even less organized than anything we’ve ever done before.
Do you record live? The albums sound so harsh. What were you trying to accomplish in the studio, and how much of the material is improvised?
The drums are recorded first then we play over them together, so I guess it’s half-live. We wanted to make these records sound real murky and dark. Absolutely nothing is polished or clean-sounding, everything is pretty much first take. If an instrument drops out or we make a mistake, it’s kept, and I’d say almost all the drones and noise sections are improvised or played loosely around like one or two riffs.
For us, doom and black metal have become far too acceptable now. The danger is gone, the badly-recorded noisy element has died and instead people are polishing their sound way too much. We recorded our first two albums in an attic onto old Dictaphones, a Korg cassette 4-track and a beaten up old computer for digital transfer and some looping tasks. Some of the vocals were recorded in a crawlspace under old blankets by candlelight.
We have old valve P.A. systems as our guitar amps, shitty old cabs and a collection of fucked microphones, this adds to the overall rotten ambience and is something that more mainstream musicians will never understand. We have also recorded samples and improvised instruments in actual forests and woods.
Another thing is the lack of creativity with bands now, a lot of bands seem to think a digital amp and a Line 6 multi-effects pedal is the Holy Grail. Well, the way I see it is Hendrix had a valve amp that was simple as fuck, a fuzz pedal and a wah and he did more with that than these new bands can achieve with an arsenal of unlimited digital shitty affects.
To date, everything you’ve put out has been available on cassette. What is it about the format that keeps you loyal to it? So much focus seems to be on vinyl these days. Is there something in particular about the way Blut sounds on tape that you enjoy?
People buy vinyl but they don’t seem to listen to it. It ends up in a box and they just download the album as mp3. Why? Vinyl and tape sound way better—CD still sounds good to me also—but cassette is a real passion for us. It’s just that cool heavy sound, the background hiss, the fact that tapes play at slightly different speeds on different cassette decks as well, awesome!
How do the titles Ritual And Ceremony and Grief And Incurable Pain relate? Both have the “and” in there, but are they meant to be a summary of what the albums convey, or is there something else behind picking them? Put side by side, the two album covers seem to be staring at each other.
Well, both these albums are part of a trilogy. The next record is called Drop Out And Kill. It’s our farewell, punk rock kind of record. After this one, we intend on changing our sound again, make it darker sounding, more noise and less drums, maybe.
As far as the album titles go, Ritual And Ceremony came from an occult encyclopedia and Grief And Incurable Pain came from a Biblical text. The art is supposed to look the same, actually when you spread the sleeves out next to each other it looks like some fucked up comic book. Unintentional but cool.
Any other plans or other closing words you want to mention? When is the split tape with Decaying Citadel due out?
S.M.: Split tape with Decaying Citadel should be out [in 2012]. We have recorded covers of The Melvins, “Leeech”/”Boris” and Doom’s “Lifelock” for that split. It was good to record some covers. It’s actually probably some of our more listenable material, we were going to record a Bauhaus cover but never got ‘round to it. Maybe next time. “Hollow Hills,” maybe. A live show would be good next year or some sort of performance. Drop out and fucking kill.
N.B.: Well, this is the first time I could be bothered to say anything for this interview. I just have this to say… Buy a valve amp and ditch your shitty Marshall combo, throw away your Mac with its fancy fucking GarageBand program. Steve Jobs is dead. His life has become a toilet book to be stacked in with your cheap porn collection. Move on. You will be okay. Delete your Facebook and try to have at least one ounce of integrity. The underground is not meant to be pretty… Fuck life…
Blut’s Grief And Incurable Pain is available now. For more on their destructive methods, check out blutdoom.blogspot.com.
JJ Koczan likes a good challenge every now and again. firstname.lastname@example.org.