The Amenta: Honesty Is Always The Best Policy

I Don't Have Delicate Hands

The first impression of a band when witnessing their persona on stage comes with its curiosities. None could be more curious than The Amenta. The Australian based band whom has constantly dodged the categorization bullet continues to soar with an acceptance from fans that don’t need to define them, simply revel in them. Metal As Fuck caught up with Timothy Pope recently to discuss the latest album, taking the world by storm; Flesh Is Heir, the perfect rider and the return of Dave Haley….  

A new era of The Amenta has begun both with a lineup change but also the release of the band’s latest album Flesh Is Heir - how is it all going for 2013? “Great, the album is out, we’ve been touring, recently just finished up support for Cradle of Filth, and a slot at the Hammersonic Festival in Indonesia. It’s been a busy start to the year but we aren’t complaining”. I had heard a lot of comments from your show in Sydney with Cradle of Filth, many stating that The Amenta were the highlight of the show “Wow, really, that means a lot, thanks!”.  

Now Dave Haley is back with The Amenta – what sort of energy has come along with him? “It has been excellent, a real return to the roots of the band for all of us, Dave has always been a big part of the band, he is our go to guy for advice and ideas, we have a great working relationship with both Psycroptic and Ruins – Dave is so useful, a great tool for us”. 

The latest album, is indeed setting a benchmark – what is the most crucial element for The Amenta; the music or the lyrics? “Although the lyrics are important to me, it’s definitely the music. Most people don’t listen to the lyrics; a lot of death metal fans are primarily there for the music”. Guilty. “Yeah so when I write, I don’t have a special book I write down all these profound phrases to use later on, I really have to dig it out of myself. I believe strongly in my lyrics yet it all has to be tied together by a great piece of music”.

The Amenta are known for giving a mammoth live show and with a national tour beginning this July, how would you describe this stage show to those you have not yet witnessed The Amenta? (As unacceptable as that is) “This tour is a continuation but with a stronger and basically better audio visual experience, we have a brand new light show and some pretty cool new toys, can’t forget the trusty smoke machine. We have definitely stepped up our live show; we are incorporating some go-pro cameras to strap onto our instruments to give it a bit more edge. At the end of a show we like to see what works, organise a stage configuration to give our fans the best possible experience”. What goes into creating a show for The Amenta? “The most important element to having a successful and distinctive stage show is the visual, it’s so important to the aesthetic of a show – bands can look very generic in this genre, we tend to just go wild, have a lot of faith in the fans, I mean we’re basically at the mercy of the stage. We also evaluate our performance after each gig; see where adjustments can be made. The answer I think is just a lot of hard work”. [Laughs]

Now the band can be accredited for having such an advanced focus in several genres. Let’s focus on black metal for a minute and the continued preservation of that bloodline for over 10 years; how do you absorb the ‘roots’ of black metal into the music? “I think black metal to me, well what I take from the music of black metal is that it is the perfect springboard into extreme music. It excites me, and truly it all does sound different, I took my love of black metal from bands such as Emperor you know, so we use the genre the push the boundaries”. The music of The Amenta as you’ve stated is the perfect springboard for the expression of music in many formats; extreme/death/experimental - Is this fundamental to you and the music? “Well yeah, we’re drawing from a massive palette and all styles have their own unique entity. The music of The Amenta is a strong representation of us rather than just a guess you know, the music has to sound like you, it has to be honest”.  The great thing about playing extreme metal is that there are no rules, or shouldn’t be, so anything is possible. Our music is extreme because we are pushing the boundaries of music – a statement you made. You left your comfort zone a long time ago? “It has to be both I think, you can’t sit in a chair your whole life, you have to stay honest to yourself but also keep pushing new limits – honesty is finding what your limits are, we don’t know our limits until they have been pushed, it’s natural to push because it also has to be a journey”.

Skill and experience are heavy players in dictating a successful album, what does it take more of do you think? “Actually I might add a third if I can? I think perseverance in dictating a successful album or band also. Bands aren’t always skilled as I’m sure you’re aware, this comes from naivety or innocence. Skill and experience can sometimes kill things - perseverance is the key, 9 times out of ten. Sometimes an idea can initially be shit and redundant however if you recongnise this and keep pushing, that’s when shit gets exciting”.  

The keys infuse your music in a way unlike any other band. How do you see them as an aspect of your creativity? “That has been a definite growth in our music, talking about that journey again [Laughs] we were originally very traditional, symphonic and all that, over time though it didn’t feel honest – I mean seriously if you don’t have the budget for an orchestra, don’t try to pull it off with an ‘effect’ our guitars are unique to us and the process of discovery. I Mean, I don’t tinkle the ivory, I didn’t have delicate hands, I am a blunt instrument. We are heavy users of distortion, the process and the rhythm keeps us true as a collective”. 

Ok so now focusing on the tour, just for shits and giggles (as we are party animals, conducting our interview at 9pm on a Friday night) what would be your perfect rider for a show/festival? (Don’t be bashful) “I need booze to play, it’s sort of a tradition for us to head on stage half cut, beer is important! In terms of a perfect rider.......” We’ll just leave that up to your imaginations….