Date: July 11, 2016
"It took some time for Subterranean Disposition's sophomore album 'Contagiuum And The Landscapes Of Failure' to materialise, but when it did, it dropped straight into our Album of the Month slot. We spoke to SD's founder Terry Vainoras about the band's early history back in 2012, when the self-titled debut was released, and now seemed like a perfect time to catch up with what's been happening in the meantime."
(1) Hello Terry. It's been a while - nice to have you back in the Doom-Metal hotseat! Can we start with the traditional quick introduction?
Hello Mike, thank you once again for the opportunity to have a chat!
I am Terry Vainoras, Metal musician from Melbourne, Australia. I play Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Tenor Sax and Vocals. I have been in bands for 23 years now, some of them being Order of Chaos, Earth, Damaged, Hellspawn, Cryptal Darkness, The Eternal, Insomnius Dei and of course Subterranean Disposition!
(2) Last time we chatted was in 2012, just after the release of Subterranean Disposition's debut, and you told me: "a second album has been finished in the demo stages and it will hopefully be recorded and possibly released in 2013". Well, we've got it now - where did all the extra time go, in between?
Time flies when you get older! It is true that the demos for this new album were done when the debut was released back in 2012, and in that same year I got married and had my first child. Beginning family life is a time consuming thing, and on top of that my lovely wife's health took turns for the worse during the last three to four years including many hospital visits, surgeries and a couple close calls with mortality, so my priorities shifted focus from solely music and work to caring for my family with music when time permitted. Looking back on it now the material did develop as I would go back to re-listen and play with embellishing ideas and when it was time to finally record I think the songs had finally settled into themselves after a long gestation, kind of like a wine maturing.
(3) I'm really sorry to hear of your wife's health issues: I'm aware they're serious enough that you've reluctantly had to consider a fundraising appeal to help rebuild the financial destruction caused by having a family member so seriously unwell for such a long time. Would you like to say a few words about that, and how successful the campaign's been so far? Are people willing to help out?
The campaign came about through close family and friends who wanted to help out. My wife Elle and I both were initially reluctant to have our story out there, Elle being scared and wary about what it might mean for her having her life on display, I guess that negative can also come with positive in these situations.
In light of that It has so far been an overwhelming experience of people coming forward to help in many different ways. In particular interest and help has come from fellow musicians and faces past and present from the Melbourne music scene, a fundraiser gig is organised for September and another one in July is pledging the door takings to the campaign itself. Some amazing people I have shared stages and good times with are keen to jump on board and the community feeling of their actions are deeply humbling to me and my family.
Editor's note: If you wish to assist in any way, the appeal details are at Gofundme.com:
(4) We covered the band's start-up and early history in the last interview. Besides the new album, have there been any other significant milestones? I see, for example, that you did put together a live line-up for some shows a while back.
After the debut album's release I did get a few musician friends together to perform the material for a small run of shows in Australia, which was both a satisfying and a learning experience. Being without a steady group of people to constitute a 'Band' it was gratifying to have trusted musician friends subtly re- interpret the music through their playing and I plan to use this same approach to do some shows here in Australia again later this year.
The one and only milestone for me is that the album is available for everyone now and not just a bunch of files doing nothing on my computer!! It was a lengthy labour of love.
(5) We also covered a fair bit of your musical background, but I know you've spent some of the intervening years learning to play sax yourself. Was there anything in particular that prompted you to do that? And have you been branching out with any other musical developments?
Much like anybody that has picked up an instrument, especially in the rock/metal world there is always usually a hero or idol you worship for a time and want to emulate. I am a very big fan of German group Bohren und der club of gore, so I have spent two years in my room trying to play like their horn player, Christoph Closer!!! Coming from the string side of instruments the sax was always this mysterious thing for me and when my good friend Darcy Molan performed tenor sax on the debut album, I would ask him all these questions about it. After awhile Darcy kindly offered to lend me a beginners horn so I could have a go and the rest is history.
Another point of view was that for the aforementioned live shows I had to book separate sax players for each show in a different city which was logistically tough, so I thought if I learn to play that next time round I can just perform the parts if no one else is found to do it.
Right now I am writing for two different projects with sax as a lead instrument, one is very much a Doom Jazz style and the other a power trio with drums, distorted bass and sax.
(6) Do you consider Subterranean Disposition still, effectively, a solo project? You still do all the composition and most of the instruments, but Dan Nahum is fully credited for drums/percussion - is that a collaboration for album recording purposes, or as a fully-fledged band member?
For all intents and purposes it is still just myself coming up with the vision and execution of music apart from drums, although I do write drum ideas in the demo stages. I guess now after collaborating with Dan and mutually having a cool experience, I know there is a good friend there who is open to recording again and doing a couple shows if time permits between the many kick ass bands he has full time commitments with.
I am enjoying this way of operating solo and then collaborating, it's liberating to have it not be a full time proposition for anyone and it also entails new experiences with different musicians over time, instead of the same number of people over a long period of time.
(7) So, the new album is entitled 'Contagiuum and the Landscapes of Failure'. What was the inspiration and significance behind that name? And did it come before or after the choice of cover art?
Initially the title was "Soundtracks for the landscapes of failure" inspired by my finding a rough connection between all the lyrics, a pseudo concept looking at the decline of our world from different points of view. For example "Wooden" begins with the aftermath scene of the apocalypse, where "Embittered" takes it back into the heart of one individual's downfall, "All roads" looks at the surveilance culture, growing prison planet and wage slavery apsects, "Slumber" deals with the majority of people being asleep at the wheel and "Aggressors" shows the ruling classes hand in it.
When proofreading my lyrics, Dan Nahum came across a misspelling of 'contagion' as Contagium and joked it was an amalgamation of continuum and contagion. Instantly I knew that it should be in the title instead of soundtracks!!
The amazing art of Coby Obrien came last, I went to his instagram at the referral of Nick from Hypnotic Dirge and scrolled down to see his piece "Painting of a photo that never existed" and again instantly connected it to the body of work of this album. I was very lucky Coby graciously let me use his art.
(8) I've recently reviewed it - do you think that's a reasonable assessment? Is there anything you'd like to respond to, correct or add to it?
There is nothing I would add to anybody's review, either good or bad, as it is that person's conception of what I made and not my own! I was humbled to read what you had to say and felt that you had connected with what I was trying to do and convey within the music, so thankyou, very well written!
(9) What about other coverage - how has that been? I don't look at other reviews until mine's completed, but I've seen some fairly baffling attributions since, like the one which filed you as Funeral Doom, or one which patronised you as a young band apparently needing to rectify the saminess of your songs! Hopefully most would-be reviewers are a little better-informed?
First and foremost there have been some wonderful and enlightening overviews of the album from a great amount of reviews I have seen which is an added bonus to being happy with the final product myself. As happened with my debut album, there are unfavourable or critique reviews and I can respect those points of view, I guess sometimes the person assigned to write a review hasn't always had the temperament or taste for the length of the songs and finds it boring!
(10) What do you consider to be the most significant differences between the debut and 'Contagiuum...'? Were they deliberate intentions you set out with, or more of a natural evolution that happened along the way?
Looking back I guess there was a natural subconscious desire to see where else I could take this dynamic song format and add different elements that may not be traditional doom/death. For the ambient passages the idea was to incorporate different guitar tones, in particular a more dark country or Americana vibe in there. I worked with my old friend and ex band mate Mark Kelson at his Kelsonic studio to capture those clean guitars and sonically I believe that stands apart from the debut. So the path was part natural, part intentional.
Also having Dan play on this album pushed the feel of the music beyond what the debut could do. Adam from Toyland studios brought so much clarity to the mixes this time too.
(11) I must say I was very impressed with Gelareh Pour's contribution, both of voice and instruments. How did that come about? Did you write 'Embittered' as a vehicle to include that, or did it just naturally fit into the existing structure?
Gelareh's performances were phenomenal and really took the song to another level. The song in demo form was calling for a real droning sorrowful aspect in the ambient part that I didn't think would work with say an ebowed guitar or violin or sax etc. I remembered hearing her album " tannin e Melbourne" - available at Bandcamp - when I worked in a friend's CD manufacturing plant and then got in touch through her partner who I knew from the Melbourne scene, to see if she might be open to collaborate. I am so happy she decided to.
(12) There's clearly a lot of work gone into the finished album. Was it a technical challenge to compose, record and produce, or was it more of an aesthetic challenge to get the detail and polish to your satisfaction?
The composing part was intuitive and fun, then to record and try to produce at the same time can definitely be a technical or hat juggling challenge! When recording individual parts the focus can be great, the attention to detail blocking out the whole view so to speak. Having Adam at Toyland there with his opinions and ears took the pressure off and the days spent recording were mostly fun. And once we had recorded everything I knew the performances were right, it was easy to trust the material in Adam's hands to bring out the nuances and provide the polish.
(13) It's again released through Hypnotic Dirge, but this time jointly with BadMoodMan Music. I've seen quite a few inter-label collaborations recently: are you affected by - or involved in that - as an artist, or is it more of a commercial decision taken purely between the labels?
It is really a mutual decision from both labels from the release view point, they distribute each other's releases so I think it was a natural evolution in their dealings, which has happened on a number of releases before this SD album too. I believe it to be a very positive thing, I am a fan of some of the music that both labels put out and am honoured that they are both working with me on this new album.
(14) Are you satisfied with the final product? Is there anything, in hindsight - or if you had unlimited time and budget - you might have liked to do differently?
I believe this is the most satisfied I have been with an album I have been a part of, and to be saying that after twenty odd years of recording music is a great feeling!
I feel like it's too early to hear lessons for the next time around as I am still too close to the music, perhaps in a year if I revisit I will start to hear things I would have improved upon, but at the end of the day it is a series of moments in time that I will remember when I hear it or perform it.
(15) I think I missed this one last around, but it's never too late to ask: what do you actually consider to be the essential qualities of Doom, and how do you go about realising them in your music?
For me some of the key ingredients are the tempo, the feel of the musicians playing and the atmosphere they create together. So for a one man band I'm looking for the guitars to counterpoint each other with unison heaviness, minor harmonised melodies, layered atmosphere and dissonant weirdness, and for the drums and bass to give them space but step up when the time arises, and for the vocals to match the feelings of the guitars with different techniques for each change of feeling.
(16) Maybe it's a little early to be asking, but do you have anything else planned, or in mind, for Subterranean Disposition at the moment?
There is definitely a third album in the works, a whole instrumental album is demoed and when I have the chance to focus I will begin writing the lyrics. Other than that there will be a small amount of shows in Australia to celebrate this albums release later on in the year.
(17) And in the longer term, do you have any particular vision for where you'd like to take the band? Any idea how would you like it to be spoken of, looking back from sometime in the future?
For SD I just want to follow the ideas as they come up, make and explore what is possible to do within the freedom of this music project and hopefully others can enjoy and connect with that. I would also love to travel and present the material live overseas if the opportunity comes up.
(18) What about the other projects you're involved with? Have you been doing anything with them recently, or have anything planned for the near future?
My main other project is the long running Order of Chaos - website - which is more of a death metal/ hardcore punk hybrid type of band. Both Order and SD are great to be able to go between one then the other and not get bored within the same style of metal!
O.O.C have been playing shows regularly around Australia and recently we went from a power trio to a four piece where I stopped playing bass to concentrate solely on vocals. There is an album in the works to follow up 2014's "Deadweight Undertow".
(19) So, outside of music, what other hobbies and interests have you been keeping busy with? I've seen some pretty nifty-looking skateboard footage...!
Beyond being a music fan one of the other passions I have is indeed Skateboarding! It will be thirty years since I first began riding this year and like when I began the fire to skate is still there and I hope to share that with my son as he grows up. I have also been an avid reader since I was young to this day.
(20) To close, I hope we've covered some interesting ground, but if there is anything you'd like to add, please do.
I just want to thank you for the great questions Mike, and also thank everybody who has checked out this new album already.
It only remains for me to thank you for your time and the opportunity to talk with you, again and to wish you every success with 'Contagiuum...'.
Again thanks for this opportunity and more power and success to you and Doom metal.com !
Posted by Nick Skog. Posted In : Interviews