Doom Metal, Interviews, Metal, News

Eremit – Bearer of many Names (Interview)

(Upcoming) Album:Bearer of many Names
Genre:Doom / Sludge
Release Date:11th of June, 2021
Released viaTranscending Obscurity Records
Cover Artwork ©Eremit, 2021
Photos byAni Levottomuus
Illustration byRyan Choy

Eremit probably caught major attention with their full-length debut “Carrier of Weight” that was released via Transcending Obscurity Records and showcased a band that is capable of setting up an immensely heavy and crushing atmosphere with their music. This June, “Bearer of many Names” – the follow-up full-length for “Carrier of Weight” – will see daylight after “Desert of Ghouls,” the previously released 10” storyline addition. Before getting ready for the next heavyweight to hit you like a collapsing pillar, I had a talk with vocalist and guitarist Mo from Eremit about their background story, the narrative in their music and the upcoming release.

Interview with Mo from Eremit

Photo by Ani Levottomuus

Hello Mo and thanks first of all for taking your time to answer our question concerning EREMIT. I wanted to begin this interview by firstly taking a look back at your history as a band. Just recently, you posted a memory from 2018 having signed to Transcending Obscurity records after only having been an “unknown doom three piece with 250 followers, limited live experiences and no plans for any touring.” How did your communication with Kunal from TOR start off going by your explanation – and how did you feel after having signed?

Hey Roman, thank you for your interest in Eremit! To be quite frankly from the start: I am always comparing myself with that Dwarf (I think it was Gimli even) which is telling Frodo in Rivendell how, after Frodo had asked him about his Dwarf business (mostly mining), it can be dangerous to ask a Dwarf about his own stuff, because Dwarfs tend to not stop talking about it, as they love telling their stories and share it with others, haha. That being said: I like talking about this band and growing artistic project we call Eremit. So thanks for having me! And also: be aware of lengthy answers haha!

Regarding your first question: Yes, you quoted us right there. Back in 2018 we were still a pretty new band with no previous release and just a few shows under our belt. But we had this debut album fully recorded and that amazing Mariusz Lewandowski painting as cover for it. So that was the package with which we contacted labels.

We as a band were new, yet all three of us had experiences in other bands before. Kalle and I are really like “childhood friends” and have shared love for music for many many years; and also have been making music together in several other bands but always on a rather local scale. Marco had been active in other bands as well and is still playing drums for not just Eremit.

Transcending Obscurity, which is managed by Kunal, showed great interest in our release right from the start. I think we hit a sweet spot with Kunal at that time, as he had previously released that really successful Jupiterian record. So he was willing to and interested in, exploring the doom side of extreme metal, after having been focusing on death metal mostly from the start if I remember his back catalog correctly. He loved the painting by Lewandowski and saw a raw potential in our “demanding” music, as he would later frame it.

We had brief contact with other labels too, but TOR was the one who showed sincere interest and we were happy to sign to the label.
Signing with TOR of course felt amazing. For me personally, it was the first time in my artistic biography, that a band of mine signed with a label. It was some sort of reassurance or validation, that our artistic as well as our technical approach was recognized. And with technical I mean, the pathway we chose of not recording any demos, but going straight for the real proper sound we had created in our rehearsal space.

Taking one step back it might be interesting to find out how you as a band got together before instantly peaking with your full-length debut. How did you get to know each other and come up with the idea of starting to play in a band?

All three of us are from the same town in northern Germany: Osnabrück. It’s not a big city, so quite natural as a “metalhead” of some sorts you automatically get to know the other guys and girls in your generation that are into such kind of music and stuff. Be it at local shows or through friends and spending time in popular public places. So Kalle and I met when we were young teenagers through the love for metal music in general. We became close friends and did start bands and projects as a two piece or with other friends of ours. We at the time were mostly into Death Metal and were doing covers of bands like Jungle Rot or Death.

It was us two then, who later broke out of the Death Metal corset and discovered Doom, Stoner and Sludge. There is this very memorable date where we both decided to visit an Amenra show in Bielefeld rather than going to an Obituary (my favourite band at the time) show that was taking place in our home town on the same day! That was a real watershed so to say. From there on we both discovered the doom side of extreme metal with bands like: Moss, Electric Wizard, Nightslug, Asunder, Ahab, to name a few.

I then moved out of town (to Brunswick) to study politics and sociology which ended the bands of me and Kalle, yet not our friendship. After I finished my bachelors degree I moved back to Osnabrück where Kalle had already started a jam-based doom-ish band project with Marco who had most prominently played drums in the Black Metal band “Under That Spell”.

I myself had like four bands and projects during my Brunswick times, of which “Dragged” was the most ambitious one I guess and which can be seen as the direct Eremit predecessor if you will. It was Dragged‘s first (and till this day only) record “We Summon” which was recorded in the infamous “Tonmeisterei” Studio in Oldenburg with Roland Wiegner (Role). That was my first contact with Role, which later made me convince the guys in Eremit to record our record at no other studio!

Did you know right from the beginning what music you planned to play or did you just start and tried to find out later?

Marco and Kalle had covered and jammed some Amenra and Electric Wizard stuff if I recall that correctly. I was more into the really nasty sludge lane (Buzzoven, Thou, Eyehategod) and thought we would go in that direction. My first name suggestions for the band were pretty wild to be honest haha. So we had like a ruff plan of doing some heavy and rather slow music. But it wasn’t planned at all to create a doom band with 30+ minute songs and such a huge lore/mythology coming along with it. That really grew naturally with time.

It already became clear that you, Mo, are primarily in charge for the narrative that sets up the framework for the story that is told about the Eremit. How did this idea evolve, though? Did you plan to start writing music that is going to tell a narrative from the beginning or was this a concept that arose while starting to play music?

It developed with time; the music definitely came first. After we had written like two and a half songs I wanted to start writing proper lyrics. I have to add here, that I like jamming lyrics in general. Not having fixed lyrics available for a song, is a liberating position to be in as a vocalist; at least for me personally. I can form words and sounds around the riffs and drums as I like and as I feel the emotions of the music. Yet there is always the time, whether some bits and pieces of lyrics have already formed through the improvisations or not, that I have to sit down and work on the proper text for the whole song.

At that time, where I was about to start writing lyrics for a song we had written based on a single riff, that I had brought with me from my Brunswick days, I happened to watch the movie “Waterworld”. And in that story there is that term “Dry Land” which somehow amazed me. It stuck and I wanted to write a song with that title and started imagining a person living and dwelling on a seemingly endless ocean. I don’t even remember if we had “Eremit” (Hermit) as band name at that time yet..

Either way, that was how ‘Dry Land’ came to be. It was the first lyrics I wrote for this band. And it started the whole lore that has developed ever since. Some when around that time, Marco came up with the band name. It all came together organically pretty much.

What comes first, the narrative or the sound? When following your explanations, the narrative tends to be there first. Is it also possible that your songwriting process influences the process of the narrative as well?

Both, ha!

In the beginning the music was there first. I remember very vividly, how I, at a rehearsal, asked the guys how they would like it, when we were going to have a narrative that was spanning over more than just one song. I had developed that idea of having all songs tell one story, having our music continuously tell one lore, following one narrative..
They liked the idea and since then, gave me great artistic freedom of writing, finding, discovering this world and lore and weaving it in, fusing it inseparably with our music.

After that, the narrative started to catch up and soon surpassed the music by far. I don’t even dare to precisely tell you how large the mythology has became by now. But if we are continuously fortunate enough to be able to make music together, the lore is only waiting to be told.. for many full length records to come!

So with time the influence of the story became stronger. Yet, for example, our “Desert of Ghouls” EP did not simply start with me saying „Hey guys, story wise we are about to approach a desert, we need some stoner vibes asap!“, haha. Neither did we plan to sonically make a more accessible, dynamic, Conan-esk (Band) record, which then might have influenced me to navigate the story into a fast paced desert story line. It was neither of those ways.
I think it came together so naturally that I at this point can’t truly decipher which was first. It really just came to us as one.

To maybe answer your question more precisely: The ruff outline of the story has unfolded before me quickly. So I, at this point, know where lets say, our fourth album will end story wise. Yet the actual written chapters, are at this point still being written after we have written (and recorded) the music. For example the written chapters for our upcoming second album, which we recorded back in 2018, were finished by me just about a week ago. (And even that is not the real finished book but just a current state of the full text).

As I said in interviews before, our lyrics, and the songs, are a representation of a certain chapter of this lore. Yet they are at times destined to be just a certain perspective. So everything you hear, “happens” in our lore. Yet it can be a perspective that isn’t fully narrated or developed in the book, as the book also has its own point of view on these events. Both go as one. One needs both, if one wants to get a whole scope of the story (if such thing as a „whole scope“ exists).

After having released “Carrier of Weight,” it seemed as if you instantly went towards further releases as well. Did you know right from the beginning that your upcoming releases were also going to be released via Transcending Obscurity Records?

At the time “Carrier of Weight” was released, we already had written and recorded the material which then later became our “Desert of Ghouls” EP plus the upcoming second full length. We, right from the start, just moved forward in our own speed. Sonically that was rather slow, artistically rather fast if you will.
To this day, we almost recorded every song we wrote. We don’t do pre-productions of our songs/records. We write them, develop them together in the rehearsal room and simply go to the Tonmeisterei Studio once we feel that the songs are finished. So from early on we were sitting on a rather huge amount of unreleased material. At this point, where we are about to release Eremit II, our third record is again, already fully written and recorded. And to give a slide spoiler for whats about to come: right now we’re sitting on the largest amount of unreleased material we ever have..

We signed to TOR with a two record deal. The EP wasn’t planned and we offered Kunal to have this EP come before the second full lenght. So we knew we were going with TOR for some time.

We, being quite new to the whole “music industry”-thing, of course didn’t think it would take that long to have our records released, but we learned that in cooperating with a record label, one also has to fit and meet the schedules and plans of the partnering label.

In direct comparison between “Carrier of Weight” and “Desert of Ghouls” it already becomes evident that you tend to include playstyles and effects that underline a specific vibe of the current scenes. Do you actively plan to play in a similar style beforehand or does the storyline push you towards deciding what might improve the construction of this vibe?

Both worlds are enriching each other. “Cross-pollination” is a word I recently learned and I think it describes our process pretty well. Both worlds have influence on each other.

Technically we, right form the start, used scene/lore-based words and phrases to describe certain sounds or styles (“Muschel-Rauschen”, “Wüsten-Klimpern”). So while we are crafting the sonic land- and waterscapes, we are looking for specific tones and rhythms that fit these places.

Some of your listeners or readers here might have difficulties to follow the composition of the first cycle that is the framework for your first three albums as well as the EP. Would you be so kind as to briefly explain the chronological order of your releases?

Yes, one can easily get confused with our plot and storyline, I myself at some point was in the need of a graphical overview/storyboard to get a propper overview of the story.

To start from the bottom: One song on any of our records is one chapter of our lore/book. Each full length records holds three tracks and our first three full length records will form the first cycle of a first epos which consists of three cycles and one conclusion. So you can ruffly see the size of this story right here.

The first cycle is split up in eleven chapters; three full length records with three tracks each, plus the one EP with two chapters. Eremit I (Carrier of Weight), II (Bearer of many Names) and III (I’d love to tell you now but won’t haha) are perfectly chronologically. Just the EP is a bit tricky, as the events take place during Eremit II.

So once Eremit II is released, you would need to, if you want to listen to the songs chronologically, listen to the first two tracks of Eremit II, then put on the EP, and then finish with the third track of Eremit II. I guess I should make a Spotify playlist of our material in chronological order at some point haha.

But honestly, sonically as well as story wise, it makes much sense to listen to the tracks in the “right” order. We recommend it!

After the first full-length, your 10” “Desert of Ghouls” followed containing chapters that did not directly continue the storyline of “Carrier of Weight”. Was the decision to disrupt the storyline supposed to affect the way the reader / listener perceives the story or did it derive from a rather logistical reason?

When we entered the Studio for the second time we recorded five songs in total. We at the time did not know how we wanted to ultimately release this material. Our loose plan was to release it as two EPs. Month later, when we had the finished mixed and mastered songs, I was toying around with the song constellation and thought that the songs/chapters four five and eight would sonically make up a super massive second full length (at that time we didn’t even had signed to TOR if I am correct) while the two shorter tracks (chapter six and seven) would be a good “Desert EP”. Next time we rehearsed I proposed that plan and we decided to do it that exact way. So the decision was based on a sonic and technical foundation. Story wise it didn’t make too much sense, especially releasing the EP before Eremit II.

But the technical side of making music always had and will have an influence on us. I don’t want to spoil to much, but with Eremit III we have pushed boundaries even further, to a point where we would need several 12”s to have this record released as one. So let’s see how this will manifest itself in the years to come..

It is probably easiest to link the term Eremit to a person living in solitude in nature or alternatively practicing asceticism. Regarding the etymology of the term also brings up a strong connection to a spiritual understanding of this word. Travelling towards the Promised Land, does the life in solitude on the sea of the protagonist inherently present a certain level of spirituality?

There is undoubtedly a spiritual aspect to this band. This manifests itself in the ritualistic style of our music itself, the way we play live, the way we feel for the music.

There is also spirituality in the lore, the mythic realm. First and foremost in me, as I am experiencing this story as something I myself am actively discovering. I am not writing and developing this story because it is fun to me. I am not actively trying to write a story to attract people, neither am I trying to write a particular thrilling, or exciting story. It is a way different mode of writing, discovering and exploring.

Small things can become large. For example when I once saw the separate claws of an owl and immediately saw and felt a certain important character within the story. Or once I discovered a central aspect of the first cycle while I was visiting the Museum of Natural Science in Berlin. Strolling around the room with all the stones and minerals, I, all of a sudden, realized how specific parts of the story were connected and where it would lead to in the end. That moment was huge for me.

In general this is hard to put in words. And I am trying to avoid the word “visions” here, as it is carrying a strange weight in today’s times. But if I am honest with myself, “visions” is the word that comes closets to what I would use to describe how I am experiencing this world.
I am not the architect. I am the historian.

On “Dry Land,” we first get to know the protagonist Umno who travels on the open sea having lost both of his parents. Umno is predominantly lead by both the advice he received from his father as well as the behavior of reading the clouds and holding the course that he learned. Even the storm on “Froth is Beckoning” does not hold him back from changing his pace. What do you think overweighs when explaining why he forcibly upholds the course of his forefathers – the fact that intuition after having grown up with these practices and endlessly repeating them is the major force of his decisions or the will not to break with traditions?

Traditions on their own are shallow and worthless. Actions always have to be filled with intention and meaning. Purpose is not crafted by the hands of tradition, but by the hearts of passion.
Umno never actively changed or left the course his forefathers and mothers had shown him, because he believed in the sincerity of this voyage. He felt in his heart that it was upon him to follow this lineage.

Later on he will meet a character called Anim, who will become his companion as their paths grow one. They both come from a drastically different life, but learn to see that they share something of great importance: They, all their lifes, believed in something that was not physically present. They believed in something that their hands could not touch, something that their eyes could not see. Only with their hearts and minds they could sense and grasp it. This something transcends (their) fleshly, worldly dimensions.

Did you deliberately decide that the name of the Eremit was first mentioned in the lyrics of “Desert of Ghouls” and remained nameless throughout the entire “Carrier of Weight”?

No. I didn’t know his name when writing the first three chapters on “Carrier of Weight”. His name was first unveiled in a conversation with Ungô, the Bearer of many Names, in the grots of Udun-ba in chapter four.

I might guess that it was probably difficult for many people to understand what exactly the strange creature on the wrecked ship says to Umno before passing away. Is the language this creature speaks an invention of yours – and if so, does it stem from any specific languages?

Later on even Umno is unable to pronounce or recall the actual words this stranger had spoken to him. He more vividly remembers how he felt when he heard his voice. An understanding of meaning that transcends sheer language.

Umno shall later on learn, that these words actually do stem from a specific language. This language is called Ûn which is the Ursprache / protolanguage of this sphere.

Not having read the pamphlet of “Carrier of Weight” yet, are you willing to hint what this creature tells Umno? Going by the fact that this statement urges Umno to veer off course, this message conveyed by these last words was either specifically important or the creature as a person convinced Umno to change his path – what is the more evident factor?

The precise words could’t be restored or recalled till this point. But what’s certain is that they did move and change something in Umno that made him deviate from his course (mentally, as he had lost his course physically already at this point). And overlooking the whole cycle in which we are following this hermit, changing his course at this point in time and in his life, might have been the most astonishing decision of his.

It feels as if the Eremit feels both joy and repulsion while looking for the City of Râsh-il-nûm. Assuming that Umno is not deliberately looking for this city but was rather driven to do so by an external factor while being mesmerized by its soundscape – do people who know about this place rather think of it as shelter or damnation?

Umno definitely must have felt some sort of joy when he finally felt (and later actually saw) the city. He must have hoped to find shelter there after having been entangled in life threatening combats in the desert. And he is actually about to find a save haven there for some time, so much I can share.

Vôh (by Ryan Choy)

If you’re more generally asking, if this city is a shelter or a damnation, it utterly depends on whom you ask. For those who live behind its walls, the city offers shelter and provides a rather save and rich life. Yet other clans, that have been pushed back into the unmapped territories back in the days where Râsh-il-nûm was built, would rather see this city as a damnation for their former homelands.

Most importantly – who is allowed to enter the city?

I carry no detailed knowledge about the exact policies of Râsh-il-nûm. And sharing the bits and pieces of knowledge I managed to gain so far, would give away too much for those who are about to read these chapters in our second Pamhplet (which we will release alongside Eremit II, on 11/06/2021). I invite everyone to experience this city by themselves then and there..

On all of the tracks off “Carrier of Weight” as well as “Desert of Ghouls”, it seems as if nature takes a key role, ranging from the eternal water of the sea to the vastness of the deserts. Regarding the instrumentation, this obviously opens up possibilities to construct certain moods. Can we also assume that nature plays a key role regarding the fate of Umno as well?

For Umno there is nothing that is not nature, nothing that astrays from what we would call nature. And if we are honest with ourselves in our own world, it’s the same for us here too. Yet I understand where your question is aiming at or leading to.

For us as musicians the scenarios in which the story is taking place is shaping the sound, the mood. The color schemes of our records are heavily linked with the natural surrounding of the story. At this point I am really excited to start working on Eremit IV, as the color pallet itself, which is stemming from the very place this record starts in, is symbolizings a new and fresh start. A dive into a new world which is very lively rich and vibrant, and yet again, in itself isolated.

Do we already know the narrator of the story? Can we assume that this is a story told about events that happened in the past, feeling like an ode to former legends or is it supposed to be understood as a prophecy told by the narrator?

I don’t precisely know who he or she or it is. As I said earlier, I don’t see myself as the narrator. I see myself rather as a by-standing observer who is documenting and conserving these events for the archives.

When I started writing the story I switched in tenses. Some events felt like they have taken place long ago, others, a few pages later, were so close to my eyes and heart, that I intuitively used the present tense in the language. I later decided to not go with this impulsive style and the majority of the book at this point is written in the past tense.

When you’re asking if this story line, from our point of view and point in time, is taking place in the past or the future, I can only say that I don’t see a plausible reason or even sheer possibilities to place those two universes, with their own magic of time, together. I don’t think it matters to us, if it all has happened already, or is about to happen. For us, it is same.

I can’t wait to find out what is to come next as well as how Umno ended up in the battle that is described on “Beheading the Innumerous.” However, the most obvious question regarding the album title first of all is – who or what is the Bearer of many Names and what can we expect from Umno’s encounter?

The character who is the eponym to this record of ours, is a mystical being which at the time Umno encounters him, lives and dwells in the deep grots that are hidden inside the cliffs that ended the world of the water at the end of our first album. These grots which are called Udun-ba, are putting Umno in a dream like state. There is viscous, silver like water running through thin arms that lead into a huge silver lake. There are lithic veins that shine with matt light. And then there is this rock like creature which sometimes just sits in motionless silence. Other times he visits the hermit and hums in forgotten words of events that have happened long ago, or are about to happen, or will never happen at all.
It is a cryptically encounter which will nourish the hermit’s mind long after his body has left Udun-ba. And it is this Bearer of many Names who points Umno in the direction of the chamberdom. The otherworldly place where the hermit is about to discover an ancient artefact, the prominent sword you have seen in our logo and other imagery of ours.

What major issues can we expect from the narrative on “Bearer of Many Names”?

Loss. Solidarity. Doubt. Union. Uncertainty. Unending voyage.

Some time ago, you already mentioned plans of releasing all three albums of the first cycle together combined with the pamphlet containing the narrative that can be read alongside – do you already have any more precise plans about this idea by now?

That’s a great question! Just because I love to think about, to brainstorm and conceptualize physical releases for this band. Be it a new apparel item, the Pamphlet, a record release or what ever we have up our sleeves next ..

To have a summarizing physical release of the first full cycle would be a very satisfying moment. Holding such in my hands would be really really amazing. Concluding the first cycle has always been a fixed goal, a point I wanted to reach with the band. How and if we would continue after that, was and still is not sure. This band exists because three people decide to be in one place together. Other lively strings can cause events that can easily rip such a bond (at least temporarily) apart. So I am actively seeing the constant existence of this band not as naturally given, but rather as a gift of time. So while I would love to keep going for a long time, I am afraid of dreaming about it too much when in reality it might not happen. There might be a point where the band is no longer, but I am still writing this book..

But to return to your question: There are no fixed plans yet. It’s a wonderful idea and dream to have such a massive release. Yet it will be a major effort to realize it. Just the technical side to it, with the overall length of the sonic material of the first cycle is challenging. Left aside the business side, that for one, it will be extremely expensive to have such a release realized and secondly there might be different labels holding different rights to the music by the time we would want to release such a summarizing effort.

Are you already in the writing or recording process for Eremit III and would you be willing to briefly hint any settings or fortunes of the narrative we might expect from this release?

Sonically Eremit III is finished already. We were fortunate to be able to record it last year during a time where pandemic circumstances made it possible to visit Role at the Tonmeisterei for a third time. I would love to tell you more about that but I guess we keep that for the interview cycle once the third record will be released haha.

Hm, thinking about these three final chapters of the first cycle, I think I don’t want to shed any light on those. At this point I am confident and glad with all that I could gather about these events and I am sure those who read the second Pamphlet will be very curious about this last third of Umnos storyline as well!

Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer all of these questions – I am aware of the fact that they are way too much for a regular interview haha. Speaking of which, this is now your chance to find any final words for this exchange.

Haha, no problem! My answers have probably also exceeded regular interview-answers-lenghts (remember the dwarf-warning? Haha!). I honestly think we both share a passion for longer conversations and deeper exchanges.

I am again thankful for your interest in this band and our mythology. It can be a bit overwhelming at times and fosters our standing as a rather “demanding” band I guess. But I like to see it as a fair trade: if one gifts us parts of his or her life’s time, we will offer something of similar value in return!

It was nice talking to you Roman. I hope I could shed light on some aspects of this band and its mythological undertaking. And maybe sometime in the future we’re coming together again just to talk about amps and pedals and guitars and fuzz’s and drones and doom and 18”-speakers and how Pia, our drummer’s girlfriend, electro-welded a six foot heavy ass sword or how we ended up playing a live show in a corner pub that was half bar half gambling hall and why the police showed up in the end haha!

All the best to you Roman!
All Swords Burn.

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