Where's the Shower?
CoC chats with Jan and Jerzy from April Ethereal
by: Paul Schwarz
April Ethereal's _Advent_ album of last year intrigued me from the very first time I listened to it because, though it was slightly rough in the production department, it was anything but predictable. Compositions imbued with atmosphere, infused heavily with synth, progressive in tendency and generally non-linear in nature brought one band above all others to my mind: Opeth. Of course, what with "April Ethereal" and "Advent" being the titles of two Opeth songs, one might say that this was not a surprising thing, but other factors about April Ethereal might have steered you away from such a presumption. April Ethereal are from Poland, and represent somewhat of an anomaly for a country which -- as far as the metal underground goes -- is only substantially noted for its well-populated -- and in a number of cases very good -- death metal scene. The unusual nature of April Ethereal's music considering their national origins along with that music's unusually frequent propensity for suggesting that the band behind it had serious potential to do great things in the future, helped encourage me to seek them out. The following e-mail interview -- answered by Jan (drums and vocals on _Advent_; guitar and backing vocals in April Ethereal) and Jerzy (guitars, basses and keyboards on _Advent_; guitar and bass in April Ethereal) -- was the result. Adrian is the band's current vocalist.

CoC: You are a Polish band. Poland has become known in the underground primarily for death metal -- and a little for black metal. You fit into neither genre, strictly speaking. Do you find that the reputation Poland has today in the underground is more a help to your career, or more a hindrance?

Jan: Greetings. It's difficult to say if it will help us or not. We have observed that the Polish underground has really extreme opinions about our music -- some people love us and some others just hate us. Today's Polish underground is reviving the death metal boom and all the bands who are playing other music, more melodic and of course less brutal, have some problems with existing in the underground. What will help us for sure is the fact that the Polish underground is big and a lot of people have a chance to listen to our music. I can't really say if it will help us or not, because for me the Polish underground is really chaotic and you don't really know what to expect.

Jerzy: For us it's sometimes difficult to exist in the underground, because for example when we play live, we're usually playing with two or three brutal death metal bands and with our melodic and atmospheric music we create some kind of contrast with the other performers. This contrast is often a help to our career, because our band is seen as an original one in the mass of death metal bands, but in other cases, people who come to see a death metal show don't really understand our music... Personally, I think that being an original band is a big advantage and that the death metal reputation of the Polish underground will only help us -- people will say, "Have you heard this Polish band! Wow, they play brutal -but- melodic metal, and -not- death metal."

CoC: I liked your latest album, _Advent_, I thought it showed a lot of -potential-. However, I did think it showed a lot of areas, particularly with respect to the album's production, which needed improvement. I think you show the potential to make a great album in the future if given sufficient time and money, but at present I think you have only succeeded in making a good album, not a great one. How do -you- feel about _Advent_, and how much of April Ethereal's potential do you think it realises?

Jerzy: I'm really happy that you liked _Advent_. You're right saying that we could improve the production and the whole sound of this album, but I think that an artist can improve his work to infinity, always finding something he could do better or in another way. We had limited time and a limited amount of money to record _Advent_ and I think we have done it the best way we could at the moment. This recording shows our musical style, our potential and our ideas. Personally, I like the sound and the production of this record -- I've heard a lot of albums with worse production! You can hear all the instruments and I think that this record has its own atmosphere. Of course, our next album will have better sound and will be different, because we're still getting more experience as musicians and composers and we have fresh ideas -- it's some kind of artistic evolution. Our potential is growing along with our experience.

Jan: For me _Advent_ represents a giant step forward in our music. Before, at the time of our demos, we have jumped on various kinds of music and tried almost all styles. Nowadays, we know our path and we know how our music will sound like. As a writer of _Advent_'s lyrics, it was a big step too, because I wrote literally what I thought. I knew what the principal theme will be and I exploited it to the end. I won't be able to write another _Advent_ lyrically. We know now that we haven't recorded the album of our lives yet, so _Advent_ is not representing our full potential, but it represents the April Ethereal band AD 2001. The best one will come for sure. <he, he>

Jerzy: Adrian likes this record too, but he already has new ideas he wants to put on our next release.

CoC: Do you have plans to extend the band's permanent line-up further, to include a permanent drummer and keyboardist?

Jan: We are actually looking for a bassist, but in the case of a drummer it's very hard to find a good one in Warsaw. If there is a really good drummer, he is playing in five bands at the same time, so it's almost impossible to find a drummer who will understand and feel our music and will be able to sacrifice all his energy for the band. A keyboardist, why not? But for the moment our goal is to find a bassist, then we will think about a keyboardist. For the drummer it will be our last thought <he, he> and maybe we won't feel the need to find one.

Jerzy: We started as a duo, me and Jan. Now we are three with Adrian. Maybe one day we'll find appropriate musicians to extend our line-up. For now we feel very comfortable playing as a trio, we're able to play live and we know exactly what way artistically we want to go.

CoC: The influence of Opeth shows in your recorded work, yet you do not sound merely like you mimic the band. This is good. In the future, do you have a particular musical direction you intend to follow? Will you try to avoid going down the same roads as Opeth have?

Jan: A lot of people, at hearing that the main influence for us is Opeth, say that we are copying this band. It doesn't make any sense; Opeth is just an inspiration for us, we are not trying to sound like Opeth or to play like Opeth. We won't follow the same roads. We know what music we are playing and what music we want to compose. Our next album will be, for sure, more progressive. I think that we will use less drum blasts. It will sound heavy but it won't be as brutal as _Advent_.

Jerzy: Opeth is one and only, and it's impossible to copy their unique style. And we never thought of copying them. We have chosen the name April Ethereal as a 'tribute' to Opeth, that's all. Our guitar arrangements are harmonic, we use a lot of acoustic guitars, but we follow our own path. We'll introduce new elements to our music, our songs will probably be more progressive and more complex, but we defined our musical style on Advent and we will improve it for now. I think our songs will always have a unique April Ethereal atmosphere.

CoC: How important is playing live to April Ethereal? Your music is complex and disjointed in structure, and seems like something that would be difficult -- but very interesting -- to play live: what do you do live?

Jan: Personally, I love playing gigs. It's so powerful and it gives me real satisfaction. That's true, our music is complex but we are able to play it live. When preparing our set list, we have chosen the songs which sound good live. For example the "Hologram" track is too progressive to play it live and we will probably never play it live. Our live set is powerful and really kicks ass!

Jerzy: We compose the songs in order to be able to play them live later on -- we don't record five guitar tracks in studio. Our live show is powerful because we express emotions and because Adrian is a very good frontman. Our music is complex but communicates emotions and creates atmosphere, and I think it's the most important thing when playing live. Live gigs are for us an important way to promote our music -- people that never heard about us have the opportunity to hear our stuff. Playing live gives us so much energy that our songs are sometimes more brutal, sometimes more powerful and always different.

CoC: Who are your main musical inspirations and what continues to inspire you both to play music, and to head in specific musical directions?

Jerzy: I started to listen to music with Pink Floyd, then came AC/DC, some thrash metal bands, Slayer, Entombed and finally Opeth, which is for me the most innovative band in the death metal style. I think that every record I find interesting in a way inspires me, but the main inspirations are Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Tool, Dodheimsgard and the old Anathema with Darren on vocals. I think that our musical style is a mix of those inspirations with a big touch of our own creative power and our own emotions. Adrian is inspired musically by Bathory and lyrically by H.P. Lovecraft.

Jan: For me, the main inspiration is Opeth. Then, I may say Porcupine Tree, The Gathering, Limbonic Art, Pink Floyd and more... I listen to different kinds of music, and someone one day said that when you listen to music just for fun, you get inspired.

CoC: How much do you worry about being musically original?

Jan: When we recorded _Advent_ we didn't try to sound as original as possible. We have evolved through the years and we found our own style. The fact that we are playing other music than death or black metal means in a way that we worry about being musically original, but only subconsciously.

Jerzy: For me originality in music is very important, because it's the only way to communicate something and the only way to create a link between the artist and his audience. When you think of "Swedish death metal" you mean "Entombed, Dismember, At the Gates..." -- you remember those bands because they created something original. In that way we want our music to be original and innovative, but it comes out without any worry from us. You know, we never decided to reject a song because it didn't sound original enough. Some of our songs are really innovative (for example "Hologram" on _Advent_), in some others you clearly hear some of our influences, but I think this fact makes our record even more interesting.

CoC: Any final words?

Jan & Jerzy: We would like to invite everyone who seeks melody, atmosphere, power and emotions in metal music to listen to our _Advent_ album. Visit our official website or our record label's website for additional information about us, our releases, upcoming live gigs and our new album, which we plan to release in April 2002.

Contact: http://www.aprilethereal.com http://www.conquerec.com

(article submitted 14/1/2002)


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