THE DEMO CORNER
Philip A. Wickstrand is a contributing freelance writer for Metal Psalter Webzine. He conducted this interview with bass guitarist Jarloc Darkstar and drummer Justyn van Stokken of Lunarium, at Station 4 in St. Paul, MN on November 15, 2008.
LUNARIUM is a young band from Ohio trying to carve their niche in the burgeoning Folk and Pagan Metal scene. Their debut album Journeys, Fables and Lore shows promise and is unique in that they play this style of Metal successfully without the aide of any folk instruments. With hard work, dedication and the right amount of exposure, the sky is the limit for LUNARIUM.
Phil: First of all, how is your experience at Heathen Crusade 3?
Jarloc: It's been cold. No, a great experience - I'm enjoying the crowd, the crowd response, the reaction we've gotten for the show, you know? Overall, it's been a very positive experience, especially for a band that traveled eight hundred miles to get here.
Justyn: It was definitely worth the trip, every last minute of it was worth it. Completely worth it.
Phil: Would you consider this to be the most important show you've played so far, as far as exposure?
Jarloc: We'll say yes. Just generally because a lot of the time being a band the southern part of Ohio, playing European Metal, there's not a whole lot of people in your vein, your genre, your niche and this is the first opportunity we've had to play on a large show with a lot of bands that appeal to the same fan base. So yeah, it is probably a show that will substantially help us.
Phil: What is your opinion on your last album Journeys, Fables And Lore, as far as what you had in mind?
Jarloc: Well, considering what we had to work with, I'm proud of it. We basically, in a very short timeline… our original plans were to try to just put out the album ourselves because it's hard, very difficult, to get a step anywhere in the music industry unless you know someone who has an unlimited source of funds, you know? So the thing that we were trying to do, is we were originally trying to self-produce it. We ended up having Datis Alaee come along and Lea Alaee and they were thinking about starting up Farvahar Records and they came up and caught our first All Hallows Eve show and they were just blown away and one thing led to another and they ended up helping us out, getting something out there, at least so that we could get ourselves out to the people. Because, I mean, without recordings and CD's and merch, you just can't appeal, you can't get out to the mass market and take a step in the right direction, so we're eternally grateful for that.
Justyn: We all had a hand in making the album, too. From artwork to the listing, the layout, the CD itself and the production of it is all pretty much us and Farvahar. Pretty much how it went.
Phil: What did you think of the production of the album, as far as vocals and such?
Jarloc: As far as vocals?
Phil: Yeah; the one thing that I noticed was that the vocal production was a little bit rough.
Jarloc: Well, basically, what you're looking at is an album that came out of a home studio, you know? And yes, we learned a lot of things. [laughter] All of us have been trained in some manner or another, but none of us are engineers. We've been in and around music… I do live sound production, whatever, but we were just kind of throwing stuff at the wall to see what works. [laughter] Like I said, there was a lot of education involved in recording that CD. You know, twelve tracks of vocals are probably too many. [laughter] But I think it still portrays the image of what we want it to come out as, as best we could, with what we had.
Phil: What can we expect from new material?
Jarloc: You want to take that?
Justyn: I would say we are going to get a little more creative in the areas of the Celtic and the fantasy realm of what we kind of do. The first album, we had "Trollslayer", we had "Feast of Sargonnas", minotaurs, trolls, we also had things about Vikings, we had paganesque kind of things in there. The next album, we just want to take that another big, giant step forward and hopefully get, like you said, a little bit better production and push that a little bit further than where we've already taken it.
Phil: Lyrical themes on the new material?
Jarloc: What are we working on?
Justyn: See "Singer in Green" is the only track thus far for the next album and that is a bard's tale basically - more adventure, more fantasy and definitely more pagan themes I think is the main thing we're concerned with for the next album.
Jarloc: One of the running themes that we always try to strive for in our music is basically singable, memorable choruses. You, know, short lined things that will kinda just catch your head. I've heard people from the hotel room to here going "Trollslaaaayer!!!" You know, just stuff like that is kind of the image we want to portray, which is precisely why we produce our stage show the way we do. Someone once came up to me and said "Hey, what's up with all the garb and everything?" I said, "You know, we like playing music, we enjoy playing music, but we're all very theatrical based." Nate's dad is a professor of Theatre at Ohio University and we grew up performing, so it's kinda nice to go to a show and be able to put on a show. I've just always been a big fan of that and I once was told by a person that when go to a show, you go for a show and when you buy a CD, you listen to music.
Justyn: And a lot of our music is tongue in cheek kind of, but we do take it somewhat seriously - we take our music and our show and the overall performance of everything, especially live, we take that seriously, but some of our songs are a little less serious, you know what I mean? We definitely take that seriously - there is a message in every song for someone and we're trying to… the initial thought was "Let's produce something positive", a little more forward positive in the Metal scene that you don't really hear of a lot of anymore, especially in radio Rock and radio Metal, you know? We're not crying on eachother's shoulders, you know what I mean?
Phil: Or angry all the time. [laughter]
Justyn: Or angry all the time, but we do show those emotions, we do show those emotions, but we try to do them in a positive manner.
Phil: As somebody who studied Theatre in college myself, I can definitely appreciate the stage show, 'cause the problem with a lot of bands, like SLIPKNOT for instance, it's less about the music and more about "Oooh, look! We're crazy on stage!" where you guys merge the two very, very well.
Jarloc: We do appreciate that and given some more financial backing and a little more time, we're going to do some more things with production - that's just how we are. But we try to do what we can do and we try to continue to put on a show everywhere we go.
Justyn: And it's only going to get bigger, as far as the theatrics and the craziness of the show. We've got a lot of plans for different things coming onto our stage for bigger events like this. It's going to be fun. [laughs]
Phil: What are your thoughts on the rise of National Socialism in the Metal community?
Justyn: That's a question for Nate!
Jarloc: That is a question for Nate. [laughter] Wow… [pause] Our current views are that it's unfortunate. Music is music, Metal is Metal - everyone in their own right has their own opinions, but to create boundaries and lines and segregate based one who you are and what you do is just… it's appalling to me, personally. Because there are a lot of people out there who cross all those lines, who enjoy all of the differences that music itself, that Metal itself, has to offer. There are so many subgenres out there and so many things that you have to experience in order to appreciate and as I said, it's just unfortunate.
Justyn: We already had a huge, gigantic discussion about this very same thing not two days ago on the bus. [laughter]Sitting outside of, what was it? Wild Pines Casino?
Jarloc: [laughs] I had to make a little stop.
Justyn: In Wisconsin.
Jarloc: I needed to appease the casino gods.
Phil: I had the same thing with a layover in Vegas. [laughter]
Jarloc: And that's another thing we are trying to change, I guess, with the way we carry ourselves and the people we talk to and the people we meet and being on stage and everything, we don't want to come across as someone who's just going to throw up a wall because you're doing this or that or the other thing. To each his own is how we work.
Phil: As the first wave of copycat Folk Metal bands are beginning to make their presence felt, what unique elements are you trying to add to your own music to stay unique from all the others?
Jarloc: That's a good question.
Justyn: Very good question. I try not to pull, at all, too much from other bands that have gone before us in the same kind of area. But to implement those things, the good things from that, I don't think necessarily a bad thing, but to show up and play very, very similar ideas and to portray those ideas… it's kind of hard not to do because Celtic melodies, especially things like FLOGGING MOLLY, BLIND GUARDIAN, those kinds of bands, they have a lot of those melodies that are very familiar and even if you haven't heard them before, they sound familiar, so it's kind of hard to be unique with the melodies so to speak, but we have some members of the band that have never even touched Celtic Metal until this particular group. We used to be in sort of a Progressive Funk Metal band before we started this project.
Jarloc: I honestly, when we started this band, Cinnead (vocals, guitar) walked up to me and handed me some CD's to listen to and was like "You've gotta check this out" and I had never listened to a whole lot of European Folk Metal, European Celtic Metal, Power Metal, honestly, at all. You know, short of some of the larger bands that you just can't help from hearing… so my knowledge is limited, which is one of the things, I think Rygon (guitars) even, he's a huge American Metal fan, you know and a lot of what he has, has never come from European Power Metal, so it's one of those things where… from our diverse backgrounds, musically, I just don't know that you can stand there and be someone else. And the only thing you can do is try.
Justyn: And I think we pick unique themes, though, for our lyrical content. Some of the things that we sing about and play about, we're definitely story tellers, we're trying to be more like the bards of old, you know - the medieval "Let's go tell our tale and see what people get from it" and if they get our message from it or they get their own then that's good, but the uniqueness in our band I think comes from the fact that we aren't using the same repeated theme over and over and over again - it varies from ghost stories, trolls, minotaurs, traveling, adventure, battle, you know, historical battle even, some historical fiction - plenty of different things that are going on and we take a little bit different spin on that. I think that's where we're kind of pushing the next album anyway.
Phil: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Justyn: Other than I've had a blast. [laughter] It's been fun, we're tired, but it has definitely been worth it.
Jarloc: We're tired, it's cold on the bus, we're looking forward to getting home and getting some home cooked meals, but it's been a pleasure to, not just yourself, but everyone here, it's been a pleasure to meet everyone. We've met a lot of interesting people and I'm sure there are still some to come and the welcome is extremely appreciated.
May 29, 2010
Interviewer: Philip A. Wickstrand
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Waverly, Ohio USA
Label: Farvahar Records
Genre: Celtic Folk Metal
Vocals & Lead Guitar
(Edward "JR" Carter): Bass
Justyn Van Stokken
(Justin Lucas): Drums
Journeys, Fables, And Lore
(Demo - 2006)
Journeys, Fables, And Lore (2008)
PHOTOS BY PHIL A. WICKSTRAND
(Click on Photo to Enlarge)
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)