Ad Nauseam Interview

Italy’s Ad Nauseam is a band of making Avantgarde Extreme Metal of mind-melting proportions. Having released their debut album, the excellent “Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est”, in 2015, the follow up was several years in the making, with yesterday seeing the band unleash “Imperative Imperceptible Impulse” (read our review here). The band’s Andrea P graciously agreed to answer some of my questions for Blessed Altar Zine. Enjoy the interview and if you like the sound of it support the band by buying a copy of their album.

Hi Andrea, thanks for agreeing to the interview. So first of all, who is Ad Nauseam and what does each member contribute to the band?

AP: Ad Nauseam is a collective of very long time friends. We started to play together in 2002-2003 and we grew together, both musically and as persons. Every member constitutes a whole of the band as he was part of the band since the very beginning. In all these years it’s always been only us, we never changed any band member. Besides playing music together everyone of us developed many abilities. Everybody basically does what he likes the most and what has to be done.

I am an electronic engineer with the passion for audio tools, I built analog gear to shape the sound of the band and am the sound technician as well. Andrea S. makes killer drums and is into photography, graphic designing and web developing. Matteo B. built bass cabinets and is “the memories storage” of the band, the “wise decisions” maker and the “grower”. Matteo G. is the ideas generator and visual art expert, he helps me in boxing the electronics tools.

It’s been quite a year. On a personal level, how has it been living through the pandemic and how has it impacted on the band and the making of your new record? 

AP: In Italy we experienced a complete 3-weeks lockdown in March/April, followed by a pretty quiet Summer, with lower restrictions, and again a progressively worse period starting from September.

The pandemic stopped the rehearsing sessions nearly altogether since March and delayed the recording process for at least 3 months, because we hadn’t the chance to do some reamping tests. During the first wave stop the last guitars and bass lines have been recorded and I worked on the drums sound and on the orchestral parts, as it was the only thing I was allowed to do in quarantine.

Then, the pandemic forced us to stop playing together since October, when my wife caught Covid and I had to stay in quarantine. We’re all fine now. Of course, some decisions concerning the mastering and the layout of Imperative Imperceptible Impulse had been taken via Skype or chat in such a problematic situation.

You list a range of varied influences, not just Extreme Metal, but Jazz and Modern Classical music too. Where are the members of the band coming from originally musically and what were your earliest influences when you first picked up your instruments? 

AP: I started listening to classical music since an early age. My first important encounter with music had been the Disney movie Fantasia, so I had been imprinted with Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky and Bach at the very beginning. I started playing violin, but after a couple of years I switched to electric guitar when I discovered the first metal classics.

The rest of the band went into metal music when they were teenagers and had been fascinated by its most extreme exponents soon after.

The sound of your latest album Imperative Imperceptible Impulse is very complex. Can you talk us through your process of how you come up with these compositions and then bring them to a form you can record? 

AP: The process has been a long and natural evolution. We usually work a lot on a single song, we keep less than 10% of the music we write and we modify it for years until every aspect convinces everyone of us. That’s a very long process of course, but it flows in a natural way. So naturally that, for example, the songs sequence in Imperative Imperceptible Impulse reflects exactly the order they’ve been composed. We tried many alternatives, but at the end that was the best and more natural one.

I would imagine that a lot of people listening to Ad Nauseam would think “how could someone come up with something so out there, let alone manage to perform it?!”. Do you feel like you are operating at the absolute extreme, or is there music out there that baffles you by it’s complexity or where you just can’t figure out how it’s put together? 

AP: Complexity is a subjective factor. To our ears our music has a very defined natural harmony and melodic structure. On the opposite I listen to the Rite of Spring since I was 3 and still I can’t understand fully how the hell all those uncorrelated lines of music sound so nicely together. We are just small bugs compared to the giants of the past.

I’d love for you to get a bit nerdy and talk about your concepts of disharmony and dissonance and the alternative tuning you came up with for the music. How did these ideas come together?

AP: Our dissonances are such only when we conceive our music at the very beginning, after a while it just starts to sound right and has its coherent melody.

It just happened. Matteo G. was experimenting natural tunings in an acoustic project he was part of, when I came across an article about how language influences the way a writer writes a book. So I thought that guitar and bass players are writing books in the same languages since decades. Changing the string tuning and the ratios between strings, means radically changing the vocabulary of the language we speak. We engineered a very weird tuning that forced us to learn again to play our instruments and helped us to find more personal and unique approach. The strange thing is that this tuning changed profoundly our tastes and our way of playing. We recognized that now we play differently standard tunings as well.

From a Metal point of view, which bands have had the biggest influence on Ad Nauseam’s sound? 

AP: Being that we play together since 18 years now, our list of metal influences is extremely long. Listing all of them here is impossible, but surely there are names that one couldn’t expect.

Are there any non-musical influences that have had a significant impact on the band?

AP: On the technical point of view Steve Albini and his approach to sound influenced us a lot. We are all tired of the modern music productions where details are covered in sonic mud, where tri-dimensionality is sacrificed for distortion and where the fourth dimension of dynamics is sacrificed to a fake sounding loudness. Steve Albini demonstrates it’s possible to record extreme music with a classical concept. Do the best since the beginning and you will be able to have more doing less.

It’s hard to make any clear plans, with the way things are in the world right now, but what are your hopes for the band in the immediate future after the release of the album?

We hope just to be able to play together again regularly. It’s starting to be too much to bear, both on the personal and the artistic point of view. During the last year we composed a couple of songs, but of course we’ve to try them in our rehearsal room to hear how they sound.

We’ve also plans to release our first album on double LP format through Lavadome Productions in 2021.

And finally is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote? 

Yes, metal in Italy is doing great lately, if you missed it you should definitely check out these masterpieces:

Gorrch : Introvertere
Nero Di Marte : Immoto
Hateful: Set Forever On Me

I’m taking the Ad Nauseam sound concept and studio on another level. In the future I wish to work with other bands that resonate with my sound concept and philosophy. More information at www.mstrsoundstudio.org

Interview by Tom Boatman

Thanks again to Andrea P. for his time. Ad Nauseam’s second album Imperative Imperceptible Impulse is out now on Avantgarde Music. You can buy it on the label’s bandcamp page or the on Avantgarde Music website. Keep up to date with what the band is doing by following them on bandcamp and other social media listed below.

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