Kataan is the creation of Nicholas Thornbury (vocals, guitar) and Brett Boland (bass, drums). Last month the duo released their debut self-titled EP and it’s an awesome electrical storm of brooding, apocalyptic, dystopian metal. One half of the band, Nick, took the time to answer some questions. Check out what he had to say below…
Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions for Blessed Altar Zine. I know that you’ve both been making music in other bands for years (Vattnet and Astronoid for example), how did you come to form Kataan and how have your past musical experiences influenced this current project?
Nick Thornbury: I had always planned on writing more music after I left VV, so it wasn’t a question of “if” but “when”. Brett and I have been friends for a long time, so there was no question who I was going to bring my material to. Over the course of producing and recording the EP, Brett added a lot, and we both really enjoyed the process, so we decided to make it official and carry on with the band together. I like to think that our musical influences overlap enough to make it work, without being too similar….each of us might hear something that the other doesn’t. Our past band experience just gives us a better idea of what we want out of Kataan and how to get there.
Listening to your new self-titled EP I’m very surprised to read that there are just two of you on the record. What kind of studio witchcraft are you employing to make yourselves sound like a full band?
Nick: This was actually recorded over a summer in our respective apartments. Brett is a very talented engineer/producer, and there is no way we were going to release anything unless we were completely satisfied with it. We obviously like a lot of layers.
What’s your songwriting process like? Do you rehearse a lot together first, or are bringing more fully formed ideas straight to the studio?
Nick: For the EP, I would write a song entirely on guitar, send it to Brett for a first pass on drums, then we would get together and workshop from there. Going forward I think there will be more of an even split as to who brings a song to the table initially. Whatever it takes to make the music that we’re satisfied with, neither of us is concerned with who wrote what.
How much of an impact did the Covid situation have on making the new record?
Nick: Luckily we had this recorded before the pandemic hit, so most of last year was just getting things together for the release; artwork, mastering, physical production, etc.
I’ve seen the band described as Atmospheric Black Metal, but I’m not sure if this really fully captures your sound. How would you describe your music and who would you say have been your biggest influences?
Nick: Genre tags are always tough for me. We’ve been going with “dystopian death metal”, but honestly I don’t think it can be pinned down to just that. I’m not really sure exactly how to describe it, and we both like that. We’re not trying to fit into a specific genre, we’re just trying to write music that we like.
Aside from musical influences, what other sources of inspiration have made their way onto your record?
Nick: This EP definitely lays on the existential dread pretty thick. Also a bit of sci-fi, which I’m planning on leaning into a bit more in the future. Influences pop up all over the place, from something as simple as an episode of some TV show, to a dream or just some random mental picture I’ve had. There’s a lot to explore, the hard part is trying to be even remotely original lyrically without being preachy or cheesy. It’s a constant work in progress for me.
From your artwork and song titles I get a feeling of some dystopian themes running through your music. Is there a theme to the EP? What ideas are you exploring lyrically?
Nick: Definitely an overall dystopian vibe to it. We were lucky enough to get to work with Travis Smith for the artwork, and he absolutely nailed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better image to go with the music. As I kind of mentioned above, I would say the overall theme of this EP lyrically is “everything is fucked” (I promise I’m not this depressing in real life…). When it comes time to get the full length together I’m planning on some kind of more cohesive thread to hold the songs together.
We’re in an age now where younger generations have grown up always having streaming or downloadable music, but on the other hand Kataan, like many other bands, continue to put releases out on vinyl (and other formats). Do you think there’s something special about music in a physical form like vinyl, or is it all the same to you what form music comes in?
Nick: I grew up with only physical music, so that’s a big YES to there being something special about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love streaming…it’s just too convenient. Probably not the best from the artist point of view, but there’s no point in crying about it. I’ve always been of the mindset that bands need to adapt or die, work with the tools you’re given. But it’s very nice to still be able to create something physical, to enjoy the ritual of putting on a record, anything like that, and it will always be my preferred way of listening.
What is it like being based in Plaistow, New Hampshire? If you want to play live, or see other bands perform, what are your most immediate options?
Nick: So Brett is actually living in Connecticut at the moment, about a 3 hour drive from me in NH. It’s really not the picture a lot of people have in their heads….the MA border is literally in my backyard, and Boston is only about 30 – 40 minutes away. New England is pretty densely populated, so there are plenty of options for performing or seeing someone live.
What are your immediate plans for Kataan now that you’ve released your first EP?
Nick: We’ve already been working on new material for a full length, but we will be taking our time with that. Not years or anything that extreme, but nothing immediate. We will most definitely play live when we’re ready and the world is back to some sort of normality as far as shows are concerned. Getting ready for something like that is a lot of work in itself, but I’m really looking forward to the whole process.
Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Nick: Just thanks for chatting! If anyone would like to pick up a physical copy of the EP, head over to kataanband.com, that and spreading the word are the best ways to support the band. Cheers!
Interview by Tom Boatman
Photos courtesy of MeiLing Boland
Thanks again to Nick for his time. “Kataan” the debut EP by Kataan is out now on Prosthetic Records on CD and vinyl. Follow the band on social media to keep up to date with updates and stay tuned for their full length debut.
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