Hailing from the wilds of Olympia, Washington, the enigmatic trio known as Wolves in the Throne Room have caused the proverbial stir in the United States Black Metal universe. The reason for this lies in the fact that WITTR are totally above-and-beyond typically held notions of black metal---they in truth use the genre as a template to explore even greater realms of possibility. As the Yule kicks into season, I questioned Wolves in the Throne Room about nature, transcendence, and what was one of my top five albums of 2007.
Mark Hensch for ThrashPIT: First off, I'd like to say that this is less an interview for me and more of a pleasure. I've been a huge fan since your demo in 2005. I love the new record and it was one of my favorites this year---thank you for writing the music you do.
Aaron Weaver: Thanks. We have been overwhelmed with the positive reactions to our music, which we consider to be rather obscure and fringe.
ThrashPIT: Just had to say all that haha! How about some actual questions? First off, like most of your work, Two Hunters is an enigmatic, ambiguous piece of music. What can you tell readers at home about the chief concept, theme, and/or story of the album (if any exists at all)?
AW: The story is about a Wildman, a person who lives at the fringes of society and has been driven mad. Through ritual, he accesses an ancient, primal power.
ThrashPIT: I'd like to ask about black metal. Now, I personally hear lots of old Ulver and Burzum in your music. However, it would be outright foolish of me to say you are a "normal" black metal band. How does Wolves in the Throne Room relate to the genre as a whole, if at all?
AW: Certainly Burzum and Ulver are great influences and inspirations. The thing about BM that we find interesting and powerful is the fundamental rejection of the modern worldview and the intellectual architecture that supports it.
With our music, we explore the mindset that is created through rejection of logic and rationality and the acceptance of metaphysical truths. As our music and our philosophies grow and mature, the black metal label seems less and less apt. It has begun to feel limiting and claustrophobic. Our music is connected to a life-vision that is inherently creative and life-affirming. The sorrow we feel about the state of things can be healed by creating a stronghold spiritually and physically.
True black metal must be completely devoid of hope; any glimmer of light or any notion that dawn might come. It is music that expresses the feeling that winter will never end. This is a powerful notion, a metaphor, I would say, for the desperate times we live in.
ThrashPIT: They say musicians are their own worst critics. What would you say is the best song on Two Hunters and why?
AW: Well, it is really one song. There are parts that are stronger than others. I think the whole album needs to be longer, with greater repetition of parts and slower expansion.
ThrashPIT: Your band has a unique sound unlike any I've ever heard. What bands and/or artists have influenced all of you over the years?
AW: We have been influenced by all manner of doom metal, black metal and punk music. Burzum is my greatest influence in the black metal idiom. We really do have our own sound, at this point. I think that the intent behind our music is rather unique.
ThrashPIT: One of my favorite things about Two Hunters is that there is a sort of quiet joy in it
I find the music both melancholy yet inspiring at the same time. What role do you think positivity should have in music like heavy metal?
AW: One can only revel in misery for so long. I find it rather pathetic that grown men feel the need to write songs about deformed fetuses or raping the baby Jesus or whatever. Our band isn't positive, necessarily. The tarot deck is a powerful metaphor for our spiritual vision. We must as people strive to overcome our weakness, our selfishness and our alienation from cosmic truths.
ThrashPIT: I read an enlightening piece Metal Maniacs did on you a while ago. It said that some of you were attempting to live a live wholly self-sufficient and in complete harmony with nature. What does this entail and how has it been coming?
AW: It is true that I have a small farm and am able to grow most of the food that we eat. My commitment to a lifestyle of rural husbandry is strong. It is not accurate to say that I strive for self-sufficiency, an idea which I have no interest in. It would be more factual to say that I desire to have no contact with the dominant culture.
ThrashPIT: Humanity has become increasingly dependent on technology and industry. What role do you think nature should have in the average person's life?
AW: Living, as I do, in a rather isolated way, it is always a great shock to spend time in the "normal world". Most people are utterly divorced from anything that is real and spiritually pure. This is profoundly sad. Working to feel the magic in nature is perhaps the most immediate path to accessing that which is meaningful.
ThrashPIT: I've noticed that the new album has drawn lots of praise, even from publications that usually don't even talk about heavy metal! How important is mainstream appeal in your music?
AW: I don't give a shit about mainstream appeal. I am glad, though, that large numbers of people feel truth in the energy of this music.
ThrashPIT: How does your band typically pen its beautiful, cryptic lyrics?
AW: They are written as poems. We all contribute lyrics.
ThrashPIT: What kind of touring plans can we expect from your band in the coming months?
AW: We will play a number of shows in Europe in early February. In the spring we will either play in Europe or will tour the United States.
ThrashPIT: Last Question! What does the future hold for Wolves in the Throne Room?
AW: We hope to record a new album in the winter of 2008.