Interview With Frowning (Germany)

Fist Of Satan: As with all reviews I try to do my homework on the band. While there were several reviews of your debut and latest release I didn’t find much on the band (or Val Atra Niteris) specifically. Was this a conscious attempt to let the music speak for itself? Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and the band?

Frowning: Well there have been just a few interviews yet, so I didn’t have the opportunity to talk that much.
I got into Funeral Doom in 2010 when I was 16 – listening to Evoken. So I tried to create my own funeral doom song which is named Day In Black it’s on the debut. But my first official record came out in 2014 cause I wasn’t sure about my musical style before that.

FOS: Frowning’s first releases appeared as singles over several months in 2011 via, surprisingly,  YouTube. Funeral doom is well known for paying tribute to traditions but you took a very non-tractional path when you first started out. Why digitally and YouTube specifically?

F: I guess it was the best opportunity to get attention and responds. It’s not easy to sell a record from a band no one knows.

I just wanted to know if my music is accepted or not. Also it’s really hard to find a good Label.

FOS: You cite pioneering bands such as Mournful Congregation, Evoken and Pantheist as  your inspiration to create moving funeral doom. Everybody talks about being inspired but very few take action on that inspiration. What was the catalyst that brought Frowning into reality?

F: There wasn’t that one moment, there were a couple of things and time after time things started to get real. First I realized I wanna do Funeral Doom only, next one was to get a good name for the genre, after that I tried to do a couple of songs which fit together to one record and the final step was the first record – the split with Aphonic Threnody.

FOS: Still on the subject of inspirations you are obviously inspired by the Romantic Era of music from 200 years ago. On your latest release you cover Frédéric Chopin’s Marche Funèbre (Funeral March).

Romantic Era music has been described as:

“more expressive and emotional, expanding to encompass literary, artistic, and philosophical themes.”

“composers including Dvořák, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Puccini, and Sibelius built on the work of middle Romantic composers to create even more complex – and often much longer – musical works.”

Traits of Romantic Era music include:

“a focus on the nocturnal, the ghostly, the frightful, and terrifying”

“fantastic seeing and spiritual experiences”

That sounds like funeral doom to me. Is funeral doom music just a modern version of Romantic Era music?

F: Well for me it is. If you take a look at the lyrics it’s pure poetry, not when I write lyrics cause I suck on writing, which was the reason I let  write some lyrics for this new album. But you can also take a look to other bands like Evoken, it’s pure poetry. And on the musical side I guess you can here a lot of classical elements taken from the romantic era…

FOS: A frequent comment I hear about Frowning, which I completely agree with, is that both Funeral Impressions and Extinct are very well written and well recorded/produced. This is not something you tend to hear when discussing one man bands. The sole member usually excels in one or two places but is lacking in other areas. 

Are you just the total package or were there others involved? 

F: Usually I do all the musical stuff alone but I had some features on ‘Extinct’. Which includes my close friend Hekjal from my other band Ad Cinerem who sings the first lines of “Encumbered By Vermin”. Also S.G. from Suffer Yourself who did a duet together with me on “Nocturnal Void”. The organ on Marché Funebre is played by my father.

But besides that I did all stuff by myself  so I played the drums, bass, guitars and synths and of course did the rest of the vocals. As mentioned earlier I suck at writing lyrics, on the last album I had some good ideas but this time I decided to let people write for me, there’s only one lyrics written by me. I guess I’m a musician only but not a writer.

FOS: Funeral doom has a very distinct sound which you have nailed perfectly. Can you talk about the gear you used to achieve your sound? Both instruments and recording. I know some gear heads frequent our site so please geek out as much as you want.

F: My equipment on “extinct”:

B.C. Rich Warlock
Fernandes Ravelle Elite
Gibson Les Paul Studio
ESP LTD F-105 Bass
Tama Starclassic B/B Drums with a Starclassic Bubinga Snare
Sabian Cymbals
Logic 9 pro for recording

FOS: Extinct and Funeral Impressions are great examples of “classic” funeral doom. You draw the listener in with ethereal and almost ghostly sections only to hit them with thundering doom riffs.

I know Extinct was only just released but do you plan to continue down this path in the future or are there plans to introduce new elements into your sound?

F: Always, but what I plan is a secret yet.

FOS: Regarding the songwriting and composition specifically it’s clear you know what you’re doing. Are you a classically trained musician?

F: No, I learned drums for years and when I was a child I was teached a little bit piano, but the rest is autodidactic.

FOS It’s clear you’re inspired musically by your funeral doom predecessors and as far back as the Romantic Era. Are you inspired by more contemporary elements? Musical or otherwise?

F: Of course, there is gregorianik chamber stuff for example, the toccata’s of Bach and a lot more.

FOS: Now that Extinct is released what does 2017 hold for Frowning? Do you plan to assemble a live band and perform shows?

F: I already did perform on my release party and I will continue with that.

FOS: Stanislav Govorukha of Suffer Yourself and Hekjal of Ad Cinerem contributed to two tracks on Extinct. Can you talk about how this collaboration came about and what you feel they brought to the overall Frowning sound?

F: Already answered I guess^^

FOS: Thanks very much for doing this interview. The final words are yours.

F: Thanks for having me. Keep on spreading darkness and decease.