HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY - JJ on MӔRE, Post Black Metal, line up, touring, Kharkiv and more | INTERVIEW
Hello, all you Metal Pilgrims and welcome to yet another episode of our interview series. Our today's guest is the front man of the Austrian Post Black Metal band Harakiri For The Sky J.J. J.J. and I will be speaking about the band's upcoming studio release Mӕre, the process behind it, mythology, Post Black Metal and much much more. But as always before we start I'd like to take a moment and invite YOU to join the conversation and subscribe to Metal Pilgrim channel on YouTube and join our communities on Instagram, Facebook, Patreon and any other social media you actually hang out at, to submit your questions for all future interview guests, stay tuned with the updates and for more exclusive rock and metal content. Here you go!
MP: Hey JJ, how's it going man? JJ: Yeah pretty good, we got it, we got a the lockdown that is now three weeks longer than they usually promised us, but I guess everybody has the same problem right now so at least it's not unfair, so... MP: Yeah, man, same here. We just entered another wave of harsh lockdown and I think we're gonna stick to it here for the next week or so. But, you know, let's pray that all this madness is over pretty soon and you and all the other bands are gonna be able to hit the road pretty soon, man. And you know and we'll get back to normal. So let's get to the music stuff, man.
Your next studio album Mӕre is due on February 19th now, you had to switch the date a bit, congrats on finishing it up during these hard times, man. I know it can be kind of tough. Could you talk a bit about the creative process behind it? How did all of this come together into this one coherent piece? JJ: Sure, yeah. I think Matthias started right after Arson came out to to write new riffs and all that. It's not always the same, sometimes you write the songs for like three days in a row, every day, every day. And you finish it after a few days and
sometimes you have parts, they are in your head, like for half a year or a year. And you can't find a part which is fitting and all that. So yeah it takes a little time to sort this out, I think he was finished in summer of 2019 or something with songwriting and then I started to write lyrics in autumn 2019, and we recorded everything in winter. I think the last weekend I did record vocals was like the last weekend of January last year.
Then we directly went to russia and, how is it called, Lithuania, and then all these Baltic countries. And yeah, and then two or three or four weeks later all this [ __ ] started to become popular and everything, I think I played my last showm my last regular show, end of February. And yeah then, you know, three weeks later we already had the lockdown, but we were finished with everything before. Just the mixing and the mastering was
not done till the lockdown, and also Neige from Alcest couldn't find the studio in this time to record his vocals, so it took a little bit more time, and I think we finished everything in June or something, but then we already had to delay the release date from September to January, because we are idiots! We were also thinking "Maybe we can tour regularly in January". But afterwards we are all wiser and now not even end of january works out for the release date, but everythingis in pressing plans and all that. It's just a little bit too short for the label in the mail orders to ship it out in the right time, but I think we should have everything by 20-25th January, and then the other label is starting everything. I was packing everything together and then
now it should be okay, finally. MP: Sounds like a plan, man. I hope that you'll be able to release it on time this time. So you mentioned that most of the writing and actual recording has been done before the lockdown, so can you say that you know none of this [ __ ], none of these events actually shaped the music or influenced it at all? JJ: Absolutely not! Everything was done before, every lyric, every song was was written before, every text and every lyric sheet, was written before. MP: It's really funny to hear. I was able to listen to the album just a couple of days
earlier than most people, and I actually would have thought that the pandemics and all this kind of madness around the world, kind of influenced the lyrics, and and the music, and the general atmospher,e because it fits well into this mad world of 2020-2021. JJ: Yeah, yeah so what sound what... How should I say it in English? You should mean that all this effect that affected our album and then the songwriting, but now it's the madness you were talking about, just is just turned out by all the people these days. Because they act so strange in this time, people you never thought that are pretty mad, now act like black maniacs. And have a total different character they have in normal times. This is the only madness that turned out, but that's not for Harakiri. MP: Absolutely, for those of our viewers, who
who do not know, Mӕre or Mara is an evil entity in both Slavic and Germanic mythologies, which awakes nightmares. At least in Ukraine that's what it is. And what's in the name for you? Why did you guys choose it? And how did you come to it? JJ: Okay, yeah. I think it's pretty interesting to me that it has the same story in Slavic methodology and in the Old English one. Yeah, to me it is like as it is in the mythology, a ghoul that is sitting on your chest and keeps you from sleeping. And it makes your
nightmares and the same are my lyrics to me. Because even if they are all more or less autobiographic, most of them are like self-fulfilling profecies. Many of them are like self-fulfilling prophecies. I write them and because I already know or think I know that something will happen or in this direction, and most of the time, and as sad as it is it gets true. Like the lyrics of Us Against December Skies and and all that, so yeah to me Mare is like a metaphor to my lyrics, because they are also keeping me... or my thoughts are also keeping me from sleeping, as this ghoul in the mythology does.
MP: That's pretty interesting, man. And what are some of the inspirations, both musically and lyrically, for you as the band? JJ: I think I just can talk about what I know from Matthias. His musical influences are pretty huge, not just from one or two genres, he also listens to a lot of Black Metal but I think his favorite bands are like... what shall I say... albums like new Deftones or Placebo, as you may know from the cover song we did. And also very much into Gothenburg Death Metal. He is into it since he was 11 or 12 years old I think, and a huge fan of the first few In Flames albums and all that. MP: In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, that kind of
stuff, right? JJ: Yeah yeah, all that. And inspiration for my lyrics is practically life. I'd say daily living estrangement, all that. These bad feelings, but most mostly estrangement and broken relationships I'd say. And yeah, we also have a little bit of this, I know uh drinking stuff, because depressions and all that often go hand by hand with substance abuse. I think,
these are my main influences, but mostly this person-to-person stuff, like estrangement and broken relationships and all that. That's what I know best to write about. And I think also in my other band Kargo, which I do since I'm 16 or 17 years old, it's the only thing I know about. I couldn't write something that I just imagined myself or something like that. I can just write about something I lived through or I felt. So yeah it's daily life I'd say. MP: Absolutely, absolutely. And when you guys just started, when was that? Like close to
10 years ago, right? You were all labeled as a Post Black Metal band, whatever that means. But today your music incorporates several styles, musically and lyrically. You have your Black, Death Metal, Doom, you even have Metalcore at some points. How do you guys characterize it yourself? Do you put a stamp on yourself or not really? JJ: I think this just happens because... I don't think Matthias sits down and says he wants to write a Doom riff or something, I think this is just happening and he doesn't think about about the show reporters or something. If you are open-minded and if you have influences from every kind of music or genre, I think this this kinda happens because we play Post Black Metal, but if you write a Grunge song it's still Post Black Metal when you record it like a Post Black Metal riff.
But on the other hand it's also a Grunge riff, so it can can get kind of diverse and I think that's all that this band is about. That it's not just one direction, or that that direction MP: Do you personally have a favorite song from the album? Or it's like a favorite kid question, and possible one to choose? JJ: It's the songs I have the most relation to lyrically. This is Us Against December Skies, which is about lost love, or maybe not lost love. I don't know till today, but now, at the moment it's it's over. Not knowing if we will get back together soon or never. And I, Pallbearer, which is about three characters which one of them is me, and yeah but that's the only thing I want to say about it, because I got asked this a few times: "How many characters that are there in the lyrics?" And so that the people don't get... how should I say it in English...
that they note at least this direction, that there are these three characters, I also say it in the interviews. But the restm everybody has to think about it, and feel it, think about himself what the lyrics could be about. But basically it's about bipolar disorder, and that most of the time it leads people to depression or suicide or to the mental asylum or something. And at least no one who really
suffers from this dies an old man. This is basically the the main content MP: And you guys also invited several guest musicians in addition to your touring ones on this one. What do you think those guys brought in terms of the sound and why did you go with them? JJ: Yeah I mean Neige is something like a youth hero for both for us - me and Matthias. And I mean he also was the one who did release the first post black metal album. I think there wasn't such a sound before. Nobody talked about Post Black Metal
until the first amazing was EP and the second album came out. And even though he is not that much older than we are, he became something like a symbol figure of this genre to us, and we like every album. I am still a huge fan. And so we thought about asking him, but then we said "No, why should he work with us? No one knows our band", and all that. But then I think we drank a little bit, and then we thought "Yeah, why not? Why not write him on Facebook and try it, and try to ask him"? MP: All the best decisions come after a drink, right man? JJ: Yeah, something like this, when we were brave enough to risk I know. MP: Talk to a girl in a bar? Have a drink first and then talk!
JJ: Yeah and then then we wrote him and I think two days later he directly answered us, that he is with us and so everything came together. And the second guest - the singer of Gaerea. Mathias had a year, I think it was 2017, or something, or 2018, that he was in Portugal a lot. And he also met his girlfriend there and there he also met the Gaerea guys. And they directly had a friendship and became friends. To me it is also
a special thing, because normally I don't meet guys, that are similar to me. As I'm more of a hardcore kid than a metal kid. And Ruben, the singer of Gaerea is also more of a hardcore kid. I can talk about modern life and all this with him, which I usually can't with the metal guys. And so we also directly became friends and had a connection also because of this tattoo thing. There are the two artists, and also has has a lot of ink.
And yeah that's the way we put this together. MP: Nice, and do you guys ever considered broadening your gang? And invite some of your usual touring guys, because you have the same people you tour with, right? To become full-scale, full-time members of the band? JJ: I don't know why we never thought about this! MP: Have a drink, maybe! JJ: I can't really give you an answer! This because I never ever thought about this. I think we decided which people we want to have on our album, when we we through our LP collection and not when we think about past tours or something like this. MP: All right, and while we're talking about the touring
any plans for rescheduled dates for 2021 around Europe? JJ: Yeah I think we rescheduled everything to February and January 2022 now. MP: So one year to wait. JJ: Yeah at first they planned something like a few special dates which would be this year to do some seated corona shows or something like this, playing for 50$ people and they're in a room where every two meters is one seat. I'm glad this won't happen man, because yeah I I did one seated show in summer with my other band Kargo, but this was like 200 people in a thousand people location, so it was okay and they were also not seated separately, but they were allowed eight people for one table or something. I think it was not that bad, it was okay for one show or something, one special show in summer, because you can't do anything else, but now playing a tour like this. MP: It's not worth it. I'm very much of a live show guy right? I
mean I cannot say that I really love the band unless I see them live, because for me rock and roll and metal, all this stuff lives in clubs, lives in festivals you know. It is about drinking a beer with a stranger or you know, a glass of juice I don't know, you don't care right? About enjoying the band live, that energy that you get from the band, and if you just enjoy it digitally, this is not the same thing. And if I would have to go to a club and stand two meters apart from the next guy, I at this point I think I'd rather wait for another half a year or so and enjoy a show like it's supposed to be played.
JJ: Yeah maybe also regular tours work way more than all this sitting apart whatever stuff, but yeah I hope that the people will get more intelligent and think more about the vaccinations. Because what we now have is that maybe 50% of the population is against getting vaccinated. MP: Same thing here, man. JJ: But it won't get better if we don't do anything. Sure, there should have been more time to prove that, the recognition and all this but it is as it is, we don't have that. And if we want to get back to normal we have to get vaccinated, that's everything we can do. And if I'm in the row to get vaccinated, I say "Thank you" MP: Yeah,same thing over here.
And you know there are so many conspiracy theories going around. What do you guys propose? Close eyes on the problem and pretend those hundreds of thousands of people didn't die or what? It is what it is and we just kind of have to move past it and we need to get over it, and freaking everyone do our part: wash your hands, wear a mask, get vaccinated if you have a possibility to do so. JJ: Totally MP: Just a couple more questions, I don't want to keep you too busy. And this is something I'm actually curious to hear about you, right? What is your one musical guilty pleasure? What do you blast when you're drunk if it's not heavy music? Backstreet Boys? JJ: I'm a huge fan, since 20 years or something, Of the Wand & the Moon, I don't know if you know this, this is Neofolk. Also pretty sad, and this is what I listen to after the heavy [ __ ], before passing out, how should I say so. MP: You're one of those guys who's at a party with metalheads, and you're like "Oh, guys, wait a second I have this one craziest track for you", and then you play that. JJ: Yeah, maybe. But it's also
very sad, it's acoustic music with some sort of sippy stuff and all that. But I have a lot of guilty pleasures, I'm a huge indie rock fan, and a huge Shoegaze fan and then all this. But I also listen to a lot of heavy music, MP: So I guess it evens out then. JJ: A bit for a bit of everything. MP: Makes sense. And the next one is something we
usually do to close the show and I'm again curious to be reminiscent about those days when you could tour. Could you tell us just one craziest, messed up touring story from your life? You gotta do it man! You gotta do it! JJ: Oh I can't!I can't tell you the first story. MP: Something you can legally share? Something you won't go to jail for? JJ: What... how shall I... what
What I shall I tell you... I can't tell you a one special story or something, but you always have great experiences if you go to cities like Glasgow or something, because Scotland's always crazy people and all that. I also really found it funny when we played Ukraine two years ago. When I rode with Uber for like one year or something, from from one part of the city to the other one. I think to some bar,
some guy from some popular Ukrainian band owns it or something, but I forgot the name. And it was pretty funny because in Austria you are not allowed to go to sit in the taxi with a drink or something. MP: In Ukraine you're not allowed as well! You could go to jail for that! JJ: I think the driver was a little bit shit-faced. He looked like this and I rode with this guy like for like ,for 40 minutes at the streets and Kharkiv were like this. And I ask him if I can drink my vodka and stuff while riding to the pub. "No worries!" MP: I've never been to Kharkiv,
believe it or not, but I hear the most messed up stories about that city! Because people there are crazy! I mean they love to party, and they love to freaking go All In. JJ: Maybe that's because they are they are too close to russia, I don't know, who knows. B I like cities as Kharkiv, because they're honestm they don't try to to be something that that they are not, they are crazy and that's what's their charm. MP: Yeah and there are some amazing people living there, I have several amazing friends from Kharkiv, and I hope that that festival you actually played at, Note Kolo, is about to have a 2021 edition! And we all can go there and enjoy that one. JJ, thanks a lot, man, I appreciate your time. Any last message for the fans? Old and the new ones? Everyone who's going to be watching us? JJ: Thanks mate! Thanks for the interview and hope to see you all in person maybe someday! MP: Absolutely, have a beer at a real show, man! JJ: And a drink! MP: For everyone, who is going to be watching us, Harakiri For The Sky's Mӕre is out on February 19th, it is a great, very coherent record, a dark yet very uplifting in a way as well, make sure you check it out and don't skip that one. Thanks a lot, JJ! Keep rocking, man!