Answers by Josh Cayer (bass player/vocalst).
Good day to LONGHOUSE! How are you guys doing these days?
We’re doing well, thanks! Getting geared up for a couple of shows that we’ve lined up this summer. So there’s a bit of a gear shift from writing, to making sure we’re stage ready and tight as a band again.
First of all, please introduce your band and band members to our readers.
We’re Longhouse. We hail from Ottawa, ON Canada. We have Marc on guitars, Mike on drums, and Josh on bass and vocals. We kind of fall into the doom category of metal, but definitely try and bridge a number of influences into our music.
I’d like to know about the formation of the band. How did you guys meet and all. Also, is there any special story behind the band title?
Marc and I had been writing music together, on and off, for about 13 years or so. Following my departure from a previous Ottawa-based band, we decided that we should finally put something serious together. He’d handle the bulk of the music-writing, I would handle vocals/lyrics and all the administrative stuff. Once we had some demos in hand we invited Mike to join us behind the drums. I had worked with Mike in various incarnations of musical projects he’d been involved in, including the previous band I mentioned.
In terms of our band name, we wanted something that was simple but still evoked a sense of power and strength, and a connection to the earth. While longhouses aren’t unique to Indigenous populations in Canada, they certainly have a strong connection to our country’s history.
I expect a long reply for this one. Can you please tell us about the concept and lyrical themes of all your previous releases?
Earth from Water didn’t really have a cohesive concept. The songs were written over a long period of time and were mostly the ones we liked that were ready for the studio. There were definite elements of spiritual concepts woven throughout as I started exploring more my heritage and ways of knowing and seeing the world – things like humility, self-sacrifice, perseverance of the human spirit, and quieting our minds and spirits so that we can perceive the lessons of the natural world.
II: Vanishing had a more focused approach. I continue my exploration of Indigenous teachings. Blood and Stone acknowledges our connectedness and relationship to each other as human beings, as well as to all things in creation. It’s kind of an expression of thankfulness for the potential of each day and an assertion of unity as human beings, before things like skin colour, religion, culture, and imaginary borders get in the way. We also sought to address and bring voice to issues such as Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and girls in Canada, stemming from a long history of colonial policies such as the Indian Act, and Residential School system, that devalued and obscured Aboriginals in society, placing them to the fringes and allowing them to become easy targets. The symptoms and causes are definitely more complex than that – you also have intergenerational abuses, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicide, domestic violence, victim on victim abuse, substance abuse, and even abuse of positions of authority and breaches of trust. No Name, No Marker was written to address the history of the Residential School System, and was written from the voice of children who died from the deplorable conditions at this church run and government funded boarding schools, and were buried in unmarked graves, often with their families never being notified. There are some dark parts of our country’s history, but it is possible to acknowledge the history, learn from it, and move forward together in reconciliation and we sought to add our voice to the conversation with this record. There are also some really cool, epic stories in our traditions that lend themselves to your typical doom metal tracks, and The Vigil was definitely approached as a way to share some of those stories, and add a bit of nerdy cheese to the mix and have some fun with story telling. We opted to replace wizards and dragons with Thunderbirds and Earth goddesses. Adding clean vocals with the help of our buddy, JD Gobeil from Loviatar was very helpful in achieving this, and we hope that people really enjoy the collaboration.
Is there any special reason for choosing your music conception?
We want to share stories, differing viewpoints, and add a voice in the doom community that can speak to some relevant things in our country. Also, have a ton of fun while doing it.
How do you guys manage to create music at all? What challenges do you face while writing and recording an album?
Yeah, writing is a bit of a challenge. Marc lives about 4 hrs. away. He is the primary music writer. Mike and I live in Ottawa, and we try and keep things tight between rehearsals where we can have all of us in the same space together. Once the music and arrangements for a song are finalized I then lay down where I want vocals to go and write lyrics. The distance definitely presents some challenges, but we seem to make it work.
Your latest album ‘II: Vanishing’ was released on April 14. How was the experience working on the studio? Any funny or even sad happenings during the studio work?
The studio is always a fun experience. We once again worked out of Wolf Lake Studios in Lac des Loups, Quebec, where Mike Bond is the lead sound engineer and producer. We basically lock ourselves in the studio for a weekend, in the middle of nowhere, away from all the distractions of the city, and hammer out what we need to do. We eat like crap, and sleep on the studio floor, get some retro Nintendo and Super Nintendo gaming in between takes, and goof around on some instruments and gear laying around. No sad happenings, but definitely a lot of humour. We’re all pretty easy going and like to joke around with each other. I can’t think of anything that really stands out, it’s just a lot of random shenanigans.
You guys are still underground/underrated, although your music has been appreciated by the critics worldwide. What, according to you, is the reason behind it?
Well, hopefully it’s the appeal of metal in general, and its ability to traverse social and cultural boundaries. The global reach of social media doesn’t hurt either. We also enlisted the services of a PR firm to assist with a short campaign. I think this day in age, when radios and music bloggers and reviewers have access and are receiving such a tremendous amount of material, it’s valuable to have the contact list of a PR company, and also use their expertise to gauge who would be most interested in your product and have a targeted approach. It can be a pretty demoralizing exercise if you’re sending hundreds of emails out, with no guided direction, and receive nothing for it.
Tell us about your favorite bands, from whom you gain inspiration. Are you having any favorite artist/band that has emerged from metal/rock soil?
I hate this question, because our individual tastes are so diverse, as well as our exposure. For myself I’d have to say Tool, Metallica, Cult of Luna, Isis (the band – it kills me that I have to qualify that!), Mastodon, Buried Inside, Swallow the Sun, Gates of Slumber, Neurosis.
How is the metal scene going in your country?
I think it continues to grow. We’re seeing some high quality stuff come out of Canada, and some great doom bands come out of Ottawa.
Tell us, if you have played abroad.
Haven’t played abroad. Haven’t even played outside of Ottawa for that matter. We’re hoping to fix the latter this year. We’re unsure if playing abroad will ever be an option, but who knows. The music scene is unpredictable and we could be asked to join some festival (Roadburn comes to mind). If that happens keep an eye out for a GoFundMe effort, haha.
Are you working on any music videos, might it be videoclip or lyric video?
We tried getting something out for our previous album. As it stands there’s nothing in the works beyond a lyric video that went out for The Vigil that we put together ourselves. We’d certainly like to put something together. Budgeting is always an issue.
Rapid fire section. Just for fun. So just chill, and just type the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear:
* Religion – organized oppression.
* Death – a natural reality of existence
* Slayer – Reign in Blood
* Drugs – not my digs. Seen too many awesome people fall victim.
* Masterpaln – live a good life, inspire some people along the way.
Thanks a lot for your time! It’s really nice to know more about you. Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers?
Keep it loud, and stay heavy!