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21/11/2010 – Interview with PERPETUUM

Over half a year ago I was sent the debut album of a Chilean Death/Black Metal band called PERPETUUM (official website), thanks to Lugga Music. You can check out the review of this new release, "Gradual Decay Of Conscience", at this location. This band was first known under the name NOCTURNAL BLASPHEMY, but due to identity reasons and musical influences the new monniker PERPETUUM was adopted. I was really impressed by what these Chileans presented on the first album under the new name. Chile hides many pearls, in several genres, from Death over Power to Doom Metal. I already had the intention of asking the guys some questions, but because of the obvious reasons, it got postponed again and again, until this month. November has several holidays, so that gives one time to work on the interview.

PERPETUUM consists - sorry, consisted, as guitarist Diego Ilbaca left the band - of five members, three of which took the time (between work and studies) to add answers: Cristóbal González (guitars, vocals), Juan Díaz (bass) and drummer Carlos Fuentes. If you haven't done so, get yourself a copy of "Gradual Decay Of Conscience" as soon as possible, for you cannot go wrong with it. In the meantime, enjoy this Q&A.

Perpetuum logo

First known as NOCTURNAL BLASPHEMY, it is said you played raw Black Metal or that was the idea. What, back then, inspired you to form a band and also play this kind of Metal?

Carlos: Hi Tim, we appreciate a lot your interest in PERPETUUM, thanks for the interview and for all your comments. Now to the interview, it is difficult to answer what you are asking, because it simply happened. Cristobal and I used to play in other projects, some were Death Metal from very different schools, I was playing in a band very influenced by MORBID ANGEL and Cristobal something like old school AT THE GATES. So, NOCTURNAL BLASPHEMY was born to satisfy some interest to play something more dissonant and raw. We began creating a couple of songs for the project, one of them is now "Into the Deepest Darkness", but in a very very different way. The rest of the guys joined the project very quickly, Cristobal knew Juan Díaz, our bass player, from a side project that they had for a while and he proposed Juan to play in NOCTURNAL BLASPHEMY and at the same time, our current vocalist, Diego Yañez, began to play the guitar with us. The project played live shows a couple of times and we created some really good tunes, but it was too standard and we wanted more, so we decided to end it.

Later on you changed the name to PERPETUUM (= Eternity?) and the music changed as Death Metal influences were added. Was it solely based on musical differences that a new name was adopted?

Carlos: No, the name was changed because it didn't identify us. We never approached that Satanic side of Metal, it never caught our attention. So, as the music started taking a more Death-Doom-Black kind of direction, the lyrics also changed to a form that represented us more. PERPETUUM was chosen very naturally, we were talking about things that will live forever, things that never end, as a life project is really supposed to be, something that you took seriously and you look forward to work on it, so that's how we find our identity, discussing about eternity as you correctly said.

Perpetuum bandAlmost half a year ago your debut album came out, "Gradual Decay Of Conscience". I noticed there were tracks on that album from preceding demos. Did you rewrite those songs or record them as they have always been from the start?

Carlos: We used practically all our material to write this album. Of course "Into the Deepest Darkness" suffered huge changes through the years (and I must say years!), but the current version is somehow the best version that we achieved for the song. We used a lot of fragments of our older songs, because to save all the initial material didn't have any use for us, but we melted with the new stuff and it came out great for those tracks!

The lyrical content also seems quite varied, for instance:
- "Arquetipos": if I interpreted it well, is it about how humans are formed by society and become machines, not being able to think for themselves? (or something along those lines)
- "Monoliths": about Atlantis? And how present society compares with it?
- "Into The Deepest Darkness": about how the world is bein tricked and fucked up, so to speak? How humanity is playing god, etc..?
- "Stigmata": a quote from the movie "Stay"? And how does it fit on this album?
- "Grunts Of The Shoggoths": based on works of H.P. Lovecraft?
- "Psicosis": where does this quote come from? Also from a movie?

Could you confirm or explain the lyrical themes of these and other tracks? And does the title "Gradual Decay Of Conscience" form the theme-umbrella under which these tracks are linked?

Cristobal: You really read the lyrics and caught the main idea. We decided to write an intro in our native language (Spanish), to give a more representative touch to our album. I can say that there's a main concept in the album, and that's basically about social criticism on how human beings don't have a real knowledge of their own possibilities to be a better person. But also, there's a couple tracks that have another idea of lyrics, like "Monoliths". It describes the travel of a disturbed being, and it can be linked to some Lovecraft stuff. "Grunts Of The Shoggoths" is more traditional than the other ones, something like an epic story based on "At the Mountains of Madness" by H.P. Lovecraft. Both quotes on the album ("Stigmata" and "Psicosis") are stuff that we thought that fits on it. Those ones describe in some examples how human beings are slaves of their own fears and failures.

From recording to mastering, you handled it all yourself. That's of course cheaper than having to ask an external producer/engineer. Did you take lessons for this or did you acquire the knowledge through trial-and-error over the years?

Carlos:I am a sound engineer and I have a medium studio project that we used to record the album. The reason not to use an external engineer was an issue of quality/price kind of thing. Let me explain, here in Chile a lot of the studios base their equipment on big visual stuff more than quality stuff for audio processing. For example, here most of the studios use Behringer (sucks!) and they buy Behringer to have mixing consoles, dynamics and tools like those... but all this with a really poor audio quality and low fidelity. I prefer to have no console and mix all digitally, but I used good pre-amps and microphones that really work to capture the nature of the sound produced in our room, so my studio visually is kind of poor but the electro acoustical chain is working at its best, of course at the present time we are getting bigger, but we can't compare yet with the huge ones you are used to see in magazines. I think for the next production we might work in the same way, but with more time to dedicate to the production of the album.

Perpetuum - Gradual Decay Of ConscienceHow much attention does the Chilean media give to your album? (newspapers, websites/zines, radio stations, ...)

Carlos: We had a great response from the national media. The album was recognized as one of the best national releases of the year and we were able to notice that in the gigs, much more crowd arrives and the reception was stronger. We have posted some reviews and some radios are playing us in their Metal programs, and I must say that here in Chile people are very closed, practically they do not accept new bands, so that's a huge accomplishment for us. We are receiving much more acceptance and we are playing in live shows much more followed, the band is working to maintain the attention from the national media, is good for us, we are very satisfied with our results to this point.

For this release you signed with Australis Records. What kind of label is this?

Cristobal: Australis Records is a brand new label here in Chile. They are working on release many CD's and some merchandising for the bands. There are some acclaimed bands releasing their second or even third albums. Some others were recently growing up in the national scene. We had a good distribution of our album, but Australis is still growing, and we are now thinking about signing with a more complex distribution label.

Has there already been interest from a European label to sign you or distribute your album?

Cristobal: Nothing about signing to release our stuff. But we have had the chance to be distributed on some international labels, like Old Temple Records (Poland), Grodhaisn Productions (Czech Republic), World Chaos Production (Japan), Sevared Records and Deathgarsm Records (USA).

For promotion on European soil you're working with Adrian from Lugga Music. How did this collaboration come to existence?

Juan: We knew about Lugga Music, because they worked in the past promo campaigns of our friends MAR DE GRISES, and those campaigns were very successful, so we decided to contact Adrian from Lugga Music and see what would happen. We wanted to put the name's band in the international media, so building a band's profile is important for that because we want to visit Europe in the near future. We are very grateful to Adrian for his commitment to work with us!!

Most reviews are positive to very positive about "Gradual Decay Of Conscience". Does this influence the way you write music? I mean, it's of course great to read positive comments about your work, but do you take certain criticism into account for a next release?

Juan: Obviously the musical appreciation is really subjective so there are also bad reviews, haha, but there are not many compared to the positives, so we are satisfy with that. We accept all good or bad critics if they are constructive, we learn from them, and some quotes help us to grow as a band in a more demanding media like the European. We don't compose our music thinking it will appeal to other persons, first we try to satisfy our musical expectations, or we will transform in a plastic band and that is not honest with us. The influence of the criticism came in terms of the production, we know the deficiencies of our album, and some media really note that, so for the next release we will improve that.

Speaking of writing songs, how does this happen in PERPETUUM?

Carlos: Personally music is the most important thing in life, and I work daily on writing stuff. We all collaborate on the songs, and much of the work came out of a very few ideas that are constantly rephrased, to give some dynamic and uniqueness to the evolution of the tracks, trying not to stay in a way or in a structure kind that we all are used to hear from the big labeled bands.

Perpetuum bandLyrics first or music first? What works best?

Carlos: It's never about writing songs to achieve some established outcome. We usually present the music first and the lyrics are a result of the personality that the track acquire through the construction of the song. But we are not saying that this is the only way that we can work on a production.

You've already played several gigs for the new album. How was the crowd's response? And do the songs work well live or did you have to make small changes?

Cristobal: The crowd generally was cool. We had played various gigs with our album's line up, but later, we decided to change some directions, and behold a different way to express what we musically say, now, as a 4 piece band. In that way, we have modified some intentions on our music. Those songs have been obtaining a new vision, and now, we're learning a lot from that.

What's the impact of sites like Facebook and Myspace on PERPETUUM's popularity and getting the name out?

Juan: Those sites have become our main way of promotion, and offer all what a band needs and are really easy to use. On Myspace people can listen to our music and read our recent news, and Facebook allows us to get in touch with fans, friends and media from all over the world and get a direct feedback. The impact on our popularity is really big compared to years ago, and it's related to the album being discussed in the media. After that the number of visits has increased a lot; we are an underground band, so we are happy with all this.

When not spending time on the band or music, how do you kill time? (hobbies, jobs, ...)

Cristobal: Well, we really don't kill time, ha ha, we all have to work or study. Personally, I do both of them, and I like to listen to a lot of music, every day, and watch some TV.

Juan: Like Cristobal I study for programmer/analyst, in fact we are class mates, ha ha. Besides that I train Taekwondo WTF and like to listen to music and watch the History and Discovery Channel all day, ha ha.

Ok, that's it from me. :-) Many thanks for taking the time to answer to this "shortlist" of questions. If there's anything you wish to add, fire away. Other than that, all the best with your musical careers and may a European tour occur soon enough.

Juan: Thanks to you, Tim, for your interest in the band!! We really appreciate that, we invite all readers to visit our sites, listen to our music and experience the "Gradual Decay Of Conscience".

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