Greetings. I hope you're doing well today.
First off, how do you usually describe your band and sound to someone who asks you what kind of music you play?
AC Rottt > Hi, we would normally describe ourselves as some sort of extreme, rotten sewage Doom or even Mental Funeral Doom. To people that don't listen to Metal we describe ourselves as slow, heavy, noisy and best avoided, if at all possible.
Are there some other bands you'd feel comfortable comparing your sound with - or are there perhaps some that you don't like to be associated with, but that keep on appearing in your album-reviews?
AC Rottt > I doubt that the three of us would all agree on the same inspirations as we all listen to a wide range of music but I'd suggest that Autopsy, Reverend Bizarre and the first Unearthly Trance album combined might come close to our sound. Then again, we have taken a few twists and turns along the way, too.
How was the band's line-up originally formed? Did you have a clear idea and intent of what to create and achieve with the band, or was it an eventual result of jamming?
AC Rottt > Cathal (Count Rodge, bass) and Ray (R Mongo, drums) grew up in the same small town in the midlands of Ireland and knew each other for a long time. Ray moved up to Dublin to study and they decided they wanted to get a band going. Cathal knew me as a customer from a Metal shop he worked in in Dublin at the time and knew my tastes tended towards the ugly and weird ends of the spectrum. He asked if I'd like to jam and as I'd not been in a band for a while at that stage I said yes. I was madly into the first Reverend Bizarre album along with a lot of the Doom stuff that was coming out at the time and I brought those influences to the table. The two lads are big Autopsy fans so an unhealthy combination of those and various other influences came together naturally.
Speaking of which, how are your songs usually born? Are they more about pre-planned riffs or spontaneous jamming?
AC Rottt > Jamming mostly. In the early days myself or Cathal would bring riffs in to rehearsals but as we went on it became more spontaneous as our sound thrived on that dense wall of sound you can only achieve by turning up loud and letting rip. Once we get something going that sounds OK we start hacking at the riffs and playing around with structures. Sometimes a song will have a great section and the rest is shit so it gets chopped up and we recycle the good bit somewhere else. Whatever gets the best result.
What kind of things inspire you in making your music - is it more about other bands or just living in this world and experiencing its darker sides? Are you perhaps inspired by other artforms?
AC Rottt > Inspiration can and does come from absolutely anywhere. This might sound a bit arty farty but for someone who lives their life through music, as I do, I find that without even realising it I am always absorbing information. It's like I view the world through a musical prism sometimes. I hear someone say something, or I get an idea from the work I am doing or a sentence I read, something on TV, listening to music, visiting an art gallery, anything really and it can click the creative switch on in my brain. My phone has loads of reminders that are basically just ideas for lyrics that pop into my head, usually at the most inconvenient moments, such as during work or when I am lying awake, unable to sleep at three in the morning. Once the head starts buzzing with ideas I have to write them down immediately or they'll keep going around in my head keeping me awake or distracting me from work. I love that spontenaiety, though. I'll go through periods of not having any inspiration and then something will set me off and the ideas will gush out. It's definitely not something I can force. I never sit down specifically to write lyrics as they just turn out as absolute shite without that arbitrary, and often elusive, spark.
How did you come to choose the name Wreck Of The Hesperus? I'm assuming it relates to the short story with the same name?
AC Rottt > We had no real idea what we wanted to call ourselves and we were getting nowhere with it. It's such a tough decision as you have to feel you can stand behind the name you choose, and it has to somehow represent all you want to say with your music. Cathal's then girlfriend mentioned it to him and he liked it and passed it on to us. It has another meaning, apart from the poem about the sinking ship. There is a saying in Ireland, it's a fairly obscure saying but it exists; you look like the Wreck of the Hesperus, meaning you look wrecked, in bits or unwell. Both meanings pretty much suited what we were aiming for musically; something doomed and falling apart.
For you as the band members, how important are the lyrics in your music and what inspires them? Do you recognize any bigger theme or even a message behind the lyrics, or is it plain and simple about torment and death?
AC Rottt > Lyrics are hugely important. We often don't have quite a lot of them in our songs as I tend to write up a lot and then chop them up, mix them around and play with them until I am happy with them. There are often ideas and messages within the songs that mean something to me but are obscured by the words I use and the rearranging process so generally the songs don't follow a story line. I just don't write like that. I like the idea of painting pictures with words, of deepening the mystery as Francis Bacon said. I think that creating obscure worlds that bleed various images over each other is quite exciting and I like to think about my lyrics after writing them to see how seemingly disparate ideas can be tied together. Our lives are a sequence of varying experiences, good and bad, that shape who we are so arguably they are all integral to building up a picture of our lives. In a sense, though while dark and obscure, my lyrics usually stand as a snapshot in time of my own life.
Do nature or religion inspire your creations?
AC Rottt > Absolutely. How could they not. Religion is an odd one. I think that on a personal level it is fine. If it helps you through your day and offers you some solace then fire ahead. Obviously organized religion is another matter entirely and when it is used to subjugate people then it can become a frightening and disturbing weapon. My lyrics often deal with how I see religion and insanity as being quite closely linked. That is to say that I imagine that a lot of cases of insanity are probably linked in some way to a fear of God. People losing sight of how to be a human and turning away from the world of experience, desperately trying to remain, or should I say attain a sense of purity. Nature from its magnificent and frightening glory to its microscopically infinite, unseen, unknown worlds is also fascinating and its imagery can effectively be used as a metaphor for all of the religious stuff as well.
WOTH has a very specific sound that you've come to be known for; it's all bass-driven and coated in filth, phlegm, and darkness. Do you have some specific methods that you use to create and improve your sound, and where and how are your albums generally recorded? As I mentioned in my initial message, the sound of your debut album "The Sunken Threshold" truly made an impact on me the first time I heard it!
AC Rottt > Thanks a lot. I'd be lying if I said we put a lot of time or thought into the equipment we use to record. We just usually play through whatever we have to hand, spend a bit of time getting the ugliest sounds we can from the gear and plough at it like a bull at a gate. It's not a hugely sophisticated process for us. It's all about capturing the energy, filth and primitive force that we aim to conjure within the music we create. It seems to us an oxymoron to spend thousands of Euro on getting a crisp and professional studio sound that will end up eliminating all the rotten goodies that make this kind of music so compelling. Having some fuck-ups left in recordings is alright by us, too. Filth is our ultimate goal.
How active of a band are you, generally, and do you rehearse often?
AC Rottt > I don't think we have jammed at all in the last two years. Hopefully we'll rectify that soon.
Your debut album was released in 2006, and it took until 2011 for your second full-length to appear. Was there any specific reason for this gap, or was it just a matter of you needing the time to create an another worthy album?
AC Rottt > In that time Cathal moved from Dublin back to Co. Offally so we had less opportunity to jam. That is also the current situation but add to that the fact that work has me traipsing all over the country... Time is minimal. We are in no hurry though. We have no plans to take over the world so we will find the time when it suits us and vomit out our spew when it is good and ready.
What kind of feedback have these albums received - if you've followed the reviews and such, that is? At least Streaks Records and Aesthetic Death seem to be satisfied with your work, and I'm glad they do as Streaks Records seems to put a lot of heart and effort into their vinyls.
AC Rottt > Both labels have been great to work with and we will absolutely be using their services in future as long as they are happy to do so. Feedback has been OK. We don't get a lot of reviews and most people don't seem that bothered with us one way or another. It might help if we gigged more or had some kind of eye-catching angle but we don't. We are lazy about sending our albums for review, too. Fuck it, I like the idea of the band existing in the depths of the underground and the occasional filth hound stumbling across it and finding something interesting and exciting. We will never be on the cover of any glossy magazines, I'm sure. Their loss, we are sexy bastards.
Further, are you yourselves still fully satisfied with your releases so far, or are there some that you wish would've been left unreleased?
AC Rottt > Yeah, we are. They all serve a purpose. It is interesting to listen back to the old stuff and hear where we were on our ever-unfolding musical journey. Could we have done some things differently? Maybe, but then it wouldn't be us. It is our love for filth mixed with a clear vision and our general laziness that makes us the band we are. Like it or leave it.
You've done split-releases with De Novissimis and Mourning Beloveth, both of which are, like you, Irish bands. How did these splits come to be, and what were the reasons you chose these bands to do a split with? I suppose you're a fan of these bands' works? Do you have any more split-releases being planned?
AC Rottt > Being fans of and friends with the bands led to the splits. Simple as that really. Having some great local Doom bands operating in Ireland is great and we are very happy to align ourselves with the small but vibrant pool of bands here.
You made a cover version of Tom Waits' song "Misery Is the River of the World", which is certainly not the first song that one would assume a sludge-cover to be made of - although it has a title that sounds like something WOTH could come up with. How did you come up with the idea to make a cover version of this song, and how did it turn out in your opinion? Are you fans of mr. Waits' works, and do you secretly keep hoping that one day he'll stumble on your rendition of his track?
AC Rottt > Yep, Tom waits is a really cool and incredibly dark character. His music is off the wall and as such has a lot of the same traits that I see in our own music. When I heard that song first I knew we would have to cover it at some point. When we were discussing the split with Mourning Beloveth the idea came up for us to cover Tom Waits and for them to cover Nick Cave. It turned into a nice little curio, in my opinion. The two approaches are polar opposites but really compliment each other.
You've also made a couple of more obscure and un-advertised releases that have been available only at a special gig or directly from you. Just generally speaking, are you fans of this kind of obscure and limited releases?
AC Rottt > Cathal does a lot of noise and ambient music through various projects so it was natural for that to creep in to our sound. We did three exclusively noise based releases, The Dilapidated Sky cassette released through Bubonic Productions and the Rotism and Dugeon Floor CDs that we released in small numbers for gigs. I suppose the idea of keeping those releases limited was that they were something quite different and would probably appeal to less people than our regular releases. I'm a fan of limited releases if I can get one! If a band I like releases something in a tiny quantity and I miss out then I'm totally against the idea, hehehe.
Your newest album "Light Rotting Out" features your trademark sludge on the A-side, but on the B-side there's some more experimental material. The sole track seems to be more atmospheric, and at times calmer than most of of your creations that I've heard, and it features some saxophone and clean, haunting chapel-vocals by Albert Witchfinder (known from the now deceased doom metal band Reverend Bizarre, and a number of other projects). What kind of a creation process did this song have, did it take long until all the pieces fell in their place? How was it to work with Albert, and how did you get him on board?
AC Rottt > As with every other song we have written we simply played around with ideas until we stumbled upon something we were happy with. That song really came together quite quickly and when Emer Brady's saxophone was added in recording the whole thing took on a new level of menace and darkness that we found really exciting. Ray met Albert at Doom Shall Rise in 2004 and gave him a copy of our first demo. Albert liked it a lot which was a nice big pat on the back for us. We kept in semi-regular contact with him over the years and had the pleasure of opening for Reverend Bizarre when they played Dublin in 2006 or 2007. We asked if he'd be interested in guesting on the album and he was really enthusiastic. His vocals worked out really well and The Holy Rheum is without a doubt one of my favourite WOTH songs.
Along with your recognizeable sound, your releases tend to have a very dark, detailed and plain striking visual side - most often hand-drawn or painted, too. Generally, it seems to be an area that you put a lot of thought and effort to. What kind of an effect or feeling do you aim to create with the albums' visual side, and what kind of pointers do you give your cover artists in making them? Do you have a main artist that takes care of your visual needs?
AC Rottt > The visual aspect is of utmost importance. I think it is something we have really only nailed since the first album. I'm not happy with the look of the demos but we rereleased them both on a tape last year through Fort Evil Fruit and I did a drawing for it that I think works better that the original CD versions. Glyn Smyth did the artwork for the first CD/LP and they both turned out pretty eye-catching. I gave Glyn the lyrics and some loose ideas but he pretty much ran with it on his own and came up with those great pieces for us. For Light Rotting Out I did all the artwork and I am really happy with the mixture of darkness, grottiness and lushness of the packaging. Whenever we get around to recording a new album we'll see what happens with artwork. I like doing it myself but I also enjoy seeing how other people interpret our music. Collaborating is fun.
You've made some live-performances as well, correct? I haven't been able to find any info on them, so could you tell us something about how they went, and what kind of visuals did you employ?
AC Rottt > We were never ones to gig a lot but over the years we have played a few. We just ask the lighting dude to keep it dark and simple- one red light is all we need. Then plough onwards with filth and rawness to whatever five people are arsed to watch us. Nothing too dramatic, we like to let the music do the talking.
What lies in the future of Wreck Of The Hesperus? Do you have any gigs, new releases or re-releases being planned? Oh, and while on topic, will "The Sunken Threshold" be re-pressed on vinyl in the future?
AC Rottt > I had no idea that The Sunken Threshold was sold out on LP! I'm sure it is available in a distro or ten somewhere. No concrete plans for the future of the band but we hope to get our shit together in the coming months and unleash another load of sewage Doom on an uncaring world. Stranger things have happened. We will have another cassette coming out on Fort Evil Fruit that will round-up songs from the splits and more limited releases too. Not sure when that will happen but this year sometime.
Are you active in other fields of art or creation, other than music?
AC Rottt > I do some illustration and I write interviews and reviews for Metal Ireland. Otherwise I keep busy with various bands.
I don't know how aware you are of the current sludge-bands, but just out of curiosity, have you ran into any great ones lately that you'd like to mention here?
AC Rottt > There has been a small surge in filthy or just plain weird Doom in Ireland lately, actually. Bands to check out from here are On Pain of Death, Abbotoir, Venus Sleeps, Tome, Iweríu, Nomadic Rituals, Weed Priest, Slomatics, War Iron and probably a few more that are slipping my mind right now.
Anything you'd like to add, advertise or discuss further?
AC Rottt > Myself and Ray play in a dark proggy Folk band called Fern Floor, I have a new Black/Death/Doom band on the go called Malthusian, myself and Cathal have a Black Metal project called Ordnance who recently released a split tape with his BM poject Spermicidal. He has another BM project on the go called Weary of Empires among about twenty other known and unknown projects. Dig downwards.
I humbly thank you for your time!