Indian Impure Thoughts
Published Jan 31, 2014With From All Purity, Indian went into the studio with what guitarist/vocalist Will Lindsay thought was "just a pile of shit," but came out with their best and heaviest album yet. The noisy juggernaut of sludgy, blackened doom didn't come easy though, as Indian faced internal tension, resulting in a member's ejection. Lindsay aired out frustrations with past musical collaborators, while being appreciative of his current situation and the future, which will include treks to Europe, and a tentative northeast United States trip that will hopefully have them hopping the border. It wouldn't be the band's first time in Canada, but hopefully next time won't include shows cancelled due to murder. Although if it did, the band could always blend in with the locals and enjoy the national sport — even if they're cheering for opposite teams. In typical Indian fashion, the road most travelled is rarely the road taken.
Your new album is called From All Purity, which is a line from a song on it, "Disambiguation," despite the album sounding very impure, sonically. How do you feel that title represents the album?
Well, that's kind of a hard one for me to answer because Dylan [O'Toole, guitar/vocals] wrote almost all the lyrics on that album, including the lyrics from "Disambiguation," and I don't really feel comfortable talking about what other people write, as far as trying to interpret meanings. Dylan writes the lyrics; he doesn't like set them down in front of us to get our approval and explain what he's talking about or anything like that. So yeah, I don't really know that I can answer it. I mean, whatever lyrics anyone can discern from "Disambiguation" might explain that a little better.
Fair enough! Speaking of the uninviting sound of the album, almost every review I've read has referred to its sound as being depraved, or any kind of synonym of that word, essentially. Was that kind of the goal of the album?
I don't know that we were thinking specifically in terms of like "depraved," but it was definitely…right after we finished Guiltless, we talked about the next — I mean, the situations creating the records were so different, although I suppose you could say that about any record — but, after we got out, we were saying we really wanted to make the noise stuff be a more prevalent element in the band. We definitely wanted to take it further than we took it on Guiltless, which I feel we managed to pull off.
Was there a specific reason? Were you not satisfied with Guiltless or...?
Oh no, absolutely not, I love Guiltless. It's just, we didn't want to make the same album twice. I think Guiltless was the best record we could have made at that point as a band, and I just wanted to do something different. And the noise stuff particularly, it's become a pretty large part of my listening these days and yeah, so I just wanted to make that influence a little more pervasive in the band.
Cool, so this is your second album with Indian, and I gather from that that the noise element has been one of your contributions. What else do you think your membership has brought to Indian?
Well, they've been doing noise on their stuff since their first album, so it wasn't my idea to have noise by any means; it was already there. So we kicked it up a notch on this record, but there was always somebody doing noise on all the other albums. I know before I was in the band, Dylan was like the only songwriter, so I've definitely contributed quite a bit to the songwriting and creation. I don't know, I mean, I could add more; I hate to talk so much about myself that specifically though, to be honest.
That's fair. I understand that's kind of a hard question that kind of puts you on the spot. What have you gotten out of Indian though? I suppose that would probably be an easier question for you to answer, rather than kind of tooting your own horn and being like, "Yeah, this is what I've done." But what has Indian offered you?
Well, it's my favourite music that I've ever played, without a doubt. The stuff I was doing the few years leading up to Indian — the various bands I was in — you know, it's going to be kind of hard to say this without sounding like I'm talking shit, but whatever; there was kind of a more rigid definition of what was allowed in the band and creative contributions weren't — my creative contributions particularly — weren't exactly encouraged or, in some cases, actively discouraged. Indian doesn't give a shit about, you know, making sure everything's within a genre's framework, or they didn't like sit down and study all their favourite bands' tones and setups and things like that; [they're] just playing music. Coming out of what I've been doing in the years previously, it was pretty refreshing to be playing with people that didn't give a shit about scene or genre or any of that. I mean, not to talk bad about the people that I've played with that did do that; that's their thing and that's fine and dandy, but that just not the kind of thing that I find very inspiring.
So the writing process this time around, I mean, you did have a lot more freedom, but also you and Bill are involved in other bands, and I understand you lost a band member during the writing process. Can you kind of describe the writing process for From All Purity?
[Laughs] Yeah, I can sum it up very easily: it was really fucking hard. More specifically than that, you know we all weren't necessarily getting along the best, particularly me and our noise guy. When you're staying in a room with two people that don't really like each other, you can kind of feel it across the whole room, and it was stifling everything. When the call got made to kick him out, people weren't showing up to practice and it just sucked to be in the room. No one really wanted to be there. And we gave him the boot and it breathed the life back into the band. It's kind of funny actually — I don't know if I've told anyone this yet or not, at least as far as interviews — but the day we went into the studio, I thought we just had just a pile of shit. I hated the record when we showed up at the studio. I just thought it was terrible. But by the time we finished the tracking, I'd completely come around, you know, once I had to hear it back. There was one of the songs we cut about two-and-a-half minutes worth of material out of, and it just brought the song to life.
So it was hard, but in the end it was worth it because you got a product you were proud of, kind of thing?
Yeah, I don't know that necessarily…I mean, like I said, it was a shitty time. As good as it was to have our noise guy out of the band, it still sucks kicking somebody out of the band regardless of how much you may not like each other, or whatever. And me and my girlfriend had split up just like two weeks before we went in; it was just, it wasn't the easiest time.
Speaking of like breakups and what not, the Chicago metal scene suffered a pretty big hit when Nachtmystium broke up, I mean, you've played in Nachtmystium. What's the current Chicago scene like? What are some highlights? What's going on in Chicago heavy music?
Well, it's funny you mentioning Nachtmystium specifically; I think the people outside of Chicago cared a lot more about that than anyone in Chicago did. But as far as positivity here locally, my favourite Chicago band is a band called Rectal Hygienics. They're great, their drummer runs a DIY show space here and yeah, really, really, really great band, far and away my favourite thing in Chicago right now. Bloodiest is supposed to be working on a new album. I haven't seen them play in a while, but I'm pretty excited about that. I liked Descent [their last album] quite a bit. They're good friends of ours. I mean, they're half a Chicago band; I haven't seen them live yet, but the Corrections House record is excellent. Bruce and Sanford are Chicago guys, of course.
That's what's going on in Chicago at the present time?
There's probably a bit more. I work a lot, so I'm not really 100 percent up on what's going on. Like I said, I think Rectal Hygienics is the most exciting thing happening in Chicago right now though, for sure.
Bill is also involved with Lord Mantis; I know they're coming out with a new album. What separates the Indian album from that forthcoming Lord Mantis album?
Uhhhh, well I mean aside from the fact that we share a drummer, pretty much everything. We don't sound like Lord Mantis; we don't have their same aesthetic. I know that Dylan and I are coming from a completely different place than Drew is, or Charlie is. They're our friends, but I don't see that there's really, besides that Bill's drumming in both bands, I don't really see any similarity at all between the two bands.
Oh yeah, I wasn't trying to suggest that. I was just trying to say what's the main thing that you see that is like "this is Indian," the main difference kind of thing.
Yeah, I don't know, I don't really think about it like that. They're our friends, and their new record's great. I heard those guys, listening to Pervertor so much, I got kind of burnt on it. I can't really have a fair opinion about it, but the new record's great. Getting Ken [Sorceron, guitar] in the band was a good idea for them. I've never really thought about it in terms of the main difference, or anything like that. I've never really thought of our two bands in comparative terms to begin with, so yeah, I don't know. Short version is: I can't answer that, I'm sorry.
Not related to that at all, but From All Purity got streamed via Pitchfork, who also streamed Deafheaven's Sunbather. Given that band's surprising explosion, should we expect Indian in an iPhone advertisement in the new future or…
Uhhhhhhh, I wouldn't hold my breath. Is Deafheaven in an iPhone commercial?
Yeah, well actually the unveiling for it. They had a picture of all the different iPhones and on the one that has colours — the iPhone 5c, they have a pink one — and on the screen of the pink one, the Deafheaven album is playing.
Yeah, I never thought that would happen. So if I didn't think that would happen, I'm not expecting necessarily Indian will get there, but if they can do Deafheaven, who knows where we'll be in a couple of years?
Yeah, Christ, if you'd told me 15 years ago that Mastodon would be where they're at, or fucking Toyota would be sponsoring fucking black metal and death metal bands. Deafheaven has a… I don't want to talk about Deafheaven specifically; I'm not a fan, I guess I'll just leave it at that. Pitchfork did stream the record, and they are tastemakers. Brandon, the editor over there, has been a fan and a supporter of the band for a while. Actually, we're playing their South By Southwest showcase this year too. So I don't know, whatever dabblings Deafheaven makes in extreme music, it's not. I just, no; I don't see us on any iPhone commercials anytime soon.
I was just curious to hear your opinion; I truthfully would be shocked if I saw you on an iPhone commercial too.
I'd be beyond shocked if it ever crossed anybody's mind to begin with, but that's interesting that Deafheaven is.
You spoke of playing the South By Southwest showcase, and you've got a European tour coming up. Any other plans? Are we going to be able to see you up here in Canada, or anywhere in the States?
It's only being loosely discussed right now. We haven't hammered out all the details, but we're probably going to do a northeast trip in probably like early summer. That'd be something that would involve probably the New England states and then probably Montreal and Toronto as well, along the way. We're talking about going out to the West coast of the States too, but that wouldn't be until fall at the earliest. We're still kind of figuring out how we're going to make it all work and make it all fit. But the only specific stuff we have right now is the South By Southwest showcase and the European tour.
Why are you guys going to Europe first? Do you guys have a particular crowd over there?
This is going to be the band's first time over there, so I hope we have a crowd over there! The band has done some stuff in the U.S., although in the grand scheme, the band's never been much of a touring band. We haven't done any touring at all in over two years. We got invited to play the Roadburn Festival in Holland, so we needed to have a tour to go around it, and touring Europe is fun! I haven't been over there in a little while, I've made a lot of friends over there I'm looking forward to seeing.
Cool! Any specific bands you're hoping to tour with when you're doing the Northeast tour?
I don't know what we're going to do about that yet. I was hoping we could hook up with Primitive Man, but they're going to be going to Europe at the same time. I've been talking to Ethan from Primitive Man and the two of us want to try to get something worked out for our two bands to do something together, maybe in the fall? I don't know, we've exchanged a couple of text messages about it. We're both fans of each other's bands. For the Northeast trip, I have a feeling we'll probably fly solo on that one.
Anything else coming up for you personally, or anything else other than Indian?
Indian's kind of the focus right now because we have so much going on. I do play in another band locally here, Anatomy of Habit, and it wasn't my idea, but we're playing the Indian show just before we leave for Europe, here locally. Aside from that, work and waiting for winter to end so I can ride my motorcycle again!
Do you have any performances in Canada lined up in the future?
Hopefully we'll be seeing you in June!
You guys were supposed to actually play, I'm from Kitchener, and I think you guys were supposed to play here with Vilipend and Exalt, but for some reason I think it either got cancelled or I got called into work.
What we got told when we were in Toronto was that the venue had been shut down.
Oh yeah! That was right around the time that the owner of that venue had actually killed somebody.
Oh, Jesus Christ! [Laughing] Yeah, we didn't hear that part of it.
Yeah, that must be it because I remember when that venue closed, and it was because, I mean this is all just based on loose memories, but I'm pretty sure he beat a patron up outside the back of the venue — just beat him to death or something. I don't know why; I think there was some kind of motive, but either way the dude killed somebody on the property of the venue.
Goddamn! All we heard was that it had been shut down, and they tried to move it and it didn't work. So we just spent an extra night in Toronto, and went and drank at the Bovine Sex Club.
Hell yeah you did! Hell yes we did, and they probably still remember us!
Was there a good story behind that, or just got a little rowdy there?
Ron, our bass player, is a serious hockey fan, like a serious [Chicago] Blackhawks guy. You know, Ron always wears just black T-shirts; he never wears anything with logos. Well, we get our day off and we're getting ready to go walk the streets of Toronto. He'd been there before, I'd never been there before, but he'd been to the Bovine Sex Club before, so he was like, "This is our place." So he comes sauntering out of the hotel with a fucking full-on Blackhawks jersey on. I'd never seen him…I didn't even think he'd owned something like that. And he's just like swaggering down the street, kind of puffing his chest out, wanting everybody to see his Blackhawks shirt because he's in Canada. We ended up in the back bar, just pounding shots and pounding beers. Ron's civic pride really comes out when we go places like New York or Toronto. New York and Chicago always talk shit about each other, and then anywhere there's going to be a big hockey thing. The first time we went to Relapse [Records], he was telling them all about how the Blackhawks had beat whatever the fucking Philadelphia team is…I don't know. I don't know shit about hockey. But it ended with, there was some cute young lady working the back bar at the Bovine Sex Club and we were all hitting it off, so as we were leaving Ron gave her his jersey, which she probably put right on. I don't think she gave a shit about hockey either. That's pretty much it. I mean, we drank a lot more, but that's all I really remember when I think of that night — Ron and his stupid jersey.
I can sympathize with Ron. I'm a San Jose Sharks fan in Toronto, and I actually went to their game in Toronto wearing a bunch of San Jose gear. Walking in, everybody's kind of like "hahaha, San Jose, boo," and then we beat them 4-2, so walking out everybody kind of looked at me and looked at the ground. It was very vilifying [to them].
[Laughs] Yeah, when we were on tour with High On Fire, we had a few days off in California. I ended up spending — I'm from California originally, so I stayed at my parents' house for a couple of days, and they went down to L.A. and went to a…what's the Anaheim team?
Yeah. They went to the Ducks and Blackhawks were playing in Anaheim, so they drive down. Ron's like the serious hockey freak in the band, but all those guys are into sports except for me, so they're all pretty knowledgeable about hockey; that's when Sean [Patton, former synth/noise] was still in the band too. So they go and sat down right in the middle of the fucking Anaheim crowd, get drunk, bum everybody out around them and the Blackhawks won!