Releasing one of the best albums this year, Servile Sect completely blew me away with "TRVTH" and I just had to get in contact with them. Luckally, Luke contacted me pretty much within ten minutes of me sending an email to him and accepted my request for an interview.
Ian: Looking back to when you two first started writing music together, about how long did it take to really develop into Servile Sect?
Luke: We began playing music together with different projects in the mid 1990's. Servile Sect was our first time making music like this. Everything we did before was more typically metal. We began in 2005 and have remained somewhat active since then.
Ian: Back when you first released "Stratospheric Passenger" did you ever think that you'd get to where you are today, both musically and commercially?
Luke: We've never had expectations or made a real attempt to be a "band", so having anyone outside of our circle hear what we're doing always feels a bit strange and surprising. It's been great though, people have been very positive and extremely supportive.
Ian: When you look back at that album, what kind of memories do you have of it? How do you see the album today in comparison to how you saw it when you first finished it?
Luke: Our lives were very hectic and stressful. Meeting up to work on the album was the best possible vacation from the daily routines we despised. We still dig the record and are in the same headspace musically.
Ian: I remember reading a review for "Stratospheric Passenger" that compared you to Nadja, what are your thoughts on that?
Luke: No comment.
Ian: "Eternal Mind" felt like it was more of an experiment where you explored more musical territories than your debut. Would you say that this release made you more comfortable with exploring less aggressive sounds in your music?
Luke: "Eternal Mind" is a collection of recordings stretching from mid 2009 back to when we first started. The selection of songs fits within a theme and overall feeling. The first side consists of two old collaborations - one with our pal from back in Phoenix, Nick Phit (Graves at Sea), and the other with Luedke from Chicago. Side two is three tracks from three different time periods recorded in various places on random gear.
Ian: What made you release "Eternal Mind" as a free release after the original Senseless Empire release?
Luke: The Senseless Empire release was an edition of 80 copies that sold out very quickly. Most of the copies went to Canada. When Radical Matters approached us to do a web edition it was a good opportunity to make it more available. Eternal Mind is still on the Radical Matters website as a free download...
Ian: Though I still feel like "Realms of The Queen" is my least favorite effort from you guys, I feel like I am only now starting to actually grasp the sounds on it. What went into making that record, was it any different from the two before it?
Luke: "Realms..." was our first real bi-coastal effort. We met up in California for a few days and sorted through ideas. After we were back at home we exchanged recordings over the internet for a while and built things into whatever it became. The process was different than anything we had done before. We were struggling with a lot of new thoughts and information at that point and the album reflects it accurately.
Ian: I know a lot of the songs from that album in particular hold quite a place a lot of your fan's hearts. What do you think you grew with that release?
Luke: "Realms..." was the first time really stepping back and allowing time for songs to settle. Because of the distance things moved at a slower pace which let things become more refined.
Ian: How did you hook up with Handmade Birds?
Luke: R. Loren wrote to us in late 2010 wondering what we were up to. We exchanged a few emails and felt that our ideas about music were very compatible. He's doing some of the coolest releases around right now so we're psyched to be involved.
Ian: What is the "TRVTH" exactly?
Luke: None of us will ever know, but the process of attempting to grasp reality is what it's all about.
Ian: About how long did it take to write and record "TRVTH?" What kinds of ideas and concepts did you want to express in the album when you first started?
Luke: We worked on the album from mid 2010 until early 2011. We sent each other demo recordings fairly regularly until we felt like things were ready. In February we did studio recordings with some contributions from our friends Joshua Convey and Robert Nelson. The concepts deal with the strangeness of reality.
Ian: Before the release, and the month or two leading up to its release, I didn't really see all that much press for your stuff, but it really seems to have exploded with this album. What are your thoughts on this, to me, sudden burst of press for "TRVTH?"
Luke: We truly appreciate all of the support and enthusiasm. As of this past weekend Handmade Birds officially sold out of "Trvth."
Ian: I know that you recorded your parts of "TRVTH" while in Nepal and mixed it while in Rishikesh, how did the first half of the album, in your opinion, come to be shaped by the environments in those cities?
Luke: Creating music outside of the typical framework or comfort of a rehearsal space, bedroom or studio has been motivating for us and something we've been doing since the early stages. It's paved the way for new approaches we wouldn't have tried otherwise and injected crazy vibes.
Ian: Beyond sideB of "TRVTH," to what extent have you ever felt the need to really exhibit and showcase a more direct black metal sound in Servile Sect?
Luke: No comment.
Ian: "TRVTH" is one of the few records I would dare to call mind blowing this year, it definitely sounds like no one else. It's also one of the select records that I've actually been able to have an "out-of-body" experience to, would you say this is more of an isolated occurrence or have other people told you similar things?
Luke: Wow, thanks. A few people here and there have made jokes about "tripping out". We always encourage people to get extremely stoned, that will of course help.
Ian: I know that you've said that you both still try and keep a metal set of values, but the sounds shown on all of your recordings reach into realms that are far more abstract and out of "metal" boundaries. Is it intentional to push boundaries into new realms of experimentation, at least for yourselves, but keep the outlook focused on the darker portions of life?
Luke: As far as "metal values" go, everything we're about is based in self-empowerment. We're anti-establishment, anti-culture. We never set out to push boundaries and we're fairly intentioned so it's not so much experimentation. We're drawn to metal and that will always be our reference. We try to not over-think it and just play what comes naturally.
Ian: Are the topics of space and the cosmos as a whole what make up the concepts of Servile Sect or more the sci-fi and aliens aspect?
Luke: Everything behind SS is tied into the desire to understand reality. Those topics are all at the forefront of this.
Ian: The mixtape that you provided for Stereogum was quite revealing of some of your influences, but I'm curious what are some influences that are perhaps outside of the realms of black metal that you think are quite important?
Luke: We listen to all sorts of stuff. A few random non-metal records with some gems that fit into the theme: A.R. and Machines - "Die grüne Reise", Moon Duo - "Escape", Belong - "October Language", Tim Hecker - "Harmony in Ultraviolet". Books: Carlos Casteneda, Terence Mckenna, Aldous Huxley.
Ian: A lot of modern American black metal bands are tagged as "hipster black metal," what are your thoughts on that?
Luke: If it sounds good, awesome.
Ian: What are the differences in how you write songs for Servile Sect compared to Ithi, Sadness Saturn, and Ash Borer?
Luke: No comment.
Ian: What's next for you two, I know that Sadness Saturn is planning a reissue of the split with Utarm? What lies ahead for Servile Sect?
Luke: In late August/early September Land of Decay is releasing a C-30 cassette of Servile Sect demos from 2005/2006. We're doing a Golden Raven/Sadness Saturn split tape on Handmade Birds. He's also re-issuing the Utarm/Sadness Saturn tape in a very small edition. At some point soon we'll be releasing a companion to "Trvth". There are plenty of other things in the works. We'd like to start playing shows soon...
Ian: Well, I guess that it, thanks again for letting me interview you, it's been great. Thanks again for the fantastic album.