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Friday, June 3, 2011
Interview - Aurora Borealis' Ron Vento
Since my initial contact with Ron through his album, "Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything," the idea of me interviewing him has been discussed. The results of the interview result in him revealing some answers I never expected, and hopefully you are able to get as much from this as I did.
Ian: How are you doing Ron? What kind of responses have you gotten on the new album so far?
Ron: The new cd has been getting great reviews everywhere. I am really happy people are enjoying it so much. Everyone who has ordered it has been happy with it and I get tons of responses from the free download from people just saying how much they like it. I make the cd for me first but it is always nice when other people enjoy it as well.
Ian: I know this is a difficult one, but how would you categorize Aurora Borealis' sound?
Ron: I like to think we take elements from all genres and blend them together. I love thrash music as well as black and death metal. Naturally this comes through in my writing. I There are small tech sections as well but mostly I just focus on trying to write good songs that flow together well. The vocals most people say sound black metalish.
Ian: You've never really written lyrics about zombies or killing people, but more about the cosmos and time, why do you choose to adopt this style of lyrics back when you started? Do you think this has alienated some fans from your music?
Ron: Yeah lyrically I was never into gore or satanism, that is not what my everyday life is about so I don't write about it. I write about what I enjoy. I read a lot and travel a lot, so history is something I always am learning about. As far as the cosmos, that has been with me forever as well since my father works at NASA I was always was exposed to space and the cosmos. It is just fascinating stuff. I don't know if it alienates any fans. I like to think they can relate to the music even if they are not into the lyrics, but by the same token if they are that hardheaded and only want to read about zombies or satan then they are not fans I really care to have anyway. When you asked me about the response to the album earlier I should have mentioned over half of the responses I get from people are commenting on the lyrics and how they are glad to see a band writing about something half way intelligent and not just the same thing again and again.
Ian: Your releases have been a bit sporadic over the years, why is that?
Ron: I never really have been on any labels for too long so I never had any pressure from them to release cds on any given time frame. It is nice because I can take my time and just create music when I feel like it.
The cd before the new one, "Relinquish," I thought I was just going to quit making cds, so I called the cd relinquish. I was just tired of dealing with it and working in a recording studio every day just kind of got to me. The cd was a very hard process due to some issues i had along the way and near its completion I was just fed up. After a few years I got the urge to write again so i started writing the timeline cd. I took my time and made everything perfect. That is why the gap is so long between "Relinquish" and "Timeline." As far as the early cds, they were released more close together. The big spaces were "Relinquish" and "Timeline."
Also the drums are rather difficult so getting a drummer is never easy as well. The guys I used to use are all very busy so schedules also have to work out.
Ian: How does an Aurora Borealis song usually come together?
Ron: The process is usually 99% the same. I write the music portion first but I am always jotting down ideas for lyrics and things that come to me. I then try to match up the lyrical ideas to the song that best fits it and then I work on fitting the lyrics in by reworking them a bit. On the new cd, since it is a concept cd it was important to be conscious on making the music match the lyrics as well as making it fit into what portion of the album the lyrics were talking about. The more violent sounding songs had to be at the more violent points of the story and so on. There have been a couple songs in the past where Derek wrote the music or Jay but they are really few and far between.
Ian: For me, "Relinquish" is my favorite Aurora Borealis album, how would you say "Timeline" differs from that one?
Ron: I just think Timeline is the next progression in the AB sound. I think the songs are more structured for sure. I enjoy "Relinquish" a lot as well, but I think "Timeline" is just the next stage and to me it is a much better cd. The drums are also very very fast on this but they are more structure. When getting a drummer for this cd, I tried to really tell him that I was not looking for someone to copy Tony or Derek, I want the songs to flow better, so I don't want some super high tech drum parts, I wanted them to match what the song was doing. I don't want to give someone the wrong impression the drums are still very prominent and fast and somewhat tech but just not over the top.
Ian: What is the exactly is the concept of the new record, for those that don't know?
Ron: The "Timeline" CD is a concept album that starts from the beginning of all existence and continues through until the very end of the universe and the eventual retraction and rebirth of it all. It further deals with subjects such as the Big Bang, to the formation of planets and stars, life in the universe, evolution and Creationism, space colonization, the fabric of the universe itself, time travel, other dimensions and species trying to preserve their races. It is what I consider to be what really may happen to the universe as we know it. Of course there are a ton of theories involved but to me I was making a real story not some made up non sense. It is just the progression of everything to the end of everything.
Ian: How do you approach production? I remember you had said you were going for a very polished and tight sound with this new album, why did you decide to go for that sound?
Ron: Well some of our earlier cds have really bad productions and sound. I just wanted to get the production better just like I always try to make every cd better. The cd took a very long time to mix and master but when I listen back to it there is nothing that is wrong with it to me. Maybe that will change with time but for now it is perfect to me. "Relinquish" also sounded great but I have some small issues with the sound on that one.
Ian: What led to you wanting to release the album for free and press so few copies?
Ron: Well there is a bunch of thoughts behind this. First and foremost in all my travels I have seen the world, and a lot of it is very unfortunate. There are so many people out there that could not afford a cd if they wanted to buy it. They are still wondering where there next meal might come from. I just wanted to make it at least accessible to everyone. I know those people I am talking about may not even be able to make it a computer but if they can I want them to have the cd, for free. I have been really fortunate in life and I don't rely on selling cds to make a living so I thought why not give it away. The second though, it the people who steal their music by illegal downloading are going to get it anyway for free so I just made it easily available to them as well hoping they may give a small donation for the download. Some people who would have downloaded it have given small amounts and some have been very generous. Of course it has been downloaded thousands of times where no one has given anything but that is ok.
On the pressing I know there are still some people who enjoy the hard copies and some collectors also, I pressed it for them. I only want to do one run to make it a collectible for the people that buy it.
Ian: Previous albums like "Time, Unveiled" have had a bit more of a neo-classical vibe to them in terms of your guitar playing, this new album feels more straightforward in comparison, but leans more towards a technical side to be clear, and more death metal as well, why do you believe that is?
Ron: Maybe just because of what I am listening to lately. The new cd is more focused on songs rather that guitars or drums so maybe that is why it comes across that way.
Ian: Is there a track on the album that really stands out as being an essential Aurora Borealis track for you, or your personal favorite? (I personally still love Formation)
Ron: I hate to give a generic answer for this question but I love every song on the cd. Remember it was over 6 years since the last cd so no garbage made its way on the cd. Everything that is on there I thought was perfect for the cd. I think each one has essential Aurora Borealis in it. Each day I feel like a different one is my favorite depending on my mood, but I like to think of the cd as one long song. The entire story.
Ian: The album title, "Timeline: The Beginning and End of Everything" is a pretty bold statement, what led you to naming the album this?
Ron: It is just what the cd is about, from the start of everything to the end. It is a timeline of everything that has been and will be. I think the title fits the cd.
Ian: How did Ron Miller become involved?
Ron: Ron Miller has been great. I approached him to get art for the new cd because his art is amazing. I told him my concept and how I would be giving it away for free. He graciously agreed to let me use the art for free. I was really stunned. I thought an artists of his caliber would charge thousands to use art for a cd. His art really made the cd a complete package. I could not believe he agreed to let me use one piece much less so many pieces.
Ian: This might be an odd one but up till this point, all of your full-lengths have had blue covers, at least for the most part, but the cover of the new record is based out of mainly red and orange, any comment on that?
Ron: You know what's funny, you are not the first person to point that out. But I always tell everyone "Relinquish" was mainly a green album cover with hints of blue. "Praise..." was also more turquoise. I see what you men though. The "Northern Lights" album was really intended to be purple looking but the artists made it blue instead. When I saw this particular piece from Ron Miller I knew it was the album cover, regardless of color. It is a very bold album cover and it just works for the cd.
Ian: I'm curious what you're take on modern society is since a lot of your songs speak favorably towards man's decline, where do you think the human race is headed?
Ron: Man this is a good question. I don't want to give the wrong impression on my answer because I think there are some really great and brilliant people out there but, I think the race is in a downward spiral. 99% of the people out there just don't seem to care about anything. When I talk to people they just seem like they are just here to destruct and cause havoc. No one cares much about eduction anymore. The world is also based around capitalistic greed. From governments to individuals everyone has that more, more attitude. Then there is whole other side of culture and music, the Gangster side. I live in an area where rap and gangster mentality is very prominent, it seems like these guys value being a thug and cherish the idea crime is great. Language in general, as well as mathematics, and all areas of eduction are on the decline. When i look around at everything from news to music to whatever it just is sad. Luckily there are the 1% out there (Not me included) that keep the world going. They are the ones inventing things and moving the race forward. They are the people that will eventually help save our race. Without them we would all just be doomed. I actually get into mentioning some important names on the cd of people who i think are the saviors of our race.
Ian: You've also tackled spirituality in a few older songs, what's your view on that subject? Not so much Christianity, but religion in general, is it a source of inspiration for you at all, either positively or negatively?
Ron: Yes it is, it is a very positive influence on me. Without it I think everything is truly for nothing. Without an end I am here for nothing, everything I do and say is meaningless. I have struggled with this for many years and it is something that is very important to me. So much so that I may end up doing a cd specifically based on that subject. When I look around at the magnificence of everything and the logic behind the universe, it is all perfect, visually, mathematically, I mean just perfect. It is the people that destroy and mess up everything. Every day we get closer and closer to understanding our existence and the universe. A unifying universal law will be discovered very soon. One that will tie everything in together.
Ian: When you started back in 1994 did you ever think you'd last as long as you have?
Ron: I don't know, but I knew I would be involved with music until I die. Weather it be with my band or other peoples music or recording etc. I knew that I would not be a regular person who goes to work every day to make someone else rich. I would rather die that contribute to some company's bottom line dollar.
Ian: When you look back to "Praise The Archaic Lights Embrace", what do you feel and remember about those days?
Ron: I remember just having a great time making music. Derek and myself just did it for the love of music. We had nothing and scratched and clawed to even be able to make the cd. I remember hating the production hahah. I recorded that with Bob Moore who did the early Nile stuff and I think it came out sounding horrible. I love the material on it however and would not mind redoing some of it in the future.
Ian: What are you currently listening to?
Ron: I listen to everything all the time. No specific genre or style, Old, new, I love it all. I listen to stuff as early as the 50's and as current as now. I am open to everything and working at a studio all day you have to be. There are some genres I like better than other obviously but I am very open minded about music. As far as newer metal goes I like this band called This Ending a lot I also like the new Behemoth stuff. I think that Seance record that came out in 2010 or 2009 "Awakening of The Gods" was a great cd. I like older stuff from Vader where Doc was drumming, I like old tech stuff like Neglected Fields and black metal stuff like Setehrial or Dark Funeral.
Ian: That's all the questions I have, thanks for letting me interview you. The last words are yours!
Ron: Thanx so much for the space in your (web)zine, it is people and avenues like yourself that have always kept this band relevant. We never got much help in the way of labels, or dist deal, etc. So you guys are really the driving force behind the band. I thank you for that.
Anyone can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or they can download the new cd at auroraborealis.org
I have to thank Ron for letting me interview him and for giving me the new album, for free no less. It was a pleasure to interview him, and definitely check out Aurora Borealis' stuff, it's still some of the best death metal stuff coming out today.