Ahab

author EW date 08/08/09

In conjunction with my recent review of their new album “The Divinity Of Oceans”, I took the time to interview Teutonic doomsters Ahab on all things doomy, fishy and schooly. Even if you, most likely, have no interest in doom metal, let alone funeral doom, read it all below for an interesting excerpt into a truly defining band in a genre that has never, ever come out of the shadows despite the undoubted brilliance of both Ahab’s albums now.

RF.net: Hi there, how you doing? Please confirm who it is answering the questions today.
Ahab: Chris Hector (guitar).

RF.net: Firstly congratulations on another excellent release in "The Divinity Of Oceans", I wasn’t sure if you guys had it in you to make another top-notch album following "The Call Of The Wretched Sea" but you've definitely done it. At this early stage what are your thoughts on how the record has turned out?
Ahab: Well, for us it’s not really an early stage. The album is finished since February. We’re really satisfied with the result. I like the development our music took from 2004 to now. It’s not too far away from The Call but far enough it didn’t get boring for us and hopefully as well for the listener.

RF.net: How have you found the general reaction to be considering how extreme your doom sound is? After all, funeral doom usually gets very little press or accolades and so seeing a band like Ahab being well promoted makes a change from the norm.
Ahab: Of course we were astonished when we recognized how good The Call was received by musicfans and the press. Then again, there are as extreme bands playing different genres. Just think of Black Metal bands, Death Metal or Tech Death-Bands, selling tens of thousands of records. So it’s not that big a thing when a band like Ahab sells some 5000 Cds. But we’re happy anyway.

RF.net: Seeing as how much a part of Ahab the oceanic theme is, I must ask, why? I've read about the interest in the 'Moby Dick' stories but what made you go from a fan of those tales to want to make music based upon it? And why funeral doom as a musical accompaniment?
Ahab: Well, then I must ask: why not? And also I can’t answer the last question. It wasn’t a question of choosing a musical style. We wanted to play funeral doom. Daniel already had a one man band and a song. I also wanted to start a funeral doom-project and I had the idea about a concept about Melville’s book. In the end I liked Daniels Song “The Stream” and he liked the concept and the name AHAB. So we joined forces. The concept with interpreting literature about the sea developed through the last years. We really like to work that way because it’s challenging not only musicwise, but on a literary level and an artistic level (layouts etc.) So Ahab is more than just an ordinary band – at least for us.

RF.net: Any of the band ever engaged in any sailing or deep-sea fishing in the guise of research for Ahab?!
Ahab: No, the only research I did until now was looking through books, reading them and going to museums to find some inspiration for covers, layouts etc. But actually I was pretty much into fishing when I was young and also did the sailing licence about 17 years ago. But not on THE sea but on the Bodensee (the swabian ocean) ;-)

RF.net: On the musical side of inspiration, which bands have influenced you to take the direction you have? Are you the kind of person to play much extreme/funeral doom in your own personal time?
Ahab: For me personally Shape Of Despair, Tyranny, Torture Wheel and Esoteric were the most interesting bands in the beginning. Besides that there are also some Black Metal-bands like Thorns or some Death Metal-stuff like Entombed, old Asphyx or Morbid Angel that had some impact. Daniel would probably also name My Dying Bride, Anathema, Opeth or Devin Townsend when being asked on music that had impact on his unique guitar-playing. Concerning my personal music-listening behaviour, I have to say my daytime job is writing for Metal Hammer. As I’m pretty much into Doom, Postcore, Prog and mellow music, it’s my job to listen to the latest releases. The latest stuff I really liked was Kongh, Callisto, Isis, Devin Townsend, Osi, Amorphis, Black Sun Aeon and Ghost Brigade. In my spare time I like a lot listening to folk stuff like Bon Iver, german singer/songwriter like Gisbert zu Knyphausen or even 80s pop stuff. I’m extremely open minded when it comes to music.

RF.net: How do the songs come together for a band like Ahab? Given the slow, crushing nature of most of your material I'm finding it hard to imagine much song construction is done sitting round in a group or am I wrong?
Ahab: That’s right. For The Divinity actually all of the songs were written by Daniel. But on the song The Divinity Of Oceans we jammed a bit. But only on one part. But I think that’s the better way for us as we have to interprete written books. You just can’t jam and hope to get the same results.

RF.net: Are Ahab likely to play many shows in the future in support of this and any albums further down the line? I see on Myspace a few German shows next month but nothing outside your home country.
Ahab: We do not have that much time to play live. But sure: we’d also play Europe or a tour farther off. We just have to have luck with the dates as Stephan works at school as a social worker and Cornelius is a drum teacher – we always have to get dates when there are holidays at school.

RF.net: As you have mentioned elsewhere, Ahab possess a strong funeral doom base but sound like only yourselves. What is it that you look for in your music that meets the requirements for going on an Ahab record, and eventually makes the band sound as identifiable as they do?
Ahab: Well, I can’t tell you really. If I knew, I wouldn’t tell anyone, cause it would be like giving away our own secret that makes our music work ;-) No really, I guess it’s just the mixture of our personal tastes that defines our music. If our taste changes, the music will change. As you can hear on The Call and The Divinity. Musically we developed the way our personal tastes developed. Plus you can’t sound the same, if you interprete literature. The mood of The Call wouldn’t have been accurate for the story of Philbrick and Chase.

RF.net: Are there any other nautical stories or tales you have your heart set on translating into the language of metal for future releases?
Ahab: Of course! There are two more books we already thought about. We already chose one of the two for the next album. It’s actually one of my favourite books, I liked since I was a kid. But you’ll understand, I won’t tell now, which one it is.

RF.net: Well I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions for you and I hope to catch Ahab in England or at some festival in the near future. What drop of knowledge can you leave us with before you set sail and return to the high seas?
Ahab: Live slow, die old and “slow” shall be the only rule. ;-)

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