Cambridge’s Terra have been making waves within the black metal scene since their formation in 2014 and seeing them open for Svalbard in Colchester in January was an eye opener to their talents. Their show was a dark ritual, outstanding, atmospheric, if at parts terrifying. Speaking to the lads ahead of their show at the Colchester Arts Centre on the 14th May, we talked about their origins, the creation of their upcoming album, black metal and their upcoming shows.
Jack: Hey guys, how are you doing?
Luke (Drums): Pretty good thank you.
Olly (Bass/Vocals): Pretty general, how are you?
Ryan (Guitar/Vocals): I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Jack: Let’s start from the beginning, how did Terra form?
Ryan: I basically harassed the other two into it. I got the band booked for a gig but it was just me and some demos at that point, Olly was in Australia so I forced him to come back and play bass and I managed to whittle Luke down until he finally agreed to drum for the band. I think I’d asked him a few times before he said yes.
Olly: I made the fatal mistake of talking to Ryan on my first day of college in 2003, I haven’t managed to get rid of him since.
Jack: When you formed did you always set out to be a black metal band or did it just happen when jamming?
Ryan: Yeah, it was originally just a huge Emperor rip off.
Jack: Your untitled debut has been out for a year now, are you happy with the response?
Ryan: I think we’ve had some great responses, it’s not exactly the most accessible album but those who like it seem to be really passionate about it.
Luke: Given the speed that everything came together it has really been something to see people embrace it as they have.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Ryan: Rushed! I think we’d barely played a few shows before we hit the studio, I think we were really riding a wave of momentum at that point so it felt like the right thing to do by going with it.
Jack: Would you say that your experience in other bands helped with the recording?
Olly: I think my experience as a producer was more helpful. It also made my recording experience far more stressful as I’m a total perfectionist control freak when it comes to production.
Jack: Because you all have day jobs and Luke is in Obscene Entity is it hard finding time for Terra?
Luke: Life is definitely busy! But we all do our best to make the most of what time we do have.
Olly: I’m a freelance technician I barely have time to feed myself. I have no idea how this is still going.
Jack: Your band has been compared to Wolves In The Throne Room, are they an influence on your work?
Ryan: I’m a big fan of the band and they are an influence, but probably not as much as you’d think considering how often we get compared to them.
Olly: I only listened to them for the first time a week or two ago. I don’t know why people have this obsession with comparing us to them. I’m pretty sure it’s a big compliment though.
Jack: What are the main influences for Terra?
Ryan: Outside of the obvious answer of a list of black metal bands new and old: Pink Floyd, Morbid Angel, Ulver, Drone and weird experimental music.
Luke: Pretty much everything I’ve ever listened to, there’s no pre-meditated decision to emulate other groups though. A lot of my focus in Terra goes towards what I can try/do percussively to keep it interesting for myself, the other guys and hopefully fans too.
Jack: You just played Eradication Festival in Cardiff, how did it go?
Luke: All in all I think it went very well, it may not have been us in our best light due to some gear mishaps, but we felt most welcome to be there, people were into it, we enjoyed playing new material, got to see other great bands both new and those we have shared the stage with before. Good times!
Ryan: We had to duct tape a tom to the house kit, but we had a great time. Because of the length of our songs we could only fit in one so we decided to play one off the album we’re working on so it was good to see people’s reactions to new material.
Jack: Was it weird playing early in the morning?
Ryan: Fortunately it was after midday, I was still tired after our Nottingham show with Crom Dubh so I’m quite glad it wasn’t too early.
Olly: I quite liked playing needlessly loud at a bunch of hungover people. It added to the impact.
Jack: Did any bands stand out for you during the festival?
Olly: It was cool to see Sidious with their new line up. I enjoyed seeing Scutum Crux again also. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur if I’m honest!
Luke: I always enjoy Scutum Crux, sad that Eastern Front didn’t make it but also glad to finally check out Dystopian Wrath.
Ryan: We’ve played with a few of the bands before so it was great to get to watch them again. I really enjoyed Dystopian Wrath, I’ve known Mike and Andy for years so getting to play on the same bill as them is awesome.
Jack: At the beginning of the year you played with Svalbard in Colchester, do you prefer to play with bands of your own ilk or are you happy playing on mixed line ups?
Ryan: I love playing with a mix of genres, really makes for an esoteric show sometimes, plus it helps people branch out and get into bands they perhaps might not have had a chance to listen to before, I’m certainly a fan of Svalbard after that show!
Luke: Both have their pluses really, It’s always great being a part of the black metal circuit, but mixed line-ups can be great too. We are pretty open-minded guys and one way to look at it is that it’s just varying examples of ‘fucking heavy’, I enjoy it all.
Olly: I don’t think we really fit in on pure black metal line ups. Having said that we don’t really fit in on any line-up. We were fortunate enough to be invited to play with legends of the scene Nargaroth at the start of the year and it was nothing short of amazing. I am also very much looking forward to playing the Colchester gig. I can’t think of a bigger UK band in our scene at the moment, I really consider it a huge honour! Having said that I love playing on Doom line-ups and that Svalbard gig was one of my favourites too! I’m comfortable with not fitting in…I have 29 years of experience with it to be fair!
Jack: How important are DIY venues?
Ryan: Very! Sometimes it’s all we’ve got, big venues won’t play small or local bands any more and the small and middle sized venues that used to exist to let up and coming bands rub shoulders with touring acts have all but disappeared. Growing up in Cambridge there was a score of venues to choose from, Now there’s one. The Colchester DIY scene is a fantastic example of how to do it and the Jøtnarr boys are a driving force behind it, we need people like them when councils around the country seem all too keen to close down venues in favour of cheap housing, this country is world famous for it’s music culture and it’s being killed off in favour of a quick profit.
Olly: Vital to the music scene, get out there and support these venues as much as you can! The Chameleon Arts Cafe in Nottingham has to be one of my favourite venues. From what I can tell the sound system is an old home made free party rig and the atmosphere is amazing. I’m sure there are many venues like these up and down the country so get out there and support them! Underground/grass roots music isn’t going to fight for itself and I’m grateful for all the bands, technicians, promoters and fans who are willing to fight along side me! Rant over…sorry.
Jack: Next up you’re playing the Colchester Arts Centre with Winterfylleth, Fen, and The King is Blind. Are you looking forward to it?
Ryan: I’ve wanted to play this venue for years, getting to play it with such fantastic bands only adds to it.
Olly: Supporting what is probably the biggest UK black metal band out there in an old church? How could I not be?
Luke: Totally, it’s an honour to be included on a line-up this good.
Jack: Do you feel there is a great sense of irony of a bunch of black metal bands playing in a church?
Luke: [Laughs] Yeah! I suppose looking at it on the surface there is. Although I guess the bands playing don’t really project those incentives and ideologies of what black metal is better known for, so it all depends how the individual reads into it. One thing I do think is great is about the venue, is what once was a monument to organised religion is now used as a place for people to freely express themselves through music. There’s a symbolic victory in there somewhere.
Olly: I feel like most of my life is tinged with a great sense of irony.
Jack: Do you think black metal has matured a lot since its origins?
Luke: To imply it has matured runs the risk of saying where it stems from may be considered immature. I think it has grown upwards and outwards, and has continued to legitimise itself as a genre by the way it has amalgamated into other genre’s and been interpreted in various ways. The core of it should always be acknowledged and respected though as those are the bonds that link.
Olly: It’s spread from its origins for sure, It had to otherwise it would have become stale. I don’t like all of its iterations but that’s irrelevant. No ones forcing me to listen to anything…well apart from Ryan…I hate Ryan.
Jack: The Arts Centre gig is for MetalRecusants 5th anniversary, how important is online journalism for metal music?
Ryan: Much like venues, there’s not a lot of print media that will give up and coming bands the time of day so the shift towards online is fantastic for those who want to find something outside of the mainstream.
Olly: The internet’s on computers now?
Jack: What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any new music coming up?
Luke: We are recording it right now. It’s hard to not want to talk about it more, but I can say we are more confident this time round, more sure of what we are about and what we want to achieve, and man, it’s sounding nuts. It really just is a summation of our growth as a band.
Jack: Finally, what is the best black metal album of all time?
Luke: A question with a lot of possible answers, I know what mine are. But maybe something best discussed in person after a show we play!
Ryan: I don’t think I could pick just one, depends on what mood I’m in on any given day.
Olly: [Laughs] I’m not touching this loaded question with a 10 foot black metal themed pole. The opening to Crom Dubh’s Decline and Fall is probably the best riff I’ve heard in a decade (sorry it took me 6 years to finally listen to it!)
You can win tickets to see Terra at the Arts Centre with Winterfylleth, Fen and The King is Blind here.