There’s not much more I can say about Wild Throne. Over the past year I’ve featured their music as Record of the Day, Video of the Day and featured their new record – Harvest of Darkness – as a New Release, a record that is also very high on my records of the year list.
The only thing left was to track them down for a Q&A.
But before we get into that I am going to preach anyway. Wild Throne are one of the most exciting heavy rock bands to come my way in a long time; the first time I heard The Wrecking Ball Unchained, I remember sitting at my desk muttering to myself. Believe me, if you like your music heavy, it doesn’t get much heavier while still maintaining song-craft and melody. I quickly tracked down a copy of their EP – Blood Maker on vinyl (if anyone has the red vinyl for sale – I’m interested!).
In the meantime the band signed to Roadrunner Records and prepared to release their debut full-length and so I waited.
It was worth the wait. Harvest of Darkness is a 55 minute sonic storm – original, heavy and accomplished, taking cues from post-hardcore like Blood Brothers, or the insanity of The Mars Volta, as well as hints of Zeppelin, Maiden, Mastodon. At times listening to it is like being locked in a dark room with a strobe light – their music is wild, frenetic, and relentless and it’s one of the best releases of 2015.
Guitarist – vocalist Josh Holland was kind enough to answer some questions.
Joshua Holland – guitar/vocals
Noah Burns – drums
Jeff Johnson – bass
First of all the new record – Harvest of Darkness is spectacular! It takes me back to the days of becoming immersed in an album as a whole – what is the concept or theme behind HoD?
Thank you. It was a very challenging album for us to make. We knew we wanted to do something kind of outrageous and pushing ourselves so far past our comfort zone to achieve that wasn’t without a fair amount strain and stress. Those emotions are pretty heavily baked into the theme of the album and provided this x-factor of emotion that we were going for. We just tried to write music and lyrics from a very aggressive, confrontational and subversive place and do it honestly. To basically sum up how endlessly frustrating but impossibly beautiful it is to be a confused little human on a spec of dust in space. That’s what I wanted this album to be about.
The easy road is to describe Wild Throne as metal but sonically your music is more than just metal. How you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard the band?
Usually in a less-is-more way. I don’t mind “hard rock” as a descriptor. That’s pretty vague, but it doesn’t shut out a person who may be interested in us like, say, “prog-xilliary post-psychedelic pop post-thrash and roll” maybe would.
You make a lot of noise for a trio; can you tell us about your gear and how you convey the sound to the live stage?
Sure, we take a lot of care conveying our sound live. Some people don’t think we can pull it off but I think we come a lot closer than some may suspect. I run out of 2 stereo half stacks and use a lot of delays, octaves and loops to create the depth from my end. Jeff’s setup is much more straightforward compared to mine: a classic Ampeg rig with a couple of distortion pedals, and Noah is a secret octopus man so the sky’s the limit when he plays drums, obviously.
Beyond the sonic assault, the intricate, symphonic layout of the tracks on this record sound like they could be played acoustically, on guitar or piano. Describe the Wild Throne writing process.
I take that as a huge compliment! The three of us have been in mostly spazz-out instrumental and super heavy metal bands before this. Wild Throne and Harvest of Darkness is honestly our first foray into anything even close to traditional songwriting. I feel it worked really well. Ross Robinson really recognized that potential in us maybe before we ever did and he brought it out of us and put it in the clear while producing the album. The writing was a huge collaborative effort between the 4 of us and I’m so proud of it.
I’ve got to ask if there is any reverence toward Queensryche? Obviously because of the Pacific Northwest connection, but also the nod to progressive, literate metal.
Not directly, no. But my parents were huge Queensryche fans so that’s some of the first music I ever heard. It followed me all through my childhood so in that way it must be influential on some level. Those dudes also went to the same high school I went to, though decades earlier. So there’s that cosmic connection as well.
I sense a deep connection to literature in your lyrics, deep themes of love and war, and human folly. What inspires the band lyrically?
I just tried to kind of keep it simple lyrically. By simple I mean raw and natural. When I think literature I think dragons and swords and stuff, but I’m more inspired by raw emotion and drama. Love and war for sure, but also beauty, disgust, fear, courage. Those primal dichotomies with so much raw power over the human condition. “Trans” is a victory song, for example, where “Harvest of Darkness” is defeat.