Interview with Ilsa

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Ilsa are one of the best Sludge Metal bands out there. After the electrifying Intoxicantations and now their crushing new album The Felon’s Claw, I’ve been privileged to fire some questions at their drummer, Joshy…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Ilsa is comprised of five people: Orion is the vocalist, Joshy (me) plays drums, Tim plays guitar, Brendan also plays guitar, and Sharad plays bass guitar.

Give us a bit of history to Ilsa

We formed in early 2008 after the guitar player in our former band tried to punch somebody on the other side of a window that happened to be closed. After that, due to a lack of connected tendons in his arm he couldn’t play guitar, and we started Ilsa as a way to take up time while he recuperated. Obviously Ilsa ended up being the main band for us after that.

What are your influences?

Musically I’d say our influences are Bolt Thrower, Amebix, Asphyx, Townes Van Zandt, Dead Moon, Morbid Angel, Burning Witch, The Plasmatics, Thin Lizzy, a bunch of other stuff.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

At this very moment I am listening to Pink Floyd, I would recommend them very highly. Other stuff I’ve been into lately would be Alan Parsons project, Primitive Man, Forn, honestly I listen to a bunch of really lame shit like Air Supply and Chicago and things like that. I’ve really been into Eddie Hazel lately, I think he’s a really underrated guitarist. Oh and the Saga demos from Iron Age are amazing!

Ilsa BandWhat did you want to achieve with your new album?

I wanted to make the heaviest most thought provoking yet lunkheaded album ever recorded.

How do you go about writing the songs?

Generally I write songs in my basement and record them on my computer, then bring them to practice and show everybody and we go from there. Or somebody will bring some riffs to practice and we’ll work with them and build them there. I personally write much better when I’m by myself in my little dungeon

What can you tell us about the lyrics?

Well Orion would be the best at explaining the lyrics, but I can say that one goal that he has always had was to think of our songs as spells and our concerts as rituals. I don’t personally believe in mystical or supernatural powers, but I think that if words were capable of any tangible power like you would find in a ritualistic setting then it would be the veracity behind them that produced it. In that sense, I feel like our songs would have more power than you would find at any church.

What is your favourite song on the album and why?

I think my favorite is Buried In the Bedrock and Concrete of Our Cities, because I think it’s the most successful in my attempts to make a song that has memorable, heavy, and simple riffs.

What do you feel the main differences are between Intoxicantations and The Felon’s Claw – how have you changed between the two releases?

I don’t think there’s a ton different between the two, except I think this one is more focused. I think we were able to approach the idea of making music that is as stripped down as we could make it while still retaining a certain amount of brutality and heaviness in a way that we hadn’t been able to before.

Are you happy with how the album turned out?

I’m very happy with it. It’s my favorite album yet. Of course there are always things you wish you could have changed or tweaked in retrospect, but there are way fewer of those things on this album than any before it.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

Like I mentioned before, the goal for me is to make songs that are as simple and basic as they can be without being boring. I think there are few things that sound as good as a heavy guitar with a solid, driving beat behind it to bang your head to. That’s really all I’m personally trying to do with Ilsa. The other guys may have different goals, but so far whatever our individual ideas are they seem to all be reachable by the same approach, so that’s good.

What’s next for Ilsa?

We’ve got a couple of splits coming out, one with the awesome Japanese death/doom band Coffins, and one with the Hardcore/D-beat band Greta. There’s another split that could possibly happen, but it’s too early to talk about at this point. If it does work out, it could possibly be the heaviest split ever released! We’ve got a few local shows coming up, and we will be playing at Don’t Call it a Fest in Detroit this year with Eyehategod, In Cold Blood, Noisem, and a bunch of others.

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