Are you a fan of melodic black metal? Do you crave darkness in your music, but still like some vibrant and addictive streaks of colour amidst the blackness? If the answer is yes, then you could do a whole lot worse than checking out Uhtcearu’s début album The Plight of Wanderers. Zach Ostrowski, (bass/vocals), took time out from weaving dark magics to give us a bit more info on this US band…
What are your influences?
We have a ton of influences that range musically from death and black metal to genres of classic rock, fusion, jazz, and prog.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Here are 5 bands:
Northless – https://northless.bandcamp.com
Vukari – https://vukari.bandcamp.com
Capture the Sun – http://music.capturethesunband.com
Vow of Thorns – https://vowofthorns.bandcamp.com
Hot Coffin – https://hotcoffin.bandcamp.com
Honorable Mention – Mgla – https://no-solace.bandcamp.com
Give us a bit of background to The Plight of Wanderers – how were the songs written?
The Plight of Wanderers came about after the band Arbor, who myself and Noel (drums) were both members and Dustin filled in as a touring guitarist, decided it was time to disband. The three of us felt it was a great idea that we start writing music together. This album we have written reflects the journey of creating a new band and sound together and the sacrifice and reward that can come from setting out on new pathways, getting through life, and reorienting society to a better path. Some of the themes are very metaphoric while others are quite literal. But I think we have found that all of them tie back into the main theme behind Uhtcearu: a hoping for a better time to come, but also the experience of tough times, the most trying hours before the sun begins to rise.
Our songs were written a little differently than any of us were used to composing music previously. Since Dustin resides in St. Paul, MN and Noel and myself live near Milwaukee, WI, the distance between us was of course a factor. For the most part, the songs were written collaboratively by sending demos back and forth to each other. Some, like “Searching for the Dawn” were almost directly taken from collective jams between the three of us, which resulted in some pretty interesting song progressions. Others, like “Rite of Passage” were based on certain riffs that were formed into a coherent song. And lastly some, like “Epoch Breaker” were written as nearly complete songs. Each style has a slightly different flavour I think.
How do you think your music will progress in the future?
Our future music will be greatly influenced by any new inspirations and experiences that we come across in our lives as people and musicians. Not setting our sites solely on any specific musical direction or genre fulfilment is very important. I think the music will remain in the melodic realm but I think we may venture into exploring “darker” sounds. I’m not totally sure what I even mean by that, but that’s what I’ve been feeling as I’ve been writing riffs for the next songs. It kind of depends where our moods are at as we write music and what our recent life experiences and reflections are saying to us. Trying to force music out of yourself is never a healthy or usually successfully method.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Personally, my favourite is ‘Searching for the Dawn’. That song started out with a single riff that Dustin presented to Noel and myself that turned into a monster of a song. I think it is the most stylistically unique song on the album and is emotionally powerful and relevant, without becoming cliché or derivative.
How did you choose the cover artwork?
As Arbor, we played a show with Vit from Columbus, Ohio on one of our tours, who was fronted by Nate Burns, a prolific artist who we really wanted to work with once we saw his talent. A candle seemed an appropriate image for the theme of the band and the music. We sent Nate those ideas of what we had in mind for the imagery and slowly he produced an incredible piece of art for us to use.
How important is good album art to you?
I think today, given the explosion of visual culture online and the resurgence of record stores, album art is increasingly important. A lot of people don’t think about it, but the visual artwork is really the true first impression of the band in many cases. There are a good chunk of people interested in music that will not even give you the time of day, let alone a single listen if your album art looks amateur or completely generic. So it is really important that the aesthetic of the album visually contributes to the album as a whole. I think if people are intrigued by the art they will be more likely to give the music a chance.
What inspires you to play music?
Life and its experiences inspire me to play music. Music clears my head and relaxes me when stress invades. There have been countless experiences that have inspired me to play/write music as well as from hearing a piece of music that have brought forth feelings that no other experience could ever trigger. It provides a chance to express myself that I can share with others, hoping that it is something that they can also enjoy and take with them in some way.
Why should someone listen to you?
I guess I’m going to reject the question a little, because I don’t think its a question of “should” that I’m concerned about. When I think about the goal of Uhtcearu’s music I think it is not summed up by saying: “People should listen to this music!” It seems it’s more like: “I hope we can write something people want to listen to.” I do think Uhtcearu has a pretty unique combination of elements and that we have created something special that may speak to a wide variety of people who enjoy metal and heavy music, but I don’t think music is a normative thing, there is no right thing to listen to, no “should”. I guess my answer would be: you should listen to Uhtcearu because you might enjoy it and want to revisit the music again. It’s really as simple as that.
What are the next steps for Uhtcearu?
We plan to get out and start playing plenty of shows as performing a memorable live set is really the best kind of self-promotion. We have already begun writing new music so recording some new tracks within the year, possibly an EP, possibly another full length is on the horizon. Depending on how things progress, a few small regional tours as well as a larger national/Canadian tour are also things we will be considering. The response so far has been excellent and overwhelmingly positive, so we are eager to press on with Uhtcearu.