Interview: RINGS OF SATURN
The otherworldly and technically stunning extreme metal masters known as Rings Of Saturn made their presence known back in 2009. The goal was to indoctrinate the metal masses using the world's most massive social networks to their advantage, and the project has been a huge success. From the launch of the first album Embryonic Anomaly in 2010, to the unleashing of the viscous new release known as Ultu Ulla which comes out July 28th, it didn't take long for the aliencore infection to spread, creating a loyal following of 'minions' who's devotion to the band was immediate and remains steadfast. The invasion of Rings Of Saturn is a permanent one, earthlings, as we got to speak with the incredible drummer of the band, Aaron Stechauner about their new album, working on a new label and lots of other interesting things.
Congratulations first of all on your fourth studio album Ultu Ulla. Are you excited to show the world what you've been working on?
Yeah, we' really are, man. Especially because of how long the entire process has been from the writing to delays with getting the album submitted and finished, and now with the whole promotional process of when we actually submitted the record, we're super excited for it to come out, and we think that everybody's gonna dig it a lot.
Nice. How's it been working with Nuclear Blast in the lead up to this new album?
That has been one of the coolest parts, honestly. I love all of the people over there and it's been real painless working with them, and everything's just run really smoothly, and it's also been really fun. Outside of the business aspect, I'll bump into different people I know from Nuclear Blast at concerts and stuff like that, and we'll just hang out. I couldn't be happier with the family we have as a record label.
Is it a bit easier now with Nuclear Blast, compared to a D.I.Y process?
Yeah, yeah, it definitely is. More work, but that's because everything that we're doing is going towards more or less the promotion of this record, so the work doesn't really feel like work because it's everything that we wanted to happen. It's effort that not necessarily went down the drain in the past but is now into areas that I guess..... I'm trying to think of how I want to word things, but yeah, to answer your question, it's definitely much smoother than when we were with Unique Leader.
So what have you guys done differently this time around when recording the new album? Any major changes or any different styles?
Yeah, when writing and recording the record, absolutely. It's pretty different, the process and the product to the last Rings album. With the addition of myself and Miles in the band, naturally when you're getting new members replacing the old members, you're going to get something different. So what we've been saying, through every question asked with people interviewing us, or fans or friends or whatever, is that Rings of Saturn has a few key ingredients that we sort of know that we have to keep in order to keep the band what it is, but in doing that, we're able to write things that are new and fresh and isn't just a regurgitation of old stuff while keeping those elements present in the band so that people, when they hear it, they know straight away that it's Rings of Saturn, but they know that it's something new and it's something exciting.
You guys are like one of the few bands in the genre that, if you do something a tiny bit different, the whole internet's going to go crazy...
Yeah, exactly, but it works out. Whether or not you know some people are bothered by that, that maybe we're doing something differently the way that we want to do it, I would say that overall everything is positive. With this band too, fans are so die hard that whenever there's something negative to be said, there is a whole horde of people to jump on it to squash whatever is being said, so that's a cool aspect of the band, too. Like I said, it allows us to be a little more free with what we want to write and how we want to put everything together.
Have you always had a death metal and extreme metal drumming background?
No, I haven't. I've not always had a background in extreme drums, no, when I first started out playing, I liked a lot of progressive music. That's what my dad had gotten me into, bands like Dream Theater, that was when I was super young, but when I started going to school for music and joining music programs and stuff like that, I was playing a lot of jazz drums, through junior high, all the way up through college, and then some jazz bands and music programs outside of school too. So i had done that, and when I was in high school, I would be in bands that I had started myself, like progressive metal groups, but nothing ever extreme or fast until when I was about 17 or 16, that's when Miles and I started jamming fast music that actually began our bands now, Interloper. So to answer your question, no, it hasn't always been that way, it's only been over the past few years that I've started to play speed metal music.
Very cool. Now, your album artwork has always been very awesome, have you guys had the same person do those designs for you?
All except the first album, Embryonic Anomaly, was done by a guy named Tony Cool. But I believe that the logo had been done by Mark Cooper and ever since then for Dingir, Lugal Ki En and now for Ultu Ulla, it's been Mark from Mindrape Art. The title definitely fits his style for sure.
Can you describe the meaning behind the album title, Ultu Ulla for everyone and where it came from?
Yeah, so with the last couple of records, Ian (vocalist) came up with the titles and it's Sumerian cuneiform and I guess what I believe is that Sumerian is allegedly a language that is tied with ancient aliens throughout history. So I think that it's colloquially accepted that Sumerian is in relation with alien type stuff, and so whenever Ian comes up with a name for the record he'll come up with an English title that fits his concept or story for the record and then he'll just look up online the translation from English to Sumerian.
Very interesting. You guys get to see the World and tour some amazing places with some amazing bands. Do you have any particular favourites that you enjoy sharing the stage with?
This dates back all the way to 2013, but a band that I used to play for and that Miles used to be in also called Aenimus, to this day they're still one of my favourite bands to hang out and play with, they're some of my best friends and they're all really great dudes. Whenever they come through town, not only myself but all of our friends hang out with them, but also my parents will invite them over and have them stay and look after them if I'm out of town or something and they can't stay at mine. So yeah, definitely those guys. Fit For An Autopsy, touring with them is great. I mean, most of the bands that we tour with are just really great dudes. Lorna Shore are rad, and I really like touring with Fallujah, and there's Aversions Crown who are awesome and also Carnifex. Every now and then you'll run into somebody that you or someone else might butt heads with but for the most part everybody has been really awesome and I've made a lot of great friends on tour.
Speaking of Fallujah, we just found out recently that Alex (vocalist) has decided to leave the band, that's pretty crazy news right?
Yeah, that was a big surprise! Well, I think Miles had been talking to Scott, their guitarist, about it not too long ago before it had been announced because we had been asking if he knew any good contenders for the open spot. But yeah, I saw that announcement today and it's crazy that he left because he was such a huge part of that band.
Oh yeah for sure, it's quite sad news. Back to the new album, are you hoping that it will lead Rings Of Saturn to a possible tour of Australia at some stage?
Yeah absolutely, that's something that I've been talking to a lot of people about with all of the press interviews and whatnot. We have had a few opportunities and offers to go and for whatever reason they have fallen through or we were unable to do it at the time. But we definitely want to and look forward to hitting up Australia some time next year with the way things are looking right now. Maybe this year, but I doubt it, so that definitely means next year you will see Rings Of Saturn touring Australia. I would love to go, it's something I've wanted to do for a very long time.
Were you in the band back in 2013 when the Summer Slaughter tour has about to happen and it came down to Thy Art Is Murder and Rings Of Saturn for the final slot to play the tour? There was like 1% in the votes between both bands and it caused quite a controversy.
No, I wasn't in the band at the time but I definitely know about it. We have toured with them since that went down last year I believe in April and May for the Coffin Dragger tour, we were direct support for them and it was a really fun time and we became good friends with them. They had their buddy Lochlan filling in on vocals at the time when CJ wasn't around, but I met CJ a couple of times now and I really like him as well.
What's been your favourite moment for you personally being in Rings Of Saturn?
Geez, that's always a tough one. I think just anything that has to do with people really. Either making really good friends with people on the road and in other bands or else making really cool friends that just came out to the shows and then you hang out with them and go to stay at their house or whatever. Bumping into fans that tell you that we are their favourite band or that I'm their favourite drummer or that this band inspired them or changed them or even helped them through some kind of adversary. I think those are some of the cooler moments because that is how I was when I was a kid and when I was a younger fan of metal and music growing up, I would say the same thing and I would be stunned to meet my favourite drummers and I would tell them the same things that I get told. To be in those shoes now and to see that what I'm doing has the similar effect that is once had on me, like how it kept on inspiring me to keep practicing and keep going, that's a beautiful thing man.
Yeah totally, very good response. All the best for your album release and your upcoming show, and thanks so much for taking the time out from your busy schedule to chat today. Did you have any words for your Aussie fans before you take off?
Just that we hope to see you guys out there and we hope you enjoy the new record, we hope you guys get to know it because we will be playing a lot of the new material from Ultu Ulla when we head across to Australia which will hopefully be very soon.
Ultu Ulla is out worldwide July 28th via Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-order here.