Interview: Tim Yatras of GERM, AUTUMN'S DAWN, AUSTERE, PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS + More
Words/Interview by Alex Logan
Slowing down isn’t something Tim Yatras intends to do. The widely gifted musician has been active in the Australian national scene for close to two decades, with a vast reputation for clinical, infused and vibrant music spanning the genre spectrum.
Beginning his early career on the New South Wales South Coast, Yatras made his mark as a key figure in the second wave of Australian black metal. Part of two piece depressive kings Austere, other appearances on albums from Pestilential Shadows and Nazxul set in stone his standing within the scene. In 2010, Yatras began to branch out into other styles and genres of music - as acoustic, pop and synth elements began to feature heavily in his finished product.
Now based in Brisbane and focusing on main project Germ and side project Autumn’s Dawn, I caught up with Yatras over email to get a bit more insight on the man behind the sound.
There’s no disputing you have a brilliant synergy with talented musicians across a number of genres that you’ve collaborated with over many years. How were you able to build such an impressive network since Day 1?
I'm not sure really, I guess luck played a part in it! Way back when I first started playing in bands I guess I was a kind of an "in demand" drummer for a while. I guess that kick-started everything and it all just spiraled from there.
Do you see the different types of music you now play a natural progression from what you first started to play?
I don't really think about it. I've always been really open minded and had diverse tastes when it comes to music, and have always dabbled in a number of different styles. I guess what I can say is when I first started as a musician I was really concerned with technical ability - even if I didn't always show it in the music i was doing - whereas nowadays I'm way more into just creating the right feel or atmosphere. Ability on an instrument just allows you to create what's in your head easier.
Over the years, how has inspiration and source for lyrics changed for you?
Lyrics have always been a bit of a struggle for me. I just find it difficult sometimes to express what I want to say through words - it's easier to do through music. Having said that, I'd like to think I've "grown up" a bit with my lyrics haha! Reading back some of the stuff I wrote in my late teens and early twenties is sometimes a little cringe worthy. One thing that has stayed the same though is that I'm still dealing mostly with negative subjects. As you move through life you just draw inspiration from different things.
It’s relatively unique for somebody whose created such brilliantly depressive black metal to be composing songs for various markets in the Asian pop scene. What was the appeal for you?
I'm not doing the Asian pop composing anymore, as I just found the deadlines too fast and things like that. The songs were just getting pumped out as quick as possible, often before they were ready. I must say, though, that at the height of it I was loving the challenge. I'm not super into the Asian pop scene nowadays, however there's a lot of great stuff I still listen to from the 90's and early 00's especially, so it was not such a far stretch as you might imagine to be doing that. We were also working for a guy who had written for and produced some of the biggest and best selling artists in Japanese music history, so it was a massive honour to be writing that stuff for him.
It’s impressive the vast array of instruments you play across all the different groups you’ve been in. What’s your favourite instrument and why?
I started out on drums, and to this day it's still the instrument I'm the most technically proficient on. I also love playing guitar, both acoustic and electric, and usually compose most BM stuff I do with a guitar first. My favourite instruments to play though are synthesizers. I love diving deep into the sound design side of things, and creating a certain sound that you hear in your head can sometimes be just as rewarding as a riff or melody.
I’ve always been a big Daniel Johns fan so when I listened to Germ for the first time - my first impression was an ideal mix of Austere and The Dissociatives. How would you best describe Germ’s sound?
I'm a big fan of Daniel Johns too, an insanely talented guy. I've always thought of Germ's sound on the early material as Burzum crossed with Jean Michel Jarre, with some poppy hooks thrown in. As time went on I guess Germ sort of gravitated back to BM a bit more, with less of the 70's and 80's style synth sounds. The new album (which was written between 2014 - 2016 and will hopefully be out late this year) I would say is kind of the definitive Germ sound. Not as bleak as Escape, not as synth heavy as Wish, but a nice balance, while also bringing some new things to the table.
You’ve been in a few different bands and had guest spots in others over the years, including Brazil’s Thy Light. Which group would you say was the most obscure yet rewarding experience?
Yeah Thy Light is great. I've been friends with Paolo for years, and he actually played guitar for Germ when we did Dark Bombastic Evening fest in Romania back in 2018. As for rewarding ones, Skyforest comes to mind, I think that album turned out really well. As I mentioned, doing the stuff for Thy Light was great, there's been too many to remember, haha! I've also added little things here and there to bands and songs while working as a producer, sometimes that can be the most rewarding.
It’s been a pleasure listening to Tim Yatras for the last fifteen years. What can we expect from the next fifteen?
Wow, 15 years haha! I have no idea what to expect when thinking that far ahead. You can definitely expect a lot more music - in what style we'll have to wait and see, however I'm not going to be stopping anytime soon, as there is so much more I want to say and do with music, and without it, I'd probably be dead.
Listen to Autumn's Dawn's latest track "Movie Scene" taken from the upcoming album 'Dying Ember' below: