No. 39. June 2007.
Interview by Alex Briller. Published abridged.
MELLIFEROUS HERBS AND SUNLIGHT
The Meander project, wich is playing self-defined Atmospheric Dark Light Metal broke out with itís second EP called "A Song for the Sun" last month.
We had an opportunity to talk about it with the creator and in fact the only participant of Meander Tim aka Stab Venom.
A new chapter of the same book
—First of all, how could that happen, that You are writing and recording music alone, not even trying to gather a band?
—Well, since the fall of the Inner Sea (my first band), wich costed me too much nerves to start a band over again I've decided to do it all alone. Thanks to technical progress nowadays, itís not unimagionable to do everything alone.
Truely to say, I enjoy it much more, then letting my self-expression through the grind of "bands arranging" every time. We had too less in common to understand each other. So less, that it continiously had caused troubles.
—Does it mean, that the Inner Sea has been a one-man-orientied band, so other band members could not participate in the process? Then why wasn't it called a solo-project?
—No, you take it incorrectly. Anyone could compose music in Inner Sea. And it was very welcomed by me. And when ideas fitted quite wide style of the Inner Sea, I was happy to play them. For example, "Far-away", "Sunset" and, in part, "12th of April, 1524" and "Thy Stars" were composed by others. I still find these compositions remarkable.
The problems appeared when I have been bringing songs written by my own. Then we had an argues and obstruction. I can stand critics, if itís about "this change of theme sounds a bit sudden", or even "like-dislike", but not "I wonít switch a sound here", or "noway I gonna drum slower on a break-part!". Itís nothing to talk about.
In addition it took years (literally) to learn any new song. Too much beer, to much obcsenity, too little music and thinking.
—Now, itís the age of solo-project Meander. Why is it called so, and why is it not simply "Stab Venom"?
—Do you have a child? If Youíll had, would his name be the same as your is? That is exactly why Meander is not Stab Venom. Iím only parent who is proud and happy with my child.
—Where the Meander name came from?
—Huh, that was difficilt. In fact, I love the Inner Sea name very much. It contains a word "sea", it contains the inner message, a conception, it sounds nice, still complicated, and for that moment there have been no Inner Sea band in the world (now there is one more, in France).
So, for a time it seemed simply impossible to find the name as good to continue my own way.
But after about two month of thinking I had a definite signs (from above), and the Meander appeared.
—You may say so :-)
I have been sitting on a bus, listening Dream Theaterís "Pull me under" in my mp3-player. It has been a sunny lovely day and I thought how would it be nice to spend it at the seashore in Greece, breathing a fresh sea air instead of the gasoline stink downtown.
Then Iíve started to recall those beautiful days, and how the tongues of sparkling foam were drawing meanders on the sand when there was a storm this summer. Then I thought that Greeks found out the meander-ornament not only by the river in Phrygia (Turkey nowadays), but certainly with the help of seawaves as well. Suddenly, Iíve noticed, that James La Brie in my ears is singing "Pull Meander, pull Meander, pull Meander, Iím not afraid"...
That was amazing and funny.
But next moment to the seat in front of me sat a girl with a meander tatoo around her shoulder.
That was like a kick. How could I ignore?
—Amazing indeed! But does the Meander fit the conception of music you write?
—Absolutely. When Iíve started to taste this name I felt that itís exactly what I have been searching for. See for yourself. The river Meander is flowing into the Aegean Sea, the sea that I visit and love the most. The meaning of the word fits the music I write as well. My friend Demon P always says, that Iím getting too complicated in writing music. As well, the progressive influence has been noticed in the Inner Sea music by different reviewers. In Meander Iím no longer forced to limit these tendecies of mine, as I had to do in previous band (it was about searching a compromisse. From my side).
Thenagain, "to meander" is a kind of synonym to a word "to wander".
And what I suggest in a recent project is an adventure, a walk with an aim of walking, seing wonderfull and fascinating things around you, not about reaching a concrete place, but about finding out more about your environment.
—Are these aims are different from the aims of the Inner Sea?
—Partialy, yes. Inner Sea conception, as follows from the title itself, first of all was about humanís Inner Sea, his soul, and reflections of the Outer World (the Nature) in it.
Meander is more contemplating, because I feel I have reached the understanding of my Inner Sea inward. Now I explore the Outside World with all itís amazing life forms, unbelievable flora and landscapes beyond description.
Er... Not even explore. I find it and I contemplate.
—Is the conception of the Inner Sea is still the same with you left?
—Definitely not. Concerning to the words of present Inner Sea leader, drummer Salz: "From now on, the conception is having no conception at all".
Contemplation and thoughts
—Would You tell some words on how the title of Meanderís second EP "A Song for the Sun" did appear?
"Songs" are the twinbrother of "A Tune for the Moon" EP wich has been released in December 2006. And a mental extention of the "Twilightide. Contemplation and Thoughts" longplay wich will be released soon.
"Tunes" is extended Contemplation part from the "Twilightide" and contain only instrumental compositions. With "Songs" I present the Thoughts part, that may be called reflections on the surface of my Inner Sea. If the first one was just gazing and breathing, this second one is, in fact, the image of the same things passed through the prism of me personally.
The titles, yes.
Tunes are ment to be more melodic, atmopsheric, and as I said, instrumental. If to compare it with some part of a day, itís the end of Twilight. Silent, beautiful, standing still Twilight. And as the sky gets deeper blue, first the Moon, then the stars appear.
So I hear melodies from the environment, I hear them being dedicated to the Moon. And so do I.
On the other hand, the Sun and the sunlight are filling me with happyness, you know like those mornings in childhood, when you wake up happy, with the sun in your window and a turtle-dove greeting you. And you know, that endless-long day will bring you thousands of treasures and discoveries, the whole world is for you and forever. I still remember that precius feeling, and I appreciate that.
So if to sing a full-throat, it should be a hymn to the Sun.
—What the lyrics you write are about?
—Lyrics in "A Song for the Sun" are compiled mostly to the theme of the Day. Err... To a lively Daytime.
In fact, the Sun itself is present in every song, except for the "Skybelt". But there the stars show up, and the Sun is a star as well, after all, so the theme is not lost (smiling cunningly).
And the whole song is about little fireflies, wich do the constelations of the Skybelt by their flickering light, and unite sky and earth. There are some more meanings, but Iíd like a listener to figure them out by his/her own. Just pay attention :-)
—Are the other songs as complicated as well? Usually, how many levels do You pack in a song?
—In general, yes; I avoid writing a flat lyrics, except as I do it on purpose, like in a two-layered "Dancing within a Spring", thereís almost nothing, but celebration.
—Who is celebrating what?
—Flowers, nymphs and fairies are celebrating the Spring. Nothing complicated.
But in other songs... Generally about three or four level is included.
I remember about five in "Underwater Skies".
—Impressive. Is it hard to compose everything alone?
—Not indeed. Much more easy, then to explain anyone what Iíd like to hear back (and what I would not).
—Lyrics used to be the weekest point in rock music. Agree?
—Definitely. I had a numerous disappointments, when getting to know what they sing about.
Mostly I hate one-lined refrains.
But, certainly, there are exceptions as well, when lyrics are just as well as the music.
I know a one-lined-song (song!) even, that I adore. Itís Type O Negativeís "Burnt flowers fallen". They did it geneously.
—Now, when you write lyrics... When do you feel it completed?
—As soon as I feel smells, hear sounds and see things instead of reading lines.
But not before Iím saticified with the condition of conceptions layers inside (they should be visible through staying semi-transparent), and the words I use should not match things already done. To be happy with new lyrics I need fresh rhymes, fresh complicated words like "inflorescence" and "resiniferous" in it.
—How strickt are you to yourself? Are there some "filling space" lines in the songs of Meander?
—No, no way. Nor in Meander, either in Inner Sea. Iím not strickt to myself as you say. I simply do not have desire to sing something unimportant, instead of putting meaning in to every word. Lyrics are thoughts in my case. They have to make sence.
When Iím not in the mood for rhyming down my imaginations I simply wait for a while. That happens. For example, the song called "Sun in an Amber" has been composed and recorded around 20th of October, 2006. And lyrics were accomplished only on the 12th of May this year. But they are exactly as Iíd like them to be.
Air and lights
—The music of Meander is quite hard to define by style. Iíve heared influences of Amorphis, Paradise Lost and Type O Negative in it, right? In some places itís well spiced with ethnic, psychodelia and progressive elements as well. Are these part of an Atmospheric Dark Light as you call your style?
—That looks so, if I take you rightly. Atmospheric Dark Light style has been fictioned out to fit the conception and the sound I wanted my music to sound like. You hit the point by naming Type O Negative, others of the mentioned had much less influence on me. Through I can not deny it, naturally. Still, TON and Lake Of Tears are thoose, who gave me plenty in feeling the Nature through the music.
Not to forget Oliver Shanti and "Buddha and Bonsai" project. Thatís where from I receive an inspiration for some eastern ethnic.
There is Gar Marna and Finntroll, if itís about north.
Thuaten di Dannan is a perfect band from Brazil, they absolutely won my heart by celtic(!) tunes.
Dream Theater brings prog elements to my world, through plenty of German groups (Running wild, Rage, Rammstein, etc.) give mood, besides some extremly good movie soundtracks.
This is what I listen, and this is what definitely influences me in composing.
So, how should I call the style after all?
Something wide as an Atmosphere, and variating from Dark to Light, from Day to Night. Something like that, probably.
—How seriously you take composing, is it your main life occupation?
—No, itís not. Iím a physiotherapist by my graduation, but for the time I cannot find a job. Itís getting strange and scary already. But it doesnít mean, that I do not take music seriously. I never went to musical school, I know almost nothing of music, I cannot read a score. But I take my hobby as serious as I can. Still, I do not have such a stress like I had in the band. Iím happy to be able to compose lightly.
—On the Meanders website itís possible to download mp3ís of all the songs. As well itís readable, that Meander is a non-profit project. How can it be so?
—Easily. I do not get any profit from my hobby. Still, itís possible to offer from me a color-printed CD in a little better quality. But I wonít get the profit in that case either. Everything will be donated.
—Donated? To whom you donate a profit?
—Iíve decided to donate to Gerald Durrells conservating trust, wich is situated on the New Jersey Island.
—Why them, not anyone else? For example a Greenpeace?
—You know, in my childhood I adored reading G.D. books. Especially the Corfu trilogy.
There were sunlight, unbelievably blue sea, there were fantastic animals and nice people. It was about Greece, wich mythology and ancient culture I have been very found of.
I lived in a Soviet Union then, and vaguely realized, that never in my life I would have a chance to see it with my own eyes, hear those sounds, feel that smell... But there were dreams. And changes later.
So I appreciate, that Durrell gifted me dreams later to come true.
This is a very personal in my relation to him and his literature.
And of course, the trust nowadays does the work cannot be delayed: they save species that are dying out extremely fast, the count goes for days, and the quantity of individuals for pieces.
I canít watch this while doing nothing.
But I would not like to have anything in common with Greenpeace. I dislike their methods and aims, quite strongly.
—Well, hope it will work at least a bit. Wish You lots of success in further writing outstanding music, contemplating and finding out things! What would you wish to regard our readers?
—Thank You for wishes. To the readers... Hm... May be, to look around more, see the beauty of the World we still live in. If every single person will do something for it, or at least, would do something NOT, the Nature will have more chances to keep alive. So, we will have more chances to stay alive as well.
Meander music project homepage: www.meanders.eu
© Alex Briller, 2007.