Another South African band creating a stir of late has been Erebus! M4A’s Candice set out to hunt them down after being bedazzled by this 6-piece on their tour to Cape Town for RAMFEST III earlier this year. Her pursuit finally bore fruit – it was no easy task, pinning down any of these guys as they work tirelessly towards the release of a debut album! Herewith her findings…
Hunted right into the beasts own lair, Edenvale, Gauteng Province, RSA.
CKB: Hearing you for the first time at Ramfest 09, I must admit that I was completely blown away! If I were wearing a hat right now, I’d take it off to you. We’ve heard through the grapevine that most or all of you are studying music? Please introduce yourselves and tell us more about the focus of your studies and how this influences your style of music.
Erebus: Well, myself (Michiel)-Guitar, Riaan-Keyboards, Colin-Drums and Steven-Bass studied music together, all in various fields including producing, arranging, engineering and of course our instruments involved. Raven-Guitar and Richard-Vocals studied music privately and took some lessons regarding guitar and vocal technique. At the moment we’re all involved in music projects varying from session gigs to cover gigs, freelance engineering, music-production etc. You name it, we probably do it.
Our style spreads all across the musical field, studying music forces you to encompass and embrace all genres. I wouldn’t say that studying makes you better at playing your instrument, that really takes dedication and is up to the individual, and no-one in the group would tell you that they’re happy with their playing at the moment, but it pushes you into the right direction when you do decide to take that step.
CKB: Chatting to some people, I’ve noticed that there’s a bit of a “debate” about your genre; some saying that you’re black metal, while others say that you’re something different, mixing varies elements that contribute to your sound… How would you most accurately describe your musical style and influences?
Erebus: We’re definitely not strictly black-metal, we feel that we’ve evolved a lot from where we started; we’re trying something we love. Our style involves some dark elements and some simply heavy riffing, we like to think that we tell a story, when the story changes mood so does the music. We can’t add the tensions or melodies needed by using distorted guitars so we use a keyboard for that. Our studies in arranging help to make the music slightly more interesting in order to achieve what we want. In our disagreements we all settled for Symphonic Black Death Metal, though we’re really not sure.
Our influences vary from Prog, Fusion, Tech Death to Power metal and definitely newer film music composers such as Silvestri.
CKB: How long has Erebus actually been around for? How did you meet up, and have you all always shared the same vision for the band and its music?
Erebus: Erebus has been around for six years. The original members being Steven and Raven, we have seen three changes in members and the addition of one, the current line-up have been together for roughly three years. I met Steven at college as a student and we started jamming together as a way of practising and joined the band three months later, Riaan joined a year later after he offered to add some synths to our first demo which was originally meant to be a gift for our drummer at that time (Immigrated to USA), I was grouped with a young drummer at college named Colin at that time, we wanted to start a side project from the bands we were in, but instead I asked him to audition for the position at about the same time as Riaan came in. So with the addition of the two new members we rewrote some of the song parts and three weeks later played Grimfest where things just kind of kicked off and we all just kind of locked harmoniously onto the same idea.
CKB: Ok, like a good little girl, I’ve been waiting patiently for any news on the album that Steven got me all excited about at Ramfest. So tell me, how is the album coming along, what is to be expected, and when is it due to be released? We want details dammit!
Erebus: The idea for the album started August 2008, we decided to take things really slowly and make sure that we deliver a good product at the end of the day. It took six months to write the accompanying orchestral arrangement while recording drums, Bass guitar, Guitar, Samples, Synth and additional percussion as well as pre-production for vocals in between. The album is so nearly finished we can’t wait anymore. We’ve recently been in to re-amp our recorded dry guitar signals and to record vocals. Now it’s down to mixing which will take roughly about two weeks and finally mastering and another week. So touching wood, we’d say about a month to finish the album and a week to print the CD’s and designs which we’re also very proud of.
CKB: Any plans for a tour up your sleeves? Or are you holding out for an album launch?
Erebus: We’ve avoided doing tours for quite a while now after Ramfest, since we did not feel the show went well for us and we made a decision to concentrate on our tightness and performance. But we have played a bunch of shows over the last few months in order to raise the funds needed for the last stages of the album. Our drummer will be touring as a session drummer for our friends Contrast the Water on their European debut end of July and upon his return we’re launching the album with a tour through Gauteng, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, maybe Zimbabwe and PE as well. Those are all in the pipeline and should be confirmed soon.
CKB: Speaking of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, your first live appearances in those areas were at Metal4Africa’s WinterFest’08 and pre-party in June last year. How was that experience for you guys, and what was your first impression of Cape Town ?
Erebus: The Cape Town trip last year was a great experience, we were fortunate enough to have some good contacts in regards to equipment transporting and management of the tour and if it had not been for them we’d probably be hiking back to JHB. The shows themselves gave us a bit of insight to the scene especially the M4A WinterFest’08 show. I think we learnt that Black Metal runs strong, closely followed by Death Metal, but since then with the sudden emergence of Slam Dancing it might have changed. We were amazed to see how young the crowd was, we felt like old farts. JHB typically sees ages of 18-24 and Durban seems to be more mature with crowd ages 21-27. We guess thats the reason why the crowd at Winterfest was so lively, it really encouraged us to put up a good show, and it payed off. We enjoyed every aspect of it, especially the professionality in regards to time scheduling and the execution of it, clockwork! Everyone got their chance and bands didn’t overstep their assigned times… I think.
CKB: What are your thoughts on initiatives, such as Metal4Africa, aimed at building and strengthening Africa’s metal community?
Erebus: We think it’s a great initiative, There aren’t a great amount of organisations willing to take the risk for such a small community in comparison to others, we think it’s what makes the metal community so interesting, they form a brotherhood of people who don’t just attend to pick up chicks or get wasted, but for the purpose of listening and appreciating the art of alternative music with a deeper message and opinion. You seem to want to emphasize that and we think when people realise that, the metal community will grow from strength to strength.
CKB: Taking the name “Erebus” into account, one generally thinks of darkness and shadows. With varies metal genres out there, would you say that you have a specific “type” of audience that your music attracts?
Erebus: Not really, we think it’s a question of geography and the community within it. In JHB we see all kinds of crowds as the festivals cater for all genres of metal and hard rock, we’ve only done Cape Town twice and were surprised to see corpse paint in full swing at our shows, Durban seems to be the Goths and Pretoria as well. Maritzburg is very much like JHB. Our music is universal and we’ve done many festivals covering all genres where the most unexpected people have come up on stage after a show to say thank you for playing, that’s really special and means that we’re reaching out a lot further than we thought.
CKB: It seems now, more than any time before, people who listen to and support local metal, are becoming somewhat fragmented in their preferences of music. You’ll notice this when you hear people saying things like, “it’s not brutal enough”, or “it’s not black enough”, or “its too old-school”, or it’s too nu-school, and the list goes on… With regard to the music of Erebus, would you say that your band has had some challenging encounters with people trying to identify / relate with you? Would you say it’s generally positive, or have you observed a darker side to the scene of today?
Erebus: There’s a strange rivalry forming between the traditional metallers and new slamdancers in JHB. The older crowds seem to be more accepting while the newer guys tend to get pickier. We haven’t had a lot of problems with it and we think it’s very healthy for the community because it forces a person to up your game if that is what you want. As for us, we’ve been trying to stay away from the politics involved and simply stick to what we do. If people like the music that’s great, if they don’t that’s great too, we just want to play what we love.
CKB: Because you’re one of the few bands that aren’t afraid to be “different” when it comes to your music, what has the response been so far – from fans and other bands alike?
Erebus: We’ve had nothing but great news from everyone involved at shows. The bands we generally play with have great respect for each other and we do for them, the crowds have been amazing and response very positive. Different isn’t bad, change is inevitable as long as you remain open to the idea, everyone we’ve met so far seems to think of it in the same way.
CKB: As for future plans? What’s the next step after the album?
Erebus: Well right now it’s all about the album and marketing involved. We really want to have some form of success locally but that’s asking for a bit much considering the size of the metal market, instead we’re focusing our attention on Europe, we’ve managed to secure a couple of meetings with some distribution and managing companies in the near future and we’re planning a month long tour for perhaps end of next year. So depending on the quality of the album there might be some good news involved, Wish us luck
Good luck, Erebus
We at M4A wish Erebus all of success with their album, and hope to land a copy for our reveiw section! But otherwise, it’s been great to chat with a band who holds such a positive outlook (even despite the sinsiter overtones of thier image – lol) on their place within the scene.