With „Hostile“, ABORYM finally say goodbye to industrial black metal. Band leader Malfeitor „Fab“ Fabban and drummer Gianluca „Cata“ Catalani talk about a creatively involved producer, the value of lyrics in the streaming age and why they aim to disappoint their fans.
Hello and thank you for taking the time for this interview. Everything good with you?
Fab: We’re all fine, considering we are in the middle of a pandemic…
In the Corona pandemic, this introductory question has taken on a completely different weight. To what extent has the situation influenced you as well as the band, for example, in terms of the new album?
Cata: Surely due to the pandemic we had to slow down some processes, but fortunately pre-production and recording parts had already been completed before the advent of the lockdown. The mixing and mastering phase was followed remotely and, as far as possible, by each of us with our engineer Andrea Corvo in person. Now let’s just hope the situation clears up soon so that we can promote Hostile as it deserves.
Fab: The situation in our region, in Lazio territory seems under control, at this particular time. Similar to what is going on in other areas of Italy, several facilities have dozens of positive cases among their patients, as they were unwittingly exposed to the virus by the personnel there (families were not allowed to visit them since the lockdown began). The increase in cases after summer is almost entirely tied to nursing home patients and to patients with previous pathologies. This is serious what we’re all facing and going through, so I’m just embracing the downtime and keeping busy and hoping we all get through it as quickly as possible. Fortunally nothing really changed for me since I never quit working (i do graphic designer…) and I got the chance to do the latest recording sessions for the new album when the virus was not hitting hard like it was in March and April. Unfortunally our producer Keith Hillebrandt was not able to join us in order to follow the final mixing with us in studio (he lives in Bangkok Thailand) but thanks to internet we were able to do the mixing by remote.
What was his specific function on the album if he was not present during the recording process and also did not mix or master the album?
Fab: Essentially, a producer oversees all aspects of the creation of an album. These can include choice of songs, instruments, the track list too… and how those instruments are played and those notes sung as well as where the song or album is recorded. Like a director is to a film, the music producer is to a song. I met Keith in Bangkok in December 2018 and we talked about the Aborym’s new record, at that time in its songwriting process. I sent him the first demo and he got impressed by the new tracks. To work with a producer like Keith was something really important for us, for the album and for our experience as a band. Keith is also a close friend now… Without any doubs he was a cherry on the top for this record. The album has been mixed by Andrea Corvo, who did a super-excellent job. Same for the mastering. We had the chance to hire a wonderful combo of skilled technicians.
Cata: We work with Keith Hillebrandt in a very creative way, he worked with us in the arrangement process bringing his ideas, and his experience greatly enhancing the songs and giving them to an another level. At the end of the pre-production process we had almost twenty songs in hand, with him we chose the best … the result is what you hear. Unfortunately, due to covid-19, we didn’t have the opportunity to have him with us in the studio, so we worked remotely, but in a very easy and profitable way.
The album is titled „Hostile“ – what does that refer to, what was the idea behind it?
Fab: In retrospect I would say that title represents the best the year we are going to put behind us.
Does that relate to the lyrics, is there some kind of concept behind it?
Fab: No, there is not any particular concept behind the new record. I just thought the title faithfully reflects the album’s unfriendly nature. It refers to the ongoing hostilities we are all living through.We live in an increasingly polarised society and international politics is slowly transforming the system into tribalism. Immigration, tax law, sexual misconduct, gun control…it seems we are plunged ever deeper in a cycle of outrage, distrust and recrimination. People succumbs to moral tribalism. Nevertheless, because people care so deeply about similarities and differences they share with others, even this trivial feature was enough to change their sense of “us” and “them”. And group boundaries seem to mark the line between virtue and vice.
There is a detailed set of liner notes attached to the promo. Not many bands do that – can we conclude that the lyrics are particularly important to you? Willthese liner notes also be published?
Fab: Really don’t know about the notes you are talking about but lyrics are of course very important for us. One lyric can be a million shouting voices when you feel like you’re never being heard.
How do you approach lyric writing, where do you draw your inspiration for the theme, and is it more about the sound of the words, the message or a mix of both?
Fab: I tend to get inspired by things that scares me and by everything I don’t like that surrounds me and my life. The sounds of the words doesn’t really matter actually. I find it easier to write songs about the negative side of the world than it is about the happy side of the world. I wrote about depression, mental disorders, drugs, immigration (and its connection with politic). I wrote about possibile catastrophic scenarios directly connected to absolutely wrong climate changes policies and about past mistakes such like Chernobyl disaster, that our politicians continue to ignore. I wrote my own lyrics about the sensation to feel alone and basically I tryed to focus on my own fears. And religion for istance is one of the things I fear more then others…
The more music is enjoyed digitally, the less relevant lyrics become: Very few fans today sit down with the booklet and read the lyrics. Do you regret that – and, hand on heart, do you do it differently yourself as a music listener? Do you care about the lyrics of other bands?
Fab: I grow up listening almost only vinyls and I still do, so when an album is available on digitial I usually got the chance to listen to it. If I like it I buy its vinyl version and of course I like to enjoy the record in its entirety, by listening to the music and by reading lyrics, credits and everything I find printed on it.
I think the cover is cool, but – at least without further reference – it also seems a bit interchangeable. What link between cover, title and lyrics did I miss? Why is it the perfect artwork for „Hostile“?
Fab: Usually people don’t get bad feeling by watching a fish. What’s interesting about this image is that this fish is not a common fish but he get one of the strongest bites found in bony fishes. Relative to body mass produces one of the most forceful bites measured in vertebrates. It’s a kind of visual metaphor.
Musically you became a bit more open this time – what drove this process … what music did you listen to privately like that, or what did you not want to pursue anymore with ABORYM?
Cata: The key is definitely the fact that Aborym now has a stable lineup of real musicians with each their own role. Above all, each of us has completely different and varied musical tastes and backgrounds from each other. This has been a wealth for us, and Hostile’s songwriting and making has gained a lot. Personally I listen to and like every kind of music, during the creation of Hostile for example I listened to a lot of jazz and electronic music, especially from the 90s. Surely the thing aborym will no longer pursue is black metal. It is the past, we know that many are still anchored in it, but we look forward … always.
Fab: I usually try to not get distracted by listening to other artists’ music when it’s time to write a new record. Aborym is a band and by definition, a band is the sum of its parts.What’s interesting about the Hostile song writing process is that we gave no limits or safe areas to work in, in the sense we were creating a process by changing the emotional state of the music in a natural way. And everybody in the band was working hard in that process. So you can have a piece of music or a flow of music which one minute is kind of happy, in the next minute it’s sad, in the next minute it’s angry. So we created dynamics and different emotional states to take the listener on this musical rollercoaster or music journey. Self-satisfaction in something we wanted to pursue. And we did it.
The album reminds me of Marilyn Manson in places – is that a coincidence? Or maybe you see it completely different?
Fab: I don’t like to make comparisons and I’m ready to get all kind of different comments about the new record. Honestly I don’t hear any Manon-ish reflexes on the songs, anyway I just bough Manson’s last record “We are chaos” and I think it was a really great buy.
The album has a lot of post-rock/metal vibes, but it’s not as aggressive anymore. This continues the trend of „Shifting.Negative“ – is it finally time for a new target audience? In other words: Do you think former ABORYM listeners can still do something with „Hostile“ – and is that something you are allowed to think about as an artist?
Fab: With a new album you never know what’s going to happen, if it’s going to be ignored or lauded… I just hope people we like it as we do. Anyway, It’s much darker and it’s much more heavy. Move away from the more industrial pop sensibilities of the last Shifting.negative. I guess the pop element has been replaced by more of a industrial-rock-metal elements. Still, recognisably Aborym, but just – you know – a further stage in the evolvement and the development of the band. I mean, we’ve never been interested in repeating ourselves. And every time the fans think they know how to categorise us, we take great divides and great pride in disappointing them… or not. Or surprising them, or however they look at it. Some people like it, some people don’t.
Cata: About the fans… I think If there are intelligent people in the old fan base they will surely appreciate this album very much. The others, if they remain anchored to the usual cliches, I think it is better they stay away from this record. In summary, listen to the music you like and peace.
Is that a reason why you moved away from Agonia Records and to the as far as I know much smaller Dead Seed Productions? Or how did it come about – and what advantages does Dead Seed have for ABORYM?
Fab: Agonia records deal with extreme metal bands basically. We are not an extreme metal band. That’s it. Dead Seed Productions took care of us by releasing old material, merch and they also released the Something for Nobody trilogy. Of course I thought we could publish a new full-lenght with that label. It makes sense.
Thank you very much for the interview. Finally, our traditional brainstorming – what is the first thing that comes to your mind for the following terms?
Trent Reznor: one of the real innovators in music
Corona: no cars traffic downtown, and that’s amazing
Interviews: black coffee
Your favorite album from 2020: “Existential reckoning” by Puscifer
Your hope for 2021: to fly to Kho Pangan againg
ABORYM in 10 years: in a hammock in the countryside to enjoy retirement (laughs)
Thanks again for your time and answers. Stay healthy! The last words are yours:
Cata: Stay safe and hope we can see each other on the road in 2021, can’t wait to let you listen to hostile live.