“Ye Are Gods” was one of the weirdest albums I ‘d heard that year, yet its sacral hymns were also strangely alluring. with no small degree of anticipation I awaited the follow up ‘Quaternity’, but first I wanted to go back to their performance on Roadburn.
On last year’s performance at Roadburn we saw a Sabbath Assembly in a somewhat more traditional rock format, more than on the record in any case. How did it feel to recreate those songs in a different manner?
We see recording and playing live as two entirely different things. Recording is for capturing an intimate experience that happens between the band and a listener. It should create closeness. And live of course is a larger experience, so we think about making broader and louder gestures. Songs like “We Come From the One,” which we love on record, just doesn’t work live. But we’ll try to take songs like “Lucifer” and “The Four Horsemen” and transform those into arrangements that will work live – stronger, and bolder.
This sort of approach has filtered through the new compositions also, especially in “I Satan” I would say.
Yes, with the new album we wanted to give each deity its own unique expression. With the song dealing with Satan we felt we should make it as extreme as possible. This song works out really well live!
‘Quaternity’, if I got it correctly, explores the bond between Christ, Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan. Care to elaborate a bit on that?
In the theology of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, these deities are each separate, but they represent aspects of ourselves. So I suppose the bond is that we have them all inside of us – or at least the qualities that we associate with these deities. And these qualities can each be celebrated and balanced, rather than feared and repressed.
Randall Dunn was very much involved in ‘Ye are Gods’. Now it looks more to center around new vocalist Jamie Myers en Dave Nuss. What happened to Randall and Jex Thoth?
So Randall and Jex were involved with the first album, “Restored to One,” and not with the second album “Ye Are Gods.” With Randall it was simply logistics; he is based in Seattle and it is too expensive to get a band out to him for each recording. Jex decided to pursue her solo project rather than continue with the group experience of Sabbath Assembly.
How do you go from the original hymns from “The Process Church” to a Sabbath Assembly composition?
Great question! All of us in the band have a lot of musical ideas of course, so the lyrics we bring we try to keep in the ‘devotional’ spirit of a hymn of some kind. The Process theme of reconciliation of dark and light can be expressed in so many ways and with so many metaphors and stories, so it’s not a challenge to work with their themes.
How have the reactions to your interpretations been from (former) members of the Church?
Do you discuss your interpretations with any of them?
Part of the reason we began doing our own songs is because we felt that we were perhaps doing a disservice to the legacy of the Church by not delivering a ‘historically accurate’ representation of the hymns. Some original members pointed this out to us. We always intended to be ‘interpreters’ of the hymns, even in the beginning, taking many liberties with the sheet music. Then the interpretations kept moving farther and farther away from the original versions, until we realized we didn’t need the hymns as a starting point. We don’t discuss these interpretations with the original members, mostly because the only continuous dialogue we’ve had with a member is Timothy Wyllie and I don’t think he cares much!
We begin our EU tour in May at the Heavy Days of Doom Town festival in Copenhagen. Hope to see you on the road!