Credit: Arturo Olmos - http://www.arturoolmos.com/
INTERVIEW: The Republic of Wolves
Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
We’ve been doing great! The process of releasing the album has been both exciting and stressful, and overall watching the response has been really rewarding.
Can you talk to us more about your single “Mitama”?
“Mitama” was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, and it felt like a good encapsulation of the direction we wanted to go with the record. It always felt like a good mix of soft/atmospheric sounds and heavy, chaotic parts — so when it came time to put out a song that would kind of introduce people to the tone of the album, this one felt perfect to us.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I don’t recall any real-life experiences or events directly inspiring the lyrics to this song, especially as it’s one of the more narrative-based songs on the album. I think when we wrote it we had just firmly established the central arc of the underlying story we were telling, based around a character having his soul stolen — hence the title of the song (“Mitama” means “soul” in Japanese).
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
That music video actually started out as a live video that we filmed with some talented friends at SVA in Manhattan. It was a fun experience, but it was essentially a live show for twenty-something crewmembers where we just played the same song a couple dozen times. We were originally going to just put out the live performance video, but due to some audio recording issues that became impossible. So we decided to try out some interesting editing effects and turn it into a full-on music video, and we’re really happy with how it turned out.
The single comes off your new album shrine – what’s the story behind the title?
The title of the album, “shrine,” refers mainly to the imagery of the album’s lyrical narrative. It’s based largely on Japanese folklore and mythology (as we’ve said previously), and the main character’s destination throughout his journey is a mountaintop shrine where he believes his soul is being held by the sun goddess. So “shrine” literally refers to a place in that story, but it can also symbolize what anybody is striving toward in their journey to find themselves or their purpose.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was long, uneven, and intermittent, but extremely collaborative. We started working on ideas for this album back in 2015, and gradually built up this collection of songs. Throughout that time our vision for the album was surprisingly consistent, and even though it took a lot longer than expected we never really altered our aesthetic mindset. The writing and recording was all happening at the same time, and we’d jump back and forth between tracking vocals for one song and writing lyrics for another, then working on lead guitar parts for another track, etc. Toward the end it became really tedious, and a few of us spent long nights breaking through writer’s block to finish filling in the gaps of the record, but once the writing and recording was done it all felt perfect.
How would this record showcase the definite side of the band?
We think this album includes our entire musical and emotional range, to varying degrees. It’s on the heavier side, but even the harder rock songs generally have some sort of tenderness or vulnerability on display. We always make sure to contrast the darkness with some light, and vice versa. Songs like “The Canyon” and “Dialogues” really showcase who we are as a band I think, since they’re really dynamic journeys that bring the listener through a lot of different sounds, energies, and moods, while hopefully maintaining some internal consistency.
What role does Long Island play in your music?
Since we all grew up on Long Island, it’ll always have some sort of underlying influence on the music we create. I think living in a place that’s so close to a huge city but also really wild and rural has given us a sense of contrast that comes through in all of our music. In terms of the Long Island music scene, as a band we were never deeply ingrained in it — but the emo scene in the early 2000s definitely had an impact on us as teenagers, and shaped the kind of music that we felt passionate about making. So we’re definitely indebted to some of those bands that came before us, even if we’ve forged our own path.
What aspect of mythology and folklore did you get to explore on this record?
As mentioned earlier, the main source of lyrical imagery for this album was Japanese mythology, and particularly ancient Shinto folktales. We did a lot of research on stories of gods, goddesses, monsters, and spirits in the Japanese cultural tradition, and ended up stitching together our own narrative from elements of other stories. The sun goddess Amaterasu plays a big role (as both antagonist and love interest), along with monsters and demons like the Enenra, Tengu, and Waira. Most of these are mentioned very loosely and obscurely in the lyrics, but we do have an entire underlying narrative that lines up with the specific songs of the record. We always want to make sure that the songs exist outside of the story as well, on a more personal and relatable emotional level.
Any plans to hit the road?
We’re currently working on that – nothing we can announce just yet, but we’re doing everything in our power to get out to as many cities as possible in the next few months!
What else is happening next in The Republic of Wolves’ world?
We’re always writing new music, sometimes for this band and sometimes for our side projects, but either way we’ll be releasing something new before long. Hopefully it won’t be five years before we get another Republic Of Wolves record together – I expect it’ll be much sooner. We already have some acoustic/alternate versions of songs coming in the short term!
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