49 Burning Condors, welcome to VENTS! Can you tell us about your latest album, Seventh Hymnal?
Seventh Hymnal was written, recorded, and produced during the height of the pandemic. There was an incredible amount of uncertainty, chaos, and death – in our communities and in our homes. We didn’t set out to write an album so drenched in sadness and despair, but subconsciously I think what we were experiencing in the world naturally bled into what we wrote. It’s undeniably a much darker album than our maiden voyage with ‘Truths and Roses,’ but we’ve never been opposed to leaning into those murky, swampy waters and, in truth, had hoped to evolve our sound to harness something altogether more hellish this time around.
It’s no wonder your music resonates in your hometown and beyond! How do you want your fans to feel when they hear this album?
I want their hearts to seize. I want them to feel frenzied and furious. I want them to grieve openly. I want women, especially, to beat their fists in the air and sing at the top of their lungs like they’re sirens themselves drowning men in the ocean. I don’t know if that all encapsulates a singular, specific feeling, but it’s the feeling that lives somewhere between the words ‘carnal’ and haunted’.
It was written during lockdown; how did it feel to encompass such insurmountable grief through music?
I’m sure I’m not saying anything new by stating that writing music is a form of catharsis. In lockdown you feel pent up and also out of control and all of that energy has to go somewhere. All of these songs came together so quickly – I think we were a bit frantic to make something out of all the horror around us. I was, admittedly, reading a lot of philosophy at this time (another sort of catharsis) and read a lot of Maria Popova. She wrote an article on overcoming grief by examining the words of Seneca’s letters to his mother. That article was the inspiration for ‘Little Death’ and in fact, I wrote lyrics that came directly from this letter. The rest of the songs flowed from there.
Who were your biggest music influences while constructing the album?
Our inspirations are endless — the twangy blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell, the sudsy and sultry rock of Queens of the Stone Age, the haunting and fuzzy feel of Chelsea Wolfe and All Them Witches, and the heart-in-guts lyrics of Amy Winehouse. We actually met as a band and shared our favorite musical inspirations at the onset of writing this album to get into
You lean heavily on occultist symbolism and themes of feminine strength & empowerment; can you tell us a little more about that?
I think witchcraft is imprinted on every woman’s soul in some capacity. It’s representative of past oppression and ultimately accession. It’s representative of our ties to the earth and what it’s given us. It represents men’s fear – fear of a woman who can survive on her own – thrive on her own – without them.
I love mythology, but especially those beautiful and rare pieces of mythology where women outwit and devour against all odds. We want to celebrate that power in the music we write and pass on a little of that dark magic to the women listening.
It’s important to me personally, as a woman in the music industry, to ensure women are at the center of what I write – for good or for bad! Not all the women in our songs are good; I wouldn’t want to run into the goddess at the end of Seventh Hymnal or the sirens in Red Drum Skin, but it’s the fact that they’re indeed women, and they’re the focal point, and the men are the side character hardly mentioned, that matters.
What brought you all together as artists?
Chris and Zach have known each other since elementary school and were in a couple bands pre-49BC. It’s why the core of the band is so strong and effortless; they’ve been working and bouncing off one another for years. That sort of creative coordination can’t be taught; it comes from years of friendship and collaboration.
Chris and I were close friends and while he was trying to build a solo guitarist career, he haphazardly discovered that I could sing (ha!). We ended up writing our first 49BC song together in New Orleans – a fan favorite called ‘Rosaleen’.
We knew we needed to round-out the sound with some serious rhythm and we had our heart set on strings; Kat and Andriana were fans of the music and naturally fit into the fold – fleshing our our holy trinity of women.
We all have such different backgrounds – Chris is a slide guitarist, Zach with death metal bass, Andriana toured with country artists, Kat is trained in jazz drums, and I have a degree in musical theater. Somehow we’ve found where all of these overlap and created this weird thing together.
What is next for 49 Burning Condors?
We’re hosting an album release show on Halloween weekend at Philly’s famous Khyber Pass Pub – flush with tarot card readers and aura photographers – where we’ll celebrate with some new merch. In January, we’re headed out to the middle of nowhere in the woods to finalize songs for our next album – we’re always writing. And next fall? You’ll be seeing us on the road for our first tour.