Psalm Zero Interview
This is the third Psalm Zero record in the band's 8 year existence. What is different about Sparta than your past releases?
The most obvious difference is the live drumming by Keith Abrams. The programmed drums on the first two records gave PZ an industrial flavor, while ‘Sparta’ has more of a “rock band” feel. The doom side of the band is brought more to the fore here. There are also no harsh vocals on this record, clean only. Most of the screams on the first two records were handled by former guitarist Andrew Hock.
You’ve created a unique sound with Psalm Zero that is accessible to fans of many genres. Is that difficult to do without alienating one or the other?
We don’t attempt to appeal to any particular crowds, or to bring them together. So I can’t say it’s “difficult” because it’s not something I’m consciously working towards. I have deep roots in several scenes: metal, experimental, and indie. So combining those elements in the music is just a natural thing for me. There’s usually a certain technical and spiritual difficulty to executing any creative endeavor on a high level. But bridging those different audiences just comes as an organic result of what the music is.
Is there an overall theme or concept to this album?
Humanism and its limits
Sparta feels less threatening and more inviting than your previous material. How much of that is due to member changes?
Well, I think PZ has always been about a balance between threatening and romantic, metal and pop. But yes, the shift of weight away from the threatening side, may very well be connected to my parting ways with Hock. It’s not that the specific parts Hock used to contribute were necessary the more “evil”-sounding parts, actually. It’s not that simple. But it’s just that, the whole spirit of our prior collaboration, both creatively and socially, was rooted in legitimate nihilism, narcissism, and emotional and chemical dysfunction. If one must express those things in art, as a path toward healing them inside, then good. But wallowing and hanging onto that stuff as part of a commitment to an aesthetic is weak, and ultimately shallow. So yeah, you could view this new material as a shift in emotional focus, or you could actually view it as a whole new band/project.
The new album feels primarily like a rock and roll record. Is that intentional?
Yes. My whole concept when deciding to form PZ in the first place, was to start some kind of “rock band”. My prior band ,Extra Life, was so genre-defying, and extremely difficult to contextualize culturally. That was part of its strength actually. But having lost steam with that band, I wanted to do something that was more rock. Not necessarily metal per se (although it turned out that way) but just like, Serious Heavy Song-Based Guitar Music.
What exactly is going on with the album artwork?
It’s Romulus and Remus suckling on the teats of one of those robotic police dogs. I am preparing for a very cold future.
“Return To Stone” is a massive track featuring Kristin Hayter, how was that connection made?
Kristin is good friends with my girlfriend, who made us aware of each other. My girl was the one who played me All Bitches Die, before it blew up. I actually didn’t meet Kristin in person until a couple weeks ago. But we had chatted on Twitter a bunch about music, philosophy, and whack people in the metal scene.
This is the first Psalm Zero album to be released on your own label. Did that decision present any newfound freedoms or challenges?
Well, having to do everything myself is a little more of a headache. But the thing is, as far as exposure and getting people into the band, I think it’s possible that we may have maxed out what Profound Lore could offer us. I mean, it’s obviously an amazing label, and Chris was very solid to work with. But with PZ, especially with the new direction, marketing-wise, there are only so many cult black metal fans who are going to get into us. There are definitely some of those people who love us, but I’m pretty sure we’ve reached them all at this point. I mean, thousands more YouTube views don’t necessarily help your band when its people who aren’t even really into the whole PZ aesthetic.
Shortly after the release of Sparta, you’ll be embarking on a tour supporting Kayo Dot throughout the Eastern U.S.. What are you most looking forward to during your almost month long road trip?
I just can’t wait to play for those crowds. There has always been a very significant overlap between Kayo Dot’s fanbase, and mine, whether we’re talking PZ, Extra Life, or any of my projects. I feel like this tour has been a long time coming in many ways! And since Kayo Dot is a handful of notches bigger than PZ, it will be bigger crowds who are exactly the people who either will like us, or already do. I’m also looking forward to the van hang.
Do you feel accomplished as an artist, if not, what will it take?
Looking at my body of work so far, it’s pretty hard for me not to feel accomplished. It’s like realms upon realms at this point. But I should try to stay humble and self-aware, deep-down. Keep it on the path of A Love Supreme. Any sense of satisfaction or ego should ultimately be in the service of going deeper, serving the higher spiritual good.