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If you’re a fan of neofolk, death rock, industrial, dark ambient and hardcore punk music, then the new solo EP from BOYSETSFIRE and I AM HERESY front man Nathan Gray is a must have for your collection. This dark masterpiece can be described as a unique journey into symbolic enlightenment with its entrancing sounds and atmospheres, as well as its profoundly philosophical lyrical content. I was able to get in touch with Gray to learn more about the influences and insights that led to the creation of such a brilliant collection of music.
What inspired you musically to want to do this EP?
I’ve been wanting to do this solo stuff for quite some time now but I always seemed to chicken out. But finally I just said ‘it’s time to finally just do this. I’ve been engulfed in all these musical ideas for so long.’ But in doing so I wanted to make sure that it sounded different than everything else. You’ll notice most punk and hardcore singers that go solo end up playing country (laughs). It’s like the same 4 chords, and it’s just very boring to me; I was trying to figure out how to stay away from that. And how I got away from that was with the help from my friend (Daniel Smith), whose like my partner in crime with this, and has a way more industrial background than anything else. I wanted to explore this genre because a lot of neofolk that I’m heavily influenced by are people that came out of the industrial scene. I wanted to do something dark, meaningful and deep, and at the same time something that has a hook and something that gets stuck in your head and makes you want to sing along. So, you know, listening to bands like Spiritual Front, Death In June, Rome, Christian Death, Joy Division, Samael, Front 242, Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails, it was sort of like my take on all those different kinds of sounds while adding my own approach to it, you know?
Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with the Church of Satan and what made you choose the Left Hand Path?
I grew up all my life in the church with my dad as a Presbyterian Minister. There’s no like over-the-top dramatic story behind it, I love my dad you know? But, I guess it all started during what was known as the “Satanic Panic” back in the 80s. And during this time, being in a Christian church, you were pretty much trained to be terrified of these malicious Satanists who were out to get you. And it seemed like most of the time I was in church I was being told all these scary, horrible things about rock music and Anton Szandor LaVey and the Church of Satan. It was so funny, when they’d be fishing around the Satanic bible like ‘this is so bad, this is so evil’ I’d always be like ‘I don’t know, that sounds about right to me actually.’ So, full circle, I started looking back into things when I was young that I was too afraid to understand, and that’s where Satanism came back into my life. And I just started reading all of the books by Anton LaVey, and I just buried myself in all these books about the Left Hand Path and it just finally clicked and resounded with me. Living life to the fullest would be the perfect way to summarize Satanic philosophy. And for reasons like that, I decided to implement my Satanic beliefs on the EP to inspire people to just enjoy life. It’s a very positive thing to encourage people to be themselves and be inspired instead of encouraging them to go through life being controlled by a belief system out of fear of the afterlife.
Who were some of your favorite bands growing up?
Well, funny enough, when I was a kid there were two Christian bands called Petra and Stryper that were both huge influences on me growing up. But going back even further… I was digging through my parents’ old record collection and there was stuff like Simon and Garfunkel, and old musicals like West Side Story and stuff like that. I think that’s where my appreciation for music began. And after that I was able to discover this whole world of different music outside of that realm, you know? Then bands like Black Flag came along into my life, and that was a life changing experience! Black Flag blew my fucking mind. There was a kid that I went to Christian school with who gave me a Black Flag tape and I took it home and wore that fucker out. Then I went to see them once in the late 80’s, and I wish I had a cooler story than this, but the experience fucking scared the shit out of me! I remember Henry Rollins looked a lot like Charles Manson (laughs), and there were all these angry punks that were breaking bottles, there was all this crazy shit going on, and I’m like ‘I’ve got to get the fuck out of here.’ It wasn’t till later that I learned to appreciate that kind of energy.
How would you describe the creative process while you’re in the studio?
I would describe it as almost ritualistic. It’s the music in general that inspires me when I’m in the studio or on stage or what have you. There’s a feeling of belonging that just naturally takes over every single time I’m writing or performing music. The human mind can be a very dark and horrible place at times, and if you’re not able to expel all the negativity in your life it will take over, so having music as an outlet is almost a purification of all the negative energy in you. So I would call music very much ritualistic in that aspect. Whenever you’re in the studio or on stage, or just sitting around writing music, it’s always a ritual. I guess that’s why I enjoy doing it as often as I do. It’s a craving I always feel the need to satisfy.
Follow on Twitter @nathangraysongs
Standout Track: “Wolves”
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