Friday, February 15, 2013

An Interview with Neal of Tollund Men

For the unfamiliar, Tollund Men is an entity that is hard to describe. Terms like minimal synth, post-punk,and darkwave get thrown around, but they really do no justice to the sounds that Tollund Men create. Mixing the fuzzed out bliss more commonly associated with black metal with the synth density and catchy hooks of new wave's darker acts, Tollund Men is a unique and fascinating project that appeals to pretty much everything I love in music. I recently had the opportunity to ask primary creative member Neal a few questions about Tollund Men's fantastic new cassette, his plans for the year to come, and the real story behind the band's name.

BMAB: Does the name of the band come from a personal anthropological interest in the Tollund Man? What was the catalyst for creating Tollund Men?
Neal: The Tollund Men moniker has caused some confusion. Because the project exists on the periphery of certain punk and metal scenes, I've had people assume that I got the name from the "Bog Bodies" series of cassettes primitive USBM duo Bone Awl released during the early-to-mid oughts. While I really love Bone Awl, getting to see them at a dive bar here in Denver around 2009, playing to an almost non-existent crowd and a smattering of irritated regular patrons, the truth is probably far less interesting. I was pursuing an English degree at the time. I was in a pretty standard (if not boring) British Literature course, when I discovered the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who, not surprisingly, wrote a poem called "The Tollund Man." Heaney's message is socio-political in the end, but there are several themes that really speak to me--the depressing aspects to freedom, ritual meeting life and causing conflict, concepts of transgression and punishment, the past and present meeting in abstract ways. As for the "Men" instead of "Man," I just thought it was funny because I was the only one in the band. But mostly, it's just a name I picked for some shit I had been working on. 

What have been your primary influences as a musician and artist? Are these influences displayed in the upcoming album of covers and the previous covers you’ve already done, or do you try to pick things that would fall slightly outside of your typical style?
Influence is a very tenuous thing in music, especially now. I don't want to be viewed as a band that sounds like it's from the 80s, it just happens that a lot of the music that I like was made in the 80s! But that's one of the reasons I wanted to do this covers album. I wanted people to have a reference point and be able to see how Tollund Men is something new. I wanted to cover bands that listeners could make connections they normally wouldn't, who were maybe viewing it as some kind of darkwave/minimal band or whatever. Maybe it was set into peoples' minds with that first cover of "Goodbye Horses." Either way, I hope that people will hear our cover of a This Kind of Punishment song, or Halo of Flies, or Cybotron, or whatever, and be able to hear how the influences come out in different ways, that it's not just trying to sound like this band or that or this genre or that. I want to create something unique and forward thinking.

Your newest cassette is entitled Virbius Abstract. Is there a particular significance to this name? With the new release and your album of covers coming out soon, do you have tour plans in mind?
Virbius is a Roman forest god. His story is somewhat mixed with the Greek god Hippolytus, but the gist of it is: Virbius rejects the sexual advances of his stepmother, Phaedra. This makes her furious, so she tells his father, Theseus, that he raped her. Theseus spurns him by sending a wild bull to scare the horses of his chariot, dragging Virbius to his death. Each of the songs on the tape are loosely tied into this theme, making it an "Abstract." 
We are planning another small tour to the west coast this summer, probably only a week or two. We're just too fucking poor and nobody really gives a shit. 

What current artists have impressed you the most with their creative output lately?
There is kind of a running joke about how much Kevin and I like Crazy Spirit. But yeah, they're pretty cool. We've never even seen them. When we went on tour last summer, we taped a piece of paper to the front of the keyboard that said "Crazy Spirit Rules." Maybe it was with a "z." Anyway, it was sort of an inside joke. There's this video of the really amazing band Factrix, and on their keyboard is a sticker that says "Flipper Rules." We were thinking we should pay homage to a band like that. It's pretty absurd that we'd be the Factrix and Crazy Spirit would be Flipper in that scenario; it's funny. But we're both into a bunch of stuff. Right now, newer stuff I'm into is like Cut Hands, Circle of Ouroborus, Dominic Fernow stuff, Stare Case, I don't know, just all the cool shit. 

If you had your way, what would the coming year look like for Tollund Men? More albums? Tours? Peace and quiet from nosy writers like myself?
I'm trying to release about eight more things in the coming year or two and compile the singles onto one LP, and hopefully another full length shortly thereafter. We'll see. If anyone wants to hook us up with tour money we'd take it. Thanks to everyone who has supported this project. 

1 comment:

  1. Great review, look forward to seeing them this summer!

    Bay Area/Nevada