Interview: Lotus Thrones
My musical taste has always been so disparate. When I really started focusing on writing more songs, I just allowed myself to make the music that wanted to come out.
Lotus Thrones is the new project of Heath Rave (formerly of Wolvhammer and Across Tundra) and the music demonstrates the influence and his love of artists like Killing Joke, Portishead, Neurosis and Sisters Of Mercy. The band have just released their debut album Lovers In Wartime and it’s an expansive listening experience that takes its own path amongst a multitude of audio styles. Gavin Brown caught up with Heath to talk all about the record and his return to making music as well as covering Bad Brains, his hardcore roots and what Lotus Thrones have planned for the future.
E&D: You have just released your debut album Lovers In Wartime. Are you excited to get this album out there?
Heath: Excited and grateful! When I started making songs I had no intentions of it being a project or releasing anything. The response and support has been very humbling.
E&D: How did the creative process and the recording of the record go?
Heath: Oddly smooth for not really knowing what I was doing. It was a learning process for sure, but my experience in other studios probably helped. I can’t thank Devin Charette from Lunglust enough for showing me a few things through trading files for fun, then I just crash-coursed myself into it as a songwriting tool. The recording was fun though, I’m still having fun doing it. There is no pressure, so I can do takes as I see fit, listen and relisten and change things, and try as many things as I like. I do my best to keep it restrained to keep the raw feel of it though. Sanford Parker’s mixing job on everything was the key to the sound becoming cohesive and beautiful though. There is never a question for me about working with him, he always knows exactly what I’m looking for.
E&D: Lovers In Wartime has many different sounds entwined in its songs, from industrial to shoegaze to post-punk. Was it a great experience putting all your musical influences together?
Heath: My musical taste has always been so disparate. When I really started focusing on writing more songs, I just allowed myself to make the music that wanted to come out. Those styles as well as post-metal and jazz are probably what spin the most on my own time outside of a regular diet of new and classic hardcore, so the sounds that came through were of no surprise and highly rewarding. It really was an incredible experience. No rules, just free flowing with what worked and tossing what didn’t without a care.
E&D: It seems that what unites those sounds is that they are all shrouded in darkness. Did you always want to make such a dark record?
Heath: I mean, I never even knew I wanted to make a record till I started making one, but deep down, it was the music that wanted to be made.
E&D: Was making the record a cathartic experience for you?
Heath: When I quit Wolvhammer, I swore I’d never make music again. Even listening to anything too dark would take me back to a past life of addiction that I was moving away from and send me into panic attacks. Making this was a healing experience for me. I was able to look at the beast that was hidden away and wrestle it, and take it back and own it again. I love my dark side, I’m comfortable with it. It’s the side of me that makes the best art, and the side of me that really enjoys good art sonically and visually.
E&D: You cover ‘I And I Survive’ by Bad Brains on the album, was it a challenge to put your own spin on it?
Heath: Definitely, it was my first time attempting to play and record music on my own. I fumbled through and when I came out the other side I was really surprised and happy with the results. This was the moment that Lotus Thrones was born.
E&D: What made you pick that particular track go do a version of?
Heath: Rock For Light has been on constant rotation in my life since my early teens, as well as Godflesh. I had returned to Love and Hate in Dub and the first Jesu record, but I was listening to ‘I And I’ in the car on my way home one day, and I could just hear it in my head. Like Justin Broadrick covering it, taking the notes and delaying them then bringing the chorus to somewhere dramatic. The song itself is quite emotive and it’s also special to me because its one the first songs I would sing to my daughter when she was born.
E&D: What do Bad Brains mean to you as a band?
Heath: From the speed, complexity and no pun intended, attitude, they are the definition of hardcore and punk rock to me. While punk may have come out of England, hardcore was definitely born out of America and they defined it.
E&D: Is hardcore a big influence on you as a musician?
Heath: More so than any other music. When it comes to ethos and approach, I feel like it’s one of the most rule breaking “fuck you” genres of music out there. While you can hear a tiny bit in Lotus Thrones musically, when it comes to my approach to it that is first and foremost on my mind. No rules, honesty, and attitude.
E&D: What other hardcore bands are influential to you?
Heath: Black Flag, Youth of Today, Verbal Assault and to be frank I will always consider Neurosis a hardcore band due to their roots and their DIY approach to this day.
E&D: Where did the idea for starting Lotus Thrones come from?
Heath: After the Bad Brains cover, I quickly began making more music. I sent it to a few close friends and they encouraged me to keep going. The name comes from the seat upon which Buddha and Hindu deities sit. At the beginning of the pandemic, I got into yoga and meditation and I wanted to represent that in the project. There is a deeply spiritual side to Lotus Thrones as well, in the mood and some of the lyrics.
E&D: Who would you say are the biggest influences on the sound of Lotus Thrones?
Heath: Killing Joke, Neurosis, Nine Inch Nails, Godflesh, the original Danzig lineup. Sisters of Mercy and The Cure. Wire, The Fall. Underneath all of that, the beats and moods of Portishead and Massive Attack.
E&D: You previously played in Wolvhammer and Across Tundras, did your experience of playing with them spill over into the tree music of Lotus Thrones?
Heath: I think so. The movements are long in the Tundras sense, and the guitar tone is definitely reminiscent of black metal in the heavier noisy parts.
E&D: What are your plans for further activity from Lotus Thrones?
Heath: I’m already deep into album two and plan to put the finishing touches on it this fall with Sanford Parker again at Hypercube.
E&D: Do you plan to take Lotus Thrones out on the road when shows start happening regularly again?
Heath: A show here and there for a good occasion may happen, but full touring isn’t something that’s in the cards for me. Spending extended time away from my family isn’t a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
E&D: How do you think that the music will translate in a live environment?
Heath: If and when it does happen, I have the right people that will definitely be able to take this sonically to the stage.
E&D: What have been some of the highlights of your music career so far?
Heath: The fact that I’m still getting to work with my friends and peers, and the response to this project is unsurpassable for me in the highlights reel.