Interview - Jacob Bannon of Converge Goes Deep On 'Blood Moon: I'

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  • Interview - Jacob Bannon of Converge Goes Deep On 'Blood Moon: I'
    POSTED 23 Nov 2021

    converge blood moon
    Hardcore legends Converge released their bold new collaborative album Blood Moon: I today via Deathwish. A true-supergroup effort, Blood Moon: I features the Salem heavyweights teaming up with dark songstress Chelsea Wolfe, her bandmate/writing partner Ben Chisolm and Cave In vocalist/guitarist Stephen Brodsky to create a truly unique and captivating masterpiece that is brutal, brooding and at times, beautiful.

    The culmination of a collaboration that first began with a live show at Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands in 2016, where the seven-piece revamped Converge material under the name Blood Moon, Blood Moon: I  is a truly harrowing and atmospheric collaborative effort that sees each performer working together and outside the comfort zones in order to create something new for all involved. Produced by Converge guitarist/legendary metal producer Kurt Ballou, Blood Moon: I is an exciting new phase for all of the artists and yet another game-changing step from Converge.

    The day before release Maniacs caught up with Converge vocalist, visual artist and bonafide legend of American hardcore, Jacob Bannon for a chat about all things Blood Moon: I is and all of the things that it might still be.   

    Converge are about to release the collaborative album Blood Moon: I which features the members of Converge, Ben Chisolm, Chelsea Wolfe and Stephen Brodsky. Was this project as creatively freeing for the band as it sounds like it was?

    I think so. For us being a band, as long as we have, you kind of get into, you kind of get into these moments of, I don't want to call them repetition, but you get into these formulas that work well for you. In terms of you know, inner dynamics and things like that, the kind of songs you write and whatnot.  We've all had and continue to have a variety of side projects and sidebands, but we've always also wanted to grow the Converge sound.  Without knowing exactly how to do that. That desire goes back to the late '90s when Kurt and I started talking about trying to bring in different instrumentation and what they might look like once we started becoming better players, and having bigger, broader musical ideas. 

    Eventually, we decided that it would be really cool to do some form of collaboration, an extension of what this band is, because there are no rules, we can do whatever we want. So we decided to give it a crack around five years ago when we played our shows as Converge Blood Moon, so it has been slow cooking for a very long time, but now we are finally able to share some of the music we've been working on since then with these fine folks. 
     

    The record features some incredible collaborative vocal work from yourself and Chelsea, which I was quite taken aback by upon first listen. It is different hearing your voice utilized as an accompanying instrument to someone like Chelsea's, did you find that as a vocalist, it was a different and rewarding experience for you?

    The first thing I want to say is that there are so many voices on record and that everyone's voice is very distinctive.  It is truly a cool, collaborative thing with seven folks and everyone's kind of jumping in there, vocally.  Steve sings a lot, I sing a lot, Chelsea sings a lot, Kurt sings in places, Ben C sings in places, Ben K does not, even though he can, he's actually a better singer than I am in terms of singing in a traditional style.

    As I'm a loud vocalist and loud vocals have more to do with impact and percussion than other styles because you're typically on the beat and phonetically things are kind of rigid because you have to push so hard to kind of get things out of you, so it becomes more an instrument than it is, a communicative tool, like a traditional vocalist is. So it was really cool to work outside of that box.  I've done it to a degree on Converge songs before, but not necessarily to this sort of extent, which is super cool. And it's not to say that it's all me hanging out and crooning or something like that, there's still a lot of loud stuff from all of us, including Chelsea, Chelsea is brutal on the record, too, when she wants to be. But yeah, we definitely roll the dice on those dynamics and go back and forth in a whole bunch of places on the record, which, for me, makes it you know, unpredictable and exciting,  it keeps things really fresh for me."

    Having something that sounds and feels so fresh coming this late in Converge's career is a really exciting thing as a fan, you mentioned the project has been in the works for quite a while, did the pandemic contribute to your ability to finally realise this creative vision?

    "We've been working on the material for about five years, ever since we did those shows at Roadburn and we decided we wanted to continue the creative relationship. So since then, we've been sharing song ideas, demo ideas, and the sort of the skeleton of a lot of songs have been evolving since then. Which has been super cool. There have been these moments of a lot of activity, and then there's been moments of none for six months because we're all busy doing other things. But the pandemic came around at a time where we were already going into this, we were planning to go to the studio to finish this record, we were all going to meet in Salem, but the pandemic hit and all of that got thrown out of the window. So we worked remotely.   

    We decided to utilise some of our time to do that, I tried to be a bit hands-off in that process until it was time to go in and track proper vocals, because songs were evolving and progressing in ways that if I worked on things and went away, in three weeks it might be a completely different song and all of that work would go to waste. So I tried to be pretty loose and free through it until it was time to get in with Stephen and Nate and Kurt and start pounding out vocals.   Overall it added more challenges, but we like challenges"

    Challenges, freshen up your perspective usually and make you think of doing things you otherwise wouldn't have done and that's definitely what this record sounds like in the best possible way.  Now, you're obviously quite an accomplished visual artist. Were you involved in the visual side of things for Blood Moon: I? 

    "Yeah, I made this record.  It was more of a design challenge than it was an artistic challenge, where artistically, I knew what kind of visual metaphors I wanted to put together and I knew the colour palette that I wanted to have for the record. So for me, it was really trying to push those ideas, you know, make something that was super vibrant and multilayered that sort of encapsulated the energy.  There's a lot of sort of serpent imagery within the lyrical content of the song,  so I wanted to include that. I wanted it to feel like it Converge record but still feel almost otherworldly. So that it took a while to sort of build that construct, build on that idea. 

    I also wanted to create something that could be an information design system that can work across multiple records, if there were to be multiple records. So I  wanted to create a package with the outer cover and inner cover and have an interplay between those things, with colour palettes that could change from record to record. So that they could all be unique, while also being bonded together. So that was another big challenge, to come up with something that would work well for that. So that's why the record is called Blood Moon: I, hopefully, we can continue past that point and make two and three and four and five, along with regular Converge records."

    The end result looks incredible. That process does prompt the question though, do you consider this and any potential follow up's, Converge records?

    "It's an extension of the band. Converge is a tree, and this is a big branch of that tree. It's related in the sense that it's the core four of us,  and it is our intent and has the same spirit as Converge, with these new collaborators that are expanding the sound alongside us as one big seven-piece band. For this record, everybody wrote lyrics, everybody wrote music, everybody had some form of say during the recording and editing process,  it was just a really positive experience, so it is different to if we'd just gone out and got a bunch of guest performers. So yes, we consider them Converge records. To us, it is an extension of the band."

    That's incredibly exciting to hear. Now outside of music, what is something that you consider yourself to be a bit of a maniac for, is it mixed media art or something else?

    To me, the music and art are coming from the same artistic space, I just like all forms of pure expression. With that said, it is also my job, so there are aspects of it that I really love, but aspects of it that I find draining. Outside of music, or outside of art, I try to spend a lot of time around the ocean, spending time with my family, my kids. I took my two boys for a trail walk in the woods this past weekend and we stumbled upon a deer as we were walking through and I thought to myself "This is the best thing, I don't want to be doing anything else" that's enough for me. 

    That's the most wholesome answer we've ever had. Now Jacob if you were a wrestler and you could have any song play when you entered into any room, what song would it be and why?  

    "That's a really good question.  When I was a little kid, I was a huge wrestling fan until about, 1988, 1989. What I remember that got me hooked is I was seven or eight, it was 1983, and the first time I saw the Road Warriors come on television, and come out to Iron Man, I was blown away. It was the toughest, coolest thing, to a little adolescent boy. I was just blown away by the testosterone, by being in the presence of these mammoth people. So I'd have to just continue going down that direction, right? I'd use that song. Iron Man by Black Sabbath."

    Blood Moon: I is out now. 

    Blood Moon I

    Shop for Converge music and merch in the Maniacs store now. 

    Listen to Blood Moon: I 

     

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Submitted by wordsbybrenton on Tue, 11/23/2021 - 02:47

converge blood moon
Hardcore legends Converge released their bold new collaborative album Blood Moon: I today via Deathwish. A true-supergroup effort, Blood Moon: I features the Salem heavyweights teaming up with dark songstress Chelsea Wolfe, her bandmate/writing partner Ben Chisolm and Cave In vocalist/guitarist Stephen Brodsky to create a truly unique and captivating masterpiece that is brutal, brooding and at times, beautiful.

The culmination of a collaboration that first began with a live show at Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands in 2016, where the seven-piece revamped Converge material under the name Blood Moon, Blood Moon: I  is a truly harrowing and atmospheric collaborative effort that sees each performer working together and outside the comfort zones in order to create something new for all involved. Produced by Converge guitarist/legendary metal producer Kurt Ballou, Blood Moon: I is an exciting new phase for all of the artists and yet another game-changing step from Converge.

The day before release Maniacs caught up with Converge vocalist, visual artist and bonafide legend of American hardcore, Jacob Bannon for a chat about all things Blood Moon: I is and all of the things that it might still be.   

Converge are about to release the collaborative album Blood Moon: I which features the members of Converge, Ben Chisolm, Chelsea Wolfe and Stephen Brodsky. Was this project as creatively freeing for the band as it sounds like it was?

I think so. For us being a band, as long as we have, you kind of get into, you kind of get into these moments of, I don't want to call them repetition, but you get into these formulas that work well for you. In terms of you know, inner dynamics and things like that, the kind of songs you write and whatnot.  We've all had and continue to have a variety of side projects and sidebands, but we've always also wanted to grow the Converge sound.  Without knowing exactly how to do that. That desire goes back to the late '90s when Kurt and I started talking about trying to bring in different instrumentation and what they might look like once we started becoming better players, and having bigger, broader musical ideas. 

Eventually, we decided that it would be really cool to do some form of collaboration, an extension of what this band is, because there are no rules, we can do whatever we want. So we decided to give it a crack around five years ago when we played our shows as Converge Blood Moon, so it has been slow cooking for a very long time, but now we are finally able to share some of the music we've been working on since then with these fine folks. 
 

The record features some incredible collaborative vocal work from yourself and Chelsea, which I was quite taken aback by upon first listen. It is different hearing your voice utilized as an accompanying instrument to someone like Chelsea's, did you find that as a vocalist, it was a different and rewarding experience for you?

The first thing I want to say is that there are so many voices on record and that everyone's voice is very distinctive.  It is truly a cool, collaborative thing with seven folks and everyone's kind of jumping in there, vocally.  Steve sings a lot, I sing a lot, Chelsea sings a lot, Kurt sings in places, Ben C sings in places, Ben K does not, even though he can, he's actually a better singer than I am in terms of singing in a traditional style.

As I'm a loud vocalist and loud vocals have more to do with impact and percussion than other styles because you're typically on the beat and phonetically things are kind of rigid because you have to push so hard to kind of get things out of you, so it becomes more an instrument than it is, a communicative tool, like a traditional vocalist is. So it was really cool to work outside of that box.  I've done it to a degree on Converge songs before, but not necessarily to this sort of extent, which is super cool. And it's not to say that it's all me hanging out and crooning or something like that, there's still a lot of loud stuff from all of us, including Chelsea, Chelsea is brutal on the record, too, when she wants to be. But yeah, we definitely roll the dice on those dynamics and go back and forth in a whole bunch of places on the record, which, for me, makes it you know, unpredictable and exciting,  it keeps things really fresh for me."

Having something that sounds and feels so fresh coming this late in Converge's career is a really exciting thing as a fan, you mentioned the project has been in the works for quite a while, did the pandemic contribute to your ability to finally realise this creative vision?

"We've been working on the material for about five years, ever since we did those shows at Roadburn and we decided we wanted to continue the creative relationship. So since then, we've been sharing song ideas, demo ideas, and the sort of the skeleton of a lot of songs have been evolving since then. Which has been super cool. There have been these moments of a lot of activity, and then there's been moments of none for six months because we're all busy doing other things. But the pandemic came around at a time where we were already going into this, we were planning to go to the studio to finish this record, we were all going to meet in Salem, but the pandemic hit and all of that got thrown out of the window. So we worked remotely.   

We decided to utilise some of our time to do that, I tried to be a bit hands-off in that process until it was time to go in and track proper vocals, because songs were evolving and progressing in ways that if I worked on things and went away, in three weeks it might be a completely different song and all of that work would go to waste. So I tried to be pretty loose and free through it until it was time to get in with Stephen and Nate and Kurt and start pounding out vocals.   Overall it added more challenges, but we like challenges"

Challenges, freshen up your perspective usually and make you think of doing things you otherwise wouldn't have done and that's definitely what this record sounds like in the best possible way.  Now, you're obviously quite an accomplished visual artist. Were you involved in the visual side of things for Blood Moon: I? 

"Yeah, I made this record.  It was more of a design challenge than it was an artistic challenge, where artistically, I knew what kind of visual metaphors I wanted to put together and I knew the colour palette that I wanted to have for the record. So for me, it was really trying to push those ideas, you know, make something that was super vibrant and multilayered that sort of encapsulated the energy.  There's a lot of sort of serpent imagery within the lyrical content of the song,  so I wanted to include that. I wanted it to feel like it Converge record but still feel almost otherworldly. So that it took a while to sort of build that construct, build on that idea. 

I also wanted to create something that could be an information design system that can work across multiple records, if there were to be multiple records. So I  wanted to create a package with the outer cover and inner cover and have an interplay between those things, with colour palettes that could change from record to record. So that they could all be unique, while also being bonded together. So that was another big challenge, to come up with something that would work well for that. So that's why the record is called Blood Moon: I, hopefully, we can continue past that point and make two and three and four and five, along with regular Converge records."

The end result looks incredible. That process does prompt the question though, do you consider this and any potential follow up's, Converge records?

"It's an extension of the band. Converge is a tree, and this is a big branch of that tree. It's related in the sense that it's the core four of us,  and it is our intent and has the same spirit as Converge, with these new collaborators that are expanding the sound alongside us as one big seven-piece band. For this record, everybody wrote lyrics, everybody wrote music, everybody had some form of say during the recording and editing process,  it was just a really positive experience, so it is different to if we'd just gone out and got a bunch of guest performers. So yes, we consider them Converge records. To us, it is an extension of the band."

That's incredibly exciting to hear. Now outside of music, what is something that you consider yourself to be a bit of a maniac for, is it mixed media art or something else?

To me, the music and art are coming from the same artistic space, I just like all forms of pure expression. With that said, it is also my job, so there are aspects of it that I really love, but aspects of it that I find draining. Outside of music, or outside of art, I try to spend a lot of time around the ocean, spending time with my family, my kids. I took my two boys for a trail walk in the woods this past weekend and we stumbled upon a deer as we were walking through and I thought to myself "This is the best thing, I don't want to be doing anything else" that's enough for me. 

That's the most wholesome answer we've ever had. Now Jacob if you were a wrestler and you could have any song play when you entered into any room, what song would it be and why?  

"That's a really good question.  When I was a little kid, I was a huge wrestling fan until about, 1988, 1989. What I remember that got me hooked is I was seven or eight, it was 1983, and the first time I saw the Road Warriors come on television, and come out to Iron Man, I was blown away. It was the toughest, coolest thing, to a little adolescent boy. I was just blown away by the testosterone, by being in the presence of these mammoth people. So I'd have to just continue going down that direction, right? I'd use that song. Iron Man by Black Sabbath."

Blood Moon: I is out now. 

Blood Moon I

Shop for Converge music and merch in the Maniacs store now. 

Listen to Blood Moon: I 

 

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Interview - Jacob Bannon of Converge Goes Deep On 'Blood Moon: I'

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