Interview with guitarist Raúl Morán
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 26, 2021
Palma, Balearic Islands, isn't necessarily one of the places in the world that makes one think of hard-boiled and angry metal bands like Æolian, who play aggressive but also a very melodic style of death metal.
The band was formed in 2016 and within four years they have released two studio albums (Silent Witness in 2018 and The Negationist in 2020) that have built up the band's profile as one of the most promising new flag bearers for the melodic death metal genre today. The band has favorable winds in their sails, pushing their ship toward friendly harbors over the past couple of years, a situation well deserved.
In order to get the band's name spread even further, we here at the unbreakable tower of The Metal Crypt had a nice little conversation with the band and 6-string holders Raúl Morán stepped up to talk about his band's past, present and future activities.
Ladies and gentlemen, here's Raúl to educate us about the Balearic Islands' best-kept secret, Æolian...
Hey there, Raúl! How's life in Palma, Balearic Islands, these days? Wishing this damn virus would go away for good already...?
Raúl: Hi Luxi, good question. We are adapting our lives to this situation by wearing masks, social distancing, and spending time with small groups of family or friends. This year there are no tourists, and many shops are closed. I hope everything gets better soon because a lot of people are having a hard time.
In better news, my sincere congrats on your absolutely killer second album, The Negationist. It seems like it's a step forward from the things you accomplished on your debut album, Silent Witness, in 2018, which also received rave reviews/comments from the media and fans all over the world. Would you say you exceeded your expectations on this follow-up album in terms of songwriting and all that jazz?
Raúl: Well, first of all, thank you for the congratulations, we are really glad you like the new album. In terms of music composition, we gave each song its own personality so they would be something a bit different from Silent Witness. I don't think we are following any expectations, just trying to express our ideas by making songs. I always like to say we try to make the music we want to listen to. I have to say that in the composition process we discarded so many songs that we could have almost made another album, haha!! In the composition process, I need to feel goose bumps and when that doesn't happen, I prefer to discard the song.
I bet you have already seen and heard positive critiques of the album. How much do they add fuel to your creative process, helping you process your feelings about how you are obviously doing many things right, so to speak...?
Raúl: Good reviews always help you continue to work hard but, regardless of whether reviews are good or bad, I always enjoy creating new music. It's the part of music I enjoy the most, and the most important thing to me is that there are people who listen and enjoy our music the same as I did whilst composing it.
EXPECT NOTHING—WISH FOR THE BEST
When you create something as moving and spine-chilling as Silent Witness, does it put extra pressure on you for the next album?
Raúl: Yeah, I read something about it on some of the Silent Witness reviews. The truth is when you release a debut album you don't expect much of a reaction as you are relatively "unknown." Also, we didn't know if the audience was going to like our music. After the good reviews of Silent Witness, we began composing for The Negationist, keeping in mind the feedback that we received from the previous album and maintaining a good level of quality content. In the end, the people are the ones who judge you and tell you which album they like most. The only thing I can tell you is we always try to do our best. And it's very important not to be in a hurry while you are composing new music.
It's cool that you are not afraid of experimenting within your music by using unusual instruments like French horns, tuba, tam-tam, etc., which are not typical in metal. They certainly bring their own spice to your songs, creating a new and original sound. Do you believe you'll continue expanding your instrument arsenal?
Raúl: Who knows but I prefer not to use too many unusual instruments in our songs. I don't like to too many samples in live shows. Anyway, on this album we decided to add these instruments after the rest of music was composed. We thought it would give extra feeling to the songs. Usually, I think less is more, so the future will tell.
NATURE DOESN'T NEED US
The album cover for The Negationist looks great yet sort of unusual for a metal band, with its beautiful and breathtaking watery scenery. I guess it has a hidden message related to a global warming, which naturally is a very worrying thing. Can you elaborate more about the album cover and what kind of thoughts you'd like to raise in people's mind when they look at it?
Raúl: Yes indeed, not the usual colors for metal bands but we wanted to show exuberant nature itself after the end of the human race. The message is if (or when) humanity disappears, nature will regenerate and continue on her way. In my opinion, nature doesn't need us, but we need her a lot.
Did you work with this new album the same way you did with your debut or did you swap some of your songwriting responsibilities? Was the making of it more like a relaxed session in which each of you freely dropped in your best ideas in order to achieve the best results possible?
Raúl: Until now I am responsible for the musical compositions. On this new album, our singer Dani helped me a lot with some parts. I like to record ideas and add drum samples to understand the whole thing and then I send them to my bandmates. They let me know their thoughts. Sometimes they pass the filter, sometimes not. Dani usually sends me melodies and riffs by WhatsApp's audio message which is amazingly useful.
Æolian has two guitarists, you and Gabi Escalas. Has one of you become more of a rhythm or solo guitarist in the band over the years, or do you think you share these types of responsibilities pretty equally?
Raúl: We both have similar responsibilities when talking about lead guitar, but Gabi is the one who plays the solos on the album. Once the album was composed, Gabi and I met each other to decide who of us would play each part. Apart from the solos that Gabi recorded in the album, we divide the lead guitars.
FINDING A NEW HOME
How did you become a part of the Black Lion Records family?
Raúl: When we had the album done, we thought about what we wanted to do with it, and we decided to send the album to several record labels where bands like us could fit. Not a good time for it with the virus situation, but we were lucky that Black Lion Records were interested in our music. We are very happy with our decision.
You shot a video for "Golden Cage" off this new record. How was it to work with Martín Araya? Did the video turn out the way you hoped and has it been helping you to get some extra attention?
Raúl: Working with Martín was very easy and productive. He recorded the music video for "Immensity" from our debut album, but this time he also made the montage for "Golden Cage." Music videos are very important for metal bands right now even though there are so many videos and bands and it's not easy to stand out.
GETTING READY FOR THE GIGS
Playing shows during these tough times is impossible as long as the world is ridden by this coronavirus pandemic. However, future plans need to be made in this department because as soon as gigging is possible again, hungry bands will undoubtedly fill every venue they can again. Are you prepared for this, fighting for your rights to get some cool venues booked for your shows in the future?
Raúl: Of course, we are rehearsing and practicing hard waiting for when this pandemic is over. When that happens, we will be prepared for gigging and enjoying the return to some level of normality after these bad times for musicians and a lot of professionals of different businesses all around the world.
Do you book your own shows, or do you have someone to take care of this, leaving you more time to focus on your music?
Raúl: We haven't used a booking agency or manager before now, but this is about to change because we are going to sign a contract with Nick Grima MGT. I'm looking forward to seeing how he is going to help us with live shows.
I am curious to know when you last played a show and how it was?
Raúl: Our last show was on the 16th of November, 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. We joined this show after being invited by our friends in Herbstschatten, a black metal band from Hamburg who was doing a European tour named "Black Rain Over Europe". We had another show with them on the 24th of October 2020 in Mallorca but sadly it had to be canceled due to the virus.
The Balearic Islands aren't the most optimal place regarding logistical issues when going out for a tour, I assume. Have you ever thought about relocating to Spain's mainland to make gigging easier?
Raúl: You are right. Maybe in the future if we can live from our music. Right now, we have our families and jobs here in Mallorca and it would be difficult to move without a full-time music career. On the other hand, I don't think it's so difficult. There used to be cheap flights between Mallorca and Germany. Will see after this pandemic.
PLAYING IN A BAND MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE
Every band dreams of fame and success at some point in a career. Are you the type of a guy who would love to play in a band for a living or do you feel more like it's good to have this band so you can invest some of your creative juices into it and have fun as long as it feels right?
Raúl: I play music in a band because it makes me feel alive. I have always been a lover of music and creating my own music is very satisfying. When Æolian began as a solo project, I didn't know if I would ever release an album. What I mean is that I don't think that far into the future, I just try to do things better because it is the only way to enjoy this awesome hobby.
Do you have any pet peeves about the music business?
Raúl: Nothing in general. I would like to dedicate more time playing guitar and composing new music but, you know, we small bands need to spend time with different issues like fixing our website, posting on social media, preparing live-stream videos, that kind of stuff. It doesn't bother me, as it is something important for the band. But what I really enjoy is making music and playing live.
I think that's all I had in mind for this interview, so I want to thank you, Raúl, very much for your time for getting this done and I want to wish you all the best in the future. May your path ahead of you be full of pleasant rewards, whatever they might be. Any last thoughts to wrap up this conversation?
Raúl: First of all, thanks a lot, Luxi, for the interview, it was a pleasure for me to answer all the questions. We will be waiting for an opportunity to play live and who knows, maybe we will compose new stuff for a future third album. For those who are interested in following us, we are on all social media. Thank you to all the people who listen to us and share our music. I hope to see you soon on the stage.
|Other information about AEolian on this site|
|Review: Silent Witness|
|Review: The Negationist|
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