Roadburn is drawing nearer. There are still some acts to be announced, but, regardless of what lies ahead, we’re already convinced that the Afterburner hides one of this year’s highlights in its trenches: Bast. Hailing from South London, they unleashed in 2014 one of the very best doom/black metal endeavors we’ve put our hands on in recent times – “Spectres”. A more than good leitmotif to have a chat with Craig Bryant, guitar and co-vocalist/founder.
Hi there, Craig, how are you doing?
Hey Emanuel, I’m well cheers. How are you?
Everything’s perfect. Actually, my presence at Roadburn has just been confirmed, so I’ll have the chance to watch you on stage.
Nice one! Very much looking forward to that – we should be there for the whole festival too.
Have you ever been there, as part of the crowd? Do you have any concerts that you sure want to see at this year’s edition?
Yeah, I was there about three years ago, in 2012. There was a great atmosphere and I got to see some amazing bands. The line-up for this year is great so it’s going to be hard to pick our most anticipated! Botanist is one we’re definitely excited about, as well as bands we’ve yet to see such as Floor, Thou and Mortals, among lots of bands we’ve seen before like Eagle Twin,Bongripper and Anathema – we missed Solstafir when we played with them at Damnation Festival last year as the venue was too packed, so we definitely have to check them out this time around too! Also, it’ll be great to see some of our friends performing, namely Undersmile and Coltsblood, repping the UK along with us.
I’ve been there in 2012 as well, my only Roadburn edition so far! I’m really stoked to see Thou and Primitive Man for the very first time – just hoping they don’t clash. You’ll play at the Afterburner, a day which has a very distinct atmosphere. Will you only perform stuff from “Spectres” or is there a chance to witness something new?
Our new material is in early stages and won’t be ready for public consumption for a little while yet. Although we are planning to start rolling out one or two new ideas at some upcoming gigs in the UK before Roadburn, “Spectres” is probably our strongest suit to appease those that are familiar with us, and to introduce ourselves to those that aren’t, since we’ve only played a handful of shows in mainland Europe so far.
And what took you so long to release “Spectres”? You’ve been active since 2008, but your very first full-lenght only came out after six years.
Yeah, we certainly took our time with it! We started as a two-piece originally (myself and Jon – drums) as just a bit of an ideas factory… nothing serious. After a while we drafted a mutual friend to fill in on bass duties, then wrote a five-track demo called “Branches In Earth, Roots In The Sky”. It was mainly just a promo-CD for promoters and the like – we were happy to play the tracks live, but didn’t feel the material was strong enough to warrant any kind of serious recording or release, so we concentrated on playing for audiences, everywhere and anywhere we could. After a couple of years, our bass player moved on and we had the arduous task of finding a replacement, but once Gavin was on board, the writing for “Spectres” began. Other than the line-up change, the producer we were keen to work with was experiencing studio difficulties, so we sat on our hands for a while waiting for that to be resolved before finally polishing it off. That, and our writing process isn’t a fast one.
And you’ve built a concept underneath the record, right? Can you detail it a little bit more?
That’s right, we wanted to include a running narrative through the collection of songs, both lyrically and thematically. The lyrics detail a primitive man’s decent into a sacred cave to learn the mysteries and rituals of his ancestors – it’s essentially a tale of our constant search for truth, and how the answers to which, or lack thereof, are not always positive. Hopefully the music reflects this idea too
It is definitely reflected in the music. Actually, being you from London, I think it’s quite peculiar that your songs express something which is the very opposite of the urban world and its modern issues. Does Bast work as way to free your mind, an escapist outlet?
I think that the subject of the analogy is universal since it’s a relatively simple one. Everyone can relate to the search for truth and purpose, in all walks of life – framing it in the context of ancestral spirits and such was just a way of expressing it that interested us personally. I suppose it’s escapism in the sense that we were looking at that situation from a completely different point of reference to our real experiences in our own lives, but I’d never really thought of it that way before.
And are you considering expanding a bit further that concept into your next record?
I can’t comment too much on the specifics just yet, but, as with “Spectres”, we are aiming to have a consistent concept throughout all of the tracks. In fact, we’ve been discussing it ever since we finished writing “Spectres”, and it’s pretty clear what we’re aiming for at this point. I’d go so far as to say the concept very much deals with it’s own, different themes, and doesn’t necessarily carry on from where “Spectres” finishes.
Ad what are you expecting for 2015, along with that new stuff? Having Roadburn/Burning World Records and the guys from Conan supporting you must have opened a lot of doors and opportunites for the near future.
This year we’ll mainly be focusing on writing with an aim to record at the end of the year or in 2016. As well as Roadburn Festival, we have some great slots including Incineration Fest in London, alongside some huge death & black metal acts from all over the world. We have many more dates coming up that are yet to be announced, but rest assured we certainly won’t be resting! We couldn’t be happier with the support we’ve received from bothBlack Bow and Burning World, as well as Conan personally – it’s definitely helped us get our name out there to more people than expected!
Do you have any plans/expectations to hit Southern Europe soon, so that my countrymen can see you live?
Nothing on the cards just yet, but we’d definitely seize the opportunity if it were to arise – Amplifest in Porto looks consistently great, so fingers crossed for the future, if not to play then simply to attend as patrons.
Amplifest is a great event, indeed. I’m 100% sure you’d love the city of Porto and the festival.
Without a doubt. We were intending to hitch over to show our support to Conan last year, but unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes.