-- Astodan gets shredded! --
On January 24th 2019 I was invited to an official press event at the headquarters of Dunk!Records. A record label dedicated to doom, sludge and post-metal and whose activities also include the yearly 3-day event Dunk!Festival as well as the vinyl production plant Dunk!Pressings. My good friend Sean Vali (head of booking agency Arawn Agency) offered me to interview several of Dunk!’s associated bands and one of those was Astodan. I sat together with guitarists Tim, Nick and bassist Tom to talk about the concept behind Astodan (it’s about bone collection), their successful signing to both Dunk!Records and the US-based A Thousand Arms, Tim’s transition from drummer to guitarist and Nick’s extreme sports hobby.
All pictures by Elien Swinnen (https://www.elienswinnen.com).
BMS: Hi there! I fairly admit that I haven’t heard of your band up till an hour ago, so tell me something about Astodan.
Tom: Astodan is a six-piece instrumental post-metal band whose members hail from the Brussels, Louvain and Antwerp regions and who got prior experience playing in bands like The Setup, Homer, Poison My Blood and others.
Tim: I started Astodan as a solo project in my own home studio, jamming my guitar and writing material back when I was part of Poison My Blood and later The Setup (both as a drummer). Over the many following years I had written several songs (one of my earliest tracks was Khandias, included in our 2018 “Ameretat” release). A friend of mine came over to hear some of that self-written stuff and suggested me to form an entire band around it. That resulted in our first EP, called “New Life,” which we released in April 2017 and one year later came our debut full-length release, the aforementioned “Ameretat.”
BMS: Tim, I noticed that you used to be a drummer and now you moved on to guitar. How did the transition go?
Tim: In fact, I’ve been a drummer for most of my career until I borrowed a guitar from my Poison My Blood colleague Koen Delanghe and began experimenting with it. And, like I said earlier, those fun jamming sessions eventually resulted in Astodan’s creation. In fact, my drumming techniques are hardcore based but I felt that for the post-metal genre I could be more expressive as a guitarist. It was a very natural transition, to be honest, and I haven’t looked back ever since. It’s just very fun to create songs out of the effects of guitar/bass pedals an telling a story that way.
BMS: Ah yes, it’s a great way to let the audience’s imagination run freely. Tell me, how did you come up with this Astodan name?
Tim: Astodan means bones container in Iranian. It refers to the Zoroastrian burial tradition in which the dead are placed on a tower (Dakhma) where the vultures pick the flesh off the bones. When the bones are all that remain they’re collected and put in a pit at the centre of the tower. This pit is the container of bones, thus the Astodan. Our last year released album was called “Ameretat,” referring to the Zoroastrian concept of immortality. Our next albums will all focus on the belief of eternal life after death and each album will present this concept from a different culture.
BMS: Very interesting idea. Now let’s hear from the other two guys here, how did you join Tim’s Astodan?
Nick: Tim and I have known each other for years and we already had played together in a fun-loving punk rock tribute act called The All-Star Wedding Band. One day Tim was looking for a new guitarist and he asked me what I thought about post-rock. He offered me to listen to the “Ameretat” album, I loved it and therefore I accepted his offer to join Astodan as a full-time member.
Tom: Tim and I have also played together in the past and in fact we live pretty close to each other. I was instantly hooked by the material he had written in his studio and so I’ve been part of the band from day 1.
BMS: Nice! So, how did you guys end up being part of Dunk!Records?
Tim: Back when we were set to release the “Ameretat” album we went out looking for a record deal. We contacted several labels but most of them responded that their respective rosters were full for the 2018-year. Eventually I got into contact with a former member of the band Stories From The Lost (who’re part of Dunk!Records) and he suggested to us to try our hand at Dunk! which we eventually did. The label’s manager, Wout Lievens, was very enthusiastic about signing us to his label. In addition, he also helped us get into contact with the US-based A Thousand Arms record company and so we ended up on the rosters of two distinct labels as well as appearing on the 2018 edition of Dunk!Festival.
BMS: Fascinating! Tell me, what are the future plans for Astodan?
Tim: We’re working hard on our second album and this time everybody is writing stuff. The next Astodan album will be more of a joint-venture rather than a solo-written project as it was in the past. As for the album’s concept, it will be focused on another burial ritual. This time from a Philippine tribe who bury their dead in trees.
BMS: Interesting, I think the next album will fit very well as a replacement soundtrack for the Living Forest stage in the Mortal Kombat videogames. I’m already looking forward to it!
Tim: And after that second album we’ll be making an Astodan EP with vocals. We’ve found the perfect guy for it and I’m really excited to give that a shot!
BMS: Ok, what other things you guys to aside from jamming with Astodan? And I’m starting with you, Tom!
Tom: I recently began an indie rock side project in which I do both bass and songwriting. Currently that project is in a very infant stage, you’ll be hearing more about it in the near future.
Nick: My current “side project” is refurbishing my home and handling my wife and two kids. Aside from that I do some extreme surfing when the weather allows it.
Tim: Nick is also a kickass surfer, you should see the photos on his Facebook profile!
BMS: I’m going to take a good look at. And speaking about parenting, I heard that you, Tim, are also becoming a daddy soon!
Tim: Yes and I’m looking forward to it. And aside from Astodan I still play drums in a few other projects such as the aforementioned All-Star Wedding Band and the Setup.
BMS: Very nice! Is there anything else you wish to add before we wrap this up?
Tom: Thanks for your time!
Nick: I had a great time talking to you!
Tim: Keep on doing what you doing! We love to engage people with our music even if our music is made out of so few words (literally).