Tau Cross: Band Of The Day

By on 2 October 2015


Amebix founder/bassist/vocalist Rob “The Baron” Miller has recently returned to the scene with a new band Tau Cross, whose much anticipated debut album was recently released by Relapse. Rob has teamed up with none other than Michael “Away” Langevin from legendary Candian experimental thrash pioneers Voivod on this recording who handles drum duties, as well as drafting in two veterans of the USA crust punk scene Jon Misery(Misery) and Andy “Leffer” Lefton(War//Plague, ex Provoked) and between them they have created an eclectic sounding album that should appeal to  fans of the last Amebix album ‘Sonic Mass’.

I got in touch with Rob to find out more about the origins of the band and the debut album.

WORDS: Kat Gillham

FOR FANS OF: Amebix, Voivod, Misery, War//Plague, Killing Joke
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Tau Cross’ (Relapse, 2015)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Hi Rob, please tell the readers a little bit about how the band came about and how you initially went about recruiting the other members?
“After Amebix had released ‘Sonic Mass’ it became apparent that we would not be touring, which for me was a huge disappointment, I had also been writing new material with a view to another album to succeed ‘S.M.’, this is where the material for Tau Cross came from. Initially I demo’d a few tracks with Roy (Mayorga) in LA but he became increasingly busy over the next year or so, at which time I was also looking for guitarists to get involved with this music, with no success at all until I eventually opened up dialogue with Andy and Jon whom I knew from playing in Minneapolis as well as working together on other Amebix projects (Andy did the animation for “Knights of the Black Sun’). Away arrived on the scene at the same time, we had been batting email back and forwards for a few years as friends and he happened to pop his head up asking if I had anything I was working on right now, so things began to take off at that stage.”

Why did you settle upon these guys to work with? What qualities etc do you think they bring into the band both as people and musicians?
“Old school, no bullshit, experience, being cool people to work with no fat fucking egos. I wanted to see where this led, rather than make a self conscious type of record, just to let people do what they do and see what we have, to let go of control and treat it more as a work of art that four people get to paint together, in fact just to trust in the process itself.”

Your debut album was recently released by Relapse, can you tell the readers a little bit about this album in your own words and what they can expect from it? How can they order it? What formats is it available on?
“We became aware once we had recorded the album that there are two clear sides, one that is very much within the feel and environment of the 16-17th century,whilst the other side is more contemporary in its issues and subject matter. From what I am getting back from people who have heard this, they see it as a natural successor to ‘Sonic Mass’, thematically and musically, we have managed to use a lot of colour and texture here, to stay in the same mode as I have always done and just do what you feel like doing,it is a great work. It is on all formats, the first vinyl limited run sold out in 24 hours though, so tough tithes to those who couldn’t get that one.”

How did you end up working with Relapse? Was it a case of they gave you the best offer? Did you have contact with any other labels?
“I did approach another couple of labels on the advice of various people but they were not interested once I shared the demo, not surprising really as it was terrible quality but thankfully Brad Boatright at Audiosiege loved it and could hear the potential so gave Relapse the heads up on that. They have been very cool people to work with too. As far as offers go I don’t think labels do that kind of thing any more. I just came to them with the demo and then financed the rest of the recording myself, so they had the finished work, plus Orion Landau is their in house art guy and he was fantastic to work with.”

The band members are spread out across the world, you reside in the UK and the others in Canada/USA so I am very curious to know how the album/material was written/ composed and ultimately refined. Was it a case of you writing material and sending it to the rest of the band? Did you rehearse much as a band unit before recording?
“I gave the guys the first demo stuff and suggested that we simply tear it down and make the demo again with all of us, so started by tracking the drums in Montreal and then uploading into Dropbox so I could track bass here, back up for guitars in Minneapolis and then back for vocals, not the most convenient way to do things but we did not have the money to get everyone in a studio this time around, so we would talk on Skype a lot and try and keep the dialogue open as if we were in the next room kind of thing. Along with Amebix I also lost all the money I had invested in that so there was not a lot left to do except get DIY on this.”

Are you satisfied with how this album/material turned out in a recording environment?
“Well,as I say, it was recorded all over the place, and yes I am very pleased with what we managed to make of that, it is a bold endeavour I think and it paid off.”

Where was the album recorded at/mixed/mastered? Why did you choose those places and people to produce/mix the album?
“Mineapolis guitars, drums Montreal, bass and vox Isle of Skye, mixed at my mates place around the mountain here through necessity.”

How soon after the split of Amebix did you start coming up with the music and concept of Tau Cross? Did it come about quite soon after or did you take a musical time out for a little while?
“Tau Cross is essentially Amebix material with new musicians involved, the next stuff will be more communally written by the look of it, but still has that feel about it. This evolved during the long dissolution of Amebix,it is the distillation of that operation.”

What are the significant differences in your opinion between the music/lyrics of Amebix and Tau Cross, what seperates the two bands clearly? What sets them apart?
“I think that I spent some time trying to see what it was that I brought to Amebix, that made it such a different band on many levels, and I found that this quality was still intact, I just needed to find a new way to express it, so it is very similar in lyrical and vocal approach but with a more complex and perhaps tuneful guitar sound.”

What kind of feeling do you want to conjure up and create with the music, aesthetics and lyrics of Tau Cross? The album cover looks rather ominous/foreboding.
“The cover art was done by Orion Landau, we chatted for some time about this after he had heard the rough demo, I wanted to get that same unsettling and eerie feeling that you get from the first Sabbath cover,a sort of 70’s Hammer horror vibe, as some of the songs fit into that environment, there are stories to follow, as usual I am trying to create an internal environment for people to walk into within the songs themselves. The logo is suggestive of primitive earth energies within the lunar sphere of the unconscious,these are the triggers for the music.”

Please tell us about the origin of the band name and the album cover, who designed it and the striking looking logo/symbol?
“I drew the symbol initially and Andy fleshed it out properly. The Tau has been a constant symbol throughout my adult life, I chose to represent that in the logo so that in a sense it would take the ownership of this ancient symbol out of the hands of the predominantly religious context that it is seen in, it is a universal symbol that belongs to us all.”

Lyrically can you give us an insight into what subjects inspired you to put pen to paper for the songs on this album?
“16th and 17th century occultism, Crowley/Dee and Jack Parsons, the stone breakers of Avebury, the practice of stealing the semen from hanged men for ritual use, Fairy mounds and abductions,the nature of Control, perennial evil within people,the power of lies, observations of all sorts.”

I heard someone reference Killing Joke when hearing Tau Cross, a relevant comparison in your opinion? Where did you gain the musical influence from for this album’s material?
“There has always been a KJ reference or Motorhead or whomever people can try and liken it to, but with this album it is going to be very difficult to pin a tail on it, there is a lot of different texture here. My own musical influences remain the same as they ever were, you can hear a nod here and there but like Amebix,this is about creating our own space and not being a follower of anyone else,Tau Cross will be our own sound and approach to music.”

How does it feel to be starting afresh with a new band after so many years? I guess it must be like having a blank canvas all over again like you did back in the late 70’s/early 80’s when first starting out with Amebix… I guess you must feel a certain sense of musical freedom with a brand new musical project with no previous discography/recorded legacy to live up to.
“It was very hard to get this started, but when it did it was like being on the right path again,very refreshing and also challenging to shed the old skin and create another new one entirely,but in my life I have done that before and made something better each time.”

Tau Cross will play this year’s Roadburn Festival

About Kez Whelan

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