Studio Report: Amenra

By on 14 June 2012

We check in with Belgian sludge crew Amenra on their new record.

Title: ‘Mass V’

Studio: La Chapelle, Belgian Ardennes

Producer: Billy Anderson (Swans, Eyehategod, Fantômas)

Release date: TBC

Label: Neurot


What stage are you at with the record?

Colin Van Eeckhout (vocals): “We’ve actually finished the album now, so we’re onto the mixing and mastering stage. Billy (Anderson) is mixing it in LA, so the music’s been flying back and forth between there and Belgium. We discussed it a lot while he was here, though. I’m sure it’ll turn out just like we want it, and better, even.

How have you found working with Billy? Was it difficult to bring someone from outside the band in to produce?

“This is the first time that we’ve had to have faith in someone outside of the band during the creative process, as in the past we’ve recorded everything ourselves. Most of us have a lot of albums in our record collections that Billy worked on, so we were sure he was the person who would understand us most, and see what we were aiming at. That’s certainly turned out to be the case.”

This album’s had a bit of a difficult birth though, right?

“That’s true, and it’s taken a long time. This is our fifth album, and we’ve been together for 12 years now. Expectations are high, and even though we make sure we’re writing for ourselves, striking a balance between staying true as a band and continuing to evolve is always difficult. We also had some line-up changes, so getting used to the new configuration took a while. It’s turned out well though.”

Are you perfectionists in the studio?

“Absolutely. We have a very democratic way of working in Amenra; it’s not like one person goes home and writes all the music, we have to discuss everything. We talk more than we write sometimes, and that can make it quite a slow process. We have to try and re-try everything that we do a gazillion times until it seems perfect to us. At times in this process Billy had to say to us, ‘Guys, this is fucking good, you know, you don’t need to re-do that part’ [laughs]. We bitch about every note, every part, every accent, so it was handy to have him there giving an objective viewpoint, and helping us along at times.”

Has this album taken on any particular musical or lyrical direction?

“We never really sit down and discuss a plan of attack when we’re writing an album; we just see it as stuff we wrote over a certain time period, an audible representation of emotions and moments in our lives. It’s like a painting. This record is more straightforward, more ‘in your face’ than before though, I think. As I’ve said previously, it could well be the heaviest and slowest thing we’ve ever done, overall.”

How did you find the experience of working at the isolated La Chapelle?

“For us as a band, given what we stand for, that was a real gift. When we were talking about Billy coming to Belgium he mentioned how his grandfather was stationed in the Belgian Ardennes during World War II, and that he’d like to visit. I started looking for studios there and stumbled upon this one, which was perfect – it was right in the middle of where his family member was at that time, which made it even more special. We’d always talked about gathering ourselves in the woods one day to write, so this was fairly close to that [laughs]. Scott Kelly from Neurosis happened to be passing through Belgium while we were in the studio too, so he appears on a song. It was great to see the rapport he and Billy had in the studio.”

Words: Rob Sayce

Keep your eyes peeled to Terrorizer magazine for more news






About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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