Thorun Interview

<Hud posted a short mention of Welsh band Thorun last week, a quite inspired discovery thanks to the ever wonderful Bandcamp. We were suitably impressed with their two EPs that we decided to procure a short interview with Keeran Williams, who is one of the band’s guitarists.

If you’re new to the name, Thorun are a four piece from South Wales who rather refreshingly play instrumental-only, down tuned and slow metal, with a sprinkling of inspired influences from all over the long and glorious history of rock.

You could be complacent and label their sound as ‘sludge’, and then lump them in with all the other Weedeater copyists out there, but you would be committing the foulest mistake if you did, because they have a genuinely interesting and original approach to their music, and that made me want to know more.

As a result, I got in contact with Keeran to ask him to give Rip It Up’s readers a short history of the band, and explain what got them into playing this style.

Myself and Jonny Evans (Guitar) have been friends and band mates for about 16 years and we had a number of conversations about setting up a new band. After a few months we finally decided to get our shit together and do something. It all happened quite quickly after posting some requests for interested musicians on a couple of forums and websites we found Neal Palmer (Bass) and Mike Johnson (Drums) who agreed to come along and jam with us in Cardiff. We’re all from in or around the Cardiff area so it’s been pretty easy getting together to rehearse and write. To be honest there isn’t much more to it than that, once we’d got used to each other the songs started coming together and things began falling in to place. We’re all really comfortable playing music together and I believe this is the best band I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.

That’s clear from the quality of the playing, the last EP being a really professional affair. It’s an interesting aspect to the band that you have no singer, and play heavy instrumental jams. Was this a conscious choice? I think the songs stand up for themselves, and it’s quite refreshing to hear a band with a different outlook. It reminds me of a lot of Sunn’s work, where the riffing takes centre stage. Were they an influence?

I wouldn’t say that Sunn have been a particularly big influence on our music; especially not our most recent work. We’re all fans of heavy music from Sabbath and Candlemass to Weedeater and Mastodon. The riffs definitely take centre stage but it’s not just about the riff, it’s about the transition between parts and how we can keep things interesting for the listener and ourselves. There are quite a few instrumental bands out there who tend to drag riffs out, which is fine, but we like things to change as often as possible without losing momentum. The sound is just as important as the music itself so we tend to be quite critical of things like the guitar and bass tone. Our outlook is basically “How many different types of metal and rock can we mix together to make something cool?”. At the start, we thought about the possibility of getting someone in on vocals but as you said; the songs stand up for themselves so why spoil it?

We can’t argue with that, and the self-confidence of the band is noticeable, especially as I believe you’ve been going for a relatively short time – about two or three years? How have you found that period of time, and are you finding that your appeal is increasing outside of the Cardiff/South Wales area?

We’ve been going for just over 2 years. It’s been a really cool time. We’ve built up a small following in Cardiff and we seem to be attracting listeners from all over the place. The internet is great for spreading the word so we rely a lot on independent blogs and webzines (like this one, thanks!) to help us get the word out. The underground music press has been pretty good to us so far. Cardiff has an ever growing alternative music scene and people seem to be paying more attention to stuff that, a few years ago, would have been pretty much ignored. We’ve also been surprised by the number of people from other countries who have downloaded our music.

Your music betrays some interesting influences to me. I might be reading too much into it of course, but apart from the obvious and rather lazy Weedeater comparisons, I’m hearing some good old Deep Purple, Sabbath kind of hints in there. Do any of you listen to good old 70s hard rock as well as more modern stuff? What would you say your main musical influences are?

70’s rock and metal is just as important to our sound as the more modern influences. I grew up on bands like Deep Purple, Budgie, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Other influences come from all over the metal spectrum; Kyuss, Pelican, Weedeater, Taint, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Yob, Goatsnake, I could go on but you’d probably get bored. We’re a bit of an eclectic bunch so influence has dropped in from all over the place.

Keeran’s list of influences is interesting and what it confirms is that all the band members appear to have brought something to the party, and that they seem to be pretty musically well read. Like most of the industrial areas of the UK, such as the Midlands, South Wales has always seemed to have a no nonsense appreciation of rock music – as the long standing metal band Budgie proves.
You’ve garnered some really good press with your releases so far. The omens are all good, and I sense in the Reprise EP a real potential, both from a doom/sludge point of view, but also there’s stuff there that could appeal to a wider audience as well. Do you see yourselves as being defined by such a tiresome sub genre as sludge, or do you aim to just develop as you see fit?

Well our newest EP “Chorus Of Giants” is not really a sludge record. I like to think of it as instrumental heavy rock. Sure there are slow sludgy parts but there’s more going on. We all enjoy playing powerful, low tuned riffs but I think we change things up enough to cross over to other “sub-genres”. People have described some of our stuff as stoner-rock, sludge and doom-groove. There’s always this obsession with categorising a band but I’m not sure it’s that important any more. If people like the sound and can nod their heads to the music then we’ve done our job.

That’s increasingly going to be the case, simply because judging by your music, the band does not take the lazy path of slipping on a t-shirt with a popular band’s logo on it, and thus fitting in to some ready-made market that demands music of a certain style. I also notice that you have some great song titles – such as ‘Cow smashed into meat’ – is it harder to name a song when there are no lyrics to define it?

Without lyrics it can be a bit of a pain trying to name a song. The flip side of this is that we are free to use any title we like because we don’t really have to relate the title to any sort of theme. The first EP has the wackiest song titles but I think that was us having fun with it and taking advantage of the freedom.

Tell us about Thoruns plans for the coming year – tours, recording, etc. Do you currently fit the band around other things such as work?

The band is currently worked around jobs and families. We’ve got more shows lined up in South Wales. We’re in the middle of writing stuff for our third release. If we can work up enough interest to play more shows outside of Wales then we’ll be there!

Well thanks to Keeran for the time spent talking about the band. We at Rip It Up can only urge you to check Thorun out – by going to their Bandcamp page and buying their music. Links also exist there to take you to their website and Facebook page, where you can check out news and other stuff.

We are always impressed with bands who don’t just take the easy, predictable path and here is a band that is definitely making their own way in the metal world!

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