Botanist – in conversation…

LTW boss John Robb in conversation with Botanist…

1. We love your music…. is it just you, the drums and a dulcimer for most of the tracks?

Thank you for the support. On the first release, which comprises the
first two Botanist records, the instrumentation is composed of drums and dulcimer. All performances are credited to The Botanist, as will all future recordings.

It was interesting and inspirational to read how you said in your article about Botanist that black metal is “the zone where all the forward music is happening right now.” I’d like to hear more about that.

2. How do you record? live? I read somewhere you record outside… is this true?

All recordings are made in the Verdant Realm by me, unless otherwise
stated in liner notes. I have a simple DAW and enough microphones to
record a drum kit. The techniques are different from album to album.
Much of the sound through the first five albums I owe to Jack Shirley’s post-production talents at The Atomic Garden( The intent with Botanist is to make as many albums as inspiration allows, but to endeavor to make each album
somehow different, which I assure you will be readily apparent through
the first 3-4 releases, which you can sample on the
home page. We already have some interesting ideas for future Botanist

3. There is a movement in black metal away from the initial style- sometimes towards a more back to nature approach, incorporating aspects of nature – why is this? A reaction against technology? An attempt towards a reconnection with ‘roots’

I can’t speak for others and what drives them to do what they do.
Plants and flowers thematically inspire the music of Botanist. The
mysticism they provide is akin to how I perceive divinity — more
specifically, that it is a representation, a vista of the existence of
the un-nameably divine. It is perhaps in that perspective where the
answer lies to your question about the movement you see in black

4. What is the fascination with nature? And with Linnaeus? Is this more to do with science or nature itself

You seem to have mis-read the source of the Linnaeus information. I’m
presuming you got this information from the NPR interview, which

“The next record is going to be more doom-oriented… It’s gonna be a
double disc again, and the second disc is not going to be Botanist,
but a bunch of my friends recording music to drums from Botanist III
drum sessions. It’s going to have the underlying theme of nature
worship with seven other bands. There’s going to be one band called
Cult of Linnaeus that’s going to write a song about the godfather of
botany, Carl Linnaeus.”

While I’m very pleased with the theme and result of the music recorded
by the two other people of the band Cult of Linnaeus (which, by
definition, I am in, as I played the drums), you would have to ask the
lyricist, Alex Lindo (whose main band, along with the Cult of Linnaeus
guitarist/bassist Matt Harper, is Nero Order about
what inspired him to create what he did, although it probably was born
from his fascination of Carl Linnaeus, the man, being regarded as the
creator of modern botanical science.

Botanist – in conversation…

While records are being set straight, I’d also like to point out that
although you compared Botanist’s work to Waldruna, I’m not familiar
with Waldruna. I may or may not have heard a track years ago (as I
have heard the name before), and if I did, I either don’t remember or
vaguely remember that it didn’t connect with me, but I will try again
based on your recommendation.

5. Are you fascinated with the brutality of nature, and with man’s perceived disconnection with this?

I don’t believe Nature’s brutality is something that is channeled into
Botanist’s work. What is channeled are Nature’s aspects of intricacy,
delicacy and mystery. It’s a mystery that’s measurable and not.
Nature’s is a perfection that is as aesthetic as it is mathematical; a
presence that is tangible yet spiritual. From these perceptions a
practically endless font of thematic inspiration is provided for the
music of Botanist.

That the songs often are of the theme that plants are in direct
opposition to Man has to do partially as a nod to black metal’s
misanthropic mode, but more specifically, in Botanist’s case, it is to
separate the existence of the natural world with Man’s perception of
the existence of the natural world. It’s the idea that all that is
would exist whether or not mankind was there to qualify or name it —
and in providing explanation to what Botanist is calling the divine,
the object of the explanation is in a way cheapened. The desire to
remove as much of mankind’s influence on Nature’s quality is what
inspires much of the over-arcing lyrical theme in Botanist.

6. What are the plans for recording/touring?

As of fall 2011, Botanist “VI: Flora” is steadily being recorded. I
anticipate it will take 4-6 more months before it is finished. Ideas
for “VII: Verdant Realm” are firmly set, although no recording will
begin until well into 2012. There is talk of doing a split with
another established Bay Area black metal act. There is also talk of a
split of more doom-oriented material with a band on the TotalRustlabel, again to be released by TotalRust, perhaps in 2013.

2012 is shaping up to be a big release year for Botanist. “III: Doom
in Bloom” is slated to be released by TotalRust in February. We are talking with a couple labels, one local, one not, about the possible discrete releases of “IV: Mandragora” and “V: Whorl” next year, as well, which would get Botanist’s work over the years preceding the release of “I/II” caught up to the present… although by the time “V” is released, there will be more material available. By 2013, I’d like to be at a point where there is not the feeling that a bunch of recordings are sitting on a shelf, waiting to be released, and instead have no backlog of material, to be in a situation where the album being worked on will be the next one to be released.

I like writing and recording a lot, and fundamentally do so to satisfy
myself. Inspiration is here now, and I’m going to be thankful of it
and take advantage of it while it lasts.

As for touring, I’m not so black metal that I believe playing live is
wrong, but the fact of the matter is I’d need to find at least two
people who could either play dulcimer live, or play something that
would sound like Botanist’s dulcimer live (in addition to more easily
found musicians like a bassist) in order to have anything resembling a
respectable live act. I’d like to play live. I’m open to

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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