Some time ago Canadian Folk/Black metal band Finnr’s Cane released their Wanderlust album through Prophecy Productions. Alternative Matter’s very own Bruce Smeath was quite impressed by their forward thinking style of music. Enough reason to have a friendly chat with vocalist and guitar player The Bard about his band, its rather captivating music and the beautiful Canadian nature..
Thank you for doing this interview. Your band name is rather mysterious. What does it mean and can you give a short summery on the band’s history?
The band began sometime in 2008. The Peasant and I played a casual improvised session and we both really enjoyed the music that was created. There were no real plans to begin a band at first, but over time it was decided that such a project was worth pursuing. Shortly after, the Slave agreed to join and the lineup was complete. “Finnr’s Cane” is just something relatively abstract that we came up with as a complimentary image for our music.
Your MySpace site describes you as Ambient/Black Metal/Jazz. Are you aiming at metalheads who might be looking for something more or jazz fans who fancy a trip to the dark side?
I don’t think we are really aiming for anyone in particular. For me, I am a “metalhead” who is looking for music with more originality and dynamics, and I guess more emotion, so this is why we write this kind of music. I’m always intrigued by the feeling I get from esoteric jazz chording, so it’s something I like to use in my songs. If there are jazz fans who are getting into this, then that would be just wonderful!
What can you tell about the lyrics and themes on Wanderlust? What are they about?
The lyrics on Wanderlust consist mostly of improvised or “stream of consciousness” poetry about a variety of topics, including: isolation in Northern Winters and life in the North in general, the beauty and reverence of the natural world, reflection and meditation in times of solitude, journeying and travel, as well as personal and spiritual growth.
Canada is known for its long winters and endless woods. How does this affect your music?
The long winters and great forests of Canada are some of our main inspirations! To me, music and nature are very interconnected. When I experience one, I think I often subconsciously experience the other. This is why I believe that nature has a great effect on our music in more ways than one.
Can you tell something about the creative process within the band in general and Wanderlust in particular?
Very little of our material is pre-written. We start by getting together in the studio and talking about words, ideas, or themes which we would like to represent as songs. We then choose a particular idea and then just picture it in our minds as we “jam”. The resulting improvisation is recorded, and then later processed into more coherent “songs” with some added layers.
One of the remarkable features of the band is the fact you use folk instruments to replace the bass lines. How did that came about and what kind of effect are you aiming for?
It was not the original plan to avoid including a bass in the band; it was a situation that developed naturally. While working on Wanderlust, we fell in love with the cold, eerie atmosphere that resulted from the recordings without bass guitar. In the end, we decided to leave it that way since its something that not many bands do. Parts that required more low end were simply filled in with cello or synth.
Are you contemplating to use other instruments as well on future recordings?
Definitely. I think that using uncommon instrumentation in music is one way of giving an album a characteristic sound. I mean why always use drums, bass and guitar? It’s been done on about a trillion albums. Currently we are experimenting with uncommon percussive instruments for our next album. We will also be using the cello again with real flute playing as well, and possibly whatever else we can get our hands on!
Finnr’s Cane has an aura of mystery surrounding the band. Is something you’re purposely cultivate?
Really? Well we do not like to reveal too much about ourselves. Not your typical “rock stars” I suppose.
Mixing black metal with post-rock and other elements seems to be increasingly popular as bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Agalloch and Altar Of Plagues. What’s your take on this and how does this affect Finnr’s Cane?
I really do like this movement but I find that some of these bands are still “missing” something musically (for my ears). I guess this is what drives me to create the music of Finnr’s Cane.
Finnr’s Cane is signed to Prophecy Productions. How did you get in touch with them and how are things going so far?
Thor Wanzek got a hold of Wanderlust and contacted Finnr’s Cane for an interview in his Sounds Under The Surface zine. Luckily for us, Thor decided to introduce the music to the Prophecy Productions staff and everything fell into place from there. So far the partnership has been great. We’re all very pleased with how professional the label is in all matters, and we’re looking forward to a bright future together.
Canada is also known for its share of diverse, original and high quality metal, varying from death metal (Cryptopsy, Neuraxis), doom/black (Woods Of Ypres) to progressive music (Devin Townsend). What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?
I think it’s interesting and I suppose it reflects our society and culture, which are also extremely diverse.
Time for the final question. What’s the biggest Spinal Tap moment for Finnr’s Cane so far?
Haha, I have to admit, I have seen their film and it is one of my favourites. I’m not sure we’ve really had any moments such as those crazy guys do. I mean they are hilarious! I don’t think we could be so funny if we tried…
Any thoughts or remarks?
Keep an eye out for our next album, as it is already well in the works. Many thanks for your time.