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Trappist Afterland interview with Adam Cole

April 27, 2014

Trappist Afterland interview with Adam Cole

Trappist Afterland is a psychedelic folk band from
Melbourne, which consists of Adam Cole (vocals, acoustic guitar, bohdran,
bells, dulcitar, lute, oud, tanpura), Phil Coyle (tablas, frame drums, vocals
and percussion) and Nicholas Albanis (hammered dulcimer, Appalachian Dulcimer,
bowed psaltery) with addition of many other guest musicians such as Andrew
Whalley (guitar, loops, melodica, glockenspiel, dulcitar and harmonium),
HakGwai Lau (Er-Hu, vocals, Chinese lute, Chinese flute), Brett Poliness
(harmonium, vocals) and Adam Casey (guitar, hurdy gurdy, voices, percussion,
loops). As can be seen here we have various of musicians, that really are using
a lot of traditional instruments brought from different cultures, that end up
in a mesmerizing mixture of esoteric psychedelia. You won’t find a lot of bands
that use such a variety of instruments and sound not too messy. Trappist
Afterland influences came from groups like “Comus” and “In Gowan Ring”. The most
attractive theme is their ritualistic, tribal approach of performing, which
adds a special appeal and those interested in esoteric literature and music
will truly find something to think about. We will talk to the band about their
concept behind music and how did it all started out of Melbourne, where the
band is currently held.
Trappist Afterland formed around 2010. What can you tell us
about the first formation and how did you got an idea to start this kind of
psychedelic folk band?
I started Trappist originally with Adam Casey who I had known for years through Adam’s other musical project “The Boy Who Spoke Clouds”.I
was looking to find another guitarist in the style of Fahey , Basho and Sandy
Bull and Adam fitted the bill perfectly.
I had always really loved the first wave of ’70s acid folk
and was especially interested in the “Trees” community album The Christ
Tree
and the “Can Am des Puig” album Book of Am. So with those
albums in mind  Adam and I went to his parents
house on the coast in Portarlington and Recorded The Round Dance of the Cross.
The sessions for that album were great! Adam and I were
getting to know each other musically and personally and the music came out very
easily. I wrote the songs and Adam recorded and produced them whilst drinking
copious amounts of Trappist ale.
Were you part of any other musical project before forming
Trappist Afterland?
 
Before forming TA I
had played in quite a few bands starting with indie shoegaze folk band “Arrosa” from 96-98, “Kali” from 98-2000, “The Pollen Choir” 2000-2006 and “Happily ever
Afterland Band” with my best mate Neil Sweeney who now lives in Baltimore NY.
Trappist was essentially an off shoot of “Happily ever
Afterland Band”. Neil and I started HEALB because of a mutual love for krautrock, Current 93 and  and early acid folk. Unfortunately Neil moved back to the states and hence the forming of
Trappist.
You don’t play music that attracts big audience, but still
how do you see the urban scene in your city?

The Melbourne scene has a great history of garage rock and
post punk stemming from the early ’80s
with the “Boys Next Door”, “Crime And The City Solution” etc. to the late ’90s when the “Dirty Three” got massive.
There are many great places to play in Melbourne although
unfortunately for us not a lot of bands play the kind of music we do, so
putting together lineups can be difficult.
We are hoping to play more folk festivals this year, but we
still play pubs and clubs when we can. There are a lot of new psych bands
popping up around Melbourne, so it has been good playing with those bands.
You have currently four albums released digitally and some
got limited CD release and now I would like to go through each of them and talk
about the concept and the lyrical meaning behind your music (albums) and you
can also comment the recording and producing process of each one. The first one
you titled “The Round Dance Of The Cross” and it was released in
2011.
The Round Dance of The Cross was essentially a collaboration
between Adam and I. The lyrics were largely influenced by the gnostic gospels
and I think it was the first album I had recorded that put a lot of my beliefs
more to the forefront. Adam and I often joked that the record and its process
felt like an exorcism of sorts hidden behind excessive amounts of drinking.
Although the themes are of a very serious nature, the actual
recording process was so much fun. Both Adam and I realised that we could
pretty much try anything and experiment in such a way that we’d never been able
to before in our other projects. I think we really enjoyed embracing the absurd
on this and our second album Burrowing to Light. Both albums were incredibly fun and hilarious sessions to
be a part of.
You dedicated your second album “Burrowing To Light In
The Land Of Nod” to Steven Begovic?
Steven was a local Melbourne musician and a close friend of
mine who developed a very rare case of multiple sclerosis. So in some ways
Burrowing to Light was a bit of a concept record about Steve’s battles with his
condition. Steve passed away shortly before we finished the album so
unfortunately I never got to play it for him. Soon some friends of mine and
Steve’s brother will be putting on an art exhibition of Steve’s paintings with
local bands from Steve’s past playing. Steve was an extremely talented painter
and musician and a fantastic guy.
Summer of 2013 brought to us another album digitally
released by The Active Listener. “Like a Beehive,The Hill was Alive”
is in my opinion your most well crafted work. What was the concept behind it?
Like a Beehive was the first Trappist album I did on my own.
Adam had left the band and so I got writing and recorded pretty quickly after
Adam’s departure.
I recorded the album at another friend of mines studio with
the help of a couple of friends, some of which are currently in the band now.
Phil Coyle (tabla), Brett Poliness (organ) and a busker from
Hong Kong Hakgwai Lau who I met busking
with the traditional Chinese Er-Hu (which is essentially a 2 stringed violin)
played on this album. We were all very happy with how the album turned out and it
will be soon getting a vinyl release through a UK based label “Sunstone Records“.
Nathan from The Active Listener has done a great job with the digital release,
so we owe a lot to him.
As for the concept of the album it is again very heavily
influenced by the gnostic gospels and new testament. Although the songs
themselves are pretty esoteric in nature.
Your latest “The Five Wounds Of Francis Minor” was
released in late fall.
The Five Wounds of Francis Minor was the last album I
recorded and it was completely done all on 4 track in my studio at home. Again
the album is essentially a concept album looking at Francis of Assisi and
occultist and Astrologer John Dee.
The idea was basically a comparison between two very devout christian’s who chose two very different paths in their lives. John Dee
dabbled very heavily in the occult and went to great lengths in order to
satisfy his obsession with gaining esoteric knowledge in the spiritual realm.
There is an amazing documentary about John Dee which goes right into his life
and his writings are quite fascinating. I became quite obsessed with his story
and works during the recording and in some ways to my own detriment. As
compelling as his story is I would never recommend anybody to get too involved
in it, especially enochian magic which he founded through his scrying with the
supposed Archangels.
Francis’s story on the other hand is just as compelling and
a far more healthy and safe approach to
connecting to such things, in my opinion anyway.
Your cover artworks are very well made and gave me an
impression that it means a lot to you?
I have always loved the paintings of Peter Breughel and
Bosch ever since seeing those ESP “Pearls Before Swine” albums. So I guess the
art is kind of our take on that. Beehive and Burrowing were done by a local
Melbourne artist who is doing quite well now. Unfortunately for me so well that
I can’t afford to hire him anymore for
the new album haha.
Most of the images that Tim painted were either dreams I’d
had or just ideas that matched the themes on the albums. But he is a great
artist and it’s been amazing being able to see the ideas come to life so well
on paper.
Can we talk about your influences? What are some less known
bands, that had a great impact on your music besides the most obvious ones?
Our influences do vary greatly from band member to band
member, but speaking for myself I would say that early ’70s prog, psych and
folk have been quite major, also a lot of free jazz such as Ayler and more
recently classical music or ancient medieval music has been on the turntable, especially Thomas Binkley and his
Studio der Fruhen Musick project. Earlier on I guess bands like Sebadoh, Wire, This Heat and Big Black had a big effect on me. As far as
contemporary stuff goes I particularly like “Moongazing Hare” from Denmark, “Kathleen Yearwood” from Canada and a lot of the “Hand Eye Records releases. But
the list could go on and on.
What are some future plans for you?
As for future plans we are planning on playing some shows in
Europe and the UK in September 2015. We have also nearly finished a new album which I’m very excited  about. The new record is
much more of a band approach again. Phil Coyle plays frame drum on this release
and he will also be doing a lot of singing and chanting with me this time
around. Also we have a new member Nick from Oz band “Dandelion Wine” playing
dulcimer, hammered dulcimer and bowed psaltery as well as Naomi also from “Dandelion Wine” playing flute. The whole album has been recorded on analog 2 inch tape and it is sounding great courtesy
of our engineer and buddy Anthony Cornish. And as I said before Beehive will be
getting a vinyl release in the UK September this year. So there are lots of things to
look forward to.
Do you have collection? What’s your opinion on the return of
wax?
As for wax I am a vinyl tragic and vinyl in my opinion is
the only way to go especially when you’re talking about returns and maintaining
value for your collection. And lets face it… nothing sounds better than a nicely pressed record.
Thank you very much for taking your time. Before we say
goodbye just one more question. What’s the story behind your band’s name?
As for the name it was a bit of a joke concerning a heavenly
place drinking monk ale for eternity. And also a connection to my earlier band “Happily ever Afterland Band”.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
4 Comments
  1. KY

    I don't mind if you cover one of my songs. KY
    kathleenyearwoodordeal.bandcamp.com

  2. Adam Cole

    Ijust saw this Kathleen...Iwould love to:) love your music.

  3. Anonymous

    Many thanks to Sugarbush and Pointy Little Heads for releasing these awesome albums by Trappist Afterland on vinyl. They are among the most amazingly beautiful records I've heard in my entire life, and, believe me, I've heard quite a few since I bought my first 7" by the Beatles in the late sixties.

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you very much for your kind words:)
    Means a lot.

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