CODE – DIALOGUES, UNDERTONES, AND INLAND SEAS – IN THE PRIVACY OF CODE
Code is without a shadow of doubt one of the most innovative, interesting, and captivating bands to have emerged in the early 2000s, which is evidenced by the quality and longevity of albums such as "Nouveau Gloaming" (2005) and "Resplendent Grotesque" (2009). The latest opus entitled "Mut" is a highly emotive and strong release that is as challenging as it is haunting. Eternal Terror Live caught up with Aort (guitars) and Wacian (vocals) in order to learn a bit more about the entity that is Code and the many things surrounding it. Enjoy our Q&A, fuck-bags.
Musically and lyrically speaking, Code has never been a predictable entity, which is partly why the band is so exciting to follow. As a listener, you are never really sure what to expect, but I always end up being thrilled with your albums and challenged by them. Was the desire to experiment and continually push the envelope present from the very beginning?
Aort – Firstly, it is very pleasing to hear that following our band is an interesting exercise. I think from a basic level, the strongest desire is to create music we can be proud of and that we believe in. There is no agenda to create deliberately challenging or obtuse music as I think to have that as a goal would limit our ability to create music with honesty. That agenda also applies to looking inwards too in that repeating ourselves is not something we ever want to do either so it is dichotomy of sorts in that regard.
What was the initial motivation for launching Code? Was there a specific purpose or an agenda of sorts?
Aort – There was no agenda. We just loved music and we wanted to play our own version of the kind of music we worshipped at that time. Although Nouveau Gloaming is quite a unique album, it is also the easiest to feel a sense of reverence for the genre which has gradually slipped away as we have moved onwards. We never wanted to create something deliberately different, we just a very simple desire to make the best music we could and I don’t think that centre has changed.
How do you guys go about writing and composing songs for Code? Do you experiment and improvise a lot in the studio or is everything more or less planned and set in stone before you start recording in the studio?
Aort – The method of writing songs for Code has stayed the same since day one. Personally, I don’t work well writing music in a group environment. I like to lock myself away and try ideas out without the fear of immediate feedback both positive or negative. The songs always start with myself writing the core of the music and producing demos which I then share with the rest of the band. Each band member then works on their own parts and develops as they feel fit. So the majority of the music is very well understood and rehearsed before we record. Of course there are always fits of inspiration that come during the recording or mixing process which we work on and can dramatically change the feel of the song.
Are you intuitive and spontaneous when it comes to composing songs and coming up with ideas and so on?
Aort – The majority of the time, the start of songs come to me when I am just improvising on the guitar. A line or riff might come out which is then the start of a demo that I produce and arrange and add layers until the feel of the song is one that I think will work. The one exception for this rule was actually at the beginning of writing for this new album. I knew I didn’t want us to make a traditional metal album and the drum beat for what ended up becoming ‘cocoon’ was repeating in my head, so I recorded the drum beat and built the song from there. It was strange for me in that a whole album began as a simple drum beat for the first time since I started writing music.
The band has existed for 13 years now. What motivates you to keep doing what you do, musically speaking?
Aort – It just comes down to the experience being a personally rewarding one. As long as we feel rewarded in doing what we are doing then we will continue. Of course I am not talking in financial terms as if that was the case we would have stopped before we even started. We are lucky in that we don’t feel constrained by genre when we make music so I don’t think it would ever be the case that the musical side would be a reason to stop. It would be the hassles of dealing with the periphery that would be the cause for drawing a line under things.
I am of the opinion that you have never released the same kind of album twice and yet all your releases sound like the work of Code, if that makes sense. You have a sound and an identity of your own that somehow works and comes across well in different musical settings. No matter what genre you lean on, I can always seem to detect that "Code-element", which is a compliment. What are your thoughts on that?
Aort – It is very pleasing to hear these words as the worst thing to be told is that a band does not have an identity of their own. Again, I think this is down to us creating music largely without too much concern as to what influences we should put into it. Of course there will be subconscious influences as that is unavoidable, but we have never written a song or riff with the purpose of it sounding like someone else. From a personal stand point, I have never had music lessons and as a result I guess I have developed my own way of playing based on the shapes that come naturally to me and there are a few touches that I always seem to come back to such as using a lot of open strings in my guitar playing for example. I think the ‘Code-element’ could be put down to inward thinking and blinkered naivety.
"Mut" is quite melancholic and even downright sad in places. Where does that melancholy stem from?
Aort – We are not particularly melancholic people but melancholic music always has a unique attraction, especially over more upbeat music. We just make music that appeals to us and as with so many people, music with dissonance and played in a minor key has an attraction which resonates so profoundly. The itch is there and it needs to be scratched.
Could you elaborate a bit on the lyrics of "Mut"? Titles such as "The Bloom in the Blast" and "Numb, an Author" sound really evocative and poetic in my opinion.
Wacian – Whereas the last album had a defined theme and central ideas that it focused around ‘Mut’ is more about loosing from borders in format, subject, everything so it is a gut response to the music – reactive rather than shaped. It should be something like reading in a fever and trying to hold on to the tails of those characters and plots, lots of shapes and chased thoughts but leaving the music to colour it all in. There is a certain amount of deprecation, jealousy and a fascination with horror as one of those strange and almost spiritual gateways, tapping simultaneously into fear and superstition.
"Contours" is one of my favorite songs off the "Mut", and it has this really abstract and otherworldly vibe to it that I can`t quite put into words. Could you tell me a bit about the meaning of that song?
Wacian – Pairing back was important on ‘Mut’ and ‘Contours’ lyrics are particularly minimal. It helped that much of last year I was medicated and spent a lot of time slipping in and out of the world. In that situation you sit in the path of a blunderbuss of confused information and, when it gets loud enough and is so relentless, there is a clarity you step off into. It isn’t always morbid or unpleasant but it is interesting.
What was the atmosphere like in the studio when you recorded "Mut"?
Aort – It was an extremely positive atmosphere, in fact easily the most positive and enjoyable recording experience of any of our albums. In the past, the recording and mixing sessions have been extremely fraught for one reason or another. This time, we were all prepared, our co-producer was highly experienced and encouraging, the facilities at the studio were just what we needed. Everything was right for us to be as creative as we could be and I think that shows in the end result.
How did your cooperation with Agonia Records come about?
Aort – Agonia were in touch with us for a few years before we moved to them. We have not had great luck with labels in the past and when it came time to find a new home for the third album, Agonia were the label who believed in the band the most and for that reason, we moved to their camp and have been happy here ever since.
What inspires you on a personal level in terms of music and lyrics? Do movies, literature and art inspire you, or is it rather a case of you being inspired by the world around you and then building your music and lyrics on or around that?
Wacian – In this instance it was the album’s music itself and very little else. It wasn’t a conscious group decision, more of an odd coincidence that none of us looked for outside inspiration. The instrumental drafts had been written by Aort in January and they went a long way towards where it would end up. Other than that it was a troubled and detached year and that fed in, of course. ‘Augur Nox’ had used some very specific inspirations in terms of lyrics but here everything was new and all reflex.
I saw Code perform in Copenhagen back in 2009 along with Secrets of the Moon and Solstafir. That was a great show and all three bands were quite different and experimental in their own right. From a fan’s perspective that was a great bill. Any particular recollections or fond memories from that tour?
Aort – I personally had a great time on that tour. As a band, we were in one of our many points of limbo so we didn’t have the cohesion from an inter-personal point of view that the other bands did so were really trying to find out how we should present ourselves on stage and how our music should be delivered. Regardless of any of those side points, it was a great few weeks and the three bands became one big happy family by the end of it so I would say that it was a nice set of memories to have.
Speaking of shows and touring, do you like to perform live and tour, or is that merely a necessity of sorts in order to promote your music? I have spoken to quite a few musicians over the years who do not really enjoy performing live and touring, but instead tend to view it as a necessity in order to get the word out there and bring the music out in front of people and so on.
Aort – Playing live is very much a double edged sword and for me personally, it comes down to if there is any connection with the audience and the associated energy that comes from that. If we play to a show where the crowd is into it and there is a good energy in the air it can be an extremely exhilarating experience. Conversely, rehearsing hard, traveling big distances and suffering from severe sleep deprivation only to play to an audience who couldn’t care less whether you played or not really makes you question the worth of what you are doing. We don’t play gigs to try and grow our fanbase, we don’t have the time to do that given that we all have day jobs and real lives to get on with. We do it for the enjoyment so that roll of the dice in terms of audience reaction is something that plays a big part of the decision whether or not to continue.
The distribution of music has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years and many bands and artists operate independently now and are no longer affiliated with any labels or managers or anything like that. With all the digital music aggregators and streaming devices and so on out there you can basically release your own material digitally in a matter of seconds. On the other hand it can be extremely difficult to actually have people notice your music and pick up on it. Tons of stuff is released constantly and nobody seems to be able to keep track anymore. Where do you stand on all this and what are some of your views and perspectives on the whole thing?
Aort – It is difficult to be objective about this as Code are just another one of the millions of bands that are battling to find an audience. I am quite black and white about this as we have limited time and resources to put into Code. We have two options, focus on making the best music we can, or focus on trying to get noticed. One of those options is in our eyes completely futile and the other has the potential to reward us on a personal level. We chose to concentrate on the music and if people hear us then that is a nice bonus. It is great to get positive feedback and to hear that people are enjoying what we do, but we are not going to actively go out and seek that. We live in an era of an unmanageable access to entertainment so I think it is time to look inwards.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this interview for us. Any final words or comments?
Aort – We would just like to thank you for your time and support, it is very much appreciated. To your readers, please do check out our new album.