] Concrete Web [ February 2004
// Tony vs. Sascha Ehrich
The band was formed as a project by guitarists Stefan Weimar and Sascha Ehrich in 2000, and was turned into a 'real band' situation soon after. What were the reasons that made you take that decision at that time?
I remember that we first just rehearsed some powdery melodic riffs and tested song structures in order to finish any kind of song. At that time Ingo took part in the fragmented band, we started to practise with upgrowing enthusiasm. After some month of rehearsing it became more and more obvious to us to embody a stable band. Perhaps we recognised the point of no return and reinforced the vision that Fragments Of Unbecoming was not supposed to crawl beneath the underground. Due to our ambition, we wrote several songs and what else should we have done as to put them on a record?
Where did you find the band name, and what does it mean for you?
At that time we had to decide how the new band should be denominated, we had collected a huge selection of about twenty to thirty phrases. The term "Fragments Of Unbecoming" finally was found by chance within the lyrics of an Edge Of Sanity album. Doubtless, it was a main topic and of great importance for us to have a very unique or independent phrase and yet unheard name in order to prevent to be premature compared with other bands or musical styles we do not want to be equalised with. To take a closer look to its signification I can admit that we four members are part of some kind of project or way to sophisticate and reinforce our musical development and its compositions beneath. That is to say we are always directed to our aim, which hopefully every single of us is able to achieve.
Explain why you choose for that musical medium, known as 'New Wave Of Swedish Death Metal'?
I am not sure if anyone can compare us with bands of "New Wave Of Swedish Death Metal" - I rather consider this phrase to bands like Soilwork, The Defaced, Darkane etc. that is to say to more modern orientated sound wrappings. For purpose, we decided to entitle our style "Swedish Styled Death Metal" and, in any case, the Swedish influence is based on the older ones. Actually, I remember that my first contact with Death Metal was a real Swedish one (Edge Of Sanity - The Spectral Sorrows, Dark Tranquillity - Skydancer) and this definitely changed my point of view considering music in general. This fascination was and is rich of influence for me until nowadays. In my opinion, Swedish Death Metal is a genius and very unique form in music. I have never been beside listening to bands like Edge Of Sanity, At The Gates, Unanimated, Carcass, Dissection, Opeth, Katatonia, and plenty of others that perform this unique style in Death Metal filled with brutality/aggression and calmness, harmony and disharmony, deathlike melancholy and liveliness, or especially fulfilled with these unforgettable acoustic and instrumental songs. It is just a pleasure to listen to downtuned guitars playing twin-melodies and harsh voices screaming out like their souls are slaughtered. Add a magnificent and unmistakable sound of Swedish studios like Sunlight, Unisound or Fredman and the perfect release is ready to conquer! I mean, I heard "Darkday" of Edge of Sanity´s album "The spectral sorrows" for the first time in 1994 or 1995 and still admire this piece of art. Today there also is a great potential in Swedish Death Metal, for example with bands like Defleshed, Kaamos, Non Exist, Repugnant, etc.
Any special reason why you recorded the new album in the same studio (Stellwerk) as you did your debut MCD album “Bloodred Tales - Chapter I - The crimson Season”?
We used to book this underground studio, because it is located not very far away from where we are living (20-30 km) and already the production for "Bloodred Tales" was very satisfying concerning both the recording and the working atmosphere, as it was relaxed and without any kind of pressure. Besides, every member of Fragments Of Unbecoming is working during the week and this was the only studio with the condition to be able to work especially on the week-ends.
Production duties were shared by the band and Stefan Hanbuch. How must we see this co-operation?
By entering the studio, we definitely knew, which sound and atmosphere wrapping the songs should have. For every single instrumental sound, we were responsible by ourselves and Stefan simply helped us with the soft- and hardware recording, mixing and mastering. Musically, he had no influence at all concerning the recording. Generally, Stefan and his studio are rather unknown, because of he is not an exclusive death metal producer. In his daily life, he works for a famous German radio station as a technical specialist for sound engineering tasks. Considering his studio activities, he produces very different styles in music e.g. jazz, pop, acoustic, rock and certainly metal. But actually, besides some death metal recordings for bands like "Legacy" and "Veneral Disease", I do not really know the projects by name he already worked out.
You got a deal offered by Metal Blade in May of 2003, but how did you come in contact with them, and what kind of contract did you get?
In fact, nowadays bigger labels unfortunately often hesitate to risk the collaboration with rather unknown underground acts, because of there can be very low selling accounts for a debut release. In addition to that, there are thousands of underground acts everlasting fighting for years and releasing one album or demo after the other to get paid attention. Thus, I can imagine that there are many who perhaps doubt if we deserved a serious deal with such a recommended metal label after only one demonstration release. On the other side of the horizon, Fragments Of Unbecoming is actually a formation, as I already mentioned before, performing a style that in these modern infected days nearly nowhere can be found again and according to our experience there is a numerous crowd waiting hungry for a band musically dedicated to the early Swedish Death Metal days! To take a view to the responsible demonstration release "Bloodred Tales - Chapter I The Crimson Season", I have to admit, that we invested our entire enthusiasm to put out a remarkable and outstanding edition which was e.g. described by the famous editor of the Chaos Mag as the state of art in newcomer releases. Besides, we got featured on two important compilation-CD´s dedicated to the best unsigned acts both national and international as a supplement for metal zines with large circulations. As you can imagine, especially this feature caused attraction by some labels. In connection, we send a wide-ranged promotion package to Metal Blade and finally they got interested and contacted us. In May 2003, we signed a contract about five albums (a contract for a decade in the history of Fragments Of Unbecoming?). Concerning to their wide-ranged promotion we hope to be able to get and arrange more festival and gig participation, although Metal Blade is no booking-agency.
Having signed in May, it still took until the Fall for you to enter the studio, but when were you actually ready(!) to start recording the songs on this album?
To that time we signed to Metal Blade, we had already booked the studio and had placed the drums to record. Every song was finally composed and ready to get recorded. In general, it was not dependent on a deal if we would enter the studio, thus we would have recorded and released "Skywards" anyway.
Studio sessions often generate 'Spinal Tap' moments. Did you have any?
With "Skywards" really not at all, sorry - it was a more or less nerve-racking and a too long period of time.
Were any songs on the album more troublesome than others in the writing or recording process?
Certainly, there are always parts more fastidious than others - just a normal always repeating case, but I would not say that we had trouble to record the songs. We practised the songs very often before entering the studio - thus, it was clear right from the beginning, how many bitches would come up:-) Especially concerning "Insane Chaosphere", we reached, to a few parts, some kind of frontier in our technical ability. This is why we deleted this track from our live-set. Do not misunderstand this, in sure we are able to play it live, but if our beloved drummer speeds up a bit, it becomes impossible to perform it exactly to our satisfaction. Besides, due to the fact we are two guitarists/songwriters in the band, there are always parts one is able to play more accurate than the other...on the contrary, we never had problems with writing processes.
You use rather long and mysteriously sounding titles for your albums (and songs, to be honest). Is there a special meaning behind the title of the album and the song by the same title?
Creating album and song titles I could not remember to have ever followed a so called purpose to let them sounding extraordinary mysterious. If some got longer, they got longer by chance or perhaps instinct. But, for my personal part, I always try to establish titles and denominate the tracks unique to prevent a repetition of already given titles. In addition to that, every title structure is supposed to fit by meaning to both the song and the album. We used to entitle the debut album with "Skywards" to express a movement heavenwards. We wanted to let the title sound more positive in contradiction to a tide of evil statements and contents on the music market. Therefore, I created the subtitle "A Sylphe´s Ascension" to get some kind of manifestation in between a immaterial topic.
Choose any four songs of the new album, and tell us what the lyrics are about?
Confessing, this type of question is one of them which I unfortunately do not adore to answer, because the lyrics are, although this might not be apparent by the first contact or reading process, very personal or close to my emotional exposures. To reduce it to some pertinent words, the lyrics, especially on "Skywards" in substance tell about a certain passion, namely to ascend heavenwards, to leave something behind, to step on unexplored virgin territory, to follow some kind of primordial inner instinct, to let your soul depart, to free yourself, to absorb light…
Therefore, all the lyrics follow the same basics or inducements (for that reason, it´s impossible to pick out four songs and their individual meaning), they differ in their atmospheres as some are e.g. very positive and full of light, others, on the contrary, very rich of sombre motives and emotional ambivalence.
Does the band have favourite songs on this album, or in their repertoire, and tell us why that is so?
Difficult to answer, as we really like every single song on the album. But to give you some kind of satisfying answer, I prefer the acoustic opening theme “Up From The Blackest Of Soil” which continues with the first track “The Seventh Sunray Enlights My Pathway”. Especially the final ending of this track (the last two minutes) is that rich of emotion and melancholic harmony that sometimes my flesh begins to creep. The second song I prefer is “Entangled Whispers In The Depth”. This one is totally different from the opening theme, being based on freezing abyssic atmospheres with whispered shivering vocal parts. The one is rather rooted by old-school elements with plenty of disharmonies and has a really cool finishing fade down. “Entangled Whispers In The Depth” actually was the last song we finished before entering the studio halls, but it sounds to be one of the oldest...I really like its dark ambivalence.
There are 12 songs on this album, but maybe the band recorded more, for special editions of the album (digipak, Japanese release)?
A nice idea in general! Honestly, we released all the songs we had to that time we recorded "Skywards". Perhaps, we always select before recording if a song is predestined to get its space on the album. For that reason, there are not any stop-gaps - twelve killer - no filler :-)
Who did the artwork on the album, and what does it represent?
Again, it was obvious that I will be responsible for all designs that is to say the artwork of the entire release. I also did the artwork for our first silverling "Bloodred Tales" and I wanted to follow up with stylistic elements I already used there. On principle, I intend to offer the spectator and listener the most precious wrapping I am able to express (dependent on both financial and idealistic aspects). Therefore, the first release already came with an extra slipcase and three additional post cards. The artwork always is the first affinity to someone who could be interested in the band. In a way, I always collect ideas based upon mind snapshots, special pictures in my daily life or designs that differ in stylistic and artificial elements. Starting to think about how the artwork should look like it was the main topic that there is a chromatic and thematic connection to the album title "Skywards" - thus I mainly used blue and white for basic colour arrangements, because of being the elementary colours of heaven. Perhaps, I prefer to create monochromatic artworks, because they offer a special atmosphere and mood. The artwork is basically build upon a mixture of brush and digital drawings or compositions. I wanted to create an artwork rich of light and showing a kind of reflection of the notion "Ascension". In a mysterious way, the sylphe (poet: an elementary ghost connected to air, wind and breath and incarnated as some kind of beautiful female being) is placed on the cover as an obvious detail. As everybody might see, it is not some kind of typical Death Metal artwork and it differs a lot from gorebased artworks. Concerning the booklet and inlay arrangements I used to repeat stylistic topics by utilising the same colours with additional silver ornaments to achieve it looking noble.
Sascha left his old band Mortified soon after the actualization of Fragments Of Unbecoming as a band. Ever regretted that(!) decision?
Never ever I regretted this step!!! The reason why I decided to form another band was in any case to get the possibility to free myself entirely, in order to create 100% the music I want to create - which was not possible in Mortified at all. Obviously, I felt myself captivated in a way. I want to have the feeling that I am, to some main parts, responsible for the compositions in whole - that I can hear some spoken inner voice of my own. Moreover, every individual musician wishes to publish a release after some time of rehearsing - Mortified has not been releasing any demonstration output so far. Doubtless, I went the right path with the foundation of Fragments Of Unbecoming.
Stefan and drummer Ingo Maier are both in Venereal Disease. How do they combine that(!) with this(!) band?
It never came up a problem for both to perform in two bands, although they have to practise more intensive with Veneral Disease due to their music is rather technical/progressive that is to say pretentious - the style is much different which allows to separate the riffs while composing. Concerning live activities, there never was a date where at both had to play separately - thus, as you can see: no conflicts at all. Besides: at present, they are recording their third full length album which will be hopefully released in April this year. Watch out for this. Moreover, the bassist and me dedicate the entire passion to only Fragments Of Unbecoming. Thus, no other projects exists or are planned to short and long-term.
Any tours lined up yet, and more importantly: when will that get you into our small country of Belgium?
Tours are not present in our visions yet. Every single of us is working seriously and this is why we will see if there is any possibility to tour this year. In general, we would prefer to support some German located tour acts, hopefully this works out. Most Probably, we will play as much gigs and festivals as we are able to promote the album. We got already booked for the famous annual Summer Breeze festival in August and plenty of concerts besides are already fixed - just risk a view to our official homepage at: www.fragmentsofunbecoming.com
Concerning the "small country of Belgium", just invite us to come and we will conquer Belgium:-)
Any last comments, or New Year's resolutions, for our readers at Concrete Web?
Ok, Tony, this is the end, my friend. I wish to thank you very much for an interesting bunch of questions (it was a pleasure to delete the brackets finally...haha). Hopefully, you will excuse my delay to have answered a bit late. Besides, it is February now and it would be strange to offer New Years wishes to the readers. On the contrary, I wish that spring comes up in a short while....these days were cold enough:-)
Hope, everything continues fine with Concrete Web in the future and we will get the possibility to meet on a gig or festival. Best Regards and keep the Death Metal spirit alive!