“Wellies and carrots all day long, man!”
After a blistering set on the PX3 stage at ArcTanGent Festival, we had the pleasure of chatting to no-nonsense sludge metal brutes WREN.
When we listen to Wren, we hear influences of post-metal and atmospheric sludge, but we feel that you bring it far fiercer and nastier than a lot of your peers. When you were writing your debut album ‘Auburn Rule’, did you favour atmosphere or massive, horrible riffs?
Disciples of Wren: We wanted both. The main thing in our band is tying together two different worlds of having a noise rock rhythm section and also being able to take that to an atmospheric level.
We had a new drummer, for ‘Auburn Rule’, and we only had like five songs done, and we had an old drummer who had to bail right before we were going to record it. So we had like six weeks to teach [them] all our new material, but to also try and finish off the writing, because [they] didn’t have time to gel with the band. But it was cool because the noise rock element comes out from [their] playing…
That’s [their] thing, really choppy, rolly, off kilter drums…Even in such a short space of time [they] still injected that into the band.
So now when we are writing newer stuff, it’s way easier and we’ve done a couple of tours with [them]. Although we were really proud of [‘Auburn Rule’], it wasn’t so straight forward, because [they were] so new in the band. But when it comes to different sides of the band, we pride ourselves in being able to do both of those things. We try to be minimal, angular and noise rocky, but when the big riffs comes..!
When you listen to a lot of “post-metal”, whether it’s newer bands or the classics like Neurosis, Isis, Cult Of Luna, they can spend a lot of time with build ups and clean sections. And though Wren have those parts, what we like is that you are more direct and can just kick in with a horrible riff…
That’s the thing, we’ve never been a band who are that comfortable with jamming. We’re not a jam band. When we’ve tried to introduce that part to the band, it’s kind of felt unnatural. Not because we don’t like that, it’s just not natural to how we write. We tend to have more ambient and experimental parts, but we aren’t really inclined to just stay there. It’s not necessarily something we intended to do, that’s just the way it’s manifested.
Wren have a new EP ‘Thrall’, coming out on August 31st, which is a joint venture between Astral Noize and Holy Roar Records. What can you tell us about it?
It’s one long twenty minute track. We find it hard to write songs that are less than seven and a half minutes, just by the nature of what we do. We try to be as prolific as possible and write all the time, as long as it doesn’t taint the quality of the music.
The EP is like one big movement. We wanted to give ourselves an empty canvas, with more light and shade. It has some stuff we’ve never done before, like some Krautrock inspired moments.
You know that record by Inter Arma, ‘The Cavern’? I loved that idea of giving ourselves just twenty minutes and there are no rules!
You’re writing new material constantly then…
We’ve got five new songs for a new album. We like to try and stagger it as much as we can. We recorded [‘Thrall’] like a year ago. It’s taken us a while to find the right time to release it. We wanted to do something a bit weird with it, so we’re just doing it on digital and on tape.
We wanted to experiment with different mediums to release on.
Is there a narrative to it lyrically?
Not really… There’s not really a narrative to our stuff. We have a conceptual framework for the band that has always been there, but we don’t like to put a stamp on it. We leave a bit of mystery…
‘Thrall’ was recorded with Joe Clayton at No Studio in Manchester, how did you find the experience?
Great! He’s the best! He’s so good, he’s literally one of our favourite people. Nothing but good words to say about him, we’ll definitely go back in and record more stuff with him.
We were double tracking bass parts over the top of each other and he was always challenging us.
It’s invaluable when you meet a recording person who just gets it. Every reference point! He’s a guitar dude, we’re gear people, so when you meet someone like that it’s a perfect fit.
We feel a lot of pain and anger coming through in Wren’s music. What gets you fired up?
Not that much pain and anger… If I do have an outlet for things that make me unhappy and cause a rage within, I do get it out in Wren. But there’s not anything major I try and get out or put down in the lyrics. When I imagined the band I wanted to be in, those were the vocals I wanted.
It kind of goes against itself when things that sound painful and angry are the things that make you happiest. That’s why people who don’t listen to heavy music or metal, it really confuses them, like “you’re not angry!” And it’s like “I know!”
Yeah definitely! A lot of people we meet can be angry and furious on stage, and then they’re the nicest people when you meet them off the stage. It’s cathartic y’know!
Yeah, before you know it they’re making fart jokes backstage!
Have you got any good festival survival tips?
I’m at risk of sounding like an absolute flannel here, but festivals are fine, you’ve just got to have the right gear! It’s like camping, there’s no such thing as bad weather, bad camping, you’ve just got to have the right gear and think ahead!
Wellies and carrots all day long, man!
You gotta have carrots! What is your favourite thing about ArcTanGent and how does it feel to be on this bill?
It feels really good. Shellac are playing! To be in the same presence as Bob Weston and Steve Albini, it’s a good sign.
I don’t think we would be a band if Bossk and Pelican didn’t exist. When I was coming out of listening to hardcore and looking for new things and more experimental stuff, they were the bands I found.
I’m really looking forward to Part Chimp as well, they’ve very loud!
I’ve been into that band since I was eighteen and I was like “what the fuck is this!?” True heaviness, pure tone, no gimmicks!
The crew on our stage were fucking killer, everyone is really nice!
What are your plans for the rest of the year and into 2019?
We’ve got shows with Conjurer and Conan in November. Before that we’re back in Bristol playing with The Cosmic Dead. We’re going to try and do an album in the new year, and we have a few tours to announce soon.
We interviewed Jo Quail and she said she really wants to do something with Wren…
Yes! Her manager Alan [Pride] is a good friend of ours, so we’ve been discussing us playing in her band, and maybe getting her to play on our new album, she’s so sick!
Interview conducted by Chris “Frenchie” French & Ross Baker.
Photo Credit: Carl Battums
‘Thrall’ is out August 31st on cassette through Astral Noize Records and digital through Holy Roar Records.
Early bird tickets for ArcTanGent 2019 are on sale now!