Following their 2006 split with Mouth of the Architect, Dayton, OH instrumental doom/post-rock outfit Kenoma are set to release their debut full-length, The Tides Will Prevail, next week (April 28) through Translation Loss. The album, which has been 11 long years in the making, features five tracks comprising 50 minutes of gorgeous soundscapes that have been well-worth the wait. From the crushing riffs and sludgy tones to the progressive structures and ethereal atmospheres, The Tides Will Prevail is absolutely stunning.
In this recent interview with Svbterranean, bassist Doug McGinnis discusses the new record and the many member changes, which is the main reason behind the 11-year gap between releases. He also talks about how Kenoma have evolved over the years and the thematic approach behind The Tides Will Prevail, as well as the importance of song titles for the instrumental band, and more.
Congrats on the release of your debut full-length! How are you feeling about how The Tides Will Prevail turned out?
It feels great to finally get these songs recorded and out to the public. The songs featured on The Tides Will Prevail have been around in some type of form for about 11 years. We are very happy with the recording quality, especially compared to our previous work. As a group we took our time putting the songs together and had a very cohesive vision for the album.
This album has been 11 years in the making. Why such a long gap between this release and your previous 2006 split with Mouth of the Architect?
The split with Mouth of the Architect was an opportunity given to us by Translation Loss Records after our first show as a band. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a split with our friends. The recording quality was not up to our standards, but we had to work with the cards we were dealt. The song structures and style were still new to some of the original members and the grand vision that I had in my head for the songs could not be matched at that point.
After this release the band was plagued by member changes. The revolving door of members was a big reason why Kenoma could never really gain any ground.
Does this record mark a rebirth of sorts for the band?
I would say that this record marks the rebirth of the creative forces that make up Kenoma. With this new line-up we were finally able to create the textures and tones needed to accurately depict what we had set out to do 11 years prior. Kenoma added a third guitar player to the line-up for more harmonies and texturing and also saw the addition of soundscapes by Rick and myself (aka Curtains). This is exactly what the band needed to move forward with our vision.
What was the writing and recording process like for The Tides Will Prevail?
The writing process for the album had been 11 years in the making. The original structures of the songs were already complete, we just had to add all the proper tones, the textures, the harmonies, and the soundscapes needed to complete our vision. We all worked to construct our parts to fit the needs of songs. Everything came together very well.
How do you feel the new release compares to the band’s previous material? How much has the band progressed in the past 11 years?
The Kenoma that created The Tides Will Prevail is light years ahead of the Kenoma of old. We finally had the right people in place to bring to light the vision of these songs that had been hidden in the dark for so long. We were all on the same page for once and in the right state of mind to complete the task at hand. With the addition of the missing pieces we were finally able to lift the heavy burdens that kept us stolid for far too long and finally live up to our full potential as a band.
You’ve said this album “is a very personal journey of struggle, progress, and regression.” Can you elaborate on that?
The constant struggle for us was to be able to keep a group of people together who shared the same vision. Until this new line-up we had never been successful at accomplishing that goal.
The progression was slow with each member change. Every time we would replace a member the band would gain some momentum, but the lack of vision shared by each member kept Kenoma from truly gaining any ground.
The regression was a constant burden making it difficult for the band to stay motivated. Each time we would take a step forward there was something in the way forcing us back to our original position. It felt as if we were stuck in limbo unable to break through to the creative conscious.
The band has gone through many different members. How has that had an impact on the band musically? How are you feeling about the current incarnation of Kenoma?
Kenoma has gone through a lot of member changes in its existence. With each new member brought new influences and musical directions. Everyone that was ever a part of the band has had a lasting influence and is at least a small part of the whole that makes up Kenoma. But the current line-up has accomplished what none of the other line-ups have been able to, which is putting together a cohesive work that embodies the true thoughts, feelings, intentions, and tones that make up The Tides Will Prevail.
The band’s sound is quite diverse – mixing melodic/atmospheric doom, sludge and post rock – while incorporating many different textures and tones. How do you describe the sound?
We find it difficult to accurately describe our sound. We all have our separate influences and each of us would probably describe our sound differently, but we share in the same vision. Each of us may take a different path to get to where we need to go, but we all end up at the finish together creating a sonic tide to wash over the masses.
Why did you decide to have it be an instrumental band? Were there ever any conversations about adding vocals?
Kenoma has always been an instrumental band. I started Kenoma after my time in Rune. I had been screaming vocals at people for over a decade in Rune and really wanted to let the music speak for itself. I wanted to evoke emotion and feeling without having to direct people’s focus with lyrics. I wanted people to be able to enjoy the music how they wanted and for it to serve multiple purposes. I personally enjoy music that allows one to enrich their thoughts and feelings and provides an experience that can be heard and felt on many different levels. We look to provide music that doesn’t need to be so direct, but can serve that purpose as well.
What are your musical influences?
My musical influences are vast. I listen to a lot of different music. The musical influences that I have that impact Kenoma the most are probably bands like Neurosis, Grief, Corrupted, Dystopia, His Hero Is Gone, and Asunder to bands like Grails, Mono, Mogwai, GodSpeedYouBlackEmperor, Sigur Ros, and Tarentel.
What themes are present on The Tides Will Prevail? What’s the meaning behind the title?
The title of the album, The Tides Will Prevail, was a mantra that rang true to me through the years of struggle and tribulation with Kenoma. The album title signifies our wiliness to be relentless in the face of adversity and our ability to keep pushing through hard times knowing that our forward momentum would eventually pay off. We just kept hammering our way through the obstacles. Kenoma came face to face with our demons and washed them away in the sonic tide with this album.
From where do you draw inspiration for the thematic approach?
The inspiration for our thematic approach originated from our post rock influences, but continues to flourish through Rick and I (aka Curtains) who also take a lot of influence from film scores. We are influenced by Bruno Nicolai, Clint Mansell, Alex Somers, Phillip Glass, Arvo Part, John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone, Harry Manfredini, Fabio Frizzi, and Goblin just to name a few. We look to paint a picture with our soundscapes and to evoke emotion and feeling from the listener. Listening to all of these great composers has helped us accomplish that.
Since there aren’t any lyrics, how much more thought goes into the titles and cover art in order to convey those themes?
The song titles serve as a theme for the base of the song. Once we have a theme we move on to the writing process. For example “1913” is about the flood in Dayton that took place the year of 1913. The song starts off with a gentle rain that builds into rushing flood waters and leaves the listener face to face with the aftermath. A feeling of confusion, sadness, loss, and shock comes with the destruction of the city and the many lives contained within. We attempt to paint these pictures through our music by focusing on dynamics and details in hopes of pulling the listener in and stirring their emotions.
The artwork for the album, done by our friends Gau Mansfield and Lars Holmberg, is another representation of the album title, The Tides Will Prevail. The tides are being represented by the changing of the seasons rather than by water. Gau and Lars did a fantastic job making our album look spectacular. We can’t thank them enough.
What’s coming up next for Kenoma?
Next thing on the agenda will be booking some shows in support of The Tides Will Prevail. We are also focusing on writing some new material and hope to get back into the studio sooner than later. Stay tuned in…
Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kenoma would like to thank you for hosting this interview. We would also like to give a special thanks to Translation Loss Records and Perfect World Productions for their continued support. A big thank you goes out to everyone who has ordered the new album. If you haven’t already ordered your own copy make sure to get your pre-orders in at Translation Loss Records. The special edition record variant is only limited to 200 copies and is moving fast. CD versions and digital copies are available as well.
Kenoma would like to give a shout out to Mouth of the Architect, Neon Warship, Fever Nest, Beneath Oblivion, Floodwalker, Enhailer, Back Stabbath, Cities on Flame, Fistula, and Lo-Pan. If you aren’t familiar with these bands, you should be. Get into it. Ohio Doom is never ending… let the tides wash over you!
The Tides Will Prevail is out April 28 via Translation Loss. Pre-orders are available here and check out the record’s opening track “33rd Parallel” below.