>A Silver Mt. Zion. Aprenda inglés (del bueno) con Harlem

>“Obviously we are more into folk than gospel”

El guitarrista y cantante Efrim lidera esta banda que mantiene más conexiones con Godspeed You! Black Emperor, y está compuesta por dos guitarras, dos violines, chelo, contrabajo y baterías. 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons es la última entrega de esta banda que ha superado el post rock y exige recurrir a etiquetas como “punk réquiem” y free noise. La infinita tristeza pretérita ha dado paso a una propuesta más ruidosa, aunque igualmente bañada en lágrimas. OSCAR CUBILLO le ha hecho unas preguntas a Efrim.

Que por qué os separásteis Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Godspeed haven´t split up, we are on an indefinite break since 2003 with no foreseeable plans to reconvene. But still is there the idea or rumuor of Godspeed is ended but we have to confirm as false. Our long period of inactivity comes from a few years ago when we needed to sit down and reflect on the next course of action for the band. In the group each of us have different opinions for this matter. For the moment things havent changed and we don’t know when we will come back or even if we will come back, it also affects that we are into our other projects.

Que por qué creaste A Silver Mt. Zion.
It started around 1999, when I wanted to learn how to read and write compositions, I hoped to communicate better with my fellow musicians by getting familiar with music theory. Thierry and Sophie agreed to play the music that I composed for the project. That was the beginning of the group. We played two concerts. After Godspeed finished touring for several months, I returned home and found out that my dog was going to die of cancer, So I wanted therefore to compose an album of material dedicated to her, That influenced also the process of recording the album, cuase when we recorded it in four consecutive Sunday afternoons, while I was living at Hotel Tango which is the space of our collective, my dog was there during the recording and sometimes we had to stop to take care of her.
Musically, this small formation of musicians seemed adapted to the stuff we were working on, we then recorded pieces which we composed together and also those that I already had composed. We then decided to tour also…

Que cuáles son las diferencias entre ambas bandas.
Well, i could say that I see a lack within Godspeed to carry out the music of A Silver Mt Zion. The cords in Godspeed must often have fought with the guitars and the drums to be heard. I wanted to explore acoustic sonorities of the piano and the cords, although in concert we sometimes play rather extremely. Therefore it is a little strange live… I am a guitarist of rock’n’roll noise. It is what I have been doing since I was 15 years old, and that was not easy for me to make this project function… It was strange to work in A Silver Mt Zion as well as Godspeed where we try to function like true democracy, where we do not have any leader, and with force each one knows what happens, and there we started to play with three new members… But I think that this manner of seeing the things and then doing them is the best. This is all that I know.

Que cuáles son vuestras influencias.
well, about me, when I was an 18 year old punk rocker, I was lucky to have a friend who loaned me the albums of Arvo Leaves, and Gorecki, and they blew me away. This music has always been important for me since then, I have listened to this stuff a lot but there are so much other music that I listen to more. But concerning about band’s general influences there isn’t one dominant musical influence, classical and chamber music find their way into ASMZ in terms of orchestration. Jewish/Eastern European folk music plays a part and there are definite American folk influences such as religious Sacred Harp Singing. From the folk aspect it’s a real blend fusing Jewish sensibilities with American sensibilities but all still anchored to a punk-rock take on neo classical and modern music tropes, for example bands like Minutemen, Minor threat or early black flag, though in a more more ethical influences as opposed to aesthetic. Also free jazz community sight-singing, or minimalism music is something we are into.
But when we start to write a song I wouldnt know, it’s like as usual we’re a strange band in that we are mostly influenced by trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing – it’s such a stubborn crew of characters that our basic influences are compromised by whatever we can eek out. Touchstone-wise its always the handful of contemporary bands, and a pile of older bands we refer to either positively or negatively, when we’re writing stuff together.
For giving an ridiculous negative example, you always have to avoid the sense of U2 -which I think every band ends up committing every now and then- which is sort of a manipulative emotionalism, you know what I mean? And positively, we’re all big fans of Deerhoof, there’s a way they unpeel a melody so its the oddest sounding thing in the world that we’re always excited whenever we can even hint at that. Also we apreciate a band like Fairport convention as another band working in several different areas of music in the same way. We are also all huge Led Zep fans. As for fusing influences we all share the same interests, it’s not like we have a ‘jazz person’ or a ‘classical person’.
Anyways at the end, we defitnly are still a group that is exploring, we do not have a defined style I Think.

Que si consideras que sois un proyecto de rock, de folk o de gospel.
I guess u said the gospel music thing for our vocal parts, right? Well, there´s a strange history this band has had and especially after the last record came out. Sophie broke her collar bone (in 2004 Sophie, violin player, was injured in a bike crash subsequenty having to have a metal plate inserted) so there was two years there when we couldn’t play live and we ended up in a situation were we’re doing tons and tons of recording.
And as a result we started playing differently and we came into our own as a live band and with that came more singing and more confidence. It was all a product of playing live in the studio so much, no gospel influences hehe… But yes, obviously we are more into folk than gospel.

Que si sois profesionales de la música o tenéis otros trabajos.
We are many people, lets say that some of us are all day workers in music and others, when we are not touring, have eventual jobs.

Que qué nos cuentas del último disco.
These are songs we’ve been playing live for the last couple of years so its louder, and I guess, more direct than other records we’ve made in the past, its a very different sounding record. This album has been recorded live in Hotel2Tango as alway, and with Howard Bilerman and Radwan Moumneh)… We just moved (the studio), I guess, 15 metres down the road into a new building, a whole new studio. We’ve had pretty much the same line-up for I guess seven years now but our drummer left the band and we’ve got Eric (Haven) in now and that’s made a big difference as Eric is a monster of a drummer and our last drummer (Scott Gilmore) had a bit of a lighter touch.

Que qué nos cuentas de tus letras.
I write most of the words sung or spoken in the band’s pieces, though Ian (guitar) has really pushed and encouraged people to join in and write a certain number of the lyrics with group singing in mind. About our lyrics, the last record concretly is about two kind of things. One of those things is the sorry state of music in the year 2007, and I guess 2008 now. And the other thing was, I’m not a believer in astrology, but in Chinese astrology a year that has 13 new moons in it is a difficult year for people who are already having a difficult time emotionally or physically, and the year 2007 was a year of 13 moons and I really felt for most of the year like everyone around us was falling apart a little bit.
Could be also considered for some people that there are strong political motifs in our music as for example, the instrumental “13 Angels Standing Guard ‘round the Side of Your Bed” is directed toward black bloc anarchists. Also, the song “The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes” could be interpreted as lamenting the present state of the world while espousing strong hope for the future. It also references the old anarchist song, “To The Barricades” sung by anarchists during the Spanish revolution right?. The album before, Horses in the Sky, contains ostensibly political tracks, including “Ring Them Bells (Freedom Has Come and Gone)”, and “God Bless Our Dead Marines”. However, i have to let clear that the band is not trying to be ‘political’ with our songs, just we write songs about the sorts of things we care or talk about with our friends.
I also would like to say that this last album is the first album to contain lyric sheets in its insert. i wanted to include lyric sheets with all the albums mostly because there are a lot of people who don’t speak English as a first language and I wouldn’t want the songs to be misheard and misquoted. However, hehehe… one of the dudes of our label, Costellation has a hardcore aversion to lyric sheets and it has been only with this latest album that I confronted him about this.

Que cómo son los conciertos de esta gira.
Well, I wouldnt know what to say… We work really hard and we put so much work into it but it’s not exactly polished music, we are always on our toes on stage. It requires us to completely listen like we are the exposed and accept our weaknesses and accommodate them. That’s what we want to do/show, that the more vulnerable it is, the more powerful it is. We can play loud but at the same time sometimes we need the audience to be quiet. There are moments of rock-out-relief but we are also a very demanding band to listen to.