The 30th Anniversary of Sear Bliss
The 30th Anniversary of Sear Bliss
Hungarian veteran black metallers Sear Bliss are now celebrating their 30th Anniversary as one of the most compelling forces within the worldwide underground music scene. The band has renewed their contract with the iconic Hammerheart Records and are in the midst of recording their ninth studio magnum opus. Sear Bliss has been playing special anniversary shows throughout Europe and are on the verge of re-releasing their hard-to-find 2001 album Grand Destiny through VIC Records. Highwire Daze recently interviewed founding member András Nagy to discuss 30 glorious years of Sear Bliss, recording a brand-new album, the deeply personal previous Letters From The Edge manifesto, thoughts on the reissue of Grand Destiny, and a whole lot more!
We’re here with Andras from Sear Bliss. First of all, what goes through your mind knowing that you are now celebrating your 30th anniversary as a band?
Well, yeah that I’m too old. That’s what comes to my mind. Yeah. It’s a pretty long time. And actually, we always celebrate our anniversaries. Every fifth year, we have a show which is a bit bigger than the usual ones. Yeah, but the 30th anniversary is really a special thing because it’s quite a long period of time. And yeah, it was the right time to remember all the things we have ever done or released. So, we had a lot of songs to select from and we enjoyed it very much.
The only thing which was difficult is that we are right in the middle of the recording of our new album and therefore we didn’t have as much time as we needed for such a celebration. But we did a huge show eventually, and finally, everything worked good. So everything was more or less perfect. And we decided to do some more shows to celebrate this anniversary. So, tomorrow we will be heading to Belgium and then to Germany to play a couple of shows there as well. So yeah, we are celebrating but also we are working on the new album. So this is really not a longing to the past, if you know what I mean. Of course, we are happy that we have reached this age with the band, but we also working hard on the new album. So working on the future at the same time.
How how has the recording of the ninth Sear Bliss studio album been going, and what could fans expect from this new recording?
Andras: Well, actually, we have almost finished with the recordings, only the base and the vocal recordings are missing because we had to postpone the recording a couple of times because after the anniversary show, I got COVID last week.
It’s silly but it still exists. So, I had to postpone the recording because of this but it means that 80% of the album is recorded. Actually, I’m very excited because this album was written in a different way compared to the previous albums because more or less, we went back to the past when we wrote songs together at the rehearsal place. And actually, right now I’m in the rehearsal place working on some music, some bass lines, and lyrics.
So, we came together with the guys and we decided to go back a little bit to the old-school way, just trying out things, jamming, and of course, we brought some ideas at home but eventually, we put everything together in the rehearsal room. And also, we decided to go to a more old-school studio. So we found a very nice place in Austria where they still have these old mixing consoles from the 80s and a lot of old special magical equipment. We enjoyed it very much because it was recorded in a very old-fashioned way, and therefore the sound is a lot more organic. And I still believe in this because I’m pretty old-school and the band is old.
So, we loved it when we started 30 years ago that the studios had these huge machines recording onto tape and that was great. And so, we wanted a very old-school, very organic sound and I’m very happy that we’ve chosen that way because I don’t really believe in these plugins and VSDs. Of course, they are good. Yeah, of course, they have the advantage but if we want a real sound then it’s much better to use this old equipment, in my opinion.
VIC Records is about to re-release Grand Design on their label. First of all, what has it been like to revisit these old recordings with VIC Records?
It was interesting because we had to make some remastering and remixing and also, it’s always good to revisit these old recordings. And yeah, we enjoyed it because I’m happy that all of our albums came out on Vinyl as well in the last couple of years, which is great because I always loved that format. Now most of these old albums are sold out so you can’t really find them. Maybe you can find them on eBay or somewhere but it’s pretty expensive and difficult to purchase them. So, I’m happy that the label is releasing those albums because there is still demand for those albums and people are always asking about those old albums. and finally, I know that they will be out on CD as well. And it’s good to see that people are still buying records.
I do the same. Yeah, I buy records too and I love it. And as far as I see, we sell a lot of albums at the gigs. So that’s a good thing and I’m happy that people are still interested.
Since Grand Design is about to come out again, what do you think of that album now in retrospect?
Well, actually that is my least favorite album, to be honest, because it was written and recorded in a period of time when we were not really together as a band. We had a lot of lineup changes. I was too young to be able to write catchy songs, but at least I tried. And in terms of sound and the song structures, I don’t really like them, to be honest. There are some good songs and some good parts which I enjoy. And we played the song actually on this anniversary show in Budapest two weeks ago and it was pretty okay on the stage. So, we are thinking to include it on our set. Yeah. I’m not really satisfied with that album but at the end at least we have a decent remastering for this, so the sound is a little bit better than the original CD had.
Let’s switch over to 2018 and Letters From The Edge, which is your latest album. What is the story behind the title of that album “Letters From The Edge”?
Oh, well, it’s interesting. It was done in a very difficult period of my life and I had a lot of personal issues going on at the time and that album for me worked as a therapy. And for this reason, I went to visit a friend of mine in Australia because I wanted to go as far as possible and I spent there a couple of weeks with the aim to write this album, or at least the lyrics for this album – because it was a good way just to get rid of everything I had here. And all the issues, all the problems I left them behind. It was kind of a healing process for me. Wrote all these things out of my consciousness and it was difficult, but it was a relief actually.
So even though it was pretty difficult, it was a relief for me. And that’s why I named this album Letters From The Edge because all these lyrics for each song are almost like letters reading from somewhere afar. And I was on the edge actually so it seemed to be a good idea to name the album Letters From The Edge. and that’s also the reason why all the lyrics are written with my handwriting in the booklet. So, it was very personal, and these lyrics worked as letters, in this case from Australia. So that’s the reason behind this.
How frustrating has it been to wait so long to record new material? It’s been almost, I think six years now.
Actually, I didn’t want it to be that long because it’s not good to have six years between albums. But actually, this happened the last time as well because our 7th album was released in 2012, I think, and Letters From The Edge in 2018, and the new album will be out next year. Yeah, in 2024. The reason for this is mostly that we have a lot of other commitments besides the band. We have families and kids and jobs, we all have a job in the band, of course, is very important but we have to earn some money because we don’t tour too often. And it’s not a problem because I enjoy it. I think we have more artistic freedom if we are not making a living out of the band.
But one of the reasons was that we had again a lineup change because our guitar player left two years ago, and actually, we had a whole album written, but mostly together with him. And when he left, we had to start it all over again. But the main reason actually was that two of my sons were born in the last four years, which means, of course, my time became limited. I had to focus on the family, and it was not the right time to get together with the guys and write music. It’s not easy because our guitar players live far from us and therefore, it was not the right time. I had to spend a lot of time with the family, and I knew that it would be easier. And now is the time because now I have more time to focus on this album.
Has Sear Bliss ever played here in the States, or is that something you’d like to do in the future?
We would love it, of course. Unfortunately, we have never been there. We have never played out there. There were some interests from there but in the end, it was always very expensive to organize it. And actually, the last time, a couple of years ago, there was an organizer who wanted us to come over and play there, but I know he’s in jail now. Yeah, quite suddenly after his approach he went to jail. So unfortunately, no, we have never been there and never played there, and it would be great too. I hope one day we can play in the States. It would be great.
What was it like opening for Marduk?
Wow, that was great. That’s one of my favorite memories as a band because we were very young. I think I was only 18 when we had this tour with Marduk in 97. Things went very quickly at the time. We released our first album and then suddenly it became pretty successful here in Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. And then suddenly, we were invited to go on tour with Marduk, which was a favorite band of mine, And I couldn’t believe it. At the age of 18, you are dreaming about things like this and then suddenly I was touring with Marduk.
So, it was absolutely amazing and a very special memory. The guys are cool in Marduk, and even Peter Tagtgren from Hypocrisy was the session guitar player on the tour for Marduk, and it was great to see him as well playing black metal. So, we were very young and as a result, when we came home the band just nearly split up because we were too young, and we couldn’t really handle this. We were wild and we almost had fights with each other. And the sad thing is that when we came home the band almost ceased to exist and we had to rebuild the whole band. Half of the band left and, yeah, the other half remained, and we tried to rebuild the band. So, it was not easy. It’s not easy to handle six guys with a very wild attitude. But that was cool on this tour.
Do you have any messages for Sear Bliss fans here in the States?
Like I said a few minutes before, one of our plans has always been to play in the States and I really hope that one day we can achieve this. And I’ve never been there so I’m not really sure how popular black metal in the States is. But we get some messages now and then from people from the States and we really appreciate it. And I hope there are some people into our music over there as well. And yeah, I really hope that we can play there one day. I’ve seen Marduk playing in there many times in the States touring, and also, I also some younger bands as well. So who knows maybe with this new album. Actually, our label, Hammerheart Records, they are really pushing this now and it seems that they are really willing to hold the band with a higher force. They are really pushing it, and they believe in this new album, and we believe in it too. So, I hope people will like it because it will be a pretty strong album compared to, for example, Grand Destiny, which I didn’t really like. The sound and even the songs are really powerful. And maybe it’s not that bad that it took six years because it’s a lot more mature and a lot more powerful because we had enough time to write these songs. So, I’m eager to show it. It will be out in May if things go well. Yeah, April or May next year.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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