Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Antares. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Iubaris came into being in 2008. Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Antares: I started Iubaris back in January 2008 with Erthun. Soon after that Aquila joined us on bass and Kabuka on drums. We played just a couple of shows, then Aquila left us to pursue his college education, and was replaced by Vulpus. We recorded our first EP, Ars Sathanae I in 2010, released it in 2011. The second EP, Ars Sathanae II was recorded and released in 2012. Shortly after that, Erthun decided to leave the band for personal reasons, and Mjolnir joined our ranks. (Ed: Jason’s review of Magnum Coeptum Satanicum is here.)
Jason: What was that you wanted to achieve when you put Iubaris together?
Antares: I wanted to create a primitive and heavy form of metal, fusing first wave black metal with alternative metal, to create something more modern sounding. Everyone in the local scene at that time seemed to go either for grind or technical death metal, and I was tired of that. One of the reasons was definitely the fact that I just wanted to piss everyone off, an aspect of Iubaris that is highly successful up to this day.
Jason: How does Iubaris differ from the other bands that you were in?
Antares: It differs in attitude. We play mainly to have a good time. We take our musical career seriously, but not to the point that it compromises what we’re doing, or how we express ourselves. We won’t change our music to be more popular or something. If you’re going to be in a band, you all have to be good friends too, otherwise you’re not going to play for too long.
Jason: When you were putting the band together, what were you looking for in terms of musicians?
Antares: An open mind, and a broad interest in different music genres.
Jason: How and why did you choose Kabuka and Vulpus?
Antares: The story with Kabuka is kind of funny. Finding a drummer is always a problem, and all the previous experiences we had with other drummers were just awkward. When we played for the first time, it was obvious Kabuka wasn’t too skilled, but he was a really cool guy, and liked all the bands we were inspired by. So we kind of hired him on the spot just for that, and started rehearsing as often as we could. I knew he was going to improve, and he made tremendous progress since he joined the band. Now he’s the longest staying member, and has a real ability to amaze me with some of his ideas from time to time. Vulpus (bass) played with his fingers, which wasn’t something I thought I was looking for at the time we were searching for a new bass player. As it turned out, he still had a very sharp sound. He doesn’t play as fast as Aquila, but he just slams the shit out of his guitar, which is fantastic. And of course, our music tastes are pretty similar.
Jason: What have Kabuka and Vulpus brought to the band and its sound?
Antares: Kabuka pays attention to every single detail on how I compose our songs. Sometimes we have disputes over certain parts, but we are always able to find some kind of compromise, which is great. We work on further building up of the drum arrangements from the basic ideas I come up with, and inserting additional fills here and there, to form more complete songs. The diversity in Kabuka’s style really shines on Ars Sathanae II. Some of the stuff he did on “Swamp Fall Burial” and “Day Of December” is just amazing. If I really wanted to, we could release our records with a pre-produced drum machine like a lot of other bands do, because it’s cheaper, easier, and less time consuming. But a drum machine is not a musician, and it can never add as much to the music as a live drummer. And don’t get me wrong, I think that using a drum machine is ok for some music, but not for Iubaris. As long as we want to, it makes perfect sense to rely on live drums.
Vulpus usually relies on a trebly, sharp guitar like sound that didn’t really surface on the second EP, due to its dirty and reverbed production. You can hear it more clearly on the first one. He’s unique in that he can actually pull off awesome bass solos. There’s one in the beginning of ‘Rebirth’. When he plays fast he sounds extremely heavy; when he’s slow he adds great atmosphere and depth to the music. We’re currently working on a new album, which will feature a 2-minute bass solo as an intro. It doesn’t sound like standard black metal, maybe more like something Enslaved would record. It has a Tool vibe to it. Sometimes on our live performances, Vulpus wears a red t-shirt with a sign that says “Roll Fast, Rock Hard, Chill Out”. That’s his whole persona in a nutshell.
Jason: How has the band evolved since its inception?
Antares: I think we mellowed out a bit with the primitive approach to music. You can hear it in ‘Swamp Fall Burial’. It was the most difficult song for all of us to record, but ultimately, the most satisfying one. I’m still working on new material that has more or less been with me for 3 years since the beginning of the band, and slowly evolved each time I was returning to it. The structures are more complex, but the core of most elements is still the same. It’s like building a bigger, higher tower from blocks of the same material, chopped into smaller pieces. They’re still blocks of the same stone, but you can compose them into different, more finesse architectures. Our soundscape is also evolving, since each one of us wants the band to sound less generic, and more like Iubaris.
Jason: Where does the band name come from? What does it mean?
Antares: The band’s name means “light of a star” from Latin. When I was looking for a band name, I wanted to find something that wasn’t obvious in its meaning. I think it’s ironic, just as one of the translations of the name Lucifer describes it as “shining star”. It doesn’t have to have a satanic background though. Since our lyrics deal a lot with transcendence, it can have a straight philosophical punch to it as well.
Jason: Who are the band’s main influences? How have they impacted upon Iubaris’ sound?
Antares: From the metal genres, we got inspired by bands like Celtic Frost, Christ Agony, Viking-era Bathory, Behemoth, Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Moonspell, and Opeth. It’s the non-metal inspirations where it gets interesting. At least looking from my perspective, because I know when I blend in elements that come from an entirely different musical territory. I listen to a lot of Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam. In my opinion, grunge was the last truly great revolution in rock music that had such a huge impact. My greatest non-metal inspirations in guitar playing are Billy Howerdel (A Perfect Circle, Ashes Divide) and Adam Jones (Tool). I’m also a big fan of Lindsey Buckingham. That guy is just incredible, both for his work with the guitar, and for his vocals. All the guitarists I mentioned above use that specific delay/reverb + flanger/chorus sound combination that I’m highly interested in. You can hear some of that in the middle section of “Day Of December”, and in the outro of “Terra Incognita”. I’m also currently trying to expand the use of slide guitar in our music.
Jason: You’ve recently released Magnum Coeptum Satanicum, a compilation of your first two EPs, Ars Sathanae I & II. Why have you chosen to release them together?
Antares: Earlier on, they were written with the intent of releasing them as a complete album. Since we had an opportunity to release a CD with Black Death Production, I decided to return to this idea, and release them as a compilation.
Jason: The track listing puts the 2012 EP first and the 2011 EP second. Why have you put them in this order?
Antares: I’m more satisfied with the way our second EP sounds, it’s much more spacious and deep. It’s also our newest effort, and I think it’s better for people to hear the recent stuff first. The first EP is great too, but it’s much older, since we started recording it back in 2010.
Jason: For the two acoustic tracks, how did you choose which tracks to record? And how did you go about transforming them into acoustic pieces?
Antares: It was great fun recording them, since I did it the same way I record our guitar pre-production. Both ‘Journey’ and ‘Rebirth’ seemed like the obvious choices, since they’re slower songs, and work great on single acoustic guitar. I started with that simple arrangement, and kept expanding and adding in parts, until they became something different. When I write normal tracks, I’m always limiting the number of instruments to two guitars, bass and the drums. This time I placed no limits on how many guitars were playing in one moment.
Jason: For you, what are the main differences between the two EPs? How does the band differ between I and II? Is there a significant progression between the two?
Antares: There is a significant difference, maybe not a huge progression in what’s being played, but how we play it. We worked more together as a band on arranging the second EP, and managed to find a unique sound in the studio.
Jason: How was the recording for the two EPs different?
Antares: Ars Sathanae I was recorded at various points in time in 2010, and was produced with the intent of achieving the clearest and most powerful sound possible. We spent months perfecting every detail of it during additional sessions. There’s a lot of overdubs on vocals and guitars. The guitars on the left and right channel were recorded with identical settings, so it sounds more precise. I used the overdrive from my Marshall Vintage Modern amp for the main sound, then boosted it with a standard Boss Metal Zone stompbox on the overdub for a sound with more varied gain. The bass has quite a lot of distortion on it, but in the mix it sounds like it’s got just a solid crunch. The snare and bass drums were triggered.
Ars Sathanae II was recorded and mixed under two weeks in March 2012. For the second EP, we used additional room mics for each instrument, and experimented with reverb and delay. I used my Vintage Modern amp again, this time placing one track on each pan. On the left there’s just the amp distortion with a trebly overdrive I usually use live. On the right channel I fucked with different distortions to get a kind of fuzzy stoner overdrive going on. This way both guitars sound very different. No drums were triggered, and we used as much of the room mics as possible. It’s amazing how much reverb this record has, but you can still hear all the different instruments clearly. We aimed for making a 100% black metal record with this EP, and we definitely succeeded.
Jason: Is there a common theme or concept behind the EPs? Are they both linked?
Antares: Yes, they are both linked as a concept album. Both EPs were intended to be released as a full length in the first place, and the lyrics were written to tell a certain story. I’m more pleased with the flow of Ars Sathanae II with this, its narration is just better. The first one turned out to be more of a description of arbitrary things, an awareness triggering a fall into insanity. The second one describes a journey through subconciousness, and an alternate reality inside your head. ‘The Winnowing’ for example is about waking up in this new state of mind, and not remembering anything. Hence it has a chaotic atmosphere.
Jason: Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
Antares: All the good writers will tell you that the best inspiration is just experiencing as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. You later put everything into your work. Without that, there’s nothing. I’m not the sort of a creator that gets the best while cutting himself off in some sort of wilderness, and debating the nature of existence. This is something I started noticing as time went by. The best lyrics or music come in a flash of vision during everyday struggle; the more intense the struggle, the better the lyrics. You have to embrace it as it comes, and not suppress it; otherwise it’s a good recipe for writers block and frustration. When I finally have some spare time, I gather everything I have, and start working on it. Analysing and designing it into a desired form. I have to enter a different state of mind almost. Each song on Magnum Coeptum Satanicum goes into another, so it takes lots of time for me to write that kind of stuff.
As far as the lyrics department goes, I have to say that the music lyrics that inspired me the most a long time ago came from Behemoth. I was also very inspired by Marilyn Manson’s famous triptych: his three albums forming something grand an epic with three different themes. I’m not inspired with the stuff that’s straight forward satanic, or gory. It seems mindless to me. There no point to it at all, no message. What’s the point of Mayhem’s ‘Chainsaw Gutsfuck’ for example? Are you kidding me? I mean, it’s a great song, but the lyrics are hilarious.
A band that inspires me the most recently is Nomad. You can be familiar with this band, because Seth from Behemoth plays guitar there. Their lyrics are just out of this world.
Jason: According to the liner notes of Magnum Coeptum Satanicum, you write most of the material. How much input do the other members have in the tracks that you write?
Antares: The core of each song is always written by me, and that goes for all instruments. Sometimes I’ll use some riffs or drum beats from the others members. When I’m done and present it to the band, we start working on each instrument individually, to make a full arrangement. I can be stubborn when I know exactly what I want, but I’m definitely not a dictator. It all depends on what effect I want to achieve as an end result.
Jason: How do the tracks begin life? Is it a melody, a riff, the lyrics? And how do they develop?
Antares: All of the tracks on Magnum Coeptum Satanicum, were almost entirely written with a couple of chords on an acoustic guitar in the first phase. So each track, maybe except ‘Antigod’, sounds good in that arrangement. That’s where the two acoustic versions come from. When I first started writing this stuff, I wanted to make an album with songs structured like a rock album. If you take 90% of extreme metal bands, at least the primitive ones for sure, most of their songs have the same base, and sound more or less the same. I wanted to avoid that by writing songs that have the same standard arrangement, but by using everything we could do with it as a band with a primitive black metal style in terms of composition.
Jason: Are there any tracks that stand out for you as Iubaris at their best (at this point in their development)? Are there any that indicate what we can expect from Iubaris in the future?
Antares: Each song on Magnum Coeptum Satanicum is different, but all in all I’m satisfied with what we have done so far.
Ars Sathanae II is some hint to what direction we will be heading in the future, but that’s only half of the story. The songs we are working on right now are more complex, so they will require a bit clearer production. Maybe we’ll be successful with recording something in between both of those EPs as far as the sound goes.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for Magnum Coeptum Satanicum? What inspired it and what does it represent?
Antares: I remember sitting in the studio recording acoustic guitars for ‘The Winnowing’, and the studio’s sound engineer Jan Galbas said something like “Fuck, that sounds medieval!” I had the same notion for a long time in my head, so I decided we have to have a medieval knight on the cover. The character is lying between two huge tree roots that look a bit like wings, and represent both our EPs. That’s the real reason why his hair is standing up, but looking at the cover you can’t tell that immediately. That knight was dead and is coming back to life, awakening somewhere else.
Jason: How did you get involved with Black Death promotions, the company that you’ve released Magnum Coeptum Satanicum through?
Antares: Maciek from Black Death Production is an acquaintance of Erthun.
Jason: Is the band working on any new material? Can we expect a full-length any time soon from Iubaris?
Antares: Yep. We’re recording drums for the first new songs in just about two months. That’s the only thing we will record with the help of an outside sound engineer. The rest of the instruments will be recorded and mixed by me and Mjolnir. Both of us have experience in those fields. So we figured out, why not try and do this by ourselves? Mjolnir is an interesting character, and a very good musician. We work together on some of the bands promotion too.
Jason: How do you see Iubaris developing?
Antares: Time will tell.
Jason: Any plans for live shows? Any plans to come to the UK?
Antares: Visiting the UK would be awesome! Right now there is some chance that we’ll finally play a regular tour across all Poland instead of single shows here and there, and that’s the first thing we want to do right after we finish our new album we’re working on. Then we hope to visit some countries abroad, including the UK.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Antares: Keep on rockin’!
And you can visit Iubaris on Facebook here