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A Policy Of Expansionism: Transcendent Metallers Ghold Interviewed
Kez Whelan , May 27th, 2022 08:29

Every month the Quietus commissions brand new exclusive music for Sound + Vision subscribers. This month Ghold speak to Kez Whelan about the Singularity track 'EXACT REPULSE SUFFER'

Ghold portrait by Simon Kallas

To receive the Ghold Singularity track 'EXACT REPULSE SUFFER' become a Quietus Sound & Vision subscriber

It’s been a full decade since avant garde sludge heroes Ghold first graced our ears with their 2012 demo, and they’ve come a long way since.

“We did a little Instagram ‘Ten Years Of Ghold’ campaign and it reminded ourselves of what we’ve done which was, I think, positive for us all – but through that the British Library got in contact and want all our physical discography to put in their sound archive now,” says bassist vocalist Alex Wilson. “I don't know what weirdo wants our shit but it’s an honour and a privilege regardless!”

The band has also been steadily growing, having already evolved out of their initial two-piece incarnation (featuring Alex and percussionist Paul Antony) for 2016’s Pyr with the inclusion of guitarist Oli Martin.

“They’re both art students, and so they just always look for something else,” says Oli. “Whether it be a saxophone, or a fucking sousaphone or whatever, they’re always looking for more. It’s the same with the artwork, the same with all the videos and stuff like that, they’re just always looking, looking, looking. And that’s why I love them.”

“I think it came out of when we joined Årabrot for a brief stint in 2015,” Alex continues. “Me and Paul were doing the double duty there of Paul on second drums and me on bass for Årabrot, and we were opening with Ghold as a two piece. We played – what was it? – 27 shows just doing this same kind of set that we didn’t want to manoeuvre from, because there was so much to think about with Årabrot’s hour set that we followed up with, so we didn’t really change much up in it. It was probably me because I’m the one who’s got the itchiest feet out of us all, I think – but when we got back, I was like, ‘We need to do something else now!’ Just ideas galore sat in a van for fourteen hours a day, mind rotting.”

“I think there’s always been a little sensibility about expansion as well, even since the earliest days of the band,” agrees Paul. “Even the demo or the Judas Ghoat first full length that we did, there’s always been riffs and patterns that we would have probably liked to have expanded on with other instrumentation, but just weren’t really able to at the time. So in the interest of continuing that philosophy, we’re trying to figure out ways to do it now – and that’s meant getting [Alex] Virji in on second bass.”

In addition to playing in London noise rock duo Warren Schoenbright, Alex Virji had also provided artwork for Ghold since their 2015 opus Of Ruin, so the collaboration felt like a natural one. Not only that, but with Alex Wilson based in the north and everyone else located in London, during lockdown it became a necessity.

“It was when we were sharing ideas, these three could actually get together for work purposes and crack on with some things while I couldn’t travel anywhere. So we were kind of relaying those bits of information to each other and that was quite an exciting process,” explains Wilson. “We’ve always been around each other, and it just kind of made sense to ask, ‘Can we get together as a four?’”

“It’s very interesting to have two basses because Alex Wilson plays sort of like lead bass and Virji’s just keeping the rhythm down,” says Oli. “You’ve got fantastic bands that do the bass/drum thing – Human Leather, for example! Absolutely fantastic, and they do it really, really well. But if you listen to what we’ve just recorded, you know, you’ve got four voices that are doing a harmony, and then you’ve got a rhythm bass, and then a lead bass and a lead guitar and Paul playing loads of broken cymbals. So it’s just really opened it all up, as far as I’m concerned.”

Whilst the now-quartet had been working on a new album together with Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse Studios, the first taste of Ghold 3.0 comes exclusively to Quietus subscribers in the form of ‘EXACT REPULSE SUFFER’, a twenty minute monster of a track that really shows off the expanded sonic depth of their new line-up. The band recorded the song with Gnod drummer Jon Perry at Brunswick Mill in Manchester a while after their sessions at Bear Bites Horse, which certainly put them in good stead.

“Al Wilson sent us these sketches of compositions that were made with the quartet in mind – which was really interesting, it being a product of our experience [with Wayne Adams], and what we’d achieved and what we knew we could produce in terms of Al Wilson being more freed up because I’m giving this bedrock of continuity and rhythm, and then what that can produce in terms of things blossoming and developing,” begins Alex Virji. “Me, Paul and Oli listened to them on the train on the way up, all in sync. It was a really amazing experience, they were really beautiful demos in a way.”

“I respond quite well to a deadline, even though I might do it last minute,” laughs Wilson. “I live in this place now that’s very dark in winter, so it kind of brings out a bit of darkness. In this room here, with about seven bottles of wine, I’d sit and just kind of muse over it all. I’ve got various instruments to make these sketches like they said, and I just made them probably a week before we were supposed to record and just sent them all. And then they decided to listen to them on the train!”

“JP is an absolute legend, and he just gave us this freedom,” continues Virji. “He’s really into the band, and when we were recording you could tell he was into it and it just felt really good. It felt really liberating, it was one of the best recording experiences I think I’ve had with a band and a group of mates. We’ve been through a lot together as friends, so it was a really nice way to pay homage to all of that.”

“I think a good old twenty minute song, just one fell swoop – that’s a bit of Ghold!” Oli smiles. “That was a good brief for us, because that’s what we’re all about really. If we could just write twenty minute songs for the rest of our lives, then we’d do it.”