Auroch are a crushing underground metal band and after hearing them I knew an interviews in order so I sent some questions to guitarist Sebastian Montesi to answer:
Where were you born and where did you grow up? What sort of kid were you growing up?
I grew up mostly in Vancouver, BC, Canada, but also in L.A. and Toronto. Nothing that exciting to note here.
Now were you into music big time at an early age or did that come later on?
Yeah, always. Weird, eclectic mix of things as a kid, like Elvis Presley, Tracy Chapman, Jodie Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Greg Brown, and Spirit Of The West.
How did you come to discover heavy metal and then the underground and what were some of the 1st bands that you heard and are you still into any of those bands these days still?
Around the age of 13, I, like many others, discovered Metallica, Death, Slayer, etc, and life was down-hill from there. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, I discovered the more damaging acts like Morbid Angel, Possessed, Monstrosity, Suffocation, and the all the like around age 16, and I've been hanging on by a thread ever since. Obviously many of those are still staples for us.
Now since you have been into the underground scene has their always been a pretty good scene or has it gotten better or worse over the years? Do many tours roam through your neck of the woods so to speak?
I didn't start to pay attention to "underground" until I was around 19 or so. I have nothing to go against, so you won't catch me guilty of golden age thinking, yearning for days past with arms crossed. I think that the current ethos of underground festivals has allowed for a great show of integrity from bands, promoters and fans alike, and has allowed for bands not syndicated with large labels to rise to the top, and inhabit the pinnacle of the average metalhead's awareness. All I ever see on festival lineups all around the world is nothing but support for the best bands going, and opportunities being given to the good up-and-comers. I like this. I think the current taste in the metal scene (ugh, I cringe every time I have to write that word still) is excellent.
Now what gave you the idea to form or join a band? Now in 2006 you joined or formed the band Tusk. How did this come about and what was the sound of this band like?
I don't really know. We were 15/16 when we started that band. I suppose it was something to do. Tusk was a very typical thrash metal band, that while endearing in its effort, very much wears the juvenile nature of the project on its sleeve. Not associated with Auroch, in many ways, but still our origin I suppose. The ready access to websites like Metal Archives has lead to a great misunderstanding that Tusk was an important part of Auroch's history. Just a garage band when we were teenagers.
You released 2 demos under that name. What are your thoughts on those demos these days? Did you play many shows under that name?
I haven't listened to them in many years. I'm sure they still sound like thrash metal played by 16 year olds. We played a healthy handful of local shows around Vancouver.
So 2 years after Tusk was around you changed the name of the band to Auroch. Why the name change and were any other names thrown around at the time?
Our sound was developing in to the death metal style that you can hear taking form on From Forgotten Worlds. Tusk was one entity, and it was no longer well representing the sound we had. I am sure other names were thrown around at the time, but they currently escape me. The name of Auroch has meant different things to me at different times, but this isn't the interview for that.
So after the name change you released a demo called “Death May Die”. What are your thoughts on this demo these days? Where was it recorded and between the 2 bands was there a radical music change at all?
Death May Die was actually never released, but it was indeed recorded. It marked a notable inclusion of (comparatively speaking) harsher musical stylings. We recorded it in what was our jamspace at the time. The addition of harsh vocals probably makes it stand apart. Elements of it still are slightly relevant, as we have twice almost included updated versions of "Acolyte" on releases. Each time we've made the choice to just let it die though. I'll finish this question by again stating that this demo was never released, and does not exist, anywhere- physically or otherwise.
In 2010 another demo came out called ‘Stranger Aeons”. What are your thoughts on this demo these days? Did you try and send this demo and the previous one to any record companies to get signed?
A very similar situation to the previous answer, only this one was indeed released. I don't have much to say on this demo that I haven't said before. It likely reeks of the 19 year olds who wrote and recorded it! A few (tiny) underground distros moved a few copies for us... but I believe the total pressing was MAYBE 300 units. The song "Y'ha-Nthlei" was revamped in our current context and was used as "Coronation" on the Seven Veils EP.
Also in 2010 you did a split with the band Ancient Obliteration on Skull Fucking Records. How did this come about and how was the response to this release and is it still for sale at all?
It was a release that made sense at the time. Skull Fucking Records distro'd some copies, but this was actually self released. It was sold out and will never be repressed, as all releases up to and including this one do not represent the band in the way that we have chosen to go forward; neither sonically nor philosophically.
In 2012 you had a release on Hellthrasher Productions called “From Forgotten Worlds”. Now what do you remember about this release and how was the response to it at the time and is this release still for sale?
From this point onwards is what I consider to be canon and relevant in our discography. I say this not only because I dislike the older material, but because the release of that album marked a few important things. For one, drummer Zack Chandler and I had made the draconian decision to cut ties with everyone we knew and associated with at the time (I mean this very literally), and move on just the two of us. Another reason is that (for my ears) this is the first release that sounds like a serious band. The formative years were spent developing a consistent sound, and we had finally reached a point that we were pleased with. I still find the album to be exceedingly violent, and am proud of it. It should be remarked at the time that Chandler was 20 at the time this was recorded. Combine that with the fact that this album was recorded in ONE TAKE, and you have the mark of a prodigy. I am just struggling to keep up. The final reason is why this is the point I "count from" is because it marked our first deal with an outside party, being Hellthrasher Productions. They helped us tremendously.
How does a song come together and how about the lyrics? Is this stuff a band effort or do one or 2 members do this?
The writing process of the songs and the lyrics is something that is more deeply related to the esoteric side of the band, and while this interview has good, well thought out questions regarding the chronology of the band, I am afraid it is not the correct interview to address that topic.
Now do you feel you’re an original band and also at what point do you feel you sort of found the sound of the band so to speak?
I feel like on each one of our 3 releases (From Forgotten Worlds, Seven Veils, and Taman Shud), we've developed our sound a little more. I suppose that is for other people to say if we're "original", not me. All I can say is that our 4th record (later this year on Profound Lore Records), will be a galvanizing record. A true lightning bolt to strike the tower...
Still in 2012 you did a split with the band VadimVon that was limited to 100 copies? Why did you limit it to 100 and any chance of having it re-released?
We actually just took some songs from the releases of each band (From Forgotten Worlds, for us) and combined them for a compilation disc. We were in contact as V from VadimVon had done artwork for us twice before. They were going on tour with Morbid Angel, and it made sense for both bands to have that release.
Now up until this point has it been pretty much the same line-up or had the band gone through member changes a lot?
Not a lot has changed, but the changes have been pivotal.
Now we fast forward to 2014 where you released another full length called “Taman Shud” on Profound Lore Records. What is it like working with all these different labels? As time goes on is it easier to go and record and release records?
Taman Shud was really the album that we had been waiting to write. From Forgotten Worlds, while pleasing to us and receiving of a good response, was still composed of many old elements that had been injected with a hearty steroid. Taman Shud was written and recorded over the course of 5 months, as after striking a deal with Profound Lore (who still is our primary label) the inspiration was strong. I find it to be a tremendous improvement on From Forgotten Worlds, and we'll attempt to make the same step up on our new record.
Working with Profound Lore has been a huge hand, even outside of that album. He has supported us with distribution, funding, merch, and has secured us some important concerts.
By now has the band got to play live much and if so who have you shared the stage with? Is there any live clips of the band floating around on You Tube and places like that? Have you got a chance to play outside of Canada at all?
Yeah, we've been playing consistently since 2011, but as we develop more, we have had the luxury to start limiting ourselves to the shows and tours that make the most sense, rather than jumping at every opportunity. We've completed only one European tour, but we got to bring our music to 10 different countries, and some notable festivals. We'll be playing heavily in the United States this year, starting in two weeks at Famine Fest in Portland, but also important shows in New York, Lynchburg, and Maryland Deathfest. We're all anxious to return to Europe. Yeah, there are lots of live clips on YouTube from the European tour, but also openings gigs in Canada with Nile, Suffocation, and so on.
Now just recently I got a copy of your new excellent release called “Seven Veils”. How easy was it to go in and record this? If a big independent label does not pick you up they are crazy.
It was tough to record that, as just like From Forgotten Worlds and Taman Shud, it was recorded in one take. It was actually recorded in 2013 and released digitally at the time. That helped us gain the interest of Profound Lore. Graceless Recordings released it physically in 2015.
So now what are your plans on how to promote this new release? How has the response been to it so far?
It's an extremely barbaric and inaccessible release in an ode to the primal force of female sexual energy, castration, the beheading of the phallic God, and the death of the sun, so my guess/hope is that its largely polarizing. That's fine.
Please plug any websites or anything else you want to.
Buy physical releases. (I agree 1000% with ya-chris)
Any last words and horns up for doing this chat with me.
Thanks for the good questions.
Interviewed by Chris Forbes