Every now and then I come across an artist/bands music that completely takes my ears by storm, and I mean that in the most positive way, of course. Lately as we’ve been aiming to do here on TVC when it comes to our music content, is diving into genres of music that are either lesser known, have been on the rise recently, or something we feel in general, is a bit unique and sets itself apart from what we generally hear so-often within the mainstream. Post-Rock is one of those genres, and while I feel I’ve had my own little “tastes” of it throughout the years, I have only recently begun to scratch the surface of the genre, and have been discovering how truly extraordinary the genre and it’s artists, are.
Cathedral Ring is one of those musical entities that I’ve recently come across during my countless hours listening to the genre, and I must, say Cathedral Ring is certainty one of the more favorites that I’ve come across.
Cathedral Ring is an Ambient/Post-Rock/Space Rock band based out of Atlanta, Georgia; and consists of members Christopher Harless (Guitar/Keys player), Matt Bankston (Drums & Percussion’s/Keys player), and Jacob Causey (Bass/Keys player). The band kicked off back in 2013 with their debut album “Where Dark Matter Ends”, an album which I feel to be rather emotional sounding, with a much heavier feeling at times compared to their few recent track releases.
The band is now preparing to release their second studio album, which is entitled “A Decade Alone on the Alps” this Friday, with two tracks from the album “Northeastern Track Marks” and “Domesticated Wolves” currently available to purchase and listening.
To provide a bit of a more in-depth look at the band Cathedral Ring, I recently reached out to Christopher Harless of the band, as he touched a bit on the bands history, the upcoming release, the Post-Rock genre as a whole, and more! You can checkout our full conversation below, enjoy!
Glake: So Cathedral Ring, aside from the very interesting band name, I am curious as to how the band was formed and what you made you want to take the “post-rock” route with your music?
Christopher: Oddly that question seems so straightforward for most bands but for us I think it’s quite interesting. Matt and I were in an indie-pop project prior to this but things just weren’t working out for various reasons. Upon exiting that endeavor we carried on as a two-piece immediately forming Cathedral Ring which was great because the momentum and chemistry we had already built up carried over. The idea in my head at the time wasn’t so much about striving to sound a certain way because personally my taste in music is scattered across the spectrum, but I knew I no longer wanted lyrics to guide the listener. I truly wanted to leave it wide open. We also didn’t want any language barrier there. Our music is for everyone who wants to make it their own.
Glake: I feel post-rock is definitely an acquired taste, but is certainly something that has been gaining quite a bit of traction lately, at least among indie bands. In what do you see changing and or hope the genre evolves over the years?
Christopher: I’ve definitely seen an increase in the amount of bands exploring the genre even if it’s merely dipping their toes into the experimental water so to speak. I do agree that it’s an acquired taste but I don’t think it’s due to any particular sound or a lack of hooks because they are certainly there. I think it has more to do with a lack of patience for elongated compositions in a fast paced society. Ironically pop music is going through the same thing which is why you will hear more than one hook within the same song. It’s almost like chorus stacking and I may be the first to use that term but it’s true. As for the evolution I hope bands continue to be as weird as possible and never put themselves into a box. The whole idea of post-rock, shoegaze, ambient, space-rock etc. is just being yourself. I can’t name any even moderately successful post-rock bands who sound identical. It’s one of the most original and diverse forms of music which is what I absolutely love about it.
Glake: While on the topic of post-rock, I’ve always wanted to know what the creation process is like. How do you come up with your melodies and even track names? Considering the music is not following/surrounding lyrics of any sort.
Christopher: I think I’ve been asked that question more than times than I can even count. People seem to be more curious about how it came to be rather than what it is about at times. There isn’t a magical formula or one right answer we just do what works for us. Coming from projects that centered around vocals or hooks I can say our process is fairly unconventional. All of it usually starts with a central theme or concept which helps a lot. Typically I spend a lot of time on my own developing things be it guitar, piano or another instrument. It can definitely be noise ridden, messy, unproductive and weird at times. Eventually when it feels right I will record that piece and send it to Matt. No fancy multi-tracking occurs at that juncture. It’s just a live one take version which could be three minutes or it could be eight minutes. From there we go into the rehearsal space and finish developing most of the composition in a live setting. The goal or idea with that method is to stay productive rather than wasting time bouncing bad ideas around. It’s definitely an odd way to do pre-production in this technologically advanced environment where you can map it all out through DI and programmed drums on a laptop, but it works for us.
I’m not sure about the melody portion because honestly I don’t think about it. I just write whatever comes out naturally which does tend to have that underlying element. Titles however are something I do put a lot of thought into and those always stem from the theme or concept. When you are working without lyrics titles mean everything.
Glake: So you have a brand new album on the way, which is your second studio album, correct? The album title is quite intriguing if I do say so myself “A Decade Alone on the Alps”. One thing I’ve noticed in particular about the ambient-rock/post-rock genre is that album titles and track names are rather cryptic. Is there a particular concept behind this album? If not, what was the inspiration behind the album title?
Christopher: Yes, that is correct this is our second album. We released “Where Dark Matter Ends” in the fall of 2013 and then took a two year hiatus. This album has a lot to do with that period of time. As stated earlier we always work in themes or concepts, so there is a very focused narrative. Most of the subject matter on “A Decade Alone on the Alps” is about isolation, loneliness, depression and dependency. There is a far more personal element occurring on this record and I struggled with that during the writing process. The lines started to get blurry because I knew I wasn’t writing about a fictional character. I was writing about my own experiences and being extremely honest about my own life which slightly deviates from what we initially set out to do as a band. There was definitely a fear that it wouldn’t be as accessible but I find some of the darkest albums can be the most inspiring.
Glake: So far you have released two tracks from your upcoming which are available to purchase now, “Northeastern Track Marks” and “Domesticated Wolves”; how do you feel the upcoming album compares to your 2013 release “Where Dark Matter Ends”?
Christopher: Don’t get me wrong I’m proud of “Where Dark Matter Ends” but I also spent the last three years dissecting it piece by piece, focusing on every detail, trying to tweak minor things we may have overlooked. I think this album is more polished and contains more depth in the structural sense. We spent a year writing “A Decade Alone on the Alps” and almost five months recording mostly due to conflicting schedules, where as our first album was written and recorded in two months. We were adamant about making sure we paced ourselves rather than rushing through it because that definitely affects the final product.
Glake: Upon the release of “A Decade Alone on the Alps”, will you guys be touring or playing any local live shows at all?
Christopher: As of right now we’re focusing on shows within our region but if the right opportunity arises we will certainly look at all available options. We always want to play as much as possible and get the album out there for more people to enjoy but it’s all about timing.
Glake: Since I’m a huge CD Junkie, and also considering Vinyl is becoming somewhat popular once again, I can’t help but wonder if a potential physical release of “A Decade Alone on the Alps” may be in store?
Christopher: There are certainly plans to release the album in a physical format. We even had a full layout designed by a great artist named Michał Klimczak and it was definitely in the works but due to some delays we had to move forward with a digital release. I’m an avid collector of physical albums myself but I also realize as band who isn’t internationally acclaimed you have to scale the demand.
Glake: Lastly, what is one thing you’d like both new-listeners to Cathedral Ring, as well as long-time listeners alike, to know about the band?
Christopher: It sounds cliche but we want them to know we are just regular people who have so-called real jobs while also trying to balance being active musicians. We don’t have an ounce of ego within our band. We appreciate every single thing that comes our way. We’re grateful for the people who take the time to follow us on social media, send nice messages, share updates and purchase the albums. Those little things all add up and ultimately make the difference in how much we can do moving forward be it merchandise, shows or even the next album.
I’d like to thank Christopher of Cathedral Ring for talking with us, and wish the band nothing less of the best of luck and creativity comes their way as they continue making music!
Cathedral Ring’s “A Decade Alone on the Alps” releases this Friday, February 17th. You can purchase the album, as well as their 2013 release over on their official Bandcamp Page. Both albums are also available to purchase over on itunes.