Australias’s Tarot is suddenly one of the hottest bands in the very depths of the heavy metal underground. Very much deserved if you asked me, as both of the tapes the band has put out this year are very impressive. As not a lot is known about Tarot, I once again decided to take matters into own hands. I hooked up with Will (also known from The Wizar’d and Dracula) to get the information needed.
First off, there are no lyrics printed to go with your tapes, you are using pseudonyms and there is no webpage for the band. I guess, since you agreed to do this interview right away, that you aren’t afraid to reveal some the mystery that surrounds Tarot?
– Not at all! However, while it certainly isn’t our intention to be one of these mystery bands, and I have no problem with people knowing who I am, or what other bands I play in, the lack of information included with the releases is still a bit intentional. It just seems to suit what we are doing a little better to let the listener focus on the music rather than who is playing it.
When was the idea behind Tarot born? Have you had the idea to do something like this for a long time, or was it more like waking up one day and realizing you had to do a more hard rocking project with Hammond and synth?
– Tarot began in 2011, it was pretty much the result of me always being a fan of stuff like Uriah Heep, Rainbow, Deep Purple etc and experimenting writing riffs on the organ. However I didn’t want to try and incorporate these different elements into what I was doing with The Wizar’d, so it seemed like the logical thing to do to start a new band.
Are the line-ups identical for Dracula and Tarot? Are other members of these acts involved in The Wizar’d too?
– The lineups for all three bands are different. We are all friends who have similar taste in music, but it’s not the same three guys making up all these bands. I guess I write almost all the music for both Tarot and The Wizar’d, so there will definitely be some similarities in the songwriting but I try to keep them as much of their own separate entities as possible. In my eyes there wouldn’t be much point having three bands that sound exactly the same.
In my opinion The Wizar’d doesn’t get the attention the band deserves. “Ancient Tome Of Arcane Knowledge” in particular was extremely good. With the assumption that all musicians want their music to be heard by as many people as possible, was Tarot and Dracula for that matter, born out of frustration over what should definitely be a greater interest in the music of The Wizar’d?
– Thanks for your kind words! I wouldn’t say that Tarot or Dracula was born out of frustration over the fact the The Wizar’d isn’t that widely known or liked, to be honest it really doesn’t bother me that much. The Wizar’d is something I enjoy doing for myself, but it’s really awesome that people who I consider to have good taste enjoy it too, it feels like it’s a band that people either really love, or can’t stand which is killer and is enough for me! It also allows me to only write songs or play shows when we feel inspired to do it, so if I don’t feel like writing new Wizar’d stuff, there is no need to force songs into existence. With that said I am always writing music, so I guess that’s how Tarot and Dracula came to be, just wanting to write more stuff, but not trying to force it into being The Wizar’d out of necessity.
I guess you are tired of answering this question already, if not in interviews, maybe from fans. Why have you chosen the name Tarot for the band? Isn’t there a strong possibility that you have to change it once the Finnish band learns about your existence?
– I feel like the name just suits the kind of atmosphere we try to convey, and in a way this would be ineffective if I explained what the name means to me personally, it should be up to the listener to make their own mind up about what the name means to them and what goes along with it. There are already several other bands with the same name, all playing different styles, so I’m not too worried about having to change it.
It seems like more and more bands are trying to stay anonymous or create an aura of mysticism around themselves. Not by any means a new trick in heavy metal or hard rock circles, but it’s probably more of this now than before. Do you think this is due to the hard competition between bands struggling for exposure in the Internet-era?
– To be honest I just think it’s because it has worked for a few bands, and some people think that they can have a slice of that success for themselves. Personally I can’t think of any bands that have deliberately gone to extreme efforts to hide their identities that are that good anyway, they usually seem to be over compensating for a lack of cool music. If you want to have an aura of mysticism, but can’t muster that from your music alone then I don’t see how hiding behind a cloak is going to help you.
Tarot is the third band you are involved with where the musicians are using pseudonyms. Just a gimmick, or is there a deeper meaning with different bands craving different types of “personalities”?
– It always just seemed more interesting than going by our real names, it doesn’t really matter anyway, since anyone who can be bothered looking can find any information they want on the internet.
Of course the pseudonyms you are using also point towards tarot cards. How would you describe the concept behind Tarot, both in terms of imagery, lyrics and music and how these elements interact ?
– As I said earlier, I think it’s best left to the listener to interpret these elements as they see fit, rather than have me explain them directly.
While both Tarot-tapes were released earlier this year, I believe the first sign of life from the band came via Soundcloud last year or even earlier, when you advertised a two track CD-r for sale. I can’t recall having read about this release anywhere else. How many copies were made and sold? What kind of feedback did you get?
– We put out the “Take a Look Around” CD-r In 2011, it was a very low key release really, we had recorded the two tracks and felt like it would be the right thing to do to release it mainly for people we were already in contact with, so I didn’t really promote it much. We only sold a handful of copies, which is fine since it was a demo in the old sense, rough ideas which hadn’t taken full form yet.
Do you feel like me, that it’s a lot of about finding the right format and the right way to present a product these days? I mean, CD-r’s are generally not popular in metal circles, while it seems like some recordings are best suited for a vinyl release will others almost scream for a release on tape format…Why did you go for tapes when it came to releasing the Tarot material?
– I definitely agree with you. We just used the CD-r format on that release because it was just meant to show people what we had come up with, rather than being a proper, thought out release. With the new releases we went for tape because it is quite easy to get a cool release that feels more complete than a CD, I find it hard to explain why, but shorter releases just seem to be made for tapes. I also had a lot of success releasing Dracula “Open Graves at Midnight” this way, with the design, and more practical things like the fact cassettes are pretty much the only format that you can ship overseas from Australia for a price people are willing to pay.
While one of the tracks from this release, “Leaving The Place”, is included on “Dying Daze”, the other track, “Take A Look Around” hasn’t been found worthy a place on any of the two tapes. Do you feel the up tempo approach of the track is too different from what you are doing now, or are you planning to rerecord this one for a future project?
– I think the problem with that song isn’t the tempo, as it was intended to sound like an upbeat Rainbow style song, it’s more that it was just the first thing I had written in that style, so I hadn’t really got my head around the way the guitars and organ should work together, and there is just a little too much going on at once. I try to keep the new stuff more stripped back, and use the different instruments when they are needed, rather than having them all playing, all the time haha
You said in the Wizar’d interview we did that the intention with that band was and is to make music you want to listen to. Is the same the case with Tarot, or are there other motives involved?
– It is absolutely the same with Tarot, I would never put my name (or a made up name for that matter!) to something that I wouldn’t want to listen to myself. My only real motive with Tarot is to re-create the atmosphere that bands like Uriah Heep were able conjure.
It seems Tarot are already getting a lot of interest in the underground. I am yet to see someone utter bad words about your recordings. Will this affect how much time you spend on this band versus The Wizar’d or Dracula?
– No I don’t think it will, as I mentioned earlier, there is no pressure or need for me to write new songs for The Wizar’d, unless I feel inspired to do so, so when I feel like writing more Wizar’d stuff I will. As far as Dracula is concerned, the writing process is much more of a group effort, so we are all usually coming up with ideas for that, we have quite a few new songs already, we have tracks for a 7” EP recorded, and we are hoping to curse the world with a full length in 2015!
The last The Wizar’d album was limited to 500 copies on vinyl, released more than a year ago, and is still available. However I was really lucky to grab a copy of the first Tarot-tape which I believe was limited to 300 and sold out in around two weeks couple of weeks ago. How do you reflect on this?
– I guess you could say The Wizar’d is more of an acquired taste than Tarot. I don’t think this is a bad thing though, on one hand, it’s cool that there are people who are into the demented cackling of The Wizar’d, but it’s not like I think that all music has the be obscure and inaccessible to the average listener, my all time favorite music is stuff like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Pagan Altar etc so I like stuff that is catchy and easy to get into as much as the next man. I have to say I was pretty surprised when Tarot sold as well as it did, I hadn’t really put any expectations on how it would be received, so it’s definitely very cool that people are enjoying it!
If I remember right, you mainly used your own home studio for the recordings you do with The Wizar’d. Is this also the case with Tarot?
– Yes, I still do almost all my recording in my little home studio, I have a pretty cool space for it now with much more room than I used to, so recording and mixing is a lot more enjoyable than it used to be. I think the recording budget issue is even more prevalent with Tarot, since the music is more complicated, and takes a lot longer to produce than The Wizar’d, I would need a big label with bottomless pockets to finance what I would want to do in a professional recording studio if we were to go down that road with Tarot.
Some sources lists “Life And Death” as a demo and “Dying Daze” as an EP. Is this the way you view the two releases? If so, what is the difference between the recording, making such a distinction valid? Even if I can’t really say which of the two I prefer, listening to “Dying Daze” definitely gives me a different feeling than what lending an ear to “Life And Death” does. What differences and improvements do you see with regards to the songwriting
– Nah I didn’t consider “Life and Death” to be a demo, I think that is one of the many annoying things about the Metal-Archives, everything has to be rigidly categarised to fit into their lame data base haha While on that topic, I might also add that it’s frustrating to see misinformation being presented as the truth – Eldorado are not from Australia! I would say that “Dying Daze” is a step up from “Life and Death” though, both in song writing and production techniques, as with everything, you get better the more you do it.
How do you like this way of working, with three songs at a time, releasing recordings in intervals of some months and receiving feedback compared to writing and recording specifically for an album?
– So far I’m enjoying it, I like being able to write a few songs that fit together and have a consistent theme. It kinda feels like the old days of The Wizar’d again haha I still feel like I’m learning, so I want everything to be as perfect as possible when I write a full length.
I guess it’s no surprise to you when I tell you that both tapes are exactly of the same length, clocking in at 15.10. This can’t be a coincidence, or
– Believe it or not, you are the first person to point this out to me, it wasn’t intentional.
While the Tarot-recordings are being released at your own Heavy Chains label, it also seems you do quite a bit of the artwork as well as the Tarot-logo yourself. Is it important for you to have a hand in all aspects of your releases, taking l control of the product and the process?
– I’ve always enjoyed drawing, so it’s cool to be able to put my drawings to use. I like having as much input over my own music releases too, so that definitely comes into it. I’ve started doing a bit of art for other people too, so if anyone needs some goofy drawings on the cheap, hit me up haha
Http://heavychainsrecords.wordpress.com/releases/ lists Tarot “TBA” under future releases. So, what is this, another demo, a full length or what? Or haven’t you decided yet?
– There are a couple of really exciting releases that I can’t say too much about right now as it’s early days, but there will be another cassette EP out before the year’s end, and a full length album some time next year.
Quite a few of the more established metal labels are signing new bands basing their sound on seventies oriented rock music these days. Although it has to be said that most of them sound quite different from Tarot. Even though you seem to have both feet in the underground movement, I guess interest from a big and strong label would be hard to turn down.
– To be honest at the moment, I think we can do better going it on our own than what a major or even “bigger” metal label would ever offer us. I think now more than ever people can avoid the trappings that go with being on a bigger label and still put out killer releases.
Will the already released Tarot-material and future recordings be made available on CD or vinyl?
– I hope to re-release what we have put out on vinyl, and maybe CD at some point. They would make a cool compilation.
Do you see Tarot as a studio project only, or will you also perform live?
– For now we are concentrating on studio stuff, but if the opportunity to play a cool show presented it self we wouldn’t say no, we’d have to bring in a couple of other musicians though, as this music needs two guitars, someone adept at organ and synths, bass, drums.