It’s always a pleasure to find a band whose mission it is to inject some well needed fire and zest into metal. Switzerland-based The Erkonauts are on a steady path to recognition, with two albums to their name and recent string of tours. Inspired by a wealth of artists, The Erkonauts provide an adrenalised surge of heaviness with a seismic dose of originality and not a single dull moment. They have both the skills and the conviction to march to their own beat, and their unique sound and identity makes them a serious player in the years to come. Despite being in the midst of a hectic touring schedule, The Erkonauts‘ bass player and vocalist Ales Campanelli kindly took the time to tell It Djents about some of the band’s inspirations, mission statements, and themes.
Intriguing enough is the band name itself. According to Ales, the small creature you see here, (which is also the band’s logo) goes by the name of Erkonos… He is a small alien exploring the world and the ‘Erkonauts’ are those who travel with him. One only needs to look at the album cover for I Shall Forgive for a more biologically precise interpretation of this character. It’s a detailed cover which is fitting for a well crafted musical project.
There is a clear path of evolution from the first Erkonauts album, I Did Something Bad, to 2017’s most recent, I Shall Forgive. I Shall Forgive was written in just a few months. As a result, it’s more intense and more angry. While maintaining some prog elements, it goes straight to the point, benefiting from the experience acquired during the recording of the first one. A lot of focus went on the arrangements, and a lot of time was saved for the vocals so the band could experiment on them.
Among all the other notable achievements of I shall forgive, one of the most likable factors is the lyrics. As one might guess from the album title, the theme of the album is forgiveness and specifically how this word has been drained of all meaning. “People want to be apologized to“ explains Ales. “It gives them power. So they create situations, get offended and get angry to coerce others into having to ask for forgiveness, without them feeling the need or wanting to do so. It’s just empty words. A trend of our time. We don’t want to be right as much as we want others to be wrong.”
“Little Mary” and “Seven Macaw” are but two examples of The Erkonauts’ songs where the lyrics tell stories, be they Mayan fables or the re-imagining of fairy tales. In both these cases, it was the music which inspired the lyrics. “The way these songs evolved started inspiring certain atmospheres. In the case of “Mary,” it was anger and panic, and for “Macaw” it was revenge. After these main feelings, colors come to mind and from there the stories start to shape themselves gradually and naturally. Then key words emerge and the place in the song where they fit best will dictate the narration.”
Always good to know that a band has a strong underlining premise to their work. And as far as the music is concerned, their list of influences is expectantly extensive. “There is a lot to learn from many artists and in many genres” Ales tells us. “It’s difficult to name accurately what has the most impact on us. It’s really the sum of everything.” Yet still he gives us a small list: “Scorpions, Ween, Dead Can Dance, Voivod, Samael, Coroner, Waltari, Faith No More, Uriah Heep, Def Leppard, New Model Army…”
In as regards to whether or not there is a creative mastermind in the band besides Erkonos the alien, Ales finds it a difficult question to answer. Although he is the main songwriter, he assures us that The Erkonauts is a team effort, and each member is no less of a contributor than the other. He also assures us that the main goal of the band his to have fun. “We all got involved in previous projects that drained the fun out of music and that was a huge mistake that will not happen again. It will be records, tours, and parties from now on. This philosophy seems to be working for us. The signing with Indie Recordings is just icing on the cake. We get happier by the day.”
And touring has indeed been the name of the game for The Erkonauts as of late. Whilst on the subject, Ales cites their live performance at the Spring Scream Festival in Taiwan as being his favorite. “We just traveled there from Switzerland and spent more time on the plane than in the country. But the atmosphere there was unbelievable. It was surreal. It was the first big festival we played and we had a ton of fun.”
One can only imagine how much fun The Erkonauts songs themselves are to play live, which presumably leads to numerous technical challenges. “The songs are indeed hard to play, but they are created with the purpose of being played live. So there aren’t too many challenges that we cannot overcome. What’s interesting is that the songs start evolving the more we play them on stage. We’re kind of a plug and play band. We like to keep it simple when it comes to playing live.”
I Shall Forgive has been a well deserved milestone in The Erkonauts’ career. But what’s next for the band? “We’re looking into a few tours, and that will always be what we’re looking towards to. We’ll start working slowly on the new album in a couple of months. While I Shall Forgive was written fast, we might want to experiment a little more for the next one…”
And Ales’ final words to It Djents are the most exciting. “Everything’s possible.” That said, one is advised to keep a close eye on these guys.
The Erkonauts are:
Ales Campanelli – Bass & Vocals
Los Sebos – Guitars
Fred Di Limoncelli – Guitars
Mathieu Martinazzo – Drums
You can hear The Erkonauts’ back catalogue at their Spotify page, and check out their latest goings on at their Official Facebook page. You can also check out the Indie Recordings Youtube channel for video The Erkonauts’ videos as well as several other great bands.