Germ – Into the Winds of NowhereMonday, 9th May 2016
By now, the project-happy entity otherwise known as Tim Yatras should be familiar to most underground ‘goers. The recent (and much-deserved) popularity surge of Germ has helped cast light on his many side avenues, ranging from depressive black metal (Autumn’s Dawn), power metal (Illium), and the gone, but never forgotten Grey Waters (dark, atmospheric rock/metal). But for now, it all goes back to his main act, Germ, who in the span of four years, three albums, and one EP, have provided a literal cascade of moving, swirling post-black, shoegaze metal. Germ practically defies categorization, as Yatras’s penchant for tortured wails, heightened, melodic riffing, and monumental song builds certainly suggest he is operating in an entirely different context altogether.
Escape is the band’s newest offering, and it’s suitably their best. Led by world-beater song “I’ll Give Myself to the Wind,” along with a slew of complementary downers (“The Old Dead Tree” and “With the Death of a Blossoming Flower” in particular), Escape may just be the body of work that totally thrusts Germ into the forefront of atmospheric black metal. And to be frank, they’re the more appealing alternative to Deafheaven and Ghost Bath, two outfits who get more attention, yet lack the sort of ground-level appeal of Germ. But enough out of us, here’s us chatting it up (via email) with Yatras…
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve done so many (good, high-quality) projects over the years. Do you think you’ll ever reach the point where you’ll settle down and focus on just one?
Tim Yatras: It kinda feels like I’m already doing that with Germ, to be honest. I mean, I also have Autumn’s Dawn currently “active,” but we’re not doing anything at the moment. So, aside from session work, Germ pretty much is my sole focus.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you schedule projects out? Or, do you just go with the flow and see what happens?
Yatras: I do just go with the flow, so to speak. I try to never force a project. If it feels natural to do it, then I’ll do it, if it becomes forced, or unnatural in any way, then it’s time to put it aside for a while.
Dead Rhetoric: The last few years have seen Germ gain more visibility, both on the album and live front. Is this all a pleasant surprise for you?
Yatras: Hmmm, I don’t know if it’s a surprise really, since I released the first Germ album it’s all seemed to be kind of a natural progression. To be releasing my first album with Prophecy Productions feels great, and will of course lead to more visibility than in the past, just due to them being a bigger/better label.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you think the band translates live?
Yatras: Germ live feels odd in a way. I never wrote, or write, any music with the intention of playing it live – that’s not even a consideration for me. But having said that, those few shows from a couple of years ago did go very well, I was pleased with them, and received some great compliments from the bands we played with. I’m very much looking forward to stepping onto the stage again at Prophecy Fest.
Dead Rhetoric: As for Escape, it’s your most fully-realized effort, plus, it’s very personal for you. Were you worried about putting yourself out there in the way you did with the album’s lyrics?
Yatras: No, I wasn’t too worried about it. My lyrics have always been quite personal, dealing with inner demons, emotions, etc. They’re still written in quite a cryptic way on Escape, so it’s not like reading the lyrics will give anyone a specific insight into my life, or anything like that ha-ha.
Dead Rhetoric: This may be an obvious question, but was doing the album therapeutic?
Yatras: Yes and no. Composing and recording the album was a little therapeutic, however mixing it was not at all. It actually ended up pretty much the opposite.
Dead Rhetoric: “I’ll Give Myself to the Wind” is your best song to date. You mentioned it had some commercial leanings, but beyond that, what does the song mean to you?
Yatras: Wow, thank you! I am definitely proud of the song. It actually started life as a song I wrote for a project I was going to do with Audrey Sylvain. When we decided not to continue with that idea, I pretty much re-wrote the song from scratch, keeping some of the riffs and melodies similar, but this time with the mindset of it being a Germ song. This actually felt a lot more natural and it was quite a quick process. Lyrically, it’s not actually about any particular event or feeling, but more just kinda like, asking questions, and thinking out loud, if that makes sense.
Dead Rhetoric: Your clean vocals only pop up on occasion throughout the album. Are you being more selective when using them, or, did the music simply not call for them?
Yatras: A little of both. I knew going into the album that I wanted to have less clean vocals, but then again, if a section calls for clean singing, I’m not going to scream there just out of principal ha-ha. It did just end up that I felt not many places on the album called for them. I think it turned out in the end that there’s only like 10 lines or something of cleans on the whole album, which of course is a lot less than in the past.
Dead Rhetoric: Switching gears, do you get asked to work on a lot of projects? I’m thinking of something like Ilium, which is basically a supergroup.
Yatras: I do get asked quite a lot, especially for session drumming which I do quite a bit of. Funny you mention Ilium, though – that’s a good example of a band I’ve had almost nothing to do with ha-ha. I was never a member of the band at all, I just was paid to play the drums on a couple of albums, and I’m not even on the latest one. But yes, I do get asked to do a guest slot here and there on various things.
Dead Rhetoric: To that point, you’ve released so many albums in such a short period of time. Have you ever taken a moment and thought about all you’ve accomplished?
Yatras: Not really! I’m usually just planning what’s next! For example, I’m already well into the writing process for the next Germ album, and that one is shaping up really great. Maybe after that one’s done I’ll reflect back a bit, we’ll see.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s next for you + Germ?
Yatras: Well the next big thing for germ after releasing Escape, is of course Prophecy Fest in Germany. I attended last year’s festival, and thought the atmosphere was amazing, and so I’m looking forward to playing that very much. I’m also going to spend some time travelling through Europe again while over there, so that’s pretty much what is next for me and Germ. And obviously, as I mentioned before, I’m slowly working on the next album, hopefully I’ll be ready to record that one next year.