Botanist – Speaking For NatureFriday, 12th September 2014
Dead Rhetoric: Within the Botanist philosophy, you have a lexicon on the website with a list of characters that have played out through the albums. Are you going to be expanding this in albums to come, or just provide more depth?
Otrebor: There’s a couple different aspects to expanding upon this. The short answer is that yes, it will be expanded upon. The long answer is not at the same pace, and I don’t mean to be picking on poor Rhapsody of Fire, but it’s not the kind of thing where we have to come up with a new story or character because it’s like a book, because it’s not. The biggest endeavor is to tell a simple story that is intended to impact every living thing. It’s told through allegory, and in that allegory there is mythology. Mythology is a very important tool to culture and world history. Trying to take that tool and apply it to this band concept is an attractive thing to me.
Things will come up around album VIII. There’s some material that will be coming out next year. We will have a bunch of material ready for next year and we are not going to release all of it. We are basically going to have a number of EPs to put out. The next full length may come out in 2016. It depends on the recording/writing schedule. It will be a heavily conceptual record, probably the most conceptual of the discography to that point. And it’s not going to be rushed, and in the meantime we have so much stuff that we can release some EPs.
One of the EPs has this new character, Arctopoides, that has been on the website for some time. Arctopoides is based upon an actual plant called Arctopoides, which is also known as the Footsteps of Spring. The Footsteps of Spring is a plant that is native to California that basically looks like little patches of yellowish green things that grow on the ground. It kind of looks like something walked there, which is why it’s called that. In Botanist mythology, Arctopoides is an invisible entity that walks along the land, and as he walks, he heals the land where it has been damaged. It works as kind of the yin to the yang of Azalea. Azalea has the evil, aggressive nature that wants to take over as much of the world as possible and push out the oppressor; Arctopoides is the benevolent character and I rather appreciate that aspect. That’s what is going to be expanded upon, probably with Botanist VIII.
Dead Rhetoric: With that idea in mind and the introduction of that character, it seems the philosophy for Botanist is that humanity is the one that is screwing it up for ourselves. We aren’t going to destroy nature but we will end up left behind and nature will carry on without us. Do you think that we are capable of repairing our relationship with nature?
Otrebor: I think in order for that to happen a major worldview is going to have to change. The worldview of creating personal wealth and consuming beyond what is necessary or reasonable has to change. One thing that has spoken to me so much about doing this project is that I’ve been in bands before that were very important to me and I wanted them to succeed and play Wacken and all that, and it meant a lot. But what’s different about this is that Botanist is more important because it’s a selfless thing. This is a very important mission, and an important message that is so much bigger than myself or any other person. You look at people throughout history who have done major work for the good of others, be it for people or animals or plants. Those people end up have the most fulfilled lives and have the biggest impact because they are not working for themselves, they are working for something else. This is really what I believe is my way of doing that. Speaking out for something that needs speaking out for and working for that because it’s so much bigger than I am, and so much bigger than any other individual. That’s what is different about this band compared to any band I have been in or will be in.
The more people can get away from “what’s good for me” and go towards “how can I help everyone” or better improve the lives of any living thing. I think things will right themselves a lot more easily. In it’s own way, be it small, but Botanist is willing to play that message through its concept and story.
Dead Rhetoric: With so many metal bands that always sing about destroying everything, it’s refreshing to hear a band that is into their philosophy and back it 100%. Understanding that we are going down this path, but it’s up to us to determine how it ends.
Otrebor: Botanist understands the world doesn’t need saving. The world will save itself. If we annoy it enough, it will destroy us and move on. It’s very much heading towards that, and everything must come to an end and that includes humanity. But it’s definitely being accelerated at this point.
Dead Rhetoric: Much of black metal is shifting away from “Satan this, Satan that” and moving in a more natural view, especially in the US. Why do you feel that more and more of these bands are moving in this direction?
Otrebor: The natural/ecological bend to black metal is definitely not a new thing. It’s been going on since bands like Ulver and for the most part, the Norwegian explosion. That really opened the door to showing all the other themes that have come up since then. To really go “hey this is something that black metal does” and it has a very specific flavor to it.
The best thing that I can guess about why it is, is that this movement of saying “hey wait a minute, the natural world is really important, it’s been discounted by a good amount of people for a long time and we have to do something to undo what we are doing to it” is kind of a way of the Earth acting up and instilling consciousness into people. It’s almost as if the Earth is saying that this has to change and people are picking up on that and saying, “yes it does.”
As I was saying, I don’t necessarily know where this came from, for me, doing this project. It came from somewhere, and the fact that it is not entirely tangible means that there is something kind of mystical or divine that is speaking through me to do this. I can’t speak for other people, but look beyond the miracle theme and look at how much more people are moving to speak out about protecting the environment or to value it. Yes, part of it is a trend and much of it is economically-oriented, but I think that is an important and practical way to get it to work. It has to make sense economically. In terms of the actual philosophy and heart-felt movement towards this, maybe some bands are bandwagon-jumping but a ton of them aren’t. Whether they are or not, I think it’s a strong message and a good fight to fight.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s a lot easier to get enjoyment out of something when it means something, more than just “creatures of the night” and the metal clichés that are done ad naseum. Botanist has that in spades.
Otrebor: Everything can be done to the point where it is accepted as rote and therefore if you are going to be in this type of band you have to do songs that do “this type of thing.” Originally, going back to the Norwegian scene, they were goofy kids that had a bunch of matches and set fire to a barn and then got out of control but it was something that they really felt about what they were doing. Whether it was misguided or whatever, there was something legitimate about how they were feeling that caused them to do this. That’s really the compelling aspect of any good music, when you can feel that the artist has something to say and feels what is going on. When you get to the point where it’s just the same old thing, there’s this lack of really feeling what is going on. I think that is what separates the notable acts from the not so notable ones.
Dead Rhetoric: Botanist has an off the beaten path and has a unique sound and you do a good job of posting all the reviews, even the negative ones. How do you approach a review where it’s clear that someone just didn’t understand it? Do you take it in stride or ask “how can I improve it?”
Otrebor: There’s no thought at all about how can I improve it. One of the underlying tenets of me as an artist, no matter what band/project it is, is that no matter how bad it is, someone will like it and no matter how good it is, someone will hate it. It’s just how it is with all art. You can’t please everyone all the time so someone may never get it. Hypothetically, you can go online and see this. “I really think that the first record is the best, or I think the third record is the best” and that’s amazing and that is the point to having different responses. If you don’t like all of it, fine; not everyone is going to like it. But it’s not going to change making the record. I think it’s great that some people like some records but not other records, because that shows the intention of making records that were different. People are welcome to think whatever they want, but the record is still going to be made.
Dead Rhetoric: Very true, if you are changing it based on what people think, you are more approaching pop music.
Otrebor: I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that I know how to make a record that is going to sell a lot of copies. I just know how to make a record that will come out and be honestly what is going on within the thing that I feel and that’s what I know how to do. I don’t know how to appeal to a bunch of people. If they like it, that’s wonderful but if not, that’s okay too.
Pages: 1 2