Interview: Corpse Light

corpse light EP

Artwork for Corpse Light’s ‘Without Form’ EP.

 

Baltimore, MD’s Corpse Light have just released their latest EP Without Form.  It is a dynamic set of songs that unfurls in an array of sonic textures over the course of about 30 minutes.  It drones, swirls, crashes, and cascades in equal measure, gifting the listener with both primal heaviness and intelligent complexity.  We were fortunate to be able to speak with Aurora and Larry from the band regarding the history of Corpse Light, and the process of making the EP, which you can listen to below.

 

How did Corpse Light come together, can we get a little history of the band up to this point?
Aurora: I’d originally placed an ad on Craigslist listing every obnoxiously obscure drone-y,
spaced out doom band I could think of as influences, believing that no one would bite. It felt
pretty significant to me that I was shortly thereafter contacted by Jim, who was at the time
playing in another band with Keiran and our former drummer Alex. We met up to see where
things might go, ended up clicking really well and formed our first incarnation, Ophidian, in late
2011; our name changed a couple of years later after we learned that there a number of other
similarly named bands, including a high-grossing musician out of the UK whose name popped up
everywhere on searches. Larry came in to replace Alex in spring of 2014, and after a work injury
left Jim unable to play guitar, Don joined us in late 2014.

Larry: I first saw the band as Ophidian back in late 2013. I was quite impressed with the sense of
atmosphere they created. A few months later I saw a Facebook post about how they needed a
drummer and we set up a jam session. A lot of stuff pretty much clicked immediately. I feel very
free to be myself as a musician with Aurora, Don, Keiran and Jim. I became an “official” member
of the band in May of 2014 and so far it has been quite a great year.

Corpse Light draw influences from all over the heavy music map, with little flourishes of
post-metal, crust, doom, sludge and stoner metal, but no one clear genre pigeonhole. Is this
purposeful or just a natural manifestation of combining the members’ individual
songwriting approaches and inclinations?

Aurora: I don’t think much of our sound is purposeful in the sense of being contrived; song-
writing has always been a really organic process for us, involving each of us in different ways at
different times, and I think the varied influences come through because of that. I really like that
you can’t pin us down in one genre – if there is any intention in my own approach to song writing,
it’s to prevent being stuck in one specific sound or direction. My biggest musical influences are
Neurosis, Bauhaus, and Cop Shoot Cop and I love being in a band where there is space to draw
on any/all of what moves me.

Larry: I am definitely a fan of all the genres that you have mentioned but what inspires me to be
involved is the vast array of influences as a unit and that is not always necessarily something
considered “heavy”. We always have conversations about new records, upcoming shows, etc. Our
tastes do not always agree but there is a ton of territory that we do agree upon. Neurosis is a band
that gets mentioned quite a bit. I cannot speak for everyone but they are a huge source of
inspiration for me. Chelsea Wolfe, King Woman, Terra Tenebrosa, Cult of Luna, Youth Code and
many other things heavy on the atmosphere are getting listens from me currently. I would say the
end result for me is very purposeful. It starts naturally and I try to capture that in a focused
manner. A few of these songs were already written when I joined the band and it took quite a bit
of thought to find where I really wanted to go.

Without Form comes across as a cohesive set of songs despite covering a lot of ground
sonically.  Is there one main theme, musically/lyrically governing the songs on this EP?

Aurora: Corpse Light refers to the energy/light/spirit/whatever you want to call that which
emanates from bodies after death; I feel like that concept is found a lot in our music, both
thematically and energetically.

I feel like every band has some specific set of environmental factors that help shape their
sound and aesthetic; for some its a strong sense of place, where a rural or urban setting can
make its presence felt in the stylistic elements of the music, for example. For Corpse Light,
is that a thing? If so, how does your home setting manifest itself in the music?

Aurora:  I feel like my internal environment informs my writing more than my external
environment.

Larry: I am an hour away from the Baltimore/DC area. I think growing up in a small town where
there is not a lot to do, music became everything to me. I have spent countless hours absorbing
records and finding things about them that inspire me. I am drawn to pretty simplistic, textural,
melodic music and I feel that is definitely apparent as an influence.

You recorded the EP with Noel from Grimoire Records, and they are also releasing the
album on cassette/cd, correct?  How did that come to be, and what was the process like?

Aurora: We’d had a couple of failed recording attempts in the past and were feeling pretty down
on the idea of having someone else come in and mess with our sound, but working with Noel has
been a pleasure. He came into our space and let us do our thing rather than falsely orchestrating
separate and disconnected performances; I feel like he managed to bring out each of our subtleties
while still maintaining the overall integrity of the music. I’m stoked to have our music on CD,
though we’re also really hoping to find someone to help us put Without Form out on vinyl…

Larry: Yes. The record is available on cassette, cd and you can download it as well. I would say
working with Noel is pretty much the ideal situation if you are a working musician. It was so easy
going and comfortable. I recorded my drums at home; it does not get any more comfortable than
that. I have never been so pleased with a drum sound. The production overall is just top notch.
Very crisp and lively sounding. I would work with him again without hesitation.

What are your plans for this release; is it a prologue to a full length release in the near
future?  Are there any tours in the works?

Larry: Personally, I think we all would like to see the record released on vinyl. It would be cool to
get a variety of formats covered. We have started working on new ideas and it is really hard to
say exactly where that is gonna go. A tour would be great but nothing is currently set up. We do
have some really cool shows coming up though.

CL sidebar photo travis hunt

Corpse Light performing at The Sidebar in Baltimore, MD March 2015. Photo by Travis Hunt.

Wednesday, June 3rd 2015
Corpse Light, Asthma Castle, Jucifer
Metro Gallery Baltimore, MD

Friday, June 12th 2015
Heavy Temple, Stones Throw, Corpse Light, Oak
Del-Mar Inn Hagerstown, MD

Saturday, June 13th 2015
Horehound, CANT, Corpse Light, Oak
The Smiling Moose Pittsburgh, PA

Friday, July 17th 2015
Ratscape featuring Curse, Elagabalus, Corpse Light and many others
Hour Haus Baltimore, MD

The Baltimore/DC area (if I may lump them into one scene) seems to have some great heavy
bands active at the moment.  What’s your perspective on shows there, and what are some
highlights in the area for you guys, band/show wise?

Larry: The shows in the Baltimore/DC area always feel really great. I am lucky enough to have
many friends in the area who are passionate about their work. The biggest highlight so far would
be putting out a record. Noel and Phil at Grimoire Records are truly unique in their approach to
releasing music. We are a part of a really cool roster of bands including Dweller in the Valley,
RHIN, Foehammer and Dendritic Arbor to just name a few. The Mid-Atlantic in general has great
energy right now.

Aurora: I’m really proud to be part of the Baltimore scene – there is almost always something, if
not several somethings, going on at one of many venues on any day of the week.

Thank you to Larry and Aurora for their time. Corpse Light’s new EP Without Form is out
now via Grimoire Records and is available for purchase at:
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/without-form

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