An Autumn For Crippled Children – Not Everything Counts
By: David E. Gehlke
The 2-hour drive home after watching your favorite football team lose is not good times. When your team loses and loses a lot, it becomes standard operating procedure, prompting one to re-examine his life and sulk while cruising down I-76 through very flat (and scenic) Northeast Ohio back to Blistering HQ in Pittsburgh. Obviously, music of the cheerful variety is not even considered, for a loss by the Cleveland Browns calls for some seriously sad music. Enter the Netherlands’ An Autumn For Crippled Children.
Recently spun upon a roadtrip yours truly took almost three weeks ago after the Browns decided to not show up against the Tennessee Titans, AAFFC’s second album Everything quickly resonated with its emotionally-jarring post-black metal landscape. Boasting a tidy blend of early Katatonia and Anathema, combined with the post-rock and black metal surge of Alcest and friends, Everything (in spite of its equally dreary production values) is as bleak and charming as anything released this year. It was good enough to make Blistering forget about how bad his football team is, which in itself, is a feat of epic proportions.
A unit veiled in secrecy and totally devoid of live performances, we were able to track down mainman MXM for a round of questions. We should have asked if he cared about American football, but given the man’s short and to-the-point responses, the answer is quite obvious…
Blistering.com: Your name instantly draws a myriad of reactions. What’s the funniest and/or worst thing someone has said to you about it?
MXM: Ha yes, there are people who think it's the worst thing ever. Some people think we are a joke band, etc.
Blistering.com: You took your name from an Ebony Lake song. What made it the right choice?
MXM: See the first question…it was bound to evoke reactions, make people look twice. It also evokes extreme sadness and depressiveness and we like that Ebony Lake album. When we first thought about this name, we all had to think twice, after a while it got stuck in our heads.
Blistering.com: Moving on, with Everything, how did you try to expand upon what you did with Lost?
MXM: I think we decided to trim, instead of expand, sound-wise. We concentrated on compact, good flowing song structure. In terms of atmosphere we expanded beyond the typical “depressive sound,” into a more mature and honest sound.
Blistering.com: I’m curious about the title, Everything. It’s a very all-encompassing word. Does it reflect your state of mind? Or does it reflect any negative feelings?
MXM: It reflects both negative and the positive. There's also a little anecdote: It's what a friend used to say when you asked him “What’s wrong?” He always said, “Everything.” I always remembered that.
Blistering.com: Obviously, your sound is very melancholic and dark, but isn’t limited to just one style. Is there a right word to describe AAFCC?
MXM: I think we have moved beyond that, but that's what artists always say. I would say “mature” black metal? Maybe black/doom metal? It's not really important to us; i hope people will just listen to our music.
Blistering.com: The production is very cold and grim. Why did you go this route? Do you think a better production job would hurt the overall atmosphere?
MXM: It's the limits of our recording gear. It's the best we can get from our gear. I don't think a better production would hurt the atmosphere. Atmosphere is created through chords and sounds. A better production would probably reach more people. It will always be us, so i don't think it would sound very different, maybe a little fuller or clearer, our atmosphere would still be there.
Blistering.com: Vocals are kept at a minimum, but what kind of topics are you exploring?
MXM: We explore all aspects of human emotion. All personal experiences, but mostly cover the negative ones, because those are the hardest to deal with.
Blistering.com: I’m most curious about “Her Dress As A Poem, Her Death As the Night.” What does this one represent?
MXM: That's about the death of one of our friends. It's a very personal and emotional song for us. It's also the doomiest song on the album.
Blistering.com: Some of the 80’s new-wave influences are some of the most poignant moments on the album. Do you find the mixture of that sound and black metal to be an exciting one?
MXM: There's no deliberate 80's wave influence. I think none of us actually likes 80's wave. But if you hear that, that's ok. We never deliberately mix anything; our music is the product of what we write together. There's never a plan like; let's mix this with that etc. I like some of the bands who mix black metal with wave, but it all depends on the songs. Those are important.
Blistering.com: The band doesn’t do a lot of live gigs. Will they ever become a priority or will you remain primarily a studio band?
MXM: I believe we will always be primarily a studio band. Our private lives are way too busy to be thinking of touring etc.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda for the rest of 2011, going into 2012?
MXM: Don't know really. We probably start writing and recording soon and hopefully have an album out during 2012. We already have a few ideas.