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Germ – Lost in Negative Space

By: David E. Gehlke

Meet Tim Yatras, the most productive Australian metal musician you've never heard of. His past and present acts include Woods of Desolation (black metal), Grey Waters (mondo rad depressive metal ala Katatonia's Discouraged Ones), Lord (power metal), Austere (more black metal), Illium (power metal again) and the band in focus, Germ (spacey black metal with really obtuse twists). To his credit, none of Yatras's bands sound the same, perhaps proving there are few musicians as versatile as Yatras. That, or he's a gigantic risk-taker. Nevertheless, the rate in which the man releases albums, folds bands, then starts new ones is hardly alarming - it's a testament to unbridled creativity.

Wish (Eisenwald) debut reflects Yatras's affinity for 70's-styled big production space rock and black metal. Translation: it's every bit as "out there" as it seems, with cosmic numbers such as "An Overdose of Cosmic Galaxy" and the pop-oriented "Flowers Bloom and Flowers Fall, But I'm Still Here Waiting for the Spring" leading the charge. It's futuristic black metal, without having to resort needless industrial-sounding avenues. And with all of the above-mentioned acts except Illium having folded, it appears Germ will be Yatras's top priority...until a new band comes along for him to helm.

We caught up with the Australian via email to discuss Germ, but before we got to those matters, discussion around Grey Waters (who couldn't be more recommended) was top of mind...

Blistering.com: Before we tackle Germ, I must inquire about Grey Waters. Will you ever get around to doing another album, or will you stick with one EP?

Tim Yatras:
We actually released a statement at the beginning of 2012 announcing the end of Grey Waters. Needless to say, there will be no further releases after the EP [Below the Ever Setting Sun], however, I, and I believe D [guitars, bass] as well, are reworking some songs intended for the first GW full length for other projects.

Blistering.com: As I'm sure you're aware, Below the Ever Setting Sun appealed directly to the broad Katatonia fanbase, some of which who still favor their mid-90's sound. Did you lean on them for influence?

Well yeah, to an extent. We both love early Katatonia. For me, Brave Murder Day is their best, followed by Discouraged Ones and Last Fair Deal Gone Down. We really didn't try to just nail down a Katatonia-esque sound, though. Naturally some of that influence just came through. I've also been told by some people they also hear a strong Tuonela-era Amorphis sound on the EP. Again, that makes sense to me, as Elegy and Tuonela are two of my favorite albums.

Blistering.com: Will you try your hand at a band that has a similar sound to Grey Waters? Or do you plan to focus your attention elsewhere?

No, I won't do another project in a GW style. I guess there are some elements of that style included in Germ anyway, so I won't be starting up something new.

Blistering.com: Most of your projects have some type of depressive undercurrent to them. Is that a direct reflection of your personality, or simply how the music comes out?

Yeah, it's definitely just a reflection of my personality. Even if I try to do something positive, I really can't escape this depressive vibe, and as you said, it's a reflection of my personality.

Blistering.com: Furthermore, can you describe how juggle such a wide variety of projects. One could only imagine the number of ideas brewing in your head...

Nowadays I don't have too much on the go at any one time. At the moment, I've finished composing the next Germ album, and I'm waiting to enter the studio to record that. Apart from that, I'm also composing some songs for other artists, but only occasionally, which is a step back from what I was doing the past 18 months, where it was quite full on. I've also got a couple other projects I'm slowly working on, but I'm in no hurry to get these out there...

Blistering.com: Germ, on the other hand, sees you heading into "spatial" realms on Wish. Where did the idea to blend black metal with 70's influences come from?

It's just what I enjoy. I'm a BM guy. I grew up on it. But I also grew up on pop and electronic music. I've always said good music is good music, regardless of the genre. When it came to Germ, I just wanted to combine some things that are close to me. I never intended it to be some new style of BM or anything. I just thought "man I love Jarre's works, what if I put some of that along with a depressive type of BM and add some orchestral instruments" and so that's basically what I did ha-ha!

Blistering.com: Furthermore, there are some noticeable poppy elements heard on Wish. Were they the hardest thing to implement?

No, not at all. I wrote the material on Wish a long time ago now, but I remember wanting to add a vocal "hook" to some songs. Something you could remember after the song finished. I guess in BM it's usually a riff or atmosphere you remember, so it's a little different to remember a vocal melody, but it was quite easy to add those elements.

Blistering.com: “Loss” seems to be an interesting word choice for an album title, for there’s not a lot of negativity to be found. What made you go with it?

I know what you mean, as the music on that EP is probably not what you would equate to a title like Loss. The lyrics, however, deal with all types of negative things, so really the word 'Loss' is actually quite a fitting title, considering the subject matter present.

Blistering.com: Are there any other projects you’re working on at the moment?

Aside from the new Germ material, I'm slowly working on a couple of new projects, which are in a bit of a different style for me, but they are still in the early stages, and I think I'll complete the next Germ album before focusing on them, so they're still a while off!

Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on the agenda going into 2013?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm going to begin recording the new Germ album early next year. Apart from that, I may actually perform a handful of live shows with Germ around Australia next year. I have a lineup of musicians assembled, I guess we just need to begin some rehearsals now...

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