1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
Summer hasn’t been a very active period for the band, but still we started rehearsing for the upcoming gigs, we hope to start our live activity this coming winter 2014/2015, and these rehearsals are also important because we welcomed new members in our line-up and they look forward to playing gigs as much as we do.
We also started writing new material but I can’t tell more about it right now.
2.In March you had released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from your previous material?
“Secular Music” is contemporarily our most violent and most progressive album to date. Everything is more emphasized than on the previous albums, violence is more violence, melody is more melody and so on ahah; let’s say that we had a different songwriting approach in this record, we didn’t jam in the rehearsal room following the old school method, we individually wrote our parts and then we met a few times to put all pieces together. And it worked! Really well. In fact I think “Secular Music” is also our most focused album ever. Probably this album is a bit less symphonic or gothic than the previous ones, but still it contains these elements, let’s say they are not predominant but still are shades that make up the whole picture.
3.The band was broken up for 7 years (2006-2013), what was the cause of the split and also the decision to reform?
As a matter of fact we never decided to split-up, it just happened, each one of us got caught by personal happenings, etc. So we started rehearsing less and less till the point that it was clear we wouldn’t be doing music together, at least for a while. Then in 2012 we started meeting more often, due to the release of the “Funeral Nation MMXII” compilation album, we could feel in the air we wanted Hortus Animae to be alive again, also our drummer Grom was writing me mails telling me we should reform, the compilation was obtaining a great response from press and public, our fans were still there waiting for us and asking for our return, so shortly after we decided to start our band activities again and in 2013 we started writing the material that has then ended up on “Secular Music”.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
The inspiration comes from life itself, from everything that surrounds us. Obviously everyone (and especially) artists have always said they’re living in odd and difficult times, and I am no exception in this regard. Of course, like any other artist I filter everything through the prism of my personality, rework, and create according to my beliefs, my interests, obviously my madness and quirks. The album contains different themse related to the apocalypse, which concept is as old as the world, nothing new. But the point is this philosophy of Creation, Preservation and Destruction which focuses more on destruction in this very album, but not only. After destruction comes a rebirth. For some people the apocalypse has already arrived, they’re abandoned to themselves, alone, with only ruins around - sometimes each one of us may feel that way; there are those who are afraid of this day, let’s say in the "traditional" way, there is the anger of those who feel that we are the cause of our evil, there is a rebellion against all this... Sometimes the result is giving up, sometimes a quiet awareness, maybe some light of hope. Taking cue from all this, I indulged myself and gathered ideas from my a bit twisted imagination, perhaps, and also from ancient forgotten spiritualities, in this period reborn – speaking of that whole cycle I mentioned before. In short, it is difficult to explain where and how lyrics come from. It is a process that is all a mystery, sometimes also to myself!
5.I know that the band’s name means 'garden of the soul' in Latin, how does this name fit in with your musical sound?
Our music always has represented, both musically and lyrically, a vast spectrum of human feelings. So we see Hortus Animae, the garden of the Soul, as a place where all souls rest, in peace, torment or even both, plus all the feelings in between.
6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We’ve never been too active in the live front, yet we played really cool gigs in company of bands like Napalm Death, Lacuna Coil and Ancient (among others) and these three I mentioned definitely have been the best ones so far. In particular the gig with Ancient, cause we met the one who then became Hortus Animae’s drummer, Grom, that at the time was Ancient’s drummer.
We are right now working on our future shows, trying to manage something that won’t leave our audience indifferent, but as said before I can’t tell much more about it right now as everything is still a work in progress.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Not yet, but once we get ready to start we’ll start managing the more gigs we can, trying to reach the more places possible.
8.On the new album you had done a Jethro Tull cover, what was the decision behind doing your own version of one of their songs?
It is a tribute to a great band, and to our origins, even a little to our parents... You cannot start something new without looking at the roots. Then, as you know, we’ve always enjoyed doing covers. We like to take important songs for our musical growth and make them our own. It seems that so far we have always managed it well, with our bizarre and personal interpretations of Mayhem (still clamorous to this day the way we mixed them with il Balletto di Bronzo and Mike Oldfield), Queen and Dead Can Dance. "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull is no exception.
9.The new album was released on Flicknife Records, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Flicknife Records is a British label, they exist since the 80’s and they produced albums of bands like Hawkind, for example. Many have been surprised for we signed to a rock label, in fact we are their first metal band, but when the time came to choose a record company to support “Secular Music”, theirs seemed to be the best offer. So, well, it represented a challenge for both band and label, but we definitely love challenges, so here we go.
10.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer material by fans of extreme metal?
The feedback has been great, from both press and public, the album received and is still receiving great reviews, our fans write us enthusiastic messages for Hortus Animae’s new sound (well, it isn’t exactly a new sound, it’s an up-to-date version of what our sound has always been). Everything is proceeding really well.
11.What is going on with some of the other musical projects or bands these days that some of the band members are involved with?
Yes, we all have side projects. I am involved in my own solo project Martyr Lucifer and in the international act Space Mirrors, the first being a goth rock/metal project and the latter being devoted to a heavy-oriented space rock sound. Bless has an acoustic project called Nashville & Backbones, Hypnos has a Tarantino-inspired band called The Gangstar and Grom is the drummer of the rock band Testing Tomorrow. As you can see we all also like to experiment far from the metal fields. In our ranks we also have MG Desmadre from the brutal death metal band Crawling Chaos and Ecnerual from the black metal bands Profezia and Mourning Mist.
12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
We really cannot say. Till now we’ve always created music trying to go beyond boundaries, and it’s what we’ll keep doing also in the future. We didn't have an aim, or at least we could say the aim was to play our music free from categorization. And it looks like we succeeded somehow. So we’ll keep doing what we always did, hoping our muses stay by our side and hoping to offer the people albums they enjoy listening to, while they are surprised of what they're hearing ahah
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We all listen to a lot of different music, we are extremely open-minded persons. The albums I’ve been listening the most during this 2014 have been Behemoth’s “The Satanist”, Tiamat’s “The Scarred People”, Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence”, Hellhammer’s “Demon Entrails”, Nagaarum’s “Rabies Lyssa”, Symptoms of Sickness’ “S/T” and Cradle of Filth’s reissue of “Total Fucking Darkness”, this says it all!
But if I have to say names of bands that inspired the music of “Secular Music”, I don’t know, really. We never think of playing something like this or that band, we just do what we are willing to do. In hindsight, I would say that you can hear a hint of King Crimson in a few songs, but in any case it’s nothing more than one of the nuances that make up the overall sound of the album.
14.How would you describe your views on Occultism?
It is a rather complex talk, but surely interesting. In general occultism was meant to be a knowledge destined to a closed circle of people. Let's say hidden from the majority. I am also interested in the Veda knowledge. And it is said there (and in fact we can see it now) that the knowledge that was for hundreds and thousands of years closed to the majority of people now is opened. It is a so cold drop of Satya Yuga inside Kali Yuga, that we are entering now. So occult (as a term) is not existing anymore. Everyone can have whatever knowledge he wants, the real question is if people (at least the majority) want it.
Instead cheap occultism is just a pentagram on the floor and a mysterious look, and it all remained in the past, with teenager times.
15.What are some of your non musical interests?
Hmmm interests are many, I enjoy horse-riding, not as a sport but just for the soul... In general I enjoy nature and being outdoors, animals - for how banal it sounds, but it is so. As each person I like a good book and an interesting movie, then the tastes are already another topic! As said before I am interested in Veda, and it includes a large amount of topics, from food till the certain lifestyle. I love travelling and experiment different food of the world (but only vegetarian). But in fact I think you can find a little of it all in my lyrics - as I think it is for every artist.
16.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
We have “Secualr Music” and “Godless Years” out there, people give it a chance and you won’t regret. They contain litanies able to obsess, stalk and haunt your thoughts, your souls, your nights.