Friday, October 11, 2013

…bridging the heavens and the underworld: an Interview with Clay Cushman of THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR

By seamlessly combining characteristics of traditional metal, doom, folk, and ambient psychedelia with thematic elements rooted firmly in Scandinavian mythology Colorado’s The Flight of Sleipnir are a singularly unique band that knows no limits. Their latest, ‘Saga’, is the band’s most varied and impressive work to date. The duo of Clay Cushman and David Csicsely have not only crafted their finest release, but one of the finest albums of the year—not an easy feat considering some of the great releases thus far…

SM: First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for Temple of Perdition, especially with Denver Doom Fest III looming on the horizon and the writing of new material for your next full-length. Your latest, ‘Saga’, is arguably the band’s most diverse and atmospheric album to date. Was this an intentional move or simply the result of working out the compositions prior to recording?
CC: Our approach to this album was very similar to the last few, the only real difference being that we spent a lot more time mapping out the songs that we had written to fit the storyline, then filling in any gaps that appeared. I think we might have intended to be a little heavier on this album too. 

SM: Not only is ‘Saga’ incredibly diverse, but it also includes some of the band’s mellowest and most psychedelic compositions thus far. Who are some of the atypical artists or bands—those that fall outside of the realm of metal—that TFoS would cite as an influence or, at the very least, that you hold in high regard?
CC: In terms of non-metal bands I personally hold in high regard: Smashing Pumpkins (as they do whatever the fuck they want and their albums are very diverse), Richard D James (aka Aphex Twin), and I think around the time of SAGA I was also listening to Derek and the Dominoes, Rush, some 1960’s California psychedelic music…

SM: TFoS has covered both Pink Floyd and Pentagram in the past. Are there any other artists that the band would consider covering in the future or any attempts that didn’t work out in the past?
CC: We’ve toyed with the idea of covering King Crimson and The Beatles, but we have been mostly focusing on original material lately. However, we may cover a Bathory tune at an upcoming live show just for the hell of it.

SM: Earlier this summer TFoS embarked on a brief tour hitting up parts of the Midwest and the East Coast. How was the overall experience and, in particular, how was the Martyrdoom Fest in New York?
CC: For our first venture to the east, it went fairly well (except for the van breaking down before we even left Colorado). Every tour has its ups and downs, but in almost all of the towns we were met with at least a handful of enthusiastic fans. Martyrdoom had a great turnout. Next time we may do it a little differently.

SM: So far 2013 has been a great year for heavy music and ‘Saga’ is one of the best releases to date. Are there any bands or albums in particular that have caught your ear so far or any albums still to be released that you’re looking forward to?
CC: I still need to check out the new Ulver album that just came out. I would love for Sleep to do a new one but I doubt it will happen. A new album by Darkspace would be nice. I want to check out the live High on Fire albums that just came out… I usually just look for albums with interesting cover art these days- I found one this year from an obscure band from the 1970’s called Medusa- black felt gatefold, it’s an interesting listen, sort of an “occult rock” type thing.

SM: Congratulations on signing with Napalm Records/Spinning Goblin Productions. Hopefully this move will bring The Flight of Sleipnir’s music to a larger audience. Your response to leaving the band’s former label was that “…we knew it was time to move on to achieve some of the many goals we have.” What other accomplishments or goals does the band have on the agenda?
CC: Thank you, we are certainly excited about it. One of the main goals is bringing our band to Europe to play some shows, which Napalm is 100% behind doing.

SM: How are the new songs coming together? At this point can you reveal anything about the direction the band is headed or any major influences for the new album?
CC: We have probably 40% to 50% of the material hashed out. We have been very active with live shows lately so it’s not going as quickly as previous albums. It’s hard to really say where the direction of the album is headed- David and I are taking a more “sonic” approach this time around… and there are two drum sets!

SM: Again, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Any last thoughts on future recordings, upcoming gigs, or anything else that I might have missed?
CC: We deeply appreciate the support and interest. Keep an eye out for us in Europe in 2014, there might be some more surprises around the bend. Cheers!

 Photo credit: Kelly Schilling/Astral Aurora Photography

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