WRECHE Interview

LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? 

WRECHE: WRECHE was formed by John Steven Morgan and Barret Baumgart in 2015, as an extension of their previous project Architeuthis – experimental instrumental piano and drums. Baumgart and Morgan met in 2005 at the University of California, Berkeley and reunited in 2015 in LA to form WRECHE. John S. Morgan returned to Oakland in 2017 to begin work on WRECHE’s 2nd album, ‘All my dreams came true’

LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?

WRECHE: Generally, it has been difficult…it is a good thing so many people in Oakland are into supporting artists, but the sheer length of time the pandemic has run has made it harder to rely on consistent support. I (JOHN) take a real piano to the streets and perform compositions from WRECHE and my other solo piano works to keep the lights on, and Ive had to resume this activity despite the risks involved. The response has been welcoming though! 

LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?

WRECHE: Absolutely, (JOHN) – I haven’t had this much time to work on actual music (practice, studying, and researching) since I was a kid. In a way, it was one of the decisive factors in being able to finish ‘All my dreams came true’ for a 2021 release. I was able to cheaply rent a warehouse down at Soundwave in Oakland to track the drums w LEANDRUL (engineer) for 10 gruelling days. It also afforded me the time to mix and master the album on my own. 

LOMM: Modern sounds are my thing J How about you? What does your genre means to you, why did you choose this genre?

WRECHE: Black metal evokes a certain level of atmosphere and eeriness for me – on top of that, the athleticism and catharsis experienced in the execution on the instrumental level appealed to my propensity for excessive banging and aggressive compositions on piano. For me, it was almost as if the textures and chord changes of BM were something I had been waiting for since I was a child. The sound, song structure, and fluidity between genres like classical, jazz, shoegaze peaked my excitement as a pianist and I immediately started writing new pieces. Very inspiring and as I see it, metal as a genre is so ripe and open, to and for innovation.

LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?

WRECHE: Working off of the ideas in our eponymous album, I wanted to double down and include more synths – essentially, broader arrangements. Whereas the first venture was very black and white, I wanted to inject iridescence into these new pieces, ultimately reflecting more of myself, my other musical interests, and simply just to experiment and see where things would go. In particular, I studied a lot of Beethoven piano sonatas and etudes/preludes from the keyboard canon both for their harmonic revelations and technical solutions – giving me a greater palette to work with on my instrument, especially since I wanted a new angle on how to match blasting patterns on the drumkit. 

LOMM: Are you happy with your product? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?

WRECHE: I can’t think of anything more I could’ve done…whether it’s a “success” or not isn’t really up to me. It took an insane amount of research, practice, and physicality so for me personally, it was a triumph. Throughout the process, I dealt with a lot of my own issues and limitations (lyrically, physically in terms of performance, and mentally), so I am happy to walk away from it. I suppose art is never finished, only abandoned, and for me there has never been a clear day where I knew things were done… You just stop working on it and move on to new ideas. 

LOMM: How has the overall reception been?

WRECHE: From my close friends and contacts, it has been stellar, but we shall see. Last album someone demanded they throw me and the piano down a staircase, so I have a lot to look forward to haha. 

LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?

WRECHE: I’ve toured plenty with other bands and would love to with WRECHE when the pandemic is through. For now, guerilla street performances help shake the rage out. 

LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?

WRECHE: Pretty good, I’m in love, my family is well, and I’ve just finished the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken – a 4 year grind –  without committing suicide in the process…I am just excited to get back to writing new pieces and playing ones from this album for people. There is so much joy in that for me. I think Ill keep shooting for the moon with the next Wreche album for sure. 

LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?

WRECHE: I wrote the lyrics for ‘All my dreams came true’…they put into concert God and WRECHE – or the conflation of the two and its inevitable result – despair, ecstasy, etc…and I focused on the loss of innocence, death, rebirth and what that means to someone at my age, where I feel that I’ve lived several lives already – from school, to being a professional jazz musician, drinking, drugs, rebuilding a life, finding meaning and value…it is not my first rodeo haha… but in the lyrics I tried to express what I learned and observed in life, and from my place in it. Another large focus was on wealth inequality in this country – politics, the rich, and the tent cities right outside my front door here in Oakland – it is a tragedy unfolding every single day. 

LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?

WRECHE: Studio, but I could live on the road forever.

LOMM: Who is composing the songs?

WRECHE: Myself, John Steven Morgan

LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?

WRECHE: I love classical music, especially piano – centric composers, but it ranges from the wonderful palestrina chorals to Bach, Beethoven especially, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and other modern composers like Sofia Gubaidulina, and Arvo Part. I’ve always been into early jazz and for metal…I really love Ulcerate and Krallice. Lately, I have been listening to Oranssi Pazuzu and Blood Incantation – really, there are so many amazing artists in metal though. 

LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?

WRECHE: You have to do both…I will not make something that is trite just because it sells well, but at the same time, as WRECHE, you are responsible for making your ideas understood – my dad always says, “Keep it simple stupid,” and so, if you want to connect with people, you need to give them a way into understanding the concepts you are pushing. Ultimately, music should be a shared experience.

LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

WRECHE: This new album!

LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?

WRECHE: Thank you for always supporting artists you love – when someone writes me a message, or buys an album, I feel validated and my day gets better, like I have a purpose or that I fulfilled one – it really means the world to me, and I know it does to all the other people out there making things. The beauty of this genre is the die hard fans –  I know I BUY the record, and the shirt, and the cassette, and whatever the hell else the band has if I like it – I want them to be able to keep making more music, more artwork. So thank you all for the support, not just for me (because you might not give a shit about what I make), but for all the other bands who might not be around today if it wasn’t for you…it is possible that I may have never heard some of my favorite music if the fans of yesterday and previous generations had not supported them. It is important and I’m grateful.

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