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Natur's Ryan Weibust: "Tooth came up with that title a long time ago. I'm not sure exactly where he got it. Maybe he was rudely awakened from an afternoon nap haha"

Interview with Ryan Weibust from Natur
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 02 April 2021, 11:35 PM

It is beyond agreement that in Metal music no one does it better than Mercyful Fate, or King Diamond, when introducing a mystery, in particular when it is a horrific one. One of the strongest elements of Metal music is certainly how to shock people, make them realize things that after a second thought would converge as rather sick and even disturbing. The American Metallers, Natur, didn't go for the sick and disturbing narratives, yet crafted their own atmosphere, based on the Danish lords of darkness, within their sophomore record, "Afternoon Nightmare", creating a kind of fantasy that is little bit more of what it seems. Steinmetal had a talk with Ryan Weibust about the new album, signing with a German label, delivering the goods of the old school and more…

Hello Ryan, it is great having you for this conversation for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been mate?

Hello! I'm doing well. Living down in Texas at the moment. Anxiously awaiting the end of this nightmare we’ve been living in the past year. Feeling positive though.

Completing the whole package, Natur takes a swing with its sophomore album, “Afternoon Nightmare”, with a new European label, Dying Victims Productions, in a CD version, with the Vinyl already out since last year. I guess that now the circle is pretty complete for you right? Each of the media types are considered covered?

Well, we have the vinyl version and the CD version out as of right now. No cassette tapes at the moment which would be cool.

Marketing wise, it is not very new that a band outputs either a CD or a Vinyl out, only to let one of the two be out later on. Would you say that it extends the longevity of the buzz of the album, in particular “Afternoon Nightmare”?

I think it definitely gives the record a second wind. Our initial record release was a bit hindered by the global pandemic which didn’t really allow for us to properly go out and promote it. A lot of people had been asking for the cd version so it only made sense when Florian at Dying Victims approached us.

How do you feel about signing with Dying Victims Productions in overall? Have you considered reissuing your debut album through the German label, to provide it with ample exposure in Europe?

Working with Dying Victims has been a great experience. It's refreshing to work with a label that stands by their word and puts out great music for the right reasons. As much as I would love to see “Head of Death’ get a German Release, Earache records still owns the rights to that one so it’s a little out of our hands. If it were up to us we’d be down for sure.

Going back a little bit, through this pandemic period, where everything simply shut down. Natur has been a rather active band and this Covid-19 phenomenon mainly crushed plans as if it took a second to have them penciled. How have you been coping with the situation? Did you manage to rally a form of support for the newly released “Afternoon Nightmare”?

Like for most bands it's been a rough year. We had a little European tour lined up after the record release that all got cancelled a few days before the record came out.  We’ve all been a bit displaced as well. I have a house in Austin, TX that I spend winters at but ended up having to give up my Brooklyn, apt because I couldn’t find anyone to rent it amidst a pandemic. It's been a great time for song inspirations but we write mostly as a band these days. I’ll be back up in NYC this summer and we’ll get the ball rolling again. It's really sucked being away from loud music for a whole year. My ears probably feel otherwise.

Taking the discussion into a philosophical direction, why titling the album “Afternoon Nightmare”? What was the main motivation for this title? Does it have anything in regards to the pandemic struggle, as I could think of various elaborations about that?

Ha, it does seem like quite an appropriate title for these times we are living in. Tooth came up with that title a long time ago.  I'm not sure exactly where he got it.  Maybe he was rudely awakened from an afternoon nap ha-ha.  Our song themes are a little more fantasy based than apocalyptic. There is a little war of the worlds' situation going on in that song though.

When you observe the lyricism on “Afternoon Nightmare”, what do you think that units the themes and motifs under a singular flag of sorts? If not, what is the main theme that gained focus?

I can’t fully answer that one since Tooth wrote the lyrics on that one and the song topic was mostly in his mind. I think it's an interesting two words to put together. They kind of counteract with each other. Add a little alien invasion and you have yourself a Natur song.

The fact that Natur is an American band, didn’t stop you from following the first wave of Black Metal along with melodies that are an overall spirit of a darkened vintage British Metal kind of band. I could detect those enchanting Mercyful Fate elements right from the get go, mainly “Melissa” and “Don’t Break The Oath” eras. Since it is our first time discussing it, but I am also relating it to  “Afternoon Nightmare”, what is the basis of your motivation towards an old school driven songwriting? What kind of elements in the early wave of Metal drives you forward with your music?

I think we drew a lot of influence from that older stuff which at the time wasn’t really being done as much as it is today. I had a band back in the early 2000’s called Demassek which we started based on the lack of that current style in our area in Rhode Island. Heavily influenced by early Priest, Maiden, Mercyful Fate, and Diamond Head. Tooth eventually joined as our drummer and we moved to NYC and started Natur with Damian and Dino. I think it also kind of reflected our abilities as musicians. I had never played guitar in a band so was kind of learning as I went along. If you listen to a lot of those NWOBHM bands the songwriting is pretty primitive with some strong guitar harmonies and leads peppered in. We were taking a lot from that but always trying to make it darker and more sinister to match our subject matter which mostly involved horror themes. No one does it better than Mercyful Fate though!!

How would you say that the work on “Afternoon Nightmare” made an impact on you in regards to your capabilities of being a songwriter and a musician? What would you say that this record demanded from you?

Head of Death was written more individually and I think we were still figuring out our sound. We had some early songs that were pretty cool tracks they just didn’t make sense when you combined them with the newer stuff we were writing. Afternoon Nightmare was written more as a band. That’s probably why it took so long. We'd write a song, play it live, tweak it a little and so forth. We also played a lot of live shows in the period while we were writing the record so rehearsals would be more about practicing than writing. Some of the songs on this record were written entirely without the vocal melodies in place. I would say that was my biggest challenge on when and where to sing. Unsolved Mysteries was quite the quest to write and finish but I love how that song came out.

When it comes to the new wave of old school Metal music, a kind of movement that is also called NWOTHM, how do you think that Natur stands out as a special kind of fiend, an eye of the storm in a sea of bands?

That's a tough question to answer.  I think one thing that makes us stand out is that we're just doing this shit for the love of it. We're not incessantly promoting ourselves or releasing material we’re not 100% behind. I think we have a lot of freedom to do whatever we want to do as a band and that allows us to create songs that are a little different than everyone else.

What forms of challenges stood in your path while creating “Afternoon Nightmare”? How were you able to take on these challenges and rather make them your advantages?

I think the biggest challenge was playing live interfering with songwriting. We all work normal jobs so our time to get together as a band can quickly diminish with all the fun things life throws at you. Ideally we’d practice twice a week, one day dedicated to practicing and the other to writing.

One of the songs that took me on, had me thinking of Jack The Ripper for a few moments throughout the listening, is “Mary Cross”. Even though there is no relation between the title and the Ripper, the darkened atmosphere, and the later intensity, took its toll, for the better. What can you tell about this track?

Thanks! Mary Cross is a very personal song for me. There’s a really old house called the Carr Homstead from the 1600s in my hometown. When I was a kid there was an urban legend that a woman named Mary Cross lived there and lost her son at childbirth. Apparently she would return to the house on the anniversary of his death every year and roam the halls weeping and looking for him. As I grew older I did some more research into the subject and got in contact with the living relatives of Mary Cross. They confirmed a lot of mysterious stuff that happened in the house. Some relatives from Europe were staying there for the first time with their kids. After the first night the father asked the son at the breakfast how he slept. The child asked why was there woman standing at the foot of my bed watching me all night. It seems she comes back to watch over the children of the family when they are staying at the house. So she’s a good ghost just a bit trapped/tortured.

Which of the album’s tracks, other than the one mentioned, would you like to elaborate about, not due to being favorable but rather a number that is closer to you more than the others?

I really love how Unsolved Mysteries came out.  I'm not sure if you are familiar with the TV series but it was a pretty cool show in the 90’s. We tried to capture its essence in that song. Each verse is a little vignette of some demented story. A few of them we pulled from the actual show like the Grey Man. Apparently people would see this mysterious grey man right before something disastrous would happen, like a huge storm. The entire town would be demolished except for the people’s house that saw him. We then took it a little further and named him Sindre referencing our good friend from Obliteration/Nekromantheon haha.

There is that raw form in the album’s sound pattern, a kind of roughness that is dirtier than 1984’s Mercyful Fate’s classic for instance. However, it surged as powerful to make that fine tribute to those glory days. Jamie Elton was able to re-create some of the old feel of the past and he did it quite well. What is your appreciation of the band’s sound on this release?

That's one thing that will turn me off to a band and it's when they sound to polished and clean. We’ve toured with Jamie a bit and he would often run the boards for us at our shows so he was pretty familiar with our sound. We were really lucky to have him work on this record with us. I think he brought it to whole other level with his mixing a mastering. He’s been killing it lately.

Since at least for now you have time on your hands, have you thought about writing new material for the new Natur album? Unless you already started

We have a few songs/ideas cooking. Will hopefully make some progress on them this summer.

How does 2021 look for Natur when it comes to perhaps promoting the record in the US properly, without too many pandemic restrictions?

2021 looks a lot more promising than 2020. Hopefully we can properly tour this record in the US and Europe once things open up safely. No sense in playing shows where our fans have to stand in a bubble. Thats no way to experience our music. You gotta be front row pouring beer over your head with the rest of the maniacs!!

Ryan, I wish to thank you for this interview. It is always great to listen to a well-made old school record, I bid you thanks for the effort. Cheers.

Thanks for taking the time to listen Lior!! Hopefully see ya in Germany soon!!


 



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