Since their formation in 2014, UADA’s rise has been meteoric. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, the band quietly released their debut album, “Devoid of Light”, in 2016 and word of mouth quickly built from there. UADA fully perfect their craft and deliver their masterwork: “Djinn”, increasingly ambitious songwriting that pushes their dazzling artistry into nearly glorious landscapes of the Beyond. Here is a band to take command of the genre and to build a legend from there.
Hello Jake, on September 25th you are releasing your third album “Djinn” that continues to consolidate your position as a band to be amongst the best for many years to come
Thanks for your high praise. I’m honestly not sure what to think. What we do just comes naturally, so whether it is to be ranked among others or not is kind of a subjective take for the listeners. If people think so, then that is great, if not, that is also great. We are just here to do what we are supposed to do.
Last time we talked, Jake, was over the publication of your 2018 album “Cult of a Dying Sun”. It was difficult to create something better than that but here is “Djinn”… you never stop to surprise!
As dedicated musicians we should always be progressing. Again, if this album is better that is probably a subjective thing to the listener but we do feel very strong about it. It is just what we felt at the time, something that needed to come out. I think everyone has something inside of them that they bottle up and keep until the time is right to unleash that very thing. We are fortunate that we have an outlet like our music to be able to unleash those things we keep within.
UADA’s rise has been meteoric, there are many arguable things in life but if you have quality and you shine as gold no one can deny that, what do you think?
I think what we’re seeing is the power of will. Each album that we have has its production flaws, but the will shines in the songwriting and the lyrical content. Our album production is something that we have to get better at and in time we will achieve this.
What have you learned or changed since the publication of your first album Devoid of Light?
Adaptation. When you move quickly things can change quickly and one must be able to adapt to the changes in order to keep pushing forwards. Adapt or die.
When we talk about Uada we are in front of one of those bands that seems to contribute to make the music, in this case the Black Metal, accessible to more people?
It isn’t really a plan to make something more accessible or to be that of which is, although we are incorporating a lot of influences that are. It took me a while in the 90s to find Black Metal. At the time it was this new form of extreme music that was hard to find here in the United States, so before I had dedicated my soul to this genre I was listening to a lot of different types of dark music from death metal, goth rock, new wave, grunge and so on. Anything that had a dark vibe to it was what I was into and with UADA I wanted to go back to the earliest roots and incorporate them. I think that is the side of our music that feels to be more accessible.
How long have you worked in this new album and how was the recording process?
I have been personally writing down riffs and ideas that lead back to over three years. Since we are a heavy touring band, sometimes the writing has to get put aside until we can fully focus on it. Last May (2019) James & I were able to sit down and finally combine a lot of our older ideas with some new on the spot riffs to finally put the album together. We got together 5 or 6 days total and worked on a song a day. After that we recorded some scratch tracks for our rhythm section to hear. This is the best way for us since we are not in a position to get all of our members into a room together, when the time is right we might be able to do so in the future.
Robb Bockman has been replaced by Nate Verschoor, what happened and how has Nate contributed to the new songs?
Robb had other plans and was honest with us about not really being into black metal or the music we were writing. Even though he still plays black metal, he himself told us his heart wasn’t in it. So, for this reason among others that I won’t shed light on, we decided it was not the best fit for UADA. Nate has been a long time friend of mine and bringing him into the mix was a move that James & I felt very strong about. We both need people behind us that we can trust and who understand what it is we have set out to do as a band. Although I wrote the basslines for the “Djinn” album, there was an outro section on “No Place Here” that we chose to work on together as a group. There was an idea in my head that I was explaining and in that moment Nate had started playing this bassline, and the rest of the band came in and started adding their parts to it. It was a very magical moment and one that I’ll never forget. It quickly became the outro we were looking for just as Nate became the bassist we’ve been searching for.
By the way, although Josiah Babcock appears in the credits for your new album it seems he is not in the band anymore, how is it?
Josiah joined the band in 2018 and it was apparent that he hadn’t had much experience in the music and touring industry. Although he was a great drummer with a style that we appreciated and felt was a perfect fit, as people we just didn’t connect. In the end he had mentioned to us that he was planning on moving to Sweden to be with his new found girlfriend that he had met at one of our concerts in Europe. We of course were happy for him to find something he felt that strong about, but his feelings for this band could not compete. And it isn’t for us to try and compete, we are set in our mission and having our drummer live in Sweden just wasn’t going to work for us. He of course wanted to have both and it could have worked under certain circumstances, but it was hard to get him to commit to rehearsals and tours while he was here at home, so we assumed this would just make it even more difficult, not too mention he had an expectation that the rest of the band would fly to him in Sweden for rehearsals. Of course that is not logical for anyone, especially financially. So in the end the decision was his to leave and it was a decision we knew would come. The threats to quit were something we heard often, anytime something didn’t align to his ideology instead of asking or trying to understand our explanations, it was the “my way or the highway” attitude. In the beginning he wanted to even take over on writing the guitar riffs, which was very strange since we hired him as a drummer. So, I think there was a bit of confusion and no matter how many times we tried to have rational discussions about what we do and why we do it, it all seemed to go in one ear and out the other. But it’s ok, we don’t fault him or hold grudges. He is his own person, as are we and it was just time for us to go our separate ways.
Clear enough. When you are able to deliver songs and albums with the high level you do, once and once again, people tend to think it is an easy task, what would you say to that?
Nothing worthwhile in this world comes easy. I think a lot of people in the music scene think it’s a snap of the finger and you gain some sort of instant “success”. It isn’t really like that. I’m sure some bands may see this sort of overnight rise to stardom (or whatever people call it) but that is a very rare case, especially within an extreme form of music. For me the work never stops. Everyday I have to manage so many different things to make sure it’s all going the way it is supposed to. The writing part for me is the easy part, the rest of it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure. If anyone thinks being in a band is easy, they truly haven’t lived it.
In your opinion what is the major difference between “Djinn” and the former “Cult of a Dying Sun”?
I see “Djinn” as a continuation. Although I guess there are some differences, it is just the style we play being expanded. UADA is an orb that is growing, it expands from all sides outwards continuously, much like a chaos star. We are just taking our elements and allowing them to grow.
Six songs for one hour of playing time, enough room to develop your personal landscape and to let the imagination fly away
I’ve never really been good at writing short songs. I think the level of creative output plays a role in that, there are just so many ideas at all times that it would be hard to condense it down to 3 or 4 minutes. I’ve always been a fan of long epics that take you on a journey. A song and an album as a whole should do just that. So when we write we want to have those emphasised moments of peaks and valleys throughout.
Kris Verwimp is responsible for the cover art, another great job
Yes, Kris Verwimp can do no wrong. He is an amazing artist and it is an honor to still work with him after all these years. His work on “Djinn” is no different, he did an amazing job!
What are the lyrics about?
The overall concept is about possession and explored through physical, metaphysical, mental and social aspects. Everything that was possessing our lives and thoughts at the time.
I love the song Djinn, that you have published as a single before, it absolutely represents the fact that if one tries there are no boundaries in music
That has been the UADA philosophy since the beginning. We will know no boundaries. Art, especially music, has to be free. On “Djinn” I think most listeners will be able to hear that within the music as well as the words.
I would like also to call attention upon the track No Place Here, with its 13 minutes it’s a great example of how to play with the riffs to craft a great song
“No Place Here” is a special song to me, they all are, but NPH is a feeling and a mentality that I’ve always felt since I can remember. This world, this time, this existence just always feels wrong. I’m sure many can relate to this song and it’s message. Since we’ve released it as a music video we’ve been getting labeled as leftists, centrists and far right nazis. This polarity is the exact thing that these words represent and the message is doing everything it is supposed to do. It’s really just about humans and society. So it can be taken in whatever way the listener wishes to take it. Of course we are not Nazis, racists, commies, hipsters or whatever buzzword people choose to label us as. I think if the words hit them in a negative light, maybe it is because they feel some sort of guilt from it. If they choose to understand it as against the side they oppose it is because that is what they want it to be. If they choose to make it against us, then we are just their scapegoat. Everyone needs an enemy I suppose, but for me it doesn’t matter. I’m not here to be a part of someone else’s war, or even start a war for that matter. As a musician I think my ultimate goal is to take people out of the war that we all live every day. With NPH we chose to write about the consistent war that divide and conquer tactics continuously push into mainstream media. It’s just a portrayal of the narrative that everyone seems to live by. We have even had some past members that couldn’t understand because they’re so used to being in a box that they don’t know they’re just being programmed to think a certain way. That isn’t free. We have to be free. Those rules, regulations, and restrictions have no place here.
We consider 2020 lost about touring, but let’s see what happens in 2021. Any plans?
We are scheduled for a European tour in March and April of 2021, as well as a festival run in the summer. These are rescheduled tours that were canceled this year due to COVID-19. All we can do is hope that the world will be somewhat back to “normal” by this time. No choice but to be prepared for anything that comes our way.
How are you dealing with the covid19 situation?
I’m staying as busy as possible. At the end of last year I had planned on working on at least three different albums for this year and keeping my focus there. Coming off the touring season I’m always still in go mode and so when our tours for this year were canceled I just shifted gears in another way. Always so much work to be done and so little time to accomplish it. Unfortunately due to travel restrictions we have not been able to rehearse or play live in any way. Although the break was a nice change for a moment you really start to feel something is missing. Not being able to scream into a microphone and push out what’s within during the live shows has developed some strange habits. I’ve been grinding my teeth a lot which is causing a lot of jaw pain. The release is missing, and I hope that will change soon. This fall I’ll be focusing on writing again as I have a lot of ideas for the next album already.
Great news for all Uada’s followers. Usually reality overcomes fiction, the current pandemic can be the inspiration for many songs, what do you think?
Reality is but a perception, even if it’s a distorted one. I’m sure the pandemic will play it’s part in the inspiration for our next album, but I haven’t begun to work with words yet. The music almost always comes first.
It’s difficult to get something better than this “Djinn” album, do you consider that a limit or a challenge?
There is always that thought when you finish an album. “We have to top this” sort of outlook, and then after a while you start to think “Well, this album could have been better if….”, and then you apply the things learned into the next album. So, I never really feel pressure or worry about the next album being better, I just allow it to be what it is supposed to be. If we try to force things too much then it would just be a false narrative or display, so we just allow things to come naturally.
The best one can do, possibly. Many thanks Jake for another great interview and for another milestone album in your career, if you wish to add something…