INTERVIEW: JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES
Jess And The Ancient Ones… Is it necessary to say something more about this band? This occult psychedelic rock outfit has earned a proper reputation through five years of activity, and all we could expect from them is another proper record as they have only one self-titled full length Lp till now (and a handful of smaller releases). My personal reason for this interview is forthcoming gig of Jess And The Ancient Ones in Moscow, but from this interview with Thomas Corpse (guitars) you also could learn few things about forthcoming second album of the band which will be available really soon.
Hail Thomas! How are you? What's state of Jess and the Ancient Ones at this moment?
Hi there! I’m doing just fine and dandy, thanks for asking! We’re waiting for the album artwork to be completed, and at the same time we are preparing for the coming shows. The summer was insanely busy, but it’s all been worth it. “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” is now ready to be pressed, and it’s sounding sweet, hahah!
You'll play in Russia on September 25th, do you already have a set-list for this gig? Will our listeners get new exclusive tunes from the band?
Indeed we do have the set-list already planned. It will be a nice cut through all of our releases, and there are three songs from the upcoming album as well. One of them we never have played before, so Moscow will thence be the first and the magical!
Jess and the Ancient Ones have released last record "Castaneda" in 2014, it is Ep with two songs. What does attract you in teaching of Don Juan?
The natural interest towards self development along with the fearless exploration throughout the darkest corners of one’s mind, in order to defeat the giant that is ego, and thus evolving one step further in this err… wacky journey we are upon. Everyone should reach out and beyond, and draw influence in one’s life through the mysteries that have been given to you since you were born. Seeded deep in the subconscious. Even if it may be so, that there were no real Don Juan, still those teachings are worthy words to open minded readers. Read and find out. Feed your minds.
There's song "The Devil (in G-minor)" on your full length album, and some people see Jess and the Ancient Ones as "satanic" band. So I'd like to ask you about band's core conception to clarify this question.
We don’t live our lives through a slave mentality, that is based upon a man made discipline. Belief lies within total freedom and pure love that live inside pure hearts. The Devil represents this thought in many ways, but we are more than just “A Satanic” band. Always keep striving forth, know the past, but don’t dwell inside it. Walk and create your own path in this reality, in this short strange trip. Don’t spend it following others.
Music itself was born by humankind as a part of rituals and primordial rites, how do you see this component in Jess and the Ancient Ones?
When you drop deep into moods that are based on primal rhythmic progressions, then you can get a taste of the immense history behind it. The beats drill inside you, and feel the strange sensation of movement in a whole different level. Music is a powerful tool indeed, and when you manage to create that hypnotic percussive state when onstage, then the audience will become part of something that is everlast.
How did you record the video for “Astral Sabbat”. It got 235,000 views on YouTube, a good result. Who's an author of the plot?
The video was filmed and directed by Sami Jдmsen. Thomas Fiend acted as on overseer in the editing process from behalf of the band. They managed to do some sweet footage, that is for sure, and the view count really surprised us all. Sami is an old friend of mine, and he really put his best effort into Astral Sabbat. It is nice that we have this whole lot of talented artists within our friends, ‘cos it’s nice to have them give something extra to your work. All for a higher purpose.
From what did you start work over the very vision of Jess And The Ancient Ones, this conception of combining retro rock with female vocals and occult atmosphere?
It is just a clash of things that we like, and what we want to hear. The esoteric side has been there long before the Ancient Ones were formed, and it just felt natural to start to write about personal experiences after writing so many years from a totally different view. Same with the music, as I had been blasting extreme metal since 1997. I love that stuff, but I also love to play surf rock, psychedelic rock, garage, jazz, blues...basically everything, as guitar playing is the best thing in the whole world! Just doing what we love I’d say. And Jess just came along when we searched for a singer, it could have been a male singer as well. Luckily it was Jess.
What are ideal components of Jess and the Ancient Ones sound for you? And do you see place to adding some new elements in your music?
Lots of spring echos, tape delays, twangy guitars, sweeping organs, mellotrons and so forth. I really love the sounds of Joe Meek for example, as always those eerie and spaced up sounds have been to my likings. I just love it when the music takes in this spacey atmosphere, and so you feel you have left the earth, hahah! On the new album we have some trombone, tuba, flute and violin to name a few. If we feel that a song needs some additional sound then we will add it there. So yes, I’d say that we are really open minded group who are always willing to explore.
Thomas, do you already have enough ideas and inspiration for next album?
Hahaha, almost! There are new songs coming up as we speak, and we have talked about the next recording sessions. Not rushing into anything though, just keeping things rolling the best way we can. Move, or be eaten. But something new will most definitely be recorded in the year 2016.
Your label mates Seremonia play in similar genre, though both bands have obvious differences, it’s obvious too that both bands are different. Did you ever play with them? How often do you play shows in Finland?
Seremonia got their own thing going on, and obviously they are good in what they do. Never played any shows with them, would be fun to do so. We haven’t overplayed our audience in Finland, as we have been rare to stages. Things will change though in the near future, as we will try to do a small club tour round the whole of Finland.
Speaking about gigs... The band was touring in USA with King Diamond, what are your impressions from this tour?
Oh man, it was a blast! King is one of the nicest persons we have ever met! He and his lovely wife Livia made us feel truly welcomed, and all of the crew was superb also. We wish them all the best, and hope to see them someday somewhere. The shows were fabulous, and the people were welcoming and open minded. It was great to play in the same stages that had seen the likes of Neil Young and Led Zeppelin...whoa.
I guess that we could say that your music is mostly inspired by American culture of 60's-70's; is feedback from States more intensive than from other regions?
Hmmm, never thought of it like that before. Well, we love the Beatles and the Stones as much as we love Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. But there are tons of European bands that we listen too, and I think our sound is a mixture of many, many regions. Examples “Castaneda” has Hungarian gypsy scales in it. Many thinks it’s Spanish or Mexican…
Check out bands like The Plastic People of the Universe (Czech), and Wigwam (Finland) for examples.
By the way will you have enough time just to walk in Moscow? And how do you usually spend your time in tour between shows and road?
Some of us usually go strolling in the city areas when killing time before shows. Checking out landmarks and tasting local beers for example. I like to hang around at the venue usually, and talk to music lovers and liked minded people. It’s fun to share thoughts with different people, and hear what’s in their minds in these weird times we live in. So please feel free to come an chat if you will.
Thomas, have you achieved goals you set yourself with Jess and the Ancient Ones? I suppose that you came to success pretty fast as it took about three years to get this pretty high status on world rock scene.
I believe that hard work and honesty will pay you back. I have been doing music almost 20 years now, and other members have also been around the block a few times. So there is a lot of work and experience behind JATAO that may go unnoticed, as the band itself is fairly young. Well, I think we are gonna be around for a good long while...the work never ends.
Photos by Jarkko Pietarinen
Interview by Aleks Evdokimov