What was the inspiration behind your latest album, ‘Sons of the Occult’?
The inspiration for ‘Sons of the Occult’ came from writing together for about two years. This was during covid. The sounds of heavy guitar, drums and bass are partly from stoner music like Kyuss, but we tend to look beyond that to create our own sounds. The Lyrics and themes are based of alienating and psychotic situations and emotions. These themes mostly come from our singer Harm. He has always had a fascination with these themes. He works in mental health and watches a lot of movies where you see situations with these topics.
Can you share with us any interesting stories or experiences from the recording process of ‘Sons of the Occult’?
We’re always writing new songs and try to find new ways to approach our writing. A friend of us wanted to shoot a music video, so we decided to record a new song. This became something like six songs in one day of recording, and we were feeling confident. We then approached Argonauta Records, and decided to record some more, so we could make it into a full length. This was definitely not our intention when we started talking about a music video, or even after the first recording session.
How did your individual preferences come together to create the unique sound of Thammuz?
With our music, it’s really the sum of all the preferences from each member fused together. Of course we love heavy music in the stoner scene, but it goes beyond that. Our influences range from black metal to blues, postpunk to African desert rock, grunge to drum ‘n bass, and so on. We try to take inspiration from any music we listen to, without regard of genres. We play something, and if we like it, then it goes into the mixing bowl that creates the ‘Thammuz sound’.
How did you all come together to form the band and what led to the name Thammuz?
Harm and Martijn played for a long time in the band ‘Dreckneck’. Jip joined this band after a few years. Jurren had experience as a bass player in ‘Fuzzboar’. When Dreckneck broke up, Harm, Martijn and Jip decided to start a new project. Harm reached out to Jurren, and from that moment it was a go. We had already planned a recording session before Jurren joined, so he had to learn the songs in two weeks. We even wrote a few new songs in this small amount of time. We tried to make an EP, but the recording went unbelievably smooth, so we pulled some old songs that Harm wrote and decided to record those as well. This went so well, that after two weeks, we had our first full length ‘Into the Great Unknown’.
The name ‘Thammuz’ was first coined by Harm. Thammuz is the Akkadian version of the Mesopotamian god Dumuzi. We’re all fascinated by stories from ancient times, and we thought it sounded well. The story of Thammuz fits our music, because he always balanced between good and evil.
Can you talk about the significance of the album artwork and how it relates to the music?
All of our artwork is created by the amazing Diogo Soares. We tend to give him a free hand in the designs. For example, we send him the single ‘Guayota’, and asked for some fitting artwork. What he came up with was above our expectations. He digs our music, and captures it his artwork in a way that we really love. For ‘Sons of the Occult’, we asked for a pyramid, shooting a beam in which some bodies float. He decided that there should be something more psychedelic, as well as Anubis. Anubis is an Egyptian god that brings the dead to their judgement, as pictured in the famous ‘book of the dead’. This fits perfectly with our music and the themes we tend to use.
How does your music reflect your personal experiences and emotions?
We think that music always reflects emotions and personal experiences. When you create something, you have a feeling or experience in mind.
Can you talk about the significance of the track ‘Peyote’ and the inspiration behind it?
Peyote was created after Harm took a trip to L.A. He went to the desert where Kyuss used to play, and tried to capture the moment in a song. In the part of the Netherlands where Harm lives, and where Martijn and Jip come from, there is no desert, but there are a lot of fields and endless roads. We could relate to that feeling. We like psychedelic influences in our music, so we decided that Peyote would be a good name for this song. We were also inspired by the Doors, and the trips they used to take.
How do you think society views individuals who are struggling with mental health issues, and how does your music challenge those perceptions?
There is a lot of prejudice when it comes to mental health. People don’t always understand people who are dealing with these issues. With our music, we would like to shine a light on the complexities and challenges that come a human consciousness.
In what ways do you think art can help us process and understand the complexities of the human psyche?
We feel that the human psyche is way to big to comprehend. Art is something that stems from our unconsciousness. It gives you a glimpse into the deeper parts of our psyche.
How do you balance the darker themes in your music with the need to offer hope and healing to those who may be struggling with similar experiences?
Our music mainly focuses on darker themes like psychosis, suicide and depression. People could recognize their own feelings in this, and know they are not alone. Another perception would be that there is a sense of wonder in our music. It’s not all dark and lonely, but also an appreciation of the endless possibilities that your mind has to offer you.
Can you talk about the role that personal experiences and trauma play in the creation of your music?
Personal experience and trauma are a deep part of the inspiration for Thammuz. Some songs, like ‘Had a Blast’ reflect very personal experiences. Harm wrote this song about losing his father. Other songs tend to reflect broader themes, such as depression and suicidal thoughts. We all have experience with pain and sorrow, and the struggle that comes from this. Losing your mind is also a theme that’s a big part of our music. Jips mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which is quite literally losing yourself in the subconsciousness of your mind.
How does your music speak to the larger cultural context of mental health and the ways in which we understand and approach those issues?
Our music shines a light on these issues, but doesn’t offer solutions. If we would have them, then we would gladly share them! We create attention for these issues in hope that people feel they’re not alone, and that is normal to talk about these things.
Can you discuss the relationship between art, creativity, and mental health?
Creativity comes in many forms, but in our perception, struggle is a big part of it. Mental health is something that most people struggle with from time to time, so it can be a big inspiration. Art gives a glimpse into our subconsciousness, so that we may understand more of ourselves. In art, we can express feelings that we wouldn’t know what to do with otherwise.
What message would you like to send to listeners who may be struggling with feelings of isolation or disconnection?
If you are dealing with feelings of isolation and disconnection, we hope you know you are not alone. Try to take little steps, and it will get better, even if you don’t feel like they make any difference.
How does your music offer a space for exploration and healing in a world that can often be chaotic and overwhelming?
The world is chaotic and overwhelming. We don’t think we can fix this with our music. We hope that our music helps people get into a space where they can take a break from the chaos around them, and submerge themselves in the stories we tell.
How do you see the themes of alienation and psychosis intersecting with broader societal issues like inequality, justice, and oppression?
There could be a connection between alienation and psychosis and broader societal issues, but we don’t make that connection within our music. Maybe some of the rage that’s a part of the music stems from alienation and oppression, but there is no conscious link.
What can we learn about ourselves and the human experience through exploring these darker themes and emotions in art and music?
As said before, the human psyche is way to big to comprehend. Trying to broaden your mind is something we would encourage everyone to do, including the darker parts of your subconsciousness, because they are a part of you.
What are your future plans as a band, and how do you see your music evolving in the future?
We have a lot of plans for the future. Because of covid, we haven’t played as much live as we would have liked. Our focus for now is mainly performing as much as we can (maybe even some tours abroad). Further into the future, we’re planning to record a new album. This time though, we want to give ourselves a lot of time for writing and recording, to create an even better and more diverse album. The focus will stay on heavy grooves and sounds, but with more dynamics and diversity.
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