Last year, Dendritic Arbor landed on many people’s radars with not just one, but two fantastic releases. Then again Dendritic Arbor is not your everyday, run of the mill metal band and their music sets them quite apart from the crowd. Combining the harshest elements of black metal, grindcore and noise, the band manages to create music that is extremely abrasive and yet cohesive at the same time. The two releases they had last year, ‘Romantic Love’ and ‘Sentient Village // Obsolecent Garden’ EP are a collection of well written and layered tracks. The grindcore / black metal tracks have something new to reveal in each listen and the unrelenting sonic attack seems to be brimming with seething anger from the band’s side.
After listening to these albums multiple time, I knew I had to talk to the band and we went ahead and did just that. The guitarist / vocalist Adam Henderson and bassist Tom Bittner took the time to answer my questions and here’s how it went.
Metal Gallows: Hey guys. How’s it going? Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Tom: Thank you.
MG: Dendritic Arbor is a band that is quite different from the usual metal acts. What I can’t wrap my head around is how you guys go about composing such intense and complicated music. Could you tell us how a typical Dendritic Arbor jam session goes?
Adam: We all have drastically different views on how the music should sound and nobody budges so we throw it all together like a stew. At that point it becomes a trial by fire mixed with a few pinches of survival of the fittest, ergo a new challenger approaches.
Tom:We smoke a lot of weed. Throw around ideas / riffs / structures, yell at each other, smoke more weed, then come to compromises between each other in regards to song structure. The writing process comes along rather organically once we begin fleshing out ideas. We don’t necessarily go into writing something with a theme in mind. We more so play whatever it is that we want to hear. I feel like a lot of bands maybe write things to evoke a certain groove/dance, whatever. They play to preconceived notions of what should be played or what they think people want, whereas, we are more maybe more selfish. We play whatever it is that we want to listen to, and once we are satisfied and feel as though a song has reached its pinnacle, we release it to the world to take what they want from it. We also make sure to record and demo things immediately after we write something in order to have things for reference and as to not forget anything.
MG: Your music emanates a strong misanthropic vibe and the description on you facebook page, is something I can relate to. Is it this misanthropy that makes the music so intense? Does emotion play a big part of Dendritic Arbor’s music?
Adam: I am in no way misanthropic whatsoever. The music is intense because it is fun playing noisy, fast and puzzling. I’d like to think it brings a wide audience the same types of enjoyment listening to it as we do playing. No one can control how others interpret our music besides themselves, if you see a purple sky and orange grass more power to you!
Tom: I like to think we all understand just how shitty humanity can be and with that frustration we can draw inspiration for the music we create. Personally, I’m not so much a misanthrope as much as I am an empathetic human who gets frustrated with how negative this world can be. The cold ignorance of society supplies more than enough ammunition. We are surrounded by a lot of hate. I am filled with endless love. The music allows me a sense of combating that negativity.
MG: Why did you decide to name your album ‘Romantic Love’?
Adam: Our sound engineer suggested the title as we were finishing up recording the album. Given a heavy portion of the lyrical content and themes throughout the album are unparalleled beauty and sexual unison it seemed appropriate
Tom: The original working title was “Sex”. “Romantic Love” made more sense. I feel like we have a romanticized idea of love with the earth. We want to help it, rebuild, rejuvenate it. Recycle, conserve, etc. Not enough humans actually do, they just like the idea of helping. “Sex” seemed more appropriate to me because we do nothing more than fuck this earth.
MG: Where does each member of the band draw their influence from?
Adam: The importance of being free to create whatever visions are dreamed within, uninhibited by social, cultural and temporal pressures.
Tom: Life. We all have very different, yet very similar influences musically. Personally, I grew up on hip hop, got more into punk and metal in high school. Found myself going down the rabbit hole from there into more abrasive and spastic music. Eventually finding bands like Spazz, Converge, Circle of Dead Children, and fell in love with the raw intensity and ferocity of grind/hardcore. Anything that sounded like it had an actual truth to it.
MG: The ‘Sentient Village…’ EP has a sound and production that is different from what we heard on the full length. How did this come about?
Adam: Different Studio, Different Engineer. Everybody we have worked with since our inception have been nothing short amazing but to help create a sizable dynamic between acts it helps to work with a variety of talented individuals. Endless thanks and respect to Luke Wolfe, Noel Mueller, Dave Cerminana, Kurt Ballou and everybody else we have yet to encounter on our journey.
Tom: “Romantic Love” was written over the course of a few months, but recorded all in one long ass day. We knew exactly what we wanted to do and Noel Mueller from Grimoire Records recorded us and was on the same page. It was recorded all in Max’s house and essentially live. It was very efficient. For “SVOG,” we wanted to record this in a studio where we knew sonically it could be pushed to its utmost limit. We worked with Dave Cerminara at Treelady Studios before on a track we wrote “Genie” and felt comfortable. I think we wanted to expand on having more tools at our disposal to allow the songs to be brought to their fullest potential
MG: How well has the music translated into a live setting? What has the reaction been from audience who might have seen you live for the first time?
Adam: There is nothing more entertaining than performing this material live. It is just as labyrinthine and deafening coming out of cabinets and percussion in a small concrete basement as you’d imagine. The locals dig it and we dig the locals! Sure sometimes people don’t like us but good for them I don’t take it personally. There are some types who are just so unhappy with themselves and their lives that they come to a point in which they can no longer appreciate creativity for creativity’s sake. So how about that?
Tom: We tend to be a band that gets a lot of the “wtf?” faces. Arms folded, not necessarily understanding what the fuck it is that they are looking at, but no one seems to hate it. We don’t have djent breakdowns for kids to mosh to. But I feel like the music itself is engaging. But we’ve always tried to make the live performance more interesting. Shit, we’ve worn masks, covered ourselves in latex paints, flour, flowers, cloaks, sheets, whatever we feel like doing at the time. Some of it for a reason, some of it on a whim. Anyone that knows us personally knows that we are pretty fucking weird anyway. We factor in more noise now too, which I feel is needed being how prevalent noise is on our recordings, our music is meant to be abrasive and should come at you on many different senses.
MG: The music carries elements of grindcore, black metal and noise. How would you guys classify your own music?
Adam: Reverse-Prismatic Noise, Light Fusion.
Tom: We all have an affinity for playing abrasive music; anything that sounds fucked up, hopeless, angry. We’ve never wrote anything with a certain niche in mind. More or less we write with a certain emotion to convey. We do like blast beats and weird noises, so anything that involves the two. People can call it whatever they like. Personally I enjoy the uncertainty we create when it comes to defining our sound. I like to play fast and loud and scream into people’s faces, I don’t put much more thought into it than that.
MG: Many things about the band, like the band name and song titles have to do with medical sciences and anatomy. Are all the band members interested in this field?
Tom: Me not so much. I suppose I would’ve liked to have been a doctor, I guess?
MG: ‘Romantic Love’ has been very well received by critics and I saw some mentions in year end lists as well. Did you anticipate this reception while recording the album?
Adam: To be honest, we wrote the album with intentions of it becoming something that fans would universally disapprove of in contrast to our first act, you know… to shake things up a bit. Little did we expect that the complete opposite would happen. It’s was so Dendritic Bizarre-bor but we’re not complaining.
Tom: Not at all. All of it has been overwhelming and humbling. I feel like we have accomplished way more than we ever anticipated with this band. Initially we just came together because we like to play grind. By far, the best part of this experience as a band has been seeing how many people out there enjoy the same fucked up music we do. We are clearly not everyone’s cup of tea but the people out there that get it, really seem to enjoy it and it makes a real connection to them. “Romantic Love” is something that I am very proud of but by no means feel as if its anything more than a record. Its art. Once you create something, it no longer belongs to you, it belongs to whoever it is that is perceiving it. So far, its been well received and that is an incredible feeling, but by no means were we out to reinvent the wheel.
MG: I hear you guys are recording a split with Kurt Ballou of Converge. What can fans expect from this release?
Adam: Actions and dialogue far more abstract than any of our prior works, both from its peers and the normal expectations.
Tom: Through Converse and Metalsucks.net, we were given an incredible opportunity to work with Kurt. Personally, I’ve been a Converge fan for a very long time, and I’ve always idolized that band. They were my gateway drug as far as abrasive music goes. I heard ‘The Saddest Day’ and thought it was one of the heaviest things ever. I never heard anything like it before and was floored. And they’ve released some of my very favorite records, from “Jane Doe” to “All We Love We Leave Behind”, they can’t do any wrong to me. So to work with Kurt was something I never expected to do in my lifetime. It was incredible but also very nerve-wracking/intimidating. He was great guy to work with and seemed to really be into the project, and understood the parameters of the project, being that we only had a day or two to record. The two new tracks we wrote are definitely more grind inspired and sonically sound like nothing we’ve done before due to the god tier equipment we had at our disposal where we worked at, Godcity & Converse Rubber Tracks Studio, respectively. It was an incredible experience and I’m excited to get the songs out there to the public.
MG: On the EP, there are some industrial / electronic elements in the mix. Will we hear more of this in future releases?
Adam: More industrial, yes. The electronics will always be there watching over us all.
Tom: Perhaps, as long as its HEAVY.
MG: Thank you once again for the time. Anything you’d like to tell our audience?
Adam: “Life exists only at this very moment,and in this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever”
Tom: BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER AND PARTY ON DUDES