Interview with Alia O’Brien of BLOOD CEREMONY
Interview by Alex Bland
The new album, Lord of Misrule, is out now on Rise Above Records. This album is a bit different from what you guys normally do. There’s a lot that I can’t describe and maybe that’s a good thing. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that’s different about this one, other than what I’ve read, which is that this is more “English” than what you have recorded before due to the subject matter.
Yeah, although I feel like that’s always been our thing in a way, but this one I think thematically, is a bit more explicit for sure. The “Englishness” of it all.
There are some other albums that don’t have as big of a theme, but when I was reading up on the history behind the Lord of Misrule, I thought it was really interesting, because I’m in school right now and I’m actually a religious studies major. So all the stuff that I was reading about, we don’t cover that too much. However, I do have a teacher that subscribes to more pagan practices, so I’m going to tell her about this when this is over.
The idea for of the Lord of Misrule, it’s an interesting one. Like when we first were kind of conceptualizing the album, I think Sean envisioned a series of songs with little interludes in between the songs and each song would be introduced by the Lord of Misrule. So it would be kind of like a musical feast of fools. Each song being slightly different from the last. Sort of like a buffet-style Saturn alien offering or something, but we decided not to go that route, but it still remains that we have this collection of really disparate sounding, very musical material and then the title, Lord of Misrule.
So I guess in a way it’s kind of implied that this is a sort of collection of offerings. You have read, I guess as a religious studies major, Frazer’s The Golden Bough. I think in that book he talks about a sort of Lord of Misrule process where there’s this sort of lord figure, the sort of temporary lord who resides over the festivities isn’t the lord at the end of it all. And, of course, at the end of our album, we have things present, things past. And it’s basically about, sort of, dying. I always get a sense there’s a sort of grim end to the album. After all the partying, someone’s got to die.
I noticed that Sean said that a lot of the themes were about love, obsession, and death. I didn’t so much get the obsession and death part, but maybe that’s just because I’m biased and I just thought that everything was pretty upbeat. At least of me.
Yeah, I guess in terms of those things, like obsession, I think the song “Lorelei” especially focuses on sort of a siren-type figure. You know, we always seem to go back to these siren-type figures in our song material and this is another one. I think a siren’s call becomes like a sonorous obsession for the person that hears it basically. So I think maybe that’s where obsession comes in, I’m not sure.
Is it true that Sean writes a lot of the lyrics?
Sean almost exclusively writes all of the lyrics. I think there have been a couple of instances where I did. But the musical material is sort of whoever brings it to the table. Sean’s the lyricist, but as far as the music writing, I had a few songs on this album, Sean and Lucas co-wrote a song, we all kind of collaboratively wrote one song, Sean wrote a few of the songs.
When I heard about the Lord of Misrule, the theme, one of the things that I wanted to ask you is … Let’s see if this make sense, if there was Lord of Misrule today, what do you think might happen? If you or Sean were put in charge and had the power to flip things on their head.
What would happen? I don’t know. I feel like it’s sort of an anarchic concept, really. Sort of like temporary anarchy, perhaps. So, maybe it would be an experiment in sort a new sociopolitical order of things just to see, you know? I feel like maybe anytime something radical is implemented, maybe that’s a bit of a similar situation. What would I want to happen in that situation? Nothing that wouldn’t already be taking place. You know like, dance parties. Lots of imbibing. Lots of messy banter. I just think I wouldn’t want anyone to die at the end. I wouldn’t have anyone sacrificed to the Lord of Misrule, to Saturn. I’d omit that part.
Are you touring through Europe soon?
Yeah, we have a two-week tour coming up at the end of April. We’re playing Roadburn [Festival]. The head of label [Rise Above Records], Lee Dorrian, has curated our two events for this upcoming Roadburn, both of which are fantastic. He’s got Repulsion, G.I.S.M. from Japan, who rarely ever plays, so that’s kind of a big deal, and then Diamanda Galas. So, he’s collected an amazing roster of musicians, so we’re just very stoked to be playing that. And then we’re doing some club dates and then we’re finishing up at Desertfest in London.
Are there any plans to come to the States? Have you toured in the States before?
We do occasionally. We’ve done two American tours. And then we’ve sort of dipped down and done some one-off dates, or a few dates here and there kind of in the Northeast up nearer to us.
We’re always looking for new opportunities to get back. Generally speaking, it’s a harder place to tour, both sort of financially, but also logistically, it’s more expansive. Europe, you know, everything’s much more compact. All of the countries are closer together so it’s easier, basically.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
It’s my pleasure, Alex. Thanks for the interview. And good luck with your studies.