Victor Mac-Namara - Lead Guitar
Juan Pablo Donoso - Drums
Christian Argandoña - Bass, Vocals
I'm glad to have the opportunity of chatting with Victor Mac-Namara, guitarist and founder of Thornafire. The Chilean band released in early 2012 their third album, "Eclipse Nox Coagula", and now that the year is close to an end, what kind of feedback have they received? Let's find out.
Hi Victor, welcome on our website. How do you do? How are things going in South America? Are you still in tour?
Victor: Hi Gabriele, yeah, I’m on an amazing tour by now, from home to job and back. We are in the hottest springtime, some fights and problems in South America but it’s normal in this miserable continent.
I'd like you to talk freely about Thornafire, what this band means for you, who are the people who play in it... tell us everything that, in your opinion, is important to get to know your project.
This project is just to run the death metal and obscure macabre sounds and devotion that came from my rotting brain into the guitar. By now, it’s me, the singer/bass player and the drummer who lives in Sweden.
You've prepared the way with two demos, "Granted For All Somberness" and "Sin And Flesh Devotion", and an ep, "Mortus Tenebra Sorrectus", before releasing your debut album "Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation"; what can you recall of that period, what can you tell me about your first steps as a band, and is it important, in your opinion, for a band to build itself "the hard way" like you did?
Well, the things have not been changed since the beginning, maybe only watching some other acts and touring I learned some technical aspects... but from the beginning this death metal has been a very independent project and was built without ego, just being accepted in friends circles. The hard way... maybe, but to make music is work that is fun to do... of course most part of the time I’m playing and watching other areas of the band, instead of going to bars like other musicians.
The first album and the first meeting with the Ibex Moon as a label, a joint effort going on still now, how did it happen? I think that many, like myself, consider John McEntee some sort of legend, what's your relationship to him?
Well, I'm old in fact, and in some ways of the death metal scene I'm proud to see some exciting death metal albums come to the scene, also some magazines and how the media works in the 90's. Only I did some things typical for this era, recording a demo and then sending it to labels and magazines. Ibex Moon back then was the best choice for the band, the guy was very simple and it's totally easy to work with him.
Five years, three full-lengths released; how would you introduce your work to our readers? What peculiarities do you recognize in each of your albums?
With the overdose of standard productions and nothing really new nowadays, it's hard to speak about what kind of music you are playing, but well, for me every album is fun to do and at the same time is a test and evolution into the instrument and the production, talking in public I can say that every record is a progress in the music style, but personally for me it's satisfaction to grow up in the guitar work and song composition.
I found "Eclipse Nox Coagula" particularly varied, and a little more European in its sound; did you change the way you compose your songs? How do you usually write a song?
The basis was the same as before, having lots of ideas, then presenting them to the other guys and choose which idea is more fresh. As a metal head into music, for South Americans it's a little difficult, we don’t have a particular sound like the Swedish for example, only we add more rage to our music. Yeah, maybe I’m more into the European kind of metal instead the North American style cause I like more the minor and diminished scales than the North American way to play death metal.
Unfortunately I wasn't supplied with the lyrics of the albums, so I'm not sure I got it right, but from what I understood this is a concept album, right? Am I wrong or there is an actual topic linking all of the songs?
Like always the lyrics are more or less personal reflections about the kind of life, about the working class people in South America, anonymous people searching for immediate satisfaction surrounded by ignorance, confused information. So we take the path to analyze the things by ourselves and our own speech, not using the words of famous writers. By now we work with a Chilean book writer so we do some acid rhetoric with the lyrics.
What's the meaning behind the cover art of your album?
Is a fantastic interpretation about the will and the power that comes from within, even with an open chest surgery and surrounded by serpents the heart stays strong and man stands up over the darkness and the eclipse phenomena, it’s not a positive Christian message, haha. We understand the darkness like mediocre and low thoughts of humanity and some individual people are not allowed to see life clearly and they have a twisted vision and develment in the existence.
The death metal scene has always been particularly productive. In the recent years, particularly, there has been an actual boom, no matter if we are talking about death-core, technical or revival, there's a lot of good bands in each of these sub-genres. Did you listen and appreciate any particular album by any "colleague" band, recently?
Sincerely I was not hit by any release since Tribulation's "The Horror" and last year's Insision EP "End Of All". I'm often checking what's happening within the scene but lately I've been listening more to electronic music, which in my personal opinion brings me more refreshing releases. Sorry to displease the die hard old school purist criteria fans.
Which albums would you suggest to someone who's familiarizing with the genre? And which, instead, changed your life and instilled in you the thought "this is what I want to play"?
Not as an idea to take an instrument, but in my opinion Entombed’s "Clandestine" is one of the most fresh and intense releases that surprised me. Celtic Frost “To Megatherion” is absolutely genuine and a very particular album, after that some interesting ones like Morbid Angel, Immolation, Hate Eternal, Slayer.
What can you tell us about your on-stage dimension? And, in your opinion, it is better to see Thornafire play in a small, intimate and "hot" place, or during a spectacular mega-festival?
I have always liked the gigs during the daylight and the evening for myself and to watch other bands and then drink and enjoy the party during the night, and these situations happen more often at the festivals, feels better, I think that I’m just not a nocturnal animal. Sorry again to displease the die hard old school purist wild vampires with that.
You toured in Europe for a little time, you've been in Germany, in the Central European zone (Czech Republic and Poland, right?); what can you tell us of this experience, did you enjoy the gigs? Do you have any travel story you'd like to share? Are you satisfied, did Europe welcome your band as you imagined?
We did it twice, in 2010 we did some short festival appearances, and this year we did a festival and club tour, which was a lot better crossing experience and with more weapons of promotion like real merchandise, a deluxe digipak album, and a video with two cute zombie nurses that helped us a lot. This last tour was very sober, more professional and focused 90% on the music rather than the party or taking photos of castles like with my other partners in 2010. Europe is a cool place or the better to play this kind of ancient styles, they keep the metal life style alive and well, we still have an underground status, but for us that’s ok. Fuck the Mötley Crüe life style!
You didn't come to Italy at all, would you like to send a message to those who are reading, hoping that maybe next time you'll be able to make it even to our small peninsula?
I can understand the language a little bit without studies. Hope we can be over there in this interesting country with our darkest and rotting death metal … not to be something like underground gods, just to spread our never ending black poison over the hordes, even the old school purist vampires.
Did you notice any big differences in the way of living metal music between European and South American enthusiasts?
Not really man, same people in the society, the more quiet and ugly ones little introverted sometimes. More chances and an overdose of bands to see over there, but Chileans by now have a cool international two days metal fest and lots of acts coming here for club shows.
Which bands in your national scene have had, in your opinion, as much success as they deserved, and which, instead, would you suggest to check out?
Chile in general is not well known over the frontiers, really!? Well, as underground metal acts I guess that everyone is motivated to release their point of views and thoughts through their bands, so that has a value for the whole scene. I’m not into the doom. Speaking about some cool acts over here, Warpath released an amazing fucking demo a long time ago, Melektaus currently is an amazing death metal combo, very interesting and not trendy and vulgar music, I think that they will be playing in Europe next year, they released an album this year, so try to check them out.
Is there any genre or behavior in this musical world that you consider completely wrong? Did it ever happen to you to be asked for money in exchange for a gig? I'm referring to the so-called "Pay to Play".
Of course man, all those mainstream influenced modern kids nowadays that play fast brutal death metal with gay haircuts and others that release some kind of mainstream market extreme music, all of them suck, they are just so controlled by the trends and that makes their music so plastic, boring and without any richness. I'm not the typical old guy speaking about the good old days, but come on, this music was born as independent, fast and fresh music... and this has changed a lot! For example take metal core and most of the bands that appear on Blabbermouth. Never during our underground life existence we had this kind of deal, luckily with labels and gigs we had decent deals being payed and covered for our productions and live show costs. If the things don't work we don't play, one of the good creativity aspects is at home with the computer and the guitar that satisfies our hunger for blood.
Who's Victor Mac-Namara outside Thornafire? Hobbies, work, everyday life...
Normal guy, abnegate South American graphic designer, a lot of my interest is on the music, but I alos read some books, especially those of Bukowski and for me sometimes it’s fascinating watching the good and bad things of the people and society, the human species mostly is disgusting but sometimes fascinating.
Is it still possible to live FOR music and WITH music in the metal scene, or has it become a luxury only enjoyable for a very little percentage of bands behind specific labels?
That question is about the facts and how the things run for some people. I think that for the largest part of the people involved in the death metal genre nowadays it's a relation to keep their lifestyles running and not a monetary success like before in the days of the death metal blockbusters. Of course asking here and there, you know histories about a few ones that do this like a formal business and it's good for them, but for most people it's just a way to express their minds after their jobs. The number of musicians is huge by now and not so many people give value to what other musicians are doing, like to go to a show and pay for a ticket or buy CD's.
Imagine you have the chance of organizing a truly unique event, some sort of metal "Woodstock", where you can call bands of whatever genre you like (obviously we are talking about metal genres) and your band is chosen as the headliner of the mentioned event. You have unlimited budget and you can choose the location: which bands (active in the present or in the past) do you call, and why? And where would you think an event like this should be played?
Mmmm, ha, I would take the money and I would release a fest in Sao Paulo, Brazil lasting one full month: Demolition Hammer, Metallica with long hair (haha), Morbid Angel demos era and Thornafire on big screen taken from Youtube low resolution quality, the rest of the time topless dancers and beach.
Convince our readers to listen to "Eclipse Nox Coagula" by giving them FIVE good reasons that make it unmissable:
I was painting a house some days ago and I heard that album twice, it’s a good release, good music, that speaks good about it right?! Okay, let’s do the 5 reasons:
- full death metal entertainment for good taste rotting brains;
- hateful Spanish lyrics with something to say beyond that Jesus Christ is rotting;
- while you are listening to the album you can enjoy watching the booklet with photos of our shitty life from present to 1 year ago;
- independent and honest dark music done without the intention to receive applauses and ovations when we enter to a metal bar;
- number five, another good album added to your Thornafire collection, collect them all!
Let's end it here. Victor, I thank you for your time and I'd like to let you end this interview with whatever words you find fitting...
Ok, thanks to you Gabriele for the space and making it comfortable. We hope to land in Italy within the next years to share our evil hateful South American music with the people over there.