An Interview with Ethereal Riffian

The Metal Observer recently spoke with Val Kornev, vocalist and guitarist for the Ukranian psychedelic doom/stoner metal band Ethereal Riffian. In addition to the release of Ethereal Riffian’s remarkable full-length debut, Aeonian, the band, namely Kornev and his brother Alexander, penned an eponymous novella to supplement the music.

TMO: Where did the name Ethereal Riffian come from?

Kornev: Either out of nowhere, or right from the ether. Depends on how you look at it. I remember that I was sitting in my room in the evening sometime in 2010, and this word combination just came to my mind. That’s it.

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Does everyone in the band have similar influences? Or is there a mix of broad musical tastes/backgrounds?

We all have different musical tastes. Nikita (Ship) is fond of post-metal & hardcore, though he listens to different music. His second band is called Powerplay and they play hardcore. Max (Southman) is into lots of musical styles. Let’s say he’s into anything that’s beautiful, complicated, and musical. He also has a second band which plays a mixture of progressive metal and experimental rock. Alexander (SAF) has a whole different point of view when it comes to music. He doesn’t listen to albums, he listens to separate songs…and he can listen to just one song for the whole day. As for me I like all the trippy stuff; mantras and every piece of beautiful and soulful music no matter the genre. My second band is called Wolverine Blues.

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Has Ship always been a part of the band, or was he made an official member just prior to Aeonian?

He recorded drums for Shaman’s Visions as a session musician. After that we offered him to become our drummer, so he joined us as a full-time member in summer 2011.

Where did the idea for Aeonian come from?

Unlike the concept for Shaman’s Visions, Aeonian‘s concept came to my mind after three songs had already been recorded and mixed. I was in the subway, on my way to the office, and I was thinking about the name for the last song of the record. Sometime after I realized that it was going to be called “Thugdam,” the concept shined before my mind. Right after that, we’ve started to work on the last song and on the book (it was May-June 2013).

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When did you start to work on the Aeonian project – record and book? How long did it actually take to complete? It must be very satisfying to see it come such successful fruition.

We started to work on it in the end of 2011, but we didn’t realize it then. The thing is that we recorded “March of Spiritu (Rise of Sheol)” for the outstanding Falling Down compilation. Then I had the idea of releasing the 10-inch record with two 11-minute songs. That’s how “Wakan Tanka” and “Anatman” came into being (though we were already been playing “Wakan Tanka” during our Spring Rites tour in 2012). When these two songs were ready, we thought that we should include “March of Spiritu” on the record because we liked the song, and we thought that people should hear it. But how would a vinyl record look like if there were two tracks on one side and only one track on the other? That’s how the idea of “Thugdam” started to take shape, and that’s when the concept of the album came into being. It gave way to the birth of the story. All in all it took us almost three years to finish the album and half a year to finish the book. We are fully satisfied with the result, as we did our best to make everything in the best way it could be.

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Will you write a book for each album now? And will they be their own entities, or will they link as a series?

Thanks for this question. We intend to write a book for each release. More of it, we have a plan to release four more albums that will be united by one story. All in all, there will be five books, six albums, and one epic story. It surely sounds ambitious, but we believe that it’s the best way that we can send our message to the people of the Earth. Those who aren’t interested in the ideas behind the music will just enjoy the good music itself. We hope that everyone will find something worthwhile in our creative work.

How was the Aeonian writing process different from Shaman’s Visions or Dkyil Khor?

Quite different. First of all, as you can see from the answers above, the songs were written in different time periods, while Dkyil Khor and Shaman’s Visions were written as one piece with a clear vision. Secondly, while writing Aeonian there was much more interaction between the band members in terms of songwriting. Everyone had their ideas which we examined and then tried to apply.

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How has the band’s sound evolved since Shaman’s Visions?

Enormously. We have evolved as musicians; our sound-engineer evolved as well. To tell the truth, he’s the one who spent dozens of sleepless nights working on the album’s sound. He came up with lots of different variants of sound, and worked on it for almost a year, taking long breaks between the sessions. I remember that even when I had handed the tracks for mastering, he called me with suggestion to change the sound of bass drum in “Wakan Tanka.” Damn perfectionist! Well, we all are. That’s what made the album sound so firm.

What were your favorite albums – metal and non-metal – from last year?

Some of the albums I’ve enjoyed most are: Naam – Vow, Clutch – Earth Rocker, Steve Hunter – Manhattan Blues Project, Estas Tonne – Internal Flight & Killer Moon – Tunnel Vision. You can check the full list here – http://ow.ly/t6hZh.

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What bands have influenced the sound and direction of Ethereal Riffian the most?

I can’t answer you from the whole band. From my standpoint it’s Pink Floyd’s progressive conceptualized music, Sleep’s hour-long epic Dopesmoker, Yob’s unique approach to doom and writing lyrics, and Tony Iommi’s immortal riffs. Again, this is just my opinion, which shaped a part of our music. The opinions of Max, Nikita, Alexander and our sound-engineer Max helped shaped the other part of the music and sound. The result you hear is all Ethereal Riffian.

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If you could tour with three bands – active or inactive – which would they be?

Pink Floyd, YOB, and High on Fire.

What are your touring plans for 2014?

We plan to tour Europe with Wolverine Blues in September 2014.

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