Monday, February 9, 2009

Interview With: BATTLEFIELDS

Stained with the Blood of the Restless: BATTLEFIELDS

Kim Kelly for Hails & Horns Magazine 2/2009

“ As we search to find the truth behind the illusion, who created the human race, or biogenetic experiment, we look to those who came from the stars, ancient astronauts, creational gods, for our answers. All is theory, virtual reality, consciousness, and for the most part not provable, subject to the interpretation of the researcher or experiencer,” quotes Rusty Steele. The laconic Battlefields vocalist may indeed possess an earth-shaking roar (one that he employs to great effect onstage and in the studio), but sometimes, it is his moments of soft-spoken lucidity that command the most attention.

“Lyrically Battlefields has come to be a middle finger to the ancestors that rewrote history, burned libraries and pulled humanity so far away from the possibly of knowing a truth. With the messages that were removed from man, there seems to be a definite cause for alarm.”

I first heard Battlefields a few months ago, when they played Kuma’s Doom Fest in Chicago, IL. It turned out that they were crashing with the same friend of mine that was putting me up for the weekend, so in addition to seeing them decimate the Double Door’s stage, I also got to know the guys a bit. After a few nights spent boozing, vinyl-hunting and generally debauching, they headed out to another show, and I headed back East to recover from the bitter Chicago cold and treat my record player to the gorgeously-packaged LP version of Battlefields’ last record, “Stained with the Blood of an Empire,” that the guys were kind enough to give me before we parted ways. It’s a simply massive record, and one that upped the ante considerably for other bands that seek to capture the simmering intensity that Battlefields conjure up so effortlessly.

Battlefields come armed with a name as monumental as their riffs. Thee band was originally christened “Battlefields Stained With the Blood of the Restless,” but made the wise decision to shorten their moniker.

“When I lived in Des Moines, our bands Eclipse of Eden, In Loving Memory and Rue Morgue had set out to create a band even more massive than Pg.99, which was all hypothetical, but consisted of most of the members from those three bands and had been given a hypothetical band name of “Battlefields Stained with the Blood of the Restless”. The name was always in the back of my head and brought it up at band practice, however “stained with the blood of the restless” wasn’t exactly taking...

“We wanted it to be called something more than just Battlefields, just in case someone else had used the name, we wanted to be safe and add all that onto it... knowing that people would hate saying such a long band name and just call us Battlefields. What actually happened was that Battlefields first album was called “Stained With the Blood of an Empire”.

Rusty Steele’s move farther north, from Iowa to Fargo, ND, spurred the conception of the band that would become Battlefields.

“When I moved to Fargo, I was attempting to fill a vocal spot on a local grind band with Battlefields guitarist Andrew Wallin. Andy had been a fan of my old band Dispensing of False Halos and had played as support when we were on tour. Once I moved up here I had already established friendships with local musicians. I was a manager at a local record store/head shop that often played a ton of great records with employees Matt and Rob. At that point, we were all kind of feeding off each others’ taste in heavy music and found a common ground. None of the guys knew each other, but they shared a mutual friendship with me.”

“There was definite chemistry and jamming continued for the next 7 months. After composing 3 songs / 27 minutes worth of music, we debuted our set at The Aquarium in Fargo, playing with Pelican. The music was very well thought out and as a band we commanded the attention of the locals, and demanded that they take note of how serious we were. For those 7 months our practices were very secretive; not even our friends were able to hear what was taking shape. By that first show we had a decently recorded demo, tshirts and stickers.

Battlefields’ sound draws from a variety of sonic landscapes – elements of post-hardcore, ambient, doom, post-rock and progressive sounds can all be heard in their sprawling, epic odes.

“Our sngs sway between pretty and cathartic, heavy and quiet. To the old folks at the random gas stations, we are something like a heavy metal version of Pink Floyd, but don’t we all say that shit? Between the members of Battlefields we all love 90’s screamo, pop punk, death metal and the modern “doom” bands.”

Translation Loss Records is gearing up to release their new record, ‘Thresholds Of Imbalance,” in March. Rusty weighs in on the album’s creation and the band’s relationship with Translation Loss:

“Drew had befriended us and watched our progression, which wouldn’t have came without the attention of our friends Rosetta. After a U.S. tour with them we had regular contact with Drew/TL. After teaming up with them and we are gearing up for a whole heap of projects, offers and help that we didn’t find previously.”

“This album was well thought out. Some of the songs were being put together and jammed on between tours a year before entering the studio. After touring Europe with Amen Ra, we decided to just stop touring until an entire album was put together. Rob did his apprenticeship at the Devil’s Workshop in Minneapolis and basically they granted us an exceptional amount of studio time free of charge so we spent from 11am-2am for 10 days in a row recording. “Stained with the Blood of an Empire” was recorded in Pro-tools and we later regretted... so thereafter committed to doing only analog recordings, which is the new record “Thresholds of Imbalance” was recorded.

As was previously mentioned, Battlefields hail from North Dakota, which seems pretty far-removed from the rest of the country (I say this from an East Coast perspective, though). Apparently, we’ve all been missing out; when questioned about the vitality (or existence, for that matter) of the Fargo metal scene, Rusty was ready with a long list of local favorites, some of which have been making names for themselves far past ND’s borders.

“There have been several successful bands from Fargo... Godheadsilo, Hammerhead... but many bands relocate to become a part of the Minneapolis local scene. There are a lot of great bands that people are hesitant to listen to because they are from North Dakota, such as Sleeping in Gethsemane, Gumbi, Vernal Pool, and our bassist’s black metal band, HØST, whose last album was ranked as one of Decibel’s Top 40 Albums of 2008.”

Battlefields recently announced the dates for an extensive US tour with labelmates Irrepress that include an appearance at the hipster haven of SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. They’re also working on a 2009 European tour, and plan to appear at a handful of festivals as well. Fans of Isis, Coalesce, Neurosis, and Red Sparowes, keep an eye out for Battlefields’ Translation Loss debut (due out March 31), and make sure to catch them on tour when they hit your area.

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