USBMS would like to thank the members of Black Table for their time to answer our questions.
1. Can you please introduce the members of Black Table and their roles with the band, also a bit of the history of how and when Black Table came into existence?
Mers: I do the vocals and guitar, Ryan plays guitar, Mike is our drummer and Matt is the bassist. Black Table was a concept that I approached Ryan with around 2009/2010. Ryan was in Randall Flagg at the time, but he was interested and we sat down and banged out the skeletons for Heist and Sentinel really quickly. When Mike and Matt joined, BT really started to go in the direction I had imagined and hoped for.
Ryan: Yeah, Randall Flagg was just fading out and it was a really good time to do something different. Mike actually was going to be Flagg's next drummer if the band would have survived, so immediately when Mers and I started getting Black Table going I started harassing Mike to join or die.
2. For new listeners who might not have heard your music before, how would you define your sound to them?
Mers: Yeah, that's a debatable conversation. We have been called doom, black metal, prog metal, blackend this and that, post this and that...all kinds of unexpected genres, but I prefer to say that we are experimental metal. We are melodic, but also dissonant, chaotic at moments but also carry a strong narrative. My vocals hail from the Black Metal genre, I guess that is one thing that can be pinned down.
Ryan: I often hear the genre post black metal applied to what we're doing which is fair. Our music has plenty of extended trem picking and the vocals certainly could lead someone to say that, but I think there are so many different influences going on it's hard to really say it's one genre. I think each song we write tries to be a little different then the last so it makes it hard to nail what we are because we keep changing it as we go. So experimental metal is a broad enough that I think it fits us well.
Mike: All four of us come from different musical backgrounds and situations. I studied jazz drumming in college and I am heavily influenced by drummers like Billy Rymer and Matt Halpern. Matty is big into a lot of tech death metal and jazz as well. Ryan is huge into sludge and post-metal and Mers is into lots of weird shit. Even though we are still rooted in "post black metal," I think our sound is a combination of all of these individual influences fuses into one cohesive vision.
3. Can you take us behind the process behind creating one of Black Table songs, Where do you draw inspiration for lyrics from? and where are the musical compositions recorded at?
Mers: Usually myself or Ryan come up with a part or sections and we go back and forth recording, writing, rewriting for a long time. I spend a lot of time editing and refining, experimenting. I kind of need a lot of time to mull over ideas or riffs or narratives. Sometimes writing is spontaneous, and I feel like the universe is aligned. But most days, it's constant exploration. Once we get the basic framework of the song down, we bring it to Mike who brings his intense drumming style and arranging and then to Matt who seems to be able to write with little effort at all really, haha. We record on Audacity, Ableton Live, Digital Performer when working on songs but our E.P was recorded at Trax East Recording in New Jersey by Eric Rachel.
Mike: When they bring riffs or sections we will jam on it at practice. This really helps me develop my drumming concept for the song and usually inspires us to write another riff or section and begin arranging the song. After a few of these rehearsals, Ryan and I will usually sit down at his computer and program drums using Ableton Live and Superior Drummer. This process is a little time consuming, but when it's time to record, having scratch guitar and click tracks already programmed saves a lot of time. This also gives us the opportunity to listen back to the song and process it as a listener, rather than a performer.
Ryan: Writing for us is a very intense process, we don't move forward on anything if there's anyone who doesn't agree with a part. I think it's our self criticism that really makes writing for us really satisfying. We weren't actually sure if anyone would care about what we made because it was so personal, and maybe we were the only people who actually like these songs haha. Releasing a new project is always a little stressful, but we've had so much support from great bands and people, we feel so lucky to be a part of it all.
4. Lets talk about your 2012 self released E.P entitled "Sentinel"
How did the concept for the release come about, Who did the artwork and how did the recording process go?
Mers: The artwork for our E.P was done by Matt, who also designed one of our shirts, death riding a horse. He's a super talented illustrator, he just had an art show in New Paltz recently. "Sentinel" E.P is based on Death and History. The recording process was challenging, Hurricane Sandy busted through New Jersey and we lost a bunch of recording days because where Trax East was was flooded, and that set us back.
Ryan: Eric Rachel at Trax East and Alan Douches at West West Side were so helpful and really went out of their way to help us meet our deadline, we owe them a few beers.
Mike: yeah they really made it made it happen last minute. I remember getting the masters the night before tour, emailing them out to the band, confirming which version we liked, and then picking up the masters as I left for tour the next day and burned and packaged the CD's in the van!
5. I was quite impressed with the Deep Well kit. That would be a great piece to own. Please can you explain how this concept came about and who is credited for this idea? And further how can listeners purchase it?
Mers: That was my concept. I had read a Introduction to Ritualistic Magic by Aliester Crowley a long time ago that discussed why certain implements are used in rituals like incense or candles. I'm not a fan of Crowley, I think most of his hype and myth is just that but, the idea that influencing the 6 senses with tools could alter your state of being, sort of like a certain kind of combination lock for your brain, intrigued me. Looking at an image is not the same when you look at an image with a specific sort of music guiding your feelings; you can be manipulated to feel something happy, sad, reflective ect. Deep Well came with a track that was intended to guide the listener down into the forgotten places of the mind. We have some left but they take so much time to make, we decided not to make any more right now. We will have the remainder with us on our tour with Downfall of Gaia.
Link to the Deep Well kit Video
6. Are there any bands, or musical styles that have influenced the way Black Table writes music?, or is there any band or person in particular that might have inspired you to create music?
Mers: I've played music most of my life, my father was a musician too, so music has always been one of the few ways to express the intangible and obscured parts of myself. I think the band that initiated the inspiration in me to be in a band like this was Wolves in the Throneroom.
Ryan: I've been in bands since i was about 17-18 i was hooked on guitar since day one. There have been so many bands that inspire me but what was really exciting when we started this project were bands like Rosetta, Buried Inside, Time to Burn, and Amenra.
Mike: Yeah, we are all influenced by completely different styles of music, which makes writing with these guys so much fun. I've been playing drums and piano since I was 10 and like Ryan, I have been in countless bands since middle/high school. I'm huge into jazz drummers Dafnis Prieto, Roy Haynes, and Elvin Jones. As far as metal goes, I can't get enough Dillinger Escape Plan, The Ocean, Vattnet Viskar and So Hideous right now.
7.Black Table is described as "post/experimental Black Metal". Is this the style you set out to have initially or has it progressed and evolved over time?
Mers: It did progress over time. The one thing we don't do is try to sound like anything. We are never like, "lets have a part like this song or band or style". I feel like that is total bullshit.
Ryan: Yea, I don't think we ever considered ourselves black metal at all, then people started telling us and we were like "hmm, I guess maybe you're right there is some black metal in there." We sat down and just started playing, writing parts and wanted to make interesting music that was about all we thought about it. Actually, the very first song demos were pretty clean and post rocky, but that wasn't right so we kept evolving and working on the sound.
8.How do you feel Black Tables music compares to other post Black Metal bands such as "Deaf Haven and Krallice" or Experimental Black Metal bands like" Rheinkaos or Marchosias"?
Mers: I find it interesting sometimes the comparisons seem far fetched but I don't really have any feelings about it. We made it, we put it out there and it's okay for people to come up with their own ideas or whatever about it.
Ryan: I don't think we have much in common with those bands, they do their own thing just like us. I actually love Krallice, but I don't think much about comparing us to them, they are brilliant in their own way.
9.What kind of energy goes into a Black Table live performance? what can a person who has never seen your live show expect?
Mers: We have samples of DeepWell playing in between our sets, which is unsettling and Mike hammers the drums like a were-beast. I think my mood is usually like a Sea Captain looking out over a stormy sea haha. The last show we did in Albany, Ryan slammed his guitar onto the neck of mine really fucking hard doing his spastic guitar war dance. Luckily it didn't break but it did go out of tune haha. He really gets primal.
Ryan: Yeah, everyone has their own own energy, I almost go into a trance when playing live, it becomes really emotional for me. I'm usually exhausted by the end of a set.
Mike: I try to put every ounce of energy I have into our live show. Drumming in Black Table is the purest, most primal release of emotion, tension, and passion I have ever experienced. I have been involved in a bunch of other metal bands, but nothing compares to the physical demands of this band. Since I joined the band, I have been gradually hitting harder and at this point I am just trying to break every piece of drum equipment I have. By the end of the last song, I am usually about to faint from exhaustion. I'm trying to convince Ryan to start doing back flips off my kick drum. Maybe next tour.
Mers: Mike pounds those drums with Thor's hammer basically.
10. Do you guys have a good following in your home town? can you explain
what the state of the scene is like in NJ/NY, and is there support for underground or even well known Black/death/grind bands?
Ryan: We have a lot of really amazing people who support the shit out of us online and when we play live, but the one thing that blows me away is how the bands support each other in NYC and Brooklyn. Any show we play, or when we go out to support our friends, I'll see all the same faces every time. It's amazing.
Mike: It's been such a pleasure to play with NYC bands So Hideous, Meek is Murder , East of the Wall, and Family who have supported us in one way or another.
Mers: What's unexpectedly cool is that we have some of a little following in places like France, Texas, Germany, Connecticut, Greece and other places. Our biggest support when we started was from other bands and bookers which really surprised me. I never thought that BT would become anything, every response I got back I read with surprise and excitement. All the help we get from listeners, other musicians, bands, bookers, bloggers, photographers…you start to realize you are part of a community, and it's mostly for the sake of music, no one is making money, but it's fun and you get to be a part of something and experience new shit. I never want to forget that; as much as I normally despise humans and the way society is, I do have my humanity restored often and it's all because of music. Yeah, lets all barf a little in our mouths.
11.Outside of music what are some of the band members interests?
Mers: I study German, love mythology, reading, country life, art, cicadas. I'm training for Ragnar this year in the Adirondacks. Stuffing my face. Bag kicker.
Ryan: I'm a graphic designer, I'm teaching myself Arduino, and I have an obsession currently with Kafka and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Mike: I teach private music lessons, so I'm constantly working on all sorts of new drum and piano music. I give kayak tours on the Hudson River on the weekends. I try to go hiking as often as possible and I love antiquing or "bandtiquing" as we call it on tour.
Mers: fuck yeah, bandtiquing!
12. Any final words for the readers on what to expect from Black Table in the coming future?
Mers: After this month long tour, we are going to take a long fucking break from playing live shows so we can write an Album for 2014.
Ryan: Writing. Writing. Writing.
Mike: Europe tour in 2014 and writing. I'd love to play in Mordor.
For band contact and info visit