This is how Mother Earth would sound like if she ever was a real person and if she was totally into metal, and not just any genre of metal, but Black Metal. Botanist is exceptionally one of the most weird, yet most interesting sounding band I’ve ever came across with his rendition of black metal music. I wanted to know more about the band and how it came about; I was lucky to interview the man behind that one-man band project who goes by the name ‘Otrebor’.
For a quick background information about the band, Botanist was formed in 2009 in San Fransisco, USA. As I mentioned previously, it’s a one-man band project and the idea of the band as referred in the band’s Biography section in his official website:
“The songs of Botanist are told from the perspective of The Botanist, a crazed man of science who lives in self-imposed exile, as far away from Humanity and its crimes against Nature as possible. In his sanctuary of fantasy and wonder, which he calls the Verdant Realm, he surrounds himself with plants and flowers, finding solace in the company of the Natural world, and envisioning the destruction of man. There, seated upon his throne of Veltheimia, The Botanist awaits the time of humanity’s self-eradication, which will allow plants to make the Earth green once again.”
So, how did you get involved with metal music?
It was cool older kids that got me into metal. The first band I made a lasting connection was Iron Maiden, when I heard their Somewhere in Time album. I was still an Iron Maiden fan years later, but the only other kids who liked metal were into Poison, Motley Crue, Cinderella; all stuff that seemed wrong and silly to me. But I think they thought the same about what I was into!
Awesome, but Iron Maiden is pretty far away from black metal, how did black metal came into your life?
It was a transition form; let’s call it traditional metal, to progressively more extreme styles. I got into melodic doom next – like Candlemass, then some death metal – Vader and Bolt Thrower, and finally got into black metal when I heard Immortal. At the Heart of Winter was the album that did it, and looking back it always seems like an ideal and obvious gateway album for someone to get into black metal with. It’s got aspects of traditional metal to it, but the extremity and atmosphere of black metal. Plus Immortal is unquestionably one of the best, most important black metal bands of all time, and probably my personal favourite ever, so hearing an album made by a great band at a great time in its career was perfect timing for someone who wanted to get into black metal but wasn’t finding anything that clicked at the time.
Immortal is a pretty hardcore Black metal band, but when did the idea of Botanist came along. And what made you think that Black Metal would be the best choice?
I connect with the particular black metal aesthetic of the reverence of nature and the romanticizing of its primeval forces. To lose oneself in such real places and for its unfathomable magnitude to offer not only peace, but a humbling of the self, of each of our individual insignificances in relation to it, made channelling those themes through the medium of black metal an obvious choice for me.
Tell me more about your band structure, and why would you use a Hammered dulcimer and Drums only? Does it give more of an Organic sound to your music ?
As you may know, Botanist progressed from being a one-man project to being a live, touring band. We are five people on stage, with 2 dulcimers, a 12-string bass guitar, drums, and a harmonium. A bass hammered dulcimer was also custom made and has been used on some recordings to be published in the future, but at this time the logistics of touring with the instruments we have now are difficult enough. If the demand for Botanist reaches that of Therion‘s, for example, we will rethink making the bass dulcimer a regular component of the shows.
The hammered dulcimer was an obvious choice for Botanist as the instrument totally rules. I’m a drummer and playing such an instrument comes the most naturally to me, plus it has a delicate quality that evokes classical melody and harmony, of old traditions musical and cultural.
How long did it take you to learn the dulcimer and to keep in sync with playing the Drums?
Every musician has his or her weak and strong points. One of my particular strong points is being able to hit things in time, and particularly to do so while playing to a click track. I dedicated years of my development to practising exclusively to a click, and it paid off in a major way to recording records, particularly by myself. Thus, transferring that skill to another percussion-based instrument was highly intuitive.
And there you have it, your first black metal band with a genuine cause to speak for nature and to stop destroying it.