Subterranea: Stoneburner lay themselves bare

We quiz Stoneburner guitarist Elijah Boland about the band's soul-wringing new album, Life Drawing, and reveal a colossal new track.

Sired in the Portland, Oregon underground scene, the close-knit entity that is Stoneburner have recently released their second, scabrously cathartic album, Life Drawing, via Neurosis’s Neurot Recordings and not only do we have an insightful interview with guitarist Elijah Boland, we’re also reposting the track, An Apology To A Friend In Need.

Life Drawing is an intense record, how do you prepare yourself for recording such harrowing material? Do you then have to detach yourself from it afterwards or is that pain something that you carry on a more constant basis?

“I think that the preparation comes naturally through being. It’s a difficult thing to be in touch with your feelings and be able to express them, and another thing entirely to do that with three other people who may or may not be on the same page as you at any given time. Add expressing those feelings over and over in a dank, mouldy basement for months and months, and then again in front of strangers x amount of times, and you kind of build a tolerance for your own raw nerves. As far as the after-effect of having laid bare your soul on wax and on the stage and how it’s dealt with, well, the muse never shows signs of needing a vacation, so we carry on.”

What can you tell us about what the title ‘Life Drawing’ means to you?

“It’s a phrase that, to us, simply means, here is a piece of art that could be a one second glimpse into the life we have made for ourselves in the world we were given. As for the hour of music and words we are trying to put you through, it means everything. Life Drawing has been, for the last year and a half, our life.”

The record seems to have a distinctive narrative, one that has a definite beginning, middle and end – is that something you were aiming for or something that emerged on a more organic level?

“It was very organic. We don’t consciously avoid ideas that feel forced, or ideas that could be perceived as conceptual, but our source material is a constant, and the mood that pushes us tends to fall into the darker realms. The beginning, middle and end flow of the record was merely the hand of fate aligning the songs in a way that fate saw fit to feel fluid.”

The cover for the record is really quite striking, how does it connect to the central themes of the album and how did it come together?

“Again, it came together very organically. Our very good friend and brother in despair JJ Shirey, an extremely accomplished visual artist, did our last record cover as well. They were conceived and executed the same way. We give him a page or two of the lyrics we are working on and have him sit in on a few practices and give him a couple themes and ideas we have in mind. For Life Drawing, he came up with something that was based solely on his perception of the music he heard, and we couldn’t be happier.”

You’re often compared to greats such as Neurosis and Eyehategod – are those comparisons that you’re happy with? How does that analogy then help or hinder Stoneburner?

“Well, I would be lying if I said those kinds of comparisons didn’t help on some level. Also, that is a hell of a compliment to be compared to the greats of the genre. Pioneers of metal. We strive to be unique, without eschewing the opportunity to show our influences once in awhile. But you have to draw comparison somewhere. It could be worse…”

Heed Stoneburner’s Facebook page here.

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.