The onslaught of killer Metal is at times unrelenting, so rather than try to be across everything, when you hear something that grabs your attention, it’s worth making sure you give it your full attention! When I heard the single, Forgotten (Remnants of Life) by Progressive Death Metal band Sunless from Minnesota, from their soon to be released album YLEM (29 October on Willotip Records), I knew straight away that this would be something worth checking out. I am Steve from Aussie Death Thrash band, Aeons Abyss , and here is my interview with Sunless
Introduce yourself, who is in your band, and when did you first start?
Sunless is Mitch Schooler (bass), Lucas Scott (guitar, vocals), Taylor Hamel (drums). Mitch started writing songs in June of 2014 for what would become Sunless and was joined shortly thereafter by Andrew Notsch on guitar and Ben Iburg on drums. Lucas joined the band on guitar and vocals in late 2015, completing the lineup. Notsch left the band in July of 2016 and Sunless continued as a trio. Ben left the band during the summer of 2018 and was replaced by Taylor a few months later. We’ve kept the same lineup since.
Sunless is a name that inspires a bleak landscape. Why did you choose this name and how does it influence the band?
Mitch and Notsch each had lists of potential band names. We were preparing to play shows and needed to make a decision regarding the name. We disliked Sunless the least! We also thought it conveyed the atmosphere of the music we were writing, but that wasn’t a huge consideration.
Your sophomore album “Ylem” releases on 29 October 2021. What are 3 things we need to know about this release?
1. Ylem is our first album on Willowtip Records and our first with Taylor in the band.
2. Writing for Ylem began in early 2017 before Urraca was even released.
3. About half of the songs on Ylem were written while Ben was still in the band and before Taylor joined. The approach to drum composition for the later songs was unique since the existing drum parts needed to be taken into consideration along with Taylor’s new stylistic contributions to the band.
The style and composition of your songs is genuinely progressive. What is the band’s approach to songwriting?
Mitch and Lucas compose each of their own songs on both guitar and bass before sending them to the rest of the band. Taylor will then compose drums and Mitch/Lucas will learn their respective bass/guitar parts. We all learn the songs on our own before ever playing them together. From there, details are tweaked based on how the songs sound at rehearsal.
From the singles already released, the recording and mix has a nice organic feel, with good space and dynamics. The heaviness is genuine, whilst also capturing the complexity of the music? Who did you work with during the recording process and how much of a hand did you have in shaping the final sound?
We tracked at Signaturetone Recording in Minneapolis with Adam Tucker, same as with our last album, Urraca. His process is very fluid and he’s incredibly adept at capturing sounds and performances. We sent it to be mixed and mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in New York. Colin has a unique production style we feel is well suited for our music. He made creative decisions early in the mixing process, which shaped the overall sound of the album. Tucker and Marston are a killer combo so we continued to work with them on Ylem. Ultimately, we achieved the sound we wanted for the new album over several months and many rounds of mix notes while working remotely through the pandemic.
What is your favourite track and why?
We don’t have a favorite song on the new album. Each of them has certain unique qualities that come together to make up the totality of the record. There are parts that each of us enjoy in our own way. There are also sections that we like listening to and others that might be the most fun or difficult to play. They don’t always go hand in hand so it’s impossible to pick favorites, really.
Your album artwork is really captivating and will transfer very nicely to coloured vinyl! Who did the artwork and what is the meaning behind the image?
Andrew Notsch (Hollowdusk) contributed all of the artwork, design, album concept, and lyrics for Ylem. The end of Urraca has a displaced group of people stepping through a portal. Ylem explores what is within and beyond that portal and the experiences of those who pass through it. The artwork depicts what they’ve encountered on their journey.
What can you tell us about your label, Willowtip Records?
They allow us full creative freedom, which we highly value. They’ve put together an impressive roster of bands and releases over the years that we’re thrilled to be a part of.
Tell us an unusual fact, or one funny story about your band.
One of the songs on Ylem got its name in part due to a story involving Lucas, a bicycle race, 30-ish beers, and a box of cereal.
What have you got coming up in the next 6 -12 months?
In the near future we’d like to start working with a booking agency to help bring our music to more people in new places. We’d love to play some festivals and bigger tours both in the US and abroad. For now, we’ll be self-booking some shorter tours and continuing to work on our third album.
Last question – What is your take on the vastness of space and the recent acknowledgment by governments that UFOs exist?
The universe is almost certainly inhabited by many forms of life outside of our biosphere. We look forward to the day that we get proof of that.
Feature photo by Andy Wilcox