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Laurie Shanaman & Aesop Dekker (of Ludicra) Interview

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Black metal is a strange thing, to a certain sects of fan it can take on entirely different meanings and embody a completely different lifestyle. Take a comparison between the Norwegian band Immortal and San Francisco’s Ludicra for example. Essentially, there is no comparison to be made yet both are termed black metal. One grew as apart of a new breed of metal, which lauded itself as distinct, bearing unabashed vocals, corpse paint and more spiked jewelry than you can shake a stick at. The other however comes as a reaction to over the top theatrics and an under-produced unrefined mystique. Since the band’s beginning in 1998 Ludicra have been riffling a furious wave of energy that stands as strong evidence that San Francisco’s core is far from soft. In this interview drummer Aesop Dekker and vocalist Laurie Shanaman about the band’s experimental history, its relationship with its historically non-metal label and where the corpse paint has gone.

A lot of bands have had something crucial in their history that lends itself to a metaphor for the band’s existence. What does it mean to Ludicra to have formed on Halloween and are there any special plans for the band’s upcoming anniversary?

Aesop Dekker: The fact that we started playing under the name of Ludicra on Halloween is of little significance. However, every Halloween we play in San Francisco, this year with our friends Asunder, Keen of the Crow, and Aldebaran.

Laurie Shanaman: I forgot Ludicra formed on Halloween, but I wasn’t in the band yet at that time.

Since the rise of the band’s popularity it seems that Ludicra has been accepted outside of the traditional realm of black metal fan. What do you attribute this cross-genre fan base to?

Aesop Dekker: I wasn’t aware of this rise in popularity, but I think Ludicra appeals to a wide variety of people because we aren’t so rigid and genre specific in our approach. We don’t set out to be this or that, we just do Ludicra.

Laurie Shanaman: We love black metal music and it was/is a big influence but as we get older, we also feel the need for experimentation and growth.

Likewise, the band has built a relationship with a typically non-metal label, Alternative Tentacles, and has found success in doing so. How has AT helped the band when comparing it to a strictly metal label?

Aesop Dekker: People often ask this, but Alternative Tentacles does have a history of putting out eclectic music, and some heavy stuff as well that we adore like Neurosis, Amebix, Zeni Geva and Logical Nonsense. With a regular “metal” labels we’d be more likely to get lost in the roster. AT is run by a small group of folks that are available and very supportive of Ludicra.

Laurie Shanaman: Yes, it seems AT is an eclectic label for an eclectic metal band!

After examining the band’s lyrical content, it becomes hard to really place a finger on an ongoing topical base. What would you note as being the greatest ongoing theme throughout the band’s music?

Aesop Dekker: The theme is real life. We write about what we know and deal with day to day, depression, life in the city, relationships, drug addictions, our friends dying, happy things like that. We couldn’t see ourselves writing about forests and Satan, it’s not us and would just get old fast.

Laurie Shanaman: Life’s encounters living and struggling in the city is usually what I write about; forms of chemical depression, dreams, mistakes made, etc.

What is contributing to many black metal bands shifting away from corpse paint and gruesome lyrics?

Aesop Dekker: Perhaps boredom. The genre is too over-saturated with generic bands and rigid rules to remain interesting for any length of time; probably why many of the genres founders have left it behind. I still find some interesting bands here and there but these are the ones willing to take risks or just do it by instinct rather than trod the paths laid out by Darkthrone. It happened to punk as well, too many bands and very little difference between them.

Laurie Shanaman: I’m not sure if I’d be able to write lyrics any other way. The music (of Ludicra) sounds more moody and dark to me then evil and scary. Both Aesop and I write the lyrics for Ludicra and this is the way that follows the mood of our music best. Our bass player Ross is excellent at writing gruesome lyrics in his other bands Impaled and Ghoul.

What has been the your most surreal moment on stage?

Aesop Dekker: There has been a few. My favorite was a show we played in Flagstaff at this house and these kids were crammed into this small house just going nuts, tearing the place apart while we played. They were everywhere, in between us, under drums, just freaking out. I’ve seen people weep while we play, they get very emotional.

Laurie Shanaman: I’ve slipped into another zone a few times playing live, I would forget where I was for a minute, I guess this happens often. Sweating out your demons is a very surreal feeling indeed. That Flagstaff show was crazy indeed, I almost fainted that night from the heat or lack of air, then the cops shut it down..

If Ludicra had one last show to play together, who would you most like to share the stage with?

Aesop Dekker: Madonna.

Laurie Shanaman: Weakling and/or Acid Bath, if they still existed.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]