Interview with Dr. Sludgelove

THC: Our guest is Dr Sludgelove, hi guys!

DS: Hi!

THC: Among the readers, there are people who already know you as creators of the album ‘My Space Odyssey’, about which we will talk soon. But first, let’s talk about who you are. Please introduce yourself.

Jani Papp: We’ve been playing together for about a year. The whole thing started based on my idea. I started listening to this kind of music a few years back and it caught my fancy. Then I thought I would make an album. After it was ready, I thought it would be great to perform it live. I asked Attila, with whom we’ve known each other since…

Attila: 2004.

Jani Papp: 2004, from college years. Then we found Jani Paronai as the drummer. The style was chosen because it is genuine and free of things that try to commercialize music, it is more about true emotions.

Attila: What I would like to add is that when you play genres of music that focus on virtuosity, you need to invest a lot of time to practice, during performance you need to focus heavily so it becomes less instinctive. We had this experience in the past, we started writing things that we weren’t able to play and we realized it was a problem. In contrast to that, our current style is more about instincts and it is easier to get things through.

Jani Paronai: Despite that, I am trying to bring challenging drum grooves, and I feel I have improved a lot since I joined this band. You need to learn how to play in a band, it is much more than just practicing behind a drum kit. You need to pay attention to others, adapt, and get the most out of a rehearsal or a concert.

THC: I promised that we will talk about ‘My Space Odyssey’. Which is your favorite song from the album, and why?

Jani Papp: Maybe HAL-9000, it is pretty psychotic, it is my personal favorite. Unfortunately we don’t play the ending live.

Jani Paronai: Yeah that’s some complex music. There’s also Alone into the Void. I believe structure-wise it is the most complicated one, and it is really heavy.

Attila: To me, well, we actually play songs from two albums. The second one is also Jani Papp’s brain child, it’s about the Kraken mythology. It has an opus called ‘War’, which is my favorite. It is a relatively fast song, with complex parts, it is the one that hits the hardest during shows.

THC: As Attila mentioned, the second album is going to revolve around the Kraken mythology. How did you come up with the concept?

Jani Papp: I saw this video of a chemistry experiment where someone poured some kind of material into a bowl and these awful tentacles and horns began to grow out of it. In the meantime the children to whom this experiment was shown, became mesmerized and started yelling “Kraken!”. By the way we included this as a sample in the intro of the first song. The material for the album was kind of ready in a few days, it was quite obvious what kind of pieces it needed. We’ve been polishing it a lot since then though, now that we started playing the songs during rehearsals. By the way, we started recording it a few months ago.

Jani Paronai: Last summer, actually.

Attila: Yeah there is going to be a slight delay. One reason is that during recording new ideas came up. I will take this opportunity to thank Zoli Bereczki for the work, he also gave us a lot of good ideas on how to improve the album.

THC: What to expect from the new album music-wise? Will it be fully instrumental? Are you going to use a different arrangement than guitar/bass/drums/samples?

Jani Papp: It is going to be even simpler than the previous one, it is going to be very heavy and dirty. Song will be long (the first one is around 12 minutes). There will be less of the “progressive” elements, but yes, there will be samples.

THC: How about after the album? Will you continue pursuing this style? Are you going to experiment?

Jain Papp: We have an agreement within the band that we will continue doing concept albums in the future. We already started working on an idea, and write songs together, which points to a direction that is more progressive, and involves different styles of music. And it is going to be more complex because multiple people are working on it.

Attila: The basics of the genre (by which I mean mostly sludge) will continue to provide the foundation, and everyone will throw their own ideas into the mix, which will add more spice. A number of people gave feedback that they miss vocals from live shows. This might be because we haven’t experimented with visuals yet. And if you observe those who play a similar style without a front man, visuals can improve the experience. So most probably we are going to take this route, and with visual elements, we can compensate for the lack of vocals.

Jani Papp: Attila might start doing vocals. Or we might find a good vocalist.

Jani Paronai: We might, although it is hard to find a vocalist with a good voice. Currently I can’t tell what kind of vocal style fits our music.

Jani Papp: Yes, that’s another open question.

Jani Paronai: It’s something to think through, whether it’s melodic, or melodic mixed with a hint of metalcore. It’s to be determined in the future.

Attila: And let’s say when there’s an instrumental part: what does the front man do? Dream Theater, for instance: he just goes off stage during a 12-minute instrumental mayhem, or he grabs a scooter and starts rolling around on stage. These are intriguing questions and we’ll see what the future holds.

THC: Instead of asking the concept of the 3rd album (that would be ruining the surprise, wouldn’t it?), let me ask you about your inspirations in writing music besides movies and chemical experiments.

Jani Paronai: The love of music itself is a great inspiration. When the three of us come together and start playing our instruments, we come up with something, that we record and incubate, think about how we can improve it, rehearsal by rehearsal. This is already a great feeling.

Attila: I have this point of view – which might be true for all of us -, that playing this music is a great opportunity to channel everyday frustration. When it comes to playing riffs, it boils down to your emotions and tension. Jani Paronai mentioned Alone in the Void, the riffs of which I have put together. That is the only piece on My Space Odyssey that was built on other things than Jani Papp’s ideas. When you listen to it, you can imagine what kind of emotions I’ve been dealing with at the time.

Jani Papp: Yeah, chemical experiments, and other concepts. We have a full story, like we have the concept of the 3rd album (which we keep as a secret for now), we split it into episodes. We can already feel the vibe of these episodes (which we can now call songs). Then we either apply the method Jani Paronai mentioned – rehearsal, jam, and inserting ideas into one of the songs -, or we try to figure out something driven by the vibe. I’ve been ok with this methodology so far. Obviously, you have phases when you are hooked on songwriting. To me it’s quite hectic. Sometimes there’s nothing for 6 months, then suddenly something changes and then I make a lot of progress in a week. Sometimes I just sit down and play the guitar, record the riff, incubate it, and return to it after two years, and then it becomes a song. Long story short, concept driven and Lego building are the two main methodologies.

THC: So basically, you want to tell a story with your music, as you did with My Space Odyssey, and will do with the Kraken. Do you have preferences in topics or

Jani Papp: I like to watch movies that have value, in the story, in the visuals, something that makes you want to keep watching.

Attila: What I would like to add is that concepts like these come with an advantage that if you have a good riff you don’t have to think too much what you want to say with it: you have a story you split up into let’s say 10 parts, and it determines what kinds of songs need to be written. Back to your question, in terms of interests, I’m like Jani Papp, I’m interested in everything. A few weeks ago I was reading about the indigenous people of Easter Island. They have their own mythology. It’s not very popular, but people living in different parts of the world have their own stories and you can learn a lot from them. Another example I totally dig is Mastodon, they have concepts from myths, and they fuse them with the events of their own lives, resulting in real sick stories. I love their albums. And after my brain finished processing the music, I started to listen to the lyrics and understand what their albums are really about. It is extra value when you reach this point and realize there’s a story underneath and what it’s about… it gives a new angle to the music.

Jani Paronai: Every story that has a weight, can potentially become a concept from our perspective. To me, the most interesting stories are from reality, from human history, I would like to adapt some of those. It’s because all major events in history have their weight and they can be represented in a form of art, such as World War I and World War II. I’m mostly interested in wars.

Attila: I’ve recently watched a video on the history of cyberpunk. Some of my favorite filmes are closely related to this style. You shouldn’t call it science fiction, it’s a separate genre with its own story of how it formed, and its own fanbase. I’m also planning to read books on the topic, which will probably inspire me in the songwriting process.

Jani Papp: Earlier we were thinking about Planet of the Apes, which is a classic science fiction. I love that franchise. And also The Duel by Spielberg, it has a great vibe. That would be great base material, too.

THC: Speaking of science fiction: you can see a number of prophecies that may or may not have been proven true. And in the 21st century, there are some achievements that were not foreseen. What do you think of the technological progress humanity has made so far?

Jani Papp: To me, the most astonishing things in the foreseeable future are smart implants. For example you have a chip in your brain that projects personal messages to your vision. I think this is mind blowing and I cannot imagine the implications it might have. Sometimes I feel like the physical world is being digitized at an unhealthy level. So I’m a bit concerned about this, although I have to admit there are advantages to progress in technology.

Jani Paronai: By the way, we could write a song about Nikola Tesla.

Jani Papp: That’s a great idea!

Jani Paronai: Because looking back in history, since he passed away, technology has made a 3- or 4-fold leap. By 2020 we have reached a level that it is quite impossible to imagine what will happen by 100 years from now.

Jani Papp: Yeah, progress is exponential.

Attila: Back to Tesla, the AC electric engine he invented, has only recently become a real thing in cars, which is quite contrary to the idea of fast progress. My view is that there are some contradictions. An example is artificial intelligence (AI), which gets a lot of hype nowadays, but it can only be used for things that can be translated to algorithms. Humans do a lot of things that cannot. So we are very far from humans being replaced by AI. There are some smart people who say the contrary, such as Raymond Kurzweil has this book The Singularity Is Near, in which he predicts that AI will start to improve itself at a level where progress accelerates to a level incomprehensible by the human brain. And this intelligence might figure out that we humans are harmful to this planet so it should exterminate us. But we are far from this point. On the other hand, there are some novelties that are actually interesting to me. Quantum computers, for instance, and energetics, new sources of power, that make fossil energy totally replaceable. I agree with Jani Papp that digitization can kill human related aspects, connections. Despite the fact that we are so connected on the Internet, in real life we become more separated.

THC: Can you imagine a time when people become fans of music generated by AI?

Jani Papp: Definitely

Jani Paronai: Yes.

Attila: Looking at current pop performers, this is already the case. There’s a guy who is experimenting with feeding music samples of industrial metal to a neural network. There’s even a live stream where this music is continuously generated. You can hear it’s not flawless, but there are already enjoyable parts. We might not yet be ready mentally for this to fully appreciate it.

THC: Last question. Is humanity doomed?

Jani Papp: If the current trends continue, in 100 years our bodies will diminish and we end up in tanks like in the Matrix, our minds uploaded to a server. And we will remote control robots.

Jani Paronai: Human evolution will become negligible because robots will do everything for us. The endeavors to accelerate and to control the whole planet. People will reach a point where people become completely motionless, and they eventually become spheres.

Attila: In terms of morals, humanity is on a downward spiral, and would deserve extinction. It would probably benefit Earth. Thinking about the timeline of Earth and the Universe though, it seems that we are only a glitch in the system. If human extinction becomes a reality in a thousand years, or a million, it doesn’t matter from the Universe’s point of view. Whether we become spheres, or we remain creatures on their feet, we will see.

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