Musicscan: Give our readers a short briefing about Oathbreaker, please. What have you guys currently been up to?
Oathbreaker: For the people who haven't heard of us yet: Oathbreaker is a belgian band, that plays metal influenced hardcore not unlike Cursed, From Ashes Rise, etc. We released a self titled 7” on the British label Thirty Days Of Night Records in 2008 and earlier this year our debut full album Mælstrøm came out on Deathwish Inc., as well as a split 7" with Amenra.
Musicscan: How did you first get involved in hardcore, punk, crust, metal, etc...? What is your background? Where you in any previous bands noteworthy to mention before you started with Oathbreaker 2008?
Oathbreaker: Personally I started listening to metal at the age of 12 or 13, as bands like metallica, megadeth, pantera,... were then pretty much mainstream bands and if you switched on MTV that was what you saw. A couple of years later some guys at my high school introduced me to the straight edge and the then booming H8000 scene. Hardcore had more appeal to me at the time as it claimed to be something more than just music. I liked that. I played in a band called Liar for a while, which might ring a bell to some. I met the other members of Oathbreaker at shows as they were all part of that same H8000 crew. That is pretty much done with right now, but was responsible for a very active hardcore scene in Belgium for over a decade.
Musicscan: As you were forming Oathbreaker what was influencing the direction you would take the band?
Oathbreaker: We liked a certain kind of music and wanted to do something similar, but this was never anayzed or talked about too much, we just did it. We only very rarely have doubts whether a certain riff or song fits Oathbreaker. This usually comes very naturally.
Musicscan: What is the most significant way signing Deathwish has affected your band? A lot of bands would love to be on Deathwish, and you made it – so, what is it like? What are the benefits?
Oathbreaker: I believe being on Deathwish Inc. is one of the best things that could happen to a band in our style of music as it gets your music out to exactly the right people. There's much less of a struggle for getting noticed between the multitude of bands that are begging for attention. Many people see Deathwish Inc. as a quality label and this will urge them to check out your music without having heard or seen your band before. Also Deathwisch Inc. gets your music to a far more international audience than would have been the case had we been on a Belgian or European label.
Musicscan: What's your attitude towards Oathbreaker in general? I noticed that you are a highly professional working band regarding the music, but that you at the same time continue with your DIY-mentality, right?
Oathbreaker: I take that as a compliment, but unfortunately, I don't think the term "highly professional" applies to Oathbreaker in any way. We definitely do the best we can to make good music and run the band in an orderly and smooth way, but we're not quite there yet. We're still learning a lot through trial and error. We have no choice but to do most things ourselves or have them done by close friends as this is financially the only way for a band of our size to survive.
Musicscan: Some of todays heavy hardcore bands seem to miss originality and passion, but Oathbreaker has tons of both and i'm impressed every time i listen to your music. Is it just a question of the right attitude towards music? Is there something you miss within the heavy music scene?
Oathbreaker: Thank you for the kind words. We're definitely passionate about what we do, but I guess other bands are too, so I don't know if that's where the difference lies. I don't want to sound like I'm on my high horse, but given today's easy accessibility to music, I don't think anyone in Oathbreaker still makes a mental division between heavy music and other genres. So if there would be things that we're missing, we can easily get them elsewhere.
Musicscan: Do you feel that Oathbreaker already has found its "own" sound, or is it still evolving? And do you feel that „Maelstrom“ is a pretty good representation of bands sounding as of right now, or did bands sound already change since you recorded those tracks?
Oathbreaker: It might sound like a cliché, but I don't think our sound will ever stop evolving. After releasing Maelstrom, we recorded a song called Agartha for a split 7" with Amenra and there we feel we like we expanded our sound more, with cleaner and more noisy parts.
Musicscan: „Maelstrom“ covers a lot of bases musically - there's something for everyone of hardcore, crust, punk and even metal. Were you going for a more inclusive approach or is it an intentionell drive to you to make the songs as varied musically as possible?
Oathbreaker: A lot of times when I listen to heavy records, I get bored a few tracks into the album because too many songs sound the same. This was something we wanted to prevent and we kept this in mind when writing songs for Maelstrom. We never had to really force anything though. The songs more or less selected themselves and this natural selection sounded varied enough to us.
Musicscan: Describe the songwriting process, please. Your songs are incredible interesting but rarely ever stay in one place for too long...
Oathbreaker: Writing songs for Maelstrom was a very slow process as we're not a band that practices on a regular basis. We all take part in writing the songs, so maybe that's another reason why they sound so varied. Our bassist Gilles would at times come to practice with an entire song written already, but mostly we have a bunch of loose ideas and jam on them for a while and then see what happens. If they don't feel right, they go straight to the garbage bin, but if we like them, they can lead to a song.
Musicscan: What bands do you consider to be truly inspiring to you? Do you think that your songwriting is affected by the music you hear, or do you try not to be influenced by that?
Oathbreaker: One band that I find particulary inspiring is Converge. I'm not merely talking on a musical level, but to me they are a wonderful example of a band that still manages to sound fresh, even after 20 years. There's so many bands that make a couple of interesting albums and then either start repeating themselves over and over or start making totally mental shit that no one cares about. Converge sets really high standards for themselves, also sound and performance-wise. Their hard work is a great source of inspiration for a band like us, that's just starting out.
As far as songwriting's concerned, we're definitely influenced by what we hear. I can't imagine how we could block out those influences.
Musicscan: What message where you trying to portray through "Maelstrom" lyrically? Do you feel you were successful in this respect?
Oathbreaker: Lyrically, each song on the album is based on a specific tarot card. This was something that really fascinated our singer Caro at the time of writing. The song Glimpse Of The Unseen, for instance, is based on the card Ten of Swords, which symbolizes failure and disaster. After some songs were finished, we came to the conclusion that Caro had picked a lot of cards that have negative connotations, and that's why the album was named Maelstrom. This alludes to the feeling of being trapped in a downward spiral. We have no intention of continuing this theme in future songs, but I think for this album it worked out well.