Redwood Hill

author AP date 26/01/20

Long at last, the Danish post-black / doom metal visionaries of Redwood Hill are set to return with their third studio album “Ender” in March (their first in nearly five years), so we seized the opportunity to chat with vocalist Marco Stæhr Hill about the new double-opus and the band’s plans for the future. We had not spoken in an interview setting since 2013, so there was a lot to discuss not only with regard to “Ender”, but also in terms of revisiting some of the visions he had for Redwood Hill and his feelings about the Danish metal scene in general around the release of the group’s début album “Descender”. It turned out to be an interesting conversation — see if you agree by reading the transcript below. It has been more than five years since your sophomore album "Collider" was released, so I think the most appropriate way to kick this off is by asking: what have you and the rest of the gang been up to in the past half a decade?
Marco: After the release of “Collider” we played concerts supporting the album, including Copenhell. Then we released a b-sides digital EP with 2 newly recorded tracks. And around 2 years ago, we started the process for the new album. We took a whole new recording approach that gave os a lot of freedom in this process. What was different about the recording process this time? I remember the last time we spoke at a bodega in Nørrebro in early 2013 just before your début album “Descender” came out, you told me that recording an album felt like what it must feel like for a woman to give birth - a long and painful process.

Marco: Well this time I guess it was like giving birth to twins. This time it is a double vinyl release with almost twice as much material on it. We definitely felt like we needed to take our time with this record. We took a DIY approach, which gave us the possibility of doing recordings and pre-production ourselves — toying with the composition of the songs, riff architecture and drum grooves. We have spent many hours toying around with microphones etc. in our own studio. This of course meant that the process was even longer and took a toll on us as a band. You actually also mentioned in that last interview we did that when you were recording "Descender", the producer was quite 'anal' with getting the sound to be exactly as he wanted it. Was it even more difficult now that you did it on your own?

Marco: We are definitely our own worst critics, no matter who we work with. On all 3 records we have strived to gain the sound that we feel suits the specific group of songs. For the final effort of the recording process and mix we worked with Patrick from Wolf Rider Sound Production, and Flemming Rasmussen did the mastering. Until "Ender" was officially announced earlier this week, I hadn't even realised that you had been creating a trilogy since "Descender". Did you envision it like that from the get-go or was it something that sort of fell into place along the way? What I mean by that is: did you always know it was going to be a trilogy, even before starting to work on "Descender"?
Marco: Before we recorded descender, we didn’t even know we were gonna record an album. Redwood Hill started as a creative free space where we could write the music we wanted without any outside expectations. We felt that the lyrical theme that ended up becoming “Descender” had the potential to be explored further. It ended up being 3 albums, but it was not intended that way from the beginning. It was something that evolved. When we wrote “Collider”, we were not even sure there would be a third album. It sounds like there is at least a loosely overarching theme spanning across the three albums then? Can you elaborate a bit on that? And on how you feel they all differ from one another as well?

Marco: Yes. The overall theme is emotional downfall and deterioration of the mind. “Ender” tells the part of the story following a descent into darkness (“Descender”) and the abstract protagonist’s collision with the bleak reality of perpetual suffering (“Collider”). “Ender” revolves around resolution. How do you feel your sound has evolved from “Descender” to “Ender”, in keeping with that story's development?

Marco: “Descender” had a very brutal and dark sound. On “Collider” we explored a more grandiose sound where we included strings and clean vocals. The new album takes a more raw, cold and melodic approach. What can fans of Redwood Hill expect from the upcoming new album?

Marco: The journey that the listener will undertake is a much longer journey. But we feel this record has a lot to offer. You will hear a record that sounds familiar, with all the sombre soundscapes that have defined Redwood Hill in the past, but they still have elements that make this record unique as well. Currently there are two release shows planned in early March when the record comes out. You once told me that you and the rest of the band made the conscious decision to play as few shows as possible in order to keep them feeling exclusive and to ensure you would always give your everything on stage. Is that still the philosophy and plan after "Ender" comes out?
Marco: Yes, our philosophy is still quality over quantity. Do you then try to pick gigs that have a more special feel about them - cool venues, exclusive festival appearances… that kind of thing?

Marco: Yes that’s our approach. It might not work every time, but it’s the ambition. Last year, you celebrated the fifth Anniversary of "Collider" by playing it in full at the “Night of the Black Attack” event in Copenhagen. Do you have any plans to do a full "Ender" performance as well in the near future? Or even more ambitiously, a marathon concert featuring the entire trilogy played live?

Marco: No, the “Collider” thing was a one-off. The trilogy marathon sounds like a really cool thing, but in practice, no one would survive that gig — neither band nor audience. When you released "Descender" in 2013, it was pretty much dead-on when the post-black metal / blackgaze scene exploded thanks to Deafheaven's "Sunbather", and today that style of music is more popular than ever. Do you feel like timing has been on your side in some way? And have you found inspiration in what some of the artists in the genre have done in the last six years or so?
Marco: We were never inspired musically by this genre. Our inspiration is rooted in bands like Will Haven, Cult of Luna and the Nordic black metal from the ’90s. There was a rise in the genre around the release of “Descender”, as you mention, so the timing was on our side for sure. We are very proud of being part of the Danish scene that exploded at that time and has produced so many great bands… but to be honest we are not directly inspired by anything in the genre. Do you feel more optimistic about the Danish metal scene today than you did in 2013? I recall you and Toby both felt at the time that there were too many metal bands here fighting for the same fans, and that not many people here even listened to metal.
Marco: The metal scene in Denmark — especially the darker part of the genre — is in a better state now than it has ever been. The DIY scene is also very strong. So yes, we are very optimistic. Do you feel that in some way Redwood Hill has played a part in achieving that, or led the way somehow?

Marco: That must be for others to decide. We have just done our own thing and kept to our own vision and concept. Again, when we spoke in 2013, you said you had nothing to lose with “Descender”, that you had already accomplished more than you thought you would even before releasing that album. Well, now you’re on the cusp of releasing your third full-length album - and a double album at that - so you must feel differently about everything now?
Marco: Well, now there is off course a legacy of sorts, and the risk is there to taint that. But our primary ambition has always been the music we write. If we were not 100% happy with the result, the album would not see the light of day. If this was to be our last record, we would be proud without regrets. So what will the next few months up until the release of "Ender" look like for the band? And then after the release?
Marco: Busy. We're working behind the scenes to get everything ready for release day. After the release we will play some shows. Some are still in planning, some are already confirmed. They will be announced soon. And lastly, do you have anything you want to add that we didn't cover already in order to get all the Redwood Hill fans hyped up for the upcoming release and concerts?
Marco: I think we covered it all. We hope to see many people for the release shows. It’s actually our first headline show, so we are very excited about that!

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