You guys are playing here in LA tonight. Do you have any type of "ritual" you do before starting the gig, to get prepared for it?
A: We don’t have much time to do it usually but, it’s more like, as I always say, the ritual is the concert in itself. So, of course we would like to be prepared a little bit, a 5 minute meditation if possible… but as I said before most of the time on tour, you can’t do that. So yeah… the ritual will be the music in itself.
Have you ever had a bit of nervousness before the concerts and if yes, do you still have it?
M: Not nervous but it is always important to play and to perform. But no, I never felt nervous before playing.
A: Me neither… it’s more like … being enthusiastic about it.
S: Can’t wait to play…
M: When you are on your, the best moment of the day is when you play, that’s why we are doing this. We want to play this music. And we have to drive 8 hours per day to do it. So no, there is no nervousness.
But have you ever felt like that?
M: Depends… when it’s a big venue, with a lot of people…
A: Or you have to set-up very quickly and you are all sweaty before you [even] play something… it’s not being nervous but being too busy to focus on things. I remember when we opened for Faust in NY a few years ago, that was for the WFMU Festival. It was not that I was nervous but at that moment we were supposed to play and nothing was “fixed” … “Oh, what is going to happen now?” But that’s part of the deal you know?
Your music is very deep and emotional. Do you get to a certain state of mind when playing and if yes, how do you get there?
A: I think that’s induced by the music in itself. It’s written that way… to provoke that. You said our music is emotional, I’m not so sure about that. I mean, that’s not the way we envision things. It’s more physical to us…more vibratory. And then, the emotions [we leave] to the listener. Of course we do feel something when we play but, the way to reach this point will be to empty ourselves. So in this case there will be no more room for emotions. So, the basis of this is more a sensation then emotions.
M: It’s very physical… even if we don’t move and jump everywhere. What do I have in mind ? I’m just in the instant… We know what we have to do. We do it. We listen to each other. We are into the sound… really into the sound.
S: We are triggered by the sound… move it into the right direction… that’s the only thing we have to do.
A: We need to manipulate some forces but at least for me and I think everybody in the band agrees, before playing we have to empty our minds to let the forces come in. So then, you are able to reach this state. This is it.
Do you use a lot of improvisation during the gigs? If yes, how do you coordinate improvisation and structure?
A: No, it’s pretty much all written, what we play.
M: Everything is written. Even if it can be different every night, sometimes there is some space of freedom, but everything is written.
We talked enough about the live experience so; let’s talk a bit about the band name. You have talked about it before and about what it means (this place in Indonesia). But I would like to know: what that name means to you? Because it has to have some kind of meaning to you, personally… right?
A: Definitely. The first thing to know is that this name was brought by Matthieu, after his trip there…
M: I discovered this name during my first trip in Indonesia,13 years ago. It’s the name the pre-christian religion of the land of Toraja. For me, what Aluk Todolo means is that we try to play prime music… the music of ages. We are doing it with rock instruments but it could be with stones, it could be voice only, but we are doing it this way now… it’s like cavemen music maybe…
A: The meaning of Aluk Todolo is the way of the ancestors. The way we envision this is like, trying to remove everything that is contextual in the rock music. So, if you remove all these elements that are more about aesthetics you end up with something very primordial, which is indeed sort of timeless but could exist in any society, in a sense. It’s not the response to the modern world or against it… It’s something that is here… part of the forces of the universe.
Part of the forces of the universe… so do you think this music is coming more from yourselves or somewhere else?
A: Well, it’s more like that. Something we translate. Like I said, in order to play this music, you have to empty our mind. In the end what remains is the personality of the musician. It will be his physical shape. I mean, to me, as a drummer, I feel it like that. That’s what makes the difference… the singularity of the music, the shape of the body of the musicians.
But where would you say your music is coming from?
A: It comes from the 3 of us. We began something 13 years ago and it’s coming from the 3 of us and it is rising from us. There is no intellectual explanation for it. Especially now that we are on tour: we are playing this every night and it becomes organic and natural to do this music. This alchemy is a “miracle” in a way; we just met, we’ve known each other for more than 20 years now ; we got further with this idea…
S: There is no specific band for inspiration, just mainly things that go through us, nothing specific, just life.
Talking about triggers…. There is something coming from within but are there also any external factors that trigger the writing process?
M: It’s always hard to answer this type of question because I think it is different for each one of us. Of course, when I think of my life as a musician, I find inspiration in a lot of things. I’ve met people that have inspired me: new meetings give me new perspectives. But, is hard to explain because it outcomes from the 3 of us, our daily lives or so. For example: the 3 of us are fathers now. It’s something very new. I think it will bring new perspectives to us because it is a new relationship to life. How our music will be after this I don’t know. We will put this as life force and put it in the music.
Going back to the start: how did it all begin? Because, it is after all, a very unusual type of sound.
M: It started a long time ago. We started playing music together; we were teenagers, 15 years old, playing black metal. We made demos, and a few albums with that black metal band and it moved slowly.Then some albums really changed us, like the Tony Conrad & Faust album, The Psychic Paramount... Trance music. And so we began to play this way, leaving the black metal codes, the scene and its folklore… and went into the purity of sound.
When you play you have a lamp in the center of the stage. Is it only a prop or does it symbolize something else to you?
M: It’s about fire. It’s like our “electric fireplace”, a vibrant light connected to the sound.
This is your first US tour. Is this still a territory to be further explored?
M: It’s the third time we come to the US, but the first on the west coast.It has been a great tour so far. We are very proud to play in NY at the Stardust festival where we had two gigs and played two albums : Voix and Occult Rock.
S: We have had the chance to play with some great people that made all this work to make it happen. We are playing with Insect Ark … people who have been doing music for a very long time… Also working with Nate from Eternal Warefare and Stefan from Stardust, true dedicated spirits.
M: And here in the West Coast is special, even in the black metal scene. Some very special vibes… Yesterday we played with Dispirit, a very important band for us, because John Gossard from Dispirit used to play with Weakling and The Gault which are both very big inspirations for us. So it’s good to be here.
S: We released The Gault album in 2005 on our label AMORTOUT productions.
If tonight was your last concert… how would you like to leave the gig feeling like and how would you like the crowd to leave the gig feeling like.
M: I speak for myself… every time we play, I feel like it’s the last show. We just try to play the best way we can. If it reaches one person or 500 people, it’s good for me. I don’t have expectations on the crowd. I cannot think like that. It’s impossible…
S: It’s the same as when we say we don’t give emotion to people…With the music we play we move it, we make it the shape we want but, that’s it.
M: Every concert can be the last one. It’s not just another gig. I don’t think of the next gig. It’s tonight… always tonight. It’s an “instant” [type of] music. So, maybe it’s the last gig tonight (laughs).
S: Music is very interesting because one of this aspects of time and instant. Time is related to perception. It’s not like a photograph or a painting. You don’t have only texture but the notion of time gives [the listener] something very broad.
Anything you would like to bring up to the people reading this interview?
A: We have a new record coming up very soon. It’s a compilation of weird experiments. It’s called “Archives Vol. 1”. We are pretty happy with it.
M: It’s from the beginning… the first years.
A: It’s from the first 10 years, 8 tracks…
M: It will be released at the end of March. And we will be on tour in Europe from april 18th to 30th with Oranssi Pazuzu.
Thank you guys for this interview.
For more information:
Website : http://www.amortout.com/aluktodolo/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/aluktodoloofficial/
bandcamp : https://aluktodolo.bandcamp.com/
Archives Vol.1 cover : http://www.amortout.com/aluktodolo/img/archives-vol.1.jpg
Band photo : http://www.amortout.com/aluk-todolo_archives_vol.1-3.jpg
Tour poster : http://www.amortout.com/aluktodolo/img/aluktodolo-april-tour-april-2017-lightning.gif