Let's go back to 2011, to when Andy Curtis-Brignell signed the death warrant for his solo, black metal of sorts project, Caïna. We spoke about it at length and the final record, Hands That Pluck, was a fitting tribute to closing a chapter in life. Come the end of 2012 and Andy was talking about breathing new life into Caïna, making new music and maybe even playing a couple of shows. Litanies of Abjection was released and it signaled a complete turnaround from the music we'd heard previously -- which is by no means a bad thing. We spoke to Andy about the rebirth of the band and what that means to him and for the future.
Scene Point Blank: OK, I guess the burning and obvious question is why did you decide to bring Caïna back?
Andy Curtis-Brignell: I guess I was kidding myself when I “ended” it, to be honest. I think I saw it as a kind of suicide-by-proxy, a great dramatic statement that I thought would close a chapter in my life. All it really did was leave a manufactured hole that I failed to fill with anything else remotely as worthwhile (to me). I knew I’d made the best “metal” album I could possibly make with Hands That Pluck, and whilst I still had ideas flying around I lacked the courage of my convictions because they were so different. So rather than take a leap of faith I decided to stop. I regret that decision, not least because my public u-turn has been kind of embarrassing.
Scene Point Blank: Litanies of Abjection sounds unlike anything you've really done before -- it's as dark as past releases but the atmosphere is almost cloying and definitely terrifying -- is there a story behind that?
Andy: The last few years have been, and continue to be, very hard. Personally and financially I’ve been in a really bad place for a while and I was going through a particularly dark time when Litanies started to emerge. My negativity and alienation just seemed to seep out of me like a burning sweat, and I had to get what I was feeling out of me somehow. To put it in perspective, my previous three albums all took at least 18 months each to complete, whereas Litanies was completed in little over three. It’s the sound of someone already dealing with severe mental illness being pushed to the absolute limit of their emotional endurance -- but I did make a sustained effort to avoid the album sounding like some cathartic, self-indulgent freakout. Hence why it’s both a very intimate and very detached album.
Scene Point Blank: You self-released the record via bandcamp. Did label stuff not work out this time around? Are you looking at trying to do a physical release?
Andy: I had some compelling offers to release the album physically but, to be honest, I really wanted (my previous label) Profound Lore to release it. Chris is an incredibly dedicated and intensely artistically aware label owner, but it wasn’t a good fit for him or where the label was going. Actually, I think he thought it was a piece of shit. I respect that, but I would still love to work together again someday. I don’t want to half-ass anything I do, ever, so the next best option was to put it out there myself in the most accessible way possible.
Scene Point Blank: You’ve got at least one show coming up so far [a couple more have been announced since this chat took place]. What can people expect from a Caïna performance and how will it differ to other times you've played live?
Andy: The gigs I have lined up this year will be the first I’ve played since 2009. I don’t consider myself to have a strong live track record, which is something I’m eager to remedy. I intend to do this is the stupidest way possible, i.e. I’ll be improvising. The performance will really be intended to reflect what I do nowadays in the studio, in that I’m going to get all my equipment together, switch it on, and see what happens. There are a few tracks from my back catalogue which will be invoked in some way but I don’t really intend for there to be any conventional “songs.” It could work, I could die on my arse. I hope the shows will be a free-flowing, meditative, quasi-ritualistic experience for people. However it could just as easily sound like an inept non-musician slowly climbing into his own colon. We’ll see, I guess.
Scene Point Blank: As well as Caïna, you've got a few other projects, such as the horror soundtrack you put out, are you much more creative now than you were when Caïna ended? How do you find the time for it all?
Andy: I think following the grueling experience of recording Temporary Antennae in 2008 I spent a long time trying to shoehorn creative activities into my “normal” lifestyle. Creating that kind of neat little headspace for those urges stunted them, and I think my work became a little more contrived in that period. I think in the last year or so I have “hit bottom,” and my “normal” life was totally fucked. It’s not been a bad thing though, in a funny way, as it’s changed my perspective on how I should prioritise my activities. I used to be worried about balancing out music and life, [and] now I don’t give a shit. There is no distinction and I have people in my life now who accept that. So if there’s an opportunity to make music for something cool, or play with some new people, or some new equipment, I’m going to do it and I’m going to give it 100%.
"My negativity and alienation just seemed to seep out of me like a burning sweat, and I had to get what I was feeling out of me somehow."
Scene Point Blank: What next for Caïna?
Andy: Onwards and downwards. Right now I’m focusing on the live material and drumming for my dudes in Bastard Sons of Abraham – we are fucking amazing and since I don’t write the material I’m allowed to say that. Also, I intend to acquire more tattoos and domestic animals exponentially until I reach critical mass. Oh, and it’s 10 years of Caïna next year so I need to commemorate that somehow (suggestions on a postcard please). Finally, I will probably do a new album next year too. I think that’s about it. Thanks Chezza.
Scene Point Blank: Haha, thanks Andy!
Since the interview was conducted, Caïna has announced the release of a cassette via cult label Church of Fuck. The tape will be comprised of five tracks - four being unreleased cuts from 2008-11 and one being a brand new song. Earth Inferno marks a return to all out black metal sounds and is a precursor for the direction that the next Caïna full length, which is due in 2014, will take.
On his return to black metal, Andy had this to say: "After spending a year not performing any music whatsoever, then another year wildly (and perhaps irresponsibly) experimenting with music, I became aware of a void in my life which can only be filled with a return to tremolo riffs and grand gestures of self-violence. With the 10th anniversary of Caïna coming up in 2014 it feels both appropriate and cathartic to return to where I first started."
A number of splits and other special releases have been confirmed -
Earth Inferno (Dec)
Split 7" with ????? (Feb) Top secret for the time being.
Collaboration with Krieg (Spring)
10th Anniversary - special show (Summer)
Covers album (Summer)
Split with Njiqahdda (tba)
Split with Cronesmoon (tba)
The future is bleak.
Writer's note: Since this interview took place, Andy has acquired my services as a manager. As such I feel I need to inform those reading this article that no conflict of interest was involved in this process. Thank you for reading.