Everything about the sound of Aprilmist's music is mammoth. Combining elements from black metal and shoegaze into an all-encompassing epic rush of sound that can only be described as "a beautiful amalgamation of melancholy, darkness, hope, and renewal," Aprilmist is Kansas City's premier post-black metal band. Founded by Jon Houst in 2014, the band's style of "emotive, nostalgic, and cinematic blackened psychedelic soundscapes" is gaining recognition from fans across music spectrums. We are fortunate to share an interview with the band about their sound, creative process and future plans.
Please introduce the band. Describe your music for new listeners.
Jon: Aprilmist is my passion project turned live band, starting with me demoing all the instruments and vocals by myself in my old studio apartment in Lawrence, KS back in 2014. It's now a fully collaborative quartet with myself on vocals/guitar, Dustin Albright (Diskreet, Renouncer) on guitar/vocals, Ben Chipman (Existem, Marsh of Swans) on bass, and Drew Ballard (Abjure, Aerodyne Flex) on drums.
Dustin: The music of Aprilmist, as a fan-turned-bandmate, is really a beautiful amalgamation of melancholy, darkness, hope, and renewal arranged from a blend of wall of sound metal and indie shoegaze, with hints of progressive influence.
Ben: I just joined the band a few months ago, but I've been a longtime friend of the band and Jon. My other band, Existem, has played shows with Aprilmist lots of times, and when Jon asked me to come on as the bassist, I was excited to have the chance to play this kind of music. I love the atmospheric black metal sound and how the band balances intensity with these evocative, beautiful moments. It's a style I use a lot in my own songwriting, so I'm excited to begin to contribute.
Tell us about your most recent single, “Aimless.” How is this song a step forward for the band?
Jon: We brought a couple new elements to the table as far as songwriting goes due in part to it being the first song to feature Dustin and Drew, I think we really started to nail down our own style of emotive, nostalgic, and cinematic blackened psychedelic soundscapes. We built onto the things we've come to do best, and laid down the groundwork for the direction we want to go.
Dustin: At the time that we recorded "Aimless" it was a first stepping stone to a solidified lineup, which has of course since changed up slightly. It's also a teaser of what's to come when we release a full length record hopefully by early next year.
While your first two albums were self- or co-produced, the band stepped away from this role for “Aimless.” Why was this?
Dustin: I would say that really, that single was still co-produced. Bret Liber had a hand in suggestive directions on production and definitely "gets" the emotion we're trying to capture in this music. When putting music to tape in a means where you want to present your final composition as being masterful, without need for change, it's great to have an outside production influence that can envision something more bold and expressive that maybe you didn't perceive when originally writing the song.
Jon: What Dustin said, I may have listed production credits in a confusing way. The first EP Bleak was completely recorded by myself, then sent to a friend and local producer Zack Alvey for mixing and mastering. Remembrance and the new single were produced
Describe your creative process. How do Aprilmist songs come together?
Jon: We generally write individually then bring ideas to each other to expand on. I'll stumble onto a chord that I like while jamming then try to figure out a good progression that makes me ~feel~ something or reflects what I'm currently feeling, while also thinking of a rhythm to apply to it and what the drums might sound like. I'll record rough drafts of the guitar part, then program drums to it and that often gives me an idea of what the next part could be, and what leads and layers could work. Our songwriting relies heavily on the use of layering to create dense walls of ambience, and frequently a crescendo-climax-decrescendo type format.
Dustin: Speaking for myself, as this is the way I've always composed music, I'll noodle around on a guitar until I find a chord, or a riff progressive that sounds compelling and conveys an emotion to me. It sounds cliche, but I think writing from the heart yields the best results. I'll build and build on something, demo it out, listen to it over and over to see how it makes me feel overall -- like, does this make sense? Does this flow well? Am I really projecting the feeling that I had while writing this in a way that's going to captivate a listener. I'll rewrite or reconstruct something until it "feels" right. It's always a rigorous process, and sometimes I'm surprised when I actually complete something that I'm 100% satisfied with. I have songs I've written over 10 years ago that I'm still not sure how I feel about, haha.
Ben: I draw inspiration from all kinds of moments and feelings, sometimes in the form of a melody, or a rhythmic idea that I think could be cool and can't get out of my head. I'll grab an instrument like a guitar, bass or synth and try to pin down a phrase with a rhythmic feeling and flow to it, and start to think about how to structure the song. I have a few ideas I plan to bring to Aprilmist that I think will to have the right kind of atmosphere and feeling.
What other bands/artists are you currently raving about?
Jon: Blood Incantation, Gatecreeper, Idle Hands, Power Trip, A Light in the Dark, Spectral Voice, Alcest, Slowdive, Nothing, Ultar, Noname, Venom Prison, Creeping Death, Homewrecker, and Dawn Ray'd have all been on heavy rotation for me recently. Also Ashbringer, Amiensus, Neckbeard Deathcamp, Dryad, Acid Leather, Dreadnought, KISS 2, Gravelord, Ahtme, Fossilized, Theories, and Warforged are all local/regional homies we've had the pleasure of playing shows or touring a bit with whom are incredible and deserve all the love and attention.
Dustin: For me, I'm a Devin Townsend nerd. But I'm also inspired by a lot of other prog groups like Transatlantic, Spock's Beard. On a more moody level, I'll dig into Sigur Ros, Alcest, Mazzy Star. Also Andy McKee, Don Ross, Masaaki Kishibe, Nobuo Uematsu, and Yasunori Mitsuda. I guess I also still love Napalm Death, Fallujah, Ringworm, Voivod. It's a hard question to answer in 10 words or less
Ben: Locally, we've seen a lot of really strong releases in heavy music from bands in the area. Orphans of Doom and Bummer put out great records in the last year, and I'm looking forward to new stuff from 34 and Snakehound. We're lucky to be in the company of so many amazing artists in this city.
What’s ahead for the band in 2019 and beyond?
Dustin: As of now, really looking forward to finishing writing and starting to record our first full length. We have a lot musical ideas, and plans we want to try putting in place. This band, for me, is a great breath of fresh air in the way that we always talk about ideas for the future and goals we'd like to achieve. At some point, incorporating a visual aspect is an importance to me. I think what we do transcends sound to a certain extent, and I'd love to see how we can effectively do that.
Jon: A full length and more touring!