After reviewing "Deeply From The Earth", Matt Coe has been in contact with vocalist/guitarist Eric Baulenas on a regular basis, and his enthusiasm and conversations have been invigorating. Do not be afraid to learn more about Moonloop and hopefully this interview will give you more insight into Eric the person as well as his musical philosophy and background.
Slow and steady progress can pay huge dividends in your overall outcome. Especially if you desire to maintain an impact in an ever changing metal scene- which Moonloop appear to be doing from their debut album “Deeply From The Earth”. Many may see the light and dark contrasts between the electric and acoustic proceedings as well as progressive spots as similar to Opeth- but I think if you intensely take in this material you’ll see a plethora of outside aspects in terms of song structure and style with this Spanish act.
Can you provide us with your own personal background growing up, how you got involved in playing the guitar, and what were some of your early influences/ artists that shaped your musical development and desire to compose/ perform?
"I began to play guitar at age 13. My father played the guitar since he was a teenager, so I listened to lots of records at my home thanks to him. He was into classic Rock & Pop, but also into Progressive & Symphonic Rock from the 70’s, 80’s Techno-Pop, Blues and Ethnic music too. When I first saw Eddie Van Halen on the TV, his music just blow me away, so then I bought Van Halen records along with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai/David Lee Roth albums. I was 10 years old then, but when Joe Satriani released “The Extremist” album, I began to play guitar seriously. That album changed my life! Shortly after I was into Thrash Metal, Death Metal and Black Metal, but at the same time I fell in love with 90’s indie music and Classical composers as Gustav Holst or Mussorgsky. When I was 15 years old I remember my passion for Dream Theater when they released “Awake”, that album became a milestone for me. I discovered Progressive Rock or Metal bands like Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Devin Townsend or Opeth, for example, and their music inspired me so much to begin my own first recordings.
Was Moonloop your first original metal band, or did you develop your chops through other acts?
"I began playing through other acts that existed for a short period of time (death metal, progressive, pop, and blues-rock). I recorded some songs with my father and then we played together for some live shows. I’m still playing with him sometimes, though his style is Folk-Blues, but I enjoy playing this a lot too! I remember covering lots of Satriani songs, but also from Marillion, Dream Theater, Death, Radiohead, U2 or Julian Cope, for example. I enjoyed playing technical metal music, but also I enjoyed learning chords and knowing how to play a good three minute song at the same time. I took musical theory & guitar lessons at Taller de Músics in Barcelona for only a year, and then I began to discover how to play my instrument better by jamming with friends or playing over some of my favorite records at home. I’m a self-taught guitarist above all.
Moonloop began in 2001 - what can you tell us about the early years of the band? How did you meet the individual members, and how long did it take for you to develop the progressive death metal style you are known for?
"We began jamming and mixing ideas that came from death metal, but also from indie-rock or progressive rock. Juanjo and Raúl were friends of mine since we were teenagers, as we lived in the same area, so when Moonloop was formed we were 22 years old and we knew each other very well as friends and as musicians. At the beginning our songs and ideas were too eclectic, so after some gigs we slowly developed a darker style that went into what you can now listen to in our album. We decided to write more extreme oriented music because we felt like this at that moment, but it was a natural process for us."
What memories do you have surrounding you 2004-2007 demo recordings for “Things Can Change”, “Release From Duality”, and “True Nature Revealed”? Do you believe the journalists were fair in their reviews of your material through the years?
"We were very amateurish then, both as musicians and as engineers, so those recordings (especially “Things Can Change” & “Release From Duality”) didn’t get much attention from the media. We were learning lots of things then, and we’re proud of that period, but not so much in relation to our final results. When we recorded “True Nature Revealed” we wanted a better sound, and the songs reflected what we really felt at that moment, but again the sound wasn’t good enough. The journalists were fair with their reviews, but the lack of distribution, live shows, and promotion through Spain didn’t help so much. Journalists have been fair with their reviews in general, especially in Catalonia."
Since you are the main composer for Moonloop, do you write your lyrics in English solely or do you come up with ideas in your natural Spanish tongue and then translate/transcribe them for English?
"I always write my lyrics in English. I like to imagine and think all the things I want to express in English because then it’s easier for me to put the lyrics over the music. I have two main subjects for Moonloop: nature & geology, and on the other hand, personal & intimate life experiences. Anyway, I wrote some lyrics that were inspired in social problems, or influenced by a negative state of mind that is far from those two main subjects. My English level is not as good as I would like, so I’m pretty sure that I cannot write thought provoking words, for now."
Tell us about some of the shows you were able to do in those unsigned years playing at festivals and performing on the same bills as Leaves’ Eyes, Draconian, Finntroll, and Isole among others. What are some of the best experiences you had- and how do you feel Moonloop has evolved in a live setting?
"We had great times playing as openers for those bands, but we also enjoyed a lot of gigs where we were playing along with bands that were friends too. If you want to offer a good show, you must be responsible and very passionate to your work, but also you depend on other’s work to have a great time, so we had both bad and very good experiences through those 10 years. To name some of the best experiences, our gig with Cynic in Barcelona was like a dream come true. Opening for Anathema was great too, but they were very distant with us at the backstage. Our show with Vidres a la Sang in Tarragona was great, as it was playing along with Nami or Persefone a year ago. We definitely evolved as musicians, and live experiences teach you a lot of things that you can’t learn in the rehearsal room."
You gained a record deal with Listenable Records- were there other record labels seeking to sign the band? What made this particular label attractive to Moonloop- and were you familiar with many of their other acts prior to signing with them?
"We sent the promo edition of our album to many record labels, but Listenable Records was very excited about releasing our album. We got answers from other labels but Listenable was our best choice as they were so enthusiastic. I knew Listenable Records from the beginning because I’ve been working in record stores since 1999, and when Listenable released albums by bands like Gojira, Symbyosis, Immolation, Hacride or Textures I definitely fell in love with the record label. I think Moonloop fits on this label because Listenable has been releasing some of the most exciting prog or technical death metal albums of the last ten years. Having signed with them is like a dream for us!"
Your debut album “Deeply From The Earth” is an outstanding release where you express a diverse set of clean, atmospheric, progressive, and death parts throughout the 10 songs. How did the album recordings in your mind differ from some of the demo versions of these songs- and what do you feel about the record now that you’ve had some time to digest it?
"We wanted the best for this album, so every detail that we imagined is fortunately represented here. The demos meant a lot of hard work for us, but when we entered the studio we had a clear vision of what we wanted to do. Some arrangements changed from the original demos, and there are some things that still can be done better, but we’re very proud of the final result. The recording sessions were difficult because we had problems of agenda, and we were learning how to record a “good record” by ourselves. We felt a lot of pressure at some points. When we finished the recording sessions, we decided to mix the album with Gorka Dresbaj at the Room Studios in Barcelona. He is an amazing engineer and he did gorgeous work mixing “Deeply from the Earth”. Then we sent the mix to Goran Finnberg (who mastered albums by Opeth, Meshuggah, tec..) and he gave his final touch mastering the album. We’ve learned a lot from this experience, so we hope to put all the knowledge acquired in our next album."
You mention your love of the Moody Blues in one of our interactions through social media- what other outside influences do you think you incorporate into Moonloop to keep your sound fresh in comparison to other artists? How important is the melody aspect not only in terms of vocals but also in terms of musical hooks- especially when you are playing in a technical/ progressive manner?
"I love the Moody Blues since I was a kid because their voices and their Mellotron sounded bigger and deeper than anything else. My father used to listen to them, but also he listened to different kinds of music all the time, so I think that he taught me to appreciate music in general.
If you only listen to one music style, it could be difficult to enrich your music because your sensibility is focused on a very close minded way of thinking. The key to write fresh ideas is being able to enjoy lots of different musical styles. The melody is the most important thing for me. I don’t like to play millions of notes without feeling, so I prefer to express myself through adequate notes. I’m in love with some of the most virtuoso players of the world, but honestly, I fell in love with their music when they show how to express their personal feelings through simple ideas. To me, progressive means going beyond, explore, mix ideas, not being afraid, freedom…and this has nothing to do with being technical, fast or a virtuoso. Some musicians lose that crucial point and release albums that are more like a guitar/drum/bass/keyboard lesson. I don’t like that kind of music, I like songs above all."
Composed by Matt Coe