Agriculture on Community Action and the Ecstasy of Joy (Interview)
Powerful, personal, and ecstatic black metal band Agriculture released their first EP, The Circle Chant, in April of this year, solidifying the band as a powerful underground force in spiritual black metal and yet another leftist counteraction to the right-wing, nationalist issues black metal still faces.
Yet, while many bands are angry and upset in the face of such divisive times, Agriculture make it a point to be joyful and euphoric, celebrating with their music, even as it is dark and serious. We may have only heard one EP from the band so far, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as they've already completed new music to be released soon. We talked to the band about their journey in the genre so far and what else they have in store for us—as well as staying euphoric in the face of the worst life has to offer.
What do you all have in the works that we can look forward to from the band?
We're going to be back in the studio in November, and our guess is we'll have something out around the holidays, this winter. We have some other really exciting things that we’re working on as well that we can’t discuss quite yet.
I know you have also done a lot of live touring. Can you speak more to the importance of the band playing live vs. just being a studio band like some esoteric black metal projects?
It feels to me like this music really, specifically, makes sense in the live context. I think it's music that is intense, but I also think it’s really fun. I think when people listen to heavy music, especially when there is screaming and stuff, there can be a lot of preconceived ideas about what emotions go behind that. But I think to be in a space with us on stage, just smiling, laughing, and having so much fun. That’s why we call it an ecstatic black metal band, and I think we're pretty serious about that.
The goal here is to really elicit a kind of spiritual and joyful experience, so I think doing that live facilitates what the music is doing in a way because when you see the black metal genre label, you kind of think about suffering and unpleasantness, and that’s not really what we’re trying to do.
Is there anything you can share regarding what people have to look forward to with the next record? Anything about the writing or recording process?
We usually start with a series of riffs and melodies, sort of a song structure or form, and then it's really a super collaborative, long process kind of figuring out what every person is doing and going to contribute.
I think we've gotten closer as individuals and musicians, and that comes across, so for this next record, it’s going to be much more a product of close musical and maybe even spiritual, intellectual collaboration between the four of us who are in the band. We sort of work around those themes of community, spirituality, and nature.
Also, Agriculture is really interested in long form and does a lot of things in long form. Our live set is basically an unbroken set; there’s not a lot of talking or interacting with the audience. The EP The Circle Chant is not really long form. It kind of is because you can listen to it cover to cover as one thing, but there are a couple of songs on the full-length that are going to be as long as the whole EP. It's going to be a chance for people who aren't able to see us live to experience Agriculture long form.
I know a big focus for the band is community and social justice, and I know in your genre specifically, there can be those pockets of problematic behavior. What do you all do to kind of combat that and put out your own positive message?
Personally, that is something we are really conscious of because even the genre name black metal can signal negativity for a lot of people; it can even mean straight-up Nazis or fascists. There are Jewish and queer people in the band, so it's very important for us to counter that message and align with and support marginalized communities. We want other people to be there with us and to show people that there is a space there for them, people who are interested in expressing themselves in that way or just sort of exploring what it's like to be with others who are expressing themselves that way.
Follow Agriculture on Bandcamp.