Ancient Altar – Interview

Ancient Altar – Interview

Interview with Barry Cavener of Ancient Altar and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (


PD: What type of artist are you?

AA: We definitely consider ourselves to be a Doom band, but we don’t try to fit into one subgenre or another. Our goal is to play heavy, emotional music that speaks to people in one way or another, and Doom is the best fit for that.


PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.

AA: Ancient Altar rose from the ashes of our instrumental band, Iron Mtn. After quite a few years, multiple tours, and one self-released album, we unanimously decided to go a different direction with our music, and that’s where Ancient Altar was born. After some member changes on drums and second guitar, we ended up with the lineup (Barry, Scott, Jesse, & Etay) that recorded our full length album Dead Earth, and this new EP. Since this recording, we’ve had some more lineup changes, and are moving forward as a three piece with Geoff from Batillus and A Storm of Light on drums.


PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

AA: There really is an eclectic mix when it comes to our influences. From Sabbath, to Philip Glass, to Dark Throne, to Neu! , to Drive Like Jehu, to whoever, we try not limit what we take in, and try not to box ourselves in when we’re creating. We all love to read and really dig art as well, and whenever something impacts us, we try to incorporate that into what we do.


PD: What are your dreams and goals?

AA: We’ve met some amazing people, have had the pleasure of working with some folks we would have never expected to, experienced things that have changed our lives, and have made great friends in the process; we just want to keep doing that. We’d love to make a living doing this, but that’s not why we do it, so if it happens, awesome, if not, that’s cool too.


PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?

AA: In regards to the music, it’s usually a process between Scott and myself. We’ll bring 50 – 60% of a song to the table, and just start tweaking it from there. Now with Geoff in the band, that’s taken it to a completely different level, and the new stuff we’re working on is really a collaborative effort.

Lyrics are a little different. With the EP in particular, I came up with the concepts, but Scott and I wrote our own lyrics. Cosmic Purge is about the universe collapsing in on itself, and starting over with another Big Bang. It’s a constant cycle that’s destined to repeat itself for eternity because it needs to cleans itself of the plague that is life. Foie Gras is about what happens when our creations (A.I., Robots, etc.) rise up and we become the caged animals being force fed for their enjoyment. It’s dark, heavy material that I hope makes people think.


PD: How do you promote your band and shows?

AA: Social media. It’s really the only way that we’ve found that works for us. Obviously there’s a little more than that, but right now, that seems to be the way to go.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online?

AA: I’ve found, and in turn supported too many bands to count because of downloading. If someone downloads our music, I would hope they’d support us in another way, but if they don’t that’s cool. That’s one more person that’s heard our music than before.


PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

AA: It’s hard to answer this without sounding like a dick, but I don’t care or even think about the record industry. It’s the small labels like Black Voodoo Records that are the ones that are helping out underground bands, and they’re the ones that’ll keep doing it when the “industry” crumbles.


PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

AA: I don’t think I have ever thought about that before. I guess maybe some all-time best selling song like Candle in the Wind or something like that. Haha!


PD: What are some of your pet peeves?

AA: I have way too many (most of them driving related) to list, but as far as music goes, my biggest pet peeve is bands that take their time setting up and tearing down. Nothing can ruin a good show like some dudes who make you wait for 45 minutes to see the next band because they’re chatting with their friends and drink a beer as they neatly wrap up their cables. Whether I’m playing the show, or I’m just in the audience, it sucks.


PD: What is your proudest moment in music?

AA: I honestly have to say that I’ve had quite a few over the years, but the number one thing for me was collaborating on the album cover for the new EP with my daughter, Haylee. We really feel that album art is just as important as the music inside, and we have purposefully looked for artists that could translate the image in our heads onto paper. This time around, I had an idea for a cover that encapsulated the “singularity” theme of the album, so we decided to bring on Haylee for the task. I drew the picture, and Haylee painstakingly painted it, creating the cover that we ended up with. For me, at this time, that’s definitely my proudest moment.


PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

AA: We have a couple shows in the works, but nothing that we can mention at the time of this interview. With our new lineup, we’re more solid than ever, and we’ve been working hard to make sure that we’re ready to blow minds and eardrums. Between the new material we’re currently working on for a record that we’re going to start later this year, a split 12” that we’re putting out with the band Cosmic Reef Temple, and our upcoming shows, there’s going to be a lot coming from us over the foreseeable future.

Ancient Altar links:

Band location – Los Angeles California

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