Interview: Limb

If you’ve seen us just recently, you’ll have seen a projection that we’re trying out. Very surreal, very psychedelic and weird. Peppa Pig turns up in it. Maybe we should try to recreate the 'Survival Knife' video live!

From dawn raiders to sun saboteurs, London’s steely powered doom sludge instigators Limb have just released their strongest album to date with their third, Saboteurs of the Sun on the New Heavy Sounds label. While still an album which relishes in making you bang that head, their attitude and approach to exploring how they can take their sound into newer possibilities is brightly cast alight with the addition of synths and sequencers. Echoes and Dust caught up with Limb’s bassist Sam Cooper to explain how they got their ‘crazy sounds’ and the right amount of ‘whoosh’ which accompanies Yes, Hawkwind, psychedelic, and Peppa Pig imagery.

E&D: Your new album Saboteurs of the Sun, has just been released on the New Heavy Sounds label, how did the song-writing, ideas, vision, for the new record take shape? 

Sam: ‘Well, we needed to take everything up a gear. We’ve been playing together a while now, so we have an innate sense of what we can do well, and enjoy, and what we’d prefer to steer away from.

Like with the last couple of records, we wanted something that felt like a whole — rather than a collection of tracks. And it needed to sound big: one approach we took this time around was to bring in other instrumentation that filled different spaces.

E&D: Russ Russell has done a first-rate production job. What ideas did he bring to the table and how aware were you of his work?

Sam: He did the last one, Terminal, too. I think we made that first decision soon after Napalm Death’s Apex Predator came out. That’s a great record, especially its first song, so that was a clincher for me at least.

 

E&D: How did the addition of synths, organs, sequencers ideas emerge and evolve? And who is/are the keys/sequencers twiddlers in the band?

Sam: Adding these was really fun – both in plotting how to include electronic sounds within a very much guitar-driven sound, and in experimenting in the studio how to get just the right “whoosh”. In the end, there’s all sorts of stuff in there: analogue synths, a sampled choir, mellotron.

Because our normal sound is quite organic, we needed to be careful not to just suddenly throw a load of electronics in there. We also needed to think about what we could recreate live. But because the guitars are so down-tuned and fuzzed out, there’s a lot of space for crazy sounds in the higher registers. And that’s where my Klaus Schulze obsession kicks in!

E&D: Although the synths and organs add atmospheric flourishes, many of the songs – ‘Wych Elm’, ‘Truth Be Damned’, ‘Rising Tides’ – are driven by a concise punchier, punkier attitude. Were there any major musical influences which were channelled into this punkier sound?

Sam: I think these songs might come more from live jams, rather than riffs brought to the room in advance. When we play live, we naturally tend towards the faster, punchier ones.

E&D: And, in the wider sphere, who are the main influences of the band? What gets played in the van while on the road?

Sam: Well, the last journey went something like power ballads, into jungle, some ‘90s rave, a bit of gangsta rap, ending with some ambient and minimalism…!

As a general pattern, we don’t listen to doom or stoner or sludge when we’re together. But, during the recording we were using stuff like Killing Joke and Ozric Tentacles as reference points.

E&D: What are the ideas behind the album’s title, Saboteurs of the Sun?

Sam: Our first release was an EP titled Gift of the Sun. So, for this record, something has come back — or gone full circle — or reversed.

E&D: Are there any favourite songs you would like to elaborate on?

Sam: The last track on the album, ‘100 Years’, is probably the biggest departure for us: it’s mostly synth, guitar and vocals. But the vocals are riffing on an old shanty called ‘A Hundred Years on the Eastern Shore’.

We did something similar on the last album, Terminal, which had a track called ‘Down by the Banks’ — which took the lyrics from an American folk tune called ‘Down by the Banks’ of the Ohio, but reinterpreted it with our own music.

E&D: Can you tell us about the album cover? Who is the artist and how did you come across it? 

Sam: Did you watch Stranger Things? The music for that show was by these two guys who’re also in a band called SURVIVE. Their artwork was done by a collage artist from the States called Bryan Olson.

We had a collage on the last record, Terminal, but decided that Bryan’s style was sufficiently different – and also really cool – so we approached him. The appeal of this image was that it harkened back to Yes and Hawkwind covers, but also seemed modern.

E&D: You used to play live with just one single light a few years back, which I thought was very effective in creating a powerful visual accompaniment to your powerhouse sound. Are there any other ideas in the pipeline for your live performances?

Sam: If you’ve seen us just recently, you’ll have seen a projection that we’re trying out. Very surreal, very psychedelic and weird. Peppa Pig turns up in it. Maybe we should try to recreate the ‘Survival Knife’ video live!

E&D: And speaking of gigs, are you planning on any more gigs/tour this year?

Sam: Yeah – the main one to mention is Bloodstock. We’re playing on the Saturday on the Sophie stage.

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