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Features Interviews

An Interview With Bradley Tiffin of Haunter + Entheogen

I don’t know if one can technically call a 23-year-old musician ‘precocious.’ However, since Bradley Tiffin’s first recording, Sleep White Winter’s self-titled EP, was released when he was only sixteen, I’m just going to roll with it…

San Antonio-by-way-of-San Diego based multi-instrumentalist Bradley Tiffin’s main gig is with the best black metal band you’ve probably never heard, Haunter. He’s also one of the very few individuals from outside the core Mystískaos group of musicians to find himself in one of the collective’s bands – he plays bass for Entheogen,who will be making their live debut at this year’s edition of Red River Family Fest. I was able to catch up with Brad recently to chat about Entheogen, Haunter, RRFF, and more. Check it out below, and check out Entheogen in Austin at the end of September. Tickets are still available here, but likely won’t be for long…

Indy Metal Vault: So first off, thanks for the interview. I’ve actually wanted to chat with you for a while, and what better reason that Entheogen’s first live performance at Red River Family Fest? I’ll admit that I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the lineups of every Mystískaos band, but they’re a pretty tightly knit collective with a core group of musicians that play in most of the labels projects. How did you end up joining Entheogen? Haunter and Skáphe were both at last year’s Red River Family Fest – is that where you met SB and AP, or does it go back further than that?

Bradley Tiffin: Well I’m certainly enthused I get to sit at the big kid’s table get interviewed by IMV, a very respectable and humble entity in the press game. My union with Entheogen—or what is essentially me + Chaos Moon sans Eric—began earlier than Red River Family Fest – Year 2. Without Veil, Nor Self was actually released just a couple months after the Fest. I met Steven Blackburn at a show in Houston where Haunter was opening for Blood Incantation in mid-late 2016. He punished me after our set (lol) and we subsequently exchanged contact info. Soon after, he approached me about assuming the bass role for his project he had spent years crafting. I didn’t meet Poole until Red River Fest, after our contributions for the record had already been completed. Such an unusual band dynamic for me.

IMV: Most of you are veterans of the Fest: I don’t know about JB, but Haunter has been there both years, if I’m not mistaken you were also part of Ævangelist’s live lineup last year, AP was there last year with Krieg, both he and SB played with Skáphe. Is that why Entheogen will be making their live debut at RRFF?

BT: It certainly is the reason. I’m not sure when Jack’s last performance at all was, but this is definitely the comeback for him. Each edition of the Fest seems to tie to the preceding year with the member overlaps. There’s instrument swapping every year because everyone is in 3+ bands nowadays.

IMV: One more Entheogen question, and then I want to move on to your other bands. How’s the split with Ljáin coming along? The last time I talked to AP, right before doing the Délirant premiere a month or so back, he indicated that it should be part of the next batch of Mystískaos releases. Do you know yet when it’s coming out? Will it be before the Fest?

BT: Clichéd, but the split is coming along slowly but surely. It certainly will be a Mystískaos release, and we consider that our main outlet now that FE is folding. The music exhibited on this split is perceivably more difficult than a lot of material from WVNS. So we’re being pretty nitpicky about the execution and how it will all gel together since we record piece by piece (not live). The split won’t be done by the Fest, considering the labor of mixing that will follow the recording, but perhaps by the end of the year.

IMV: I’ve said this a couple of times before when writing about Haunter, but I feel like you may be one of the best-kept secrets in USBM. If you were from either Brooklyn or the Pacific Northwest instead of Texas, you’d be getting mentioned in the same conversations as bands like Woe, Imperial Triumphant, Uada, Predatory Light, etc. Does it frustrate you at all that Texas doesn’t get the same sort of attention as some of these other regional US scenes? There’s certainly no shortage of great black metal bands down there.

BT: I’ve been saying the same thing; that our output would flourish on a much grander scale in the PNW or the northeast than what Texas has displayed. Not to say that we don’t have great Texan fans. It’s just…generally, people love their chug-chug and their clowny war-dad metal. Just a fundamental dissonance in the artist-audience relationship, really. You can’t shove Brussels sprouts down the gullet of a kid that eats exclusively chicken nuggets. That’s the neat thing about Red River Family Fest, though; that we canbring together a variety of challenging artists and you can be smothered in a solid 12-hour block of music over the weekend.

IMV: One of the reasons I dig Haunter so much is the way that you and Enrique weave together these progressive, almost psychedelic guitar and bass lines. There are quite a few songs—“Gilded Medulla” off the split with Black Vice is the first that comes to mind, with that totally unexpected string bend in the one riff—that make me go ‘how the fuck…?’ every time I listen to them. How long did it take for the two of you to lock in like that? How collaboratively do you write the music for Haunter?

BT: The writing process changes a bit with each release. We used to write with the mindset of “okay, the record is going to portray this passage like this, but when we do it live, we’re gonna play it more like this.” After bouncing our playing styles off of each other for four years now, Enrique and I are able to work through kinks fairly easily. “Gilded Medulla” is actually the closest to a 50/50 contribution as it has ever been. Our approach is changing for this next release, though, because we’re aiming for a fuller two-guitar sound that, when we play it live, it stays faithfulto the portrayal on the record. The upcoming record features a ton of my composition, but where our collaboration shines is in the structure. A lot of adjustments, idea cuts, extensions, harmonies, and counter-melodies have occurred for the absolute benefit of the record.

IMV: I generally like to ask about lyrical themes, and there seems to be a lot of stuff happening in Haunter’s lyrics: esoteric themes, bodily decay, cosmic entropy. Where did your interest in these themes come from? Where do you draw inspiration from when writing lyrics?

BT: We like to keep our lyrics pretty neutral as for content and interpretation. We’re also a lyrics lastband. But vocal patterns are considered early on when I’m demoing instrumentation. The traditional gore-based approach to lyrics seems a bit dull for me, but peppering a physics-defying, habitat-clashing, wheelin-and-dealin, limousine-riding, jet-flying son-of-a-gun (but you still die) approach on top passes for me. In essence, we’re full of shit and just like to riff a lot.

IMV: Thrinodiá recently got a long-overdue release on vinyl from Vendetta Records, who also released your split with Sovereign last year. For a European label, they’ve been involved with the release of a bunch of excellent USBM recently: Woe, Belus, Barrowlands, Wild Hunt, Anicon, etc. How did you end up hooking up with Stefan and Vendetta?

BT: The hookup with Stefan came along with our association with Max from Sovereign. Stefan is gracious for furthering us and helping us with our milestone of Thrinodía’s vinyl release. Much love for what he’s done for us, and it’s reallytight to see buddies getting a similar treatment. Nice to see he has his finger on the pulse of what one might consider a wave of overlooked/inadequately recognized and admired USBM.

IMV: I’ve heard rumors of a Haunter/Crawl tour in either late fall or early winter. Does that mean there’s a possibility of new Haunter music at some point this year as well?

BT: Ding ding ding. The tour with Crawl will see us performing as a four-piece, and we’ll be performing exclusively new material. I’m veryeager to show people the growth we’ve trudged ourselves through, even since the split releases from last year.

IMV: What’s up with Cosmic Behemoth? Last year’s Triad of the Monolith Rising demo was badass, and I really dig what Sol y Nieve did with the cassette release (I somehow ended up with 2/25 from the first run). I saw something recently about a final show, though – did you split up?

BT: Cosmic Behemoth is a dead name, but we’re going through a lineup adjustment and trying to filter in new material to replace the old. That project is for sureon the backburner as far as priorities. Until it picks back up again, we’re just doing small gigs in town as our current iteration Bone Sairement to stay familiar and play the integral role as “your local caverncore band.”

IMV: Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final word to the artists – anything else you want to add?

BT: Thanks for having me! All projects of mine right now are in maintenance mode, but Haunter will see all of you beauties and ogres with CRAWL in the East and Midwest soon enough. Red River Family once again lays down the platform and shines the beam on autonomous musicianship, audible agony and deception, jazz, and pure focking grimness. See all of these descriptors personified LIVE IN ACTION September 28-29 in Austin, Texas at Barracuda.

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