Feersum Ennjin – Interview with Paul D’Amoure
I’ve been a fan of Tool for quite a while now and while there later albums are excellent and are full incredible musicianship, their first two records have a rougher quality about them. Those albums are backed by heavy, sludgy baselines provided by the original bassist, Paul D’Amour. Paul left the band in 1995 as the band began working on “Ænima.” He went on to form Lusk, who released one album, “Free Mars.” After Lusk, D’Amour began working on film scores and in 2005, he started a new project, Feersum Ennjin. In November, their debut album will be released. Paul graciously took some time to talk to us about the project.
After leaving Tool in 1995, you released the Lusk album “Free Mars” in 1997. Since then, you’ve worked on various film and television scores. What are some of the projects you did?
I have worked on a number of independent films as well as studio films, I really enjoyed scoring the film “Insanitarium” which was written and directed by my friend, Jeff Buhler.
It was kind of a twist on the zombie theme with some proper blood and guts scenes! Peter Stormare was in that one, he is such a great character actor, along with a bloody appearance of Olivia Munn.
I have also managed to get a few Feersum Ennjin tracks into some films as well. The song “Safeway” was recently used in the film “The Stepfather”. That was an interesting challenge because the director had me start the scene with the original track then morph it into score and then back to an instrumental version of the original.
Will you continue your movie/television work?
I definitely will be doing more film work, though I am really trying to pour most of my energy into Feersum Ennjin right now. I am also working on getting prepared for an upcoming gallery showing of my photo art , some of which will be used in the packaging for this Feersum Ennjin album.
How does scoring a film differ compared to writing music for a band?
Film scoring is such a unique art form, very different from writing music with a band.
It’s an amazing experience to feel how powerful the music in a film can be. By just changing a couple notes or sounds you can dramatically alter the entire emotion of a scene.
Being on stage and playing or writing with a band is a much more physical experience for me than film. It’s also more about an individual connection or perception where as music for films is more about serving the scene or the directors vision for that. It’s cool to be able to put your ego up on the shelf for a minute and be a musical servant. I love the balance of being able to do both things.
The band’s name comes from the book “Feersum Endjin” by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks. According to Wikipedia, Lusk was influenced by another book by Banks. What is it about his writings that inspire you?
I am not sure to what extent Lusk was influenced by Banks though we did do a video for the song “Backworlds” loosely based on one of his books called “The Wasp Factory”. He definitely has a really unique dark perspective that has resonated with me on some level.
What was about “Feersum Endjin” that inspired you to name this project after it?
I really liked the concepts of spirituality colliding with technology which transpire in the book. I guess I feel that way about music sometimes, the way we use these technological tools to create something beyond ourselves. Mostly I just liked the sound of the words, a very Japanese alien warrior quality about it…Ha!
Can you explain what the Feersum Endjin is?
In the book “the Feersum Endjin” is a piece of ancient technology that the people are trying to activate to save their dying planet.
Maybe that’s the REAL purpose of this band!
I believe you wrote and recording most of “Feersum Ennjin” yourself. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a band?
The songs on this record were recorded over several years and in every possible scenario, so I am comfortable in most situations so long as good things are happening. It’s good to have other people around pushing things but it’s also good to have some solo time to really flush ideas out. Also I would hate to torture anybody with all the bad ideas it takes to get to the one good one.
Lusk has what is often called a more psychedelic sound to it, whereas this project is more rooted in hard rock, with a somewhat sludgy vibe. What prompted you to move back towards a sound similar to what you first explored with Tool?
When I left Tool, I really had a lot of growing to do as a musician and had a hunger to explore as many different sounds and creative possibilities as I could to broaden my palette. I think eventually I started coming back around to some of the heavier darker sounds that may be associated with Tool. I guess that is a part of me as well.
The sound of this project is ever evolving, as you can hear on this record, so who knows where things will go from here.
What are your plans with Feersum Ennjin? Will it become a full time project? Will you be touring for this project?
Yes, things are really falling into place and there is a lot of momentum behind this band right now. We are hoping to start playing some live dates soon!
Any last words?
Why, who ordered the firing squad? Don’t I get a blindfold and a cigarette first?