Indianapolis, Indiana’s blackened crust killing machine, Kata Sarka, is most definitely not a beast that is to be taken lightly. Since their inception, the outfit has unleashed their wrathful demons by way of two EP’s that truly turn the experience of music into a visceral blood-letting ritual that is equal parts chaotic and intelligent. Forbidden Magazine recently caught up with founding member and guitarist, A.V.9, who graciously spilled his guts on the band’s origins, DIY ideals, the scourge known as organized religion, and then some!
Hails, A.V.9! First thing’s first, could you give a brief run-down of the origins of Kata Sarka’s formation?
First off, thanks for the interview, Nate! Kata Sarka more or less took shape over the process of working with three different line-ups in 2008 before finally coming together with the current line-up in 2009. I started writing music for the project with the intent of coalescing all the ideas and genres I had worked with since I was sixteen. After struggling to find the right people for the band, Y.S., our vocalist and I discussed doing something with our former second guitarist R.G. They approached S.M. about playing bass, and he agreed to it. Finding a competent drummer was the most difficult, as I felt like I had already worked with everyone that was a viable option. Then I thought of FFF who at the time wasn’t involved in anything serious. So, with that, we met up, went over some of the songs I had already written, as well as a song that was not being used from my previous band, World Eater. It all came together as everyone had hoped. Eventually, R.G. had to move on, due to his commitments to his other band, so we parted amicably. I have been the sole guitarist since.
For some, the band’s name may conjure a sense of mystery. What’s the story behind it?
The phrase “kata sarka” is a theological phrase derived from the writings of Paul. I came across the term when reading a book on the theological works of Hegel. From my layman’s research, and that book, I had gathered that it means “according the flesh”, “according to the world”, “of the world”, etc. It applies to the life of Christ as a man, in the flesh, prior to the Crucifixion and Ascension. It also is apparently applicable to “sinfulness”, a.k.a. things that have to do with the flesh, and worship of things other than that which is holy. Being a devout anti-Christian and anti-capitalist, and liking the ring to the phrase, I took and applied it to the conceptual framework that I wanted the band to operate within. That is, being thematically dedicated to writing a story about the microcosmic man and his struggles with being thrown into an existence he did not ask for: one besieged with the oppressive, de-humanizing, homogenizing scourge of free market capitalism and globalization and organized religion; struggles that also represented a parallel relationship to the macrocosm, and the nature of the universe and reality, and finding a personal, transcendental opening in the dialectic between.
What about influences? What are the biggest sources of inspiration for Kata Sarka, musical or otherwise?
Foremost, Kata Sarka is supposed to be a sort of ritualistic exercise in achieving self-fulfillment and cutting a path to one’s own personal truths. Personal struggle and one’s day-to-day fight is the main inspiration. Musically, anything that works. Fundamentally, the music is rooted in hardcore and black metal. Anything that we think is interesting and can meld within the framework of the music can be applied. Its organic, just like any good, interesting music should be.
The DIY approach to basically every aspect of the band’s existence seems to work very well. While the advantages of such practice are more apparent, has the band’s self-contained operation ever resulted in problems with its progress, say on the road or during the recording process of its two demos?
It makes it difficult to get things done faster and more efficiently, and sometimes doesn’t allow for the intended quality of recorded outputs, be it both audio and packaging aesthetic. Also, we are not able to tour quite as much now. But, the bottom line is that we like working on everything and having control ourselves. And even though our touring capabilities may be stunted at the moment because we book our own shows and tours, we like the process of being able to deal with and talk to bands and show bookers directly. I am dedicated to the belief in strong personal relationships and collaboration with people that help and support us. The pros far outweigh the cons, in our opinion.
How would you describe the creative process and the band’s overall evolution during the span between the two demos?
Essentially, every song starts off with my ideas that I present to the band; musically: completely, lyrics: partially, as I share that duty with Y.S. Then we work with them over the course of rehearsals and discussion till we feel that the song is ready for playing live and recording. As far as the evolution between demos, there wasn’t a great degree of evolution considering that all but one of the songs on both demos were written at the same time, but recorded at separate intervals. The one exception was with the song “The Great Dereliction”. That was written later. It essentially was just us expressing more of our black and death metal influences.
How does the band approach the visual aspects of its work…cover art, t-shirts, etc.? In what ways are the visuals and music related?
Its a combination of finding occult, mystical imagery and ideas, symbolist and surrealist imagery, and actual documented, journalistic imagery like murder and accident scenes, and either using them for original images that I create myself, or combining the found images. Sometimes there is an intent to find a specific kind of image or collection of them, and other times its a matter of seeing any strong, interesting images and fitting them together. They relate to the stories being told in the lyrics and the atmosphere and violence of the music.
If Kata Sarka were to issue a mission statement to the masses, what would it be?
It is essentially this: Kata Sarka is an entity dedicated to wandering the electric path from across the chasm of the Sitra Ahra, re-incarnating fleshless, and wearing the Rings of Saturn as a Halo…Waiting, as a future lodger, in the doorway of the House of Lampblack Illumination.
How does Kata Sarka relate to your past musical endeavors, whether it’s the general aesthetic, the previously-mentioned DIY stance, or what have you?
As I said above, it is a summation of all I and the other members have done previously. A synthesis of the thesis and antithesis of those things. It is about harnessing the chaos of life that, if not achieved and used to one’s advantage, hammers away at the potency of these endeavors; their potency to be real life changing and affirming vehicles as opposed to hobbies or distractions from a debased existence.
I must say, the band has an uncanny ability to translate its live fury clearly onto a recording. Which is your preferred outlet?
One is not preferable to the other. However, the live execution of the songs is primary, and is intended to be a channeling and release of our inner conflicts and violence through a “safe” yet impressionable mechanism, whilst also pointing towards the narrative and pro-active message of the music. The recorded documentation of the music is, on the one hand, basically an invitation to interact with the band in a live environment, but is also a way for us to create a different dimension to the music than we are able to live.
If you could have your choice of squashing whatever weak music trend under your heel that you wished, what would it be, and why?
I don’t personally wish to squash any music trend. There are definitely trends that I personally don’t identify with and even consider obnoxious, and aberrant from any value system that I hold, but you just have to more or less adapt to the emerging musical landscape, while also etching your own niche. And given the increasing ease and access to being able to create and promote music and art, those aspects of culture, especially in the West, is going to become increasingly stratified and factionalized. So, there will be groups that collect around and identify with more or less every form of expression, but the groups will become increasingly smaller and more insular. The more insular they become, then the more self-sufficient they also may become, thus severing any need to observe or identify with or against divergent musical trends.
After having the opportunity to share the stage with so many impressive and revered acts, which of those experiences would you say are the stand-outs?
Being able to play with Ludicra was one of the most memorable ones. They are such a creative and talented band, and are also some of the best people you could ever meet. They are some of my favorite people, and the fact they all are so talented and charismatic, and yet down to earth, is a rare combination to find.
As an Indianapolis-based band, Kata Sarka is a part of a scene of both power and stylistic diversity. What is your take on the city’s underground music community in its current state? Likes…dislikes, etc.?
It is close knit, and that is valuable in some ways. However, there also is not a great deal of multiplicity of specific styles of music, so its hard to maintain the health of specified genres and the unique cultures surrounding them. What I mean by that is there is no “black metal contingent” or “crust punk…” or “new wave…”,etc. as there are in cities with larger populations. So, there definitely has to be a lot of cross-group support, and mixing of genres on shows. That is a good thing more or less, but it also makes it difficult to support more specific groups that there are not large numbers of bands of a similar nature to in the music scene here. There aren’t any strictly crust bands here, so you can’t really do shows for those kind of bands here; there also aren’t any strictly or more orthodox black metal bands here, so you can’t offer much live support to out of town bands of that nature. That leaves us in the lurch here generally because we are a mix of both those kinds of music, essentially. However, there are some very impressive bands here, from every spectrum of the underground scene; that indicates a state of overall health for the music community.
Does the band have any future recording plans…such as a full-length?
We just finished up a recording session in April at Ensomberoom Studios with Geoff Montgomery. The results of that will be dedicated to a 5 song e.p. and our half of a split 7″ we are doing Nak’ay. We hope to have both out sometime in the fall. Prior to that, we may try and do another demo recording with Carl Byers of Clandestine Arts (whom we worked with on the previous two demos). The conceptual map that we have worked on for our recorded output would probably allow for a couple more EP’s and then hopefully a full-length sometime next year. That is all subject to change, of course.
What else does the near future have in store for Kata Sarka?
Hopefully some more lengthy tours, foremost. That is the most immediate thing, other than further recording.
Well, A.V.9, that should just about do it. A pleasure as always! Any last insights for inquiring minds?
Hone your survival instincts.