Interview / Molten Lava
By Willow Gamberg
Molten Lava plays drum and bass. That is, their doom-y, stripped-down brand of thrash is delivered via only a drum kit and a bass guitar.
Newly transplanted to Vancouver, the two members of Molten Lava, Tristan Helgason and Liam Bryant, have been writing music together for seven years and have released two albums during that time, though they were always limited by time and distance.
Now that Tristan has made the move from Regina to Vancouver to pick up Molten Lava again, the duo look forward to getting their project back on the road. They have already made a strong start with a September performance at 333 beside locals M16, Bushwhacker and Assimilation.
Liam says they are looking forward to writing new material and exploring what is now the third incarnation of the band.
“It’s been an interesting challenge getting back into the writing headspace of our band after three years without any new material, and I’m honestly very curious to see how it unfolds,” he says. “I know my own songwriting process has changed drastically from when we started playing together.”
A serious evolution in style is already apparent between Molten Lava’s two albums, Sevens and Nines (2009) and Heavy Party (2012). The former, recorded on the fly in a bar, a basement, and an apartment, leans toward the rougher, heavier and groovier side of the spectrum, while Heavy Party is an aptly-named grab bag of well-produced tracks with descriptions that run the gamut from doom and thrash to rock, punk, acoustic, hardcore and just about everything in between.
“We weren’t in a hurry,”says Liam of their second release, “We’d toured quite a bit and really found what our two instruments and voices were capable of.”
The two musicians have created a unique opportunity to explore sound with instruments that are usually reserved for support and background.
“Being a bass player and a drummer, we’re used to having someone else write a song and then we sprinkle our magic on it, but now we [are] getting the chance to create our own songs,” Tristan explains, adding that having just two members can also simplify the songwriting process. “It’s cool ’cause we trust each other as musicians. We don’t spend a lot of time saying, ‘I don’t like that, try this…’ It’s just like, ‘Hey, you’re the bass player, do your thing.’”
“Being a bass player and a drummer, we’re used to having someone else write a song and then we sprinkle our magic on it, but now we [are] getting the chance to create our own songs,”
As for future new material, Liam hopes to build on the duo’s strong foundation, which, at present, doesn’t include plans for more members.
“From seeing what Tristan is bringing to the table, and figuring out what I want to do with the bass on our new material, I can safely say it will be different, while hopefully still holding on to what we love about playing together as a band,” he says. “I think we’ve loosely discussed putting together enough material for an EP or 7”. We haven’t done that yet, and I like 7” records.”
With exciting things on the horizon, both members of Molten Lava are happy that both they and their music have finally found a home in the Vancouver scene, which, in the past, hasn’t always been so welcoming.
“I moved [to Regina] to play music, and when we started playing as Molten Lava I was really excited about how supportive the scene there was,” says Liam. “There was little in the way of competing for shows, all the musicians I met were completely supportive of one another’s talents, even if they were completely different. I hadn’t really felt that as openly in Vancouver. [Over] the last couple years, though, living here and reconnecting with my friends and seeing them play, and also having Molten Lava get involved on some really amazing shows in this city, my opinion about Vancouver has changed. I’m really excited we’re living here now and getting involved with what seems like a very vibrant and diverse scene.”
Check out the gallery of photos of Molten Lava performing at 333 below.
View the full set of images here.