1476 is a New England-based Post Rock project that draws on dark, atmospheric, and progressive influences to create their unique sound. Their intent is to allow the themes they explore to dictate the sound of the music in an organic way. As a result, each project they release stands apart from its predecessor in a refreshing manner while expanding the boundaries for future efforts.
'Edgar Allan Poe: A Life Of Hope & Despair' is 1476’s first work in the realm of soundtracks. As opposed to his literary works, this music aims to explore the melancholic & quaint life, love, and death of Poe. The mood and ambience that usually lives on the periphery of their work takes center stage here. Each song draws upon neoclassical and experimental influences to weave piano & string sections with analogue synthesizers, samples, glitch, and drone into an atmospheric, yet engaging, album. This music has been made for the Poe-inspired Spirits Of The Dead art show taking place at The Scarlet Letter Press & Gallery in Salem, MA throughout the month of October. Recorded and mixed by 1476 in their own studio Seraphim House, this soundtrack will be their third full length release following two previous full lengths, two EPs, and a live album. The album will be available on CD at the aforementioned art show but will be available internationally on 31 October 2014 for distribution and mail-order through the 1476 website.
Hi Robb, nice to talk with you (even if by mail only). I discovered +1476+ last year, in one of my “bandcamp trips", and suddenly I have been totally astonished by your voice, which strongly characterizes the music of the band. Would you spend some words on the band? I guess you had to explain that a million of times, but, why “+1476+”? Are you actually a duo, correct? How can you manage the songwriting process and who plays what, since your music is often extremely rich in terms of instruments used?
Robb: Hello! I’m happy you’ve found us! Yes, 1476 is a duo comprised of myself and Neil DeRosa. The name ‘1476’ comes from a song I wrote about 1 year before we started the project. That song signaled a new direction in my song writing that I was very excited about at the time. It became the new musical standard for me as well as a foundation for new sounds and ideas. When Neil approached me about starting a band, I wanted to call it 1476 to symbolize that new foundation and future. What we like about the name is that it’s ambiguous, it has no definition. Thus, we can easily apply any meanings and imagery to it that we want. It’s become symbolic of different things to us individually and we also like that everyone who hears us can place their own meanings on it as well. For me personally, it symbolizes the remote past as the year 1476. It predates America which for me implies a European feeling. This is important to us because we identify with Europe far more deeply than America despite being from America. I find that the distant past is very stimulating to the creative process because we can only approach it through our imaginations. We can never go back and truly experience it. It becomes a series of fragmented symbols, feelings, histories, and folklore in our minds. The past is ultimately an abstract idea that we color with our own thoughts, mental images, and emotions. It’s largely subjective and highly symbolic. I’m attracted to the idea of being ‘outside of time’ or lost in an abstract, untouchable past. That’s the feeling I try to surround myself with when working on 1476 projects. Regarding the writing process, I am primarily a guitarist and Neil is a drummer. We use those instruments as our foundation most of the time and build the rest on top of that. I think we end up with a lot of instruments sometimes because the songs always feel like they’re incomplete or not good enough to us. Overcompensation! :)
Your strong interest in spiritual and philosophic practices is evident from your music, texts and all the iconography related to the project +1476+. Would you tell us something about that? On your website is stated that your music is influenced by “energy & mood that reflects the environment of the old, haunting landscapes of New England’s coastal regions”. How and to what extent can a place inspire and influence your music?
Robb: Art is a blessing because it gives us an unlimited platform to explore and express the things we find beautiful, meaningful, and interesting. We can express these things with an enormous range of emotions and imagery from unlimited angles. We can be literal and metaphorical, abstract and direct. Every person in our world is completely unique and has different loves, hates, desires, dreams, fears, etc. I really believe that when creating any art or music, it is our obligation to show our unique qualities, feelings, interests, and ideas as deeply as we can. It’s what makes us special. It’s the ultimate expression of our humanity and connects us all as a result. Any concept that I write about is an exploration of my own feelings, ideas, and interests. I try to surround my art with the things I love. We all relate to life and our worlds through different lenses. For example, someone may relate to the world through the filter of science. Another may relate to it through the filter of religion. Still, others may find an understanding of life through the filter of historical analysis or philosophical analysis or the use of emotions. It’s endless. My understanding comes from mythology, symbolism, and what could be called spiritual practices. It’s how I relate to life and that is the filter I express myself with artistically. I do also find landscapes and places very inspiring. I’ve spent much of my life alone on the coast of New England. The feeling certain places give me is overwhelming and I love it. It’s something that I try to convey with the sound and mood of our music. I don’t know if it can ever be completely captured. The pursuit of that feeling is the main reason I make music I think.
Your last release 'Edgar Allan Poe: A Life Of Hope & Despair' is actually a soundtrack for an exhibition on Poe’s life. How did this project start? How can you describe the album? In the past other musicians dedicated entire albums to E. A. Poe. I think to Lou Reed’s 'The Raven' or the tribute cured by Hal Willner 'Closed on Account of Rabies'. Did you listen to them or just got inspiration form Poe’s life and poems?
Robb: A local art gallery near where we live in Salem, MA is having a Poe-inspired art show throughout the month of October. Earlier this spring, Neil talked to the gallery about providing a soundtrack for the show and they agreed. This was exciting because Halloween is the biggest holiday in Salem and the whole month of October is filled with festivities. We’re having a lot of fun being a part of it all! The album focuses on Poe’s life instead of his writings. For some reason, we both felt that we could make a more cohesive album approaching it this way. We mostly wanted to capture the atmosphere of the time period in which he lived combined with different events in his life such as his marriage, creative process, manic emotions, and death. Because we made it as a soundtrack for a gallery, it is almost entirely instrumental music though there is one song with vocals. The music is largely neoclassical and with modern experimental influences. I suppose you could say this album is the love child of Chopin and Ulver… It can go from prim and proper classical piano and violin sections to dark, trippy, electronic downbeat sections pretty quickly. The inspiration came directly from Poe’s life. We specifically did not read his stories or listen to other artists’ tributes with the hopes of making the most unique album we could.
Last year I loved your release 'Wildwood' (and its twin, 'The Nightside' EP). If I’m not wrong it was a sort of a concept album on the human nature. Would you talk about that? I also found in it a wide range of musical genres, ranging from gothic-wave to classic rock to metal. Was this a special choice or you simply “let the music flow”, irrespectively of genres and categories?
Robb: Thank You. Yes, 'Wildwood' is a commentary on human nature told through the filter of Hermetic, animal, and elemental symbolism. It was important to us not to do a social or political commentary because those ideas have been done to death. In most cases, they are only relevant to whatever time period they are a part of and, depending on their standpoint, are capable of alienating a lot of listeners. We wanted to focus on subject matter that we can all identify with on a deeper level: self awareness, honesty, sexuality, herd mentalities, selfishness, unresolved problems, etc. Choosing to reflect on human nature, how we act, and how we treat each other really forced both Neil and I to question ourselves about our own feelings, actions, and beliefs. It made us look at our own weaknesses, hypocrisies, and truths that we fear to face. This is what I love about art and music. Over the course of an album, we’ll take a subject, immerse ourselves in it, and explore it in order to write about it—and as a result, we change and grow as people. The conclusions we came to were bleak and mostly cynical. We found that man is an animal that consistently grows further away from his own nature. We all seem so lost, confused, selfish, and obsessed with material things (us included!) that we are almost completely out of touch with who and what we are inside. But our nature still resides within us and I hope we can reclaim it before we destroy it or Nature claims us! The idea of genre has never been a real consideration with us. With this album, we wanted to capture the mood of the concept (and New England’s bleak coasts!). The album was recorded over the course of a year while we were writing it so there were almost no rehearsals. We did this to make it more organic and human. That’s why some songs are raw, heavy, and dense while others are more ambient and lush with better production.
I have to say that I fell in love in particular with 'The Nightside' EP, issued together with 'Wildwood'. Compared to the album, I found 'Nightside' to be more focused and I think that its semi-acoustic mood is ideal to highlight the songwriting and your beautiful voice. The final result is so dark and solemn. Do you plan to write and record something similar, in the future?
Robb: Thank you so much! I appreciate that! I totally agree that 'The Nightside' is more focused. Those were songs that we recorded during the Wildwood sessions. When we tried to put them on 'Wildwood', it made the album lose its edge but we loved the way they worked outside of 'Wildwood' on their own. It was a pleasant surprise because it was completely unintentional. I don’t want to say too much about the future but I will say that we have about 75% of the next album written. There’s about 20 songs and we have a lot of ideas with what we’d like to do with them. So, we want to wait until everything is complete before we decide what context we will release them in. With each project, we like to take a different approach than what we’ve done in the past. Where the sound of 'Wildwood' was dictated by the subject matter, what we’re working on now is the opposite. We wanted to take a very specific approach to the sound this time. The ideas regarding the sound have given me the idea for the lyrical/visual theme.
What are you listening to at the moment? Is there any underground band you would like to recommend to the Pit of the Damned readers?
Robb: Lately, I’ve been listening to 'You’re Nothing' by the Danish band Iceage a lot as well as their new album 'Plowing Into The Field Of Love'. They do something different with each album and the new one has a similar vibe to Nick Cave. 'You’re Nothing' is raw, intense, and passionate punk that’s extremely creative for that genre. I’ve been listening to the whole Alcest catalogue a lot, 'From The Cradle To The Grave' by Subhumans, Slowdive, and a lot of Icelandic artists. I guess I’d definitely recommend 'You’re Nothing' by Iceage. If you like more melodic and Heathen-inspired metal, the new Sólstafir album 'Ótta' is great. They’re Icelandic. Also from Iceland is a great Heathen/Folk/Ambient album that comes in a beautiful book called 'Stafnbúi' by Steindór Andersen & Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. I’m looking forward to the Scott Walker & Sunn O))) collaboration called Soused too. I’m hoping to pick that up this week!
And now, in the end, a simple (it is never simple, I know) “desert Island list”: three books, three records and three movies you can’t live without.
Robb: Very difficult! Hmmmm….
Books: 1.Nordic Gods And Heroes by Padraic Colum. This is what appears to be a children’s book about Norse Mythology but it’s literally the most well written and enjoyable version I’ve read. Great illustrations too. 2.The Lord Of The Rings by JRR Tolkien. 3.Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine. One of the most useful books on magic I’ve ever read!
Records: 1.Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here. 2.Ulver-Shadows Of The Sun. 3.Danzig-4p.
Movies: 1.Surf Nazis Must Die. 2.Salem’s Lot. 3.The Mummy
Thank you for this interview! It was a pleasure!