Zeratulstra 06.04.2022 846

Sum Of R interview (Marco Newman & Reto Mäder)

Sum Of R presented us with their fifth album, being a band whose style doesn't fit in a single label, being able to be doom, drone, atmospheric, etc. Now they add voices, unlike their previous works in which it was more of an instrumental band. The band is currently made up of the Swiss Reto Mäder (Ural Umbo, JeGong, RM74) on bass and synthesizers, and the Finns Jukka Rämänen (Dark Buddha Rising, Hexvessel, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Dust Mountain) on drums and Marko Neuman (Dark Buddha Rising, Ural Umbo, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Convocation) on vocals. The result of this union is "Lahbryce" which turns out to be a really surprising, heavy, atmospheric, dark, and psychedelic album, which led us to consider it among the best releases of the month of March and motivated us to do a brief interview with the band.


Para leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Sum Of R


Metallerium: Welcome to Metallerium pages! First of all, thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview. How are you? How have you been during these complicated times?


Sum Of R: 


Marko Neuman: Complicated.


Metallerium: This is our first interview with you. Can you tell us a little bit about the band’s history?





Sum of R: 


Reto Mäder: Sum Of R was initially created in 2008 by me and ever since underwent several states of metamorphosis from atmospheric doom into ritualistic drone-rock into dark ambient and experimental music. Between 2008 and 2017 Sum Of R released three full-length albums. “Sum Of R” in 2008 on Utech Records, “Lights on Water” in 2013 also on Utech Records, “Orga” in 2017 on Cyclic Law & Czar Of Crickets Records. All three plus an EP called “Ride Out The Waves” (2012, Storm As He Walks) are instrumental albums and were recorded as a solo project with changing guest musicians around me.


Sum Of R as a band exists since 2020 when I teamed up with Jukka Rämänen (Dark Buddha Rising, Hexvessel, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Dust Mountain) and Marko Neuman (Dark Buddha Rising, Ural Umbo, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Convocation). “Lahbryce” is therefore the first Sum Of R band album, which feels like a debut album for us.


Metallerium: What are your influences? How do you define your sound?




Sum of R:


Marko Neuman: As a vocalist and as I always answer that question, my influence is silence. Also, the people I work within music. 


Metallerium: You are releasing your new album “Lahbryce” on March 25th. What can you tell us about the meaning of Lahbryce? What can we expect in terms of sound and lyrics in this new musical journey?


Sum of R:


Marko Neuman: Lahbryce means ”breach of the law”. As humans we are born to make mistakes to find solutions. To find ourselves. Sometimes you have to murder, steal, lie etc. to become a ”better” / ”acceptable” earthling. That’s the lyrical concept of the album. In other words, irony.


Metallerium: Also, when did you decide to work on a new album? Why did you decide to make a new record during pandemic times? Did this situation change the way you compose and record an album?


Sum Of R: 


Reto Mäder: Sum Of R was set to embark on a tour in 2020 with a stop at Roadburn before everything came to a halt because of the pandemic. For that Roadburn Festival edition, we were booked as a two-piece instrumental version of Sum Of R (Jukka and me). Because Roadburn is special, we thought about having a guest singer for that particular performance: Marko Neuman. Then, as we know, the world changed, and both the tour and Roadburn itself didn’t happen. I tried to make something positive of the situation and booked the first possible flight after the first shutdown in Switzerland to travel to Finland for three weeks of studio recording with the trio line-up that never was. So the recordings were a kind of compensation for the tour and Roadburn 2020 cancellation. We were all very grateful for this time together and the opportunity during those difficult times.


Metallerium: Now you are a trio and you are from different countries if I am not wrong. How do you deal with having band members from different countries? Does this make the recording of an album quite difficult?


Sum Of R:


Marko Neuman: Jukka and I are from Finland but from different cities. Sometimes we rehearse in Finland, sometimes in Switzerland. There have been no distance difficulties so far.


Reto Mäder: You have to organize better. And you have to travel. You have less time together, but it's all the more intense, creative, and focused. I am actually more productive in this Swiss/Finnish band constellation than ever before, when I rehearsed 1-2 times per week.


Metallerium: The covert art in “Lahbryce” looks cool. How did you find the cover art for this new album? What do you try to express through the cover art?


Sum Of R:


Reto Mäder: The photo is from Rachel Bühlman. It is a "Stillleben" (still life), an art form. It shows a staging of  “dead” objects. So it's about sparseness and how to put something in the right light. This staging can also be applied to the musical means of Sum Of R.


Metallerium: What are your plans after releasing the album?




Sum Of R:


Marko Neuman: Basic things. Touring and doing festival shows.


Metallerium: I saw that you are very active on digital platforms and recently posted a live session video. From your personal experience. What do you think about streaming events? What is your opinion about the use of digital platforms in the music industry?


Sum Of R:


Reto Mäder: With the released live session we wanted to give a first impression how what the new trio line-up sounds like. Unlike the album songs, the session songs were interpretations of them. So for us, it was also a kind of experimentation with the album songs and another puzzle to let the band constellation grow together. But it was never meant as a so-called streaming event nor as a substitute for a concert. Life is life and we all as part of the event culture are happy to finally experience concerts together again. Event culture is more important to us than the music industry.


Metallerium: I found most of your songs atmospheric but some of them quite long. Don’t you think it is risky to make long songs in these times when most people focus more on singles than complete albums because they want everything fast? What can we do to promote the listening of entire albums?


Sum Of R:


Marko Neuman: Do most people do so? On the planet where I’m from, we let the music swallow our minds. There are no time limits. A single is just one piece of the puzzle. If you (or someone) wants everything fast they will always miss the big picture. That’s their choice. I don’t give a fuck.


Metallerium: Again, thanks for your time, and congratulations on the new album! Before we finish. Is there anything you want to say to your fans in Latin America?

Sum Of R:


Marko Neuman: Keep breathing and support the underworld.





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