Judging a band by their name doesn’t always give you the best picture of their sound. Wolves in the Throne Room, on the other hand, are exactly what you would expect. Formed by brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver back in 2003, the Washington black metal band has been one of the scene’s biggest names when it comes to expanding upon the genre, and every nod to the gothic elements of the Pacific Northwest has tripled their sound in strength.
The band’s most recent album, Thrice Woven, is their sixth full-length to date and arguably their heaviest. For starters, longtime unofficial member Kody Keyworth finally shifted from a third member of the band on tour—usually he provides keys, extra guitar, and backup vocals onstage—to finally joining them as a permanent member in the studio. Thrice Woven is the band’s first black metal album since their 2011 LP and it’s not connected with the previous trilogy of black metal albums they released either. So naturally, after getting the crystalline qualities of 2014’s Celestite out of their system, they went big on Thrice Woven — which meant ditching their home studio Owl Lodge to record all of the drums at Seattle studio Litho Studio.
“In a big studio like that one, there’s a big 48 channel console, a million dollars’ worth of equipment, and every part of the drum kit has its own microphone. We’re the kind of band that likes organic, real, raw sounds. We’re not into computer trickery. So the room itself was a big part of [this drum sound],” says Aaron Weaver. “It’s owned by one of the guitar players from Pearl Jam. It’s like an official studio, but it’s more than the band’s practice space. It has a cool Seattle grunge vibe to it. Because me and Nathan both grew up south of Seattle and were stoked on Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and the bands that rose out of this scene during middle school, it was awesome getting to record there.”
To get into the mood, we interviewed Aaron Weaver for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask bands questions inspired by their song titles. By picking apart 2017’s Thrice Woven and 2014’s Celestite, the questions bring up some heavy topics, which should be on par with the volume they bring to the Royale this Saturday.
1) “Born from the Serpent’s Eye”
DIGBOSTON: If you had to pick, in what ways do you think you’re similar to a snake?
WEAVER: Let me think about that. I go back and forth. I identify with a number of animals and several are close to my heart, like I could turn into one if I wasn’t careful, and the snake is one of those. Do I have a snake spirit inside of me? It feels like it weaves in and out of my dreams, which is appropriate because it’s a tricky animal. Yet they’re mysterious and reside in a world of chaos, which is a part of being a human but also is what we are not. I’ll give it a yes and no.
2) “The Old Ones Are With Us”
DIGBOSTON: Who is your favorite elder that isn’t a member of your family?
WEAVER: I’ve got a few. I feel blessed to have a lot of old mentors, teachers, and friends over the years. The one that sprung immediately to mind is my friend Tibor Brewer. He’s a hippie guy. He lived in a teepee in eastern Washington in the ‘70s growing weed. He’s lived in Olympia for a long time. I met him when I was 21. He’s a carpenter and let me work for him off and on when I needed extra cash in between tours. He just taught me a lot about building but also healing, because he has saunas at his house. They’re a space where all kinds of people have done healing, learning, and transformation. That’s the thing about being friends with older folks: it’s about having love and respect for older people in our lives who found a way before us and are willing to share some of that wisdom with us. He’s just about to turn 70.
DIGBOSTON: How would you take down a giant if one challenged you to a fight?
WEAVER: Well I would trick it, obviously, because that’s all you can really do. They’re not the smartest of mythical creatures. There’s a good chance you could convince it to drown itself in the ocean or burn itself in a fire. Depends on where you are.
4) “Mother Owl, Father Ocean”
DIGBOSTON: If you could only have one parent, which would you choose: a mother that’s an owl or a father that’s a fish?
WEAVER: Well, if I go with my instinct, I would choose the mother that’s an owl. I think it’s because I can’t swim well. I grew up in a place where the water is cold, so I never became a strong swimmer. If I fall off a boat, I won’t drown because I can doggy paddle. The ocean is just not my power place. Plus owls tend to tell good stories. I think my owl mom would be good at that. Besides, my real mom would be a great horned owl, for sure. I’ve just always associated those owls with mothers and the mother lineage. I like owls a lot. My four year old son reminds me of a tiny owl, too.
5) “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon”
DIGBOSTON: What’s your favorite type of fire: bonfire, firepit, or a fireplace fire?
WEAVER: I love all of those. Fire inside the house is best though. I do well in the cold gray northwestern winters. But something about today got to me and I was freezing. We heat our house with wood and last night the fire went out at one point. I was chilled to the bone. As soon as the fire warmed up the space, my whole attitude changed. I love it so much and I’m so grateful for it. It’s the most human thing to be able to do, and luckily we live far out where we can heat out house that way. Bonfires outside are pure magic, too.
6) “Turning Ever Towards the Sun”
DIGBOSTON: What style of sunglasses do you wear?
WEAVER: I’m a famous non-sunglasses wearer. I just squint. I kind of pride myself in not wearing them and squinting uncomfortably. Nathan and Kody both wear some aviator shade ones. Nathan has some old school Ray Bans ones he is into. Nathan is more reliant on them that way. He doesn’t do well in the sun.
7) “Initiation at Neudeg Alm”
DIGBOSTON: Have you ever had to perform some type of ritual or action to be initiated into a group?
WEAVER: Yeah man, the initiation that came to mind is going on tour. It’s an ordeal. That’s the thing about initiation: there’s an element of suffering and an element of ordeal. It’s about getting through it. Going on tour as a crust-punk band with no cell phones, no maps, no air conditioning, and doing it with no compensation is the initiation that unites musicians. All of the people I know went through that, just suffering on the road for years. There’s this camaraderie of people who have toured that way, playing at houses and basements before playing clubs. Doing the time just road dogging it is the initiation that forms you.
I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do that when I did when I was younger. It’s crazy to think about the process. With no maps, you would get close to the town where the show was, pull over to find a payphone, and call the house where the show was at. Some punk who doesn’t have a car is always the one who answered. “Well, you’re on the highway, and you pull off I think, but I don’t drive, man, I ride my bike,” you know? Stuff that helps when you’re riding a bike, not driving a van. I can’t believe it actually worked.
8) “Bridge of Leaves”
DIGBOSTON: Where is your ideal place to spend the fall season?
WEAVER: I just like to be at home, so maybe that’s where. Our music is about the magic of home and the north. There’s a unique spirit in this place. Fall is a time where a lot of the plants are ready to be harvested, there’s celebration and feasting, and we start lighting fires in the wood stove. I like to be home, but it’s nice to go someplace warm sometimes. Occasionally on tour, we’re brought to a warm place and it’s a treat to get a break from the cold, dark months.
9) “Celestite Mirror”
DIGBOSTON: Which celebrity have you been told you look like?
WEAVER: Every now and then I’ll get asked if I’m someone else, but now I’m blanking on who. Nathan gets Glenn Danzig all the time. He’s short, lifts weights, and is a bit of a nasty character. [laughs] He gets that all the time. Kody gets James Hetfield from Metallica all the time. If we’re in the airport, people stop him to ask if he’s James. It happens regularly, without fail.
10) “Sleeping Golden Storm”
DIGBOSTON: Are there any type of storms you look forward to?
WEAVER: I love thunder and lightning. If there’s one thing I really don’t like about living where I do, it’s that we don’t get thunder and lightning very much. Sometimes in the summer, but not much. I know it’s often in other parts of the world, but we rarely do, and I wish we did more.