Jon Rosenthal is a busy dude. He’s made harsh and heavy music with Venowl, Stellar Descent, and Ævangelist, and drone folk with Eitarnora. He’s also a big curmudgeon in the metal scene, a contributor to Decibel, a Pandora playlist curator, and the associate editor for Invisible Oranges, where he’s interviewed some of the most well-respected and enigmatic artists like Paysage d’Hiver, Nortt, Reverorum ib Malacht, and Elysian Blaze.
Footpaths is similar to Eitarnora but Footpaths leans more on the haunted drone than on the dusty folk and this is a solo outlet where he gets to be himself and let loose a deluge of somber sadness. He’s got a new one called Old Timer (Lost and Reclaimed) coming out in August on Montículo Creadores. Rosenthal has been steadily releasing material as Footpaths since his first split with Bunrage in 2010 and this new one is actually the first material he ever recorded under the Footpaths moniker back in 2009, and it’s a fucking winner. Easily some of the best drone I’ve heard this year. 22 short slices of mind-numbing Americana drone, broken memories caught in a locked groove that glisten and shimmer behind an overgrown thicket, with fog swirling around, clouding your view until you can only focus on that one discernible moment, Old Timer meets up somewhere between an ’80s dream pop downer and the new wave of guitar soli, then gets washed out and dragged like chum through freshwater.
You can check out the premier stream of the 21st untitled track on Old Timer below, then snag a pre-order of the digital version via Montículo Creadores, or wait until Rosenthal gets more copies of the super limited (as in, only 25) tape at a later date. Also, Footpaths will have some new new music (not an archival release) coming out sometime this Fall, which I’m pretty fuckin excited about, so definitely keep an eye out for that stuff.
And to celebrate this premier, Jon was kind enough to participate in my Q&A series.
What is an ideal death?
I used to think solitude would be nice — far away from loved ones and the noise of modern life — but, after bearing witness to a handful of deaths at this point, being surrounded by people who truly care about you has much more meaning than the misanthropic self-importance of being alone. We might be animals, but we lack the “flight in death” instinct, probably with reason. We don’t need to be alone.
What makes you happy?
My loved ones, my cat, my guitar, my records and tapes, and actually feeling the drive to write and record music. The latter grows more infrequent over the last six years, which is sad. The feeling of creativity.
How close have you come to death?
Who knows. I’ve been under so many different sedatives in the various surgeries to which I’ve been subjected during my life that I could have very possibly died multiple times. Car accidents happen, random accidents with sharp glass, and so on. You’d be surprised how often you mindlessly save yourself from the inevitable.
How can you make your life better?
Find balance. Finish graduate school, get a job, leave work at work, go places with my girlfriend, find a nice place to live, make life good for my cat (Marge).
What does kindness mean to you?
Kindness is humbling. I didn’t receive much outside recognition nor was part of many happy interactions when I was younger, so being on the receiving end of any sort of kindness is… humanizing (?) as an adult. It is a good feeling — makes me feel like a fellow person instead of some outside entity.
Where do you find love?
In those who love me back, or those who make me feel both extremes of the emotional spectrum.
In the people who mean the most to me. I could say “music,” but, in the end, my music collection is just a big room of “things.” “Things” can’t love you.
When were you most afraid?
A little over three years ago. I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, couldn’t listen to music nor podcasts. My relationship died. I drank. A lot. I lost twenty pounds, and I’m not a large person. It was the worst six months of my life.
How do you listen to music?
Alone and with friends. The latter has become more frequent and the former the opposite. Music is something to be shared. I spend my personal time watching films and bad TV. Music has become commonplace and boring lately. Maybe it’s because my “day job” as a writer means I have to wade through, well, everything, or maybe I’m just depressed, but those moments when I listen to music which means something to me with friends who share that connection makes it so much more memorable and warming.