Doom Metal encompasses a large spectrum, but the chief trait is the slow tempo and melancholy riffs. Vocals can be clean or gruff, and in some cases completely ruined by gay black metal screeching. Orchestral instruments and operatic vocals are not uncommon.
It is a pleasure to come across masters of poetry. Couldst thou explain why thy CD insert shows only one printed line for each song? I know that the heavenly operatic vocals are easily deciphered if the ear is open. “You faded away like a line drawn on the water.” The idea for that was that the CD cover art looks better with those lines than whole lyrics, and also, we had two different types of writers. Hanna Kalske, our vocalist, and Jan Mekitanta, our bass player. We decided to put only those lines that put things in balance. We have got more info from fans, and now it’s possible to get them (ed. – lyrics) from the Internet
The vocals are a highlight, but there is a more powerful tool that makes thee craft immense catchiness. It is the lead guitar. It is a combination of a savory tone, choice of notes, and picking style that works magic on the listener. Couldst thou tell more of the ingredients, such as how the sound was processed? It seems very close to chorus and flanging, but not quite. Hey, I made about fifty interviews, and you are the first one to ask me about guitars! Perhaps the main thing that made the lead guitars sounding like they sound was that we used much time to arrange suitable guitar parts on each guitar. We used about twelve different guitars. Those very processed guitar sounds are made by using analog type machine called “vocoder” that I have from the ‘70s. It’s Roland, and absolutely great! With vocoder, you mix two sounds, like vocals and guitar, and get sound like guitar could talk. You control your guitar sound by singing. About keyboards – I used fifteen pieces that contain the old stuff, like Honher clarinet from the ‘70s, electric piano from DDR, two analog synths… Korg Polysix and Jen SX1000, sampler, and et cetera.
Thy songs are darkly atmospheric and rather exquisitely detailed. When I listen to thy masterpieces, I cannot help but to wonder how this beauty was created. Where does it all begin? How painfully is the music composed? It has soul-crushing build-ups and resolutions. The process of creating over sixty minutes of music took the band nearly three years. The present sound is a blend of metal roots and various other forms of music that have influenced the members through the years. The aim is to write timeless music. The songwriting period is always very painful.
When putting the band together, was there an advertisement for a vocalist, or was Hanna known? Her voice is quite perfect for the music. The truth about that is that Hannah was the girlfriend of Ari’s friend, and the guy came up to us and told us that there is one girl that is fucking great singer, so we asked her to come and try to sing to tape, and that was it! I agree with you 100% that Hannah is the best kind of singer for our music.
When I first heard that thy band had a female singer, I expected a higher register, but I did not let this prejudice me. I set the CD aside until I was in the proper mood, and then I listened without any prophesy. A similar magic overcame me with Straus when I heard “Biem Schlafengehen” which started flat, but it lulled me into a state in which I became defenseless against the crescendo. The lure of thy band is that there is no dominant talent that overshadows the other instruments. Each musician is contributing something to intensify the sorrowful beauty. You know, here in Finland, everybody have some kind of base element of thinking things melancholic. It’s perhaps because of our long dark winter.
As a longtime fan, it is still striking when I hear every nuance of the instruments in a Skepticism song. The older albums had a fogginess that induced feelings of entering unexplored regions of the mind, and each listening session was a descent into the unknown. Even as songs became perfectly memorized, a sense of bearing was elusive. Listening lost you to the world.
The remix of Stormcrowfleet is still a mindblowing experience, one that I highly recommend.
Companion is another groundbreaking album. There is more dimension. Hearing the music is like entering a world of sound.
Guitars are more prominent in this offering. The keyboards are familiar yet new, more layered, and used in more, dare I say, melodic ways. There are also far more settings, almost like a doom orchestra. The mood is alive, yet morose, and far more dynamic. There are moments of strength and energy.
The unique vocals are crystal clear, and there is a variety to the emotion, exploring the range of the demonic singer.
I have not stopped listening to this album for three days now. I think about it when I am doing other things, and I hear the parts in my mind as I fall asleep.
This is an enjoyable venture into atmosphere. The songs are like soundtracks to strangeness instead of being songs per se. Yes, they are songs, but the structure and timing produce a mood, often unsettling, like being affected by a horror movie.
Yes, there is brutality, a distinctly heavy guitar sound, and death metal sort of rasping vocals, but the effect is more than just heaviness.
I’ve heard the album many times, and each new listening session produced more discovery, so if you want to invest in an album that will unfold in this manner, I recommend it.
When I received this album, the first thing I checked was who the vocalist was. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the name. Johan Langquist . He had delivered the magical performances on “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus“- I held hope my entire life that he would return. In fact, I heard that he was one of the singers who were considered for “King of the Grey Isles” – and although I was dismayed when Johan wasn’t chosen, I had to admit that the former Solitude Aeturnus singer was perfect for those songs.
The first song on The Pendulum starts out with almost a “Symptom of the Universe” feeling, rooting me in the world of Black Sabbath as I try to orient myself in this new Candlemass music.
I must give the disclaimer that Johan does not sing the way that he did on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, so do not have the unbearably anxious feeling that I had as I cursed every delay.
If you love Candlemass then I do not need to state anything because you will buy the album without question. The only remarks that I would like to make is that these songs live on their own. They are not an extension of any other album. This production is unique to this E.P. so you won’t get a comparison to anything else. You must simply trust that these godlike musicians have offered something that you must hear.
Interview with Nichole Drohomyreky and Jason Hartman conducted by Bill Zebub for the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.
Nichole, I must begin this interview by confessing how lost I have become in your voice. I cannot compare you to anyone else. You have truly developed a new style. Is there anything that you would like to share about your approach?
(Nichole)Thank you. I know my voice is not for everyone and I have a hard time hearing it myself… on voicemail, or even played back in the studio…But this body of music was a very cathartic experience for me to write. I hope the listener feels the experience too. It was a strange time for Jason and m moving back to Wisconsin from PDX and being new parents. A lot of emotion was flowing out of me, and may have inadvertently affected or cultivated the style.
The song “Heavy Dreamer” is magical. I have listened to it fifteen times in a row and could have gone longer if I did not have to attend to some biological functions. I think that it is impossible to tire of it. I even daydream about it. It’s impossible to ask just one question about it, so I hope that you don’t mind it taking up a larger portion of the interview. Let’s begin with the singing. Your voice invites me into the world of the song, and it really does feel like I am in another place. Nichole, you guide me in with a an otherworldly voice, serene and wizened, and you launch into intense emotion. It’s quite an experience to hear you. You go up and down in feeling, and the melancholy parts are beautiful. How did you come upon this mastery? You sang to my soul.
(Nichole) Oh man that means a lot that you connected to this song. I love this song too, and its still super fun to perform. Oddly I wrote the chorus first on this one, which is in reverse of how I usually put songs together. I honestly don’t even remember how the “Child in Time” thing came into it. It’s been referenced much,almost comically, and I do love that song deeply, so it may have subconsciously snuck into the work. Another song that didn’t make the album was absolutely inspired by Deep Purple and not sure when we will release that one. I’m a sucker for a ballad and LOVE to write them. I could easily see myself releasing nothing but ballad albums. If I can keep the guys enlisted (laughs) The song is very personal but I really tried to open the lyrics to share with others to have their own experience. It was,however, inspired by my daughter, and the great love, admiration, and inspiration I have for her and her true spirit. It means a lot to hear that other’s are feeling deeply connected to it, as I, and the band do too. I have to give credit to Hart,our drummer, for writing the back up vocal production on this song, and Rachel Catherine Kent and I performed it on the recording. It’s lower in the mix and behind the main vocal, but when you hear it, it is quite lovely. Rachel Catherine Kent has been playing shows with us since the album’s release, which has been a thrill to hear that stuff live, and changed in a really great way. She sang in a band called ‘No Hoax‘ here in Madison and completely blew me away. The song would never be as majestic if it weren’t for the incredible guitars work of Jason -my favorite solo on the album, and the tasteful, skilled playing of Jerry Sofran and Hart A. Miller. Such a dream to play with such killer musicians.
Jason, the guitar in “Heavy Dreamer” is another spellbinding part. The distortion is quite a deep fuzz, but is is also the playing that makes it seem like each strum of a chord is played like it is sound to be savored. The chords also spring upon the vocals like a flourish meant to enhance all of the song elements. It seems like this song was lovingly crafted. What was in your mind? Surely this was not meant to be simply a tune. It feels like each part of the music was chosen to ensnare any person capable of deep emotion.
(Jason) Nikki deserves most of the credit on “Heavy Dreamer” the song AND the album. She wrote the majority of the songs. The song “Heavy Dreamer” was written by her on organ and synthesizer in its entirety before I added the guitar. So I had those instruments as a guide, as well as the vocal melody. So yes, the guitar is built around her ideas vocally/ musically/ emotionally. I usually have a lot of different ideas and try to incorporate the best ones. It is usually pretty easy to decide what to choose and Nikki generally likes my input. We have played together for so long and grown musically together in the same directions, it is sometimes uncanny. I tend to want to make things busier than needed at times and I’ve been working on simplifying, just using the necessary notes for maximum emotion. Nikki is also a busy player so we have to leave room for each other. Jerry Sofran (bass) and Hart Allan Miller (drums) laid back on this one and kept the rhythm section open which was needed for this I think.
Would you like to talk about the production of the album? I am specifically intrigued by the choices in modulation and echo. I don’t dare guess whether you favor delay or reverb. I’d also like to know how you achieved such dimension.
(Nichole) Our drummer Hart Allan Miller is a very talented engineer/ producer. We recorded the drum,some guitars, keys at a local studio called Blast House with Dustin Sisson, and the rest was done by Hart at his studio, “Nightmare House”. He engineered and produced the album with us. Also, Rachel Catherine Kent performed some vocals on tracks, ‘Creation,” and ” Heavy Dreamer.” Jason and I have always been heavy effects users and I could literally drown in reverb and love it… interesting dilemma with sound engineers particularly at live shows! Hart worked relentlessly on this album and I agree, his choices to feature certain instrumentation,like the keys and effects at times were very thoughtful and absolutely made a band as “dense” as ours have balance and not turn to mud. We’ve always went to expensive studios that were really over our heads and budgets really, so much was compromised. Dimension was honestly realized this time by the sheer work and dedication from Hart as an engineer and producer, but also we worked really long and hard on writing these songs too.
I noticed that the official videos show, shall we say, the band in sort of after-images, visual trails – this suits the psychedelic aspect, but is it a statement that the music is to be heard and for the sound to create the visuals? I know that in my case, whether my eyes are open or close, I no longer see the earth when I listen to “Heavy Dreamer.”
(Nichole)I think that’s exactly how I feel about the videos. I want visual imagery and sound to come together to create an experience together, rather than they being separate which I think a lot of bands do with video -and can be done well, but I definitely prefer the more artful approach. We wanted darkness to meet beauty and largely I feel that came across. We ended up enlisting a very talented videographer, Aaron Hall, from Rockford, Illinois, who filmed and edited the videos. Aaron really brought the ideas to life, gorgeous footage, and incorporating very creative effects,. Was a thrill watching the ballet dancers, skaters, and transforming a warehouse, bedroom, and a roller rink into dreamy worlds. As an artist, having the ability to add imagery and movement to your sound is a thrilling and symbiotic concept.
I thought that your band was surely from another country. Have you been told that you don’t sound American? There is just too much creativity at work in your music.
(Nichole) (laughs) No. Well, at least don’t think so. I’ve definitely had people be off guard that we are from Wisconsin, but have not heard that before.
(Jason) I have heard that before. Even our bassist Jerry has said that was one of the things that drew him to us, that our sound was very un- American. Jerry is a fan of a lot of German music from the Kraut Rock of Amon Duul 2, Can, Neu , . as well as hard rockers The Scorpions, Accept to thrashers Kreator, Destruction as well as electronic music of Kraftwerk. A lot of great music from there. We targeted European record labels to release this album because we thought they might understand it or at least accept it as I think it is more open minded and creative over there in general. We ended up picking Svart out of Finland, an incredible and diverse label. We hope to get over there soon.
Jason, I was surprised that you had known about me before this interview. Are you surprised that I am not making any jokes? Well, you know, as a reader of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds, that I don’t joke with people when the music is vital, like in my King Diamond interviews.
(Jason) I am a reader of the Grimoire! Your questions and interaction have been so heartfelt that I felt no apprehension or worry about jokes! It’s part of the fun!
The keyboards sometimes are prominent, and sometimes drop in volume, which I think is cool. It seems like each component in a song takes turns being accented, and of course, there is the mastery of the parts coming together to for greatest effect, building each other up. Do you write songs almost like creating an adventure for the listener?
(Nichole) As a group, we all tried our best to write our parts thoughtfully, thus giving space when needed and vice versa. Laying back during solos and vocals et cetera. Jerry is a masterful bassist – always serving the song so beautifully, and Hart and Jason both shred and pull back when needed. Really was important to us and took awhile to construct and choose what should be highlighted at particular points in each song.
I noticed that the album didn’t come with lyrics. Is that intentional? I wonder if it is a proclamation of art – that the listener should hear what he or she wants to perceive.
(Nichole) We did release the lyrics with the vinyl, but it’s funny you mention that, as I really did open my lyrics up in a more, deliberate and broad way in hopes to share the experience with others. Still personal and abstract though.
It’s funny that even as I ask these questions, I can’t get ‘Heavy Dreamer” out of my mind. I am working on a black metal documentary, and I am tempted to include an excerpt of that song. I think that it is so incredible that it will turn on anyone, no matter what the clique or musical preferences are. Have you noticed that your fans are diverse? Are there any examples of people who surprised you when they revealed their appreciation?
(Nichole) I’ve not noticed a huge commonality with our fans yet, except that the most enthusiastic and passionate responses have been from men. I was hoping to reach more women, especially since I’m such an emotional creature I’ve actually been surprised by the metal following, as we’re not the most brutal band in the world (laughs). I and the band all have a nicely varied musical palette. We all do love metal though, and the Cure, and Pink Floyd, et cetera. so I greatly appreciate anyone who can see through the need to pigeonhole a sound and ‘genre-ify‘ it? Is that a word? We’ve always, as a band, sort of existed between worlds. We’re not metal enough, goth enough, psych, et cetera or too much in one way for others. So thank you to anyone who can just listen to it and appreciate it without needing to label it.
I want the world to know about you. If I didn’t have a radio show and a magazine, I wonder if I would have discovered “Vanishing Kids.” Your album is too important to die unknown. What are some ways that I can help, and what challenges hurt your climb to the top?
(Nichole)Oh man, just truly listening and feeling the music means more than you’ll ever know. Our attention spans as a species are changing and people give music a 5-10 second chance on their crappy computer speakers. So many bands put so much heart, money, and time into their work and it’s literally just dismissed quickly. Remember the albums that we had to listen to over and over and then it hits you like a ton of bricks?! Certainly happened for me with bands like Sonic Youth, Voivod, and Rush…Or HAVING to actually go to a venue to check out a band. Please truly listen to music before dismissing it. Music is personal, and I promise you that I and my bandmates put our whole hearts and soul into what we do. To write and perform music is my most favorite thing in the world, next to my family. .If you are truly paying attention that is the greatest contribution. Spreading the word is greatly appreciated too, and check out a show in your area if you can. Its hard for us to tour and a big endeavor when we can make it happen – this,means a lot to see fans.
Plug any site or anything you wish.
(Jason) You can get “Heavy Dreamer” at vanishingkids.bandcamp.com or at svartrecords.com Although it is 90% sold out! I hope they repress. Nik and I are writing the new album currently and hope to have that recorded over the winter. Nik and I are also working on a more traditional 80’s hard rock EP under the name Diati. Also I wrote a song on the new Thor album “Hammer Of Justice.” The song is called “Wotan”. I played guitar, Nikki did back up vocals and our drummer Hart played drums, bass and recorded it.
Interview with Tom Sutton conducted by Bill Zebub for THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
Israfel is an angel who has mastery of music. In that sense, I can understand why the band uses the name. Your riffs are quite tasty. But is it not a strange choice to use the name of an angel, especially when the lyrics are sometimes demonic?
Yeah, there’s plenty of good old-fashioned satanic panic in the lyrics, for sure. But the idea for the band was always that the music would ultimately be uplifting. I wanted to share happiness with people, even if the music is presented in a melancholy way. I think religious imagery always has a kind of majesty and weight, so I liked the idea of using the name of an angel for the band. So far, all the songs have some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure it will always be that way, but that’s the way it has been so far.
It may be none of my business, but wouldn’t your band be best suited to a label like Svart Records? I love many of the albums on Napalm Records, but your classic riffing and vocals seem a tad out of place on that label.
My other band, Night Viper, actually did our first album on Svart. Yeah, it would have been a good fit. Napalm just expressed interest very early on, and we liked their approach, so we didn’t feel like we had to think much further than that. Napalm have started really diversifying, though. I think they want to be a label that covers a wide range of heavy music rather than just one or two styles. They have released Candlemass albums, so there are other bands that we have things in common with on there.
Do you know Chritus from Goatess and Count Raven? I am not sure why I am asking this.
Haha! Yeah, we know him well. We have played a couple of shows with Goatess. He actually got on stage with us at our second show to do a cover of Candlemass‘ ‘Solitude’ along with Mappe from Candlemass. My first exposure to Saint Vitus was actually the video clip for ‘Fear’ which was from the album Chritus is on. That was Saint Vitus as far as I knew for a pretty long time.
Your band is not stoner doom, but some of the riffs flirt with that style. I’d like to call you heavy metal because some of your songs remind you of how I felt when I first heard Black Sabbath. Rather than ask you what your category is, because that is more for retailers than for music fans, I’d like to know what you are thinking when you create music.
It varies from song to song, I guess. It depends what kind of feeling I get from the early riffs in a song. Like, something that feels spiritual will lead me to think of some kind of lesson or message. I’ll reach for something deep and universal. Something that feels more cinematic will lead me in more of a narrative direction. I always want each line of lyrics in the song to play its role in telling the story of that song, so I’m trying to make sure I’m disciplined about that rather than just throwing stuff in because it rhymes. And then as we’re putting the details into the song, it’s about creating an interesting color palette for the ears and making it more exciting or giving it more atmosphere.
The vocals sometimes remind me of Jethro Tull. I don’t mean that as an insult, or even as a comparison. What I mean is that the vocal delivery seemed very good for storytelling, and your lyrics are of things happening, words of action.
Ah, thanks. Our bass player loves Jethro Tull, and we even asked Ian Anderson to play flute on our second album, but he didn’t have time. Kind of crazy that we even got a response. Yeah, I think it’s great to engage the power of story-telling in songs, and in those cases it’s important to be able to hear what the singer is saying. I’ve never written any short stories or whatever, but I love creating stories in songs. Actually, ‘The Noctuus’ from the first album and ‘A Shadow In The Hills’ from the second are parts one and two of a single story. I gotta come up with at least one more part now. Can’t leave the story hanging!
It’s cool how you have radio-length songs, like four minutes, and you also have a fifteen-minute song. You also vary from upbeat to something more like a doom dirge. Peter Steele would have called you “Schizo-phonic.”
Thanks. It’s something that bothers me a bit with Sabbath-family bands these days. They tend to pick one tempo or one vibe and then do that to death. I find it really boring, actually. The bands that established all this in the first place all had a lot of variety in their music. From Black Sabbath to Cathedral to The Gates Of Slumber, all my favorite bands in this style knew how to use light and shade and dynamics. I think it’s really important.
I’ve seen some live clips and it makes me envious of those who have been able to catch a show. Is America not ready for you to do a headline tour?
Man, we’d be playing all the time if we could. The fact is that all bands are at the mercy of how popular they are or aren’t, and whether or not booking agents are willing to put the time into booking tours for them and whether or not promoters in each city feel like they’ll make their money back. We’ve been pretty lucky in Europe, touring with Pentagram, The Year Of The Goat, et cetera, but the costs involved in coming to the US when it’s hard to say that anyone would come up just don’t make it feasible yet. I toured the U.S. once when I was in Church Of Misery, and it was one of the most fun tours I’ve ever done, so it would be fun to come back some time, for sure.
“The Vow” is quite chilling. Your songs sometimes can be left to interpretation whether or not the band has occult inclination, but this track has strong words. What effect has this had on fans who may not go this far into horror?
I’ve only ever heard one person outside of reviews talk about it. She loved it at least. I’ve never heard that anyone had a problem with it. I’m just surprised that no-one has recognized it for what it is. It’s from a film, actually. The guy who produced the album set up the sound effects, and I recorded the dialogue. It actually plays into the story of the song that follows it on the album, so I thought it would be cool. I still like how it turned out. Maybe I should do more spoken word!
“The Order of Israfel” makes me remember a time when bands sounded different from each other. Do you think that it’s harder for a unique band to become known in a time when people seem to be in musical cliques?
Maybe, but bands that don’t have much personality only get so far. They might find some kind of following, but people will always want something that stands out from the pack. It’s nice that you think we sound a bit different from other bands. I would hope so, but it’s hard to know about your own band, of course.
interview with Louis Galvez conducted by Bill Zebub for THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine.
I will not speculate why there is a new vocalist whose style is so far removed from what I’ve become fond of. Rather; I hope that you will talk about what led to this.
After the release of “Crucidiction” Thomas, wasn’t in the band. I did try some new vocalists, but it didn’t work, so finally I decided to use a session vocalist with totally different style than Thomas. I wanted to try something new, and I don’t regret it. Some like, some not, but I don’t care what people say. Anyway, I won’t use the session vocalist again. Hopefully Thomas will take care of the vocals on the next album. If not, I’ll use death-style vocals instead. There are a few death singers around here where I live, so it would not be a problem. Pity that they don’t sing gothic style because that is what I prefer in Tristitia. Death-style vocals would bring more darkness into my lyrics this time than it did on “The Last Grief”.
The “Crucidiction” album lists five musicians, yet the photographs only show three members. Is that because the hidden ones are studio musicians? Only you and Thomas remain from “One With Darkness”, so should not there only be a picture of two members?
Yeah, you right. They were just session, but Adrian on bass was in the band in that time. But he got into study and that stuff, so he quit. For the moment, it’s just me and Thomas. I’ll see if there ‘ll be new members, or I’ll play most instruments in the studio and bring sessionists in those instruments I can’t handle, like I did in “The Last Grief” – I played everything except the drums.
Does Tristitia play live?
We did some shows when we released “One with Darkness” back in ’95, but it sounded crap with just one guitar. It must be two guitarist when we play live. I still have trouble in finding a suitable second guitarist, so it hasn’t been any live shows after that. Anyway, I enjoy most sitting in the studio and recording than playing live. Maybe in the nearest future I would be able to put a suitable line up to do some live gigs.
Do you feel that Holy Records is a worthy label?
I don’t have any trouble with Philippe. I think he treat us well. I see our albums here and there, but I don’t know nothing about distribution and stuff. I record my albums and leave the rest to the label, and I trust that they do a good promotion and all that.
The “Crucidiction” re-release has some extremely enjoyable bonus tracks. Are they demo versions of songs from “One With Darkness”,or are they true alternate versions?
Those songs are demo versions for the album and also intended to be for our debut album, but after been talkin with the label I decided to work more with some of the songs and to re-record the whole album. I not so pleased with those early versions. I think they are better done on the album.
I heard demo songs from a tape-trading friend, and I quite liked the very raw version of “Reminiscences of the Mourner.” As we speak, money is on the way to you for your two demos. Have you ever thought about releasing the demos onCD, the way Gloomy Grim released their “Friendship is Friendship, War is War” and so on on the demo CD, “Reborn Through Hate?”
I’m very satisfied with the production of our two demos. I really enjoy doing demos. To be honest, it’s fuckin’ more enjoying doing demos than recording albums! I just sit at home with my home studio and let the ideas flow. No worries about time or other stressing things. I worked very hard with those demos back then, but haven’t thought of releasing them as a CD and, I don’t know if the label is interested in doing that. I think they’ll only do it as bonus tracks in future re-releases.
Are you classically trained? Your music is exceptionally flavorful, and the moods flow with unparalleled mastery. The solos are packed with feeling, and each note seems to be essential in the celestial ladder that the spirit climbs and descends.
Well, that was a very cool description. You know, I find very difficult to put my music into words, but I would say it’s something like that. I’m not classically trained. Everything I play is self-learned. I believe you can fucking hear that. If a real classical pro player hear what I play, he would probably kill me when I desecrate such beautiful music. When I begun to play guitar, I went to guitar lessons in school, but it was too damn boring. I wanted to play heavy metal, not some wimpy easy-to-learn shit melodies, so I just went to the store and got some note books of Iron Maiden and Kiss and of Yngwie Malmsteen…. also some classical guitar of Bach and Segovia. So that’s the way I learned to play some riffs and solos, and still have a lot to learn. My biggest inspirations were and still are Ritchie Blackmore and Toni Iommi.
I know the answer is “no”, but is there any chance that Holy Records will be interested in having the vocals of “The Last Grief” replaced by the old singer? Maybe that would make for cool bonus tracks!
I think they are interested in doing that. I have mention it to the label and they had nothing against that, so we’ll see after our fourth release. Sometimes it’s better to leave things as they are, but darker vocals on that album would really be a good idea.
“Galvez” is not a Scandinavian name. Is there an interesting tale of political asylum?
I was born in Chile, but ended up here, in Sweden, back in ’74, after some guerrilla war games they had down there at that time. I’m not into politics, so I have no idea what the hell all that shooting was about, but I don’t complain moving to Sweden. I enjoy it very much living here.
You produced both “Crucidiction” and “One With Darkness”, yet they sound very different. Each has its own charm, so I am curious what your strategies were behind the audio choices.
Simply the studio choice. The first album was recorded here in Halmstad, but for “Crucidiction”, the label sended us to Dan Swanö’s Unisound studio… the singer in Edge of Sanity, you know, and the sound ended up very good. That was a far more professional studio than in the first one, but somehow I think “One With Darkness” is much more darker and atmospheric, even darker than “The last Grief.”. I’m thinking in recording our fourth album where “One With Darkness” was recorded. I would like to catch again that darkness and atmosphere that dwells in that studio.
I am very fond of the artistically anti-christian lyrics. Did you adopt your enlightened stance out of healthy skepticism, or were you introduced to the true origins of that false religion by reading the books of scholars ?
Cool that you got the message in my lyrics. Some listeners think we are a christian band, with all the crosses and lyrics, but they misunderstand the whole concept of Tristitia. Some listeners can’t or don’t want to read between the lines or see the irony and profanity in my lyrics. Those antichristian lyrics was just a way to express a religion I don’t agree with because I don’t like the idea of living my life after a book. I believe in myself and my music. That’s enough for me. Metal is my religion, and Tristitia is my church!
This is a perfect album. Even if you don’t like the style, which may be called psychodelic or progressive, you cannot possibly say a bad word about it.
I distantly recall Paul Chain and Simon Garfunkle in parts but it’s part of the associations in the chains of my memories. The band has a unique sound, which I prefer to enjoy in darkness and with eyes closed, and I hear the full album in one sitting. It satisfies many experiential cravings.
I will share a video here, but please do not let any appearance prejudice you. Listen to the music. Let that be your only focus. A story will form in your mind.
This interview is from Issue #6 (1996) with Aaron Stainthorpe, conducted by Bill Zebub
Thy video is said to be very controversial. Only to really sort of sad people. I mean, we’re not a controversial band. We don’t go out to shock people. When we did the video for “The Cry of Mankind” it’s basically got me dressed as Christ, covered in all this false blood and stuff. Now for some people, that alone is enough to cause controversy. In fact, when we presented the video to MTV in Europe, the “Headbangers Ball,’ they said “No” straight away.
But they play a Nirvana video with a crucified elderly man! Well, this is it. couple of scenes cut out. I think of them was when I was fondling my crotch with a hand covered in false blood. We knew that was the high point and that would have to be cut out. That did go. Then we presented it again, and they said, ‘O.K. I any backlash, you’re taking the You know! This really isn’t that bad, is it? But obviously, to some people it really is. I’m actually just there with the rest of the guys playing the stuff behind me. There is an image of a cross. . . in fact, we actually blew it up! We had to blow the thing up. MTV really argued about that as well. But we’ve kind of thrashed it out with them. They really did not want to show it. If you see it, you’ll look at it and you’ll think, ‘What the hell were these censorship people talking about?’ There’s nothing there. It’s just the fact that a rock singer is dressed up as Christ. There’s no content in there that justifies censorship.
Dost thou think that Jesus spoke In an obnoxious Jewish accent? (laughs) I have no idea. (laughs) I’ve never even thought about it like that, to be honest.
Maybe they crucified him just to shut him up. (laughs)
I Just wanted to create some real controversy for thee. Yeah. (laughs)
When we refer to ourselves, we say that we are Americans. Dost thou say, “I am a Brit?” I say that I am British. But Andrew, one of our guitarists, says he’s English, not British. We haven’t got anything against the Irish, the Scottish, and the Welsh. But he says he’s English. I don’t think he’s ever left Yorkshire before we toured. Andy’s kind of English, and that’s the way it’s gonna stay.
The reason I ask is, we have a term called, “African American.” Oh yeah.
Is there a like term over there? Dost thou say “”African Brit?” Well yeah. Of course.
Is that what they say, really? They’re all . . . gosh, saying that sounding like they’re some kind of foreign species. Over here it’s “Jamaican.
If I vacationed in Africa and then decided to live there, would I be an “American African”? (laughs) That’s a good thought. Yeah.
People are afraid to speak the truth. Certain things cannot be coated with sugar. A person who is retarded is called “mentally challenged.’ Yeah, all that PC stuff.
As if these ridiculous alternative terms diffuse the harshness . . . There are facts of life that remain brutal even after the word for the condition is altered. But the truth is, a retarded child is happier than an average child because a retarded person will never doubt love, nor will a retarded person ever hide love from another person. It is only an average person who views the condition as cruel. There was a thing in England a few years ago. The conservative government are in at the moment. But the Looney Left, the Labor. . . they were on about banning the word ‘blackboard.’ Now it’s just called “board.’ Can you believe that? It’s absolutely insane. That’s the way it goes, I suppose. Some people out there think that some things are breathtakingly offensive, when in reality the majority of the public think there’s nothing there whatsoever.
It just might be an event for a social club. They probably ask themselves, “What will we attack this week?” I hate people like that. I really do. They really get on my tits. People like that are almost trying to start an argument for no reason. These people probably spent a couple hundred pounds researching that fact, that things should no longer be called ‘blackboard.’ They just throw money away left, right, and center, arguing about things that don’t need arguing.
What is it about Americans that the English despise? Um… uh, what don’t they?
Ha, ha, ha. No. No. No. No. I don’t know how they dare. But the British like to kick the Mickey out of everybody. . . the Irish, the French obviously. . . even I say it. We hate the French, the Australians, the Americans. I mean, don’t think you’re special. By no means. We have a go at everyone, as If we’re perfect. We classify the French as being obnoxious. We classify the Irish as being completely thick. The Americans… I don’t know. In British comedy the Americans as looked at as being “over the top.”
Like in Monty Pythons, “Meaning of Life’ when Death comes to the table of doomed people who ate the bad salmon? Oh yes. That is so typical.
I know that we have cliques, most of which are despised by me. I do not feel a brotherhood to other Americans, especially the more ridiculous subcultures. Is it a certain subculture that is generalized to all Americans, or does thy hatred stem from the Revolutionary War when thou wert defeated? I have no idea. I can’t really comment on that. When we say “American,” we don’t really have a picture in our heads. We see a family… a man, wife, kids … a girl and a boy in the back of a huge car on a sunny day with a huge house and a pool, and not very many brain cells. We don’t see black. We don’t see Puerto Rican. We don’t see skyscrapers. We see that sort of nuclear family thing. It’s a white middle income with a car and all that crap.
Hast thou avidly followed the orwegian events? I was really into the black metal stuff in the middle-to-late-80’s. I loved stuff like Bathory who were, for me, the purveyors, and Celtic Frost of course. It’s become a joke now, I think. These kids, no matter how much they mutilate themselves and each other, I don’t think they have an ounce of evil in them. I think they’ve read some good stories, seen some good bands, found some rather good wristbands with some six-inch nails in them, and have decided that that’s what they want to do. Yet to me, the real evil people are the ones who have the high-level jobs and major incomes. To me, these kids in Norway who throw dead cats at their worst enemy’s door, they’re just so unbelievably childish. Someone said to us before we went to Norway, ‘Have you ever heard death threats from Norwegian black metallers?’ We’ve got the I.R.A. to worry about. You think we’re going to worry about some dickhead throwing a dead cat? These are kids who are out just for a good time. Half of them are not going to last for more than two or three years. They’re going to go and get a proper job, and they’re going to look back at these times and go, “Christ! What a prick!”
But dost thou not think it to be a great marketing tool? Oh yeah! They know that as well. Half these tales about… who got killed? It was ‘Dead,” wasn’t it?
Dead, and then Euronymous. I half believe those people are still alive. It’s wonderful publicity. It’s easily done. You can ting a fanzine up, or a major magazine in fact, and say, ‘Hi. My friend. . . ‘and then invent some crazy demonic name, “has just been slaughtered by,” and then invent another crazy demonic name, and they’ll print it in the press before checking it out. It is wonderful publicity. You cover yourself in blood and then you go and set fire to a church. It’s gonna make news. You just mention your record label and your new album, and you’ve sold another few thousand copies. It is good marketing. But I think now people are getting pretty much sick to death of it.
I used to ridicule the black metal bands. But now I just ridicule the people who buy the merchandise. That scene has its own idiotic terminology, describing various no-talent bands as “war-metal” and et cetera. It’s just marketing. Yeah. It’s good business.
How can “My Dying Bride’ be marketed? I’m not really sure. It’s not really for us to say either. It’s up to the record labels and journalists to place us where they feel we need placing. We can’t jump up and say, ‘We’re the new Celtic Frost. Everybody buy our stuff because we’re avant garde and no one can understand what we’re doing.’ We’re not going to do anything like that. We play what we enjoy. We’re six guys who enjoy writing an unusual style of music. It makes us feel good to write the stuff we do.
Are Anathema still around? That’s who we’re going to Poland with. Yeah. I think England reigns in that sense. It’s doing O.K. But I think there are some more inventive bands from outside of England who somehow are marketed in the same sort of magazines as My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. And yet, the music they do. . . I’m thinking of a band called ‘Elend’ from France. Their album is advertised in the same sort of ‘zines. Yet the music is just female vocals and violins all the way through, with the odd bit of screaming and shouting. This isn’t even metal. And yet, it’s there. I think doom metal is great In England. But the real avant garde stuff is springing up in mainland Europe. There are bands where half the album is drums and half the album is some crazy wailing stuff. You don’t get that from an English band.
I know that thou art modest. But canst thou admit to seeing an influence of My Dying Bride in some bands? Well yeah, we can, especially in bands like Anathema. We know that they really screwed us for a song a few years ago that we laugh about all the time now. I was talking to one of the guys in Anathema in ‘92. We were writing this song called ‘Comfort Me,” which we never got around to completing. But I told him everything about it and how we were planning on this and that and the other. And it appeared on their first album, not under the name of “Comfort Me.” I can’t remember what it’s called now. The rest of the band couldn’t believe it. We got their album free, being on the same record label, and we were listening to it at Peaceville Records. We thought, “Well, we can’t do anything about it now.” We kind of just smiled to ourselves. We knew that it was our idea. I’ve never actually told anyone this before. It’s not to make bad publicity. But I couldn’t really give a toff now. They took that peace of music off us!
I am glad to be the first to whom that secret was revealed. There are these six-piece bands out now with female vocals. We got a tape from a band a while ago, and all the song titles, including the name of the band, were from ‘Turn Loose the Swans.” It was really, really bizarre. I think the band was called something like “Vast Swans,’ and all the songs were words from our song titles just rearranged. It’s kind of nice, I suppose. The music was utter bullocks. But the imagery looked quite good.
The Last song on “Turn Loose the Swans…” Uh huh.
I heard that there’s an unusual version floating around that features thee saying, “I want to fuck you baby.” (laughs) There is an unusual version floating around. It’s not as coarse as that. I know who released this. It’s Martin, the violin player. We’d been slugging it out for like 16-hour days on ‘Turn Loose the Swans.” ‘Black God’ was a real problem. The girl who did the vocals, she couldn’t get it right at all, and it took like the whole day and the next day just to get this small part tight. When she left I went down to put my vocals. I was warming up because I had to get rather close to the microphone and they turned the recording level really high, so you could get every breath I took. Obviously, I needed to practice. I’ve got a good sense of humor. While we were there, this is like 4 o’ clock in the morning and I’ve had some beers, I was talking about some odd things. It’s very unusual… stuff about a local sort of fish ‘n chips shop next door. It’s good fun. They recorded it upstairs. When I listened to it I laughed like mad. I said, ‘That’s funny. Now get rid of it.” We know this now, but Martin took the tape and he just copied it for anyone and everyone. Now it’s floating around all over the place. If people are really big fans, it will dash their hopes and make them think, ‘Well, what a fucking shit band!” We are entitled to do things llike this now and again. It’s not gonna kill us. It Is a novelty.
The song, “Sexuality of Bereavement,” was part of the collector’s club. How many other tracks are there that are no longer available? None. That song was recorded in the ‘Tum Loose the Swans’ session. Normally, we record an album’s worth of music, 50 or 60 minutes. Hammy from Peaceville told us that he wanted an extra track. So when we’re at this situation for “Tum Loose the Swans’ we did 60 minutes worth. Then we did the “Sexuality..’ in the same session. The next thing we released was the “I am the Bloody Earth.’ We were told that the American version had to be longer than the European version for some strange reason, and they wanted an extra song. Now, as I’ve said, we have no songs on tape that have never been released. So Hammy thought, “The Collector’s Club is for people who have joined.” He shouldn’t really take songs out of it and put somewhere else. But seeing how this is going to America, and there were only about two members in the club from America . . . it really was a white elephant, I’m afraid. The Collector’s Club was a flop. Well, it didn’t make it on that E.P. So the next thing we were doing was “The Angel and the Dark River.’ We presented all the songs for Music for Nations. Then they said, ‘We need a bonus track.”They didn’t think of telling this before we went into the studio. They tell us after we’ve done everything. We said, “We have no bonus track. There’s nothing.’ They said, ‘Have you got anything unusual, done a B-side or anything?” And again, “Sexuality…’ being the song it was, has been released on the digi-pack version. It sticks out like a sore thumb because it has “Tum Loose the Swans” production. It really shouldn’t have been put on there. We would’ve loved to have written a brand new track for it. Have you heard It at all?
Actually yes. It is truly a great song. I like it very much as well. It’s kind of unusual.
At the time of the Collectors Club I didn’t have a turntable. When I saw flyers for it I was really mad. I was going to order it and have a friend record it for me. When thou had thy licensing deal with Fierce and they put out “Trinity” I was very happy. “Trinity.” Is that what it’s calied there?
Yes. We weren’t to sure about that. I don’t know if you know about the boxed set called “The Stories.’
I already had each E.P. ‘The Stories’ were three E.P.’s that were really difficult to get a hold of outside of Europe. So we were going to box them all up and send them all over the world and say to people, “All right, these records will never be available again. If you couldn’t find them before, now’s your chance.” Somebody had the idea of “Trinity” as well. We thought, ‘Well hang on a minute. Surely we’re ripping people off with this. That-s what people are gonna think.” The record label, In their wisdom decided to go for it straightaway. There really wasn’t a great deal we could do about it. So we kind of went along with it. The English version is better than the American version, by the’way. It is humorous how thou art a victim. When we do venues we do not like ripping people off. We’re really into the underground scene. Every fanzine said, “Guaranteed no tip-off’ in it somewhere. It’s sort of how we’ve always done our thing. Some of the first gigs we did we were virtually giving our t-shirts away. Even still now, we charge the minimum we possibly can when we play live. We do not like ripping people off because we do not like getting ripped off. But the record labels love it! They can’t get enough!
The violin wasn’t as dominant on the first e.p. Was the violinist iin the band, or just hired for accompaniment? He was a guest musician. He joined just after ‘Turn Loose the Swans’ was recorded.
How was it playing out before he became fully fledged? We were nobodies back then. The first time we ever left England was in 1992. He could easily come with us. He was in a university. He didn’t want to give up his education to become a member of the band. IIt was very important to him, psychology or some weird shit. With bands, you know, they’re here one minute and gone the next. If he gave’up his education, he’d have to start again. So he wasn’t prepared to do that. It was early in “Tum Loose…’ when he decided, “I’m going to give up my education for you lot.’
Hast thou heard “Celestial Season?’ Somebody mentioned that last night.
The first album was said to have completely copied thy style. The second album, “Solar Lovers” has two exceptional violinists. I couldn’t help but to think that they followed thy example in regard to instrumentation. But I am glad that they did. We didn’t invent all that. You know yourself that Celtic Frost had their opera’ singers and stuff. That’s who we were mainly influenced by. We thought that the first thing people were going to say about us was, “Celtic Frost rip-off.’ But they didn’t. So we kind of got away with it.