May 27, 2014

DARKEST ERA Interview (May 27, 2014)

1. Thank you for doing the interview. With mere days remaining prior to the severing of the ropes holding down the new album, SEVERANCE, is the band getting pretty excited, or what?

ADE MULGREW (GUITARS:) Definitely! It's been over a year since we wrote and recorded this album, a long and arduous road for sure and it's great to finally have the war machine turning! I've been looking forward to the release immensely, especially getting my hands on the vinyl.

2. Upon hearing the first two released promo tracks -- Sorrow's Boundless Realm and Trapped In The Hourglass -- we were suddenly stoked. We immediately felt a more driving, aggressive soundscape being achieved by Darkest Era. Are you intending to take a somewhat gritter approach going forward, or is that just how this album turned out as compared to The Last Caress Of Light?

ADE: A rougher, grittier tone was something we had wanted before recording this album, yes. The first album had each guitar double tracked so there was an atmospheric wall of sound vibe to it. While this is great the intricacies of some of the playing can get a little lost sometimes. This time myself and Sarah chose to have just one guitar track each on there. The result is that the dynamic of the playing comes through a lot more; you can hear the bite of the strings and the amps being pushed into overdrive, and because the songs were shaping up to be a bit darker and more aggressive it worked out very well I think.

3. It must be stated that one could not dream up a more generic name for a recording studio than "Data Recording Studios"! Nonetheless, having listened twice through an advance copy of the entire recording, from our copious salivating we can clearly see the results speaking for themselves... This album takes it to the next level! Was the recording process smooth and relatively painless, or did you have to really work it to get all the parts flowing together so well?

ADE: Well, a couple of people did ask us what the hell we were doing in County Kerry recording a metal album, haha. The studio was residential and isolated which is what we were after. We knew we would be flying Chris Fielding over to produce again so it was more a case of making sure he was happy with the facilities to be honest. As it turned out though it's a great studio, and the in-house engineer there has put out some great records himself. It’s quite a large building with an absolutely huge live room which was amazing for getting the perfect drum sound. The place used to be a factory which made jam, so why they called it 'Data' and not 'The Jam Factory is beyond me, haha. The recording process wasn't stressful as such, but rather it was extremely intense. We were still working on arrangements and vocal melodies in the studio, as well as lyrics. We would work from 11am until 2 or 3 am most days, and on the last day we went right through the night until the next morning. Every second of every minute was focused on the record, because we knew that's what it would take to get it done. You undergo a sort or reality shift when you work like that; coming out of it is a part relief and part melancholy - a bit like after a long tour really.

4. Speaking of hard work, those in-the-know know that Darkest Era have become one of the very hardest working bands in Ireland and the UK (with several European appearances also under the belt at this point). This gigging has paid off in terms of the Metal Blade and Cruz Del Sur record contracts, and also in terms of allowing the largest number of metal fans to become entranced! Does the band (as Darkest Era, since 2007) have an official gig count? What # are you at?

ADE: I honestly wouldn't have a clue, but it's not as many as you'd imagine really. We're not the kind of band to play our local venues week in week out, audiences soon get sick of you around here! Normally we play the main Irish cities once or twice a year, often enough to not be forgotten but seldom enough that there is still a good level of anticipation when we play. We've done three good tours now but we would love to get out on a really long run as part of a big package tour. We really don't play half as often as all of us would like.

5. Having just two months ago headlined the North Of The Wall festival in Glasgow, would you say that you could get used to being Festival headliners?

ADE: There's a lot of waiting around and a lot less time for drinking, hehe, but it was nice to do something like this for sure. It's not something we've done much of before. We're some way off headlining anything other than quite small festivals, but one of the things we're looking forward to is hitting the European festival circuit. There are a bunch of festivals right across Europe that we would love to play and hopefully now we'll get the chance to hit some of them on this album cycle.

6. Fans are in for some fun as deeper album tracks such as The Serpent And The Shadow really grab the listener by the jugular. There will be a thousand screaming souls on the day this opus sees the light! Speaking of which, we noted a terrific, uninhibited and very-metal, almost Paul Di'Anno-esque "Yowow!" at the end of the seventh track, A Thousand Screaming Souls. I guess this answers question #3: you were having fun in the studio! Was 'the scream' also a result of a collective sense that the group was really nailing it this time, with Severance?

ADE: Well I think it was a very consciously cheeky 'Iron Maiden' moment. That song is pure heavy metal and that stabbing ending was just crying out for it, so why not. We're a heavy metal band at the end of the day, and Severance is to us a heavy metal album. It's almost a dirty word these days. You won't find any Joy Division references, faux retro occult 70s bullshit, or 'post-whatever' in our music. We're a heavy metal band, through and through.

7. Better than pirated wares, of course, yes, but, are the Spotify royalty checks really as paltry as we've heard?

ADE: I think we're the wrong band to ask there. Being underground and relatively unknown you can't expect to get very much, if anything at all from the likes of Spotify. You'd have to ask a band who was getting much more substantial plays and record sales, but from what I understand it's pretty poor yes. I do believe this will eventually change though, especially as the power gap between labels, bands, and distros change. Streaming music is the future.

8. Recent events in the news suggest that the tense peace in Northern Ireland is being tested. Just from your perspective, is N. Ireland 100 miles away from returning to The Troubles, or are things actually worse than those of us outside the country could be aware of?

ADE: As with all of these things, the media portrayal of the current state of affairs often paints a highly exaggerated picture. There are very small pockets of resistance to the peace process and it only takes a few extremists and isolated incidents of violence to make the headlines. The vast majority of people here want to leave the past behind, and that's the key difference between now and 30 years ago. There is no support whatsoever for these dissident groups and that's why we won't return to those days. 

9. Will an upcoming video serve any hint as to whether the girl in the An Ancient Fire Burns video actually survived her entombment? Hey, we can hope, right?

ADE: I'm afraid not, that story remains unsolved for now :)  We're currently editing the video so it will be out soon, and it is for a song that we feel is the thematic centrepiece of the album so we're very excited. Who knows though, we may pick up the thread again on the next album.

Enjoy the Severance touring cycle and your guaranteed new crowd of additional fans, and....Thank you!!

ADE: Thanks for the support!

For further study:

1. Bliss out with the An Ancient Fire Burns video:

2. Examine the Darkest Era Facebook page
3. Yell for June to hurry up and show up, and then pick up your copy of Darkest Era's SEVERANCE wherever fine metallic gems are sold.