Hi Jon. Your album “Spectres” was widely acclaimed by much of the rock and metal press, and it has recently been reissued on vinyl. Now the album has been out for a while, how do you feel about it?
Seeing the record reissued so soon, and the response it has received since it’s release is a constant source of pride for us. Our mantra is that it’s better to spend the extra time making sure all three of us feel totally positively about what we’ve written, rather than put it out there and have any kind of regrets. We took a long time writing the album and feel like we reached that point, and it still fires us up every time we play it live.
The album mixes doom and black metal influences, which would normally be polar opposites. How did this unlikely combination come about?
The idea is to try and employ the genres as different shades and textures to help tell the story. Doom and black metal have a lot in common in terms of vibe and the subject matter the atmosphere lends itself to. The challenge was trying to navigate through different styles in a manner that didn’t feel too jarring.
You have spoken about the conceptual nature of the album and how you write and compose your music. It seems quite structured – where do the experimental elements come in?
Our writing process is both structured and experimental. We begin with a rough concept for an album and then try to divide the ‘acts’ of the story down into songs so we can hone in on the mood for each chapter of the narrative. Craig (Bryant – guitar/vocals) tends to bring in the preliminary riffs and structure. Together we’ll shape the composition over months of jamming the material. Gavin (Thomas – bass) brings layers of bass synth embellishment and atmosphere, while the concept is finally pegged down in the lyrics (by Jon). It’s in the months of jamming and refining ideas that the experimental elements creep in as the songs mature.
With Craig contributing the artwork to the album, you seem very in control of your direction. How does this tie in to the concept of the album?
The concept informs almost every step of the way once it’s been established, from the writing and structure of the songs and lyrics, right the way through to the design decisions and subject matter of the artwork. We were conscious for all elements of the release to tie in to each other in some way.
“Spectres” is the first release on Black Bow Records and was recorded at Skyhammer Studios. How important has it been to have someone like Jon Davis (Skyhammer Studios’ owner) behind the band?
Jon’s continued support is something we’re eternally grateful for. As soon as we’d finished recording “Spectres” we compiled a list of record labels we were going to contact, but before we’d even sent out the first letter he contacted us asking if we’d be interested in releasing it on vinyl though Black Bow. Being the first band to release on the label, and being fortunate enough to have the album reissued, is great. We’ve definitely learned a lot from having Jon in our corner, as we’d never had a proper release or toured prior to “Spectres”. He’s definitely opened a lot of doors for us.
For a band only one album into their career you have clocked up appearances at Damnation and have Bloodstock and Roadburn lined up for this year. What goals do you have left after having started so well?
The next challenge is definitely to get the creative process well and truly under way again, and to produce something we’re as happy with as we were with “Spectres”. The most important thing for us is simply to write music we find inspiring and interesting. The band was formed initially as a means of playing heavy music we thought was cool, whilst trying to tap into the numerous different genres. So long as we can achieve that, and continue to bring what we do to new audiences, we’re happy.
You are part of a very strong UK scene, with a seemingly endless supply of talent coming through. Who has impressed you recently?
We’ve shared the stage with so many great bands it’s tough to choose, but Tides of Sulfur, Icosa, Jøtnarr, Three Thrones and Ophiuchus spring to mind.
Aside from the festivals, what other plans do you have for 2015?
We are soon to embark on our first tour of Europe with Pallbearer, who we opened for alongside Yob late last year. We’re hitting Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Italy for the first time, as well as returning to the Netherlands and France and a few dates in the UK. After that, the remainder of the year will mostly be dedicated to working on new material.