UNSILENCE INTERVIEW WITH HORRIBLE EYES (GERMANY) 2001.
1) Hail Kieron, what's up in the UK?
Not too much right now. We're in the grip of a Foot and Mouth crisis. Musically, there've been quite a few gigs going on, which isn't that usual these days. I've recently seen gigs by My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Solstice, Mirror of Deception, Warning. And there's more to come. It's a case of let's enjoy it while we can.
2) New millennium has taken over with all of mankind's' expectations. What are yours for UNSILENCE? Have there been concrete signs in the last time that probably could mark some kind of a breakthrough for the band?
The expectations of the band are pretty realistic. For us, it's just to create the music which means something to us. Naturally, we'd like to have a positive feedback for it and from the more people, the better. Well, I wouldn't like to put the past year as us having been on the verge of a breakthrough. But since the release of the "Transfiguration" MCD a year ago, more people have become aware of us at least
3) Coming to your actual output I have to say I like the "Transfiguration" MCD very much! 3 songs of highest quality, written in an outstanding manner! As it's out since quite a long time I would like to know how your actual opinion about it looks like! Where would you try to improve the music?
We're really pleased that you like the MCD. It has been out for a year now and I don't think that's really a long time. There's still allot of people discovering us for the first time (like yourself) so it still seems quite fresh. Although it came out a year ago, it was recorded six months before. So we've had to live with it for 18 months. Although we have moved on musically since, there's very little we'd like to change about it. We put the best effort into it at the time and hoped it will have some longevity to it. And seeing that we still enjoy playing the material and playing the CD to people, I think we achieved what we aimed for. If anything, there's just a few things in the production. I'd like the guitar to have a bit less crackle and Jon would like his drums a bit more prominent in the mix. But it's nothing major.
4) Incidentally the MCD looks really noble for a self-financed piece! Therefore it must have been expensive...Has the expenditure paid out so far or have you lost a lot of money at least by having only a very low recognition? How are the critics you reveice(d) for the it up to now? Any slating reviews?
The biggest expense was the recording. We went to Academy Studio due to it's reputation for quality Metal recordings, instead of going elsewhere because it's nearer home. Not only is a good production good for our satisfaction, but it has a better chance of selling with one. The actual production of the CDs (Mastering, pressing, inlay design and printing, and on-body print) wasn't too much compared to other places. I'd say that we have made nearly half of the money back so far. But we were never under any delusions that it would sell quickly. With the kind of promotion limitations, we knew that making money back would be a long term thing. All the reviews have been good and some have been very good. I have n't seen one review slagging it. Some reviewers have picked the odd little thing. Some have had a go at the vocals. But we're satisfied with them. Still, if any criticisms of the vocals were to make Andrew put more effort into them in the future, then it's only a good thing.
5) To me UNSILENCEs' music on "Transfiguration" is very close to SOLSTICE on their "New Dark Age"-opus! It's the same epical Doom spirit that is captured here! Which one of these British bandsdid influence the other one more in your opinion? Are you in a good contact to SOLSTICE or the third great Doom band from the isle - WARNING? Which one of both do you prefer when it comes tomusic & lyrics?
Wwwwhhhhoooo????? No, seriously, a number of people have made comparisons to Solstice. Whilst I can see us having things in common, I do feel there is a different vibe. "New Dark Age" has that medieval vibe in places which we don't have for instance. Actually, I do wonder if we'd have the same amount of Solstice comparisons if we used a different tuning. With us both playing those Epic Doom riffs tuned to low B, similarities will obviously arise. I don't think we've had an influence on Solstice but I wouldn't deny any of them has rubbed off onto us. But I'd also say it's a case of having some similar influences. We do know Solstice but I wouldn't say that we have regular contact. We just see each other at gigs. I've known Rich for many years and he has been helpful for us. He put us up when we mixed "Choirs Of Memory" at Academy and he gave me the address of Hellion who have distributed and promoted the MCD in Germany. We should also be playing the Metal Inquisition all-dayer he's planning for August. I have no contact with Warning. Rich was going to introduce me to them recently but I've yet to meet them. I must say, I do prefer Solstice.6) I don't know but the cover artwork to "Transfiguration" remembered me very much on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in some ways! Please tell me what do you think of this point of view & explain the real meaning of the cover!
Personally, I know little of Edgar Allen Poe. I've just asked Andrew if he knows anything of "The Raven and the best I could get from him was that he saw a spoof of it on The Simpsons once. I'd like to see it though. I don't know if there's any real meaning with the cover. I'd have to ask the guy who did it, who I'm no longer in contact with. It was to be for the "Choirs Of Memory" album but we used it for "Transfiguration" so that it didn't got to waste.
7) "Our Final Autumn" reflects autumnal depressions...the autumns is taking man's life away....What are you personally connecting to this season or is there a special relation you want to mention here? In Psychedelic Zine you said the lyrics to this song deals with "the last group of witches"...please explain it a bit deeper, okay?!
The story of the last group of witches was where Andrew decided to base the lyrics on. Although it reflects that story, it can have a wider meaning about the isolation you can feel as if everything is moving on but you're stuck where you have always been, weather by your own doing or not. The autumn analogy is can reflect that in the feeling of not getting anywhere and time running out. The season of Autumn always brings that to mind. It has that culminating feeling. Of another part of your life closing.
8) By the way: There once was an album by a German band called POVERT'S NO CRIME called "The Autumn Years" dealing with the decay of life, of getting old & spoilt. Have you heard it? If yes, do you see any similarities between their concept & yours on "Transfiguration"?
Well I haven't heard of them myself and to be honest, I don't know anybody who has!
9) Have you used the violin on "Transfiguration" firstly? Was it introduced because of the opportunity that its player, Tony, is the brother of UNSILENCE drummer Jonathan Gibbs? Could you imagine him as a real band member - not only a session musican? I myself am glad about the progressionUNSILENCE took during the years. If the band would sound the same like on their very 1st demo it wouldn't be featured here!
Yes, we did use the violin as opposed to using a keyboard or something, because the opportunity was there in the form of our drummers dad. If that wasn't the case, I don't think we'd have gone out and looked for a violinist. We'd have just stuck a keyboard there. Our drummers dad is a professional violinist in the Manchester based Halle Orchestra, which is the second biggest orchestra in the country. Because of this, I don't think he'd have the time to be a full time member. And he's a classical musician, not a metal one. The violin is only on a couple of quieter parts and isn't anything really prominent in the way Skyclad or My Dying Bride utilise it. There's also no plans to have a violin on any new stuff we've wrote yet. Progression is just something that happens and not something we feel we need to think too much about. We accumulate different ideas and mature as people and musicians without really trying. It just happens.
10) I often dislike the violin as it is mostly used in a too pushing way. I'm even not a friend of SKYCLAD because of the violin tormenting my nerves! What's your opinion about non-Metal instruments? Can you imagine working with an orchestra for UNSILENCE?
When done properly, 'non-metal' instruments can give allot of possibilities. But it also has to be remembered that it can take things away. For instance, too much keyboards can take out the mid frequencies in the guitars when everything's mixed. As for Unsilence ever working with an orchestra, it would depend on budgeting. Given the links that Jonathons dad has, it may not be too unrealistic. But it would have to be a genuine idea and nothing contrived.
11) "Choirs Of Memory", UNSILENCE's debut album, was recorded back in summer 1997 for Seven Art Music but was never released at least as the label collapsed soon after! For a band this is a really shitty storyespecially in the regard that this is your very first album! Please tell me if it will be unleashed properly anytime, are there any concrete plans or even a willing label exisiting? Or are you maybe happy with the delays as you aren't satisfied with the result anymore?
Yes it was shitty! We finished the album in September 1997 and then a month after that, Flowing Tears recorded their second album (They were with them then). They then put their album release before ours as SPV offered to distribute it. They thought they'd get a good return from it to plough into their other bands, maybe even have SPV distribute the whole label. But there was a poor return on the Flowing Tears album and they lost money. I think Seven Art's failing was that they though they could make the leap from being a small-time indie to a bigger label too soon. But the whole first album experience was a disaster, even in the recording. We had problems with the studio engineer, whose drug problem had got the better of him. We also had problems with the guitarist we had at the time. There is a label which is prepared to release the first album but we would rather have a few newer releases out before we put it out. By that time, people would realise that we're a more capable band than the impressions they'd get from "Choirs...". Despite loosing money, and having our hopes raised for nothing, the whole delay thing may have done us a favour. As "Transfiguration" has made a better impression than what the album would have done.
12) I think the step from the "Unfinished Chapter" demo to the 1st album changed a lot in UNSILENCEs' music: from dragging Death Metal to pure Doom Metal...Was it because you felt to limited playing only Death Metal or did the trend make you sick back then?
I think with the "Unfinished Chapter" demo, we were already moving more towards Doom than on the first demo. There was a higher proportion of 'sung' vocals for instance. With the first demo, we were still hungover from the Death Metal bands most of us had previously been playing in. The trend aspect of it was weakening but we honestly wanted to have more emotion and atmosphere in the music. There was things we wanted to express which we couldn't in playing just a Death Metal style.
13) Honestly, if I was you I would have renamed UNSILENCE long ago. "Shadows Cast In Stone" is pure doomy Death Metal as introduced by early PARADISE LOST, ANATHEMA or MY DYING BRIDE...Or is it at least the lyrical demand that never changed in its style? Even today UNSILENCE are often labelled as a Doom/Death Metal band, a description which fits certainly not! Why the heck do you keep promoting the band in that way??
I don't feel there's a massive contrast in the style of the first demo and what we do these days. And on some of the newer songs, there's one or two parts which lean towards Death Metal a bit. But it will never be to the same extent as on the demos. It will just be in the feel of it, in that there's a bit more aggression. Also, we would never rule out using Death Metal vocals in the future. But it would never be a massive thing. Just a verse or two on a whole album /EP as we would maybe feel that the usual vocal style wouldn't express the aggression that we want to put across in that section. But I don't think that people who don't like Death Metal will be really put off by it as it won't be too much of a big thing. I feel we have the vibe of Death Metal, even on "Transfiguration" as we're very much into that style aswell. But you're right, on the whole it would be misleading to class "Transfiguration" as Doom/Death. So it will be for the best if in the future, if we stop promoting ourselves as such, no matter what slight leanings there are in our music. However, we have had some people who like Death Metal and generally aren't into Doom getting into us.
14) The band has risen from the ashes of BURIAL, a Death Metal band that died long ago, back in 1993.I've never used to listen to their music so far! To what kind of bands was its style comparable? Are there any recordings existing? Was it a serious band or just a school band (not "old school", hehe!!)?
Burial was the band I played in between October 1990 and December 1994. We played midpaced to fast Death. Some people said it was American influenced but I guess we had a British Death Metal sound in that it was that rawer type as opposed the the crunchy American type. It was probably because we never had any real Doomy bits. We used to get compared to Bolt Thrower allot. We were very much a serious band. We released two demos and a 7" on the French based Infest Records. We got support slots with Paradise Lost, Skyclad, Cathedral, Bolt Thrower, Benediction and gigged with My Dying Bride, Anathema and Cradle of Filth in their demo days! But the problem with Burial was that most of the guys lacked the real passion for the music and were just interested in success. We were less of the band than we could have been because of this They thought we might make a living off the band, but when they saw this wasn't going to happen, they threw in the towel.
15) How much songs do UNSILENCE have in stock? Over the years a couple must have been written, I suppose!!
There have been a couple of songs we have worked on but scrapped. Some of the best parts have been used on songs we have recorded. We are quite slow in the song writing department.
16) You had a very bad luck with label choices in the past, I just mentioned. Do you have a contract now or are you still searching being aware of getting not ripped off again? Please speak about the shityou had to take with all those album delays, label-splits etc.! I guess you are much more sensible today...
No , we are still unsigned. We have had a few offers for different formats of releases and some of them are interesting. We're also still contacting labels, so we're waiting to see what the overall response is before we make a choice. These delays were certainly soul-destroying. But at the end of the day, we still love playing in the band together and no label delay can take that away from us. Nowadays, we would look well into a deal and all the implications and what we can do to get out of it if things go wrong. Also, how we can sue the label if the let us down and the opportunities of terminating the deal if delayed and being prepared to release it ourselves or getting some back-up.
17) Is there any deal with any label fixed now? I can't imagine you don't get any support by any label (every shit band gets a deal nowadays, it seems!) When will be new stuff unleashed? UNSILENCE also co-operated with Mark & his Psychedelic Zine. The band took part in the sampler-CD to #8 how didyou hook up with Mark? What do you think about his zine? Any reactions due to the song on the sampler so far?
As I just mentioned in the previous question, no. There does seem to be a bit of a trend conspiracy as far as labels go. We get told all the time that we're good enough to have a deal but the labels seem to be on a different wavelength. I guess a band like us aren't too easy to market if a quick profit is what they're after. We hope to record some new material later in the year for a release shortly after, in whatever form it will take. As for Psychedelic zine, I was given the address by Russ from Black Tears Distro, who told me to send them the MCD. And they liked it that they wanted to interview us and put us on the sampler. Psychedelic is one of the best zines covering Doom these days. There is an obvious passion amongst the writers and it is very informative, especially with the interviews on new projects by members of classic bands. Just the other day, Mark told me that he'd like to distribute some of our CDs due to the positive response our track on the sampler has gained.
18) Please explain the direction new UNSILENCE material will take!
Well, we have four new songs completed so far. They are all diffrent and I feel they take things a bit further. Some of the material is a bit more darker and there is more emotional intensity present. This is in part through progress and learning how to articulate our ideas better. But it's mainly been through different things inspiring us. And as mentioned earlier, a little bit more of a Death Metal creeps in here and there. But the new material isn't a shift in style and I can't see anyone who liked us before being disappointed. Two song titled I can give you are "Still" and "Deep Is The Stigma".
19) If you play live do you do any of the older songs with growling vocals or these Death-like guitars as heard on the 1st demo? How can one imagine an "ordinary" UNSILENCE gig?
Yes, we've had to do some of the older songs as we've not enough new material. In recent times we've still been playing "Of Being", "Closing In" and "Far from Waking" from the album. I must admit, with the exception of "Far From Waking" (Which has stood the test of time and we will re-record in the future), we don't get the same feeling as we do get from playing newer material. So the sooner we get some new stuff together, the better. It's difficult o describe a gig of ours without being too self indulgent. I'd like to think people will be able to experience us in a more heat of the moment situation than on a recording where everything is gradually put together to perfection.
20) Introduce yourself! I especially want to know what made you setting up a band like UNSILENCE! How much are you involved with your life into Metal?
I am Kieron Tuohey and I play guitar in Unsilence. Hmm... there's not really much I'd like to say. I'm not really into talking about myself in an interview situation. I play in a band like Unsilence as I relate to the music that we do and the overwhelming feeling I get from playing and writing it. Aswell as the band I'm involved in Metal in the usual things like buying releases, attending gigs. Although I do try and help the scene, I'm not involved in additional things like gig promotion, websites or fanzine writing, etc. I like to use the time away from the band for other activities, so as not to burn out.
21) At what point would you end UNSILENCE? What are your personal goals with the band?
Having been involved in music as long as I have, the end is more of a reality to me. I think it would be usual things, like work or family commitments. Or it could be loosing certain key members of the band and feeling that we can't carry on with the same degree of quality. It could be that we feel that the band has run its course. I'd like to think we'd have the decency not to carry on when we feel we've run out of fresh ideas. Weather we will or not is another thing. The way I look at things, there may soon come a time where I won't be able to continue the band so I'm trying to get as much out of it as I can right now. I've mentioned some of the goals for the band earlier. It's just to play the music we're into and to have fun doing it. So unless the bat of misfortune should descend from it's turret of doom and clutch itself into our shoulders, things will continue that way.
22) Jonathan is also running a zine called "The Inquisition". As far as I'm informed 1 issue is out yet featuring mostly Black Metal stuff. Speak a bit about it, okay? Is Jonathan abusing the drums in any other band?
Yes, Jonathons zine is quite a cheap zine but he's into the idea of a simple publication that he can easily sell at gigs so as to spread the word about unknown bands to a wider audience. That doesn't mean that it's crap quality. The bands featured in issue 1 are Hecate Enthroned, Honey For Christ, Subvexation, Desaster, Solace Denied, Thus Defiled. There's also an article on recording tips and the usual live/demo/album reviews. As Jon's an all round (Proper) Metal fan, it isn't mainly limited to Black Metal. I guess it's just the interviews he managed to get for issue one. But it's generally an Extreme Metal zine, be it Thrash, Death, Doom or whatever. Copies cost £1.50/ $4 from : Jonathon Gibbs, 1 Brow Top, Friezeland Lane, Greenfield, Oldham, Lancs, OL3 7EY, England. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org He's looking for bands for issue two which should be out this year. Jon is in no other band.
23) Last comments you want to lose here:
Before the "Horrible Eyes" avert themselves from all things Unsilence, I'd like to thank you for interviewing us. I'd also like to thanks Herman, Jurgen and all at Hellion for their promotion, the German zines that have reviewed us such as Snakepit and Heavy Oder-Was and the people in Germany who bought "Transfiguration". We hope to come over and play some gigs for you one day. Unsilence T-shirts should be out very soon. Contact us for details.
A FIRE ON THE SEA
A TORN SKY