UNSILENCE INTERVIEW WITH MONOLITH WEBZINE (GREECE) 2006.
By Albert Bell [sonic messiah]
1. Greetings Kieron. First of all cheers for taking up some of your time to do this interview. You were last interviewed on Monolith in 2003. Can we please start the ball rolling by getting to know the latest developments in the Unsilence camp?
At the time of that last interview, we were trying out a drummer called Andy McLachlan. We ended up taking him on and he has worked out really well and has made quite a few contributions. In the following year (2004), we went over to Ireland again for 2 dates with Mourning Beloveth. And we did a few other gigs including a really cool one in London with The River (Featuring our ex-drummer) and Iron Hearse. At the time we were working on new material but it was going slowly as there was a lack of contribution from the singer Andrew Hodson. Eventually, he left the band in January last year due to his personal lack of interest in music. This could have been potentially damaging for us as it would be difficult for us to find a person who would be suited to the band. And we spent many months last year looking for the right person. Eventually, our guitarist James Kilmurray decided to do it. This wasn't a last resort thing as he had just the type of voce we wanted. It was just something he didn't decide to do instantly. Ideally, we wanted a singer, who whilst having something of the glominess that Hodson's voice had, could also add new dimensions to our style and bring out elements in the music that couldn't have perilously been done. Whilst our ex-singer did a good job, he had certain limitations. So vocally, you can expect a significant progression on the next release.
2. Unsilence have been active for more than twelve years now, however you have only released two demos and two MCD releases two date, namely "Transfiguration" and the strongly acclaimed "A Walk through Oceans" Ep on Scotland's Golden Lake Productions. Can you please enlighten Monolith's readers on why the band hasn't been more productive on the album releases front.
It's down to a variety of things really. We did an album back in 1997 (Choirs of Memory) for an Italian label called Seven Art Music. That never got released. So it was two and a half years after that when we released Transfiguration. It was then another two and a half years after recording "Transfiguration" that we recorded "A Walk Through Oceans". That could only be blamed on the fact that we were slow at writing. This is partially due to us having a high standard and refusing to play the music industry game of just churning stuff out. Although our ex-singer, who was responsible for most of the lyrics and vocal memories took some time getting his stuff together. In recent years, the lineup troubles, as mentioned in the previous question have obviously been responsible for the time it's taken to follow up"...Oceans" However, we're aiming to record a full length album this summer. And we're finishing off the material right now.
3. Over the years you seem to have forged a strong relationship with Mags from Academy Studios who has also worked with Paradise Lost, Bal-Sagoth and My Dying Bride amongst others in the past. How would you best describe your collaboration with Mags and shall you be working with him again on your forthcoming studio recordings?
We first worked with Mags for the mixing of the unreleased album back in 1997. And it was a whole different level from any other studio/ engineer that we'd ever worked with before. So we just had to work with him again for the recording of the "Transfiguration" MCD. Same again when we came to recording "...Oceans". We've yet to decide where we'll record for the working of the new album. One thing about Academy these days, they now have a digital set-up and it's part of the owners house. And one thing they did with us last time (and seem to have done with all their bands these days) is have us record the guitars through aLline 6 POD and straight into the desk. We got a good sound but untimatly, they can't beat the natural sound of an amp. And that's something we'll insist on next time we record.
4. 2002's "A Walk Through Oceans" marked Unsilence's first and only release to date on Golden Lake Productions. Are you planning any further releases on this label and are you satisfied with the way Unsilence's links with Golden Lake have progressed?
We have had an offer from Golden Lake for our album. It's possible that we'll work together again as we're pleased with what they've done. One thing with them is that they're not necessarily a doom metal label and they've gotten us heard by those who may not have otherwise checked us. Also, they're genuine about what they do as opposed to being driven by profit. Which was why they signed us when other labels would have ignored us.
5. Unsilence has been pretty active on the live front over these past recent years. What would you consider to be the highlights from your live performances so far and what can the audience expect from an Unsilence show?
There have been some great live shows, especially in the more recent years as we've developed more as a live act. Some of the best gigs were when we supported Anathema in Bradford back in 1998. When we played in Dublin with Honey For Christ and Kingdom in 2001. Also, the last gig we did in London with The River and Iron Hearse was memorable. Unsilence gigs will be quite different now as Hoddy's no longer in the band. To be absolutely honest, he was a poor frontman. I don't think he was very comfortable with playing live. So it remains to be seen how we'll fair with Kil fronting the band now. Our first gig with him is in a few weeks time and he seems excited by it.
6. In 2005 you were set to play at the now near legendary Doom Shall Rise festival in Germany. However, some months before the show in April you dropped from the bill? What led to this decision? Any plans for reaching Germany or elsewhere outside Britain in the near future?
It was because of the departure of our vocalist Andrew Hodson. It was possible that we could have been on the forthcoming DSR but we hadn't had a new singer when the bill was sorted. So perhaps we'll be on next year. We have been talking with a certain band about organizing a few gigs in Germany. But there's not much I can say about it right now. But we're itching to play mainland Europe. We've had opportunities to play in the past but these have always fell through due to reasons beyond our control.
7. OK let's turn our attention to the UK doom scene and the state of things in the scene from your perspective. It looks like the scene is undergoing some sort of renaissance of late with some interesting bands like Centurion's Ghost, Tefra and The River attracting considerable attention. What is Unsilence's relationship to these bands and would you agree with the notion that the UK doom metal scene is presently undergoing some sort of renewal?
Well we got to know The River as our ex-drummer joined them when he moved down south.We did a gig with them and we hope to gig together again when they find a new drummer (Jon left them as he moved back up here due to becoming a father). I know Tefra from going to gigs in Bradford. I've had email contact with Centurion's Ghost but I don't really know them. It seems there's some good bands here but it's not a massive thing.
8. Like many other underground "true" doom metal bands in the UK, Unsilence seems to suffer from lack of exposure in the metal press. Can you please provide us with some insights on this thorny issue from your experience over all these years in the UK's underground metal scene?
The latest issue of Terrorizer has a doom special that's meant to run for the next two issues. I've not seen it myself but it's odd that they're focusing on doom metal now after having largely ignored it al these years. Really, coverage in magazine happens a lot more easily if your style is what's in at the moment, if you're with a label which has good connections with such magazines or if you're friends with writers for these mags.
9. Having had the pleasure of "A Walk through Oceans" guesting several times and regularly in my play list, I would consider UK legends Solstice as having a resounding influence on the band's sound and musical direction. Would you agree with this assessment? What other bands would you list as your band's main influences?
Most of us do like Solstice. But they've not been an influence in the way many people have made out. I think a lot of the comparisons have been more to do with sharing some similar influences..Many of the epic characteristics which people compare us to them with started to really develop on our second demo when I wasn't too aware of their music. As a band, we like quite a range of stuff that it's difficult to pinpoint bands that have been a particular influence. Generally, it's the heaviness and atmosphere of metal.
10. What is your opinion on the following seminal doom metal albums: (a) Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (b) St. Vitus - V and (c) Revelation - Salvation's Answer.
My personal favorite Candlemass album is Nightfall. Epicus... is obviously a classic. But I prefer the vocals and the production on Nightfall. It could be something to do with it being the first album of theirs I got into though. A similar thing could be said for St. Vitus' V. Great album but I prefer Born Too Late and Mournful Cries. I've never heard Revelation's Salvation Awnser. One for me to check out I guess. I'll get my arse kicked if our ex-drummer Jonathon is reading this, as he's a big Revelation fan. All I have by them is Frozen Masque. They're not a band I've checked much by
11. Jamie Cavanagh from Anathema co-produced your 1995 "Unfinished Chapter" demo. What was it like working with the guy and what are your views on Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost? Do you think that the hostility that exists for these band's amongst the doom scene's purists and conservatives is justified?
Jamie's a good bloke and a competent engineer. I've not seen him since those days. I've heard he's back in Anathema but it's been ages since I've last seen them. The death/ doom style was a big influence on us when we started. This style is still something of an influence but with us, we just wanted to get more melodic, especially with the vocals. With Anathema, I like some of their songs more than others. The earlier MDB albums like Turn Loose The Swans are the best. But there is some good songs amongst the newer material, The Dreadful Hours in particular being something of a return to form.Gothic by Paradise Lost was a particular milestone for them. But the whole gothic metal thing went rotten after that. It represents that style done best. Since then, they've lost something of their originality. I can understand doom fanatics being offended at these bands being perceived as doom metal as they won't necessarily appeal to those who like true doom metal. But I disagree that they're just slowed down death metal. Doom/ death sums up the (early) style of these bands better as they quite clearly owe something to doom metal.Yet it separate them from the true doom style and avoids confusion amongst the CD buyers.
12. What's your opinion on the recent surge of interest in epic doom metal world-wide? Is it just a case of re-hashing old formulas or do you think that the more recent crop of epic doom bands is helping to re-define and rejuvenate this genre in doom metal which though thriving from a strongly committed fan base has failed to captivate more widespread support?
The thing with epic doom metal is that it's based on melodies and there's a lot less limitation in how far you an take things than if it's brutality or whatever. Everything has been done before. Generally, I find the accusations of unorginality from many people to be just an excuse to attack a form of music they dislike anyway. The mainstream music press certainly use such things when it suites them.
13. One final question Kieron before wrapping things up. What has motivated you to persevere in the doom metal scene for all these years?
As a man who's done the same thing yourself, you'll know that it's the need for expression and the love of the music. That was the first thing which drew me to playing music as I never assumed that I will become famous amongst all the others trying for fame. And it's never something I've ever needed. Also, I like the chance to go places to play gigs and the general social outlet that being in a bands allows. Especially as you'll get to meet like-minded people.
14. These last insights have brought this interview to a close. Mega thanks for your co-operation and interest. Any last thoughts that you want to bring to the attention of all the Monolithians out there?
Look out for our first album (at last - not counting the unreleased "Choirs Of Memory"). Hopefully out later in the year. We now have a My Space page at http://www.myspace.com/unsilence We plan to demo some new material in the next few weeks and we'll have one of the tracks up on the website/ My Space as an mp3. As a taster of what to expect from the album. Thanks a lot for the interview.
Cheers once more for the interview. All the best to Unsilence and your future plans. Here's to another twelve years!
A FIRE ON THE SEA
A TORN SKY