UNSILENCE INTERVIEW WITH PRIMAL AGONYZINE (AUSTRALIA) 2001.
Over the years England has had a great reputation for producing some of the finest Doom Metal bands around and UNSILENCE is another from the UK to add to that list. Having endured a few setbacks since their formation in 1993, they are still going strong and delivering their Metal Doom style. UNSILENCE drummer Jonathon Gibbs got back to me to tell their story and what's going on with them these days.
1/PRIMAL AGONY: I'll start by asking a couple of standard questions just to give people a bit of an idea about who you are. Although Unsilence have been around since December 1993, could you go back and give us a bit more in depth history of the band and the current members?
UNSILENCE :As you say Unsilence got together in December 1993 after some members of Kieron's (Guitars) previous band Burial decided to call it a day. With the addition of Andrew (Vocals) the remaining members of Burial decided a new band and a new name would be more fitting for the music they were writing.
The band went through a merry go round of members (we're on our fifth guitarist, fourth bassist and second drummer!) until it has finally stabilised (I hope!) with the current line up, which is: Andrew (Vocals), Kieron (Guitar), David (Bass), James (Guitar) and me, Jonathon on Drums. Andrew and Kieron are the only original members and James is the newest member as he joined after we recorded the MCD.
I think the current line up will be stable because we all share a passion for the music we write but we all have varied enough tastes that we don't stagnate and end up writing the same thing over and over again.
2/PRIMAL AGONY: In that time you have released a few demo's, and most recently an EP. Can you tell us about each of those and which of those people can still get their hands on?
UNSILENCE : There are two demos: "Shadows Cast In Stone" (1994), "An Unfinished Chapter" (1996), an unfinished albumJ "Choirs of Memory" which was recorded in 1997 but has never been released, and the "Transfiguration" MCD which was released early in 2000. The MCD is still available for £4.60 (UK), $8 (Europe) and $10 (World) (cheques to Unsilence) from the address at the end of this interview. It is also stocked by Morbid Orchestra Distribution in Australia. The demos are all sold out but if you send us a tape and postage we will be more than happy to do you a tape.
3/PRIMAL AGONY: You also recorded an album a few years back but it still hasn't been released due to label hassles at the time. What happened with that and does it look like ever being available?
UNSILENCE : We did record an album called "Choirs of Memory" in 1996, which was to be released through an Italian Label, Seven Art Music. Unfortunately Seven Art made some business mistakes including giving too much priority too one of their other bands which then didn't sell as well as expected. I think it was just naivety and too much ambition but the upshot was that they went out of business and we were left with an unreleased album and considerable debts!
We did toy with the idea of releasing it as a mp3 via our website but I don't think this is viable really. We have had offers from labels to release this album but we decided that in comparison to the "Transfiguration" MCD it wasn't really up to scratch so for the time being it will remain unavailable.
4/PRIMAL AGONY: You have had incredibly bad luck when dealing with record labels and releasing stuff so have things improved for you in that chapter of the band?
UNSILENCE : It's true we have had a bad run with labels over the years (in addition to Seven Art, another Italian label, Full Moon Rising were supposed to release what became the "Unfinished Chapter" demo), and we remain unsigned at the moment.
I think our experiences have meant that we are a bit more demanding with prospective labels, maybe we're just a bit more business minded these days. Also the success of "Transfiguration" has given us a lot of confidence, in that we have done it all ourselves without label help.
We have been in dialogue with a couple of labels and it is probable that our next release will be through a label rather than self released.
5/PRIMAL AGONY: I have only heard the most recent release, the "Transfiguration" EP which was recorded two years ago. I was wondering if the style of Doom Metal I heard on this represents your sound today, and has your sound changed a lot over the years?
UNSILENCE : I think the "Transfiguration" MCD is still fairly representative of our sound. Obviously over the seven or eight years Unsilence has been around, our music has developed significantly as we've grown as musicians and songwriters. The fact that we've undergone fairly extensive line up changes since then has also had a major impact.
The demos and to some extent the album, were fairly much in the traditional doom/death genre of the early 90's which was fairly limiting but the MCD and more recent material has shown that we can expand in all musical directions. We can now create music that is more melodic and mournful but at the same time is more brutal and epic.
I think we have also shown that Doom, while essentially being a depressing, introspective genre can also be uplifting in places which serves to heighten the despair when we bring the mood down again.
6/PRIMAL AGONY: Since it has been a couple of years since that release, have you currently got any plans to release something new soon and if so can you tell us a bit about it and when you hope to have it out?
UNSILENCE : Yeah, we are making plans for another MCD which we hope to record early next year hopefully again at Academy Studios. We have enough songs written already, titles include "Still", "Deep is the Stigma" and "A Walk through Oceans". The new material is a progression from the "Transfiguration" MCD and, even if I say it myself, is fucking excellent!
As I mentioned earlier, it is probable that this release will be through a label but if that doesn't work out, we have managed to build up a decent distribution network on our own so we will just release it ourselves.
7/PRIMAL AGONY: Your sound on "Transfiguration has been likened in parts to bands like Solstice and My Dying Bride, are you happy to be put in with this field?
UNSILENCE : I think it is impossible for any band in this genre not to be compared to My Dying Bride and I'm certainly not going to deny them as an influence. I don't think we sound that much like MDB although I accept we did on our early demos but I suppose using the violin was always going to draw more of these comparisons.
The Solstice comparison is fairly new which I put down to their increased prominence over the last year or so. I wouldn't say Solstice are an influence, although I think "New Dark Age" is an absolute classic, instead I think we share a lot of influences. As MDB and Solstice are two very creative bands who have given us some amazing musical moments, I'm going to take these comparisons as a compliment!
8/PRIMAL AGONY: I lived in London for a few years about five years ago and there was a strong underground scene for Doom bands and fans throughout England. How is it these days and what Doom or other types of Metal bands do you think are worth checking out that we may not have heard of?
UNSILENCE : You're right, about five years ago there were a large number of doom/death bands following in the wake of MDB, Anathema, Paradise Lost (remember Decomposed? Great band!) but this seems to have died out and has also been polluted by the stoner rock scene which I am not a fan of.
Unfortunately Warning have split up but you should still try to get hold of their CD, Mourning Beloveth from Ireland have recently released a great CD called "Dust" and if you haven't heard "New Dark Age" by Solstice, you really haven't lived!
While doom has faltered slightly in the UK, death metal bands are dragging their maggot infested corpses out from every dark crevice! Check out the likes of Gorerotted, Detrimentium, Obsidian, Evanesce and Evoke. Black Metal isn't really my favourite genre but Solace Denied and Sermon of Hypocrisy are both excellent.
Other bands of non specific genre who are worth hearing include The Enchanted (used to be doom/death but are really quite thrashy these days), Belfast's Honey for Christ and if you like your metal very silly and very 80's: listen to Conquest of Steel!
I could go on about the bands I like for pages and pages but if you want to find out more get in contact with me and I'll point you in the right direction!
9/PRIMAL AGONY: What about Unsilence, do you do many gigs and out of the ones you have done in the past is there any one that stands out and if so why?
UNSILENCE : We have stepped up our live activity since we've managed to get a stable line up and we've been lucky enough to play with some great bands from all genres (all METAL genres that is!!). I would say the most memorable gig we have done was in Dublin earlier this year. We had been out drinking with the lads from Honey for Christ for the past two nights and we'd had no sleep and were really hung over.
Our singer could barely speak let alone sing and then we found out we were headlining! But for the 40 minutes we were on stage we just forgot everything as there was so much energy coming from the crowd. I nearly passed out afterwards from the heat but it was well worth it!
10/PRIMAL AGONY: Australia is well known for producing metal bands more in the extreme field (Black /Death) although there is a wide variety now out there. What seems to be in your opinion the main metal style trend of bands doing the rounds in your part of the world at the moment?
UNSILENCE : I would definitely say death metal is back in the UK! I think the quite outstanding success of Akercocke has had quite a lot to do with more people going to more brutal underground gigs, but credit also has to go to the likes of Throne of Nails, Gorerotted and Desecration. There is also a lot of grind around.
You seem to have a good scene in Australia now and it's good to see that it is diversifying as well. I'll look forward to finding out more, as I'm only really familiar with Destroyer 666 and Elysium. I think that it is good that people seem to listening to all styles rather than just saying "I only listen to true Black Metal" etc.
11/PRIMAL AGONY: I have asked this question to bands I have interviewed for the last few interviews so I'll ask you also. What would be you dream line up to play with and why those bands?
UNSILENCE : My dream line up would be Iron Maiden, Slayer and a reformed At The Gates. This is for purely selfish reasons as I would be able to stand sidestage and watch Adrian Erlandsson, Paul Bostaph (perhaps Dave Lombardo could do a guest spot) and Nicko McBrain. Personally that is my idea of heaven!
In terms of a line up including Unsilence, I would say Solstice, Primordial and Unsilence would be a great gig!
12/PRIMAL AGONY: After hearing your CD I'm surprised that you haven't scored yourself a decent record deal. Having been together for so many years now and I presume still not having a good record deal yet, do you sometimes get frustrated with the whole process or are you still just happy to keep things going as they are for a while yet and see what happens?
UNSILENCE : I think the emphasis should be on DECENT record deal. If a label cannot offer support for studio costs and/or major promotion, I think having a record deal simply adds a lot of legal issues and business crap which detracts from the fun of the band.
I'm not frustrated by the lack of record deals because, although I am an ambitious person and would love to be able to just do my music and not have to work, I play metal because I love it and I love playing the drums.
Personally there is nothing more satisfying than writing a great riff or when all the practice pays off and you play your music well (Although I'm sure a couple of naked, oiled supermodels could persuade me otherwise!!)
13/PRIMAL AGONY: Okay, well I might leave it there, and hope to hear some new stuff from you soon. Thanks for the interview and finally anything you wish to add to the interview band related?
UNSILENCE: Thank You! Good luck with your site, it's a good 'un! To your readers, thanks for reading and check out our website www.unsilence.co.uk (link below), you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so get in contact and we'll talk metal!
I also write a fanzine so if you're in a band, get in touch! We should have another MCD out next year so look out for that. Cheers!
Unsilence c/o Kieron Tuohey, 105 Devonshire Road, Bolton, Lancs, BL1 4PP UK
Interviewed By Ian Busch November 2001 Contact:
A FIRE ON THE SEA
A TORN SKY