Congratulations with the exquisite album 'The Last Moment'. It was worth waiting for, like the info sheet from Dark Symphonies said…
Thanks Vera, glad you like it!
As Elegeion is not that famous, I would like to start at the beginning: in 1995 you formed Greydawn, a black metal band. As we all know there are different sub genres. Was this a symphonic black metal band?
Greydawn was formed in 1993, and it consisted of myself on guitars, James (also in Elegeion) on bass, Chris (my brother and now Elegeion drummer) on drums, Morbius (James' brother and vocal on Elegeion track 'Mystically Burning') and Dave on lead guitar. It was a straight out black metal band with no keyboards, in fact at the time, we were all against the use of keyboards, as we wanted the pure, raw, primitive black metal sound. I wouldn't say we were a symphonic black metal band at all, but more in the vein of Bestial Warlust, with some death and doom elements.
What were your musical influences at that time, the music you liked to listen to?
At the time I would have to say my main influences were My Dying Bride, Marduk, Bestial Warlust, Samael, Rotting Christ, Sepultura, Death, Malevolent Creation and Belial. I guess those bands are still influences to an extent.
What was your first meeting with the doom metal genre, the band(s) that made you evolve into a more doom-like direction?
I was already into doom metal at the time of playing black metal, but as like now, I couldn't find enough people to form a doom band. I liked black metal so I didn't mind playing it, but I brought in a doom metal influence that can be heard in the old songs. Some Elegeion songs were played in Greydawn in black/doom versions. After about two years, I grew restless and wanted to concentrate on Doom, so I quit with James to form Elegeion, then called Transcendence. My first encounters with doom would be Black Sabbath, My Dying Bride, Disembowelment, Acheron (AUS – now Abremalin), Decoryah, Katatonia (Jhva Elohim Meth demo) and The 3rd and the Mortal.
Did you have an interest in classical music at young age? Are you are trained musician (school)?
No, actually I didn't have an interest in Classical at a young age. It was My Dying Bride that got me into violins and strings, then I discovered Albinoni's Adagio, but once I heard Henryk Gorecki's 3rd Symphony, I was hooked! As for training, I'm definitely not a trained musician! I taught myself guitar at 15 years of age for the sole purpose of playing Metal, and I still have no idea how to read music! For me, it's a very long and arduous task trying to write music for strings.
'The Last Moment' signifies a return to the co-operation with James. How did that grow?
In my mind, it was always in the pipeworks, because I loved some of the songs James wrote. We are still close family friends and hang out all the time so it was as easy as asking him to perform on the new album, to which he agreed. I also liked his drumming style that he is developing – he has only been seriously playing drums a few years.
At the time of the previous record you preferred to work with session musicians, but now I see two line ups on the website: one to work in the studio and one for live gigs in which Chris takes the place of James. Does it mean you finally have found your musicians who have the same fire burning inside?
Hmm…tough question… Well, I have found a partial line up with Chris and Dee both committed to playing for Elegeion, but as for bass and guitar, I don't think I have permanent musicians yet. I'd like to get James back on bass, but we'll have to see. Violin and keyboard are also not permanent musicians, just friends helping me out as usual! So if there's any other talented doom inspired musicians out there, let me know!
In the past it was not always simple to find doom allied musicians in Australia, if I am informed well…
Yes, it's the eternal quest. I've been trying for ten years now, maybe it's just me… Maybe I should re-locate to Europe, they seem to have no shortage of doom-laden souls.
One speaks of a undying passion and conviction behind the concept of Elegeion. Can you tell anything more about that?
I guess that's my way of saying that I will always be doing Elegeion and in doing this I will always use Elegeion to catalyse dark and negative emotions. Elegeion will never evolve to be an upbeat happy band so you can rest assured that we will forever be crawling down the same dark path.
Was it a dream come true for you to work with members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra?
Not really. It was only two of them and they were just like any other session musicians. If I worked with an entire orchestra, now that would be a dream come true! And on that, I was just informed that the sessions were not even actual members of the ASO, so I just wanna let everyone know we were misinformed on that one! Hopefully next time I can get them to perform.
The classical instruments (violin, cello) are used in a natural way, without the bombast sometimes used in rock. That is a refreshment for me. Any comments on that?
Yes, I prefer smooth flowing strings, as opposed to aggressively played strings. I think it comes from my tendency toward slow “adagio” style classical music, where the strings sway like a calm ocean. I'm not into that poppy “Symphony and Metallica” style of strings, which I think detract from rather than compliment the music.
On 'The Last Moment' female vocals are used in a way I prefer. It reminded me of Antimatter, especially on 'Scars' (such a shivering beauty!) Do you know them?
Yes I know Antimatter's music. A friend of mine once had them on his record label. I really like that band, although I wouldn't say they're an influence. In addition to Antimatter, I really like the whole “trip-hop” style in general like Portishead, Hoover and the like. It's a compliment if you think our stuff is even remotely similar - Thanks!
What is the main difference for you between 'The Last Moment' and 'Through The Eyes Of Regret'?
I would say there is a huge difference even though the two albums are still the same “Elegeion” style. I would have to say Regret is more doom with longer songs and takes on more of a long depressing relentless journey, whilst The Last Moment has shorter, more concise songs, and moments of light in the dark. Production-wise, they are also quite similar although TLM was mastered, whilst Regret wasn't so TLM has more of a polished sound. The musicianship of TLM is better too. Although both have their great moments, overall, I prefer TLM, maybe coz it's newer, so you gotta give it a go!
Another band that looms up in learning about Elegeion is 'Chalice'. (Tony Nesci – production former album and Justin Hartwig – guest guitars) Can you tell anything about Chalice?
Yes, Chalice are an Adelaide gothic metal / rock band who were once label mates with us. They create a great fusion of melancholic gothic metal with flute, keyboard and (a very attractive) female vox! We both used the same studio and producer due to label's insistence. I contacted Justin because I liked his style (and coz I can't play lead for shit!), and he did the guest lead for 'The Last Moment'. Hmmm…what else? I believe they are currently recording a new EP and album too, so if you're into gothic metal, check 'em out.
Did you ever perform live or are you planning to do so?
No I've never performed live with Elegeion. And yes I really do hope to play live in the near future. As always I have had a major problem getting the right people in the band – getting anyone in the band for that matter! All I want are some good musicians who understand and have been through what it takes to be a doom musician, but that seems to be a near fruitless search so far. Doom inspired souls are few and far between down here.
In 2002 you recorded a single 'For Blacker Things' back to black metal roots. Will it ever come out?
Maybe, but I can't afford to release it on my own. I'm not sure what to do with it at the moment. I may even re-record it for a new album. I am talking to a few people about it so we'll have to see what happens…
Maybe a few words about the lyrics on the album which are very dark…
The lyrics are, for the most part, dark, depressing, negative, hateful, empty, regretful, despairing, meaningless, meaningful, revengeful, apathetic, pathetic – just the way I like it. And for a fuller description of each song, check out a song by song interview on Metalstorm
The artwork was done by Travis Smith, the 'sketcher of darkness' I call him. How did you get in contact with him and are you satisfied with the result?
I contacted him via his website. I came up with the cover concept and he realised it. I am extremely happy with the result. I can admit it does have a Katatonia flavour to it, but that's fine with me, as that was Travis' art direction at the time and it rocks. He really knows how to create lonely and alienated solitary images, which I think is his specialty and an ongoing theme throughout all his covers. Maybe it's something he is trying to express from his subconscious?
What are your plans for the near future?
As before, my ongoing goal is to form a complete band and tour the world. It's my dream to do that so I'll keep pursuing it. I am also tinkering at some new tracks for a new album, so stay tuned…
To round up this interview, a few words for you to give a brief reaction…
Alchemist: Not bad psychedelic death band, haven't heard them for many years, but they were once label mates on Lethal Recs with one of my all time favourite bands Belial (Wisdom of Darkness)!
The Eternal: Excellent doom / goth metal band. Very professional too. These guys formed as Cryptal Darkness, about the same time as us, in the same neighbourhood, so I've been watching their career develop for over ten years now. They have potential to be a big band and I'm sure they'll achieve it with all the hard work they've been putting in!
Australian doom scene: What doom scene? If there is one, tell me about it coz I met like only a handful of full-on doom heads here in my 29 years of existence! I need to know more and be less isolated..
Pink Floyd: Great band even though I barely ever heard them before. The atmosphere they create is awesome, but I've never been a big fan.
Celtic music: One name for you – Loreena McKennitt. Listen to her and you'll see why I love the dark and haunting aspect of Celtic music. A major inspiration.