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Crippled Black Phoenix

Het was niet gemakkelijk om met Justin Greaves in contact te komen. Na de release van ‘New Dark Age’ ging de band direct touren. Vrijwel de gehele maanden november en december was de band dus ‘on the road’. Inmiddels zijn de heren en dame van de band weer thuis en was ik eindelijk in de gelegenheid om van gedachten te wisselen met de even eigenzinnige als briljante bandleider van Crippled Black Phoenix. Hij bleek – niet geheel onverwacht – een goed prater, die scherp formuleert en bovenal geen blad voor de mond neemt.

Door: Wim S. | Archiveer onder alternative / pop

Hi there, what’s up?! Where are you and what are you doing at the moment?
What's up? The sky. .... Hi there. I'm at my home, in my homeland, with my good lady and my cats. I'm busy building traps, making musical confusion and scrattin' taters.

The new EP, New Dark Age, is released by Seasons Of Mist, the band’s first release on that label. How did that deal came about and is the band still fully in control of what is going on?
The deal with SoM came on the back of a winged serpent, a message in the night from Michael The Barbarian, asking me to join his clan. I was still trying to get rid of our previous label at that time as they were not the correct kind of cave for CBP to dwell. The good powers of the Mist awaited in hiding patiently until I could give them a glorious news of our impending joint adventure in music and myth destroying. We are in full control.

On you website I read this statement: ‘Our ‘New Dark Age Tour EP’ represents a new chapter in the CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX history’. In what way is this release the new chapter? What has changed or is going to change musically?
A lot has changed during the time between recordings, things got really shitty because unfortunately we had a dirty selfish traitor in our ranks. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the dwarf guitarist left the band and took all his crap with him, now CBP is better as a result. We have new guys playing in the band, Jonas Stallhammar (from Bombs Of Hades) is now my fellow guiterrorist and we're just about to try out a great guy for permanent bass guitar duties, he's a friend of ours and has played with Ben (live drummer) a lot, so the rhythm section, the engine of the live band will be brutal tight! I've missed that for a while, even to say since Dominic played with us back in the early days! Harsh, but true. Musically nothing will change, not the way I approach the way I do things anyway. Basically I will continue to create music I want to hear and to do what I want, whatever it may be, and the other guys will continue to make it all sound massive adding their personalities to their parts. So even if the next album turns out to be a soft folk album, or it's a cold brutal black metal album, it will always be 100% CBP.

On this new EP we hear some brilliant cover versions of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes Part 1 and 2’. Obviously Floyd has always been an inspiration for the band. Why did you choose these 2 songs to record on the album?
I didn't choose to do this cover version of ‘Echoes’, it was an idea by Todd Greene, the gentleman lunatic who released the pressing on Clearview Records. I was a little wary about doing it at first, because I would never put myself in the same musical platform as Pink Floyd, and I truly believe if you love a song so much, it's not a good idea to try to play it and potentially ruin it. However, I do like to pay my respects to great bands/artists, and I do like a challenge, so I agreed to do it... And I'm glad I did because it was a cool sounding effort in the end, helped by an good old friend Dave Norman. We also made it into a joint release between CBP and Se Delan because it was Belinda singing on it, so along with myself that is Se Delan right there! Pink Floyd has always been an influence on me, but in no way are they my biggest influence and I guess a small part of why I decided to record Echoes (and Childhoods End) was to put this whole PF comparison to bed and move on...enough now... yeah, Pink Floyd are cool... so what?

In my opinion ‘New Dark Age’ is one of the best songs the band has ever recorded. That song has everything that represents the music of CBP for me: melancholy, atmosphere, tension, fear?
Thank you very much for saying that! It's a cliché to say this but I pretty much always favour the latest recordings, so right now ‘NDA’ is my favourite CBP song. I wouldn't release something I don't like or I think in inferior in some way. ‘NDA’ does represent a lot of what makes up CBP I guess, I was quite self aware when writing it, but sometimes why try to be different just for the sake of it? I like what I do and I wanted to more of that. To get a little deeper, the subject is obviously the downfall of our globalised society into what could be seen as a kind of "dark age", so the song itself couldn't be a yohoho-lets-go upbeat kind of song. The last section of the song begins with a spaced out trippy ambient part, a reflection of being stuck not knowing any answers to any of the big problems, then the uplift at the end is everyone basically dying, because that's where we're all heading... Kind of makes you wonder why people spend their life fighting and making their life and others miserable.

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I am very impressed with the production of this release. Especially with my headphones on, it is absolutely brilliant what you can hear. Did you put in some extra effort this time while recording, producing and mixing?
Actually, there was very little time to prepare the recording of the two new songs, long boring story about industry stuff that needed doing and the signing to the label got delayed etc.. but when we finally did sign, we already had the idea of releasing something new in time for the Euro Tour in November/December, it meant we had literally a week to get it organized and three days to record and master it. I guess it helps that when you have an idea of what exactly you want to do, and a strong demo of the music, it does make it a little easier. To be honest, I think maybe the fact that it was done with a certain amount of adrenaline and stress made it better because sometimes you can capture something very quickly, other times with too much time and too many tools, you can end up cleaning things up too much and taking the soul out of a recording, much like what happened with ‘The Crafty Ape’ album, that was over-produced for the most part, some of it lost a lot of feeling and power because there was too much meddling and twiddling in the studio.

The band – or more specific Justin, has been engaged in a legal dispute over the registered trademark of the band’s name with former guitarist Karl Demata. Can you tell us a bit more about that (for example, is Karl claiming the band’s name?)?
Karl Demata is a dirty lying dwarf fart. Here is the facts, pay attention now... I created the "band" in 2004, I took the name "Crippled Black Phoenix" from a song by my old band Iron Monkey called ‘Big Loader’. We used to write lyrics by scribbling one line each and trying to out-do each other with twisted fictions, this is where the name originated. I used the name out of respect for my past, my old band and bandmates, it was also something that stuck with me in the intervening years (I also used it as a disguise name on the ‘Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine’ album I made with some friends). So now imagine, I have the band running, writing and recording for five (5) years and four (4) albums before Demata joined the band, and it was me that asked him to join. He was playing country/blues covers in pubs before that, I know, I played with him.

At first he wasn't fussed about CBP, I don’t even think he really liked what I was doing, but he joined because we were going to the USA for a tour and I guess he thought it would be a good thing to do. Over the next few years Karl tried to impose his influence on the band, he tried to change things, he tried to play too much widdly widdly guitar hero bollocks, but that was not what I had made the band for, it wasn't CBP, it was simply wrong, and I think he felt he didn't get what he wanted… So he STOLE the band name by secretly registering it with the UK Trademark Office in 2012, he was by law required to tell any other "interested parties" which of course he didn't and continued to play with us, shake my hand, look me in the eye, for two more years, knowing what he had done behind my back. Then at the end of 2014 with no warning what so ever, he and Christian decided to leave the band. They did this in the worst way possible, by simply not turning up to rehearsals the day before we had two shows in Greece and one in Bulgaria, they didn't even call or text to say they weren't coming. Of course it was their shitty attempt at sabotage, but they looked like idiots in the end because we got Arthur and Georgi to fill in and we played those shows and had a wonderful time. So there you go… Karl has tried to steal the band name and sabotage the band, and on top of that he publicly lied about why he did it, and on top of that, he still used the name to sell his new shit band. What a wanker.

You are currently on tour in Europe. How is the tour going so far?
Nope, I'm at home, we toured in November and December... has it took that long to do this interview? The tour was great, against all odds, we pulled off something special and it feels like we have regained a lot of support that might have left us thinking we were turning into a stadium rock band. Now we have proper good guys in the band, guys who understand the music, play for the music and play really fucking well... So I think we're better than ever now. Next tour is going to destroy you.

If there is something you’d like to add, feel free to do so…
I feel a lot more like I do now, than I did when I got here.

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