Hello Mark! A great honour to talk to you again on behalf of the amazing new record ‘Waiting For The Endless Dawn’! I hope you are doing well and the record turned out as you wished...
Hello Vera! We are very pleased with the result. It’s almost hard to believe it’s been five years since we released ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’. So much has happened in that time, but I really think we have struck on something great with this album, so I am happy we took the time that it took us to put this album together.
Of course you have created your solo album ‘Resurgence’ in 2015 and I know that you are always busy with music, but since five years have passed since the previous The Eternal record ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’, can you tell us a bit more what happened with you and the band since 2013?
So we did ‘When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade’ in 2013. It was an extremely hard and personal album to make and took so much energy from me creatively. It took me a while to find my feet again with The Eternal. So yes, I took a break and did my solo album ‘Resurgence’ and few solo tours of Japan and actually worked with a Japanese backing band, it was a great experience but The Eternal is still my home. We did release our live album ‘Circle Of Live’ in 2015 which I think was a really important step in what we have accomplished with the new album. ‘Circle Of Live’ was recorded on our tenth year anniversary tour and the set was taken from our whole career, so it was really a great time to reflect on what the band was all about. We have of course experimented with the sound over the years, but I felt I really wanted to return to the longer form songs and in some ways I was looking back to our first album and even my old band Cryptal Darkness, which I was not fond of for many reasons. But I guess after all these years I was able to look back on the things I liked about the early stuff. So late 2015 it all became clear to me and I started to demo what would be ‘Waiting For The Endless Dawn’, so it was a solid three year process from demos to release.
Could you tour enough for that previous record ‘When The Circle...’? Any memories on special locations or things that happened on the live front?
We did not manage to tour abroad for ‘Circle Of Light…’ but we did some great stuff in Australia. We did a national tour with Amorphis which was a highlight for me. We also did tours with Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Anathema and even Uriah Heep. I can’t complain about the amazing bands we have been blessed to share the stage with. Always amazing when you get to play with people that have shaped and influenced the sound you make. I really did enjoy that Amorphis tour as I’d been following them since the first album and we had not played with them before. Also one of my best mates Matti does lights for them, so it was awesome to have him and a couple of the guys over for a BBQ! You can’t come to Australia without a BBQ!
What can you tell about the writing process of the new album ‘Waiting For The Endless Dawn’? Did the creation of your solo album have any kind of influence on the sound of The Eternal now?
I think it did, because my solo album is quite progressive at times, and I got to explore a lot of things differently to what I would consider The Eternal sound to be, but being that I still wrote and sung the songs I think there is a sound that is recognisable! I did do long songs on that album. So that set me on the path of focusing on long cinematic pieces, although we have done it in the past with songs like ‘Blood’ or ‘Weight Of Empathy’. I wanted to take it further, so that’s when it hit me, the doom sounds that have influenced me with the long cinematic progressive influenced arrangements that I love, and all of a sudden, I felt really free to do whatever the hell I felt like. I was talking about this with our guitarist Richie the other day… I don’t regret writing simple catchy songs like ‘Everlasting’ and ‘Down’ because doing straight to the point catchy songs is an art form in itself and really simplifying and refining my song-writing in a way has helped me get good at the craft and be able to make what I feel are interesting long and complex pieces of music.
What instantly leaps to the eye is the considerable length of the songs and also more doom and less gothic influences I would say... and a return of incidentally grunts which adds a great contrast in the music... Can you tell a bit more about all these thoughts of mine and new musical developments?
I just needed to make a statement, a long drawn out statement haha! …as well as sort of rediscovering the stuff that influenced me when I was younger. I’m very much into instrumental music and ambient music, pieces that build rather than having just a simple structure. I just really wanted to make an album that was a journey, I didn’t intent it to be 75 minutes, but that’s just where the journey took us. I wanted extremes, my life in the last five years has been full of extremes, love, loss, happiness and deep sadness and I needed to express those extremes, so growling vocals and the kind of deep moan thing I used to do in Cryptal Darkness which kind of sounds like a growl, I just felt would enhance the dynamics, the shades of beauty and complete hopelessness and darkness. It’s just naturally required, I didn’t have had to make a decision. It was going to be part of the sound from when we wrote the first notes of ‘The Wound’.
The other members had a larger impact than before I think and please tell me about the ‘new’ guitarist Richie Poate. How did you get to know each other and how did this cooperation ended up in being a co-production team?
Richie is an amazing guitarist and well known for being the guitarist for Dreadnaught a band that has been around for 25 years in Australia and still exists! What is different about having Richie in the band is, he is such an accomplished songwriter with an extensive discography of his own, and if you listen to some of his early compositions with Dreadnaught, you can hear how our styles can complement each other. He also has a background in production and tech like myself. So it was Marty that suggested Richie, as Marty was also drumming in Dreadnaught at the time. I didn’t think he would be interested, but lucky for us he was and it’s been great collaboration so far. He joined just as I was finishing the guitar tracks, so I happily deleted half of them and got him involved, from that point forward we handled the production and direction totally together. I think we both bring different things to the table, but we are good at helping each make decisions. We are also good at spending six weeks mixing one song as we are both very passionate about the small details, involved in composition and production. We also tend to like similar music and are both open to other music each of us likes. Some of the most inspiring times we have is just when we listen to music and analysis it. I’d say for the first time I actually have a creative co-pilot in the band and it’s really exciting. I can’t wait to actually write a complete album together, which is what we are about to start doing. I do find it strange that we have been in the same scene in the same town for many years and never really sort of bumped into each other, but luckily here we are!
The album starts with a twenty minute track ‘The Wound’ and it sends shivers down my spine. Can you tell a bit more about this particular mammoth composition?
I wanted to open the album with something that was its own complete universe, the first sort of six minute build up was a jam between myself, Marty and Dave that I took away and developed into a song. There is a lot of subtle complexities to that song, but at the same time a lot of the song is based around a few notes building. My own brief in my head was I want to take the listener on a cinematic and emotional roller coaster, so that song covers so many elements of what we are about, doom, melody, prog, melancholy etc… I think Martin Powell’s keyboards just add so much of the feeling, he has such a unique sense of melody that I have always loved and Richie’s guitar solo on that track is like this beautiful moment of hope before you are dragged back into the darkness. And of course, we had a film made for the track in Portugal that really sort of takes the cinematic element to another level. I guess a 20 minute piece with so many layers and textures is quite ambitious, but I think we pulled off. I like that we build complex music without being really ‘showy’ with our playing, I always think the playing should complete the song and not be a vehicle to show off our technical abilities. I am proud of the end result of that song!
I noticed that ‘Don’t Believe Anymore’ happens to be the only song which is not written by you (and the band). Who is Iva Davies and why the choice for your own version? (btw it is a beautiful song!)
Iva Davies is an extremely well know Australian singer / songwriter for the band Icehouse. Icehouse were massive in the eighties. You may have heard the song ‘Great Southern Land’ which is almost our second national anthem, I guess on the surface his music is new romantic pop rock, but really some of his songs are just dark, and his music has always been an influence on me since I was a child. We have never recorded a cover before, but I really wanted to make a statement that we are Australian and this music is part of our heritage. I know Iva has had success all over the world, but ‘Don’t Believe Anymore’ to me just sounds like us, so it was an easy choice for me to make to pick that song and remind the world what a great songwriter he is and that there has been darker music coming out of Australia for years, even from pop artists. I do hope if he hears our version that he likes it, we spent a long time on the integrity of that song and making sure it represented the original whilst fitting into what we are all about. We will release a video of this song in a few months!
The album is your debut at Inverse Records, a Finnish label. Can you go deeper into the reason of signing a new deal with a proper European label (although you have been on Finnish label Firebox before)?
After our third album ‘Kartika’, Firebox was not really an active label anymore and we are not a huge band, so ‘Under A New Sun’ and ‘Circle Of Light…’ did not get an official European label release because we could just not line up a deal. We did have something in Japan and Australia but we seemed to have lost our European connection for a few years. When I started writing the new album I knew we needed to get back into the European market and that a big part of our career had been based in Finland, I knew the Inverse guys from the Firebox Days, so I just kept bugging them till they said yes! Haha! …of course modern record industry is quite different. I don’t have huge expectations, I just really wanted a European audience to hear this album and I feel we still have a lot to offer, but it’s just a matter of being heard. This can of course be hard when you live all the way down in Australia, I’m grateful for Inverse getting involved; it’s been a massive push for us so far.
And more Finnish excellence: the song ‘In The Lilac Dusk’ includes juicy growls from Mikko Kotamäki. An amazing addition, so please tell us a bit more about your bond with Swallow The Sun and Mikko’s contribution?
Swallow The Sun and The Eternal released our first album around the same time both on Firebox back in 2003/2004 and our first show ever in Finland was with them, so we just sort of made a bond and I would see some of the guys on various trips to Finland and of course have many boozey nights haha, We played with them again in 2009 at the Firebox Metal Fest in Finland. Mikko has one of my favourite growls and I’m a huge fan of the band and their impressive body of work. So when I put that song together with Martin Powell, I knew Mikko had to sing it. I asked him and lucky for us he said yes! I’m really happy with the result, I think it’s a really great surprise for and a new element to our music.
It is the first time that the whole recording process was done at your own Kelsonic Studios. How do you look back at this experience?
I have always done elements of my music at my studio but over the last few years it has really grown to be a professional level studio. So it made sense as we had no budget or label at the start to do it all ourselves. Of course when you produce your own music you run the risk of getting lost in the production and never finishing, which is another reason why I’m grateful that Richie came in, because he was able to help me move through massive amount of music we had recorded and get to the end of the project. I am lucky I have that skillset and the gear, because it lets us have full control of our music and we can take the time to do exactly what we like, without watching the clock; but then again this can lead to a 75 minute album that takes three years to make!
Can you tell a bit more about the (captivating) video for ‘The Wound’ and the (lyric)video for ‘In The Lilac Dusk’? Are there plans for more visual art in terms of video clips?
‘The Wound’ has been beautifully filmed and produced in Portugal by renowned film maker Guilherme Henriques. ‘The Wound’ is a story of loss, disconnection and attempted reconciliation. It was great to have someone from the outside do that and do there ‘impression’ of the song, because then you really get a creative situation taking place where the art of the song is expressed in two different mediums. Considering the budget restrictions and what not, Guilherme and the team in Portugal did an amazing job. It can be really hard making a cohesive piece being on the other side of the world from each other and I’m sure we had a few tough moments, but we got there. I think the film compliments the song well and really brings that cinematic element to the forefront.
Another visual art: the cover artwork. Please give us some insight in the choice and creation of this dream-like, moving picture...
It’s based on a photo called ‘New Dawn’ by Bairon Rivera @ Barnell Photography. I was searching google looking for photographers and artists as you do and I somehow came across his work. When I saw that it was so beautiful, I contacted him immediately and once again, lucky for us he was happy for us to use it, it really does compliment the sound of the music!
What are the plans and hopes for playing live in the near future? Let us hope we can welcome The Eternal in our (European) areas again after this release...
We would love to tour Europe! It’s a huge goal for us, it’s been quite a while: our last European tour was 2009 and mine personally was with Duncan Patterson’s Alternative 4 in 2012. So it’s been ages, hopefully now the album is out we can focus on working on that. We will start rehearsing this week and get this show on the road. We also want to start working on a new album ASAP. We have some firm ideas of what we would like to do, it will be heavy, ambient, beautiful and no doubt long!
Even though I am familiar with the sound of The Eternal, this record really leaves me in awe! Guitar skills (very emotive) and soaring keys are so beautiful that it moves me grandly. And I am very lucky with the return of incidental grunts... A reaction on these personal experiences of the music would be great to occlude this interview...
I am really so happy with the response we are getting. I think every artist wants a little validation for their work, even if they don’t admit it, so I’m really pleased that the years we spent locked away making this thing is leading to people relating and connecting to the music. It’s a beautiful thing, the connection we all make through music. It’s universal. I put a lot of my personal feeling and heart into the music, so I’m so happy that it is finally there for the world to hear.
If there is something you’d like to add, please feel free to do it here...
Thank you so much for the interview Vera / Lords of Metal. It’s always a pleasure and we are grateful for your ongoing support over the years! I hope your readers take a moment to listen to ‘Waiting For The Endless Dawn’ and hope we see you on tour soon!