DATE OF INTERVIEW:
10th February 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: Is there a particular song, or songs, on the album you were particularly pleased with…or just the whole thing?!
ADE MULGREW: Well, yeah, we were particularly pleased with how it turned out as a whole because we’d, obviously, taken two songs from ‘The Journey Through Damnation’ and put them on there so we were very pleased with how they…I mean, to me, they have a very different spirit running through them now they’re in a different context. ‘The Morrigan’ is slightly slower and more restrained which, I think, sounds a lot better than…so we were pleased with how that all fitted in. Individual songs…probably the newer songs we’re particularly pleased with; the newer ones that we wrote for the album – ‘Heathen Burial’, ‘Poem to the Gael’ and the title track…
(Ade Mulgrew on the 'Nemesis' demo EP)
"...it’s actually appeared on eBay before for about thirty quid, which is crazy!"
Darkest Era - promo shot
Photograph copyright © [unspecified year] Peter Marley
Interview by Mark Holmes
Darkest Era Official MySpace:
DARKEST ERA DISCOGRAPHY
The Journey Through Damnation EP (2008)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
The Oaks Session EP (2010)
The Last Caress of Light (2011)
MD: Oh yeah, the final, epic eleven minute one.
AM: Personally, yeah, I’m quite proud of that one.
MD: Yeah, I really like that song actually.
AM: Cheers, yeah. Basically, it encapsulates everything we’re about pretty much, very, very well. We also had the idea for the concept of that song for about six or seven months before any riffs were written. We just knew we wanted a song to be structured and progress in this kind of way. I came up with the chorus line which became the title of the album as well.
MD: It’s kind of half a title track because the song’s called ‘…Before the Dark’ at the end as well. Was that going to be the full title of the album originally, or did you decide that was too long to call the album?
AM: No, well, we basically came up with ‘The Last Caress of Light Before the Dark’ as a song title, then, as time went on, we became more in love with it and realised that it summed up most of the themes on the album and fit it very well. It was just shortened then because it was too long for an album title. But, yeah, we had that concept before any riffs were written for the song so the way that came together, and it came together very quickly as well, a few weeks before we went into the studio, and we were quite pleased with that. It’s a lot of fun to play live as well.
MD: It kind of sounds very My Dying Bride as well that title, I think.
AM: Yeah, I guess that’s fair enough. The imagery in there is quite similar. Lyrically, it was influenced by some of the Romantic poets – James Joyce, W.B. Yeats kind of thing – and My Dying Bride, lyrically, are probably not a million miles away from that.
MD: I’ve read the press blurb mentioning bands like Maiden, Lizzy, and Warlord as influences but, obviously, there’s a darker side to the music too – what kind of bands have influenced that aspect to your sound?
AM: Probably Viking-era Bathory, and Bathory in general, I suppose. Doom bands like My Dying Bride to a certain extent with ‘The Dreadful Hours’. Warning as well and the ‘Watching From A Distance’ album has been kind of an influence in certain parts. I guess some of the melancholy, apart from metal bands, comes from the traditional Irish music aspect of it. There’s a folk influence there – if you listen to Irish folk like Christy Moore or Planxty, it’s kind of got this melancholic atmosphere over everything. So that kind of darkness will be taken from Irish folk. If you listen to Primordial’s music as well, they’ve taken similar influences as well.
MD: Yeah, I was gonna say you don’t sound like Primordial but I can hear Primordial in there as well as some kind of influence, like the way the guitars are layered and some of the phrasing of the vocals sounds a bit like Alan.
AM: Yeah, pretty much we’re taking influence from the same pool of culture and heritage in a sense. They take influence from traditional music as well so it comes through in this way. It’s just a particular kind of melancholy, I suppose, but with Primordial, we do have some similarities – the way we layer the guitars and some of the riffing style is similar in a sense as well but, obviously, we’re taking it in a much more heavy metal direction than they are.
MD: Definitely. The other thing that’s actually really impressed me on the album are the drums – there’s a lot of character through the rhythms and the fills as well. It sounds like there’s a lot of thought gone into the drumming rather than just standard patterns. What’s Lisa’s background before she joined the band?
AM: Well, she was so young when she joined the band; I think she was sixteen or seventeen. She’s twenty now so she’s just a couple of years younger than us. She was just playing in metal cover bands, rock cover bands as well, but nothing all that serious. She’s very into the drums as an instrument. She teaches drums, and she’s still taking lessons in latin, jazz and swing sort of thing. She’s very into the workings of the instrument so she’s a drummer’s drummer in a sense, I suppose. I mean, yeah, she does put a lot of thought into the drums. Sometimes the way that it’ll work is if I have an idea for a drumbeat, I can’t play drums for shit, but if I have an idea in my head I’ll batter it out on my chest and air drum it or whatever, and then she’ll tell me I’m being silly and then turn it into something actually good! [laughs] Yeah, she puts a lot of thought into it to the point where we’ve actually got to say “it’s okay to play the same beat again!” She’s hates playing the same thing twice in a way and she’s always looking for a way to put variation in the beats. I think with our kind of music it would be very easy to play standard rhythms.
MD: Exactly, and that’s what you expect from the way the music’s been composed, but the drums seem to be off doing their own thing as well which is really refreshing to hear.
AM: Sure, yeah, it’s probably something we’ll explore a little bit more on the next album as well. At times there were a few moments in the album that reminded me of Opeth slightly, just with some of the nuances of the drums, like if the snare was doing something a little offbeat or whatever.
MD: Is that Axe era Opeth, or Lopez?
AM: Whatever…Lopez probably…[laughs]
MD: He was my favourite drummer in Opeth, actually. He had a very unique style of playing.
AM: Yeah, you’ve got to have groove, you know.
MD: You filmed a video for ‘The Morrigan’ which I saw and think looks very effective for what I’m guessing was quite a small budget?
AM: [laughs]…it was actually. That was a few years ago now and it’s probably not entirely representative of where we’re at now. It was a little bit tongue-in-cheek to an extent but it was a lot of fun getting the battle re-enactment in there and everything. It was a couple of hundred quid it was done for, which is nothing, but it was basically, at the time, my cousin and a friend of his had a production company which I became a part of and set it up as a business and everything. The three of us are running that now and we’ve just been doing promo videos, and studio videos, for this album actually. But, yeah, it was a couple of hundred quid.
MD: It looks good for two hundred quid.
AM: It wasn’t bad, yeah. It was a massive learning curve for the guys as well because I think it was the first music video they’d done at the time. Yeah, it looks good. It was a lot of fun and we did it in three or four hours – that was just the performance and then the two guys who were kicking the shit out of each other was done in a couple of hours as well. Yeah, it’s fun that video but, as I say, it’s probably not…
MD: ...representative of where you’re at now.
AM: Pretty much, yeah.
MD: Once the album’s out there I guess that video might get a bit more attention so maybe people won’t realise it was filmed a few years ago…
AM: Yeah, well, we’ve stuck a title on it now which is “2008, EP version”. ‘The Morrigan’ was the first single off the album as well but we probably…well, we will be doing a music video but it will probably be for ‘An Ancient Fire Burns’. That’ll be more representative of the setting of the album and where we’re at now.
MD: You could spend four hundred quid this time!
AM: Maybe, yeah. Push the boat out, you know!
MD: I was reading some of your tweets on your Twitter, and there’s something about you’re getting mailed a lot regarding the ‘Nemesis’ demo – is that fans who have discovered you now asking if that’s going to be reissued?
AM: Er…[laughs]…funny enough, it’s actually pretty much stopped altogether since details of the album came out! [laughs] It was, well, we still get the odd email, but since it sold out, certainly over the past few months from when we moved into the studio when the Metal Blade deal was announced to nearly a month or so ago, just a whole bunch of emails from people who didn’t get their hands on the ‘Nemesis’ demo. I guess there’s maybe some completists out there. There was four hundred printed originally and they’re all long gone.
MD: Quite rare now then.
AM: Yeah, pretty much. I think we have one or two each, and that’s it. I have a whole bunch of booklets unused…[laughs]…but they’re not really much use! It seems to have been quite popular in the underground. It got a lot of attention in Germany and Greece very early on which took us by surprise because we were so young. I’m sure it’ll see some sort of re-release and certainly when our website’s online it’ll be uploaded on there digitally. Maybe there’s the possibility of it coming out on vinyl with one of the EPs at some stage.
MD: If you become massive off the back of this album then maybe it’ll end up going on eBay for eighty quid or something!
AM: Well, funny enough, it’s actually appeared on eBay before for about thirty quid, which is crazy! [laughs]
MD: Crazy, but a huge compliment as well.
AM: In one sense, yeah, but then in another sense we’re thinking – who the hell would pay for that shit?! [laughs] But, yeah, we’re very proud of it but it’s sort of raw and rough sounding…
MD: And you’ve moved on.
AM: Yeah, certainly, yeah, but on the album we put a mention of thanks to anyone who actually owned a copy because if you own a copy then you were following us and stuff which is very cool.
MD: Finally, what lies ahead in the rest of the year for the band and have you had any festival interest yet for this summer?
AM: Well, funny enough, the way it worked out with the recording we just missed the boat a little bit in terms of booking for the summer festivals. If the album had been out in October, for example, then we would’ve been playing a whole bunch of festivals. Because we did have quite a bit of underground interest and everything, a following and a buzz, we were essentially unsigned. So we hadn’t been signed to a booking agent which is really what we’re looking for to make that step up in terms of touring. And now that the album’s about to come out we’ve actually been talking to quite a few booking agents and just finalising details. The booking period now would be for package tours, hopefully, for the autumn and winter so, certainly from the autumn and onwards, we’ll be looking at touring extensively in the UK and definitely across Europe. Hopefully we’ll be announcing some details about that soon. We basically just want to play live. We’ve got a few one-off shows in the works – we’ve got our album launch in Belfast and I think one or two UK dates about to be announced. We’re happiest live – that’s what the band does, and that’s what we want to do. That’s where the songs are the most powerful too.
MD: Right, well thank you very much for your time.
AM: I enjoyed that so thanks very much.
MD: And massive good luck with the album – it’s totally amazing so you deserve to do very well out of it.
AM: Thanks very much. I’ve been doing interviews all day but I really enjoyed that; those questions were spot on actually!