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11th August 2012
Five years on from their debut performance at Bloodstock Open Air where they secured a main stage slot after triumphing in the festival's unsigned band competition, Costa Rican metallers Sight of Emptiness were invited back to Catton Hall in 2012, this time for a forty minute set on the second stage. Only frontman Eduardo Chacón Zúñiga and drummer Rod Chaverri remain from their 2007 lineup although new members and a different musical outlook has seen the band progress beyond their Gothenburg-biased melo-death stylings, soon to be unleashed on a forthcoming new album that's already been recorded with renowned Swedish producer Thomas "Plec" Johansson. Metal Discovery met up with the amiable Central American musicians an hour or so before their stage time to chat about their return to Bloodstock, just how important that 2007 performance was, lineup changes and, of course, their yet to be released new album. Eduardo, Rod and guitarist Rafa do the talking...
METAL DISCOVERY: How does it feel to return to Bloodstock five years on after the first performance in 2007?
EDUARDO: Well, it feels great because, this time, we’ve got more time to prepare. We’ve got new people in the band which is great because the atmosphere and how we understand each other is better right now. The new songs are ten times better than the first time we came here so we’re bringing our new show - full of energy and full of new things that people, I’m pretty sure, are gonna love. So, yeah, we’re really happy to be back.
(Eduardo Chacón Zúñiga on Sight of Emptiness' 2007 performance at Bloodstock Open Air)
"...everything got better for the band and it’s something we owe Bloodstock. We think that Bloodstock was one of the most important moments so far for the band."
Sight of Emptiness backstage at Bloodstock Open Air, UK, 11th August 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: Cool, and it’s a bigger festival than when you came here last.
ROD: That’s the first thing we noticed actually. As soon as we came in we were like, okay, the Sophie Lancaster stage didn’t even exist back then and now the main stage is more massive; you can see the attendance has probably doubled or tripled since last time we came.
MD: Yeah, I think the attendance was something like four and a half thousand in 2007 but now it’s about fifteen thousand.
ROD: Exactly, so it’s tripled. It’s great to be part of it!
MD: How important was that 2007 show for you?
EDUARDO: It was massive actually…before and after for the band. In our country, we grow a lot and really fast but, at the same time, we were like, “you know what, we’ve got to have our feet on the ground” and I think we’re really the best right now. It’s just like one step at a time but everything got better for the band and it’s something we owe Bloodstock. We think that Bloodstock was one of the most important moments so far for the band. And now, for the second time, it’s actually gonna be even better.
MD: Definitely. So what are your happiest memories from 2007?
ROD: Well, actually, I would say that one of the greatest things that happened to us last time came full circle very recently because we had a chance to meet and hang around a lot with Christian Älvestam – at that time, he was in Scar Symmetry still. We were lucky enough to be staying at the same hotel so we met the guys and took pictures and everything, and after they were done with the gig, he came and sat with us to hang out with us. He was the nicest guy, really down to earth and, now, a couple of years later, he’s singing a couple of the songs. That’s something we didn’t expect so it feels like a full circle, definitely.
MD: Is he doing death vocals on the album or clean vocals?
ROD: He does clean vocals.
MD: Obviously there have been some lineup changes since 2007 so what led to those?
RAFA: Yeah, there have been some changes in the band. Me and Steban joined the band before we recorded ‘Absolution of Humanity’ which is our second album. We’ve been working on new songs for a long time. As soon as we recorded ‘Absolution of Humanity’ we started working on new songs. And then, about a year and a half ago, Andrés joined the band. So it’s a new lineup, new music, and it’s very refreshing for all of us too. Musically speaking, it’s always good to get to know each other as if it was the very first time, you know, every time you play together, and we are there.
MD: So it’s still good fun…keeping it fun and fresh.
RAFA: Yeah, that’s right.
MD: You have a new album finished, your third album. Are you shopping around for a label or are you planning on self-releasing it again?
EDUARDO: No, this is the first time we are shopping for labels. We have a strong feeling that we have a fresh, unique, strong album in our hands right now. It’s the first time we’ve actually recorded with a professional producer, the first time somebody’s gonna mix and master the album with professional standards, and the first time we have this really big list of really interesting people to guest on the album. So we have Christian Älvestam, we have Ralph Santolla, we have…
RAFA: …Glen Drover.
MD: And the Costa Rican Minister of Culture I read… how did he end up on the album?
EDUARDO: You know, he’s a really open-minded guy. He plays in a really big band in Costa Rica, it’s called Malpaís, and he loves to be part of new projects that are actually a challenge for him. So he was like, “you know what, I haven’t played on a rock/metal album before and, for me, this is something I accept this challenge so I’ll be really grateful.” So, yeah, we’re shopping for a label and, hopefully, tonight when we play, we can open some more eyes.
MD: Obviously there’s less reliance on labels for band these days – some bands prefer to self-release albums; they think they can cut out the middle-man as such and get it direct to the fans themselves. So what do you think a label could bring to Sight of Emptiness?
EDUARDO: Well, a label can bring the support and marketing that we, ourselves, couldn’t do overseas. We pretty much can do a hundred per cent of the work in Costa Rica, Central America, and Latin America but it’s kinda hard sometimes to reach people overseas. I think a label, with the experience, with the people that actually know how to market a band, it’s the only way sometimes to reach people that, in other ways, it would be impossible to get to them. Touring more overseas would help us a lot too but with a label it will make it possible for us to reach more audiences around the world.
MD: And does the album have a title yet?
EDUARDO: Yes, it does.
MD: And are you able to reveal the title…or do you not want to say just yet?
ROD: [laughs]
EDUARDO: Well, you know what, it’s funny because we didn’t actually name the album; it was Christian. And so, for now, it’s better if we keep it…
MD: …under wraps!
MD: That’s fair enough! So, from pre-production to the final recordings, I gather there was a fifteen month period of making the album?
RAFA: Yeah, fifteen months.
MD: That’s kind of a long time so did you always plan on spending that amount of time on the album or did it just turn out that way?
RAFA: The coolest thing about this was that we were completely focussed on writing a new album. We didn’t have the pressure that you usually have from a label that you have a certain amount of time. We were going to choose the best songs we had and write the best songs we’ve ever written and that’s what we’re going to have on the album. And all the things that we have grown up as musicians, like the way we think and see music…because, usually, some people just compose and that’s the album. We wrote a lot of songs and we chose just the best of them to be on the album. We released a song this year – one just to be shared and spread for free and that was the strongest song we had when we started recording pre-production material for the album. And it was sort of a challenge for us because it was like, “alright, that’s the best song; alright, let’s put it out but we can do something even better than that” and we’re pretty sure we did it. We’re really proud because it was challenge but it’s a challenge we could handle.
MD: So that single won’t be on the album? You have even better tracks?
RAFA: Oh yeah, yeah, definitely.
MD: Maybe it’ll be a bonus track on the album?
RAFA: The single is already out; we released it with a lyric video, because we wanted to showcase some of the new music we’re doing and especially because there’s been so many lineup changes…not recently but the last album didn’t include compositions from all of our members. So it’s sort of a bridge between the old Sight of Emptiness and the new one. The new Sight of Emptiness has a lot of clean vocals; it’s got a lot of clean guitars; it’s got a lot of atmospheres, you know, real doom oriented music, real heavy…it’s got everything. It would be impossible for me to label and say it’s this or that kind of metal. It’s just metal.
MD: Five years ago, I remember you were more melodic death, the Gothenburg sound…you’ve completely progressed away from that sound now?
ROD: Definitely, it was a conscious decision. One day we just decided we were gonna try to find our musical identity on this record. That’s the journey that we started, just writing, and when the producer Plec came on board…
RAFA: It was cool because we took it as a challenge – what if we can write a better song? What if we can play better? What if we can add something to that pre-production song? So that’s something that actually when Plec came to Costa Rica to record the album, he was so confident working with us because he was like, “good, you guys know these songs so well.” We were really familiar with the material; it’s not something we just did in a hurry. We really put all our hearts in that. It was almost like a job to us, like three days a week and a lot of nights, and it was tough but we made it. It was worth it.