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STYGIAN CROWN: New, yet experienced collective!

Interview with drummer Rhett Davis by Vera in July 2020

A strong debut crossed our path in June, coming from sunny California where new outfit Stygian Crown worked on monumental doom metal compositions for their self-titled album. Doom metal with female, yet solemn and sturdy vocals, graced with euphonious guitar soloing and thundering drums of Rhett Davis. That’s the man behind the kit we remember from Morgion and Keen Of The Crow. Thus it happened to be a welcome reunion between us when we had this interview to celebrate the birth of his new outfit.

How are you doing Rhett, because these are weird times? I hope that you and your family and band members are fine!
Thank you, you’re very kind! I hope the best for you and yours as well! We are all doing well, considering everything. We all had to make adjustments, making the best out of a difficult situation. I sincerely believe we are fortunate, there are many who are not.

First of all, what happened to you after the Morgion split?
I put together a band with then bassist, Justin Christian. We formed KEEN OF THE CROW. Recorded a couple releases, played quite a bit live. Once we finished our debut album the band imploded. I moved on to reform an old band of mine GRAVEHILL. Been steady with them till 2018. Six releases and four albums and numerous shows and tours later. I also joined DIVINE EVE a few years back as their live drummer. Oh yeah, and STYGIAN CROWN as well. I've kept busy.

When and how did you feel the need to form another band in addition to your involvement in Gravehill? In other words, how did Stygian Crown come into being?
When I was in MORGION I spent fourteen years drumming just for that. Same goes for KEEN OF THE CROW. I suppose the older I got I recognized that I'm capable of multiple bands simultaneously. I’ve witnessed some of my peers do the same. I guess I'm not physically able to do this forever. I chose the wrong instrument to grow fat and old too! HAHA!!! So I'm making the best of what time I got. Plus, I don’t need weeks/months of rehearsals, I can rehearse a few times and make it happen after. My skills, if anything, are still capable.

The last addition to the band happened to be female singer Melissa Pinion. How did you discover her and found out that she was the perfect match? Was it the intention having a female singer from the beginning or coincidence?
I was looking for a trained singer. Sex, age, background didn’t matter to me. My spouse introduced me to a video of Melissa singing ‘Hollowed Be Thy Name’ and I called her immediately. We are all friends due to a mutual friend Bob Kassing (R.I.P.), I was unaware she could sing. It's for lack of a better word, serendipitous. In our case the fact she is a woman is coincidence. In my opinion bands tend to sell that and in our case we let her skill be the factor.

You seem to have quite an unorthodox way of writing songs… Can you go deeper into that writing process of your songs?
A friend of mine writes all the music and lyrics in this band. It’s his show. He plans out the structures, writes all the choruses first, then build around them. Since he plays guitar and does most of the vocals, it makes sense on how he does it. In my case. I'm a drummer, I don’t play guitar. I have no convention on my side. I just know what I want to hear. So in our case, Nelson (guitar) and I arrange songs from his riff ideas. Or from vocal/piano demos Melissa writes. It takes more time and trial and error, but once it all sounds/feels right we keep it. Melissa handles the brunt of the lyrics, all her vocal ideas are her own. I give some but not much feedback there, she is more than capable.

The lyrics draw inspiration from different topics. Can you tell a bit more about them by illustrating it with some of the songs?
The songs focus primarily on two topics: mythology and ancient history. You'll find references to Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology in songs such as ‘Up From The Depths’ (the story of Cerberus), ‘Devour The Dead’ (Ammit) and ‘When Old Gods Die’ (the battle between Jörmungandr and Thor). Other songs are historic, such as ‘Through Divine Rite’, which is about the Battle of Mount Vesuvius.

Your drums were recorded at the Trench Studios with John Haddad. What is your connection with him and why was he the perfect match?
I've known John since the early nineties. We first met when he played drums for PHOBIA. Since he is a drummer, he and I see eye to eye on drum sound. So he's no better choice. Plus his studio is very comfortable, and he's good company. A recording environment should be comfortable, no stress. If anyone is interested in seeing his drum building skills . I have a snare drum he built me, he's an artist. Seriously.

But also guitarist Nelson Miranda has an important role in the recording process, isn’t it?
Nelson started collecting recording gear over the past few years. He has skills and understanding I wish I could possess. He started tracking guitar solo’s on past GRAVEHILL recordings. Then after getting more microphones and better software, he did his trial run tracking all guitars, bass, synths and vocals on the Stygian Crown album. It was a huge undertaking for him. He had a few bumps and bruises along the way, but he did a fantastic job! More to come!

Another name that pops up from the early days at the Frontline (Ghent), is the Australian musician Mark Kelson (The Eternal). How did you meet him and please tell us everything about his mix and mastering and guest appearances…
Mark and I met online first. Over two decades ago. He stayed at my house on a few U.S. tours he did as well. We just are good friends. Plus we both admire each other’s music. He talked about remixing our demo and I suggested the album instead. I admit I thought it would be difficult to mix being so far apart. I was wrong.

What can you tell about the artwork?
I commissioned Misanthropic Art, my idea was to have a sigil representing both serpent and crown. I really like all his work, as a debut cover I really feel it represented us wholly.

Are there plans for creating music videos?
We plan to do a live video performing some of the songs. Professional sound and audio. The studio we originally booked is closed due to the Pandemic. So at the moment, I have an idea for another location. Or, we have to wait it out. Which I prefer not to.

Of course it is impossible to play live at the moment, but – as far as we can plan – are there any dreams to bring this new outfit to the stages?
Yes definitely! We have four festivals we agreed to. LEGIONS OF METAL, HELL OVER HAMMABURG, UP THE HAMMERS and HAMMER OF DOOM. Plus we were hoping for a tour and have been discussing it with a few bands. We are hopeful.

What is the latest news on the other bands you are active in, like Gravehill?
GRAVEHILL is on hiatus. Since we can’t play live I see no reason to write/record an album. DIVINE EVE have an album to mix and master. All gigs we had are postponed. I started another band with a couple friends and we hope to record this Fall/Winter. It's a HM2 worship death metal band in the vein of CARNAGE and ENTOMBED. Something that is more heavy than fast, no black metal or thrash influence.

If there is anything you’d like to add, please feel free to do it here…
I appreciate the interview and your kind words on the release!!! Hopefully we can say hello again in person in the future!!! First Beer on me!!! Best regards to everyone reading, thanks for the support!!!

Thank you, Rhett and thumbs up to better times!

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 03 augustus 2020 - 20:24:22
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