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dinsdag 22 januari 2013
DAYLIGHT DIES: American Ambassadors of Amazing Doom

Interview with bassist Egan O’Rourke (also clean vocals) by Vera in October 2012

Already since 2002, the American epic doom/death metal band Daylight Dies produces magnificent albums. It is a pity that they only toured once in Europe until now, in 2003 with Katatonia, but we hope that this will change after the recent release of their fourth studio album: the amazing ‘A Frail Becoming’. We asked bassist Egan O’Rourke – the man who also adds more and better clean vocals to the records – some questions and that’s how we learned everything about what happened with the band during the last couple of years, since their previous work ‘Lost To The Living’.

Hello guys! Since your fourth studio album ‘A Frail Becoming’ happens to be a stunner in doom/death metal again, it is time for our next interview. How are you doing? Are you satisfied with the new album?
Hello. Glad you like the album. We really put everything we had into it and I think we’re all incredibly satisfied with the results. Right now we’re just trying to make the most of the album release and hopefully getting as many people to hear it as possible.

Let us pick up the thread at the time of the release of former album ‘Lost To The Living’ (2008). Could you consolidate or expand your fan base with this one? What did you achieve?
I think there is plenty of quintessential Daylight Dies for our old fans, but I think we’ve also added some elements that non-doom fans can latch onto. We’ve never had any interest in a stylistic left turn but I think ‘A Frail Becoming’ has some aggressiveness and straight up riffing that we avoided in the past. If that opens us up to new fans, that’s great.

In the past you did North American tours with eminent bands of your ilk like Katatonia, Moonspell, Candlemass and even Emperor, but I do not see any tours following the release of ‘Lost To The Living’, or am I wrong? What happened?
The Candlemass tour straddled the release of ‘Lost To The Living’. We did the ‘A Portrait In White’ single, so we’d have something to help hype ‘Lost To The Living’ while we were out pre-release. About six months later we went on the road with Soilwork, Darkane and Swallow The Sun. It was around the ‘Lost To The Living’ release that the Diaspora began, but really, we toured as much as we ever had.

I understand that the four years hiatus included some strenuous days… since I read: “At many times during the creation of this album, it felt as if it may never be realized.” What was going on?
I think hiatus is a misnomer of sorts. After ‘Lost To The Living’ was released, Jesse moved to NYC and shortly thereafter Barre moved to LA. It’s fair to say there was some resentment about those moves and the timing of them between individual members. We did the Soilwork tour in the post-move era and I think it was the first step towards being a band that could function while spread out. Barre has always been our primary writer and I don’t think he was interested in writing another Daylight Dies record after ‘Lost To The Living’, but I think once I started sending out demos in mid-2009 he started to get inspired again. So really the hiatus was six months between our last ‘Lost To The Living’ tour and our first writing for ‘A Frail Becoming’. What made the record hard to realize once we started writing was getting the logistics of the writing process set and then figuring out how we were going to rehearse and record the album with only brief pieces of time with everyone in the same places.

What can you tell about the writing process this time?
The writing process started with Barre and I writing material independently and sending out demos for feedback. When Barre moved back to NYC we took the material we had and started getting together to refine it and tweak the arrangements. Jesse would fly in periodically and we’d get together to rehearse and further refine the material.

Recordings for ‘A Frail Becoming’ started late 2011. Can you give more details about it? Are there significant differences with previous recordings?
The only significant differences are that we did it smarter and it was drawn out over a longer period of time. The basic process of all of our Candlelight albums is that we record drums in a studio and then retire to my project studio for all of the guitars, bass, keys and vocals. At that point we send it all to Jens. We did use more different amplifiers this time and more vocal layering, but the basics of the process were the same. We’ve just gotten better through trial and error over the years.

For the third time, the mix was done by famous Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. How did you ever get in contact with him?
We’ve used Jens for the past three albums and we trust him completely. When we booked him the first time ‘Ghost Reveries’ (Opeth record – Vera) wasn’t out, so ‘Nightmares Made Flesh’ (Bloodbath album – Vera) and ‘Viva Emptiness’ (Katatonia – Vera) were the only things we had heard. I think Anders Nyström put us in contact with him initially. In retrospect it sounds of absurd but we were concerned when we hired him to mix ‘Dismantling Devotion’, because we hadn’t signed a contract with Candlelight yet, so we were planning to pay out of pocket. Of course now he is one of the most sought after engineers in metal and has given us three great albums.

One of the features on Daylight Dies records is the engrossing interaction between harsh vocals and clean vocals. I think you improved again on that matter. Maybe you have grown into that discipline? Can you tell something about this development?
I think in the past the clean vocals were the last thing we considered as well as the last thing we tracked. ‘Last Alone’ from ‘Lost To The Living’ was the first thing that I wrote cleans for well in advance of tracking the record. In the case of the ‘A Frail Becoming’, I was considering clean vocals much earlier in the process. For example on ‘Sunset’ I was writing vocal melodies for the verse from the point that I was initially writing the riff. The guitar is always king in Daylight Dies but this is the first album where we really considered vocals – style and placement – very early in the writing process and I think it shows.

Each song represents a reflection of a moment in time. Can you illustrate this with some examples for any songs? Naturally the gloomy atmosphere prevails, but if there is a song born out of a specific experience, please share it with us…
It depends. Some songs grew out of painting abstractions, but others come from specific moments in our lives. We try not to get into the specifics of songs too far because ultimately things born of our experience are realized through the listeners connection with them. I think ‘Ghosting’ for me and ‘Hold On To Nothing’ for Barre represent songs that are irrepressibly personal though.

We applaud that you create this kind of music in the United States, since ages dominated by shallow nu metal and metalcore bands on one hand and traditional heavy metal on the other side! But… isn’t it very difficult to create that kind of niche you are working on? In other words: is there a proper audience for your music in the States?
We don’t really think about it to be totally honest. We just write the best music we can and hopefully it transcends nationality and trends. I suppose if we were a band steeped in a local scene it might make more of a difference but Relapse picked us up so early that we skipped the regional band step. Our first tour was with Katatonia in Europe.

We all know that initial influences came from Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Opeth, and so on. But are there newer bands you are into in the genre? For example Swallow The Sun, Ghost Brigade, Barren Earth, etc. And what about your fellow countrymen Novembers Doom?
I can’t speak for the other guys but I just don’t listen to much doom/death anymore. A review recently compared us to Ghost Brigade and embarrassingly I’ve never heard them. Bands like Swallow The Sun are good friends cutting good albums but it’s certainly not influencing what we do. I think we’ve all been reaching outside of the genre for influence for a long time.

You have shot a beautiful video for ‘Dreaming Of Breathing’ with a familiar director for you. Can you go deeper into this making of, the location, your experience of shooting this one and your cooperation with the director?
Ramon Boutviseth who directed the ‘Dreaming Of Breathing’ video for us had previously directed our video for ‘Lies That Bind’. He and Jesse worked out the concept but beyond that we were quite insulated from a lot of the process. All of the band stuff was shot on a soundstage. All of the ocean and nature narrative stuff was shot on the other side of the country without any of us there. Our experience was like a band rehearsal on one song all day but with a guy like Ramon we knew the result would be something quite inspired and it is. We’re really pleased with it.

The artwork is a perfect example of genuine inspiration as well. Can you tell something more about it?
It’s funny because Jonathan was the third artist we went to and time was running out. We had been through a painstaking process of failure with two famous artists prior to asking him to take photos and he came back with no less than five fantastic covers in a week’s time. Ultimately I think what we chose embodies the starkness and dramatics of the album.

Tour plans for 2013 have been announced. Do you have any fixed areas already? Will you finally come over back to Europe? Have you been there – with a band or as tourist – before?
There are no hard tour plans to make public at this time. As a band it’s a priority to get over to Europe again to promote this album. We did a few weeks with Katatonia in 2003 and we did a few festivals last year thanks to the tenacity of the ‘Madrid is the Dark’ guys. I think we’ve all done the tourist thing as well but a tour would be more satisfying.

What are the plans for the near future?
We are focused on getting the word out about this album and trying to line up the right tours. I hope to be able to sit down and start writing again in the next month or so.

Geplaatst door Vera op dinsdag 22 januari 2013 - 20:39:31
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