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Ravenheart Music: Interviews


Darkest_Era.jpg We normally interview female fronted bands here at Ravenheart Music, but I was recently given the oppotunity to interview Lisa, the drummer with guy fronted band Darkest Era, who hail from Northern Ireland. The band play a style of Celtic Metal that caught my attention, so when the offer of an interview came along, I just had to say "yes".

Hi Lisa....I mentioned in my brief intro Northern Ireland - can you tell me what the rock and metal scene is like there? as it is not very common for a metal band from Northern Ireland to make it elsewhere.
The rock/metal scene in Ireland is actually fairly good considering it's population. Although some smaller towns struggle to get good crowds at gigs, I believe it's resulted in a tighter knit, hungrier and more enthusiastic crowd on the whole. I like to support the local scene at home as my inspiration for drumming started at the local shows. Belfast has a strong metal scene with regular gigs and some particularly promising bands emerging, Overoth and Viceral Attack are certainly names to look out for.

And how did you guys and gals all come together?
It all started in 2005 as 'Nemesis' with Gareth Richie behind the drums. Ade (Guitar) and Krum (Vocals) had been in a covers band previously to this and met Sarah (Guitar) and Dj through school friends, the band released a self titled demo within the year. When Gareth left in 2007, I jumped at the opportunity to join the band which we soon after re-named with the more fitting title Darkest Era.

Can you yourself describe the band's sound to the uninitiated? There is certainly a strong vocal delivery to the music to my ears aswell as that aforementioned Celtic feel.
We play epic, celtic laden heavy metal. It is difficult to pigeon hole as you can find many different kinds of influence in there; Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Bathory, folk music.. Different people pick up on different aspects of our sound but it is something unique I think.

I understand that you released an EP in 2008. Can you tell us about that, and fill us in about your debut album 'The Last Caress of Light', that has recently been released on Metal Blade Records?
We worked hard to create 'The Journey Through Damnation' MCD in 2009 which was recognised by 'Eyes Like Snow' who distributed it world wide, whilst we made our debuts in Germany, Italy and Greece. In 2010 we released a limited run of The Oaks Sessions promo, soon after we signed with Metal Blade and we were straight into the studio to record The Last Caress of Light. Although only our first album, we are very proud of it. It is a milestone for any band to release their first album. We feel it's a strong, we're pleased with how the songs turned out and how the whole package looks. Chris Fielding, who produced the album, was fantastic to work with and he really knew how to capture the sound we were after. We wanted warm, natural sounding drums with thick and earthy guitars. We wanted the whole thing to sound organic and 'human', which I feel it does. Of course it is hard to be objective when you are so close to the songs, but the reviews have been very positive so far so that is something.

How did you get the deal with Metal Blade?
Well the whole thing happened in quite a short time. Alan Averill from Primordial started doing A&R work for Metal Blade around January 2010, at this time we had just completed our Oaks Sessions promo which we were intending on sending to labels to secure a deal for our debut album. He pitched us directly to Brian Slagel along with a number of other bands. He really liked what he heard so over the next few months, a deal was thrashed out! We were determined to find the right label for our debut album, but could never have imagined it happening quite so fast!

Where was the album recorded and what was the studio experience like?
We travelled to Wales to record the album at Foel Studios in Wales with Engineer/Producer Chris Fielding as we were very impressed by examples of his previous works. We were also all keen on the idea of using an analogue based system, giving both the advantages of digital editing and of analogue 'sound', so this was a key factor for us. Choosing a studio can be difficult and even disastrous for some, thankfully Chris understood exactly what we wanted, and he worked hard to achieve it all on time (his overtime was paid with beer..although I think we may owe him a few!!) I enjoyed every second in Wales (despite numerous car break downs!), we worked hard, had lots of fun and came home proud of what we had achieved.

'The Last Caress of Light' is an awesome title. Can you explain it's meaning?
It's adapted from the closing song, "The Last Caress Of Light Before The Dark". This song is about entering the unknown and the changing tides of the world. It sort of sums up a lot of the themes on the album, especially in the kind of imagery it conjures up so it was the perfect title for the album.

I know the album has not been out very long, but have you had any media feedback so far regards the recording?
Most feedback so far has been in the form of internet and magazine reviews, most of which have been very positive and encouraging- some reviews gave ratings as high as 9.5/10. It's been received very positively right across the board but the reviews from Europe in particular have really taken us by surprise. We are happy that it's being received so well.

What are your musical influences and what are you currently listening to in your spare time?
My musical influences vary from the likes of 16 Horsepower to Jane's Addiction, from The Doors to Soul Coughing and Tom Waits to I'll Eat Your Face (Irish grind-core- The best live band I've ever seen!).. I don't tend to buy lots of albums by the same band unless the artist has made each album different or progressed fairly noticeably (this may be due to a short attention span..), it has however meant that my influences are often from completely different genres to Darkest Era's music, I like to think these influences help bring a wider dynamic and texture to the music we play.

If given the chance, what band would just love to hang out and tour with?
Ohh..difficult question. I'm going to go with Macabre on this one, they've gotta be a fun bunch of lads, anyone writing music that funny has got to be! (OK, so the tour may make no sense musically..but it would be a lot of fun!) Playing with Etrus Grave in Italy and Germany was great, I'd love the chance to tour with them properly some time. An awesome band on and off the stage!

And are there plans afoot for a UK/European tour?
Well, as three of us are final year student's, we are busy and restricted until the summer, during which time we hope to play around Ireland and Britain as much as we can. We certainly plan to tour Europe extensively around the Autumn/Winter time but nothing has been confirmed as yet.

Many thanks for giving us the opportunity for this interview. Good luck with the release and is there anything you would like to say to the readers of this website?
Thanks for the support. Hails&Ales;!

Check the band out at their Myspace folks. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Dave Smith (Mar 3, 2011)