Quoting my comrade in poison pen Ivona Bogner one of the hardest interviews are those when you do them with people you actually know and have a solid amount of respect for them and their work.
In vibe of their snowy video Glacial I sat with the Luka (bass, songwriter) and Matej (lead vocals, guitars) this winter solstice and talked about the band’s sound and their current second melancholic doom A Fracture in the Human Soul.
Hi guys, even on the holydays you were busy. How did the gig in Šibenik went? This was your first time playing there?
Matej: Yes, this was our first time playing there so we didn’t know what to expect. We thought since it was the day after Christmas that it wouldn’t be as much a crowd as it was, but we were pleasantly surprised when the club started filling up. It was a great gig for us.
Luka: To be honest this was my first time ever to play in Šibenik and it was rather obvious that the audience is really hungry for metal shows. The place was packed in the end and the whole event was truly amazing. We shared the stage with a local band called Zlobnik that everyone should really check out!
Let’s talk about your second album A Fracture in the Human Soul; how did the writing differ from your debut? It does seem more fluid and more reliant of its own identity.
Luka: I would say that the main difference in the writing was the fact that I knew that all the songs I was writing will be on the same record. When I started Old Night I was just writing songs and actually finishing the song Contemptus Mundi, from our debut, was the thing that sparked the idea of doing a new band. So in the end I had all this songs that worked together and thus “Pale Cold Irrelevance” was finished. When I started the writing process for AFITHS I immediately decided that we’ll do a 45” minutes format so that the album can be released on a classic vinyl and all the songs that ended on the record were written especially to be on it, whereas in retrospective I would call our first record a collection of songs. Of course in the process of the writing and playing together the band formed its own sound and we learned what we’re better at, how to arrange music for three guitars and multiple vocals. It’s still a learning process, but I think we’re getting better at it.
For the sake of simplicity, Old Night does fit in the category of doom metal, but you have far more other elements in your sound. What were you influences?
Matej: Where to begin. Since Luka is the main author and composer he keeps us on the doom path but each of us has different influences. Our music has various components of progressive, atmospheric, blues music. It is all well fitted in the main idea of the band’s sound and genre.
Luka: When I started the band I wasn’t really preoccupied with genres or styles. I just had all this music that I wanted to get out of my system. If we are talking about influences I can say that I listen to all the music that has a certain dark feel to it so from doom to black, death metal etc. but also pop, prog and gothic bands. I really don’t care about the genre I just like to listen to music that has a certain atmosphere and that speaks to me. I think that there are no specific bands that influenced me to form Old Night.
Along with the sound, the lineup is quite something else, three guitarist and three vocalists. Was that on purpose or something that just happened along the formation?
Matej: Well when I came into the band there where already three of us singing, me as the lead singer, and my brother and Luka as the backing vocals. On the second album Bojan started singing as well, so now there is four of us singing. As far as the part about three guitars goes I think it was accidental because the rest of the band told me that we are looking for a third guitar or a keyboard player. Luckily I started to play a little guitar before and they just gave me more and more material to play while singing.
Luka: I know that readers would really like to hear a story about a great masterplan, but in all honesty it was all accidental and it was more of a trial and error and finding a solution of how to perform the material live. When I started the band the first idea was doing a solo project with just a studio drummer and me doing all the other instruments. The original idea was for the band to be more in the death doom or funeral doom style. When I scrapped that idea and started a real band I wanted to keep the number of players to a minimum, so we started rehearsing as a power trio, guitar, bass, drums and the two of us singing. In that whole process the arrangements got richer and more elaborated so we kept adding people and instruments until we could actually perform the material live. I wanted to add a saxophone / keyboard player but couldn’t find a right person to do it in our hometown, so the third guitar came into the equation. So now there are three guitars and four vocals and we’re still looking for ways how to enrich the arrangements without adding people
A Fracture in the Human Soul was recoded in G.I.S. Studio in your hometown in Rijeka, but was mixed and mastered in Dungeon Studios Poole from UK. How that did go?
Matej: Well since the first album was recorded and mastered by the same crew we knew we should stick with the people who did such an amazing job.
Luka: As Matej already stated the same people worked on our debut, and the only difference was the fact that Insanus (Dungeon Studios) moved to UK so we had to do it via mail and phone instead of sitting in the room with him during the mixing process. I started working with Matej Zec (G.I.S. Studio) while in Ashes You Leave and I recorded in that studio for the past 13 years (although they changed location) so that one was a no brainer. It’s a really professional studio with great equipment and crew less than 30 minutes away. It’s always a pleasure to return there and work in an environment with people that are actually your friends and are doing everything they can to make it easier and better.
I’ve known Insanus, and played with him in various bands since ’99 or ’00. He is always dedicated to the projects he’s working on and he also did a tremendous job on „Pale Cold Irrelevance“ so, once again it was a really easy choice to make.
I know what Old Night means but I believe a majority does not.
Luka: Old Night is a term from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It represents one of the two powers or spirits that Satan encountered through the turmoil of chaos. These two deities, Chaos and Old Night, ruled over the wild Abyss that is the womb of Nature. The whole idea sounded great for there is no mention in any classic literature of deities that ruled and maintained the chaos above Hell. It also sounded like something ancient and maybe something that you heard but don’t know what it means. And in my mind it was the perfect name for a band like us. It was also fortunate that no band used the name so we could claim it for ourselves.
When you started the project with the name, did you imagine this kind of music with it?
Luka: No, not at all. As I already said the original idea was a solo project with me doing the majority of instruments and all the singing. Since I’m not comfortable with clean singing the vocal style originally intended was harsh vocals with spoken parts. Obviously we’re as far from it as we could be. When Matej and Ivan joined my whole perception of what this band could be changed with it. I had an amazing lead and backing singer and it just opened so many possibilities arrangement wise. Although all the songs in their core stayed the same I didn’t have to limit myself anymore while composing so that all the parts worked with a harsh vocal on top of it. So to answer your initial question the band is so much more now than what I had in mind starting the whole thing, it just took a life of its own.
The album is released since May of this year, what’s your reflection on the album? Are you happy with the final result?
Matej: We started working on the album right after we released “Pale Cold Irrelevance” so we had enough time to work out all the details and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.
Luka: I started working on the songs for this record even before our first record came out so when we turned in all the material for the first one we started working and rehearsing the songs as a band. Now after eight months I would probably change some bits, as probably any musician would, but overall I’m really satisfied how everything turned out. We worked a long time on both the songs and the visuals to make it all as perfect as we could make it with the means at our disposal. There was a lot of energy put in the arrangements and details to make sure that the listener stays hooked on the song.
Two videos are done for the album; Elder and Glacial. What was the main idea behind the theme and visual presentation?
Matej: I think Kristina Barišić did an amazing job on those videos. As far as the idea behind the theme of the videos goes, I think we should let the audience/viewers figure it out for themselves and find their own way to interpret them.
Luka: As for our first video, we turned to Kristina to direct both videos to promote our new record. We decided to film the videos for those two songs since those songs are connected musically and on the vinyl edition they are basically a single song. We recorded the live part of the videos in an abandoned theatre house in our hometown and the main plot of the video for “Glacial” is set in the ruined opera house within that theatre. I think the locations perfectly fit the atmosphere of the songs.
Luka, its said that you are the main songwriter and producer here; after several albums with Ashes You Leave and now two albums with Old Night, where do you find inspiration and how do you keep it still fresh after a solid number of albums?
Luka: First of all I try always to keep things fresh. I never try to write a song that I already did no matter how popular it became so for me it’s always moving forward without looking back. I said this a couple of times, I’m not actually what you would consider a prolific writer. I can’t regurgitate song if needed and since I’m aware of that I write all the time. If I’m not writing riffs and putting songs together I’ll probably write the lyrics or concepts for records. So when we’ll start working on new material I’ll probably have most of it written. I found this way of writing suites me the best since I can’t force the songs. The majority of ideas and riffs that I write when I fell I need to write something new I usually scrap away and never use. So from my perspective is just taking the time for the ideas to form and then they flow on their own.
Thank you very much for the chance to present our band to your readers! I would like to invite them to check our band and our videos as well as our new record “A Fracture in the Human Soul”.
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