(Guest writer KevinP recently conducted an interview of Dutch multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Ed Warby, who is a member of multiple active bands, including The 11th Hour, whose 2012 album Lacrima Mortis was reviewed by Kevin here.)
Everyone knows you from Gorefest and Hail of Bullets. Tell us how The 11th Hour came to be. What was your inspiration and how long did you have this planned (if at all) before it became a reality?
I met Rogga [Johansson] on the Global Domination forums and he asked me if I’d be interested in making some doom together. Somehow this mutated into me joining Demiurg instead, but I liked the idea and started writing on my own. First song I wrote was “One Last Smoke”, which was my take on the ultimate Candlemass type riff and I was quite pleased with the result so I continued, trying different moods and ideas until I had a complete album on my hands. In the meantime I’d seen Krux live for the first time and enjoyed it so much I became even more convinced I had to pursue my doom aspirations. At that point I asked Rogga if he was still interested in participating and the rest as they say is history.
Was there something you felt that you needed to express, that you were not able to do with Hail of Bullets (and your other projects)?
It’s taken a while to admit this to myself, but I guess me starting The 11th Hour had a lot to do with the writing/recording of the last Gorefest album. I wrote about 3/4 of the album, but for some reason this was not to be admitted in interviews and my role was so severely downplayed I got more and more frustrated. It’s not necessary to be praised in each interview or review, but I do believe in credit where credit’s due. So if anything, I wanted to prove to myself that I could in fact write, arrange and record an entire album on my own.
Musically, I wanted to further explore my melancholy side. I sneak a sad melody into a HoB song from time to time, but too much and the other guys will hit the brakes (and rightfully so, brutality and aggression should always be the main focus for the Bullets). In doom, I’m free to write a 9-minute song with elaborate melodic sections to counter the heavy riffage and I really enjoy taking these journeys, letting the song unfurl without any restrictions.
I must plead total ignorance that you wrote Gorefest material (outside of the drum parts). So when did you first start playing guitar? Everyone (at least us fans) knows you strictly as a drummer.
I’ve always been involved in arranging the songs, but it wasn’t until the reunion that I actually contributed my own material. My sister bought me a guitar for my birthday and I started riffing away, delivering my first 4 songs on La Muerte and a whole bunch more for Rise To Ruin. In between I also wrote most of Hail Of Bullets’ debut album, so you could say having access to a melodic instrument really opened the floodgates of inspiration.
Not to go off into a Hail of Bullets tangent, but here I sat thinking that Gebedi and Baayens were the “riff masters”. LOL
On OFAW Paul wrote 2 songs and Steph 1, the rest came from me. ODW has slightly more balanced credits with Steph delivering 3 and Paul 1. Paul did of course write 2 complete Asphyx albums, and Steph is responsible for 2 decades of thrash with Thanatos, so they’re most definitely riff masters. I’m just more prolific within HoB I guess.
I really need a fucking agent, if not even a self-confessed “Warby Weenie” knows what I do, haha
I’m ashamed as president of the Warby Weenie Fan Club I did not know these details. We’ll have to discuss it further whenever the fuck I get to Holland and enjoy some fresh stroopwafels (but more on that later). Was there ever any consideration on your part of handling the harsh vocals?
Absolutely not. I do guide growls on the demos but it’s not something you want to hear, trust me. A man has to know his limitations, right?
Lacrima Mortis is your second album where you’ve done everything (music, production) except the harsh vocals. What did you learn between Burden of Grief and this release?
Not enough apparently. I expected this one to be a lot easier, but I couldn’t have been more wrong… it seems there’s always new mistakes to be made, and I had such a hard time recording the album that I vowed this was my last DIY venture. I wanted to be done by July but the master wasn’t ready until October, and by that time I doubted everything about the album. It’s very difficult to keep perspective after such a long time (8 months). So next time I’m getting the whole band involved. If all of them come through like Pim [Blankenstein] did, it’ll be awesome
In hindsight was there ever a time you wished you had help or another set of ears to bounce ideas off during the writing or production process?
During the writing process I did share a lot of ideas with the other guys in the band, but once I started recording I was in my own world. I can be terrifically stubborn sometimes and I rarely take advice, so it wouldn’t have made a difference either way. Of course Ronnie [Björnström] joined me for the mix. That’s the one thing I can’t do myself and by that time I really need a fresh perspective as well.
Did you have to weigh the pros/cons of doing this all yourself or was that the only option/desire?
It was really the only option for me. Most of the songs were written and demoed before the band grew into what it is now, and I wasn’t ready to “share” these yet. When I start writing for the next album I’ll involve the other members earlier on, maybe even record the demo’s collectively already, eliminating the need/desire to do everything by myself. That’s the theory anyway, haha! The band sounds great live, so I’m sure it’ll be a step forward instead of a compromise (which I am absolutely allergic to).
Both albums are firmly rooted in the death/doom genre, they don’t break any new ground (nor do they try to), yet you don’t really sound like any other band. Do you agree with this? And was this deliberate or just a natural occurrence?
I agree wholeheartedly and I must say I get royally pissed off when reviewers complain that we don’t add anything new to the genre(s). Who does these days? Seriously, a guitar only has so many strings and frets, it’s a limited instrument (although I worship it). How original can you be after so many decades of metal? Everything’s been done before, and I don’t have any burning desire to come up with something earth-shatteringly original. But in spite of this I do feel we have a distinct sound and style, which is mostly a natural occurrence I guess. I make the kind of music I myself would like to hear. That goes for both 11th Hour and HoB (for which the same can be said regarding originality vs distinct sound), so it’s mainly a combination of things I like and my own musical sensibilities.
What do you feel is different between Burden of Grief and Lacrima Mortis? Anything you look back on and wish you did or wanted to do differently?
I’m still very proud of Burden Of Grief, but Lacrima Mortis is a much more mature album, better in every way possible. The most important thing I wanted to improve upon was my own vocals. Those were a little tentative on the first album and having them rather low in the mix made matters worse. This time I made sure I gave the best performance I could, and we gave them a more prominent spot together with Pim’s growls.
The new album is 52 minutes long. You have a 30-second sample of a girl crying on “Tears of the Bereaved”. Yet this seems to be a very polarizing aspect in many reviews. Did you have any idea this would be such an issue?
Not at all, and I still don’t see what the fuss is about. I think it works brilliantly, otherwise I wouldn’t have used it. Besides, although the ones that hate it REALLY HATE it, those are still a minority. Most reviews singled it out as a powerful moment, so I have no regrets about including it.
I will take pity on you for this question and allow you to give the “Cliff Notes” version if necessary, but Pim does the harsh vocals on this album, taking over the reins from Rogga. How did Pim get involved and why the switch ?
Rogga was supposed to reprise his role as growler but a prolonged illness prevented him from doing so. He did record most of his vocals for the album, but we both agreed it wasn’t up to snuff, so with his blessing I decided to look for an alternative. Pim was already a member of the live band since 2009, so he was an obvious choice, having performed Rogga’s parts on stage. But he still surprised me with his powerhouse performance. In hindsight his voice actually suits the music better than Rogga’s, although he’s still one of my favorite growlers.
Speaking of the live performance, who else do you have with you and how did they get involved ?
When the plan arose to do one show and one only (yeah right), the first member I recruited was Petra Guijt. I’d run into her a few times at HoB gigs and she always said if I ever needed a guitarist she was in. Through her I got in touch with Bram Bijlhout, guitarist for Officium Triste, and he in turn got Pim involved. My longtime friend Dirk Bruinenberg was an obvious choice for a drummer, already having replaced me when I left Elegy to join Gorefest in 1992, and he brought along his friend Kris Gildenlow (ex-Pain Of Salvation) on bass. Kris and Petra have since been replaced due to conflicting schedules by Daniël Huijben and Frank Harthoorn (ex-Gorefest) respectively, and this feels like a definitive line-up.
Any upcoming live performances where people can check you out?
The list of upcoming shows is rather meager. It’s hard for a doom metal band to get booked outside of the doom circuit. We’re working on some bookings right now, but until they’re confirmed I can’t say much about those. Will be very cool if it goes through though.
Now onto the important part of the interview. Let’s discuss Holland’s greatest contribution to the world. No, not the tulip, windmill, or wooden shoes, but the glorious STROOPWAFEL. Are all the Dutch into this as much as some of us insane foreigners are?
Believe it or not but I’m having one RIGHT NOW! I guess most Dutchies enjoy a stroopwafel every once in a while as it’s a likeable creation, but it’s not a big deal to us
Thanks for rubbing salt into the wound. Is it a fresh one or from the supermarket?
Supermarket, I rarely have fresh ones. For a while I was really into the crumbs, you can actually buy a bag of those at the stroopwafel stand.
Really? Got to put that on my list of things to get shipped over here. For those of us who have not had the luxury of trying the fresh ones, give us a detailed breakdown of the differences please.
Well, they’re… fresher! And bigger usually, and if you get them warm on a cold winter’s day it’s a little bit of magic. Jealous yet?
Did I already tell you to go fuck yourself? If not, then please do. LOL. Final question: the obligatory final comments, kiss the readers asses, and pimp your shit. Go ahead . . .
I tried but I’m not well-hung enough . . . 🙂 If I could do it I’d never leave the house again.
Oh fuck that one, you’ve already pulled 2 obligatory questions and this is BY FAR my least favorite question of every interview
I know, but you are gonna torture me about fresh stroops, I’m gonna turn the knife slowly on ya.
I’m just gonna pretend I missed that question again.
You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a stroopwafel
Ed Warby is one of my favourite drummers, not because of his work in Gorefest, HoB or The 11th Hour, byt from his fantastic work with Arjen Lucassen in Ayreon and Star One. I love his style, and it really meshes well with the galactic prog Arjen tends to write.
Anyways, great interview!