(NCS interviewer KevinP delivers the first in a planned interview series, and this inaugural edition features guitarist Steve Jansson of Crypt Sermon — whose forthcoming debut album Out of the Garden is absolutely killer!)
Welcome to what I plan on being a monthly feature, GET TO THE POINT. Besides wanting a fancy title for my interview segment, the idea is to be a bit more succinct, if and when possible. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a chatty Kathy more than usual and totally not stick to it, let’s see how things turns out. In the coming months, we will be talking to (among others): Calvin Robertshaw (My Dying Bride), Matt Calvert (Dark Descent Records), Öxxö Xööx (a French avant garde doom band), and Nikos Panagiotopoulos (Universe217). So, without further ado……
K: So Enrique (Crypt Sermon’s drummer) was scared to do the interview and pawned me off onto you. What’s up with that guy?
S: Oh, we don’t let him do interviews. I sent his ass to get more beer, though.
Hah, nah, Brooks (vocalist) and I are generally the ones who do the interviews. It just sort of worked out that way, I guess.
K: So who in the band has the best Leif Edling poster on their bedroom wall?
S: No one yet, but that’s a good idea. Enrique, however, did just get this sweet signed Jean Claude Van Damme promo from his lady for Christmas. That definitely rivals my signed Rowdy Roddy Piper promo from They Live that hangs proudly above my entertainment center.
I’ll also take this opportunity to thank Brooks publicly for giving me a giant Iron Maiden banner that he initially bought for himself at their show here a few years back. I bought one too, along with tons of other stuff, but got too drunk and I guess lost it on the way back to the car. He gave me his and said it was a birthday present.
K: Just so you are aware, you are the first interview I’m conducting in 2015 with a new approach called GET TO THE POINT. The irony is not lost on me that you are a doom band and I spent the first 2 questions getting to everything BUT “the point”.
S: Haha, I typically don’t have too much trouble getting to the point but I definitely can easily be distracted, so be careful.
K: So your debut album, Out of the Garden, is set to be released on Feb 24 via Dark Descent, tell us about it.
S: Well, it’s a doom metal album of the epic/traditional variety. That being said, we value good song writing over how many amps/cabinets you can fit onto a stage as well beating the same shitty riff into the ground for 30 minutes.
K: No doubt that on first listen, people are going to hear Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus as the main influences. What other bands are you bringing to the table either on purpose or subconsciously?
S: People often mention Mercyful Fate, which I find surprising but definitely cool. I guess you could say that there is an influence of just a lot of old/classic heavy metal. We all love that stuff. I think that we will come into our own a little bit more as we continue to gel as a band. After all, we haven’t been together that long and have already grown a lot since starting. Bands like Candlemass and Solitude will always remain the main template, though.
K: At the risk of boring the bejesus out of you, can you give us a cliff notes version of how you found each other?
S: Well, James (guitars) and I had always been acquaintances but never really hung out a whole lot. I bumped into him at a show and a few beers later we started talking about Candlemass and how it’s a shame that no one is trying to do more with the style. Sure enough, a week later we got together and started writing the music for what would be the demo. Brooks and I have been playing music for years and he had sort of mentioned in passing that he wanted to try his hand at actually singing in a band, so I figured this would be his chance to give it a shot. Enrique (drums) is a good friend of mine and he was the first person I thought of to ask and jumped on board. Brooks was also playing bass in the beginning, which he hated, so word got out and Will approached us after a gig and asked if he could try out. Needless to say, he got the job.
K: So this is Brooks first real try at vocals in a band? I must say, he comes across as a seasoned professional.
S: He totally blew us away, especially on this album. He was good on the demo but has really worked his ass off and it shows on the album. He’s just going to continue to get better. It seems to come really naturally for him.
K: It’s one thing to have an old school sound (musically) but to do it vocally is a whole other ball of wax. He literally sounds like he belongs in the 80’s.
S: Haha, well, I guess that’s not a bad thing. Again, we love old heavy metal and lots of bands with clean singing.
K: As they say, timing is everything, and with Candlemass no longer releasing studio albums, you seem poised to fill that proverbial void.
S: Well, there is no topping Candlemass or beating them at their own game so I guess it is good timing. We started the band because we noticed there has been a massive doom explosion but that most of it was of the stoner or drone variety. That got old for me really really fast. And we figured that instead of just complaining about it we would start a band doing something that we would like to hear more of.
K: Before we officially started the interview you mentioned that you took some risks during the recording process. What were they?
S: We were excited about getting the album done, which led us to rush into it a bit. We were scheduled to record it the first week of August and there was so much going on with everyone at the time; Will was on a long tour with his other band, Hivelords, I was frantically cramming Vektor songs in order to prepare to go for a short tour playing guitar for them in July, and Brooks was going on vacation the week we all got back. We hadn’t rehearsed any of the material as a band for probably two months, and on top of that we trashed some material and decided to write two new songs before we went to record.
Needless to say, we were pretty under-rehearsed and weren’t sure of how the new songs (“Will of the Ancient Call” and “Master’s Bouquet”), which we barely knew going in to record, were going to turn out. They ended up being two of my favorite songs on the album. It worked out in the end, but it was really stressful when we started. We will definitely give ourselves some more time to prepare in the future
K: Correct me if I’m wrong but everyone in the band is in at least one “other” band. Is it hard to juggle time between them?
S: It can be tricky getting everyone together but that’s more so due to day jobs than other bands/projects. Music is a priority for all of us, so we make time.
K: So is this going to be a touring band? If so, what do you have lined up?
S: We don’t have anything lined up at the moment but plan on doing some short tours during the second half of 2015. We won’t be doing any lengthy tours unless we get an offer we can’t refuse. Until then, we are old and have to hang on to our day jobs.
K: Steve, thanks for chatting with me. Hopefully we’ll see you at MDF one of these days (with Crypt Sermon or one of your other bands – Grass, Trenchrot, Infiltrator).
S: Thanks, Kevin! It was a pleasure. I hope to play soon but if not, I will be down there on Friday and Saturday at Edison Lot.