(Comrade Aleks presents this interview he conducted with Pascal Vervest, founding guitarist of the Dutch band Fall.)
Doom metal isn’t the slowest music in the world, but playing slow sometimes means “recording slow” as well. Netherlands-based funeral / death doom outfit Faal (which means “Fail” in Dutch) appeared in the heavy underground in 2005 and their first album Abhorrence-Salvation saw the light of day through Ván Records in 2008.
The combination of sub-genres Faal practiced brought some fresh vibe, but the band didn’t make haste and took their time in finishing a second album. The Clouds Are Burning appeared in 2012, offering the listeners a 45-minute-long voyage in the depths of depression and bitter grief; and, well, it even has some pretty extreme moments there…
With the third full-length record, Desolate Grief (Ván Records, February 2018) it seems that Pascal Vervest remains the only original member of Faal. How did he manage to keep the band in the same vein? I’m going to sort it out.
Hi Pascal! I’d like to congratulate you on the release of Faal’s third full-length Desolate Grief, and first of all, where have you been all this time since the release of band’s previous album The Clouds Are Burning?
Hi! Thanks! It took us quite a while, but the new album is finally done and ready to be released! We’ve been quite busy between releasing our previous album and this one. We played lots of shows, and we had a few line-up changes as well. Also, we took quite some time to finalize all the songs before we recorded it.
What made you to release that song “Shattered Hope” on the split with Eye Of Solitude? And what made you return Faal to activity now?
Eye of Solitude are good friends of ours, and at one point, the idea to release a split album came up, and we decided to record “Shattered Hope” for it. We have been writing, rehearsing, and playing shows in the meantime, of course.
I always wonder what bands put into such songs when it’s the only release for a few years, you know? So was it something special or did you just record it when you had free time and energy?
Recording new material was already something that we planned to do, but somehow didn’t really have the time for just yet. Especially because the band had a few line-up changes it took quite a while for us to get back on track basically.
Pascal, I remember that there were tracks mostly composed by you and other tracks which were made rather by Alex and Ward on Faal’s debut Abhorrence – Salvation. Now you’re the only remaining founding member of the band. How did you share responsibility during the work on Desolate Grief?
Writing the new material was of course now done in a bit of a different way than what we used to do, of course, but we all had our part in it, with everyone contributing to the songs.
What are your personal songwriting achievements in the new material?
Compared to previous albums, the songwriting was more of a complete band-effort, with more stuff actually being composed while rehearsing. I think this is also somewhat of a natural process that a band goes through, and since this is our third album, we pretty much defined our style/direction, even though just in a rather broad way.
Faal – Desolate Grief
Did you set a goal to surpass the previous stuff with Desolate Grief? Did you feel an urge for some evolution, as this genre is one of most conservative ones in the underground?
I don’t really think we set a specific goal for the new record actually. The record somehow just evolved naturally, up to the point that we all were happy with it. And yeah, in this genre it’s really hard to do anything evolutionary/groundbreaking, because I personally think that the whole genre has some quite different takes on what people think it ‘should’ be.
There are two members who entered Faal in 2013 and two more who joined in 2015, so you and William (vocals since 2009) are the only “old-timers” there. How did it happen that the lineup updated so cardinally, and how did you recruit Vic, Gerben, Remco, and Catia?
The line-up actually changed slowly over time. When a band is going on for quite some time, people sometimes move on, it was pretty much a natural process. Finding replacements for members wasn’t actually that much of a problem, since we all knew each other before they were in the band. Next thing you know is trying out on a rehearsel and from there it starts.
Despite all these changes, the new material sounds like a natural development of the stuff you performed on Abhorrence – Salvation. How do you see that constancy?
Considering I’ve always had a part in writing the music, I find it’s quite logical to have the new record a continuation of previous work. I guess you’d call it our style probably. Of course it’s also different compared to the previous work, because there’s quite a few new members now, and also time played a factor as well. Ideas tend to evolve over time, slowly forming into new ideas you could never imagine a year before.
Pascal, in the interview we did back in 2009, you told us that the lion’s share of the material for Abhorrence Salvation was recorded in Ward’s bedroom. In what conditions did you record the new compositions?
This time we recorded the complete album at Double Noise Studios in Tilburg, which is run by Gerben, our other guitarist. We also rehearse at the same place, so going into the studio to actually record didn’t feel as stressed as you sometimes hear from bands, since we are so used to the place.
Did you use some new techniques during the Desolate Grief sessions?
Apart from using proper studio technology, of course, nothing really was different compared to previous recordings.
Who is the author of Faal’s lyrics nowadays? What are the lyrical topics you put into the Desolate Grief story? Considering the album’s and the songs’ titles, I may consider that Faal is still about depression, grief, and loss.
The lyrical content is indeed still the same as it was on previous works, and are written by William.
Do you care about the texts he writes and sings? Do you offer your own ideas for the lyrics? And can you name a band which you like mostly because of the texts?
Of course I care about the lyrics, but I personally don’t involve myself with the lyrics at all. I occasionally might suggest an idea, although that’s usually not really on purpose anyway.
As for the lyrics of other bands, it’s kinda hard to exactly pinpoint something. I listen to quite a lot of neofolk actually, and bands in that genre revolve mostly about the lyrics, so in that case I would go for a band like Rome.
How would you describe the essence of Faal’s funeral / death doom practices? What’s your general motivation?
I think this is something personal for each band member, but personally I get my motivation out of a lot of different things. Years ago I started writing music to vent emotions and stuff like that, and actually even use ‘bad’ stuff to create something constructive. I’ve been doing that since even before Faal was actually a band, so writing music was already something I had gotten accustomed to.
There’s been no news from Akelei for a few years. Did you bury that band or are you preparing some new songs? I guess you played a gig in 2015, and that’s all, right?
We’re busy 🙂
Well… busy with that?
A new album is in the works, but there aren’t any details about it just yet, so I can’t really tell anything about it. Occasionally there’s some info on the Facebook page though, but very sparse.
What are your plans for 2018? Do you aim to record a new album sooner or will you take your time, as Faal did with Desolate Grief?
Only time will tell. At least we hope to have a new release a bit sooner than 5 years this time, but of course nobody knows for sure.