(Comrade Aleks rejoins us with this interview of Danny Woe from the Danish band Woebegone Obscured, whose most recent album was released this summer.)
Danny Woe is one of the two founding members of Woebegone Obscured (Denmark), alongside K.Woe. Danny performs vocals, drums, and keyboards in the band, and occasionally guitars. Previously he played in the black metal bands Tronraner and Rimfrost and also the death metal outfit Skinned Beyond Recognition. However, none of these projects went further than demo records, but the experience helped him to create Woebegone Obscured from pieces of his black, death, and doom metal influences.
Growing from album to album, the band released their most mature record The Forestroamer through Aesthetic Death in July 2018.
Hi Danny! So Woebegone Obscured was born in 2003, roughly 15 years ago… What drove you to gather back then under this banner? What was your vision of the band?
My old band, Rimfrost, started out rehearsing in 1993 as an atmospheric Death Metal outfit, but quickly changed towards Black Metal. I really wanted to do something heavier, and the last demo tape with Rimfrost actually had a few funeral doom elements. I wanted to explore more of this, and decided to wipe the slate clean, and start up under a new banner, when I joined forces with K Woe.
I felt that the words “Woebegone” and “Obscured“ described my mental state at the time, perfectly, so I used both. I overextended my alcohol and drug abuse, and ended up spending some time at a psychiatric hospital. During this stay I wrote all the lyrics for Deathstination, except the song “Deathscape”, which was actually a really old Rimfrost song from 1993, that never was finished.
Deathstination was released only in 2007. How did those four years after the band’s formation change that vision?
The vision with Woebegone Obscured has always been the same to this very day: Worshipping darkness in all its moods and forms. In the Deathstination-era we worked as a duo, and we were completely synchronized as to what we wanted to do with the music. Doom as the spine of the creation, but using Death Metal, Classical, Jazz, Gothic, Rock, and obviously some Black Metal influences as well.
It took six more years to finish everything for the second album, and thus Marrow Of Dreams appeared on I, Voidhunger Records. Did working with that label help you to promote the band further?
Yes, to some extent. Luciano was still trying to establish the label, when he re-released Deathstination and eventually Marrow of Dreams. He was (and is) very dedicated, and we are very thankful for his work.
Though you started as a duo Woebegone Obscured recorded Marrow Of Dreams as a trio. How different was that recording session compared to the one you had for the debut?
The writing and recording process for Marrow of Dreams was the same as Deathstination, more or less, except that we recorded drums and vocals in a proper studio this time. I came up with all the drum parts on the spot, more or less, which at the time was pretty challenging, as I had a hard time maintaining focus for longer periods of time due to medication and trying to stay off the drugs and alcohol. We had one song, “In Suffering Darkness Dwell”, left from the Deathstination era, and some bits and pieces, when Martin [Jacobsen] joined in for the rest of the album. It was a tough learning process making that album, and even though I would like to do some parts differently, I am still very proud of the end result.
Why did you choose such simplistic artwork for the Marrow of Dreams album?
Well, I’m a recreational diver, and one of my diving buddies was actually an award-winning underwater photographer, and he took these cool pictures one day while we were diving in a forest lake. One picture really spoke to me. It was like a drowning person looking up through the water surface and saying goodbye to the sun. I was very suicidal when I wrote the lyrics, so it portrayed this feeling perfectly.
By the way, how would you sum up the Woebegone Obscured concept? And how was it reflected in the EPs Deathscape and Woebegone Obscured?
Deathscape MMXIV was more a collection of songs. We just wanted to do a different version of “Deathscape” from Deathstination, and had started writing some songs with a full band line-up at this time, as we had started to do live shows. The label (Solitude Productions) suggested that we do some covers to fill out the EP, so we did. “Xavier” [Dead Can Dance] was an easy pick, as we had already recorded this for the Marrow of Dreams album, but couldn’t fit it there. Bathory is a longtime inspiration as well, so we wanted to do a tribute version of “Call from the Grave” with our sound.
What did slow you down in working on your third album, The Forestroamer? Why did it take so much time?
Firstly, we are very picky with our compositions. Secondly, three of us had small kids, wives, and jobs. The process started right after we finished Deathscape MMXIV, I think. We wanted this record to be unique, and spent the time we felt it needed to get it just right. Writing, rehearsing, arranging, re-arranging, recording, all that stuff. No compromise.
There are three guest musicians who took part in recording the album. How did you come to this collaboration?
We like to add guests, if we know they can give that little something extra. Quentin (Nicollet) played with Kenneth (Holme) in Dwell, and we knew that he could add some synth, without overdoing it. For the title track we needed a queen-of-the-forest voice. We played a show with Shape of Despair in Portugal, and I asked Natalie (Koskinen) if she was interested. She liked the song, and recorded exactly what we hoped for to perfect this track. For the song “Drømmefald” I wanted some kind of eerie chants, and instead of doing it myself, I asked my friend, Søren (Sol Koldsen-Zederkof) from the mighty Krauka, to do some of his wonderful overtone singing.
How did the work over the new songs go? Did you face any difficulties in the studio?
We have our own recording facilities and talented sound engineer at this point, so it was possible to do it exactly how, and when, the inspiration struck. This gave us the freedom to capture the exact atmosphere we were striving for.
There’s a song ‘Drømmefald’ with lyrics in your native language in The Forestroamer. What’s it about?
It’s about sleep and dreams. Drømmefald translates to dreamfall or falling in a dream. I have suffered from insomnia my whole life (guess why I started doing drugs), so it is a very sensitive and personal subject for me. When I was on heavy medication, I was able to sleep, but instead of pleasant dreams, I would have shifting nightmares, and right before falling asleep, it felt like I was sucked into a black void, and couldn’t breathe. The song describes this sleep process from falling asleep, going through different nightmare scenarios, and heading towards the end of sleep, just to do it again, over and over.
How would you compare the new album with what you’ve recorded before? What elements remain in Woebegone Obscured untouched?
A lot of people seem to think we have changed our sound. Personally, I don’t see it. The Doom, Death, and Black Metal influences mixed with clean parts, growls, clean singing, and dark atmosphere have been there on every single album we’ve done. We have evolved as songwriters and musicians, so there’s that, but I like to think we stay true to our roots.
The doom scene seems to be oversaturated nowadays. How would you describe Woebegone Obscured’s features? What are the strong sides of the band?
I think we write good songs, and we don’t rush things unnecessarily. To me, I feel like a lot of bands are satisfied with sounding exactly like their favourite band. I don’t listen to much doom really. I mean, I appreciate it, but I don’t feel particularly inspired by it, when it comes to writing music. Nowadays everyone in the band contributes to the writing process, so we have a lot of pretty different perspectives, approaches, and ideas to mix up in the cauldron of darkness. That makes us a strong band. On top of that, I believe we summon an even stronger presence on stage.