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Evinta




Interview with Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride
Hey, Aaron, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me. I have plenty of questions to ask you, and I hope you don't mind them and the amount I'm asking, it's just that there's a lot I'd like to cover with you. My Dying Bride has existed since 1990. Was there any idea that the band would exist for such a long time?
Aaron:
Not really. We hoped to at least make a record available in our local town so were naturally well chuffed to get a record deal so early and make our music available worldwide.
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What was it like for the group back in the day when you first were signed to Peaceville Records and issued your debut recording As the Flower Withers?
Aaron:
We were buzzing. We are all into rock in all its varied genres so to become part of the actual scene was a boon for us. And as you can expect, recording & releasing our first LP was a fantastic and rather alcohol laden affair.
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Was that the same feeling you had with the albums that came after that? Why is that?
Aaron:
It's always a thrill recording an LP, making sure everything is just so, and then when it come to the release date and all the press that goes along with that, it's an amazing experience and one that has not dulled over time I'm glad to report.
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Ever since signing to Peaceville for As the Flower Withers, it's been your home. Not many bands, if any, actually stay with the same label for as long as you guys have. What kind of connection is there at this point between My Dying Bride and the label?
Aaron:
They actually listen to us! Remarkable I know but it's true! And that's the key. They don't tell us what to do and we have 100% artistic freedom - not to mention a great deal. There seems little point going elsewhere when this environment is so good.
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Have there ever been times the band considered looking for a different label to release your material, or has the group always been satisfied with the effort Peaceville has put into marketing each release, or any other factor of the label's job?
Aaron:
When contracts are up we naturally look for a better deal but Peaceville have always matched & bettered any other deal, so obviously we'll stay where we are.
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Throughout the years, My Dying Bride has gone through a number of line-up changes. Do you think that these changes have helped solidify the sound of the band, or do you think with each change it's hurt the group in some way?
Aaron:
A bit of both I think. It's always sad to lose a member and an inconvenience but we've always picked ourselves up and carried on. There is now only myself and Andrew left from the original line up and together with Hamish, we're a formidable entity.
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My Dying Bride started out as a Death and Doom Metal band, then eventually shifted to a Gothic and Doom Metal band. Was this just a natural shift for the band over time, or was it a conscious decision in the group to move forward with a different musical direction?
Aaron:
We still have our collective toe in the death metal pond but are mostly Gothic/Doom metal these days which was just natural progression. We never planned to do less Death Metal, it's just turned out that way.
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Looking back today at all the efforts and that shift in music, are you satisfied with what My Dying Bride has achieved since that progression began, or do you think you should have stuck with the Death/Doom Metal sound the band helped to pioneer?
Aaron:
I am one hundred percent happy with the course that the good ship MDB [My Dying Bride] has steered and wouldn't change a thing.
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Do you think that there may be room to one day go back and re-explore the band's musical roots more then the current sound My Dying Bride has? Why is that?
Aaron:
I'm not sure we've lost sight enough of our roots to warrant any re-exploration but if we do, then indeed we might.
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Obviously the hardships that the band faced throughout the years played a huge role in the group's sound. If you could pinpoint one specific thing in your past that really impacted the sound, or the progression of My Dying Bride, what exactly would that be, and how did it affect you and/or the band?
Aaron:
After 34.788%...complete was released we decided to 'start fresh again' having lost Calvin anf Martin and Bill in that period. That was probably the only defining moment in our career and we're better for it I think.
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Have any other trials in the history of the band and it's members stuck with the group and still play a role in what we hear today?
Aaron:
Not that I'm aware of but I'm on the inside looking out. Outsiders may see it differently.
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The music My Dying Bride plays is often quite emotional, it leads on to wonder what the band is like outside of the studio. Do the grim atmospheres of the recording reflect some parts of every day life for it's members as well, or are you guys typically less pained as the music can often describe outside the studio?
Aaron:
We do live in the dark, misty and often rainy North of England which most certainly influences our sound but we don't live our lives exactly as the music might suggest, although we've all had more than our fair share of tragedy.
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How has your every day life impacted the way the band records and writes music today compared to twenty one years ago when the group first started out?
Aaron:
We seemed to have more time when we were younger and probably did, but these days everything seems rushed and chaotic but we can still just about find time for the band. We have mortgages now which we didn't have 20 years ago!
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In the accompanying press release, Andrew Craighan was quoted as saying that Evinta is "A project almost 15 years int he making. And idea that...never really had a reason to burn alive until now." Why is the band just now taking that idea from fifteen years ago and harnessing it for this release?
Aaron:
We spoke of a project like Evinta when Martin was still playing violin for us, but after his departure we shelved it. When the violin recently returned it felt right again so we re-ignited the idea and hey presto! Evinta is born finally!.
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Do you think that if you had release Evinta, or what it may have been called at time, any other time prior to your twenty first anniversary, do you think that it would be as spellbinding as it is?
Aaron:
Had we released something similar way back then I think it may have looked pretentious coming from a relatively young band so after 20 years, we can finally get away with it. It's called experience.
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It sounds like a lot of care was put into Evinta. Was there a fear that working with the band's past material for this release, you may very well corrupt the history of the band, as well as what fans think of the group, or was this never a concern going into this project?
Aaron:
It never even crossed our minds. Perhaps if we'd made Evinta a collection of straight cover versions of past MDB [My Dying Bride] songs, then maybe, but what we have here is a mass collection of idea's completely re-arranged - riffs from one song right next to riffs from a song 10 years it's elder, performed on cello & flute! It's a new concept and one I believe we've executed very well.
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How long did it take for the material to be composed and readied before heading into the studio?
Aaron:
About a year. It was supposed to be out in October 2010 but we never really gave ourselves enough time so we extended the deadline 'until it's ready'.
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Why was it chosen that the music would be accompanied solely by operatic female vocals, and spoken word dialogue through each track?
Aaron:
Is it possible to use the word 'solely' followed by more than one vocal style?
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*laughs* Sorry about that, slip of the mind I guess. It worked in my head.
Aaron:
I was naturally going to do a bit of singing and spoken word and we also had a contact from France, Lucie Roche, who has wanted to help us out for a while, so naturally we used her skills for Evinta. She sings in both English and French and also talks in both languages as well as vocal soundscaping too. There's rather a lot of voices going on through all 3 CD's.
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Given the dark atmosphere and classical elements put into Evinta, was there ever a thought of utilizing the music more as a Gothic/Doom opera instead of the format that the band went with for the album?
Aaron:
We have discussed some sort of concept/opera project in the past but it just sounds too restrictive for us. We like the freedom to do whatever we like and would prefer not to have any boundaries, something which an opera would certainly force upon us.
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Do you feel using material from the band's past recordings was the right thing to do, or do you think that using new material from start to finish would have been a better way to go?
Aaron:
This idea was always going to be a sort of classical retrospective which actually leaves the door open for us in the future to perhaps do a similar thing with one hundred percent new music, but we shall have to wait and see.
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Is there a concept to the album? If so, would you be willing to break down the concept of the album and/or the tracks for us?
Aaron:
No concept here just an spine tingling collection of very moody, emotive work. This is crying music.
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Was Evinta hard for the band to put together, or, after all the time, has it made writing albums like Evinta easier and a more fluid process for the band?
Aaron:
Evinta wasn't so much composed as compiled so it doesn't change the way we apply ourselves to writing or recording a 'regular' album.
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When you sit back and listened to the final product for the first time, what went through your mind?
Aaron:
It has come out better than expected. Hearing our 'metal' riffs being played on classical instruments makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up! It's quite frightening and beautiful.
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Was there anything on the release you now wish you could have gone back and changed?
Aaron:
I don't think so, We spent so much time tweaking it that I think it's just about as good as it can be. I'm sure that in a few years I'll spot a couple of area's that could have been improved upon, but I feel that with all our albums, and there's nothing I can do about it.
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There will be a limited edition pressing of the album set to three thousand copies to include a bonus third disc. What exactly do the listener's get on that bonus third disc?
Aaron:
Evinta was always a three CD project but we felt that releasing all 3 CD's in one go would be a little bit too much for the fans to take, so we split it up a little. I never buy double albums from bands because there is too much material to absorb in one go, so three CD's would be overwhelming. Evinta I, Evinta II and Evinta III will be released in the "Ultimate Edition" - a large hard back book featuring exclusive photo's of the band from the past to present, descriptions of past CD's, lyrics and backstage images never seen before. Evinta I and Evinta II will be released together in a more regular sized CD book at a more regular price which will still have many of the exclusive photo's and information. Evinta III will be released on its own in the future. All the music was composed to cover all three CD's and when we had enough, we simply divided it up equally onto each CD.
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So how did the idea of the three disc set come about then? Did you guys come up with the idea, or was it the label's doing?
Aaron:
It's a bit of both. As an avid collector of music I love special editions and weird releases so it's fun to be able to do some myself. The whole of Evinta will eventually be released on regular CD's so there's no need to rush out and buy the limited editions, unless you really have to.
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With how awe-inspiring and emotionally driven Evinta is, do you think that My Dying Bride will ever be able to top this album in any way?
Aaron:
Now that's a very good question. We have indeed raised the bar when it comes to emotional and moving music and the only way to top it is to try very hard indeed. Plus, we are a metal band at heart and there's no metal on Evinta, so it's really a different monster altogether.
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Well, despite whether you can or you can't, can we still look forward to My Dying Bride putting their best into more albums? Given that many pioneering acts are starting to "retire", could this possibly be a sign that the group is considering calling it a day sometime soon and going out with a bang?
Aaron:
No. Indeed the next studio CD is well under way and will be out later in 2011.
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Are there any other ideas you would like to get out through the band before the group does call it a day, such a any other conceptual pieces, or any more albums similar to Evinta?
Aaron:
We've always got a few aces up our sleeve so sit back and wait and see.
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What does My Dying Bride have planned after the albums release? Touring? Summer festivals? Music videos? Or just spending time with loved ones and unwinding?
Aaron:
Working hard on the next studio CD is what we're doing. This will be our most prolific year for releases so we're very busy, and we've just finished a rare UK tour too with summer festivals in the pipeline, an official autobiography, a DVD documentary....
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I know this has been a long interview for you, but is there anything you would like to get off your mind or just happen to mention that I did not touch upon in this interview?
Aaron:
Thanks but I'm fine. It's been quite long but my answers have been to the point so it's been perfectly balanced I feel.
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Alright, well, again I thank you from the bottom of my heart, from one fan to a band member he greatly respects, it's been an honor to be able to sit down and ask you some of these questions. I hope whatever the band has in store for themselves goes well, and perhaps another twenty one years of My Dying Bride. I wish you all the best.
Aaron:
Many thanks, all the very best to you. Now, where did I put that wine? Cheers!
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