CoC interviews Dominion
by: Pedro Azevedo
Dominion's 1996 debut, _Interface_, for Peaceville granted them a solid base for their upcoming second album; it was undoubtedly a strong debut, and one which has clearly grown on me since my review [CoC #18] - something that rarely happens. Composed of female vocalist Michelle Richfield, who gives the band an unusual touch, Mass Firth (vocals and guitar), Arno Cagna (also vocals and guitar), Danny North (bass) and Bill Law (drums), Dominion have a rather unusual sound, through the combination of a frequently melodic approach to thrash with Michelle's voice. Now, as Dominion prepare their next album, I had the chance to interview Mass Firth.

CoC: Would you like to describe your debut album, _Interface_, yourself?

Mass Firth: _Interface_ was recorded at Academy Studios in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England, during April of 1996. We had Mags to engineer the recording whom we've always used since way back in 1992 when our old band Blasphemer recorded the first demo. More recently, though, Mags has been doing loads of albums like My Dying Bride, Cradle of Filth, Anathema, etc., etc... It's a very popular studio, more so for us because we live so close to Academy. The CD consists of 11 tracks in total running at about 50 minutes.

CoC: Are you happy with it, or would you say there's still lots of room for improvement (or both)?

MF: We were really happy with it when we did it, but since we've had a year or so to stand back and look at it, it's not really representative of the new material we're doing at the moment. I think that for the amount of time we had to do it in, with the budget, etc., it came out real good. It was definitely the best we could do at the time musically, and we wouldn't go back and change anything 'cos it was a valuable learning point for the band. There is always room for improvement with everything, and I think we've rapidly progressed in songwriting since _Interface_. It's like there was too much of an influence from Iron Maiden on the CD back then, but that was where our heads were when we did it.

CoC: Why did you choose to call the album _Interface_? Any special meaning?

MF: We used _Interface_ as a title because we wanted something short and to the point. There are all these albums coming out with long epic titles nowadays and we didn't want anything like that so we looked for something short. Interface is basically a level where you combine parts of old and new and sit in the middle, if you get my drift? Ha... it's sort of what we wanted with the music, y'know, taking (or should I say ripping off? <laughs>) older influences and newer ones.

CoC: What inspired you to write the lyrics for "Weaving Fear"?

MF: "Weaving Fear" was just a tale of battling with your feelings towards your fears and doubts while trying to get on with shit in life while some people continue to try and keep you down. As for inspiration, I don't know, we just get concepts together and write around them when it comes to lyrics.

CoC: When you invited Aaron (My Dying Bride) to do the vocals on "Alive?", did you have the song done, and then thought Aaron would fit nicely, or did you first invite him and wrote the song later?

MF: When we wrote "Alive?", we got it done, we put all the phrasing of the lyrics around it, then just decided it would be good to get Aaron to do some singing on it. He lives near us and the studio so we phoned him and asked if he would do it. He did a great job, it sounds cool with it being a slower song, too, which suited it. Also with the fact that he did it, there was a chance other people may pick up our CD just for the fact he's on it... <laughs> A cunning plan which probably didn't work in our favour.

CoC: What's your opinion on the other Peaceville bands? Which one would you recommend to our readers as being the best?

MF: I think Peaceville have got some really good bands at the moment and they're all very different in my eyes, rather than just classing Peaceville as a sort of gothic doom label which the press would have us believe. [well, not me personally, but then again, I'm not really "the press" either... -- Pedro] As for the best band, I can't say 'cos they all do different styles of heavy music. You can't compare My Dying Bride to Anathema 'cos it's two totally different styles. MDB do the Dead Can Dance turned into metal stuff and Anathema do the more Pink Floyd atmospheric stuff. Plus recently Hammy has picked up stoner Sabbath-type band Acrimony [see this issue], ex-Carcass band Black Star, and ex-Trouble vocalist Eric Wagners' new band, Lid, so it's a wide variety of metal/rock on the roster now. My personal favourite CD would have to be _Eternity_ by Anathema. I think that it's fucking great and a big step forward for them.

CoC: How much help did you get from the more experienced Peaceville bands in this debut of yours?

MF: With the album we had no help from any band. We keep in touch with most of the folk in other bands for gigs and stuff, maybe just a bit of advice now again, and keep friendships we've struck up. Everyone gets along with each other fine, from what I gather. Anathema gave us a bit more exposure simply 'cos Michelle, our vocalist, did some vocals on their _Eternity_ CD.

CoC: One thing that must be said about _Interface_ is that you manage to have a sound of your very own, namely the vocals. Why did you choose to use such a wide range of vocals?

MF: It's basically our preference to use a few different styles of vocals. There are certain parts that complement the old death grunt and ones which require a more melodic approach. Having the best of both worlds is a definite advantage 'cos you're not restricted to one style. I know a lot of people who think female vocals are cliche now, but we use them differently to other bands, I think. Others seem to use more opera-trained singers on doom music, or use women who sound like 10-year old choir girls over a nice little medieval acoustic guitar part, which is -very- cliche to me. Michelle sings as a melodic solid vocalist, it's totally irrelevant to me that she's female, we just wanted a proper vocalist in the band, being male or female never mattered.

CoC: Did Michelle have some professional singing experiences before Dominion?

MF: This is the first album making band Michelle has been involved with. She's done a lot of singing with pub/club acts in the past, but not done albums. Also it was in a very different style of music than Dominion, too.

CoC: How well have you been doing live?

MF: We've not done many gigs at all for _Interface_, maybe seven or eight, all in England and Scotland. We had some chances to get to Portugal and Germany but they all fell through. [that really was a shame. -- Pedro] However the gigs we've done in England have been good, the best being support to Cradle of Filth last December. As soon as we get the next album out we should get out into Europe before long, which we really want to do.

CoC: Is the band going through line-up changes for the next album?

MF: The line-up in the band is exactly the same as before, no changes at all.

CoC: Speaking of the next album, is anything scheduled yet? Do you have any ideas of what will change?

MF: We're due to start recording again on June 2nd, 1997, again at Academy. We've got nine completed songs ready with a couple more to be written yet. Musically, it's much heavier and rocking than before. A lot darker mood, and no oddball fucking about parts. The new stuff is less technical but much better strong song structures. You'll have to wait and see!

CoC: End of interview now... time for a final message...

MF: Another thing which will be released soon is the _Peaceville X_ compilation which features all the Peaceville bands doing non-metal cover versions. We have done "Shout" by Tears for Fears and "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones. Anathema have done two Pink Floyd covers, Paradise Lost doing The Smiths, and The Blood Divine [doing] "Crazy Horses" by The Osmonds... <laughs> Should be good, that one! I don't know when it'll be released, though. Thanks, Pedro, for the interview. Your support is much appreciated! Keep in touch!

(article submitted 14/7/1997)

1/1/1998 P Azevedo 8 Dominion - Blackout
3/16/1997 P Azevedo 7 Dominion - Interface
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