On the Edge of Complete Conquest
An interview with Edge of Sanity
by: Gino Filicetti
"I am obsessed by music. I need to get it all out of me or else I would smash the walls." -- Dan Swano, keyboardist/vocalist.

Probably one of the most influential and innovative death metal bands around, Edge of Sanity still has what it takes to compete in today's music scene.

Starting out way back in 1988, Edge of Sanity were one of the first few death metal bands to take on the more melodic, harmonious and beautiful approach to this artform. Throughout their four studio albums, _Nothing But Death Remains_, _Unorthodox_, _The Spectral Sorrows_, and _Purgatory Afterglow_, Edge of Sanity have managed to introduce so many new elements into this genre, that it seems they have sprouted their own new sub-genre.

"I think what we did was to bring death metal into another league because I come from a background that's different. A lot of death metal musicians started out listening to Iron Maiden and stuff like that, and then they went on to Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer, and evolved to death metal. But I was listening to Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and stuff like that. Then all of a sudden, it was around the time Slayer released _South of Heaven_, that was the first time that I felt that this music may not be as fucking terrible as I thought. Since I'm a drummer originally, I was always fascinated with Lombardo and how fast he could play. So I actually started to jam with this local band that played this kind of Slayer music. And I realized that it was fun to play fast on the drums and I wanted to get better and better."

The band's last release, _Purgatory Afterglow_, was well received by press and fans alike, to say the least. It brought the band countless stories and unending praise of their work. So what did Swano think of all these different reviewers saying the same thing about his work? "It stinks. That's why I want to do a different thing with the next record. It would be so easy for me to do seven songs, and the other guys do three or four songs. I make some beautiful stuff, they make some hard stuff. We find a good title and a good cover and we record it and it's a pattern. I want to get away from that and do something that we haven't done before."

The band is set to record their next album, entitled _Crimson_, in and around Christmas time, with just a bit of a twist to it: "When it comes to this band we are very impulsive with our creations, so, we do more in two weeks than most other bands do in one year. Since we finished the mastering of _Purgatory Afterglow_, we have done absolutely nothing. In the beginning of November, we are going to lock ourselves up in my studio for five days and we are just going to sit there and create what is going to be the longest death metal track ever written. It will be 45 minutes or so. The whole record will be one track because that's what we feel like doing. It's a great challenge. We want to do something really different and to come into the record from a different point. So we will write this epic track in five days and then we will hold out for a month, and the guys will come back and we will record it around Christmas or New Year's Eve."

Although to many this idea of a one-track epic may sound curiously interesting, how does Dan feel the majority of his fans will accept the change? "Well first of all, people will be very surprised when they buy the record and see it's only one track long. But you know, I don't give a fuck what people think, really. If they are into Edge of Sanity the way I want people to be, they will love it. And if they don't like it, I don't see why they listen to our music in the first place. Because Edge of Sanity is really about stuff like 'Twilight'. To me, that is our main style. But you can't make a record with ten 'Twilight' tracks, because it would be pretty boring. So that's why we've always had fast tracks and stuff. But this time, we can make one record that sounds the way we should have always sounded."

Although Edge of Sanity has always been innovative, they do seem to have a definite style all their own which is prevalent in all their albums. Will this trend carry over onto their new project, or will there be significant changes? "We will actually have a session singer on the next record", reveals Swano, "but he wonn't have the same density in my voice. He will sing the parts that I would've sung in '91, and I will sing like I do now, and there will be this guy from a local band who's record I produced. When I first heard him I just fell in love with his voice. I don't know how he does it, he is programmable. He can do any Death style vocal you want. If you want some kind of Tardy style he can do it, if you want shock he can do it, if you want Black Metal screeches that'll rip your ears out, he can do it. It's no problem. This guy has the technique. He can go from singing Sinatra to this, and go back again, no problem. It doesn't hurt his throat. So just like some people bring in James Murphy for a few leads <laughs>, we will bring this guy in for a few vocals."

One thing that can not be doubted is Dan Swano's incredible involvement in all stages of music. Not only does he have his own studio where he has produced countless brutal releases, he also maintains a plethora of side projects. What does all this musical involvement do for him? "It keeps me alive. I am obsessed by music. I need to get it all out of me or else I'd smash the walls. That's why I have so many side projects. My music taste ranges from country music, for example, all the way to Edge of Sanity-type stuff. When I come home from a hard day of work, I don't want to think about music, I just want to listen to something that's easy to take in. Sometimes I feel like getting into complex stuff. I listen to Dream Theater and stuff like that. But when I have the time, I listen to Marillion because they are my absolute favorite band of all time. Listening to Marillion," continues Swano, "is not like listening to music. It's different for me than other people, because I can turn off everything and just sit down on the couch and listen to five Marillion records and then go to bed <laughs>. They give me so much more than other records, I hear so much more, I have visions, it's like my fuel to exist. I've found a band that I can really communicate with and I'm really proud of that."

Dan Swano's "day job" is music. He owns his own commercial studio which supports him, his fiance, and their three-year old child. For many, being submerged in their favorite pastime all hours of the day is a dream come true. How does he feel being completely surrounded by his passion around the clock? "It's strange for me," replies Swano, "because when I rise in the morning, I get up to make my breakfast and I put on the radio and hear music. Then I have a few silent seconds as I go to work. Then it's music again. Then I come home for lunch break and on with the radio. Then back to work for more music. Then I come home and it's radio again. When I do the dishes it's music on the TV. And even when I'm typing letters and stuff, I have this really small radio by the typewriter. The only time I don't listen to music is when I sleep, and then I dream music. It's all around the clock."

When asked what kind of touring the band did for their previous record, I was shocked to hear, "Absolutely nothing. The last gig we did, we played a headline show at the Dome Theatre in London for MTV Europe. That was pretty intense. For our song, 'In The Enigma', there's this part with clean vocals, and everyone in the place were voicing over me, and I almost cried. You know, that's something that happens at your idol's concerts, and it doesn't happen to you, but it did. The whole crowd was like a massive choir, it was great." Continues Swano on the prospect of touring, "The problem is that my voice isn't really good enough for a whole set, and definitely not good enough for a tour. It's a physical fact, you can't change it, my throat fucks up. It happens to all the singers I guess. Some people have a technique to their singing, I sing out of sheer fucking aggression and then my throat gets fucked up. Just like the pain you would feel if you scream at someone for 15 minutes, it's the same pain that I feel when I sing a song.

So does this mean the band is completely against touring? "No. I think touring would be cool if I could get my ideas across, but the other guys are not into it. If we find a session singer that could do a tour and I could still be on stage doing keyboards, samples, guitars and backing vocals, I would like it. That way we could play songs like 'Twilight' live that would be impossible with me on vocals because I can not have a huge rack of equipment in the front of the stage. I would like to be in the shadows somewhere, and come across sometimes to do a guitar lead and then go back and be in my little place. That's if we can find a guy that can do this enormously brutal voice and enjoy being a frontman."

In closing, I asked the question that is my favorite when talking to European bands. Do you have any desire to come to North America? "Definitely, I'd die to go to America. The thing is that it's costly just to go there. America is like another world to us here in Europe, it's like being big on Mars or Neptune. The thing is that if we find any solution to the economical problems, we'd probably go there. Black Mark is big, but it's not huge when it comes to touring the US. It's a different world. Here you can go on tour and travel a certain amount of kilometers and go through almost all of Europe, but if you travel the same in America you won't get through Texas! <laughs>"

(article submitted 8/11/1995)


CHATS
1/1/1998 A Bromley Edge of Sanity: On With the Saga
4/9/1997 P Azevedo Edge of Sanity: Swano's Edge
5/10/1996 G Filicetti Edge of Sanity: Over the Edge of Sanity
ALBUMS
9/29/2003 C Flaaten 9 Edge of Sanity - Crimson II
11/17/1997 A Bromley 8 Edge Of Sanity - Cryptic
4/9/1997 D Schinzel 7 Edge of Sanity - Infernal
4/18/1996 G Filicetti 9 Edge of Sanity - Crimson
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