Of Epoch Proportions
CoC chats with Tino LoSicco of Epoch of Unlight
by: Aaron McKay
If Gorgoroth's _Destroyer_ is hardcore black metal, then Epoch of Unlight's _What Will Be Has Been_ is searing genuine quintessential black metal. I looked forward for quite some time for the opportunity to exchange words via e-mail with EoU's (incredibly intelligent) drummer, Tino LoSicco. When listening to Epoch of Unlight, I personally find their music to be fantastically strained across a vast chasm by an unimaginably complicated dual vocal thrust, as well as an intelligible instrument differentiation. I asked Tino about these intriguing aspects of the band, in addition to some other points that I hope you find interesting. So, plant your ass in a seat and take a look below at what Mr. LoSicco had to say.

CoC: I understand that you lost your second guitarist, Randy Robertson, recently. What happened and how, if in any way, will this affect EoU?

Tino LoSicco: Let's see. We actually lost both Randy and our bassist Pierce. After the recording of the full-length album in July, Pierce and Randy quit the band. Basically Pierce quit because he got married recently and his wife had a kid. He couldn't handle both the responsibilities of playing in band and raising a family. His departure came as no surprise to us because of waning interest he had shown in previous months. His brother Joe (identical twin, actually) has now taken his place. Randy had actually informed us that he wanted to leave the band earlier in the Summer, but that he would stay until a replacement had been found for him. (Unfortunately, the replacement that we found wound up quitting due to lack of time and effort as well.) Randy's departure from the band was due to personal reasons in his life which were affecting his playing and devotion to the music. So at this point the band consists of Jason Smith (guitar and vocals), Joe Totty (bass), and myself (drums). We are still taking auditions for Randy's spot. It's just a slow process due to the lack of musicians available in the area. (And of course absolutely NO one wants to come to Memphis.) Timing couldn't have been worse also, because we've had so many shows coming to town that we've gotten to open for. We've been stuck doing the shows as a three-piece with Jason now handling all of the vocals as well as guitars.

CoC: I have been curious about how the band came to utilize the two-pronged attack with regard to the vocals -- one definitely black/death in style and the other almost -serpentine- in sound. Who is who and how did EoU come to uncover this complementary dual-vocal assault?

TL: The lower vocals were performed by Jason and the higher vocals were done by Randy. It was something that developed from the lyrics I was writing and the need to inject different points of view and personalities into the body of the stories. It contributed more to the live shows as well.

CoC: What I absolutely -love- about EoU is the fact that every member in the group's instrument can -clearly- be heard. As is so pervasive in the black/dark/death metal arena, members and their playing ability tend to get lost in the havoc of the music that defines the band. This is -not- so with EoU. How do you manage that?

TL: Thanks. Clarity and precision are actually two of the things we stress in our rehearsals. It just doesn't make sense to put the effort into creating a piece of music and then having it not appreciated because of poor or sloppy musicianship. In the studio we take our time to bring each part out. (That's why [there] were only three songs on one of the older MCDs... studio expenses.) I totally agree with you that many of the bands in this scene suffer from indiscernible productions and lack of clarity. It's unfortunate, because I would probably enjoy listening to more of them otherwise.

CoC: Does the band emphasize one aspect, music or vocals, over the other, or is it more of a unified front effort on the part of all the members?

TL: The music always comes first. I don't believe in writing the lyrics until the song is complete. The lyrics seem to have a better flow rather than fitting a bunch of text to music. I do try to outline the stories first... but it is a -very- rough outline and still depends on the song structure.

CoC: Regarding _Black & Crimson Glory_, how in the world did you record, mix -and- master the MCD in four days? Simply necessity? Monetary?

TL: Both. Necessity in that it was during the school semester for me. Monetary because we recorded at one the best studios in the city. We were tired of the poor production we had gotten in the past and all the wasted effort on our part for trying to bring our individual instruments out. Previously used studios just didn't have all the equipment that we needed access to. And, actually, the CD was done in three days... the engineer needed a day off before mixing to give his ears a rest.

CoC: _What Will Be Has Been_ is, in some small regard, a kind of a compilation of EoU's earlier material with particular regard to the last track from _Within the Night_, as well as all the songs from _Black & Crimson Glory_ with some new songs, right?

TL: It wasn't meant so much as a compilation. It was just as I mentioned before we felt the early releases were lacking in production and that more appreciation for those 4 songs could be gotten if we re-recorded them. We still close every show with Immortal Crucify (and its the oldest song we play live). Another factor in re-recording those songs was that we only released 500 copies of each MCD. We thought that this would give more people access to the early material that might not have heard it before.

CoC: Is the song "Crimson Might (and Glory)" on _What Will Be has Been_ a kind of continuation of an idea started on _Black & Crimson Glory_?

TL: Both tie into the Brian Lumley Mythos of whom I draw great inspiration from. (In case you are unfamiliar with his work, Brian Lumley is an English horror/science fiction/fantasy author). _Black & Crimson Glory_ represented more of a personification of one of the characters in the lyrics. "Crimson Might (and Glory)" describes an event in the life of the same protagonist.

CoC: How did the early forms of EoU, like Enraptured and Requiem, affect how the band is and how it sounds today? I think I remember reading that there was a major change in writing style from Requiem to EoU. True?

TL: Enraptured was more of a traditional US death/grind band. It was a starting point for us. Both the writing and our early musicianship were still -very- much in their infancies. Requiem was more of an attempt to improve ourselves in both of these areas. With the small line-up change, ideas became easier to share and we pushed ourselves a little more to stand out. Requiem is essentially what EoU sprang from. The name change was due to the existence of about 20 other Requiems at the time. The major change you mention was probably the change in vocal stylings, not to mention the introduction of a slightly more "melodic" sound.

CoC: Where did the band come up with its current name?

TL: Jason and I came up with it one night after receiving the hundredth flier for another band named Requiem. The name of the band was derived from the individual meaning of the words involved. Epoch literally is taken as "the beginning of a new and important period in the history of anything". Unlight describes the darkness or blackness that has always existed around man and his kind. When combined, the two convey the ideology or motivations behind the band's existence.

CoC: It has been my experience that The End Records is arguably one of the best labels out there currently. A good case could be made that you are the label's "strongest" band. What is it like, being on The End?

TL: Andreas and Sergey have been very good to us. Andreas seems to be working hard on promoting the label. We've even had some of Florida's elite death metal bands come through here and even they have mentioned The End Records. Andreas was very receptive to our input as to album artwork and even contracted out the incredible work on the cover. Also, both are very easy to talk to. It's more like discussing music than business with them.

CoC: Okay -- "Silver Mistress" is phenomenal, as is "Immortal Crucify" and "Conflagration of Hate", but what I am overwhelmed by is "Ad Infinitum". The song is so impossibly complex. I have yet to see a group do what EoU has done with incorporating works from Shakespeare, Anne Rice, and John Milton in their music -- like on this song. What does "Ad Infinitum" mean to you?

TL: "Ad Infinitum" quite literally is Latin for "infinity" and again is an analogy for one of the recurring motifs in the lyrics as well as a tie in to the band name and belief itself. The song is a result of trying to spend too much time writing one song... taking a break from that song... and suddenly having a completely different idea for a new song. I believe "Ad Infinitum" came together faster than any of the other songs on the album.

CoC: Let's talk for a minute about the album cover of _What Will Be Has Been_. I understand that it was done by an illustrator from Dreamworks SKG.

TL: Yes. I believe his name is Jose' Luis de Juan. It was a cool arrangement. I sent him my ideas for the artwork and he would send sketches back to us before finally painting the full scene. I like the way the packaging allows for the entire picture to be seen without distorting it.

CoC: On the album, I noticed that the track listing on the back of the release is not exactly the order that the songs are in. Was this a last minute change of mind as to song order?

TL: No. This is a layout error on the part of the label. The list on the back of the CD was sent to them months before we recorded as just a list of the songs we were planning to record. The order that the lyrics are in is actually the correct order.

CoC: What groups do you find yourself listening to these days and who would you choose to hit the road with if the decision was left solely to you?

TL: Well, being the huge Gene Hoglan fan that I am, I listen to any project he touches. I've already worn out my copy of the new Death album as well as Bal-Sagoth's _Battle Magic_ and the Iron Maiden remasters. I'm a big thrash guy, too. I'm much more likely to pop in Overkill's _Under the Influence_ or Dark Angel's _Darkness Descends_ before listening to any death metal. There are way too many other bands to list, but I'm always trying to get ahold of something new -- anything where the band is pushing themselves to create something new or create memorable music. In that respect, I guess you could say I'm a fan of the Gothenburg sound just for its mastery of melody. I think as far as touring goes, we would be open [to] touring with almost any band playing -heavy-, aggressive music.

CoC: The band is tentatively scheduled, as it was previously, for the Milwaukee Metalfest this year, correct?

TL: Yes. We are set to play the Rave stage some time after seven in the evening. It should be a step up from the 5:30 time slot we had in the past. The Fest is to be the last stop on a two week tour we are planning for the Summer with Mental Home.

CoC: Thank you -immensely- for this interview. Please allow me to thank you from some associated with Chronicles of Chaos, as well, for EoU's music. A FANTASTIC effort! You have the last word...

TL: Thanks for the support of the band. Currently we are writing new material for the next album, which will probably be released some time early next year. As I mentioned previously, EoU is playing Milwaukee and will play the Michigan fest if it happens this year. For any more info on the band I can be reached by email at: tlosicco@cc.memphis.edu or through our web site at: www.people.memphis.edu/~tlosicco/EOU.htm YFLHD!

(article submitted 19/5/1999)

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