For vocalist Aaron of North Yorkshire's gothic/death/doom band My Dying Bride, nothing would be more satisfactory to him than bringing the band to tour the U.S. in support of their latest effort, _The Angel And The Dark River_ (Peaceville Records/Music For Nations). But getting here over to North America is not as easy as it seems. "We don't know when we are gonna play over here," begins a relaxed Aaron from Fierce Recording's New York office, "but we should be in over here in the summertime where hopefully we can do a small two-week tour," he says with some certainty.
As for the obstacles he says, "It is a major dissapointment and obstacle to not be able to play here in the U.S. We nearly came on the last tour (1994's _Turn Loose The Swans_ tour) when things started to happens. We were three weeks away from coming over here and things started to happen for us in a negative fashion. Nothing eventually happened and we never made it. I think because we are a six-piece, it is hard to get us over here and on the road. Record sales have not been brilliant so to do a tour it will be hugely expensive. But we have to tour and it is important that we come over. Now that we are with Music For Nations, and they have a bit more money than Peaceville Records (their original debut album label whom they still work with), they want us to come over. Futurist does also, as does everyone else. So it is entirely up to whoever holds the purse strings."
Aaron reveals that it has always been a dream for the band (rounded out by guitarists Andy and Calvin, bassist Ade, Rick on drums and Martin on violins/piano) to be able to tour within the U.S. "When we first formed it was like, 'Cool we'll play a gig.' And then it was like, 'Cool if we could get to Europe and play.' We did, and after we played Europe we said, 'We gotta go play in America.' That would be a dream come true." Snickering and with some British humor intact he blurts out, "We've conquered England and Europe and now there is one left. So watch out here we come!"
Their latest album had been out in Europe since May states Aaron (the album is released in North America in the coming weeks), saying that the band has already done an extensive amount of touring in Europe. They plan to continue touring for another two weeks in Poland, and then take some time off. Aaron adds that once the band has toured the U.S. (if it happens), the band will then head back into the studio to begin work on a follow up LP to _TAatDR_.
About the success of the album so far in Europe Aaron discloses, "It has been fantastic for us with all the success. We have been hugely successful on mainland Europe but not too well in England. They don't like us much over there," chuckles Aaron. "It is a shame that we aren't popular in our home country, but it is common with England because they don't generally like English bands. They like all the foreign bands. But mainland Europe accepts us with open arms."
Since forming in 1990, the band has released many EPs and numerous LPs, allowing them to become of the premiere bands to watch out for. And quite frankly one of the best gothic death/gloom bands on the circuit right now. After surfacing with a very successful demo in 1990, the band quickly focused their ability and musicianship, and after signing with Peaceville Records, issued their first EP in 1992, _Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium_. The EP sparked a lot of interest and soon after the band released their first full-length LP, 1992's _As the Flower Withers_. Years of work, touring and recording also produced other works such as two other EPs _The Thrash of the Naked Limbs_ (1993) and _I Am The Bloody Earth_ (1994), and their sophomore effort, _Turn Loose The Swans_ in 1993. After signing to Fierce Recordings for U.S. licensing and distribution in 1994, the band released a collaboration of all EPs entitled _Trinity_ in 1995, which now leads us up to 1996 and the release of the band's latest effort through joint work of both Peaceville Records and Music For Nations.
While talking about the record and the general mood and direction, Aaron explains that like most My Dying Bride LPs, nothing was planned. "We weren't trying to build any type of mood. We don't plan our records. I don't think this album is much different from the first one in regards to songwriting or construction of the songs and lyrics or atmopshere. We don't sit down and say it has to be a certain way to be the doomiest record ever." He says, "We just work the songs in our heads, go down and practice them and record them and put them together and then, and only then, do we feel or see the mood that we have created while recording them."
With the songs on _TAatDR_, the music seems to have become more open, thus revealing to us the emotions brewing within the band and its members. Listening to such tracks as "The Cry Of Mankind", "Two Winters Only" or the heartfelt rampage of moodiness provided by "Dark Voyage", the depth of the band's songwriting has also been noticeably enhanced, taking them from what would have been seen as a standard outing to a much more complex revelation of music, sound, and intellectual growth.
Does the band feel, seeing that the songs are of epic length (nine-minute range), that the inclusion of lyrics helps the listener experience the music more vividly? "I think the lyrics, coming from the person that wrote them, are very important. I have never written standard death metal lyrics. I'll leave that to bands that like to write about slaughtering people and drinking their blood. Stuff like that has never really interested me. I have always been into poetry and reading it. I want my lyrics to be like small poems, but I am not quite sure why they all turned out so miserable." He laughs and adds, "The lyrics work. Everything works with the band: the music, the image, the photographs, the name of the band, the imagery and the song titles. It all fits together. It is like a well-made jigsaw puzzle and I don't think anything is out of place. And the lyrics are an important part of what we are about."
Trying to capture a mood or just the creative flow of the band is what seems to be a difficult thing while in the studio. When asked about the difficulties of recording MDB material, Aaron responds, "The initial part of the recording is excitng. We have the gear in and play as a band. The real pain in the studio is towards the end. The recording is the entertaining part, while the mixing is the difficult part because you have to hear the songs ten times a day for three or four weeks. When you have been playing the songs for six months, it turns your brain into mush. But if you want to make a good album you got to put yourself through it."
When asked why a majority of the songs that MDB produce are so long, and if they have ever considered shorter songs, he says, "There are two reasons why the songs are so long. One is because we like to create songs with a strong creative atmosphere, and you can't do that in three and a half minutes. You need to settle the audience down and really get their brains thinking, and you can't do that with a two-minute wonder. The other reason is that we are a six-piece band and we are very democratic when it comes to songwriting which means we all contribute to every single song. And in order to match that creativity you can't have a three-minute songs. It is more like thirteen minutes. We don't just have an idea each, there are umpteen ideas floating around when we write. Some of the songs could have been twenty minutes long but we had to draw the line somewhere."
And the notion of ever relying on or adding technology (samples, soundbites) to their dark orchestral-like soliloques? "We are always open to ideas," he says mentioning that the British house/dance band Drug Free America had reworked a song on the B-side of the "I Am The Bloody Earth" single with a very dance-ish rave feel to it, "but it is not something we'd go out and try to work with." About the need to use technology in music to help guide it he remarks, "I guess we should just keep it [technology] all for the computer games that we all continue to play."
While influenced by such metal heavyweights as Coroner, Celtic Frost or Candlemass, MDB's singer explains that his taste in music is shifting. Why, I ask? "I am into bands like Dead Can Dance, Nick Cave, the Swans and Tori Amos. Amos hasn't influenced me much but I enjoy listening to her. I like Enya because she is weird and strange. I am not into a lot of metal these days but when I like to hear metal, I stick on my old Sodom records or other material from the mid-80's. I don't listen to the new metal stuff nowadays." Again the question is asked: Why? "I live the business now. I have metal in my face all day and every day and this is my job. So when I get home, I don't listen to metal, and put something else on. It is like someone who works in an office and goes home: he or she doesn't want to go home and file right?"
"It is not a hard business from a band point of view," notes Aaron. "You get to do what you want to do. It really is the best job in the world. I used to have the worst job in the world working in a factory and I gave up that job for the band. I mean how many people can say that they enjoy their jobs and what they do?"