Bleeding Divine Blood
CoC interviews Darren White of The Blood Divine
by: Pedro Azevedo
A band formed by the Ryan brothers and PJ Allender from Cradle of Filth, a drummer such as Was from Extreme Noise Terror, and Steve Maloney on bass sure sounds more than promising. But what would this band be without a good vocalist? Well, The Blood Divine undoubtedly have one who's as good as vocalists can get. Formerly the Anathema frontman, Darren White is the man who gives TBD that extra quality and personality with his voice, lyrics, and overall influence. I had the pleasure of talking to Daz on the phone, and here's the result - enjoy, and do yourself a favour by checking out their debut, _Awaken_. Before starting the interview itself, there's something I must make clear. Darren was interviewed by a Portuguese radio station just a few days before I talked to him, so I didn't want to repeat the questions he had been asked in that interview for rather obvious reasons. However, two of the questions are worth mentioning here. The first concerns his departure from Anathema - a decision that belonged to the rest of the band. They claimed that Darren's vocals were getting worse as the rest of the band got better, and added that his lyrics in _Pentecost III_ were bad (maybe they forgot about his work on _Serenades_). "A good move", as Danny Cavanagh once stated. Many, myself included, will strongly disagree, at least in what concerns Anathema, since while Anathema lost some of what made them special, the world did gain a new and superb band called The Blood Divine, which is probably much more suitable for Darren's vocals than Anathema right now. Darren blames his departure on the lack of communication in the band: as he says, "They never told me, earlier on, how they felt - it was like they were afraid to speak about it. They chose the easy way out but it helped me, because sometimes some bad things happen to you, but sometimes you can make something positive out of that negative experience, and that's what I've done". However, says Darren, "I can forgive them, but I'll never forget, because it's not something that friends should do to each other. Then again, I can thank them for it, because now I'm in a band where I'm much happier than I ever was in Anathema, and I'm able to express myself more honestly, more openly." About their next album, Darren said TBD will most likely record it during April or May, so it should be out around September. With this out of the way, let's move on to CoC's interview.

CoC: Suppose you were in some room and someone would play _Serenades_. What would be your current opinion on the quality of this album?

Darren White: I think it's good... I think the music was good, but the production could have been better, and I think I'd do the vocals differently now, but it was 1992, so... I'm a better singer now... but I still like it, it's still my past and it's still in my heart.

CoC: There've been a lot of bands abandoning the death-style vocals recently. Your vocals aren't really death vocals anymore, like they were in the past, but they're still heavy, and, as far as I'm concerned, excellent...

DW: Thank you.

CoC: Would you say this abandoning of the death vocals is becoming a trend?

DW: I don't know... there's so many trends, that to me it doesn't matter. I think it's also a trend if a band just start up singing black metal style because it's easier to sing that way, you know, it's easier to scream and it's harder to sing in tune but still keep powerful. That's the thing that a lot of bands do, they try to sing softer or in a tune but they lose the power, and to get the two is the best. I don't know about you, but I think one of the best singers ever was Robert Plant, because he was able to get perfect tune but also a lot of power in his voice as well.

CoC: How important are your lyrics?

DW: They're totally important. It's 100% important, if not more, you know, if it could be more than 100% it would be. It's therapy for me, it's very important for me that for every word that goes on to the paper and every word I sing I can defend myself if someone was to say "What do you mean there? Why did you say that?", I'd have to be able to defend myself. They also have to be completely from the heart, so I can find the balance and sort of be clever with the lyrics, but also be honest and open about my own feelings. I think that's something I lost for a little bit and I have regained it now, especially for the second Blood Divine album, which will be very [much] about personal experiences that I think anyone can relate to.

CoC: Is there any special reason why your lyrics come out so gloomy and bleak, especially in the past?

DW: I think it's for two reasons. I use the lyrics as a therapy so that I can get out the negative feelings inside me, and also I do try to reflect the atmosphere of the world. There is so much injustice, so much cruelty and so much pain and suffering in the world, and those come out in the lyrics. Some people live a happy life and they don't think about those who are suffering and other people's pain and sometimes they can't enjoy themselves properly because they don't realize how lucky they are. I think by talking about the pain of suffering and injustice, that people can realize how lucky they are and maybe even go out and try and fight as well. I always say that if I wasn't playing music I would be some form of revolutionist fighting against injustice. I'd be out there defending defenseless animals, setting animals free from torture laboratories and many other things.

CoC: What inspired you to write the lyrics for "Warm Summer Rain"?

DW: I'm gonna give you a secret away now... for that track, I was sitting there, and it was very, very late at night, which is the best time for me to write lyrics, and I was thinking about ideas while listening to the track (the band had written that track two or three months before going to studio, so it was almost completely finished), and I wanted [the lyrics] very, very simple, but also meaningful and deep. And it's like a football manager, sometimes he has to admit that his wife helped him pick the football team; my wife helped me with those lyrics. <laughs> I knew that the song felt like rain, something made me think that there had to be rain when the music stops, so I wanted rain to be in the title, and once she got the idea into my head it all came out very easy and very simple. Just as if I was walking outside the house in Summer with rain coming down and I'm looking up to the sky, feeling the rain on my face, thinking what a great feeling that is, breathing the clean air and hoping that we'll be always able to breathe clean air, which is a dream that probably won't happen, but it would be nice.

CoC: That track features Ruth, an excellent female vocalist...

DW: Yeah.

CoC: ... who accompanied you from Anathema.

DW: Yeah.

CoC: Do you think she'll ever have more weight in the band, do some larger parts of the album?

DW: I don't know, I think for the second album we're gonna try something else, but I'll always have her phone number and I hope that we'll always be friends and that we'll be able to do something again in the future. I think for the next album we'll be trying something a little bit different, but we might ask Ruth again to do some stuff. It's not that we don't like her vocals, but we wanna do something different in the next album.

CoC: How did you come up with such a name as The Blood Divine? What does it mean?

DW: I just thought of a few different names for a band, names that I thought were good, and I majorly thought that this one stood out as the strongest. When I showed it to the other guys, I didn't tell them which was the one I liked, I just showed them the list of names, and every one of them said that's the one. I think it's good, because it's strong... it could be pretentious in a way, but we believe in divine blood. It's not just those six people who are The Blood Divine, it's anyone who feels that they also bleed divine blood. If you believe that you have your own strong conscience and your own god inside of you, and you don't worship an external god but you obey the being inside of yourself, then you can be part of us, so if you believe you bleed divine blood you can be part of us.

CoC: Wise words. I suppose you are an atheist, then?

DW: No, I think I have a strong faith, but it's not a Christian faith, it's not Moslem faith, it's not Hindu faith, it's just a faith in Nature and life in general. I think that life is the ever-powerful thing.

CoC: Changing the subject, what bands or which kinds of music do you guys listen to after work?

DW: Very different stuff. I would say that Paul Ryan is the big metal fan in the band. He loves mainly the new wave of British metal... and we all love Iron Maiden. Paul Allender, he's into all kinds really, he's a rock fan, he likes classical music too.

CoC: What about yourself?

DW: Myself, I love any music that I think can take you away from where you are at that time, the reality and boredom of where you are, so that it can lift you or make you feel better. I like a lot of 60s and 70s stuff, they use a lot of clever sounds that can help you drift away, and I like bands like Kyuss and Monster Magnet. I also like that really, really heavy style. Also Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Black Sabbath, the Doors... <laughs> I'll tell you what Steve's into, he's into a lot of punk and 70s and 80s stuff as well... Lou Reed, Velvet Underground... and then Ben, he's into mad sounds, he likes anything that sounds strange. And Was, our drummer, he worships Frank Zappa. And he likes Miles Davis and jazz.

CoC: It's weird that if you ask this to most metal bands, they almost never mention newer metal bands. What's your opinion on other Peaceville bands, for example, such as My Dying Bride?

DW: To be perfectly honest with you, I was never really a fan of their music, even though I have respect for them. We just toured with them for four and a half weeks, and I respect them, but I'm more into Cathedral.

CoC: They were a bit like Anathema in the early days... there were some similarities between _Serenades_ and _As the Flower Withers_, and the way both bands grew.

DW: Yeah.

CoC: I noticed that you mention a band called Celestial Season twice in the _Awakening_ credits... you, yourself. Is there any special relation between you and that Dutch band?

DW: Yeah, their old singer, I knew him in the old days, and also in the last tour that we've done, a couple of guys from Celestial Season came down and they were really friendly and all, and we had a smoke together, and we talked and had a drink. They were really cool people.

CoC: What's your opinion on the current metal scene? Or take the Swedish scene as an example, if you know it.

DW: If we take Sweden as an example, I like Entombed and At the Gates, even though they have split up now. And Opeth... I'm not really into their music, because their songs are too long, but they really know how to play their instruments. The only band that I can think of that are in the extreme scene are Einherjer, I listened to a demo or something of theirs a couple of years ago, and it was really epic and heavy music.

CoC: I read in an interview that you don't value black metal too much.

DW: Eh... not really, no... not the current black metal scene, because it's just full of spotty kids... and...

CoC: So you believe there is no such thing as a good black metal band right now?

DW: Er... there probably is... I could pick up Terrorizer and have a look at that... there's probably a good band in that. I'm a friend of Cradle of Filth's new guitarist, and have been for a long time, and I always thought Cradle of Filth were good... even though I shouldn't be promoting them really... but I think they're okay... Impaled Nazarene, they're okay as well. And Celtic Frost, from the older scene, and Sodom, I could go on there... but in the current scene, I think the bands are just far, far too pretentious and it's just completely fake. I think it's all a fake image.

CoC: Changing the subject back to The Blood Divine, have you had any problems in any of TBD's live shows yet or is everything going alright so far?

DW: Well, there's things like guitar amps suddenly deciding that they don't wanna work anymore, guitar leads that decide they don't wanna work anymore... people jumping up on the stage and knocking things over, but that's not a problem, that's all part of the fun. One of the things I hate is that on the last tour there was a couple of gigs where we had to do the sound check while everyone was in the room... just little things, because when you're a professional you want everything to be right, but then again, if there's a problem you make up for that problem by trying that bit harder in the show and trying to basically play the next song so good that people will forget what happened. I mean, I've got a lot of experience, so as long as I can use that experience to make TBD a better band, I'll try everything I can.

CoC: How satisfied were you with _Awaken_, both musically and in terms of production?

DW: We're like every band, we see all the faults because we look at it objectively.

CoC: Would you say there's a lot of faults?

DW: I mean, I can look at it and say "that could have been better", and we would have done it differently now, but at the same time, considering that we'd only been together for six or seven months when we recorded it, I think it's a miracle that we were able to do it so well and I'm happy about that. But I think we are a much more mature and much better band now, and we would do it differently now.

CoC: How did you manage to do such a great debut album, considering you all came from such different bands?

DW: Yeah... I mean, I do things that are only for the more open-minded people, and I heard that the Portuguese fans are open-minded...

CoC: Some are and some aren't... like anywhere else...

DW: Yeah, but I think in England the emphasis on music is more on if it will sell, if it's commercial. I think that we will do quite well in Portugal, and the likes of Germany, Italy, Spain and places like that, also like America, Scandinavia and Japan... we're doing well in a lot of places, and we're trying at the moment to sort of break into the English scene. It's a very sad thing, but even though in music it's great to use your heart, to break into the English scene you gotta use your mind as well, and you gotta be clever. At the moment, I'm trying, and it's a new thing to me having to be thinking about business and all. I think people will accept it in England, but not like in Portugal, you're far more open-minded and the people really understood the diversity of the music in Portugal and countries like that.

CoC: Has _Awakening_ been doing well in terms of sales?

DW: Uh, I don't know, I think so... I'm not really sure about that... but I hope so! <laughs> It means that we can carry on.

CoC: Is there any news about your second album you'd like to share with me?

DW: Let me think... not really... <laughs> Well, we'll be more mature, more groovy in a way, more rocking... more focused... less silly bits, if you know what I mean... all really hard and true, more honest.

CoC: Will your vocal style remain the same?

DW: I will always keep the heavy style, but I obviously always try to become a better singer, not just shout all the time, put tunes in there... but at the same time I'm confident that I'll keep the very heavy style and use tune and melody as well.

CoC: What's your opinion about all those bands out there who write music just to try and sell lots and lots and lots of copies, even if they know that their music is crap, saying "Our music is crap, but it'll sell, so let's do it!"?

DW: Yeah, that's really sad... they're ruining the whole music scene. It's like a product, like Coca-Cola, so many bands are products of their record label, and that just makes me sick. That's one of the reasons why I don't like the black metal thing, some of the bands need to wear their makeup because they don't know how to do anything else and they're not confident enough in their music.

CoC: _Awaken_ keeps shifting from doomy parts to great melodies to powerful parts all the time, so it's really hard to put a label on your band. Would you like to try and label TBD yourself, or would you say that's just useless?

DW: Heavy rock'n'roll... <laughs>

CoC: Nothing with the word "metal"?

DW: I could say metal, but when you say metal, the pigeonholes come alive in people's heads and they expect you to sound a certain way, whereas I can say, yeah, we're a heavy metal band, but people will think "Oh, it sounds like that, then...". And if I said we're a death metal band, people would say "Oh, it sounds like that..." So I don't really want to categorize ourselves, because of the labels the people have in their own minds, so I would say that we capture the spirit of heavy metal, but not in the old style, more drifting in a rock'n'roll spirit, the music being open and hopefully something that'll break some boundaries, or change the world... that'd be my dream...

CoC: Now's the time for you to say whatever you want to our readers...

DW: Bleed divine blood, be yourself, use your mind as well as your heart, respect people... respect life.

(article submitted 13/5/1997)

3/21/2003 P Azevedo 5 The Blood Divine - Rise Pantheon Dreams
10/16/1997 P Azevedo 8 The Blood Divine - Mystica
3/16/1997 P Azevedo 10 The Blood Divine - Awaken
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