A Sculpture of Sorrow
CoC interviews Pedro Daniel of Sculpture
by: Pedro Azevedo
While some Portuguese bands gain success abroad nowadays, some others remain unknown while playing much more extreme (not to mention much more interesting) forms of metal. And, as far as doom is concerned, Portugal is fortunate to have two quality bands such as Desire (whom I hope won't keep us waiting for a new full-length for too long) and Sculpture (whom, in turn, I hope will be able to record a quality debut full-length for next year). My e-mail interview with Sculpture's bass player Pedro Daniel touches that subject, as well as what the band has been about so far and their debut MCD _Like a Dead Flower_ [CoC #30].

CoC: Please tell us about Sculpture's early days. What was your objective when you formed the band?

Pedro Daniel: The birth of Sculpture goes way back to early 1993, when our vocalist Carlos D'Agua was still heading Evisceration (a powerful grindcore band). At that time, few were the Portuguese bands playing or recording the sort of sound known as doom, and Carlos was feeling a strong urge to initiate a project within that area for quite some time. He was a bit tired of the primal, extreme and violent sound of the grindcore genre; all those deep, personal and intimate feelings you now hear in Sculpture began to fill his heart and his mind. From that point to the beginning of the project itself was just a matter of gathering the right people. Our main objective when we started was to write as much material as we could and get in the studio to record it. Unfortunately, things around us never got that easy. Our first label shut its doors while we were recording the first version of _Like a Dead Flower_. Conceptually, it's all about wounded, obscure feelings, and the particular way we see life, its sadness and somehow its happiness.

CoC: Where did the name Sculpture come from? What does it mean to you?

PD: Carlos came up with the name Sculpture after we discovered that our previous designation was already taken. Personally, I don't know the reason why he chose that name, but its meaning is very clear to us. The facts of life that make us all wonder are quite simple, but yet they have always existed and always will exist. A sculpture is much like those facts of life. It made those long departed wonder and is yet to be admired by those to come. We don't call ourselves Sculpture as if we want to be admired as one, but because we admire things like sculptures. Eternal like the stone from which it is made...

CoC: Listening to _Like a Dead Flower_, it's impossible for me to avoid thinking of early Anathema (namely _Serenades_), which is a good thing, considering the quality of your MCD. I suppose Anathema must have been a major influence to you. What are your views on this subject?

PD: Anathema was surely very important for us when we began to write, but it wasn't our objective to copy what they were doing. The resemblance between Anathema and Sculpture depends on one's opinion. Some say that there are similarities, some disagree. Influences came unconsciously; we don't pick this or that particular idea from this or that band. There are some names that compelled us to play this sort of music, but we didn't make any attempts to imitate them. Doom settles its basis in very simple and specific concepts and ambiance, and it's very easy to find similarities [between doom bands]. We are truly honest in what we do, and we don't have pretensions of being too original or so because we don't write about original feelings -- they are as old as the human race. We just want people to find some meaning in our music, to cry if they want to, to laugh, to hate or to love.

CoC: Does the name of your song "Autumn Serenades" have anything to do with the title of Anathema's debut full-length _Serenades_? Is it just a coincidence or did you want to express something with this?

PD: When the lyrics for "Autumn Serenades" were written, Sculpture only existed in Carlos' mind, and it goes back to 1992. It was probably a coincidence. [_Serenades_ was released in 1993. -- Pedro] For as much as we consider Anathema important, we would never title a song the same way on purpose.

CoC: What is it in life that makes you want to play doom metal?

PD: I think people should feel peace about their inner selves. The balance between light and darkness is very important to someone's mind and spirit. If you try to erase or ignore darkness from your personality you will lose a fundamental piece of yourself and become a hypocrite. We feel compelled to play and write doom as a tribute to those darkest feelings.

CoC: I feel the production on the MCD was very good, achieving a very strong sound. Are you happy with it?

PD: Yes, we are quite pleased with the result, considering the scarce time and budget available. Our main goal was to achieve the best results within those limitations.

CoC: And what about the music there contained? What would you change now if you could (if anything)?

PD: Structurally, I don't think there would be any changes. Perhaps a re-recording of this or that song, but the songs themselves would never change. They were composed in a particular way because there was a reason for them to be like that.

CoC: I heard you had some line-up problems lately. Would you like to tell us more about that?

PD: Well, the problems emerged right after the recording of _Like a Dead Flower_, when Carlos had to abandon the band due to personal matters. Later, he rejoined Sculpture, but he still could not get along with us. We just hope that he solves all his misfortunes so we can gather the line-up at 100%.

CoC: What are your plans for a forthcoming album? Do you have any dates set yet?

PD: What you heard in _Like a Dead Flower_ was a footstep for what Sculpture is doing right now. I won't say more about it, sorry... We'll be in studio this November, but the release date is still a bit blurred; sometime during the forthcoming year of 1999.

CoC: How do you feel about all the Portuguese bands who are being more or less successful abroad, like Moonspell, Heavenwood, and now In Solitude, Inhuman, etc. (who may be in the near future), playing easily listenable, soft metal?

PD: I deeply respect what they are managing to achieve and I wish them all the luck, but if my opinion matters, I am not sympathetic with the path they chose along these few years. When a band assumes a certain musical style, it should remain faithful to it. In some of the cases you mentioned above, I don't consider them an evolution, but a regression. Beginning with a powerful and majestic sound and progressively making it softer and keen to massification is exactly the opposite of the purpose of art as a way to express the self.

CoC: And then there are other bands, like yourselves and Desire, who don't have the kind of success those other bands have, since the music you play isn't exactly of a very commercial nature. Do you intend to change your music so that this situation will change accordingly and you receive more attention, or will you keep playing -doom- metal (considering the kind of musical and emotional characteristics it implies)?

PD: For me, music is not my only activity and I do not depend on it to live. But I don't blame anyone who needs to make something more commercial to earn money. The problem is to assume that position after you started with a belief that is not in any way mercenary, and when you look at yourself, you are a victim of trends and fashions that rule the scene you're part of. Sculpture will be playing doom for as long as it can, but of course we won't be stagnating or something like that. The world around us shapes us, even if we don't want it to, and things will be naturally, progressively changing; but I'd rather just stop playing and keep my honesty than have a label or the public telling me how I should do things.

CoC: What about live shows? What are your current plans?

PD: The line-up problems (and others) are the reason why we didn't do live shows yet. But before we get back in the studio, we should be doing a couple of dates around the country so we can loosen up a bit before we get in all that natural stress that comes up when you're recording, and also to sharpen the appetite and curiosity of the audience for the forthcoming album.

CoC: What is your greatest wish for the future of Sculpture?

PD: Every band dreams of having full conditions to work without problems such as time and money limitations. That usually comes with a major deal with a big label, but I guess that's not our primary focus. We just wish to touch people in their deepest as much as we can.

Contact: mailto:Sculpture_doom@hotmail.com WWW: www.artmusic-pt.com/sculpture/

(article submitted 1/9/1998)

5/19/1999 A Cantwell 7.5 Sculpture - Spiritual Matrix
4/13/1998 P Azevedo 9 Sculpture - Like a Dead Flower
6/15/1999 P Azevedo Sculpture / Omnio Eternally Engraved
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