Have been nothing else than 6 years since American Doom/Death metalers FALL OF EMPYREAN released their previous album until this new «A Life Spent Dying». During this time, there have been several changes regarding the band; line-up changes, new record deal… The responsible of clarifying our doubts and to explain us what has the band been through during these years at length, an always being really gentle, is the band’s vocalist, Richard Medina, who also anticipate us they could come for the very first time to Spain next 2011 and that there’s a Spanish booking agency putting their shoulders to the wheel.
– Hello. First off, thanks for your time answering to this interview. What’s currently going on with FALL OF EMPYREAN?
And thank you, as well, for the interview; we really appreciate the support. Right now the band has been keeping really busy with the new album coming out, doing interviews, connecting with the fans, and preparing for our CD release show, which will be Sat. June 12th here in our hometown. Not only are we keeping busy there, we are also hard at work on the new material for the next album, so things are good.
– This is our very first interview so, could you please introduce the band? When and why was formed, why such name … Let’s call it a little historical background of FALL OF EMPYREAN. 6 years have passed since you released «A Darkness Remembered.» What have you been doing during this period? Why did you think this was the right moment to record something new?
Right now, our current line-up consists of myself, Richard Medina, on vocals, Justin Burning on guitar, Ron Clark on guitar, Dan Sobeck on bass, Kevin Leeds on keyboards, and Sage Johnson on drums. The band was formed in late 2000 and Justin, who is the founding member of the band, is the only member left from the original starting line-up, although Dan and myself joined just months after the band started. Justin started the band as a creative outlet for his music and got the name «Empyrean» from an old Anathema song. Empyrean, in religious connotations, is supposed to be the upper most sphere of heaven, so it was appropriate that we would be the Fall of Empyrean, which we really relate to the end of promise and hope. To date, we have released three full albums, which includes this newest one, one demo EP, a split, and took part on several compilations.
As for «A Life Spent Dying,» it was actually recorded almost three years ago, the main reason
for the delay from then until now had to do with trying to finance the album ourselves and trying to find a label to release it. We kept falling short on money to do it ourselves, so we really tried to work with a label on it. We did get signed a year after it was recorded, but with all the issues the label had in their separation with Prophecy Productions, it kept getting pushed back longer, but we were finally able to release it this year. As for the delay between «A Darkness Remembered» and the recording of the new album, that really had to do with member issues. We had the hardest times with drummers and finding second guitar players for years, a lot of that time we never even had a complete band. So, that made it very difficult to keep things moving and getting new albums done, not to mention playing shows. But, things are back on track now, we have a great second guitar player who is extremely talented and reliable and we recently picked up Sage after parting ways with our old drummer, and he is very talented and dedicated, so things are moving a lot smoother now and should move a lot more quickly.
– You have just released your latest album so far, «A Life Spent Dying.» How did you come up with the name and how do you think it’s connected with the lyrics and general concepts of the CD?
Well, we come up with a list of potential song and album titles for each release, basically so we have a certain theme we can work on for the album, then we base the concept and lyrics on those titles. But, overall, everything we come up with is based on our concept of the band, which is personal depression, loss of hope, suicide, self-mutilation, murder/suicide, etc. The title of this album refers to those who suffer with depression all of their lives, can never find hope or happiness, and whether it lasts their whole life or they commit suicide, it’s not about the death more than it is that they spent their entire lives dying.
– By the way, I realized the 3 full-length albums you have released so far start with the same vocal, «A.» Is this something planned or just coincidence?
Actually, that is purely coincidence. In fact, I never even thought about that until you mentioned it … I guess they all do start with «A.» Now, the question is, should we keep that going or avoid it purposely? Hmm, interesting.
– What would you say are the main differences between your previous album and this new one?
Well, I believe that this album is much more diverse than our last one, we tried a few different things like adding the acoustic songs, doing a straight up death metal song, as well as having other fast parts, and added an intro. The main complaint about our last album was that, although good, it was too long and drawn out, so we tried to mix it up a bit for this new album.
– How has been the reaction, both from fans and press, for this new album?
So far, so good. We have only had a handful of reviews so far and the overall feeling is that it is a good album. Of course, a lot of the reviewers have some issues, but in the end, they really do like it and recommend it, so we are pretty happy about that. The fans are always great, they give us tremendous support and have had nothing but good things to say so far.
– And are you happy with the final result?
Overall, we are happy with the final result. Of course, there are some things we feel we could of improved on, now that we have had a chance to listen to it for a while. But, every band can look back and realize there are things they could of done differently, even if it sounds perfect to everyone else. I definitely would of approached my spoken vocals differently; I do not like the way they turned out at all, but it’s always a learning experience and you always have the next album to improve on things.
– For this new record you signed to Grau Records. How did you hook up with them? Are you happy now with this label?
Actually, one of our fans from Germany helped us out getting the deal with Grau, from what I have heard. I guess he is good friends with Tom, the owner of the label, and suggested that they give us shot since we were unsigned at the time, so apparently that is how it came to be. We heard from Tom shortly after that and a deal was made. As for the label, there were a few issues at first when they were still tied to Prophecy Productions, but ever since Grau parted ways with them and went out on their own, things have been moving a lot faster and smoother now, so we are very happy with that.
– Grau Records is a German label and I guess you’ll play some shows to promote «A Life Spent Dying.» So will be now any chance to see you guys touring Spain or more European countries?
Yes, it is more likely that we will be touring Europe than the US at this point. It is our plan and we hope to be out there in the near future. In fact, we are working with a European touring agency right now; we are part of their roster, and coincidentally, it is Lugga Music, which is a company based in your country of Spain. So, they have been working hard at trying to get us out there and hope to do so by late this year or early-mid 2011.
– If I’m not wrong, you signed with them a 4 album deal. Will we have to wait 6 more years until your next release?
Absolutely not! I mean, it is a little out of our control since the label will release it when they can, but it will never get to a point of being delayed that long again. There is a year cushion between albums, according to our deal, but I can tell you that we have a good portion of the next album already written and hope to go in to start the recording process early next year. This new album we are releasing has been recorded for a while, so we are so ready get new material out there.
– How’s the production process in a band like you?
It is usually a long process. We take pride in our sound and do our best to create the atmosphere that we want. We are definitely much happier with the production of this album than the last one, which was a nightmare. We really came together for this one and were quite satisfied with the end result. Each time is a learning experience and I think we will get an even better production on future albums.
– And the composing one? While listening to your music I feel like you have no compromises when it comes to compose still having what a Death/Doom band needs.
Yes, we take pride in being a death/doom band and will always compose our music specific to the genre, a genre that we all grew up with and love. We could never take the path of Anathema, Paradise Lost, and Katatonia; we feel that if you want to completely change your music, then start a different band and use a different name. Growing as a band does not mean completely changing the style of your music, it means sticking to your true sound and improving the way you do that.
– One example of this is the 9th track of the album, «Catharsis,» which it seems just Death Metal with some slow/Doom parts though but anyway it broke with the general feeling or formula of the album. What can you explain us about this song?
Well, it was something that we just threw in there to, basically, throw everyone off and show a little versatility. I think the main complaint about most doom albums, is that every song sounds the same and they tend to become monotonous, so we tried to change things up a bit and tried not to sound like every other doom album. I don’t think it is something we will ever do again; it was just a little something different for this album, but I am sure we will continue to have faster parts in songs, like in «Breathe Deep the Cinders.»
– Is maybe being such a different track the reason why is the final song?
Yes, it is exactly why it is the final song. I think if we would of put it higher on the track list, people may have gotten the idea that this type of song is going to be typical for all of our albums, but it isn’t, so we put it at the end as sort of an afterthought.
– I’m also impressed with those kinda Southern/Stoner riffs in «A Long Silence» …
It’s interesting … I can’t tell you how many people love that part of the song when they hear it; we have gotten a lot of good feedback about it. It’s funny because when Justin first wrote that song, the rest of us in the band really couldn’t get used to it, but we ended up putting it on the album and now we absolutely love it. I think it’s one our favorite tracks, and I am really glad that we put it on the album. It is part of our setlist when we play live. I am hoping we could try more of those type of riffs in the future.
– There’s a track called «Anhedonia.» Does it have anything to do, in any way, with your first album, called as well «Anhedonia»?
In a way it does, but it is not directly related to that album. I have always been a fan of using old album titles as song titles on newer albums, not every time, but sparingly; it depends. Or even using old song titles as a new album title. But, we would probably never do that for a song that needed lyrics; we would do that more for instrumentals, which this song is.
– I’m also sure your musical influences are quite diverse. Which are they?
As far as our style and sound goes, our main influences are My Dying Bride, October Tide, older Anathema and Katatonia, bands like that. But individually, we all listen to so many different styles of music, and a lot of times it’s not even metal. Metal will always be my favorite style of music, but I rarely listen to it, and our bass player Dan really doesn’t listen to metal at all, so we all have a diverse and wide range of music that influences us. I think it really helps in composing, that we can take ideas and concepts from all genres, not just metal.
– And where do you take inspiration from when it comes to write lyrics? What use to be your lyrics about? I think someone while listening to your music and your lyrics can feel nothing else that depression. Do you try to create some kind of connection between your lyrics and sound?
Strangely enough, I get my inspiration for my lyrics from the news, just everyday human life. I try to keep it on a personal level and what people actually go through in real life. My lyrics stay true to the concept of the band—personal depression, loss of hope, suicide, murder/suicide, and self mutilation. I really think a lot of people can relate to the lyrics and may have gone through some of these things, or know someone that has gone through these things. I don’t think it will ever get to a point when the lyrics will be about myth, legend, and other fictional topics; it will always be about real life and the depression people really go through. As far as trying to create a connection between the lyrics and sound, playing death/doom, you really don’t have to try, the style of the music is already depressing and sad, so it fits perfectly.
– And, at last, what are the near-future plans for the band?
Well, we plan on promoting the new album by doing a lot more shows, here in our hometown and around the states, as well as hoping to tour Europe soon and doing some festivals out there. We will also continue to work hard at completing the material for the next album and hope that we can get back in the studio sooner than later. We will just keep busy and will be a lot more active now that everything is back on track with the label and band.
– That would be all. Thanks once more for your time and feel free to add any last lines to our readers.
We would just like to thank your readers and all of our fans for their continuing support and for their patience during our layoff between albums; we will make sure that never happens again. Like I said, now that the band and label are back on track with the release of this album, things should move a lot more quickly now and we will be as active as we have ever been. Thank you so much for the interview and review, your support is appreciated and we are looking forward to doing this again for the next album!