Thursday, May 5, 2011

DOOMMANTIA - interview with ED

If there's a reference to always keep in mind concerning doom medias, this is the one and only DOOMMANTIA webzine ... An incredible source of informations, constantly updated with reviews, news, interviews and dozens of links; the guy behind this is ED from Seattle who's also known for his activities with Doom Metal Alliance records and Earthdog Promotions. I must admit that ED really impresses me by the quality of his knowledge, his reflexion,very deep, fair, experienced and well-ordered; he breathes doom, lives for doom and is actually in my opinion one of its very best ambassadors in the world... Read what follows carefully, practise Doomantia regularly, register to his forum and you'll quickly see that there's no exagerations about that... Enjoy this cool one;)

* You’re native from Australia, have lived in England in the early 80’s and live now in the USA for about 20 years… what made you moving like this and why did you choose to stay finally in Seattle ? After all these years, do you now consider yourself as american or still australian ?

ED: Long story, I always liked to travel so when a friend said he could find me work in the UK and somewhere free to live, I went for it. It was great because when I arrived it was the peak of the New Wave Of British Metal so I saw all those bands in their early stages. I haven't lived in the US for 20 years but I first came here all those years ago and been going back and forth ever since. I met my wife in Seattle in 2004, got married and settled down in Washington State. I still consider myself Australian but for good or bad, the American way of life has rubbed off on me.

* I know you started to get involved in the underground about 20 years ago contributing for a small fanzine (that didn’t really work out), but between this and Doommantia, which have been your activities ?
ED: Normal, boring stuff like working many jobs from Truck Driver to factory work. Music-wise, I worked as a roadie for a few years, got some jobs as a lighting man and so on but mostly just got out and saw as many bands as I could and did a lot of partying.

* Doommantia started in Sept. 2008, not so long ago, but it has grown in a very impressive way, with now about 150 000 views and 70-75 posts (reviews, interviews, etc…) each month, is this an unstoppable doom machine ?! for sure your very deep knowledge of the scene and enormous investment make above all this possible, but do you see any other particular reason for such a quick development ? Do you have new ideas in mind for the future ?
ED: Doommantia has just grown from word of mouth and from promotion from musicians and other websites. You can find links for Doommantia all over the Internet these days and I am always finding the site mentioned in the most unlikely of places. The site has been reviewed in Russia for example and I have been interviewed myself a few times and that is always strange to me. The site has been mentioned in magazines like Decibel and even Electric Wizard or Rise Above Records used Doommantia in advertising their last album, Black Masses. Stuff like this has made the site a success. For the future, just more of the same. I don't see any reason for changing the format, it seems to be working the way it is. However I would like to offer readers some Doommantia merchandise in the future, maybe t-shirts or something. I want to expand the store-page to include clothing and possibly start another website just for the merchandise alone. The store page makes up about half of all views to the site so next year, I might move it to another dot com.

* The Doomantia team now consists of about a dozen of contributors, how do you organize this ? Is it people who propose their contribution or you who “recruit” ? Do you give any particular directive lines ?
ED: There is always an open invite for writers so anyone can contribute to the site if they wish. It has always been like a community-based blog so anyone can join in. There is not many rules when it comes to writing reviews or conducting interviews. If you can use a computer, you can join the Doommantia writing team. The only requirements is 'put in some effort' as a one sentence-long review or whatever will never be accepted and keep it as honest as possible.

* How do you manage to spend so much time on promoting doom (through Doommantia, DMA, facebook) chating on your forum (and maybe others !?), while you have a regular job, a family with kids… ? do you just need 3 or 4 hours of sleep per day ?!!
ED: Yes, I don't sleep much at all, maybe 4 hours a night if I am lucky. I have an endless amount of energy for this stuff and it takes up virtually all of my spare time. I use my spare time always for zine-work and promoting even if it is just a spare 5 minutes, I will jump on the computer and type some ideas. I have typed up reviews for examples in the strangest of places too from trains and buses to bars to public bathrooms ha ha. I know that is an image you probably don't want to imagine but I am always either reviewing or thinking about reviewing. I do zine-work before work, during work and after work. Even lunch breaks are spent with a computer close by.

* When you discovered ST VITUS you said you moved away from other forms of extreme metal (death, thrash…) to concentrate almost exclusively on doom, but don’t you still feel good to listen sometimes an “altar of madness”, “show no mercy” or “seven churches” ? What did bring you especially doom and its related genres that the previous styles didn’t ?
ED: Oh yes, I will always love those albums and I still listen to thrash, black, death metal music but doom-metal is my favorite genre and has been since the early 80's. The main thing with doom-metal that got me hooked was emotion. It has an extreme emotional pull that is almost hypnotic and that is something the other metal bands are lacking in my opinion. Saint Vitus was the band that made me realize that fact for the first time. I first heard them around 1985 and became obsessed with all things doom. I heard something in Vitus that was so different, especially in 85 when most bands only cared about was playing as fast as they can and being as evil as possible. Bands like Saint Vitus gave metal another dimension.

* Some people say that doom can’t be 100% understood and felt without smoking weed or doing other drugs, you have lived a period with lots of various abuses but are now clean, so what’s your opinion about that ? and do you feel any difference in your approach of this music between these periods of your life ?
ED: No drugs didn't change anything with me, straight or stoned, the music has always sounded the same to me personally. Drugs enhance the moment but I don't think it makes the music any better at all. If anything I think you hear less if you are high. The only mind-expanding drug that I was ever addicted to was LSD, that did open my mind to hearing sounds I didn't hear otherwise but every other drug did nothing to enhance the music as far as I am concerned. I think if you need drugs to appreciate doom-metal, you do not truly like the music anyway. I know many people now who used to smoke weed, listen to stoner and doom but now don't because they gave up the drugs. In my opinion, they were just living in a false reality and being a fake fan or a poser with doom-metal. This is why the stoner-rock tag bugs me as most stoner-rock fans I know are 100% clean, most don't even drink.

* Having to face some problems, DMA records is somewhat asleep these days, but you’ve got new plans for the 2nd part of this year… could you tell more ?
ED: Yes, it will be re-launched later this year with a new emphasis on vinyl. Lets face it, the CD market is dead so I want to focus on vinyl and limited-edition type releases. Cater for the serious collector rather than the people who only care about downloading music for their I-Pods and wanting it for free.

* You discovered Black Sabbath in 1973 when your parents were listening very much early hard rock bands, since then you venerate this band, who do you think have been or actually is their best disciples ? Do your children pay attention to the obscure sounds you listen, just as you did 35 years ago ?
ED: Yes, Black Sabbath to me is almost like my religion. I still listen to them every week even though I first heard 40 plus years ago. Since 73 when I bought my first Sabbath record, I think the first two Trouble albums, Saint Vitus, Cathedral's Forest of Equilibrium album, Candlemass and Electric Wizard have been the most important touchstones for doom-metal. There is many newer bands too but time will tell if they are up to the challenge of becoming the new gods. And my kids, my oldest is 8 years old and hates the music I listen to so I don't think there is much hope there but that is typical of children these days. They are so brainwashed by television and no talent dicks like Justin Bieber that they wouldn't know good music if it hit them in the face. It was different when I was a kid, music was very important and musicians like Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page were idolized by kids everywhere, now its cellphones, video games and sugar-coated manufactured pop-stars.

* Who do you think is the first real DOOM metal band to have emerged ? (St Vitus, Trouble, Candlemass, or …) If doom would have to be represented by just one person, who would it be for you?
ED: Saint Vitus, no question. Sabbath created the style but Vitus made it their total direction so they were the first 100% true doom-band. For a individual, I honestly don't think there is one person that sums up the genre but Iommi is the godfather of it all. The closest ones in the modern era would be Wino, John Perez, Gary Jennings, Victor Griffin, Al Morris, Leif Edling, Jus Oborn and Chad Davis who have done more for doom-metal than most people.

* Which are your fave newcomers ? from these bands, who would you choose, if you had to cite just one to represent the future of doom in the next 10 years ?
ED: The Wounded Kings, Serpent Venom, Witchsorrow, Wooden Stake to name a few. I think The Wounded Kings have the most potential to be the next doom super-group but there is other bands that deserve to be huge in the underground. They are not really doom but I think Orchid will also be very popular within the next 2 years.

* Despite the growing success of the webzine, the “doommantia forum” has difficulties to attract new members, this is not an isolated situation, I think there’s actually no dynamic doom forums in the world … On the (french) forum I practice most, we’re just a handful guys to post on doom and related genres, while there’s dozens on thrash or just classic heavy metal, so is the doomster a shy person or antisocial or … ?
ED: I do think the average doom-metal fan is a bit anti-social but not in a bad way. They are generally stay at home types that like to keep to themselves. More of an issue though is the general laziness of people who listen to the underground heavy genres. People don't really support music like they used to, people steal music from the Internet instead of buying a CD. People don't go to gigs anymore and that attitude extends to the forums as well. It is a bit sad but I feel it will only get worse in the future.

* Although it couldn’t ever become a trend, the doom scene has never been so productive, how do you explain this ? do you think it takes mainly profit from a much better promotion (with webzines particularly) ?
ED: That has a lot to do with it but it is music that best represents the world of today. The world is doomy and bleak and doom-metal is the perfect soundtrack to that. It is true there is more doom-metal bands around today than ever before but a lot of it has to do with the Internet. Anyone with a guitar and a computer can record and share their music. You don't need a label and a lot of people have no interest in getting out and gigging or touring so they feel comfortable in making download only albums or just simply having fun with their friends in a garage band situation. I also think doom's rise in popularity is a small backlash against all the other forms of metal that has dominated the scene for so long. So many people I speak to are so bored to death with thrash and black-metal growling about satan so they are looking elsewhere. The other thing is of course is the bands are so damn heavy, if you want riffs and heaviness in music, you will find more of it in doom than any other genre.

* From Europe, we have the impression that the American scene is huge… maybe in terms of bands quantity, but according to you this isn’t so brilliant in reality, with not that many real fans, gigs, festivals, etc …? In fact you would be rather more envious towards the Europeans ?
ED: For sure, Europe is the home of doom. Here the scene is full of bedroom bands, Myspace bands and a lot of it isn't that great. There is of course killer bands in the US and some states do have a solid but small audience for doom-metal but there is more places that have dead scenes than places that have a happening scene. America is a place of trends, American Idol bullshit and scenesters. One of the big differences is in the USA people preach a lot about how they love bands but when it comes to the crunch, they wont support it. That is why we don't have Roadburn type festivals here and the festivals we do have usually get a very poor to average turn-out. Europeans show how much they believe in the music over and over again and put their money where their mouth is, you don't find that here too often.

* In France we’re actually living a progressive economical rise, I do feel this is not actually the case in the States, the crisis has been more severe for you , with an increasing precariousness … am I wrong ? one proof of that is the actual extremely low value of the dollar compared to the euro, it’s good value to order albums in the US for us actually !
ED: You are right. I am no political expert so I wont go into details as I might get things wrong but from what I see and hear, America is hitting rock bottom right now. America needs a revolution like what happened in Tunisia before anything changes but Americans are so brainwashed by governments and the media, they will believe anything that is fed to them. It is strange that people from other countries still think Americans live in this wealthy environment but since living in the US, I have met more poor people than Australia and the UK combined. Food and gas prices are skyrocketing and wages are staying the same which are incredibly low anyway. The future for people living in the US is very bleak right now.

* What does France evoke to you ? any french bands which you listen to regularly ?
ED: Lux Incerta, Ataraxie, Sektarism, Remembrance and Black Heat Shujaa are a few bands that spring to mind and I hope they are all French and I didn't get that wrong (* that's ok) . The French bands I have heard have all been great and I can't think of a bad one right now. I know very little about France to be honest apart from the tourist attractions. I would love to go there one day though.

* Thanx a lot for your time ED, add something if you wish…
ED: Support your local underground doom bands, buy their CD's, don't steal their music. Go to gigs and show your love for this music. Keep on checking out Doommantia and thanks for all the support you have shown over the last couple of years. Please visit the store and buy something, again it is time to start showing true support for the music and its various scenes. Doom On.