There's quite many great new doom releases these past months, but whatever happens before the end of the year, THE GATES OF SLUMBER's new album "the wretch" will be for sure one of the most significant album of 2011. Reviving a very gloomy trad doom, Karl, Jason and Clyde (the new drummer, whose impressive power is really palpable) have released here TGOS best album and gone even far beyond the earlier works with a personality and a musicianship much more asserted, that tend to make this work very catchy, gripping, overwhelming and shattering. Then you can easily guess that I'm particlularly happy to have had this cool following interview with Karl :
* Hey Karl, so how did you enjoy your recent european tour with Place of Skulls ? Wasn’t it a bit special to play new songs that nobody heard before ? Why has the Parisian date been cancelled ?
The Place of Skulls tour was awesome, great times indeed! First time ever in Finland and it was awesome. Really I can not complain at all! As far as the songs go we'd played a few of them on the Cathedral tour in Fall before doing the record... but I take your meaning. I guess we just wanted to focus on the new material. Frankly, I'm bored of the older stuff. Hopefully it was an incentive for people to go out and buy the new one.
We cancelled the Paris show because we felt that a day off was needed, a member of the touring party was feeling quite sick and it just wasn't safe to continue; at least that was the feeling.
* Your comments at the end of “the wretch” booklet is something very deep, sincere and personnal, that sums up all your feelings towards the album and the last years events concerning TGOS, did you feel it necessary to explain things that way to your fans ?
I've done similar things since Suffer No Guilt, actually. I got the idea from Blackie Lawless, who has put these kinds of open letters in WASP CDs for years now. I think it's a good way to communicate more deeply, you know?
* What are the answers to “the wretch” you have heard so far ? of course I presume you’re conscious that some fans of “conqueror…” and “blood…” could find it a bit disconcerting while early fans (like me) who didn’t enjoyed as much those both previous albums will be certainly blown away ?
In general the response has been what you'd expect. Some people really like the new album, some are less enthused... . Ultimately, it's the record we wanted to make; one that I've wanted to make for some time now, and that's what's most important to me. Commercial concerns are unimportant to me.
* You recently wrote in a forum that you would have prefered to put “the scourge of …” as the first song of the album, instead of “bastards born”, do you think it could have marked a less abrupt transition, as the song is certainly the best link between the 2007-2010 period and the actual new one ?
Yeah, that's kind of right, more to the point it was written with the idea that it would be the lead track for the record. The transition idea you put forward was a part of it. In the end I feel that opening with Bastards Born was as good an idea... .
* As I told you previously, your set at the Roadburn fest completely blew me away but you gave it only a 7.5, while the date in Essen got a 9, what made the difference ? maybe some tiredness of the audience (it was the end of the 3rd day) and/or more surely the abuse of strong weed ?!!! Is the german audience generally the best you met in Europe ? Which countries would you like to play in next ? Which european country did you find the most different (culture, attitudes, food, etc...) ?
Oh, that rating was for US, not the crowd; the crowds are pretty much always awesome! No we just didn't play as well as we could have, and I think that's because we were pretty tired! Ha! The Germans are always good, but then so are the Irish, and the Italians, the Finns were insane too, and then you have the English... really it's good all over! No one throws trash at us, so that's good, you know? As far as where we'd like to play: everywhere! As far as the culture and attitudes... really all of Europe is different to the US, but personally I'm pretty much beyond that. It's just different and I've learned not to talk about those things: it's pretty pointless! Every now and again someone will want to talk to me about something political, but what can I do, really? I'm a fucking guitarist: if you don't like the USA, join the club you know? But don't bother me with that shit, because I have very little political sway here at home... I know that is hard to believe, but it's true. It's a lot like yelling at the guy who takes out the trash at McDonnald's because you don't like their corporate policies. But, no in general people are pretty cool.
* You’ll be soon on the road again, touring the US with Orange Goblin and Naam, then coming back to Europe for some festivals including the Hellfest , cool program !? do you think you could come back in Europe later this year as headliner ?
Actually, I have some bad news for you but due to personal reasons beyond my control we had to cancel out of Hellfest, but don't worry we'll be back in the Fall for make up dates... I can only hope that we get an offer to do Hellfest next year. It's really sad, but it could not be avoided really.
* You wrote “in the end I think that our move from the fantastic to the personal was best for this album, best for the band”, do you think otherwise you would have turned round in some way ?
I'm not sure I understand the question. I think that we'd kind of run our course doing fantastic songs... if we'd done a record that was full of the same themes that we'd covered over the last three it would have been us just doing something because "That's what we do"... like Slayer writing about Satan or some bullshit. Really, I believe that you have to follow your heart with regards to music, and our heart was not into making another fantasy based record. (you did understood !!!)
* The title track “the wretch” is my fave song of the album, again I feel completely gripped by this sorrowful masterpiece, others like “castle of the devil”, “of iron and fire” or “bastards born” have many dark and majestic feelings too, but this one is the most representative, what’s yours ? I feel this song is very much in the vein of old St Vitus, is it a real influence for you or is there any band which (...is equally or more a source of inspiration -"fuck ! that was the end... sorry" -) ?
I think your question got cut off here man... but to answer it I'd have to say my biggest influences would be Saint Vitus, and Black Sabbath. That's it. I probably could live the rest of my life with only those two bands in my collection. As far as my favorite tracks, I'd have to say they would be Bastards Born, Day of Farewell, The Wretch and To the Rack With Them, because all of them go down really well live and are just fun to play.
* The coming of Cool Clyde (ex- Sourvein) gave you a new strength, in which way did he allow the band to "re-explore its sound" ?
Oh yeah, without a doubt, I don't think we could have done this record without him. His moribund style of drumming is so important to the sound of the record.
* How do you share the lyrics side with Jason ? I presume that each one has its favorite themes ?
Jason writes his lyrics and I write mine. I've actually pushed him to write words. Jason writes what he's into and I do the things that I do. You know? Jason is more concerned with historical themes and what not in his lyrics than I am. He's also a bit more esoteric with his lyrical topics whereas I tend to be more cut and dry.
* The cover of the album also marks a logical but radical break with the previous ones , how did you work with that guy Arik Roper ?
We had done three warrior type album covers back to back, and it was just not something that I wanted to do again... it was starting to feel like role I was playing rather than doing music that I love. This record is a new turn, or a return if you prefer... so we felt that it was important to have the cover follow the music. Arik is someone that I've always wanted to work with and he was kind enough to licence a painting to us.
* You recently posted on your facebook page a vote for the best local metal band of your area, you're particularly in "competition" with Apostle Of Solitude I suppose ? what's the expected reward ?!
Ha, nothing. There is no reward. It would be nice to have some attention from our hometown paper, but that's about it.
* If you had to play tomorrow a cover or being party of a tribute album, which band and song would you think first about ?
Man, we've done so many covers over the years I really don't know. Probably a Motorhead cover as they are one of my favorite bands, probably right behind Sabbath and Vitus... I'd want to do Lost Johnny, even though that was originally a Hawkwind song... I like Motorhead's version best... that or Traitor.
* This new album looks like a very important step for you, what are your real expectations for this new step forward ?
We are going to tour as much as we can for this record and then go out and write a new one. I expect that we'll do at least 3 more US tours and 1 more EU/UK tour before the year is over and then we dive into working on the next record. At this point I have no more expectations, you know? This is one of the things I do, because I like to play music. Trying to be some kind of rock star is the furthest thing from my mind. Playing and touring and not going broke would be the goal... .
* ok Karl ,thanx a lot for your time... I'm really impatent to see TGOS live again next month at the Hellfest, before that all the best for the US tour...
Thanks man, sorry about Hellfest again! But we'll see you in Fall! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOARGH!
check out the album and a cool shirt through Rise Above or Metal Blade :
check out the album and a cool shirt through Rise Above or Metal Blade :