Thursday, September 8, 2011

an interview with Dean Tavernier's new band (Skullview guitarist): STONE MAGNUM

I already presented you this killer new band from Michigan city (Indiana- USA) about 3 months ago, their debut album is now about to be released on RIP rds and you'd better check it out if you doubt that the magic formula "epicus, doomicus, metallicus" can be applied to another band than Candlemass (and just a few others), this is music to revive your doomed METAL soul ! These just three words fit perfectly well to describe S.M. style, nothing more to add except that obviously we've got here a very developped musicianship which will reconciliate all DOOM metal fans with oustanding guitar solos, melodic harmonies and awesome epicness... Ultra motivated, Dean Tavernier (voc/guit) has a lot to tell about this new project that for sure won't be a short lived affair, and believe me this is damn interesting...

* The album starts with a very quiet song, pretty different from the rest , still metal and melodic but not really epic or trad doom... how do you explain this choice ? you told me that there's another song to record and add to the album which will be also pretty different from the rest, somekind of "heaven and hell" like stuff, will it be the last song ?

(Steph…the songs I sent to you are not in the final order as will appear on the album.  Am I Really Insane? Is actually going to be the final song on the album, so I’ll construct my answer to the question differently.)

The song you are referring to is “Am I Really Insane?”.  It is definitely a different type of song from the others.  It’s quiet at the beginning…very mellow sounding with the clean accoustic guitars at the beginning, but then it kicks into a slow to midpaced ending. It’s really a song dealing with one’s own sanity.   I think it’s a good song, as it really is very introspective for me and captures a lot of the emotion that inspired me to write this song.  It used to be mellow and clean throughout the song’s entirety until Jim added his guitar solo…then the song transformed into what it is today.  One thing to keep in mind is that initially when the first few songs I started writing were being created I didn’t’ have any goal to make a doom metal record.   I was simply writing songs on inspiration and feelings with no intent in mind.  So, Am I Really Insane? Is really the most introspective song on the album. This song essentially is a visit into my what was going through my mind at the time I created that song.  I was in a bad way during the writing of that song.  I was questioning a lot of things going on in my life on that day the song was written.

We’re likely to record an 8th song which will be included on the later cd release of the album.   It is a song that was basically written in full, but needed some refinement when recordings for the album began.  When we began recording the album we hadn’t gotten it completely worked out, so we decided we’d save it for our 2nd release.  The song is tentatively entitled Empowered Torture, but this title is not set in stone and is likely to change.   The song is a little bit different than the others…but I think that each of our songs on this debut release do not follow a similar style from song to song. There is quite a bit of variety in style on this debut. Empowered Torture is no different.  I think it has a definite Heaven and Hell era feeling to it in some ways with the riff stylings, but vocally is different, as there clearly is no RJD singing in this band, ha ha. 

*  You're everything except new in the scene, having played for about 20 years in old bands like Black Funeral and Sorath, also currently (and for a long time) guitarist of Skullview... from black/Death metal to heavy/speed-thrash metal, doom metal was the only string that was missing to your bow ? Oh shit I forgot grindcore but you were maybe too young back in the late 80's !!!???

I’ve been  involved in bands from almost every genre of metal at one point or another, everything from Hardcore/punk, Death Metal, Traditional, Black, and thrash…you name it, I’ve delved into those realms.  Stone Magnum was not intended to be just another “string on the bow”, it just kind of turned out to be doom music.  Stone Magnum evolved out of personal misery interestingly enough.  I was/am going through some very low times in my life over the past 2 years.  A different emotional state was conjured up within my soul and mental framework during this period of time.   I needed a way to release myself from the reality that I was dealing with, and music being a part of my soul was that way to escape. Skullview had begun to get active again after a long period of inactivity, so I started to write new songs, but the mental and emotional state that I was in took control and played a role in what I was creating…and it didn’t sound like Skullview.  It was completely different…different feel, different vibe, different direction than what I would normally write for Skullview.  There was no intention for the music to evolve into a band situation to be honest.  It was all personal…but a number of circumstances transpired as a result of sharing these ideas with a friend, and the band was pretty much forced into existence by outside influences.  I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

 * There's of course many exceptions (but still a minority) but are you ok with the fact that doom metal is a music that seems to be played by and for mature people, I mean people aged between 35-45 years old ?

I’m 41 I guess I fit into this group.  I think as we get older and face different challenges and encounters in life , we have the desire to slow things down to a degree and not get in so much of a hurry, ha ha. You start noticing quality rather than quantity.  You begin to think about things differently, you see things differently.  An added 20 years of life experiences all seem to make you look at the world in a different light.

* STONE MAGNUM sounds pretty much european in my opinion, indeed I hear Candlemass, Count Raven and a bit of Mercyful Fate in your sound, while I could just cite The Gates Of Slumber from your side of the Atlantic... do european doom and metal in general have your preference ?
Of course, being a metal fan for most of my life, it was always the European and Scandinavian bands that invoked a different feeling and vibe than what has came out of the US.   They had a different sense of melody altogether.  That’s not to say that many US bands weren’t incredible in their own right…but it was a definitely a different vibe altogether.  Maybe it has something to do with tradition and culture…I don’t know what it is exactly. I just love metal music, all genres, and I’d have to say the albums that don’t seem to collect a lot of dust on my bookcase are of European and Scandinavian descent. 

 * You've fired up your first singer and took his place while keeping the guitar, I think you had been the vocalist of SkullView at the demo-period but nothing at least officially after, wasn't it too hard to get such a fantastic result in a style that you were kind of discovering in practise ? I'm really impressed by your vocal abilities : melodic, epic, melancholic, menacing, bombastic and always harmonious... I couldn't imagine S.M. with another singer, if you had just one to name who would have been your major influence ?

You are correct, when the band was officially assembled, I had no intention of being the vocalist and playing the guitar together. I had written a handful of songs and recorded demo versions of the songs and sang on them myself.  So essentially I was the original vocalist.  But when it was decided to assemble a lineup for the band I knew I couldn’t do both effectively, so the decision was to either be the vocalist, or be the guitar or the other.  I had no intention of doing both. So I chose to continue with the project as a guitar player and we found a full time singer.  The full time singer ended up turning into a part time singer situation, along with other circumstances that would threaten the development of the band, so we excused him from the band.  The timing couldn’t have been worse.    We had gigs lined up with bands such as Gates of Slumber, Earthen Grave, Slough Feg and others and our only choice was either to cancel the gigs, or I’d have to figure out a way to pull off both duties myself. I decided to take up the challenge and figure out a way to make it work.    I worked very hard, a lot of trial and error, and eventually found something that works, for me anyway.  I think some in the band still have their doubts as to my vocal capabilities, as my approach and ability is a continuous improvement project, but I’m comfortable with where I am at this point and believe I’ll continue to improve on down the road.   

*  You told me that the artwork for the album is long to come and has delayed the date release, is that why you decided to add a song or what ? what's its concept ? is there any particularities that make this artwork to difficult to do ? To satisfy the most impatient fans (and by the way some collectors), there'll be soon released a limited to 100 copies vynil with just the logo, is any date confirmed ? what about the CD approximative release date ? how did it come that you have signed with the old label of Skullview ?

Let me talk about the decision to work with R.I.P. Records.  As I mentioned previously, I was writing some songs on my own.  I didn’t have any plans to start another band.  I was merely using songwriting as an outlet to escape the reality of the situation I had been faced with.   The owner of RIP is a very close friend of mine, so I sent him the song Fallen Priest to check out.   I really didn’t think he’d like it.  It was a different sound than what I’d done in the past…so I just shared it with him.  Immediately he wanted to release an album. So I sent another couple of songs I was working on and sent them to him, and he liked them so much that the next thing I know is that he’s arranged a live gig for me! I didn’t even have a band or a band name yet and only 3 songs!  The live gig he lined up was an opening spot with Raven and Earthen Grave in Chicago! Holy Shit…what kind of pressure is this?  I had two months to find a lineup, learn the songs and write a few more so we could do this show, ha ha.  Things developed really fast.  I chose Stone Magnum as a band name, gathered some members, and we went to work and the band formed.  So in essence, RIP Records is a co-creator of Stone Magnum, so I feel it is proper to show loyalty to RIP for the birth of this band. 

As far as the artwork and release of the ablum, it’s another long story. This album has been recorded now for nearly 4 months.   For the past year, we’ve tried to find someone to work on artwork and a logo for us.   We had many promises from different artists, and it just wasn’t going anywhere.  We committed to release the debut album with R.I.P. Records…who released the first 3 Skullview albums.   They were always good in the past at working with the artists for album covers and logos…so I kind of left it up to them to handle this and I’d worry about getting the band up to speed musically and getting the album recorded. In R.I.P.’s defense, they did get sketches from some notable artists for logos and album artwork, but nothing met the standard that we had in mind.  It was somewhat disappointing.  We tried many different guys.  Kris Verwimp was our first choice from the beginning.  He did all of our cover art for Skullview and we know his abilities. However,  Kris is a very busy artist…he’s very sought after in the scene, so I understand that time for him is very limited. So we had doubts if he’d be able to get something done for us, so we had to continue to search for someone. After seeing so many inadequate sketches from notable artists, we began to worry. What was Kris doing?  Did he forget about us? Ha ha.   Out of nowhere, I received a rough sketch of what Kris had been working on for us….and it blew me away, and it wasn’t even close to being done.  It’s a simple concept we had in mind, just a dungeon with a coffin inside… but the quality and detail of Kris’s work made it seem so lifelike I was willing to wait.  However, we want to get this album out there…so I decided to create a logo on my own….wanted to get some merchandise out there…so I did the logo and printed some shirts.  We’ve recently decided that we will release a limited edition vinyl release of 100 or 200 copies using a basic coverart and simple package.  I don’t’ know the timeframe as to when full artwork will be complete….could be tomorrow, could be three months from now, I think the best thing to do is get something released, and vinyl seems like a good option at this point.   Once Kris completes the full color artwork, we will follow up with a cd release, and have plans to record an additional song to be included on it as I mentioned earlier on.   

* Both by its quality and atmosphere I think that “locksmith of misery” could have been on "the wretch", I know this is one of your fave album of the year (despite quite many other jewels, this is still mine !), how did you enjoy playing with TGoS ? What are your other actual faves for 2011 ?
The Wretch is an amazing album. So it’s quite a nice compliment that you put our song in that good company.   I think TGOS has really come a long way since their inception, and they deserve to have people notice them.  It’s definitely one of the finest albums of 2011.  I’ve known Karl quite a number of years…and I really appreciated the opportunity to take Stone Magnum down to Indy to play with them.   It was an amazing show, and being the first live gig where I had to sing and play guitar it was a good learning experience for me.   As for other notable albums of 2011…I like the new Cianide album…old school death metallers from Chicago who go back a long way.  I also like the new Pentagram album.  I think it was a good comeback for them.  And the new Autopsy album is among my favorites of 2011 as well. 
* On a more personal point of view, you must be quite busy with both bands (composition, rehearsals, promotions...) , any time left for special leasures or passions ?

You would think I wouldn’t have the time of day with the projects I’m involved with.  Time is a limited resource with my career in the steel industry, the bands, family, and everything else.  I think my band time is pretty well balanced.  My spare time is usually used in promoting the bands the best I can, or working on some new songs for either Skullview or Stone Magnum.  It’s what I like to do...actually it’s what I need to do to keep me breathing.   Rehearsals are not too often anymore…and we’d like to fill up our live show schedule even more. 

* How do you see the future of S.M. ? I know you've a gig next week-end, any other planed ?Of course that's the quality of the album which makes the essential, but do you think that all our contacts with Skullview can help you in getting quickly a good recognition in the scene ?
As stated in the song “Am I Really Insane?”….”never knowing what the future holds…”.  I guess this sums up what I foresee for Stone Magnum.
We’ve got a couple of shows locally here in Indiana in the coming weeks.  We’re hoping to get added to some doom festivals for next year, and are planning bringing some friends from elsewhere to play some shows with us.  We don’t have any manager to line up any shows for us, and until our album gets released, it is difficult for us to gain any notoriety with promoters.  
 I’d love for Magnum to gain the respect of the metal community and have the opportunities to play all over world with great bands.  But I’ve been in this scene for quite a  long time…and understand how things work, so what I expect is pretty simple.  I expect we’ll release some music, play some cool shows, and have some good times doing what we love to do.   That’s is really all I can expect.   I think some of the Skullview fans and contacts will support Stone Magnum, and I suspect there will be some who don’t like it.  I don’t worry about that.  Stone Magnum will have its own fans and I really don’t want Magnum to ride on any success or lack of success from any of my other projects.  I just want Magnum’s works to speak for themselves and whomever wants to help us or support us is more than welcomed by us to be part of our future. 

* I know that you regularly enter the T.O.P., thanx for that, did you discover new bands and/or particularly enjoy an interview ? What does France evokes to you concretely ?
I’m not very up to speed with all the internet blogspots, and webpages or anything like that.  But I’ve been turned onto the Temple Of Perdition and typically check it daily.   I don’t know how to use it myself, so I just read your articles and reviews and that satisfies me enough, ha ha.   I’ve picked up on a couple of bands I was unaware of through your site…Ice Dragon, Kings Destroy just to name a couple.   I like reading the interviews and hearing some clips from interesting bands.   I really need to get more involved online…it seems that this is important in band promotion…forums, message boards, blogs, etc. 
France..hmmm.  Well, my ancestry is of French heritage.  Someday I hope to come and visit this country.  Pretty French girls are cool too..ha ha.   
 * Here comes your chance to give all infos about your merchandise (including of course Skullview's if you wish), thanx Dean and all the best to you and your buddies in the future...
Ok, currently the only way to hear Stone Magnum is to come see us live, or visit our page at  There you can hear some songs and check out our video for Locksmith of Misery.  RIP Records will soon be releasing the vinyl edition of our debut.  We hope to have this released no later than October.  And shortly after that the CD release will follow.  More info to come as to where to order these items. 
We do have T-shirts available for a paltry $15, but currently only are set up to accept well concealed cash or money order.  If interested, write to us…in the old school way….snail mail at:
Stone Magnum
c/o Dean Tavernier
7418 N 300 W
Michigan City, Indiana

Thanx so much DEAN ! humbly, I think I've yet posted a few interesting interviews here , but this one is maybe my fave... you fuckin' rule man !!!

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