Friday, September 23, 2011

interview with Sabine from RITUALS OF THE OAK about new album, forthcoming festivals, Lebanon...

For some more or less understable reasons, it has never really been easy for any metal band hailing from Australia to be under the highlights whichever (underground) style displayed and -just by definition- Doom couldn't be an exception... Everyone will have at least one or two examples in mind, my actual major complaint towards this fact would concern RITUALS OF THE OAK from Sydney.
I honestly don't understand why didn't their fantastic debut "the hour of judgement" get more praise and exposure, sure it was maybe suffering of a slightly average production but I feel this like sad and unfair.
Some people complain after Blood Ceremony and Jex Toth sounding too sweet at times, then they should carefully listen the top notch epic doom from this mesmerized quartet, definitely not for wimps or trendies ! 
Leaded by the charismatic Sabine and her hypnotic vocals, the quartet likes slow, epic and ethereal atmospheres  full of emotions and melodies. Their appearance on the split with Apostle of Solitude and Flight of Sleipnir has shown an interesting development in the songwriting, more compact, mature and personal, that let pleasantly suggest an awsesome sophomore album.
Sabine answered kindly my questions, read that and support them !

 - Hey Sabine, thanx for answering the following questions ! How is it going ? So this is soon the end of winter in Australia, is it a season that can be hard to stand where you live ? Are seasons very different one from each other or that tends to be more and more linear just like in here (at least between spring and summer, autumn and winter) ?
Hi Stéphane! It is my pleasure mate! All is well on our side of the world; it’s Spring time, a pretty season here. Winter isn’t harsh at all compared to European countries and North America. The overall weather is very temperamental though: it rains in summer all the time, and you can get warm days in winter. But we’re not really here to talk about the weather so let us have it hah!

- "Hallward" the song featured on the 3 way split with Apostle of Solitude and Flight of Sleipnir is very long (18 mn), slow and repetitive, almost funeral doom stuff... pretty different from the debut album, was this the perfect occasion to release such type of song ? unless you have to play a special extended show, this one will be hard to play live ?!!!
Yep. You got that right! Hallward is definitely the longest most repetitive song we had; it was always meant to be released on a split. We decided that pretty much while we were writing it. We actually played it live a couple of times. The first time was at Doom Shall Rise in 2010 and the European crowd loved it! But from memory, (and that’s a bit hazy given the amounts of grog we were consuming on a daily basis) we played it a tiny little bit faster I think and it worked. We played it again in Sydney and had a good reaction too, but I think we will move on to play newer material in the future.

- During the session for "hallward", you also recorded a cover from Fates Warning "the sorceress", for which purpose ? (a tribute, the new album ... ?) Are you sometimes playing covers live and/or at rehearsals ?
We certainly did record “The Sorceress” as a tribute to Fates Warning’s Arch era (he walks on water as far as I’m concerned!). This song is also intended for a separate release. Not necessarily a split release but maybe a 7”!? We’re not quite sure yet, but it will hopefully be out within the year!

As far as live covers go, we totally love that shit! We covered The Sorceress once, and Rainbow Demon by Uriah Heep as well as Roky Erickson’s Stand for the Fire Demon. There’s just too many songs we all want to cover we can’t bloody agree on more haha!

- Just like "the hour of judgement", the new album will also contain 5 songs; could you name the titles and speak about the general mood ? On this one, you did write some of the lyrics, did you introduce new themes ? I know you're not writing and singing about birds and flowers, neither playing happy stuff, but do you consider that you bring somekind of positive female sensitivity ?
We haven’t actually made an announcement yet about the album title and tracks etc. as we have been waiting on the artwork to be finalised, but what the hell! We’re naming it “Come Taste the Doom” in tribute to Deep Purple’s MKIII and MKIV. We drunkenly decided on it one night! It also consists of 5 songs entitled: Here, On the Sixth Moon, The Horla, Serpentine Tongues and All Wells Are Poisoned. It’s a doom album; I hate pigeon-holing bands and albums into sub-genres. It’s certainly melodic with some acoustic guitar parts courtesy of Shane, but overall, it’s a doom album.

I wrote the lyrics to 2 of the songs: The Horla and Serpentine Tongues. Matt wrote the rest and he did an epic job that Shrifficus! (who knew drummers could be this creative, eh?)
I am mostly inspired by literature and some philosophy and the occult and I guess I bring that to the table, more so than a feminine touch (as you’ll find me guzzling on wine straight from the bottle at rehearsals/recordings/gigs if they’d let me. Not very feminine-like! Hah)

- How do you think that people generally think about/describe Rituals of The Oak : "that aussie doom female fronted band" or "the occult female doom band from the other side of the planet" or .... ? do you feel interested by the retro 70's/occult doom stuff with female vocals like Blood Ceremony, Jex Toth...?
I absolutely love those bands! And we are always compared to them because all those singers have boobs! But in all seriousness, I am very much inspired by all this music and don’t mind the labels really! We’re happy as long as people like the music!

- I've read about your interest for poetry authors, especially french Baudelaire or de Maupassant... was this interest born out of studies ? At the internet and multimedia era, that kind of books and litterature are certainly left behind, do you feel it's a cultural heritage that future generations need to perpetuate ? have you ever read or heard about the french metal band MISANTHROPE , particularly their last album "irremediable" who is a concept album on Baudelaire's identity/history ?
Baudelaire and De Maupassant are two of my favourite writers of all time. I did pick them up from school, growing up in a country which was once under the French mandate. Thankfully, the French left us with so much culture in which I have been basking for years hehe. Baudelaire is my absolute favourite! I have many editions of “Les Fleurs du Mal”, possibly my favourite book ever! And at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, since I don’t get the time to read anymore, I really do think that a small portion of culture is moving towards becoming obsolete in the wake of this revolution in the media and technology fields! That is definitely worth fighting for!
I have heard of MISANTHROPE but I don’t think I have checked them yet. I definitely will now!!

- Well, let me ask you a personal question, Sabine is a pretty name which is french-souding just like your sister's (Nadine), is that related to your lebanon origins (I know that french is often spoken there and there's historical/cultural relations between both countries) ? I presume it wasn't easy to listen metal in Lebanon 15 or 20 years ago, how did it evolve with time ? How did you get the opportunity to leave for Australia ? What are the main things that have changed in your life then ?
As I previously mentioned, I was born and raised in Lebanon and came to Australia with my immediate family in 2004. You are correct; French is actually our second languages and we started learning it as soon as we started school! A lot of subjects are taught in French instead of Arabic. I am the oldest of 4 children; I have 2 sisters and a brother, Denise, Nadine and Pierre; we all have French names as you can see heh! My parents brought us here in 2004 after my father got a job offer. We left Lebanon and that was definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do in terms of leaving everything behind and coming into this strange land where I knew no one. I have since then adapted very well; I met Shane, and we married in 2006. We ended up joining musical forces in 2008 and now live in an awesome terrace with Matt and having the time of our lives. As much as I hated my parents for uprooting me from my life, I am now convinced coming to Australia was a rockin’ decision.

As you said, unfortunately, the authorities in Lebanon made it extremely difficult for us to get hold of Metal CDs, cassettes etc. It’s pretty much blacklisted! A lot of young men and women were jailed, simply for wearing band shirts and listening to Metal. Ignorance rules supreme in that region! Despite all the bullshit, we managed just fine. We didn’t even have an internet ADSL connection until just a bit over 10 years ago, so you had to know people who knew other people who had access to some metal cassettes that they had smuggled in the country and we would make copies of those. Things are heaps better now, thank fuck! Some CDs are now available in music stores around Beirut mostly but a lot of metal remain blacklisted. It is a pitiful situation! Lebanon is so beautiful in many ways, and butt ugly in others.

- You're announced at the next Days of The Doomed, in june 2012, that's a very exciting project with lots of great bands and friends to meet there !? Are your working on possibilites for other dates in the States ?
We are absolutely stoked to be playing Days of the Doomed. We cannot bloody wait to get to the US. Mike, the promoter, has been a top bloke and he’s also been helping us put a mini-tour together with a couple of other doom bands. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we will make an announcement as soon as we can!

- Even if doesn't concern Doom first, it seems that things are moving in the Melbourne's scene with festivals like Doomsday or Evil Invaders, both next editions will include the band, how do you enjoy this and do you think that your new album will allow you to give more gigs in other parts of the country ?
You mean Sydney! That’s where we’re from. Evil Invaders was held in Melbourne for the first couple of years but Hushy, has now relocated to Sydney and had the 3 one here. Doomsday is a national festival though. But yes! Things have been heaps better in Sydney over the last couple of years: we had some good bands pop up and mad overseas acts, as well as festivals like Evil Invaders and Doomsday. Thank fuck! That might mean a bit more appearances for Rituals of the Oak too, as you can see we’re playing both festivals. The new album is definitely at the heart of our future live gigs as we are planning a set that includes at least 3 new songs off “Come Taste the Doom”. A mini-tour in the US will also be an awesome opportunity to promote it after its release.

- You did the "doom shall rise" fest in 2010, how did you enjoy playing in Europe ? Was it like what you expected ? Can't d.USK bring RIUTALS OF THE OAK with them at Roadburn ?
Doom Shall Rise is hands down the best I ever had with any band. That festival captivated the amazing European doom spirit: it felt so intimate and bands were all supportive of each other and it was very well organised. I can’t talk enough about how much fun we had at that festival. And the reaction was nothing short of overwhelming. We had no idea we had such amazing fans on the other side of the world. I would play Doom Shall Rise again in a heartbeat! We would love to play Roadburn; I wish that was a possibility as we were there last year and had an epic time, but we obviously can’t do both Europe and the US within a couple of months!

- Thanx Sabine, add anything you feel important about release date of the album, other merchandise, etc...
Nah not much, mate! Cheers for the interview, we really appreciate it! It’s Friday 6:20pm and I am VERY late for cocktail hour at our pad of doom! Have a mad weekend buddy!

1 comment:

  1. Nice questions and nice answers ! I love the first album and their song on the split is the best. All is not perfect but they have that little something, I don't know if it's the expressive voice of Sabine, the warmth of the music, probably a mix of that but it's completely doom, has a strong and personal atmosphere and is at the same time extremely relaxing.