Wednesday, December 14, 2011

in depth Interview with Steve Mills from THE WOUNDED KINGS

For several various reasons, THE WOUNDED KINGS is a rather singular band... First, musically with a majestic, slow, atmospheric and very dark style, taking basically influences in Traditionnal DOOM; but also with surprising choices like releasing a split album with the very different COUGH or by introducing a new (female) singer on their new awesome album "in the chapel of the black hand"; all that for successfull results that ultimately stand out obvious...
For this 3rd full-length (released on I Hate rds), Steve and his new buddies have even gone further in frighteningly heaviness and striking atmospheres, the presence of Sharie adds deepness , just like organ parts create a nice harmony, both these elements give a new sensitivity, even if the overall atmosphere is maybe more mournful than ever before !
The departure of George, the introduction of Sharie on vocals, the new album, lyrics, the upcoming European tour... lots of interesting subjects to talk about with Steve, the head-thinking of the band, so here we go :

Hey Steve, thanx for answering the following questions… So, with a bit of hindsight, what’s your look on the new album « in the chapel of the black hand » ?
It’s definitely my favourite so far. The songwriting, lyrics and especially the recording/production are way better to my ears, this is the direction i wanted the band take and i think you can hear that from the previous release (the vinyl split with Cough) there’s a natural progression to where we are now. It was great not to have to do all the engineering/mixing and production this time around, it left me more time to concentrate on the music, especially the organ, mellotron parts and vocal melodies. When i listen to Chapel it just feels more complete

With his own activities in priority, it was almost predictable that George Birch will leave the band one day but how did it happen exactly, was it a common decision and why at this moment ? Why didn’t you keep the rhythmic section composed of Luke and Nick ?
It was always borrowed time with George. Originally he was just doing me a favour and doing some session singing for the Kings tracks I’d written, but things took on a life of there own and before we knew it we’d recorded Embrace and Shadow, then of course people wanted to see us live so we got Luke and Nick involved and it turned into a completely different beast. It was just after we’d played Roadburn 2010 that George declared he was leaving, he felt he’d achieved everything he wanted from the band and wanted to go out on a high! I wasn’t expecting it when it came for sure especially not just after fuckin’ Roadburn, but heh we’re mates and you got to respect someone’s decision, he thought it was the right time for him to get back to his own stuff. Nick our drummer left to live in Canada with his wife and Luke left to become a Dad.

You’ve been looking for a new vocalist, making no distinction if it would be a male or a female, but didn’t you have some little fears, by choosing a female, to be assimilated with the likes of Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony, while you’re really different from this kind of new movement ?
To be honest I didn’t think about it, I just wanted the best singer for the job, male or female they just needed to be distinctive and send out the chills! Obviously now that we have Sharie the comparisons are coming in, but I’m sure Jex and Blood Ceremony would agree that as bands none of us sound the same as each other at all!

Did the fact of now being 5 change drastically anything in your vision of THE WOUNDED KINGS future? Could it be possible to see one or several new members help in the composition in the future?
There is always room for ideas from any of the other guys in the band, whilst the overall vision and concepts will always remain with me, we are a band, not a collection of session musicians put together to aid me, each member is a superb musician and if the band is to remain fresh, exciting and alive the energy has to flow through all of us to keep that level of creativity present.

The cover artwork of the album is rather simple and uncluttered but it retranscribes pretty well the extremely dark, occult and magical atmospheres of the album… how do you consider the nature and identity that your album covers must present ?
Album artwork is always the hardest thing for me! I like paintings, I’d like to think our covers convey a similar vibe to the old oil paintings you see in the Macato apartment in Rosemary’s Baby, the portrait in the film ‘And now the screaming starts!’ and the cover of Dream Death’s Journey into mystery. Sinister, alive and full of hidden meaning. Shadow, the new Embrace and Chapel covers had a very small amount of guidance from me, the rest was down to the artist to conjure what they could from the lyrics and snippets of music. It’s great to have original artwork which can be found nowhere else only with that particular album!

In the booklet of “the shadow over Atlantis” you thank a couple of museums for inspiration, is there any particular museum in the world that you feel you absolutely need to visit sooner or later ?
The Museum of Death in Bangkok looks totally weird and macabre right up my street!

Lyrically wise where do your influences mostly stem from, historical facts and/or science fiction? Any evolution between both albums concerning the lyrics ?
The lyrics usually stem from a bit of both, I take historical facts or myths and then give it a fantastical slant in a Clark Ashton Smith way. I think the only evolution with the lyrics from album to album is that I’m getting a bit better at it each time haha! Seriously though each album is a completely separate entity and lyrically comes to life based around what I’m reading or watching at the time.

You’ve a tour coming in March, I can’t complain at all myself as there’s 3 dates in France with one of them very close from where I live, but I’m a bit surprised not to see you playing more dates (7 in all), is it something self-organized ? Except UK of course, does the fans response come mostly from these countries soon visited (France, Germany and Belgium) ? Anyway, it’s a fucking cool perspective to see you in Rennes with Barabbas, have you heard them yet ?
Yes, I know a few promoters and just thought it’d be nice to do a euro tour, but take our time with it, I figure we will do it in 2 or 3 parts, France, Germany and Belgium being the first one In March and the rest of Europe part 2 in November and Part 3 April 2013. I Checked out Barabbas the other day, and it’s going to be a very heavy show indeed!

The UK doom scene is pretty active for a few years but it seems that the attention is variously focused on different bands, depending on their sub-styles… I’ve the strange impression that you should really deserve much more attention (just like The Human Condition and Gallow God for example, even if they’re more new in the scene)… do you think that traditional doom should deserve more support in general ?
To be honest I’ve not given it much thought until now! I think doom in general, regardless of sub-genre could always do with a bit more support! It’s three albums in for TWK and I feel we are just now beginning to break through! We’ve been lucky to have the support from high street magazines, Roadburn and web sites like Doommantia, The Obelisk and many others. TWK as a concept has been going since 2004 and while some other bands have risen quicker on the tidal wave of hipster occult popularity, TWK doesn’t pander to that and thus it takes time, a band and it’s fans need that time to grow with each other and it helps build that strong foundation to be able to go the distance, just my opinion!

I’ve seen that you’re going to play at The Heavy Days in Doomtown festival next spring in Denmark, this is a fest with a very pronounced DIY identity, do you feel close to this one ?
Yes absolutely, this is going to be a killer festival, the DIY ethic is strong in the Kings! lets face it you couldn’t get anymore DIY than the first 2 albums, recorded! at home in my basement by me on a shitty off the shelf multi-track! I reckon these guys have got it right and what an amazing line-up!!

What about your deal with I HATE rds, did the contract end with this new album ? Do they have a decent distribution in North America ?
Each album we do with I Hate is always a one album deal. They’ve just sorted out North American distro with Century Media as it happens!

Can’t remember where I’ve read that and if the other band was mentioned, but there’s plans for a new split album if I’m not wrong ? On a personnal point of view and for the band, what do you expect from 2012 ?
Yes we are going into Foel Studios in October for a couple of days to do our side of a split we’ve been promising to do for the last 18 months with UK Doom band Pombagira, really looking forward to it! 2012 is going to be the year of the shows!

Thanx a lot Steve, please give details about your merchandising...Many thanks for the interview Steph, you can visit our big cartel store to buy our stuff (not much left though!) www.thewoundedkings/ cheers to everyone for your continued support for TWK and see you at a show in 2012 . Doom on!

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1 comment:

  1. I must admit that your blog keeps getting better and better! I dare to say that you are the leading authority in doom interviews right now!

    Dr.Doom from