Saturday, June 15, 2013

... Interview with CROWNED IN EARTH

Crowned In Earth is a doom-child of Kevin Lawry, the project was born in 2008 somewhere in Kent (England). Kevin had a certain experience in methods of making traditional doom metal because at that moment he practices for about 4 years another project – Silent Winter. Result of his collaboration with Darin McCloskey (Pale Divine) was first full-length album of Crowned In Earth – “Visions of the Haunted” which was released via Shadow Kingdom Records in 2010. It was a good try, and if you like traditional English doom metal then just go and check this record. But last work of Kevin – second release “A Vortex Of Earthly Chimes” attracted much more attention of world underground community, so it’s a right time to ask Kevin few questions about it.

Good day Kevin! How do you do, man?
Hi Aleks! I’m well thanks and I hope that you are too. It’s nice to talk again!

Unfortunately, I’ve lost sight of Crowned In Earth for some period, yet release of your second full-length “A Vortex On Earthly Chime” wasn’t absolute surprise for me. How much work did you do figuring out this record?
‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’ came out at the end of last year which is why you may have missed the release. Some of the songs on the record came together very easily such as ‘World Spins Out of Key’ while others like ‘Ride the Storm’ and ‘Given Time’ needed more time spent on arrangements. I’m very critical when writing so I will continually analyze the songs structure until I feel completely satisfied! In all, the record took about a year to write.

I’m not a musician so I often wonder if we can speak about different methods of songwriting. I often hear that bands compose their songs naturally and tunes just come to their heads, but can we speak about mathematical approach to this problem? Especially when we’re speaking about progressive music.
This is a good question! Most of the music I write does come naturally. If I feel that something is being forced then I know that the song isn’t going to work. I look for a seamless mix between the different moods and riffs in the songs that I write, so that everything flows in a natural way. I don’t get into the technical or mathematical minds set when writing as I’m not a schooled musician. I couldn’t tell you what key a song is in, what scale I’m playing or time signatures or any of that. I literally hear the song in my head and transcribe it to my guitar.

Changes in your music are evident: new songs of Crowned In Earth sound more confident, progressive and bright, they have a good psychedelic touch. What is this? Did English government finally legalize light drugs or is it because of Italian label Black Widow Records? You know that thing about Italy – each metal band plays prog there! It is a real fact man!
I always knew Crowned In Earth would be a band that would evolve musically and become more progressive. I think the brighter sound and confidence came from the fact that I was creating something different musically from what I was traditionally known for. It was exciting to write using all my guitar styles and not just the heavy doom influences.
A few other people have asked if the change in sound came about from Black Widow. This isn’t the case at all, the record was all but finished by the time they heard it. It was just a very natural change in my song writing. I was aware how much Italians seem to like Prog so Black Widow were up high on the list of labels to contact!

Got it, I was kidding – of course I wasn’t serious speaking about Black Widow forcing their bands play prog :-) What else did change in Crowned In Earth? Did you upgrade your tools due to new sound? Did lyrics change too?
I don’t think the lyrics on ‘A Vortex…’ were as oppressive as on ‘Visions…’ and they had more depth to them this time as well. I didn’t upgrade any tools to make this record, everything was recorded how we’d done it previously. I did work more closely with Brian Anthony on these recordings. He was able to really help me in the post - production to achieve what I wanted to hear sonically. The guys an absolute genius!

Do you still work with Darin McCloskey?
Yes, Darin and I still work together. He’s incredibly busy at the moment with Pale Divine and Beelzefuzz. Darin did a fantastic job on ‘A Vortex…’ and I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for the new songs.

By the way, what you advice to those bands who are tired of DIY policy and who would like to find a good label? What is a story of your relationship with Black Widow?
It is extremely difficult to get signed to a label now. We all know the music industry isn’t what it used to be. Labels aren’t making that much money anymore so therefore are signing less bands. The only advice I could give is to keep trying and select carefully who you send your demos too.
I sent Black Widow an email before I sent them their CIE promo pack. Within a few minutes Massimo emailed me requesting to hear the album and that they were extremely interested. This was still before they’d heard any of CIE’s music! I had interest from a few other labels but they didn’t have the same enthusiasm towards the record that Massimo and Black Widow showed which is why I eventually signed with them.

How does Black Widow support Crowned In Earth?
Black Widow have great distribution and have been able to considerably raise CIE’s profile. They’ve also managed to get more press attention for us as well.

I’m sure you’re happy with this new sound of Crowned In Earth, but can you tell that this release really changed something in project’s story? It seems that the album really captured the attention of wide audience.
When I started writing the follow up to ‘Visions of the Haunted’ I knew that the record was going to sound very different. I had become tired of playing and writing in the same style and felt I had the confidence to explore more artistically. I look at the band in two chapters now. The first being the ‘Welcome to the Brotherhood of the Crown’ EP and ‘Visions…’. The second being ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’ which has changed the direction and opened up a whole new sound for what I want to do. Work on the next record is already underway and will see the music expand even more. I’ve never felt as excited musically as I have since I began working on the new songs!
I think you’re right, ‘A Vortex…’ did capture a wider audience’s attention although this was never something I planned to happen or gave any thought too. If more people are getting into what I do though that’s great!

How did you choose an art-work for “A Vortex On Earthly Chime”? From the first glance it looks like work of mister Valejo (oh, shi…) but I guess that I understand your choice considering new sound of the band.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted for the album cover. Darin (CIE drummer) mentioned an artist called Brian Tutlo to me. I spoke to Brian and sent him a copy of the record. I told him to draw what he visualizes when listening to the songs. I’m hoping he will do the full layout for the next record!

I wonder that do you think about technical sides of new songs? Do you have any favorite parts which make you proud of?
I don’t think the songs are actually that technical. I’m not a technical player either as I’ve never had the patience to sit and practice for hours on the guitar. I’ve always been a big fan of Camel’s early work. I don’t think their songs are overly technical either but they wrote great pieces of music which flowed effortlessly together. I tried to capture that sort of feel when writing ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’. I’m very proud of ‘Ride The Storm’. I’d love to play that song live and parts of ‘Watch the Waves’ and ‘Given Time’ I think came out sounding great!

I see that you already upload a new song – “But an Echo”, it’s totally acoustic. Are you going to follow a path of My Silent Wake and 40 Watt Sun who have a very good exposure of their “lighter” side?
I uploaded ‘But An Echo’ just to give people an insight into where some of the new songs are heading. I recorded the song all acoustically as I thought it leant itself well to that style. I have a lot of new material to choose from, at the moment, so I’m not sure if ‘But An Echo’ will even make the third album. I really enjoy My Silent Wake’s and 40 Watt Sun’s lighter material but I have no plans to release an acoustic record or anything like that.

So can we suppose that your next record will follow same direction which you did choose for “A Vortex On Earthly Chime”? Do you set for yourself any goals which you’d like to reach with new album? Do you plan to keep a balance between doom and progressive metal?
The next record will sound different to ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’. There may be a few similarities but it is already sounding a big step forward from what was recorded then. The plan is to definitely make CIE a live band. The new songs I’m writing are being very much written with that in mind too. I’d love to play at Roadburn, especially! I’m not too worried about keeping a balance between Doom and Prog. I let the music evolve naturally. The moment you start being concerned too much with genre, you then begin limiting yourself.

It’s not a secret that Europe experiences another troubled period marked with financial crisis, unemployment and migrants riots; can you say that your music is a kind of attempt to change the world in a positive way?
I write music first and foremost for me. I’ve never sought after changing the world with music. I simply write music that I want to hear and if other people get into it that’s brilliant…and if they don’t like Crowned In Earth there’s plenty of other choices out there!

Got you, Kevin! Then I wish you all the best in all spheres of your life – artistic, personal and workaday. Good luck man!
Cheers Aleks! Thanks again for all your support over the years with CIE, it has been very much appreciated!

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