British band My Silent Wake was formed in 2005 by Ian Arkley, he was a part of doom and thrash scene since 1987 as he played in Seventh Angel, Century Sleeper, Ashen Mortality and even in Paramaecium. So it’s pretty clear that My Silent Wake is bloody active band: they recorded 5 full-length albums since 2005 (add a few eps, split and compilations) and another one is on its way! Of course Ian Arkley has a lot to tell and I must admit that he has answered all of my questions very swift – thank you Ian!
Good day Ian! I’m glad that you find time to answer my questions, yet I even don’t know from where it would be better to start because I see that you have a lot of news – as always. Well, let me try with that one – My Silent Wake did release Ep “The Last Man” on bandcamp page in digital format not so long ago. This record consists of two totally new and of two well-known songs. What would you like to tell about this album?
Hi Aleks. The EP was released just prior to the album release as this song is the one we consider to be the 'single' from the album. These days you don't normally release a 7 inch as it is so expensive to produce but we wanted to do the digital equivalent. The last track is from the forthcoming acoustic album and the two middle tracks are alternative mixes of two songs from 2010's Et Lux Perpetua.
First new track “The Last Man” is already released onto brand new full-length album “Silver Under Midnight” via Bombworks Records. But I’m sure that we couldn’t imagine how does new work sound only taking as example this single song; so which direction did choose My Silent Wake in this year?
As ever we really didn't choose a direction but let the songs develop in whatever direction they wanted to go. We have always tried to refrain from holding a song back and making it fit into a particular genre but doing what comes naturally. There are a variety of styles on the album as there has always been on every MSW release but it is always recognizable as MSW. As ever, there are clean and death vocals, a variety of instrumentation and songs from the heart.
How would you explain your tendency to compose and play such diverse songs? There are a lot of old bands who play the same stuff for years and sometimes even for decades! Do you understand such artists?Maybe it is because I enjoy a wide range of music and because MSW always had the philosophy that we would play our songs in whatever style we wanted to play them in and not be restricted by genre or musical fads. I do enjoy some artists that only ever play one kind of music and who have a very distinct musical style but for myself I would find it too restrictive.
Is it true that Greg Chandler of Esoteric took a part in record session of “Silver Under Midnight” and helped you with some vocal lines?
I had worked with Greg before and have known him for ages. Before we even started work on the album I knew he would be good doing parts of the album. He has an incredible growl!
Let me guess… consider
… Well, did you record in his Priory
Studios? I think that at least a half of most famous English doom bands were in
his cellar; hah, he is a kind of power behind Chandler doom throne! How did your
record-session go? UK
Yes it was recorded at the excellent Priory Studios in Sutton Coldfield. I had done the last Seventh Angel album there and wanted to work with Greg again. He was amazing and worked extremely hard on this album going above and beyond what most people would have done. He did some guest growls on the Seventh Angel album and I knew this would be perfect for MSW.
None could tell that My Silent Wake is just another death doom band, as you always have something new to show. I see that you even still use native Australian instrument didgeridoo, how did you find it?
We only used the Didgeridoo once on the song Tunnels from 'A Garland of Tears'. We used a dulcimer on this album for the intro track and 12 string guitar on many songs. There is a whole host of instrumentation on the forthcoming acoustic album.
Yes, “The Last Man” Ep also has another new track, it is a short “ritual” track “OHM” which will be included into another new album of My Silent Wake “Preservation Restorian Reconstruction”. As you say – it supposes to be an acoustic album, what did drive you to make such move as you had limited edition of “Acoustic Collection” in 2012?
We have always done acoustic songs as well as metal and this is an ongoing thing with MSW. We have a collection of songs recorded over a couple of years and chose the standout tracks for this new acoustic release.
“Ohm” is Hindu mantra, and though we could to draw a parallel with Christian “Amen” I would like to ask you a general question about leitmotiv of this album – is it meant to be “spiritual” side of My Silent Wake?
I think you mean
Om. The track in question is OHM which
stands for 'Oh Heal Me' and is a desparate cry for help from somewhere,
anywhere. The song has a very ritual feel to it and this works well with the
lyrical content. This song was written at an extremely low point in my life.
Oh, I’m sorry, I missed! But you say that this album is rich of different instruments, so I guess it doesn’t sound like that simple stuff when guys just seat with one guitar around the fire and sing about flowers on a sunny day. How did you work over acoustic album? And does its conception differ from “Silver Under Midnight”?
It was formed over a couple of years. Some songs were written a few years ago in my garden summer house when I had a lot of time to work on them and a lot of things in my life to write lyrics about. Some of those songs are the most complex on the album. I wouldn't enjoy just strumming simple songs, they all have many layers and a very deep meaning for me. The song 'Another Day' has a lot of different sections and is one of those songs which is really hard to remember because of this but I like the way it has turned out. Silver Under Midnight and Preservation... were written over long periods of time and both feature songs which have been very carefully crafted. Some of the songs on Preservation came together quite quickly and the intro to both albums called 'Midnight' is one example of this, being written and recorded in one afternoon. Some songs don't need a lot of time to develop and the different approaches creates a lot of variety.
What is My Silent Wake for you? An emotional output, a therapy? A need to artistic self-expression? Or just a kind of obsession?
All of the above Aleks! It is the band that I have been able to do a lot of things I only dreamed about before. Having so much diverse musicianship in the band has been amazing and the whole history of MSW has been enjoyable and exciting. Sometimes writing these songs has been a huge help during some pretty horrible times in my life.
How does that story with supporting of “Preservation Restoration Reconstruction” through kickstarter go now? Are you closing to a final goal?
Some people have been so generous with this! We had one person pledge 300 pounds and 4 people pledge 100 pounds each plus loads of other generous pledges and we are above the target so can do a really good job with this release. I have been pretty stunned by the response for this and it has been very encouraging for us.
Ian, what is your opinion about modern death doom scene? I can name a lot of good bands who have original approach to their music but in the same time there’re somehow much more bands who play the stuff which was already written and recorded 15-20 years ago.
I think it is pretty healthy. I don't listen to a great deal of death/doom these days though I do still enjoy it a lot, and some bands that we are friends with are doing an amazing job, like The Prophecy, Dalit, The Drowning, Esoteric and others and they are keeping things fresh and powerful. I have seen all these bands live and they are all fantastic.
It seems that you’re uncommon with state of artistic crisis – each of your band regularly record new songs. Did you ever have periods of “creative weakness”?
I certainly had a time just over a decade ago when things were quiet as life had so many other commitments but when I got back into making music a real priority, things fell quickly into place. I have always loved making music from an early age. My mother has a recording of me singing 'Mull of Kintyre' as a child with a gruff little voice and strumming a toy guitar.
Ian, you also took part in project Century Sleeper and recorded “Awaken” album with James Allin in 2006. How did he involve you into it? And can you say that there’s left a space to grow for Century Sleeper?
Maybe this is something we could explore again - I certainly enjoyed making that album. I have currently lost contact with James but hope to remedy that situation as I like him a lot and we got along very well. I flew over to
to do the album after James and I had
been in contact for a while and it was recorded in a little room in his house. Seattle
I suppose that not all of our readers know that you started in thrash (and later – doom) band Seventh Angel which was born in 1987.
Yes the band started late 80s and did two albums which got released on Under One Flag. The band split up for about 16 years and got back together and recorded The Dust of Years. We played a few gigs and did two tours.
What is a current state of Seventh Angel? Last full-length “The Dust of Years” was released in 2009, but I see that band’s status is “active” still.
I don't think we will ever split up again. We did a tour last Autumn and were thinking of recording again in the not-too-distant future.
You had a long break with Seventh Angel, but you’ve used it to practice in Ashen Mortality which played “doom metal with folk influences”, such definition looks pretty original. How did you come to such form of realization?
It was a case of marrying the forms of music I enjoy the most and the kind of music I wanted to be playing. I wasn't listening to much thrash at the time but was enjoying bands like Paradise Lost and Anathema and wanted to do something along those lines mixed with my love of medieval music.
How do you see a place of your bands onto local or world doom scene after all these years spending in a very heart of
Albion’s metal underground? Well, I even don’t know if I
can ask you about your participation in Australian band Paramaecium.
I don't really see us as part of any scene as such and we remain quite an obscurity. I quite like it that way, but obviously we would like more people to hear the music. The Paramaecium album was enjoyable and it was great to work with Andrew who is a good friend. I hope one day we can collaborate again.
What is a reason for remaining in such “obscurity”? Don’t you think that you could gain better result and find more listeners if you did focus onto Seventh Angel or Ashen Mortality?
Seventh Angel is still going and I think these days both bands have a lot of interest. I don't want to become famous or some sort of rock star I just want to do the music I enjoy. If no-one listens that is a shame but it won't stop me making music. A lot of people have found MSW deeply helpful in their lives and are very loyal fans and that means a lot to me.
Ian, I would like to thank you for your patience, thank you for your time too. I hope My Silent Wake will release “Preservation Restoration Reconstruction” really soon so good luck man! Do you have few more words for our readers?
PRR will be released on vinyl and CD later this summer so look out for it. Those who have never heard MSW - take a listen to some of our songs. Thanks for the interview!