Past weeks have been extremely exciting in the Serpent Venom camp - with the recording of their new 2nd album and a participation at the Barcelona Day of Doom with Trouble and Pentagram... more than enough to put the band again under the Temple lights !!! 2013 will be soon history and it's already time to think about a few much anticipated albums of early 2014 with excitement, the follower to "Carnal Altar" - the best english trad' doom album of the few past years - is one of those (along with their buddies of Sigiriya!) and Nick Davies (bass) kindly agreed to speak about it ! Watch out SERPENT VENOM are back with a big dose of heavy Doom for you all ...
- Hi Nick ! Man, what a crazy first half of October for SERPENT VENOM, you’ve been recording your long awaited sophomore album and the day after it ended you were playing in Barcelona with Trouble and Pentagram… did you recover from those exciting but certainly exhausting times too ?
Hi Steph! Yeah it’s been completely mad! The whole year has. Although we haven’t been incredibly active this year due to commitments in real life, we have done a lot of very, very cool shows. Not just gigs in the UK with all the great bands our island offers, but massive shows like Hammerfest, Doom Shall Rise and, as you mentioned the Day of Doom. All of them were pretty amazing, but the last weekend was just one of the best. Recovered? Not really. I got home on the Monday and went back to work on the Tuesday and have been ever since. There's no rest for the wicked!
- Well, let’s first speak about the new album; this time you recorded at Skyahmmer studios, was it different from working at the special Foel studios in Wales or the fact of working again with Chris Fielding was the most essential ?
Foel is in a lovely secluded part of Wales and a very cool studio, it has a lot of pedigree surrounding it for sure. We had 4 days to do Carnal Altar and so it was perfect for concentrating without distraction at that time. After Chris worked with us for that album, we always had him at the forefront of our minds to do the new record, so I guess you can say that yes, his involvement was very essential to what we wanted. He loves doom, he gets it, he understands the bands he records and always does a great job. Skyhammer differs from Foel because it doesn't have the same live room set up of Foel, where bass and drums were entirely live for Carnal Altar, as was some guitar parts jammed together there and then. This worked out in our favour time wise. But Skyhammer works just the same as any studio where parts are usually layered: Drums; bass; guitars; vocals, as is the standard practice. It is a perfectly well equipped studio with a great setup and is in a lovely place too. It has everything you need to get on with it and in location that is just as relaxed. I couldn't recommend the place enough, it's spot on.
- There’s quite many expectations on this new album which will come out almost 3 years after your excellent debut “Carnal Altar”… First I’d like to know what happened to this split release that you were announcing late 2011 the same day of the official introduction of Roland Scriver to replace Pete Fox on guitar ?
Well we had talks with different bands and were going to record a couple of new ones and do a split. Probably involving Church Within bands. A lot was going on in our personal lives and so we had to have a bit of a rest. After touring the first record for a couple of years and only introducing one new song in that period we felt that it was about time to knuckle down and get a new record done. The split wasn't a priority any more.
- I guess that naturally as friends you were happy for Pete’s opportunity to get to live in the US but maybe had a bitter taste in the mouth for the band’s situation as SV was kinda in full ascension at this time ?
At the time we were upset and felt some anger, particularly as we were about to go on the road in Europe after all the hard work everyone put in, and we had to cancel two shows two days after he quit, which was bad form, but shit happens. Ultimately those feelings were the symptom of the shock of his decision to leave. A while later we met in London for the Pentagram show and all had a chat and made sure that we all saw him off on his new adventure in good standing. It was a little cathartic, but we are glad he's made the changes in his life and that he is settled and doing well.
- did it take some time to get working on new songs ?, I mean in a 1st time probably the most essential for Roland was to be ready with the 1st album songs for gigs that kept regularly coming ?
Paul called Roland after Pete left and within a week he had figured out the whole album and he jammed it with us a few days later. There was no problem there as he's a magnificent guitar player. When we got back from the tour we decided to carry on (at the airport) and a week later, we were writing what has become a new song on our new album. There is a live recording on youtube from a gig we played in Liverpool a long old time ago, but the song has evolved a bit since then. As said before, we had real life to sift through, so we took a bit of time to get back around to the band stuff. The songs took no time at all really. Roland and I would sit down with a couple of guitars (and usually a bottle of Gin - or two) and one of us would play a riff and the other would and so on. We sent riff ideas to each other via microphone recordings on our mobile phones and so we would have a massive pile of riffs. We'd piece the ideas together and then present them to the other guys. That's when the riffs started to really take shape and become songs. Everyone put in their opinions and ideas and so the album is the result of our communal effort and thoughts.
- So, Nick, could you please give some details about this new album ? maybe some song titles, if there’s a concept or something special behind it…?
The album is called 'Of Things Seen and Unseen' and we are releasing it on Church Within records. We had some other label interest, but wont name names out of respect, but Oli has been a very fair and hard working man, a great friend to us all, so why go anywhere else? We recorded and mixed the album in 7 days.
The Penance you Pay
Death Throes at Dawn
Lord of Life
Let Them Starve
Pilgrims of the Sun
With this album we have maintained what Serpent Venom is about, the bleakness and traditional leanings that make the band what it is, yet it is a lot more pissed off and heavy. We have naturally progressed a lot and are very proud of what we have written. Soon enough we will be giving everyone a big dose of heavy doom and then coming to get ya!
- Are you thinking about something special again for the album artwork ? the work on “carnal altar” was so beautiful that you guys need to do something as good now !
Roland actually designed the album cover for Carnal Altar and again the Vinyl artwork. He is already working on concepts for this record. The ideas he has spoken to me personally about sound very cool and again, Oli at the label wants to make it a special thing. He does this for all of his bands, so we have a record that is also a keepsake. It is very cool of him to allow us the freedom for this and not just a jewel case that I'd end up treading on, or breaking.
|Credit: Adelina Gehenna (Music Trespass)|
- Talking again about gigs, as you told me today, you’ve been lucky enough to keep a regular Live activity during those 2 last years including nice festivals with awesome bands like last week at the Barcelona Day of Doom… was that a kind of dream to play in such place with such legends like Pentagram and Trouble ? it looks like you had great times with Trouble !?
Of course it was! The guys who organise Day of Doom have actually made history by getting Pentagram and Trouble on the same bill in Europe. To be part of that was truly an honour and seems so unreal. The day after the gig we went and had some beers and lunch with Trouble, we did some sightseeing together, and then went out for dinner with them in the evening. It was pretty awe inspiring to say the least, but you could not ask for finer gentlemen to spend time with. The guys are all very friendly, warm and receptive to new people. I'm quite glad to say that we made friends with legends that day. It is something I will never forget and cannot wait to see them all again.
- In Barcelona, your set only included one song from « carnal altar »… this was pretty audacious, considering also this was your 1st spanish gig ! was the excitement to test a great number of new songs live after the new album recording that big ?
We have been playing mainly all new songs all year and decided to do the same. It was quite awkward as we were announced 'here is Serpent Venom, Carnal Altar' we played 'Four Walls....' and then launched into a set of all new stuff. But you know, why the hell not! We've done Carnal Altar for a long time and want to play the new stuff for everyone. Sure it's a huge risk and we maybe didn't please some for the lack of those songs, but the general crowd response was good, so we must be doing something right haha!
- What merchandising is still currently available ? Thanx Nick for taking the time to answer this! all the best to you and Hail the serpent!!!
We still have a limited amount of tee shirts, patches and beanies left. We have copies of Carnal Altar on regular vinyl, the special edition one and on CD. If anyone wants to speak to the band email: firstname.lastname@example.org about bookings, merch and anything else and we'll respond as soon as we can.
I must thank you for taking your time to write to us again and it really is a pleasure to answer your questions.
Hope to see you all on the road soon!