Be'lakor interview (04/2012)
|Conducted by:||Milena (e-mail)|
Mora: This will be a busy summer for Be'lakor; your new album Of Breath And Bone will be released on June 4, and you're planning tours in Australia and Europe to support it. How does it feel to have all engines running again?
Steven: It feels great! We spent a lot of time carefully preparing and recording the new album and, naturally, we're very keen to get it out there. We're very excited to be returning to Europe and our regular Australia stomping grounds.
Mora: What made you take that break from touring and recording during 2011?
Steven: We took a break from touring only. That was in order to write, arrange and record our new album. As we all have full time jobs, it's very difficult to wear the "gigging" and "song writing" hats concurrently. We spent 2011 focusing on the latter, and 2012 will be dedicated to the former, with the tours of Australia and Europe.
Mora: How would you compare Of Breath And Bone to your previous two albums?
Steven: The Be'lakor elements are all there, but I think it's a faster, more aggressive and more complex album. It's also probably more melodic. I'll leave the rest to listeners to determine!
Mora: What or who inspired you the most as a band during the processes of writing and recording?
Steven: Musically, we all inspire one another with our ideas, melodies and riffs. Thematically, as our music is quite dark, much of our inspiration comes from thoughts on mortality, our place in the universe and the harsh and unforgiving nature of life itself.
Mora: People reacted very positively to the cover art of your new album, stating that it is very different from the previous two. What does it represent?
Steven: On the surface, the cover art links with the stories told in many of the lyrics on the new album. Like fairy tales and tragedies, they explore fears, dreams and one's unraveling under the weight of reality. As a metaphor, the cover art is strongly dualistic. I'll leave it for listeners to explore it further, but regarding the cover, I think it's interesting to consider with whom the menace actually lays.
Cover art for Of Breath And Bone
Mora: Moving on to some general questions now: how would you describe the metal scene in Australia? What are your favorite Australian bands?
Steven: The scene in Australia is small but very keen. There's a high ratio of bands to fans. This means that well-attended shows have an excellent atmosphere, because with time, the fans and bands often get to know one another. However, it also means that it's sometimes difficult to sustain all of the bands that are out there working really hard at playing live and developing their profile. Some of my favourite bands are Okera, Arbrynth, Psycroptic, Nazxul, Eyefear and Ne Obliviscaris - but there are really heaps more.
Mora: How would you describe the difference in audiences between Europe and Australia, if there are some?
Steven: Europeans tend to be much more emotionally open and expressive - they move more, chant more, clap more and so forth. This isn't because Australians are less interested in the music, but simply because Aussie metal heads are culturally a bit more gruff.
Mora: What were your influences when you were starting out, and can you still feel their mark on your music today?
Steven: Our influences when starting out were quite wide-ranging. From the metal end of the spectrum it included early In Flames, Dissection, Emperor, Soilwork, At The Gates, Opeth - all pretty standard stuff for fans of melodic death or black metal. I was also strongly influenced by non-metal bands like Queen, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. I think it's impossible to extricate your own music from the music you've enjoyed and experienced a close connection with. I am sure their mark is still there today.
Mora: If some person had traveled back in time to 2004 and told your past self everything about your successful breakthrough in the metal world, would you have believed them?
Steven: If I met somebody who had actually traveled through time, Be'lakor would be the last thing on my mind!
I think the things we've achieved to date are very modest. We're effectively still an independent band - we finance all of our own recording and touring costs (although we have a superb partner in Kolony Records). We've done one overseas tour to date, with a second to come. None of us are professional musicians - we all have full-time jobs to support ourselves and Be'lakor. We tend to see our band as a hobby, albeit one we are very committed to. Of course, having said that, we are certainly proud to have released two albums that people have enjoyed, and to have had the opportunity to tour and share our music with people from many countries.
Mora: Can you pick a favorite song from The Frail Tide?
Steven: My favourite song from that album is "Neither Shape Nor Shadow", however I do also have a soft spot for "Paths"!
Mora: And a favorite from Stone's Reach?
Steven: I would have to say "Outlive The Hand".
Mora: There hasn't been a single lineup change since the band was formed. I suppose you were all friends or at least acquaintances of each other before that moment, so how has the whole band business affected your relationships and vice versa?
Steven: You're quite right in that we are all very good friends first and foremost. We hang out with each other outside of the band. I think this proved to be a solid foundation for the band. It's much easier to spend countless hours working with a person if you genuinely enjoy their company. If anything, I think managing the band business has brought us closer together. In addition to writing music, we discuss plans, debate ideas and make decisions together. I think it's almost impossible for us to imagine Be'lakor with any different members.
Mora: Who's the clown in the band?
Steven: That's a tough one, because we all clown around to varying degrees. I'd have to say Jimmy, our drummer, is the leader of that troupe though.
Mora: The opposite end of the spectrum: who is Sir Grumpsalot?
(note: if you feel you're going to get scalped by the aforementioned gentleman for answering this question, you don't have to!)
Steven: That would be John, our ill-tempered bass man. I look forward to receiving his response on my jaw.
Mora: Do you remember any particularly funny or endearing encounters with fans?
Steven: There have been a few! One that immediately comes to mind is when a fan in Melbourne smashed his head into a monitor at the front of the stage during our set. He was head banging away and really cut his forehead badly. There was blood everywhere, but he didn't seem too bothered, and enjoyed the rest of our set anyway. I believe Elliott still has a "Harry Potter" scar on his head today from that incident. We have also had a couple of extremely devoted fans since we first started, based over in England. Dave and Lou have followed us since they first heard a live recording of "Tre'aste" on Myspace back in 2006, even before we had released an album. We've since been able to meet them and have a beer together when we played in England in 2010. Oh, and just recently a fan from Greece posted some photos of tattoos that he got which depict our album art from Stone's Reach. Pretty incredible to think that someone would do that!
Mora: Piracy has been a hot topic ever since the beginning of the year.
Obviously, illegal downloading is a very bad thing if you want to make a living out of music, but is it *all* bad, or are there more sides to this issue? Also, what is your opinion on the various anti-piracy laws people have protested against all over the world?
Steven: I don't know enough about the specific provisions and underlying policy of anti-piracy legislation to make a comment on that. But, from Be'lakor's perspective alone, piracy is not a problem. We create music for the pleasure of it. Music is not our profession and we do not rely on it for income. There are many people out there who, for various reasons, cannot or will not buy our music. We would rather that they download, listen to, and enjoy the music than not.
Having said that, I would like to make it absolutely clear that we really appreciate the support of those fans who do purchase our music and merchandise. It is those people who help us to keep making albums without going into debt and, in my opinion, they should feel like they have a stake in the final product. If you bought Stone's Reach or The Frail Tide, then you are partially responsible for the existence of our third album.
Mora: What were the strongest releases in 2011?
Steven: I had a very busy year and didn't listen to anywhere near as much music as I should have. However, I did enjoy Septicflesh's The Great Mass and Fleshgod Apocalypse's Agony.
Mora: And what are the albums you look forward to hearing in 2012?
Steven: Off the top of my head, I look forward to new albums from Gojira, Marduk and Ne Obliviscaris. Cannibal Corpse's Torture already appears to be a winner.
Mora: I would like to thank you for taking your time to read and answer these questions. One last question: What is your message to Metal Storm users?
Steven: Metal Storm users are among the most supportive and engaged listeners on the internet. We are deeply appreciative of their interest in us over the years and we hope they enjoy Of Breath And Bone.
||Posted on 03.04.2012 by A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.|
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