A few months back I reviewed an excellent album: Maudlin - A Sign Of Time. Their psychedelic brand of post/sludge/bluesy metal definitely stayed on my playlist long after the review when up. After letting this album really digest, I was excited at the opportunity to interview the band. Given our busy schedules at the time we opted for an email interview. Below, Davy De Schrooder (vocals, keys, samples, lyrics, artwork) answers my questions about the band and their music, their love of vintage instruments, the guys' annual trip to Roadburn, and much more.
Enjoy! And while reading, listen to A Sign Of Time, streaming on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MAUDLINrocks.
Susan: First off, I love your vintage-styled band photo on the inside cover of A Sign Of Time. Can you tell us how that concept came about?
As we all love the 70s and especially those band pictures, we started thinking of how we could have a great picture... posing isn't our best quality, so we wanted to have it in some kind of natural way, that's why none of us are actually looking into the lens. Our good friend Jan Pypers is a gifted and professional photographer; we brainstormed with him for a good picture that fit both the music and the concept of the album. Suddenly, this idea popped up. Jasper was at the point of moving, so we used his furniture and placed it into a wood about a 10-minute drive from our rehearsal room. It was fun.
Susan: Speaking of gorgeous photos with this CD, is that a bison on the back cover?
Yes, it is. It's a picture I took in Yellowstone. I took it while being on a roadtrip with my good friend Andrew Weiss, also a very gifted photographer (he took pictures for Pelican layouts). Anyway... as we enjoyed the beauty of Yellowstone, we both took probably 1000 pics. Coming back home, seeing them on my big screen, I felt it fit the story we were working on. The band agreed and I delivered some of the pictures that inspired me writing lyrics.
Susan: Now to the music: Can you please talk about your various musical styles and related influences? I hear so much from psychedelic to sludge to post metal to 90s goth rock influences and more.
Well, we are just music lovers. And styles are not boundaries... while we worked on A Sign of Time we had the idea that we could not put a name on the style we played, neither could we compare ourselves with just one band. We had some doubts about this... but we never compromised. When we wrote songs and after lots of band talks we deceided that we would just keep on writing and we'll see what comes out... For ourselves we had the idea, that we made the best Maudlin stuff to date, but we didn't expect that all the reviews would be so positive and would call us the next new thing in progressive rock or in progressive metal or in psychedelic rock or in... We were afraid that we wouldn't have a scene to play in, but after the release it seems that all these different scenes start to embrace us. That is overwhelming and beyond our expectations. Anyway, the influences, we all come out of the punk & hardcore scene. But as I said before, we're music lovers and we never limited ourselves to this scene if it came down to listening to music. With Maudlin we always said, we want Maudlin to be hard, intense and running on feelings, big examples were Neurosis & Isis. To get back to the many influences, if a band is good I'll buy their record and if it's amazing I'm sure it sticks in my head somehow, no matter which style it is. Same goes for my fellow members... so that's probably how we got all those influences.
Susan: Referring to the lyrics and music, is there a story behind A Sign Of Time?
Yes, there is. Our previous album Ionesco told the story of a fictitious person placed in real historical facts. To be more precise, we put him in Washington DC in the late 1940s. Around that time there was a doctor (Freeman) who thought he found the cure against depression. That cure was a simple surgery named transorbital lobotomy. With an icepick he went into the eyesockets and pushed it under the skull, moving it up and down he cut through the bridges between both hemispheres. Sounds all scary and so, but we told the story about this fictitious character and his feelings before and after the surgery. The album Ionesco ended with a suicide attempt and an open ending. A Sign of Time is not a follow up, but it is a times tretch of 30 seconds on Ionesco, just after the suicide attempt. Those 30 seconds are nearly silence, just some birds singing... those seconds stood for the way to the eternal white light. So on "A Sign of Time" we tell about the near death experience of our fictitious character and we talk about all the moments that made you to who you are/were. It's about those seconds that feel like hours, about standing outside yourself and reliving those moments, but on a more psychedelic way then in real life. All those moments are connected with a natural phenomenon... so now you have an idea why we chose those pictures.
Susan: What's going on with the awesomely creepy opening track "Hours"? (I admit that tune is frequently stuck in my head.)
It's a real mood-setter and it fits perfectly with the first natural phenomenon we sing about: wood nymphs. It also fits perfectly with the creepy thought of a near death experience. When it starts you seem to be afraid... so, that why we chose that one.
Susan: The album notes mentions that it was written and recorded at your rehearsal room (then mixed and mastered elsewhere). Can you please talk about that recording process and how the end result compares to your expectations?
When we write, all of it happens during rehearsals, that's what works best for us. We're always afraid when we have to book studio time that we won't have the budget to record all our ideas and a lot of ideas and small adjustments also come while recording. There is something relaxing about recording in the room where you created the riffs and songs... it feels like home...maybe sometimes we took it a little to relax, but that's good in a way. The recording process is just like in a studio, we spend one or 2 days placing microphones that we borrow from some friends, studio-owners, and after that we start recording for as long as we want. Overdubs from guitars also happened at home by our guitar players, if they found a new sound on another amp and speaker than the ones we're recording through. It has a lot of possibilities, but without Kris & Jasper, who have a good knowledge about these things, it wouldn't be so easy. After the recordings, we sent the songs to Translator Audio Studio in Brooklyn, NY. It is Andrew Schneider's homebase; we choose to work with him, because our friends in City Of Ships & Rosetta recommended him hands down, but he did some of the best sounding records within the genre: Unsane, Cave In, Shrinebuilder, etc. Afterwards we felt like Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio at Cornwall NY, was the perfect man to master our album. We just had a good communication and he felt the story that we wanted to bring!!
Susan: Can you please talk about your musical evolution from your debut through A Sign Of Time, and perhaps where you'd like to explore next?
I think our debut Solitary Echo was raw, technically pretty easy, but nevertheless very intense. We loved the intensity and tried to keep that in our next albums. Where Ionesco had some mathcore influences, there was also progressive & psychedelic rock in the mix of styles. The mathcore was fun, but there are a lot bands that handle that style much better than we do, so we felt like fully going for the progressive & psychedelic approach without losing our love for doom, sludge, post-hardcore, etc. We slowly start writing new songs, but at this time it's too early to tell what direction it is going. We start writing without a plan, we see what comes out and then we probably will make something with the right atmosphere that we want to bring... we'll see.
Susan: How did the 5 of you come together as a band?
Kris, Jasper and I played together in an oldschool hardcore band. The drummer and a guitar player left, but we felt like continuing playing together, so we just grew out of the style of playing simple chords. Luckily, we were into bands like Isis, Cave In, Neurosis, etc., and so we had the idea of starting a band that was related with those bands. Jasper and I knew Thijs Goethals (bass) since we were 8 years old or so, and Kris knew Davy Vanden Broecke (drum) from another previous band he had. We asked them, they came jamming and there was chemistry. We played for 2 years in that line-up and while we started to write on Ionesco we added Tim Gyselbrecht to the line-up who did keyboards, samples and clean vocals. With those 6 members we wrote and recorded also A Sign of Time. Unfortunately Tim & Thijs couldn't combine new jobs, re-building houses, kids & family so they stepped out of the band without ever playing the new songs once after they got released. We see them every now and then at one of our shows, and those are still the best hangouts we can think off. Luckily, we found Yannick Dumarey as our new bass player. He's amazingly good, motivated, so we can't wait to create some new stuff with this new Maudlin member.
Susan: I noticed one item under "Band Interests" on Facebook is "vintage instruments." Any awesome pieces you care to brag about?
Davy: Some Fender Telecasters, some Sound City amps and speakers, Ludwig Vistalite amber plexi drumkit, Gibson Marauder guitar.
Susan: It's nice to see that in addition to hard working musicians you also remain metal FANS. Looks like you guys went to Roadburn! I'm quite jealous. What bands did you see?
Roadburn is a yearly tradition, and yes it is as amazing as everyone thinks. Some highlights: The Pretty Things, Goat, Electric Wizard, Amenra, Cult Of Luna. But above all it's a great hangout, seeing those guys that you only see once in a while but that you somehow feel connected to, good times!
Susan: I see you're playing Ieperfest this summer with some pretty epic bands. What else is coming up for you guys?
We hope there is a lot more coming up for us. We play some more festivals as Gentse Feesten, which is pretty big, but we just love every show, we just hope that our calendar gets pretty full, we just love to play out live, doesn't matter when or where, we're down to make some noise.
Susan: How did you choose the band name Maudlin?
We played for 2 months, had a couple of songs and got a gig offered with The White Circle Crime Club, an amazing Belgian band. The next day we needed a name, because they wanted to print posters and flyers ASAP. So we came up with some band names, the best we found that night was Maudlin, coming from the Old English expression 'maudlin eyes' which described the eyes of Maria Magdalena when she took Christ off his cross. We felt that that description fit the music, so ever since we got stuck to this band name. Not the best name in the world, but there are worse names around, so that's ok.
Susan: Thanks so much for answering!
Thanks for asking!
Posted on 22.05.2013 by
Susan appreciates quality metal regardless of genre. Metal Storm Staff since 2006.
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