Published on Friday, 31 May 2013 19:17
Interview with: Silenius, Protector
"The windy years have strewn down distant ways; and in the halls still doth thy spirit sing songs of old memory amid thy present tears, or hope of days to come half sad with many fears."
There's no need to write who Summoning are and talk about how much influence and inspiration they've given to so many bands. One thing is sure, they have probaly no competition within the bleak atmospheric metal genre. After seven years of silence the mighty Austrian duo returns with one of the best albums in their long career, again with their unique sonic interpretation of Middle-earth sagas that will take a listener on an outstanding adventure. Old Morning Dawn offers eight epic tracks, all very rich in atmosphere, but the things ain't over here... Terra Relicta had an oportunity to do an exclusive interview with both members, Silenius and Protector, who shared a lot of interesting informations about their seventh studio album Old Mornings Dawn, future plans, personal informations and much more. Enjoy in this insightful interview.
T.R.: Seven years have passed since your masterwork Oath Bound, was there not enough inspiration the reason that your new album is done only now?
Silenius: For a very long time I absolutely had no inspiration at all. I did not know how to continue with Summoning, somehow I thought everything was said with the band and no new aspects could be found. I even thought of finishing the Summoning chapter. Meanwhile Protector composed some new song material and there was a kind of thinking of letting him release a mini CD on his own, but somehow we dropped this idea again. Later I started to work for the third Kreuzweg Ost CD to get my head free. In that time this band had much more importance for me than Summoning. And then came a heart infarct that nearly caused death. I think this was a kind of turning point. Since then Summoning all at once was important again and with small steps i started to compose again.
T.R.: A heart infarct? I hope that everything is fine with your health now?
Silenius: Seeing it from nowadays it also has a positive aspect. Since I reconvalesenced I did not smoke anymore, I did not drink too much alcohol and I did not eat too much junk food anymore. And btw, this infarct was a turning point for me to get into Summoning again and to compose for this band which led to Old Mornings Dawn finally. But of course in this time when I had the infarct it was no fun at all. My advantage was to reach the hospital very soon. In other cirumstances this would have caused me death of course.
T.R.: I'm so impressed from what I'm hearing, but how are you satisfied with the final result of Old Mornings Dawn?
Protector: We are of course again very satisfied and consider it as the best so far. That's actually our demand on each new album. We are satisfied because we could again change a lot of elements inside each song, but still keep the new album typically Summoning styled. It's easy to sound like a copy of the previous release, but it's also easy to pretend some kind of originality by switching the style completely. We prefer to combine changes and consequence in the best possible way. The strengt new album are the higher polyphonie and ritcher details in each song, as well as the more clear sound, that was necessary to make all those details transparent. Also the guitars changed a lot and sounds now more direct and raw, but still transports a lot of musical information.
T.R.: Because of catchiness of majority of new songs, I see Old Mornings Dawn to continue where "Land Of The Dead" from Oath Bound finished and some structures reminded me of great "The Glory Dissapears" from Stronghold?
Silenius: To be honest I see the new CD not as a continuation of Oath Bound but quite the contrary. While Oath Bound had a more heroical touch like riding into a battle with swords held up high, the mood of the new one is a more melancholical one. A mixture between wonderlust and riding home from a battle, wounded and exhausted, but knowing your time will come again one day. But of course everyone has different feelings. That's a matter of personal taste.
T.R.: You're right and that's the reason that I mentioned "Land Of The Dead", as I find that song also very melancholic. But, can we say that Old Mornings Dawn in a way reflects the things that are going on in the society of today?
Silenius: No, absolutely not. When we are composing, everyday life problems or present politics play no role. Even the melancholical mood of the album was not planned, it just happened.
T.R.: But, are you interested or do you follow politics and other critical things that are going on especially in Europe today?
Silenius: Of course I'm very interessted in present politics. I love to read newspapers and usually I buy the two most known papers of Austria. I build up my own ideas on different subjects and depending to the subject my opinion goes sometimes in this and sometimes in that direction. But personally I'm not politicaly active.
T.R.: I was wondering who's behind the choirs on new album? And I can hear that you were experimenting even more than before with vocal lines?
Protector: Like on the previous albums we recorded the choirs on our own, and you are right we experimented more with them and took more time for them. This time I tried different styles (one more silent, one more strong, one more rough etc.) and mixed them all together with Silenius voices for the final result. Later I added some effects to make the final result even more choir styled.
T.R.: The production plays an important role, who was behind it and how the recording process went?
Protector: This time the production and the song writting was more like one process. Unlike in the past when I started to work on the sound at the end. I was constantly checking the right sound while adding new melodies. The final result was that this time the sound is more clear and with less reverb. The main focus this time was to let the listener hear each small detail as clear as possible. That was also the reason why we made the guitars deeper than in the past. Now they interfere less with the other melodies.
T.R.: I believe that many Summoning fans are wondering which instruments, machines and programs are used in the making of your album?
Silenius: Protector has lots of sound libaries to choose from. This time we wanted to integrate more varied sounds and samples of more unknown instruments from all over the world. It simply became boring just to use the usual trumpet and horn sounds all the time. We also used some simple selfmade field recordings of different everyday noises. We modulated the soundsource and integrated it in the drum or keyboard sounds and melodies. The funny thing is that Protector always has to borrow a guitar from someone to play for the album. Since Dol Guldur every album is played on different borrowed guitars. I guess he will never buy one for his own.
T.R.: I got really stunned with and can't stop listening to the song "Caradhras"! Can you give me a bit more of an insight into this marvelous piece of art?
Silenius: In the moment we are working on an acoustic remix of this song with some female spoken words in the black speech. Together with an acoustic version of "Old Mornings Dawn", both songs will be presented on 7inch for the planned ear book edition of Old Mornings Dawn. The original version was put together from riffs of two different songs. As far as I remember we changed a lot of riffs until it came to the final version. In the end it sounded like a normal Summoning song, but then we radically changed the sounds and all at once it had this special Irish touch, that leads me to the idea that this sound can discribe a landscape. Or a mountain...
T.R.: You started with Summoning in 1993, and now after all this years and seven albums behind you, how do you look back at those times, would you do anything different?
Silenius: We never thought of changing anything if we would have the possibility, because this makes no sense. All the releases are statements from the time they have been released and they are also statements of the musical skills and feelings we had in that time. So there is no remorse because each band has to go its way through time.
T.R.: Is there any special meaning in album title Old Mornings Dawn?
Silenius: This term comes from a Tolkien poem called "City of Present Sorrow", which originally was meant to be as a kind of tribute to the English town Oxford. This poem was written in a time when the first world war still was raging and middle earth was not shaped yet, but even within the lyrical skills of Tolkien in that time one can imagine what will come in future. A kind of fantasy shape is already present there.
T.R.: What can you tell me about the lyrics of yours, do you follow the thematics from your previous albums?
Silenius: Three songs more or less deal with the story and legend of Eärendil the mariner, half man half eldar, ancestor of the kings of Numenor, with the Silmaril on his forehead he became an immortal star. Two songs deal with the poem "City of Present Sorrow" and "The Town of Dreams". These poems are very old poems of Tolkien. The rest we took from different poems, from different unknown authors which we have woven together with the Tolkiens universe.
T.R.: You use kind of special form of English grammar in your lyrics, anything about that?
Silenius: This is an old form of English. The reason of that is because we use very old poems from Tolkien and he simply has written them in this kind of English. But I like this, it sounds more noble.
T.R.: Which language is used in the intro song "Evernight"?
Silenius: The language is old Quenya. It's from a poem of Tolkien called "Firiel's Song" which was written in 1940. T.R.: Each album artwork in your discography is having thematics from Tolkiens Middle Earth. Who did it for Old Mornings Dawn and can you give us some background about it?
Silenius: To be honest; most of the newer cover layouts have no direct connection to Tokiens Middle Earth, but have been done by painters of the romantic times. In our case it's very important for me to have cover layouts which transport wide untouched landscapes, instead of overcrowded covers with fighting orks, warriors, monsters etc. So the listener can activate his own fantasy to build up personal advantures by looking to the covers. This time we used a cover painting by George Hetzel and the frame around was painted by W.T.Benda. Both of them are romantical paiters and the same goes for the paintings in the booklet.
T.R.: You said, when we did the interview for Kreuzweg ost, that you have much more songs than needed for an album. So, are you going to surprise us with any special release in the near future?
Silenius: Yes, we have about six unreleased songs from the Old Mornings Dawn session that will be released only on vinyl next year. We also give the people an overlook of Summoning releases during this and next year, so that they know what to expect. Soon to be found on our homepage at the news.
T.R.: Can you share some words about those unreleased songs and the vinyl you mentioned?
Silenius: The plans we have for this and next year: first of all there will be an ear book edition of Old Mornings Dawn, with a different cover layout, a 24 pages booklet and a vinyl single with the two before mentioned tracks. In the end of the year Nightshade Forest and Oath Bound will be released on vinyl. Next year the Lost Tales will be released as a 10 inch vinyl with the two tracks from the ear book edition included and then we want to make a special vinyl release with the unreleased songs from the Old Mornings Dawn session. As they are unfinished we have to work on them as soon as we have time, so I can not say anything close to this now.
T.R.: There are really a lot of bands today who decide to release and re-release albums on vinyls. What do you think it's the main reason that vinyls became so popular and why did you decided to do it?
Silenius: I think the vinyl trend is a kind of reaction to all this download and mp3 thing that came up during the last 4 or 5 years and is displacing the CD. I think people started to think: if I spend money for music I want to have some high quality physical thing in my hands and in this case the vinyl of course winns over the CD.
T.R.: Do you buy normal CDs, vinyls or do you download music?
Silenius: I buy tons of CDs, some vinyls and do not download at all. In this case I'm too old fashioned.
T.R.: What was the last album that you bought?
Silenius: I can not remember the title. Usually I spend 200 € a month in buying new CDs from the Austrian "Steinklang" mailorder.
T.R.: Have you ever thought about recording with real orchestra?
Protector: No never. In contrary to many people who think that we only use keyboards because we can not afford to hire a full orchestra, I was always happy with the idea to use keyboards. In contrary, I was always proud to have this independance and not turn to a ridicolous clown like Metallica or Kiss that did some stupid orchester performances with their band, and giving their music a total commercial feeling. I think it's great that only we as band members were involved in our music and not some hired classical musicians who propably would have hated the music we forced them to play.
T.R.: I believe that every fan of yours is wondering if there will ever be a possibility to see Summoning on stage?
Silenius: No, this never will happen. Even if we would want to play live, we can not do so, simply because we are not experienced enough. We don't see ourseles as musicians but as composers. You have to imagine that we never practice; we only compose and when we have composed a riff or a melodie line, we immediately record it, and after we record it, it's out of our head again. So we are not skilled like live bands to practice a song over and over again. Nowadays every young school band would be better than us o a stage.
T.R.: If I'm not mistaken, you had female vocals only in the song "Where Hope And Daylight Die" from album Stronghold. Why didn't you used this approach more often?
Silenius: Because in that mentioned song everything sounded like gothic metal. We really hated this genre and so we did not want to do this again. The new female vocals are woven within the music like spoken word samples, and have a far better approach to our music.
T.R.: Summoning never did any official video clip so far. Have you ever thought about doing something in that direction, as many of your songs could be as a perfect soundtrack for some visual masterpiece?
Silenius: After the one minute teaser that was done very well and helped us a lot to be recovered again after such a long time of silence, Napalm had concrete plans to make a full clip out of this teaser with enhanced material. But we told the label that this has no preference for us in the moment. And so everything stoped in this case.
T.R.: So, there is a possibility of an actual video clip from Summoning? And if so, have you thought which song would you use for it?
Silenius: Napalm Records wanted to do a video clip. There was the idea to take the one minute teaser with enhanced material and make a full clip out of it. But in our opinion this has no priority in the moment and so we wont do it right now. Maybe we will think it over when we have our heads free.
T.R.: Beign for such a long time signed with Napalm Records, I believe that you must be satisfied with the work they're doing?
Silenius: I know Max and Karl nearly from the birth of the label in the early nineties. Eisenerz is just a one hour drive away from my hometown Neunkirchen. I visit Max quite often there. Meanwhile I also got introduced to some of the other guys from the label and of course this personal contact makes a lot of things easier and more comfortable. But we always have in mind that Napalm of course is a commercial acting label. If Summoning would not sell we are out.
T.R.: Contrary to many bands today, who put on social networks almost each step they take, you are not exposing yourselves. Still, can you tell me who are and what are Silenius and Protector doing in a real life?
Silenius: There is nothing special about us. We live a normal life, which other people would think to be very boring and conservative. Protector is a programmer and I still sell records in a shop.
T.R.: What's going on with Die Verbannten Kinder Evas? Everything is so silent since 2006...
Silenius: As far as I know he will not reactivate Die Verbannten Kinder Evas. Somehow he has lost all his interest on this. Only Ice Ages is still on an active status.
T.R.: Everything around Summoning is mostly about Tolkiens Middle-earth. Tell me what was the initial reason to start with this thematics and then to continue with it until today?
Silenius: I think the starting point was when we kicked out trifixion of our band and the compositions turned into an epic slow driven black metal music. We realised that we had to make a complete new concept because all the occult topics from our demos did not fit at all any longer, and as we already started to use some Tolkien influenced lyrics on Lugburz we made this topic to be the center of the future concept of Summoning.
T.R.: I suppose that you read Tolkiens books and other his works many times and deeply studied them?
Silenius: No, not really. I'm not a fanatic. I just have deep respect of his works and I'm a great fan, but I'm not that fanatical that I learn everything by heart.
T.R.: And what do you think about the movie adaptations of "Lord Of The Rings" and "Hobbit"?
Silenius: I really like them a lot. In contrary to many puritans I don't think that a one to one translation of the books would be the only right and acceptable thing to do. Peter Jackson was totally right to put his own vision and creativity into this movies because building up a special dramaturgy is very different between a book and a film.
T.R.: Today is very popular George R.R. Martin with his "A Song Of Ice And Fire", and TV series "Game Of Thrones". It has some similarities with Tolkien and I'm interested what do you think of his works?
Silenius: I have not seen the first one but we already have been asked that. About "Game Of Thrones", I only can say that I bought both DVDs from the first and second seasons, but I simply have no time in the moment to watch them. I hope I can do so in summer time, when I'll have more time. Maybe I find some cool new samples out of them.
T.R.: I know is a bit early to ask, but anyway... What can we expect next to be done, an album from Summoning or Kreuzweg Ost, or maybe are you having in mind any other project?
Silenius: In the moment I have absolutely no plans with Kreuzweg Ost. Oliver Stummer who did a lot of work for this project has emigrated to England, and I have no idea if he ever will come back or not. Next week I will make vocals for the second Abigor song for the 7inch single, that will be released on Avantgarde Music records soon, and hopefully I will make some session vocals again for Amesitigon later this year.
T.R.: Tell me how it feels to be in the band that can be counted as one of the most inspiring bands in the genre and has given influence to hundreds of bands?
Silenius: Of course I feel comfortable in the band and I'm quite happy of what I have reached with the band, but as I'm not really involved in the metal scene or in any other scene at all, and just have my very boring and conservative everyday life I don't realise too much how influential this or that may be for others.
T.R.: When listening carefully to your latest album I have a feeling that this album in its core it's not a metal album, except for some guitar riffs and vocals. I believe that you are not burdened with beign "black metal" or something at any cost?
Silenius: Although the new album is advertised by Napalm Records as "austrian epic black metal" this was of course not our decision, but the one of the label. Because we always made clear during the last ten years that Summoning still has black metal influences but of course is no black metal band any longer. And to be honest I'm not too happy with the term epic. Of course our music is epic, but this term has at least in my opinion a very negative feeling because you immediately think about bands like Nightwhish or Blind Guardian and we have nothing in common with them.
T.R.: How can a listener know which vocals belong to Protector and which ones to Silenius?
Protector: I think we both could not sing more different within the black metal style. While Silenius has a more traditional raspy sound focusing more on the rhythms and words of the songs, I have a more croaky voice, and follow more the melodies of the song. Specially on the last album I try to combine melodie with black metal roughness.
T.R.: How it's the work in Summoning divided, who does what (I think music, lyrics, programming,...)?
Silenius: When it comes to composition and the vocals the work is usually devided 50:50. In other fields Protector has of course more work to do. He is doing all the guitars, all the production work. Meanwhile I do the complete lyrical selection to find the right lyrics, songtitles, album titles, pictures for the cover and booklet, while Protector is putting it all together afterwards.
T.R.: Beside music, do you have any other passions in life?
Silenius: I really like to go out, running for hours through the country side, while listening to new music. Otherwhise I have no spectacular hobbies. Oh yes, there is one hobby: I spend a lot of money to complete my Masters Of The Universe collection from the 80s.
T.R.: Thank you very much for your time with answering. I'm really honoured, but is there anything that would you like to add or say to your fans?
Silenius: When the one minute teaser was put on YouTube, both, we and the label, totally have been astonished how many people watched it in a quite short time, so we are really thankfull that so many of our fans did not forget us and still want us to be alive. Thats really great and unexpected.
Summoning links: Official Website, Facebook
Summoning articles: Old Mornings Dawn review, Kreuzweg Ost interview (with Silenius)