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Theatres Des Vampires - Interview

Interview with: Sonya Scarlet
Conducted by: Miguel

Theatres des Vampires, the Italian gothic metal veterans are back with a new album, Candyland, out now through Scarlet Records. The band was formed back in 1994, always deeply inspired by vampirism, but at that time they played some kind of symphonic black metal, influenced by the likes as Cradle Of Filth. Their new album, already their 11th full-lenght, a follow up to 2011's Moonlight Waltz, is inspired by a room of the infamous Pennhurst asylum in Pennsylvania, a room which was different from all the others, with coloured walls and bars on the windows, described as hell on earth by the patients of the facility, where adults and children with severe mental problems have been hidden from the public eye for decades. Candyland was the name of that room. Obsession, horror and madness characterizes Theatres des Vampires latest work, their sound is forceful and sensual at the same time, pervaded with those wistful and melancholic bursts which the band is renowned for. Miguel did an interesting interview with bands frontwoman Sonya Scarlet who revealed many interesting background things about the band and new album.

Miguel: Hi Sonya, can you explain to our reader how it all started with Theatres des Vampires?
Thank you Miguel for the interview and for your support to Theatres des Vampires! Everything started more than 20 years ago... Time run so fast when you love something. Theatres des Vampires was formed in 1994. All the members since the beginning expressed a special fascination with vampires and anything connected to them. During our career, we were first primarily influenced by symphonic black metal, but later tended to including differing influences, including classical music, opera, darkwave, deathrock, gothic rock and several industrial subgenres. Throughout this stylistic deviation, a few characteristics of our band's music have remained consistent; melancholic atmospheres and dark lyrics, vocal stylings akin to gothic metal, and our vampiric image. I joined the band in 2000 ad backing vocalist and since 2004 I remained the lead vocalist and front of the band.
Miguel: Why the name Theatres des Vampires and what does it mean?
Sonya: The name "Theatres des Vampires" was inspired by a fictional location created by gothic fantasy writer Anne Rice of the same name. Rice's Theatres des Vampires is a Parisian theatre in which vampires pretend to be mortal actors. Their performances consisting of the feeding on mortals disguised as part of a play and staged in front of human audiences. The location is mentioned in several of Rice's books, including the movie Interview With the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. We all have a great passion for vampirism and I think our kind of gothic metal is perfectly linked with this attitude... in all our albums we create an obscure atmosphere, sometimes more symphonic, sometimes more violent but you can always feel a melancholy that drives our songs.
Miguel: There were quite some line-up changes inside the band...
Sonya: It was really crazy and busy period for us, we spent the last 5 years doing our last tour in South America, writing the new album and researching a new balance inside the band after these important changes. 3 years ago Fabian decided to leave the band to follow his private life and personal interests. We are still great friends after all these years we spent together! He was a very important member of Theatres des Vampires and the co-founder of the band and a great composer. We took different roads always respecting each other. The same happened with Stephan, he needed to be coherent and to follow the style he liked more, he comes from a black metal background and he needed to find his own way to express himself in the best way, so all of us thought it was the best thing to do to let him follow his desires and to let him concentrate on his excellent project: Shadowthrone. We totally accepted his decision and he also is a great friend of us. About Giorgio, we had the pleasure to work with him some years ago during our partecipation to Gothic Treffen festival in leipzig where he played with us as a session. He is also a close friend of us so we thought the best chioce was having him in the band as a member after our split with Stephan. He is a friend but also a very talented musician. We Are really happy to have Giorgio in the family!

Miguel: What everything influences your music and lyrics?
Sonya: Everything can inspire us. Feelings, literature, music, paintings, poetry, novels, novels about vampires... Our last album is inspired by that true story about Pennhurst asylum, but not only by that. I love to explore human fears, the dark side of our world and of our mind and I love every form of art. I travel a lot and I like going to see museums and reading books, I'm inspired by everything that surrounds me, by life itself with its emotions.
Miguel: Please tell us more about your new album Candyland, what are the main differences if compared with previous ones?
Sonya: It is really difficult to compare two different albums like Moonlight Waltz and Candyland because in this moment the band's attitude is not the same like it was some years ago. This is not something new for us because every time we release a new album We need to give something new to our fans. We do not want to be a pale copy of ourself just because something sounds good and we don't want to follow any trends. We just want to be ourself and we want to follow our emotions and our state of mind, sharing these with our audience. As you know, after a long stop of more than 3 years there have been many changes within the band, we found a new balance and a new strong energy with a renewed line-up. We wanted to show it with a bloody new album and with a powerfull sound! Our producer Christian Ice and me, together with the band, have worked hard everyday on the new album. After our split with Fabian we arranged the new songs starting from a different point of view, no more from the keyboard lines but from my lyrics, arranging on them, on their meaning and on the rhythm of my words the whole album. So, what came out was a powerfull sound with great guitar’s riffs, surely different from the previous works. Candyland is powerfull and violent in some songs, probably more than in the last 3 albums. It is a smash on your face, it is aggressive but never loosing our Theatres des Vampires attitude... in other tracks it is full of orchestral  sounds, it’s really a travel inside our fears, something out of control, it is the voice of the lost souls driven by the damned sweet melancholy that I love so much.
Miguel: What are your expectations for this new album?
Sonya: We think that Candyland is one of our best works so far and we gave our best to arrange it. The main and most important thing for us is to do always what we believe and what we feel. You can find all those emotions inside Candyland that drove us during the last 5 years. I just want to share those feelings with our fans and embrace them once again with our music. We do our music because we love it and because we love to share it with our fans. There is no better goal than sliding inside the dark souls of all of them!
Miguel: Is there some kind of a special concept for Candyland?
Sonya: Everything started 3 years ago, I was always interested in ghost stories and hunted places, especially the ruined orphanages and abandoned asylums. The name of the new album is inspired by a room, different from all others, with colored walls and bars on the windows. A room described as hell on earth by in-patients of the infamous Pennhurst asylum in Pennsylvania, where for decades adults and children with severe mental problems where hidden away from the public eye. A sad but alas true story, and the patients themselves renamed that room - with its brightly colored walls from which nobody could leave - Candyland. Candyland is a journey through the corridors of the asylum, through the dread of those who - locked away inside the bulwarks of Pennhurst - were left to live in the lone company of their deepest and most harrowing fears, told through their words, accompanied by their cry of desperation. Never to be understood. Never to be free. Never to be truly alive. Every song has it’s own scary story. It is a concept album but just in its half part. Some tracks are linked with mental illnes, others are ghosts or scary stories. The last one, "Autumn Leaves", is linked in part with vampires theme, even if it is not so explicit. I needed to explore different themes and give to our fans a great new sound after a so long stop.
Miguel: How it is the music scene in Italy, specially in Rome?
Sonya: We have many talented bands here in Italy that are growing up, lot of good musicians and it is a really good thing but I think  Italy is not the best place to have a really big audience for that kind of music. Lot of people, organizators, labels, managements work hard everyday to not let metal die here, believing in their important work which is absolutely precious to continue to have  metal bands touring in our country. Here in Rome there has always been a metal scene, many bands and some clubs where you can still go to see metal gigs. But talent shows are killing the real music day by day and it is so bad seeing new generations listening to that kind of horrible music, it's something fake, just studied for big masses, totally empty and without meaning. It really sucks and makes me upset. I'm really old styled in that way like all of you, luckly, we want to see metal and rock  bands on stage and not that terrible music in a commercial TV show. Anyway we are many and many Italian people that loves and play metal and we will always support Italian metal scene playing bloody gigs here.
Miguel: What are your plans for the future?
Sonya: We really hope to have the chance to play all around the world spreading our vampiric music and we wish to play also in new countries we've never been before! We would like to meet all our fans from different Places. And taste their blood! Watch out guys! Vampires are back!
Miguel: What is your opinion about Portugal? I heard that you guys already visited us, at least in Porto and at Mangualde Hard Metal Fest...    
Sonya: Yes, we played in Portugal twice and I'm waiting for the third time! We enjoyed lot to play in your beautiful country. People there are really involved in metal music and very hot and crazy! We really love you guys! We hope to come back again in the near future! But Portugal is not only amazing for music scene, it's amazing for its culture, architecture, culture. And good wine! I think I will come back soon also for a holiday to enjoy totally Portugal and its tradition. I'm planning it!
Miguel: Anything you would like to add or say that I haven't asked?
Sonya: Yes, while talking about Portugal I want to tell you that we have the participation of Fernando Ribeiro from Moonspell as special guest on "Seventh Room" song from Candyland album. I've always loved Moonspell, they are a great band. Fernando has a great and particular voice and he is an amazing frontman. I thought our two bands walked on the same way without ever meeting, it was the right time to do it and to cross our dark paths. Fernando is really a kind person and really professional. When I asked him about a special guest on our new album he was happy about this new collaboration, as all the great artist he loves to share and to try new things with music. It’s a great honour and pleasure having his voice on our last work. About the song, it is ispired by the Masque of the Red Death of E.A. Poe and it is one of my favorites from the new album.
Miguel: Thanks for your time and great answers Sonya.
Sonya: Thank you Miguel! Blood is life!

Theatres des Vampires links: Official website, Facebook