Darkest Era | Interview
Freshly picked up by Metal Blade, an incredible new album on the shelves, and more importantly than any of this a glowing review from MI – it’s all going well for Darkest Era. They’re the next big hope for Irish Metal on the European stage, and with the quality of their songwriting, acclaim seems certain.
So what do they have to say for themselves? On the eve of the album’s release gig in Belfast, the band take some time out for a wide ranging and comprehensive chat with Donal McBrien.
Metal Ireland: So are we sitting comfortably?
Ade Mulgrew (Guitar): Yes, on one of my testes.
The other two alright?
Ade: Triple headed serpent.
David “DJ” Lindsay (Bass): For fuck SAKE! [laughing] Are we interviewing or talking about knobs?
Ade: Hopefully both.
So, guys, girls and DJ –
DJ: You stole my joke you cunt! I said that to Krum earlier!
- the album’s out, and the response has been great all round. How are you feeling now that the hard work has paid off?
Ade: Pretty good, it’s been a long time coming, we’ve been working towards this for quite a while. It’s weird, because we finished the album last September, so there’s been 4 or 5 months of sitting on it with nothing really happening, and then all of a sudden there’s reviews everywhere and a real buzz starts coming round.
So it’s a real feeling of achievement and accomplishment. We’re just taking stock and trying to figure out where to go from now. It’s good having our first album out, it’s definitely a good milestone in any band’s career.
Sarah Wieghell (Guitar): The album’s done, but there’s a lot of hard work to do. We’ve to promote it, gig, and whore ourselves round a little
The actual making’s the easy part?
Sarah: Yeah, you know where you are with that. We don’t know how it’s going to do as yet, obviously the reviews have been great, but you can’t rely on those alone. We have to get out there and show that we can do it live.
How did the recording go, any interesting stories or funny tales?
[All: Sinister laughing and giggling.]
DJ: Probably the recording as a whole. It went really well. It was great just getting over there, being completely isolated and completely focused on the recording itself. Chris Fielding the producer was an absolute star to work with, he really knew his job inside out. But as far as stories go, probably one of the best ones was Ade and his, emm, little “incident” with a couple of bees. He was chasing them about with a can of bodyspray and a lighter trying to get them and ending up setting the whole alarms off.
Ade [deadpan]: There were no bees dead.
Lisa Howe (Drums): There was a sort of theme going on as well, particularly DJ would try to catch Sarah and I out doing womanly chores like washing and cooking on the lawnmower -
Ade: Mowing the lawn, sweeping the floor, mopping the floor -
Sorry, cooking on the lawnmower?
Lisa: No, cooking and on the lawnmower!
Ah, it’s two sentences.
Ade: We tried to double her efficiency but y’know…
How much leeway did you give the producer? Did you keep total control, or did you defer to his experience much?
Ade: No, we were kinda open, especially in terms of production. We had a fair idea of what we wanted, and it was down to him to achieve it, as he was the engineer as well as the producer. He had some input in terms of the arrangements and the melodies, and he put a lot of natural reverb on the guitars to give it this whole organic atmosphere. It was definitely all about him in that respect, as none of us were studio engineers obviously, so we put across an idea of what we wanted to do, and he achieved it.
DJ: I definitely think we had a pretty defined idea of what we wanted when we went over there.
Lisa: But it turned out Chris has exactly the same idea anyway.
DJ: Chris had the same variety of ideas but he took them further than even I, personally, was imagining
Sarah: He was good for trying out stuff as well
DJ: There were still some things we wouldn’t have been willing to budge on or change about, but none of those things were anything Chris had even suggested changing anyway, so it was a real god connection between band and producer.
You were telling me before you had fun experimenting with the bass tracks?
DJ: Yeah, one thing I thought was really good was any other time we’ve been recording, because we’ve been under such a limited run of time recording the bass was generally just “Go in, get it done, that’s it.” But the extra time with Chris allowed me to do a lot more tonal experimentation – having clean and dirty tracks in there, different bits and pieces like that. Chris was great for different advice, plucking here, areas to change tonally there, playing softer or harder, and a critique on which one sounded better.
Ade: Basically it was just a lot more in-depth than we’ve ever had before.
Lisa: What I liked about Chris was he never said “You’re doing that wrong”, he’d say “Try this.”
Sarah: It was also interesting for Chris – it was the first time he’d ever recorded a bodhrán. He just said “Right, let’s see how this goes!” It was just so easy to him. Nothing really scared him, even when we were cutting close to the time and Krum’s voice was going, he didn’t get flustered.
Ade: That’s the thing, towards the end it was touch and go because Krum’s voice was starting to waver a bit, but it didn’t bother him at all, he just powered on and kept a level head, and that was really encouraging for us because if he had’ve freaked out and went “Oh, it’s all gone tits up”, we would have been like “Fuck – we’ve pissed it all down the drain.”
Another thing that went really well was we’d start early-ish in the morning, and he’d have still been going regularly till 2 the previous morning, and would still have fresh ears. Even at the end he mixed right through the night.
Sarah: He lost one of the guitar parts of mine.
Sarah: I DID record them! [laughs] He pulled me out of bed and got me to re-record them.
Ade: At 4 in the morning (and the session was supposed to be over at 8 in the morning), recording another guitar part! It was a fantastic experience overall – it made us up our game. If we had been to a lesser studio and had a lesser engineer/producer, I don’t think we’d have came out with the same record.
Whose idea was it for this particular nuance – the double bass kick in ‘To Face The Black Tide’ should be so overpowering, but it’s so lovely and understated?
Lisa: Well Chris and I worked together on getting the right drum sound. I knew what I wanted, but he knew what he was at. Everyone gave their opinion on what they felt needed to go up or down, but he was going for a more natural sound and it shouldn’t sound triggered in what we do, and it wasn’t. Part of it could be down to how I tune the drums. I spent a lot of time with different skins and spent a lot of money getting the kit up to scratch before I went over there, probably close to a thousand pounds trying out different things, double kicks.
Ade: She was trying out four skins before we left.
Lisa: I have a very natural bass drum sound that’s very fat and sounds good in what we do, and he just took that and cued it tight. He took samples of all the drums so he could use them for triggers for other bands that use them. But we spent about half a day just on the tuning of the kit and making sure that everything was right. It’s more important getting a good sound on the way in as there’s only so much editing you can do to make it sounds natural.
‘Poem To The Gael’ – totally unprecedented, and a bold move on a debut album, yet one that pays off massively as a great prelude to the title track. What was the rationale there?
Ade: We had always intended to put an acoustic track on there just because we thought it would add a lot to the general tone and dynamic of the album. It’s placed where it is for exactly as you say, as a prelude to the outro track. If you’ve noticed, ‘To Face The Black Tide’ ends on an unresolved note, it’s kinda hanging there and it feeds back, then melts into this acoustic song and then blasts into an epic, climactic part. That was exactly the way it was supposed to flow. We wanted an acoustic song on there because it shows all sides of us, we’re proud of it. It was myself and Sarah that wrote it a couple of days before we went to the studio.
Sarah: We just sat down one night and went “Okay, what riffs do we have?”, looped them, got some melodies going and had it pretty much written in one evening.
It’s so quintessentially Irish as well in the style of singing.
Ade: That was the idea as well. Before we had any lyrics or chords, we knew we wanted to start with an a capello harmonised vocal in the sean nós style and it went from there, we planned the melodies around the mood of it.
Sarah: We played around with a lot of melodies before Krum had even heard it.
Dwayne “Krum” Maguire (Vocals): I had a fair idea of what it would sound like at the studio and they said “Alright, here’s the lyrics, in you go.” [laughs]
Lisa: I think it shows a great side to Krum’s vocals, that’s he’s not just a metal singer, he’s very diverse.
Krum: I have a heart really.
DJ: Even before we’d recorded ‘The Oaks Sessions’ we had planned there to be an acoustic song on there, and at that stage we’d decided there’d be an a capella intro to it.
Ade: It was a risk to some extent on your first album, but we kinda knew that. But that’s also the reason why we did it, to push the boundary a wee bit.
It shows a touch of maturity too.
Ade: Yeah, and confidence in what you’re doing. We followed it with an outro track that lasted eleven minutes and has three parts.
How come the Darkest Era logo isn’t on the CD? It’s just in a standard font.
Ade: The logo’s on the CD itself, but it’s not on the cover because it didn’t fit in with the design we went for. We would have worked it in if it had’ve fitted, but the artwork was thrashed out with Paul McCarroll over the course of a month and we worked very closely with him trying to find something that would stylistically fit the music and work with the themes and tones of the album. It’s difficult because we’re playing a style that’s very dark and atmospheric, but also purely heavy metal, so we couldn’t have anything that was too abstract and dark, because we don’t have the fan base yet. If someone picks up the CD, it needs to be representative of what’s actually on it, so with that in mind, once we got the design of the Morrigan, and putting the border round it, putting the logo on it just wouldn’t work.
Why didn’t you title the album ‘The Morrigan’? It seems to be quite central.
Lisa: It’s not quite as relevant to us any more. It’s still very much one of our songs and part of who we are, but the last written songs are more a reflection of where we’re going.
Ade: Yeah, and the themes of ‘The Morrigan’ aren’t really representative of the album as a whole whereas on ‘The Last Caress Of Light’ they are. That sort of song is allegorical for everything that runs through the record, so it made more sense to title it after that.
What brief did you give Paul concept-wise?
Ade: Brief? “Paul, we have no fucking idea what we want.”
Sarah: He had such a short time to get it done, as he had his exhibition coming up, so when we sent him some lyrics, he liked the idea of the mythology of the Morrigan. So we sent images back and forth to get the right atmosphere. It was him who had the idea of the serpent round the neck of the woman.
DJ: It represents the transition of the Morrigan from her female form into her serpent form.
Speaking of the serpent, I notice it’s green on the front but orange on the back. Is that a nod to the Irish metal cross-community?
DJ: YES. That’s exactly the reason. Because our music is inclusive!
Ade: Myself and Sarah took the reins on that, with her being an artist, she’d be able to speak with a bit more authority on what we want. So Paul put through a whole bunch of ideas, he had the record and the lyrics, and Sarah found a couple of works that were painted in the style that we were looking at. Then Paul found a drawing of a woman which became the style used for the Morrigan. I found this old celtic artifact which was like a spiral serpent, and it went from there.
How come you didn’t use Sarah as the artist?
Sarah: It’s SO much stress and I didn’t have the time, as I’m in third year in Uni.
Ade: The label wanted the luxury of being able to outsource. The Nemesis artworks are some of my favourite artworks, but we wanted to get some fresh eyes on the band and have somebody new doing this piece for us. We wanted somebody new doing the entire package because we’d done the digipacks for ‘The Oaks Sessions’ and ‘The Journey Through Damnation’ ourselves, and it was so stressful because none of us are graphic designers. The logo’s still Sarah’s design though.
Sarah: Even with ‘The Oaks Sessions’, getting Elaine Cooney to do it was great; having her show up with a painted artwork was great.
Why didn’t you include ‘On The Crest Of Doom’ or ‘Battle Of Cul Dreimne’ on the album?
Sarah: ‘Battle Of Cul Dreimne’ is shit.
Ade: That’s lies.
DJ: I don’t think they would have flowed as well on the album as the tracks we did choose. There’s a very natural transition from start to finish on the album and I can’t think of anywhere the other tracks would have fitted in.
Lisa: If ‘Poem For The Gael’ hadn’t have been there I would have liked to have had ‘Another World Awaits’ for a ballady sort of song.
How are things going with Metal Blade?
Ade: Pretty good. We had a number of offers on the table before we signed to Metal Blade, but we knew that they were interested in what the band was doing and had the same ambition we had for the whole thing. The press campaign for the album was just fantastic. We were in pretty much every magazine in Europe, interviews in pretty much every major metal magazine in Europe as well. They’ve really been pushing it – they haven’t allowed it to slide out from under us. It’s been really encouraging; a really good start for us.
DJ: One big thing for us was when we were talking things over with Metal Blade, they had no interest in taking over any creative control, they were confident enough in our music and didn’t try to create a watered-down version of what we were. Personally, I wouldn’t have had any interest in a label with a lesser degree of respect for bands than that. There’s definitely respect from Metal Blade for the bands on their roster.
So you’re optimistic despite all the contractual horror stories you hear from other bands?
Ade: Well, having Alan Averill as A&R, we knew that he could vouch for them. He’s been through enough labels and horrors to know a good deal. So I don’t really fear that at all based on our experience with him so far. To be honest, once we signed they didn’t put any pressure on us to get into the studio – it was a self-imposed pressure as the guys had Uni coming up in September and we thought “Fuck it, there’s a gap coming up here where we can do what we want so let’s just do it” and they were “Right, here’s the money.”
DJ: They actually rushed the money ahead. There should have been a much longer time, with notice for this and that, and if we had’ve been following it strictly by the book we wouldn’t have gotten into the studio in time. They were more than willing to help us along and rush the money forward.
Sarah: If we hadn’t have went into the studio then, we wouldn’t have been able to record until the end of May just because of Uni.
What kind of values do the band support? What are your core beliefs?
Ade: Well none of us are religious for a start.
DJ: I think it’s ridiculous for someone playing this sort of music to weigh in with the whole “Anti-Christian, anti-this, anti-that” thing.
Ade: It’s not something that affects Darkest Era. In terms of the lyrics I’m interested in pre-patrician Celtic society. It’s an interesting topic, and it permeates the writing. The mythologies, folklore, history and heritage are really interesting – none of us are Pagan or Wiccan or anything – but it’s an interest in old religions in general.
Irish mythology is a huge influence, yet it’s the relatively obscure myths that are referenced, more abstractly than overtly. There’s no mention of Cúchulainn, Balor, the Bean Sídhe, and nary a Formorian to be seen. How come?
Ade: In ‘The Morrigan’ there’s some fairly obvious references there, but that’s because the content’s explicitly about that. We’re never going to be a band that writes specifically about Celtic myths and re-tells stories.
Sarah: We wanted atmosphere, which is why we chose the name Darkest Era, looking at that dark era; that dark passage in time –
Watch that GUITAR!!!!!
Lisa: Holy SHIT!!!
[Huge crash and twanging racket as a stand with Ade’s guitar held in it built into a heavy speaker is toppled over by the ghosts of false metal. The headstock of a gorgeous unfinished flame burst Gibson Les Paul is broken a week before the big album launch, and emotions and anger levels are running high. As the damage, both physical and emotional is assessed, hasty plans and phone calls are made for repairs. Metal Ireland offers to finish the interview at a later date, but Ade insists that we continue.]
Ade: Fucking FLAPS. Let’s continue on.
What comes first, the concept or the music?
Ade: Music, pretty much. Most of the songs basically come from ideas that either me or Sarah have on guitar, riffs or chord progressions, and we jam them out as a band.
Sarah: Some tracks are pure concept, like ‘The Last Caress Of Light’, was planned to have three movements. And ‘Poem To The Gael’ was concept from the start.
Lisa: The rest of the songs were just jammed out, with a mixture of the two to see what works best for us.
Sarah: Music-wise I don’t think one’s stronger than the other, they’re just a means to an end and I don’t think you should stick to just one methodical writing style.
Lisa: I think it’s always good to jam because things will sound more natural, because that’s where a concept can become quite bland and predictable.
Sarah: When you have a particular style of writing it’s always best to upgrade yourself’ take yourself out of the comfort zone and start something completely new.
DJ: I think for some bands writing to a formula works, but it doesn’t suit the music we play. We need to have a continuous evolution through the music and the only way to do that is to take yourself out of your comfort zone.
Alright, the Primordial thing. To be honest I’m not hearing a huge debt to them, barring the guitar work in ‘An Ancient Fire Burns’ and ‘Heathen Burial’. Does it annoy you to be compared to them so much just by wont of being Irish?
Ade: It’s annoying when that’s all people pick up on, and don’t scratch the surface any deeper. It seems to completely split opinion – Primordial are an influence on us, we don’t make any secrets of that, but we’ve tried to do something completely different, and we’ve got a more Heavy metal spirit; a more Celtic atmosphere. I think it’s a bit of a cop out to draw Primordial comparisons all the time.
I’m hearing more While Heaven Wept and Old Season in there if anything.
Ade: Yep, there would be, especially in the later tracks like ‘Last Caress’, you couldn’t really say that there’s any Primordial in there really.
Sarah: If you hear for example American rock bands, they sound like American rock bands; there are cultural constraints no matter where you come from. There are a lot of Irish bands that play different genres like Doom or Heavy, but they all fit in together because they have that sweeping atmospheric sound, and that seems to be a thing Irish bands go for. You’d know an Italian band when you heard one – they have that whole loud sweeping “Woaoaoaoaoaoaaaaaaaa!!!” vocals.
DJ: It’s lazy journalism.
Lisa: I don’t generally mind the comparison, but when Ciarán Tracey said “She has been listening to Primordial”, I totally disagreed with that. Primordial are a really great band, but what has helped us get here is down to Alan. I have in no way studied their playing or tried to make it work in what we do. It just happens to be some of our rhythms and some of our atmospheres are similar. My influences are from bizarre to acoustic whatever, they’re all over the place.
What are your non-metal influences?
Lisa: Everything from Soul Coughing, which is basically jazzy grunge, Tom Waites or Nick Cave. I play a lot of Latin American and Jazz. There’s a lot of punk stuff as well, and I’m at a lot of hardcore gigs. It really is all over the place – my influences are a lot removed from what you’d expect.
Lyrically, it’s the forlorn romanticism of Warning combined with the defiant glory of Manowar. How much of an influence have either band been?
Ade: The comparison’s pretty spot on, that’s a fair thing to say. I wouldn’t say I’m lyrically influenced by Manowar [laughs] although I did get a sword in there. Warning, I love ‘Watching From A Distance’, it’s one of my favourite records of all time, and I do like the lyrics on that, but I wouldn’t take influence from it directly. Those are fair things to say though – the romanticism is the key thing, you’ve just summed it up perfectly, a fist in the air, defiant romantic battle cry.
A ‘Dark Romanticism’ you might say?
Ade: Yeah, pretty much, except away from the Primordial thing!
Ade: The lyrical style definitely takes influence from the Celtic mythology, the old Celtic poems and folklore, and also the Romantic poets. I’m very much into the use of imagery, such as Yeats and Oscar Wilde used, and Tennyson in particular. I actually studied Tennyson is school, and he used dark imagery quite heavily, and that’s something I’ve been really interested in, and it’s found its way into the lyrics.
My favourite phrase about the Gaelic people is “All of their fights were happy, and all of their songs were sad.” The majority of your songs have a beautiful sense of melancholia, so who’s the tidiest in a scrap?
Ade: One of the girls!
DJ: End of story. Lisa.
Lisa: I’ve never been in a fight in my life.
Sarah: You could arm wrestle anyone.
Lisa: I may have man arms, but I’m not that strong.
Sarah: You’re stronger than me. [To Ade] But I beat you once.
Ade: Oh dear Christ. Let’s move on. The girls, definitely.
The metal scene in Fermanagh, even a decade ago, was practically non existent. Yet now there are more and more bands arising from there. What do you think prompted an honest-to-jaysus Scene to arise?
Ade: That’s the best question I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s fucking incredible.
DJ: A lot of it was down to the formation of the EMC, which was the Erne Music Collective, formerly the Fermanagh Music Collective. Through that gigs were set up, and once they started to happen, kids started showing up, and all of a sudden they became interested and wanted to play there themselves. Once you see that in front of you every week or every two weeks, you get a longing to be up there yourself, and that helped grow the seed.
Sarah: I suppose the first band we would have all seen was Fractured, the very early Setting Off Sirens. The Watch came out after that, and we liked them.
Lisa: At the minute there’s a lot of bands wanting to play Fermanagh, and we’re not able to put on enough gigs. It’s quite a healthy scene.
Sarah: When Sorrowfall came down there were always good crowds.
What bands from Fermanagh do you rate?
Lisa: Well, Visceral Attack were originally Fermanagh lads.
DJ: They’d be one of the most up-and-coming bands from Fermanagh. Personally I’m not a big fan of thrash, but I’m really digging what Visceral Attack are doing. Setting Off Sirens, from the punk scene –
Lisa: They’ve signed to Fuck Off And Die Records. Momma’s Slippers are doing really well too.
DJ: They’re only like 15 or so, but they’re well worth checking out.
Ade: The thing about the Fermanagh scene is that it’s a real kind of an anomaly. It’s so small, but with such a wide range of bands playing. It’s kinda strange.
Lisa: Gargantuan are also a band to look out for. Those guys are really getting good at death metal.
DJ: Florida style death metal, very Morbid Angel. They’ll be making waves across the country pretty soon.
Ade: The problem is, people leave the country, go to Uni and such, and things fall apart. There’s a limited amount of time for a band to really get its teeth into something. We were lucky, because we started to make progress before we all left school, whereas if we started later it wouldn’t have worked.
Ah, so education in metal is the problem.
Sarah: Well people tend to run away from Enniskillen as quick as they can.
So how did you react to punter feedback in the Nemesis days?
Ade: Well we’ve always done our own thing in a sense, when the first demo came out it got some great praise in the True metal circles in Greece and Germany. But as we matured and started listening to more music and became more confident in songwriting, with a more focused idea of what we really wanted to do musically it became clear it wouldn’t be the straight-up True metal thing that the early demo was. It wasn’t going to follow that path even though that’s where all the attention was. Even then we had the courage to do what we really wanted to do, which was taking the darker, more epic path. People at the time didn’t really dig that.
DJ: For all of us, writing and playing music’s a personal thing, it’s not about being told how it should sound.
Lisa: We’ve never tried to cater to other people’s tastes.
DJ: It’s completely about the artistic vision that we have, and if people like that then great, but if they don’t, well we’re still going to keep on doing it, even if it means playing in a shed to half a person.
Who’s the arse kicking Steve Harris of the band and who’s the feckless, bumbling Ozzy?
DJ: Ade is both!
Lisa: We call him Hitler.
[The band break into a surprisingly tuneful version of the Dad’s Army theme tune]
DJ: Yeah, it’s definitely Ade!
Lisa: Krum would have to be the Ozzy of the band, he’s always going “Eh? Eh?”
Primordial, Waylander, Cruachan, Mael Mordha and Runecaster all use the fearsome woad paint and battle paint onstage – was this ever a temptation? You used to wear the spiky black hand of Ulster…
Ade: The raped by a chimney sweep look?
DJ: We liked the idea of the woad, but we consciously avoided the blue paint because we didn’t want to be immediately compared with those bands, as they’d been doing it for such a long time, had a fanbase, and we didn’t want to be lumped in as the new version of that band, especially when we sound nothing like a lot of them.
Ade: We had the black paint because we liked the ritualistic idea of preparing for going on stage. The other use woad for preparing for battle, but for practical reasons, a lot of the time we didn’t have any time or space to do it properly. We also felt it was a bit superfluous; we didn’t need it.
Sarah: We wanted to go on stage, what’s the word, naturalistic?
Lisa: So you want us to go on naked?
Sarah: No! I don’t mean that, just get on stage with the anger and the atmosphere and nothing else.
DJ: I’m conscious of the band having a certain image, but not in a gimmicky, haircut band sort of way. For bands like Waylander and Mael Mordha it definitely works having that woad, but I can’t see it being relevant for us.
Ade: That’s not to downplay the visuals either, we do have stage gear.
Now for the obvious bit – girls in metal. How much patronising crap do you get?
Lisa: [Laughing] That guy in Belfast! “You’re girls like! You’re all right!”
Ade: Ah yes, that was John Fay at a Primal Dawn gig years ago.
Ah, is that where “I slay the warriors of Cruachan” line comes from? A hidden dig at our folk metal brothers from down south?
Ade: Haha, it’s precisely for this reason. No, we didn’t know John at the time, but he came up with a busload from Dublin and he was fairly hammered and said [adopts remarkably accurate John Fay accent] “Aye, I tawt yiz were great like, I’m nat just sayin’ dat cos ye’re gerills like, I’m nat just sayin’ dat, I KNOW ye’re gerills like, but I tawt yiz were grayt…”
Lisa: “I’m not just saying that because you are girls” is very common.
Sarah: And so is “Oh you’re good for a girl.” People tiptoe round you; they think you’re going to eat their face for saying that.
DJ: The bit that puts a smile on my face every time is when we walk into a setup with the girls and other bands stare –
Ade: People think “Oh, it’s a 3-piece and their girlfriends.”
Lisa: “There’s the backup singers.”
DJ: The girls carry their own shit, and do their share of the grunt work, slogging and doing their own setups. Other bands will laugh and nudge each other until we get up to soundcheck.
Krum: Cork was priceless. I was standing at the far side of An Cruiscin Lán, and Lisa was doing a soundcheck, and the soundwoman (as well!) said to try a kick drum, Lisa’s soundchecking each part really slow and you could hear these two guys going “huh huh huh” and the soundwoman says “Play the lot” and Lisa blasts on the kit, and the two boys are standing [mimes slack jawed shock]. Their faces dropped.
Do you get guys cracking on to you thinking you’ll be an easy target?
Lisa: Are you serious? They all think I’m a lesbian!
DJ: [To Sarah] People try it on with you pretty regularly. But you take their free pint and walk away!
Sarah [laughing] Well people randomly hand you this pint and you say “Thank you very much.”
Ade: The best thing to do with a woman at a metal gig is to not talk about metal.
Lisa: Guys tend to talk to me about drums.
Sarah: Guys talking to me about guitars but not actually having a clue is worse.
Ade: [Frankenstein-type accent] “Friennnnd, friennnnnnd.”
The thrash resurgence has died a death, and it seems traditional metal is coming up next for the retro fad – where do you see Darkest Era fitting in to all of this?
DJ: We don’t.
Ade: We’ll probably draw some attention from that revival because we’ve got that thread running through our music, but anybody who knows anything about the band knows we’re not a heavy metal revival band. We’ve been going for nearly six years. We’ll be around when it dies – same as Gama Bomb. They were around before the thrash revival and they’ll be here afterwards. We won’t be hailed as part of this new wave, for one thing, we don’t look like we’re from 1984.
So how would you pigeonhole Darkest Era? Epic atmospheric Heavy metal?
Ade: That’s pretty much it. I’m not interested in pigeonholing, but people always throw us into the Pagan metal category, the Heavy metal category, the Folk metal category.
DJ: I think we straddle a lot of different genres, which is good because you’re pulling in people from all of them, but at the same time you get the more-true-than-thou types who insist that because we’re doing it our way we’re not following their traditional template that they’re used to. But fuck them.
Ade: We played in Germany at a True metal festival and played all the atmospheric numbers, which divided the crowd a bit. But we refer to ourselves as epic Celtic heavy metal, and we’ll tack on as many superlatives as possible.
You’ve had some scrapes in your gigging history; getting lost in Italy, tear gassed in Athens…
DJ: …getting mugged in Germany.
Sarah: That was after missing his flight.
DJ: I went out on the rip the night before we were due to fly, I say “night”, I mean “day”, it was 1 in the afternoon, 10 that evening I arrive round at Sarah’s, as the car booking was under my name and I needed to put my details in, went to do it on the laptop, passed out on the laptop. Next morning with a monster hangover I went to the airport without my passport, had to rebook a flight out the next day. Got to Germany, the rest were already in Wurzburg, so I jumped on the train. Got off one stop too early, and the station was desolate. A scumbag beggar comes up looking for money and grabbed me by the hair and t-shirt and grabbed my wallet. Thankfully there was this very large German guy present who ran over and lumped the guy clean off his feet. He was so apologetic on behalf of his entire country.
Lisa: And when we got to Germany we couldn’t get the car because none of us were over 25, and they wouldn’t give us our deposit back. Then there was a bomb scare on the train and we had to get off the train. There were nothing about, no taxis, no cars.
Krum: Only big neon lights.
Lisa: Ah yes, there was a titty bar. Which turned out to be a brothel.
Krum: And it was the only landmark we could give the taxi man.
Lisa: We eventually got to the hostel and because we were so late for check–in, our rooms were gone. Bart the receptionist actually drove us to a sister hostel himself.
DJ: And this was all one weekend.
Lisa: And in Greece we got tear gassed during that riot.
What’s next for the band?
DJ: Well myself, Sarah and Lisa are coming to the end of University, so it’s a case of getting that the fuck out of the way and then we’re really eager to get our and do some extensive touring. Realistically during the summer time we’re going to be working on really sharpening our live show.
What’s your dream gig lineup?
Ade: As the album came out at this time we missed the boat for booking the summer festivals, so we’re looking to tour in the winter time. We’re already thinking about the next album too, and intend to keep pushing forward with the same drive that got us this far.
Ade – how long did it take you to discover the secrets of the Glory chord and the Mountain chord?
Sarah: [Laughing] And the River chord!
DJ: Ade, I do believe that’s proprietary information.
Lisa: It happened during adolescence when he was finding everything else.
Ade: Yes, the Mountain chord is Lisa’s mother’s uterus’ resonant frequency.
Lisa: [laughing] “Yes mother, I WILL show you this interview.”
In years to come when the hair goes – Nemtheanga pre-emptive shave or a Jedifart die hard skullet?
Ade: I’ll let you know next week, it’s already going that way. Naah, down to the absolute last fight, I’ll spend all the band royalties on plugs. That is one battle I will never yield.
DJ: I’m going out with dignity. Once it starts I’m getting the Mach 3 out.
Ade: I think Alan sported a Fart for a while didn’t he?
DJ: It wasn’t a full blown Fart though.
Ade: It was only a half Fart.
Guys, that’s it, thank you for your time.
Darkest Era launch their new CD ‘The Last Caress Of Light’ on Saturday 26th March 2011in the Limelight at 5pm. Support comes from Sorrowfall, Sirroco and Steel Tormentor.
Words by Donal McBrien – 23/03/11