The rapid ascent of Cork’s Soothsayer has been eminently satisfying to watch over the last 12 months or so.
From the release of the inital demo it was clear there was something special at work, a melancholic but heavy sound which took elements from doom, sludge and even black metal but remained uniquely theirs rather than something generic.
It was no surprise then that when their “At This Great Depth” two songer emerged late last year it caused a deserved stir both locally and – more importantly – on the global stage with the buzz picking up way beyond the Rebel County.
Jamie Grimes managed to check in with the band to get the lowdown on the EP, and where they’re going next. The following conversation took place on the day of that EP’s release in December of 2016 with vocalist Liam and guitarist Marc.
So the new ep is officially out today yes?
Marc: Yes!It’s been a long time coming because we actual recorded the thing ages ago, last March , we went off and made 250 cds ourselves and then we got signed..so we had to hold onto them for ages and our other guitarist only got the official cds yesterday. So it’s been a slow couple of months waiting for it to come out
Did work on “At This Great Depth” began straight away after the first demo was recorded or was there a bit of down time?
Liam:The two songs on the ep we had written while we were recording the first one, but they didn’t fit in with what we did on the first one. The first three songs (on the ep) Con had written and then I joined and put my bits over it so we then had that period recorded. So the two new ones we just wanted to get them on record and be done with them, we never intended to release them properly or anything. Initially we intended releasing them as a tape maybe or free online but it turned out better than we expected.
That makes total sense, as there seems to be a very natural flow from one release to the next.
M: That’s what we had hoped for.The last album ended on a fast bit so we started this one in that vein. Then there are a lot of mellower bits on this new one and we’re writing more in that vein now.
L: We had this thing where we came out like “I guess we’re a doom band now” but then we’d finish writing a song and..I don’t know what we are.
M: I suppose I’m more of a black metal fan, the faster bits. So we’re just trying to marry the two some bit and that’s how this one came out
So are you already working on new stuff?
L: Yeah we’re a bit behind with it. But we’ve got 3 or 4 now. We just write all the time
Writing process aside, was there much of a difference in the recording processes between the demo and the ep?
L:There really was.
M: The first one we went down to Data studios in Kerry with Tadhg, it was our first time in a professional studio,he had an amazing set up down there, it was a really cool experience. Then with this one, our budy Eamonn just came up to our practice place and we recorded everything live in our practice space. We did minimal overdubs, some vocals, some guitar parts and that was it.
So you were really aiming to capture the live feel on this EP?
M:It’s what we wanted. The first one we took our time with it in the studio but this time it was nice
to get this live feeling down. Playing it live it just works a lot better.
L:Most stuff was done in one go.” Umpire” was done in one take, I don’t know how we managed that!
Speaking of “Umpire”, it’s quite an unusual title! Can you perhaps what it explains to?And what’s going on lyrically with the new songs?
L: I’m terrible at explaing the lyrics!It’s an idea of a referee or umpire type character stepping in to look at the state of the world and saying “there’s something wrong here, we need to do something to change it” and that involves getting rid of certain people who have too much power or money, to try and let something natural grow out of it.
I’m writing from my own personal opinions put through more a fantastical or esoteric filter . “Of Locusts and Moths” isn’t too far away from it, the locusts and moths in this instance are the negative entities within your self, and having that kind of war with yourself.
Is this music designed to be cathartic for you in that case?
M: I think naturally there is, anything that I would write would be cathartic. Even if that’s not what I’m trying to do but if you sit down with your guitar it’s a way of relaxing, of getting things out if you;ve had a shitty day..it takes your mind away from everything and brings you somewhere else. Every Tuesday we practice and if we miss a Tuesday it’s like “oh shit, what do we do ourselves!”
Liam, you also provided the striking cover art for both releases so far. What was going on in your mind with the art for “At This Great Depth”?
L: It’s the same weird ideas that I have that I can’t explain properly!What I get when I look at it is this dark space, and you’re stuck in this dark place but there’s a little bit of sun up there at the top so there’s some hope – you’re trying to get out of this dark place trying to climb your way up to the sun. I just listened to the rough mixes and painted.
How do you feel about the first demo now looking back on it?
L:Happy with the 2nd and 3rd song, never really liked the first one.
M: It was us trying to find our feet. So far we’re recorded everything we’ve written so there’s no filter there. Everything that we’ve put out is everything that came out. I’m glad we did that first one, it had to be done, but now..when we’re writing we’ll pick the best ones. We’ll hopefully do an album next
The new EP is on the Transcending Obscurity label..how does a band from Cork end up on a label from India?
L: We sent out a load of emails a few weeks before we had any intention of releasing it ourselves. Only two places came back to us, and one was Kunal and he seemed quite enthusiastic, wanted to put it out.
M: He’s really proactive, he’s really pushing it. He’s the nicest guy in the world!
Obviously being a Cork band I have to ask, how do you feel the scene is there locally? I know you played your first gig at the Print Shop which is gone now, which seems like quite a blow to the scene down there?
M: Musically the bands are there but the venues aren’t there. The Print shop being gone is a huge shame, we used to get bands like Malthusian down and it was great. It kind of shocked the whole scene, and just before that down there was a place called Bradleys
L:That closed down because the owner died..then the Print shop went.. it was terrible.
And Liam you’re in Demeter too?
L: Yeah I’m in Demeter well but we’ve just done one gig..there’s Horse but they’re more the hardcore side of things, there’s a bit more of the hardcorey type stuff going on. There’s not that much of the black or death metal end of things down there.
I’ll wrap it up here..so the cd is out now..what’s next for you in 2017?
L: A few more gigs around the country.
M: A mini Irish tour hopefully, we’ve got Belfast sorted. Playing the gigs is my least favourite part of the whole thing, haha! Then we’ll just start recording the next thing, maybe spring time. We want to keep the work ethos up, writing and recording stuff again.
-Interview by Jamie Grimes ::: 28/02/17