Church Of Misery is one of the most notorious bands in Japanese Doom Metal. 21 years into the band's legacy, the band has reformed once again with 3 very prominent members of the Metal world: Dave Szulkin on guitar, Eric Little on drums and the legendary frontman of Repulsion Scott Carlson on vocals. The Band's 6th album, And Then There Was None, will be released March 4th, 2016 through Rise Above Records. I had the gracious opportunity to talk to Church Of Misery mastermind Tatsu Mikami to discuss everything you need to know about the album.
Thanks you for taking the time to do this interview. I am a relatively new fan of Church Of Misery, but thoroughly enjoy what you do and honored to do this interview.
No problem. I also look forward to talking with you too!
And Then There Were None is an absolutely crushing album. How did the process from together for the new album?
As you know, 3 guys quit the band in late 2014. At that time, I already wrote some new songs for the upcoming album. I didn't want to stop CoM's activities and I want to show our fans CoM are still alive. So I needed to create a new album. This new album is the reason for my existence. CoM toured hard for 10 years in Europe and US. I have tons of great band friends now. Soon I asked some reliable guys to ask join our upcoming album recording, it's Dave Szulkin. I am deeply influenced by his songwriting, guitar play and guitar sound. It's roots of CoM. CoM also supported their Japan tour and I played bass on their stage like jam session at that time. And Dave needed a drummer for practice with him. And he suggested Eric to me. Of course, I know him, he is also a legend of US Doom scene. I really love his 'Internal Void' and 'Earthride'. It's like super project with Doom legend and I'm so excited.
With the album being rehearsed and recorded in 2 weeks time, was that enough time to get everything done you wanted to accomplish? Was there anything that felt unfinished?
It was a very very tight schedule. The studio was "Polar Bear Lair studio" ran by Chris Kozlowski, who famously engineered many US Doom albums by Iron Man, Spirit Caravan, Earthride, Pentagram, Internal Void, etc. There was only the forest in the circumference of the studio. It was the environment that was very good to concentrate on recording. The neighbor had a lot of cows at a ranch. I had a really good time in Maryland. There are many good people and the best DOOM scene. As for backing tracks, we play together at the studio and recorded there. We don't have much time, only 2 weeks. Yes, we finished all materials in 2 weeks. But details is the first week is for rehearsal and other week for recording. But final day of recording, it takes much hours to send all files to Hard Disc Drive for Pro Tools. So actually, we finished everything 6 days for recording. Dave did all his guitar work on this album only in 2 days. Well, Rock bands need groove. It's impossible to make good album only mailed filed. Only Scott recorded alone at LA. He needed a few month to make lyrics and vocal melodies. Backing tracks was already done at the end of May. And Scott finished all work in Sep or Oct. After that, I spent a few month to mixing.
With that said, is there any songs that were written for the new album that didn't make the cut, that may end up on a future release?
No. I prepared all songs for new album. There's no stock of new songs.
The new album marks the first time that Scott Carlson (Repulsion) recorded vocals on a full album in roughly 3 decades. How did you manage to talk him into doing this album?
I asked to Lee that about Scott Carlson. CoM always have brutal voice style. So I think his vocals are going to fit to our music. And I like Repulsion and met him few times. Above all, he is also a part of the Rise Above family. And I got good answer from him. I am so excited that Scott Carlson is going to singing on a CoM album!
Besides the notable changes in the lineup, what would you say has been the biggest changes for the band since 2013's Thy Kingdom Scum?
There's no biggest changes. Other bands expand the width of their music with new element(s) after a few album released. I mean, they changed their own style and everyone called it 'evolution'. But I can say it's loss of their musical 'core'. I never lie to myself and I never lie to our fans too. Don't worry, I never change own style and keep making good DOOM music.
And Then There Were None continues in the tradition of Church Of Misery to write about some of the most notorious serial killers in history. What went into the process for choosing these serial killers as inspiration this time around?
Its really interesting, the process from being a normal guy becoming psychotic killers. It's very interesting stories. And I thought that these topics are very fitting to our heavy & doomy music. That is the reason I choose this topic. And this combination is really strong & brutal. Its best for CoM.
On a related note, who do you find to be the most interesting Serial Killer and why?
John Geroge Haigh aka Acid Bath Murderer. As you know, I always write about serial killer for every one of our songs and I planned to make lyrics about "Acid Bath Murderer" few years ago. A corpse is melted by an acid. A trace is lost. A perfect crime was being planned. This is a big impact upon me.
So what are the current plans for Church Of Misery for the rest of 2016? Any touring on the horizon?
I just got a new guitarist & singer. I still searching for a drummer. Maybe I'll spend more time to auditioning. It's hard to do touring overseas.
On the topic of touring, Where is your favorite areas to tour? How drastic of a change is it to play in other markets compared to North America?
I enjoy playing everywhere.
Looking back on 2015. Was there any albums that you enjoyed that came out last year?
I don't want to looking back on last year. Except recording the new album there was no fun time. I was in misery. I'm still hungry for touring.
Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview and having the honor of promoting the latest Church Of Misery album, coming out March 4th through Rise Above Records. Before we go, is there anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Well, thank you for this interview. I hope you like our new album. We hope to do tour when we got a new drummer. See you on the road!
Church Of Misery- And Then There Were None is available March 4th through Rise Above Records
Michael Amott has an amazing resume to his name. Since the beginning of the band, Carnage, in 1988; Amott became part of one the most legendary names in Metal, Carcass, during the band's most legendary album, Heartwork. After his time in Carcass he went on to form his own Melodic Death Metal band, Arch Enemy. During this time he has also had a love of the 70's Hard Rock realm. and since 1994, he has been showing his love with his band, Spiritual Beggars. Coming out March 18th in Europe and March 25th in North America through Inside Out Music, the band's 9th album, Sunrise To Sundown is a phenomenal album of appreciation of Hard Rock of yesteryear. I had the opportunity to talk with Amott about all of his current endeavors from Spiritual Beggars to Arch Enemy to the formation of his new project, Black Earth.
That Drummer Guy: The brand new album from Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise To Sundown will be released March 18th In Europe and on March 25th in North America. With this being the band's 9th album, what did you hope to accomplish this time around?
Michael Amott: We just want to keep making music that feels good to us, it’s really that simple.
TDG: The album has a fantastic use of diversity. The first three tracks alone showcase the rockin' side (Sunrise To Sundown) the more subdue (Diamond Under Pressure) and the very heavy (What Doesn't Kill You). Is the band conscious of keeping this kind of flow when deciding on the final track listing order and what songs will appear on each album?
MA: Yes, the flow of the album is very important to us. It is kind of an old-fashioned way of thinking I guess, basically using the old format of a vinyl album with an A-side and a B-side.
TDG: The band sounds absolutely on top of your game, which is not always an easy accomplishment, considering the band's 22 years career so far. What would you say is the essence of keeping the band sound as fresh and rejuvenated after all this time?
MA: I think that is because we do this band out of pure love for the music and each other as musicians.
TDG: Was there any songs or riffs written during the Sunrise To Sundown sessions that may appear on a future release?
MA: Maybe, sometimes we revisit some unfinished songs or ideas to make new music later on. I think we used everything we had on this particular session though. "I Turn to Stone" is a song that we already recorded in 2001, but ended up not using - until now that is! Finally it surfaced on this new "Sunrise To Sundown" album, so you really never know...
TDG: With Sunrise To Sundown being 3 years after the release of 2013's Earth Blues, What would you say is the biggest thing that has changed in that amount of time with the band?
MA: I don't think much changed actually, we are still the same bunch of guys share this passion and love for doing this music together.
TDG: The band is going to be doing some short, but worthy dates of touring in Europe throughout 2016. I would imagine considering the lineup that finding time to manage getting any sort of touring is a bit of a struggle to make up to everyone's schedules. Is there any chance of the band hitting North America in the future? Even for a one off festival appearance?
MA: Spiritual Beggars has never visited North America, Obviously with Arch Enemy we’ve toured over there a lot. That would be something cool to do someday, maybe as you say with a few limited dates. That would be something to look forward to. We are doing a few European festivals, something in Japan later in the year. With Spiritual Beggars we kind of go where people want us to go - where there is interest. We don’t really try to fight our way into new markets - it’s more about booking a few weeks of shows say in Europe where we know there will be an audience that appreciate what we do and we’ll have fun and make some money. We go where we know we have a fan base. As you probably know, building a fan base in the United States is extremely difficult. With Arch Enemy we put in all those years with touring, and in the end it paid off. With Spiritual Beggars we don’t have the time, or the opportunity to do that.
TDG: Of course, when you are not working with Spiritual Beggars, most people today know your for your work with the legendary band, Arch Enemy. 2016 brings the 2 year anniversary of the latest album, War Eternal. How are you feeling about the album two years later?
MA: I'm really proud of the War Eternal album, I think we made something really special and long-lasting with that record.
TDG: Not long after the release of War Eternal brought legendary guitarist, Jeff Loomis, into the Arch Enemy fold. What is it like working with Loomis? Does it feel natural playing with his style?
MA: Working with Jeff has been great, he has adjusted well to the Arch Enemy way of performing. He obviously has had to adapt to my guitar playing style, as that is the core sound of the band... I believe we've had a great time on the world tour together!
TDG: Has there been any writing for the next Arch Enemy album?
MA: Yes, I have a lot of ideas already. But I want to take my time fully develop those into something very special with the other guys adding their feel and talent to it. I don’t believe in rushing music anyway… I’m hoping we can get a new album out in 2017 though, we’ll see.
TDG: The beginning of this year brought a big shock to early day Arch Enemy fans, with the announcement of the band, Black Earth, which consists of 4/5ths of the original Arch Enemy line up and Sharlee D'Angelo on bass. I guess the biggest question on everyone's mind is, what brought on the formation of Black Earth?
MA: Always nice to be able to shock people, if that now was the case. We were thinking about how to properly celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARCH ENEMY’s debut album “Black Earth” in a respectful and exciting way? The tour of Japan has has been booked, and is on sale now `and I can assure you that we’re all very much looking forward to playing the “Black Earth” (1996) album in its entirety as well as selected songs from the “Stigmata” (1998) and “Burning Bridges” (1999) albums!
TDG: Is Black Earth considered to be a full on a band? A side project? A one off album and touring cycle?
MA: Not a full on band. Very much just a project for the tour that we are doing in Japan in May.
TDG: Considering how busy you are with 3 active bands in your career (Arch Enemy, Black Earth, Spiritual Beggars) what helps the creative process for writing and performing in each band? Also, what helps you from keeping from being burnt out?
MA: Who says I'm not burnt out?? Hahaha Anyway, like I said…BLACK EARTH is not a ongoing band. I work closely with some of my fellow musicians while creating new music. In Arch Enemy that is for the most part Daniel (Erlandsson, drums) and in Spiritual Beggars it's Per (Wiberg, keyboards). Sharing the duties in the bands helps a lot of course. Music is and always has been my main passion in life and it gives me all the energy I need to carry on.
TDG: Back in 2008-2010 you reunited with your former band, Carcass for 2 years of reunion shows. Did you enjoy your time reuniting with Carcass? Given the opportunity, would you ever do any more appearances live or in the studio?
MA: Yes, in fact I was instrumental in putting the band back together. I had a really great time doing the reunion and I am always open to playing with them again, if they should ever call upon me I’m there. Jeff and Bill are still very close friends of mine and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them as musicians and human beings.
TDG: When playing Carcass, what were your favorite songs that played live? Did you enjoy performing the songs from Swansong? When you reunited, did you enjoy performing the songs from Swansong?
MA: I really got a kick out of playing that whole set, including the very early material like “Exhume To Consume”, “Ruptured In Purulence” and so on. We only played one song from the Swansong album when we did the reunion tours in 2008 - 2010, I think it was called "Rotting In The Free World” and I actually enjoyed playing that one a lot too - very groovy.
TDG: A lesser known fact, for some people, is from 1997-1999 you were working with the Swedish Doom Metal band, Candlemass and recorded recording on the 1997 album, Dactylis Glomerata. Did you enjoy working on that album?
MA: I did enjoy working on that album though, it was just 2-3 days in the studio. I never played any shows with them.
TDG: With Doom Metal being an area of music most people don't know you for, what did you take in most from your time with Candlemass?
MA: I always loved Trouble and Candlemass, the heavy grooves and sorrowful melodies. It was a huge honour to play with Candlemass mastermind Leif Edling in the late 90's, he's a songwriting genius and I think I learnt quite a bit from him - both as a musician on one of his albums and also his early recorded output, of which I am a huge fan.
TDG: 2016 is well under way. With Sunrise to Sundown coming out at the end of March that comes with European appearances AND the formation of Black Earth, is there anything else that you will be working on this year?
MA: I've already started writing music which will eventually become the new Arch Enemy album. Between that and playing shows with Spiritual Beggars, I won't have a problem staying busy this year!
TDG: Once again, thank you so very, very much for taking the time to do this interview. It couldn't be more of an honor to be able to talk to you in promotion of everything you have going on as of late. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
MA: I think we covered a lot. Thanks for the interview and support of my music, cheers!
Spiritual Beggars- Sunrise To Sundown arrives March 18th In Europe and March 25th in North America through Inside Out Music!
Adam Wakeman comes from a legendary name in the music world with his Father (Rick Wakeman) and brother (Oliver Wakeman) both being very prominent keyboardists, most notably performing with the legendary Prog band, Yes. Adam chose a different path that focused more on Heavy Metal with a resume that include playing Rhythm Guitar and Keyboards for the world's most famous Metal singer, Ozzy Osbourne AND playing Rhythm Guitar on select tracks on Black Sabbath's The End farewell tour. When Adam is not touring the world with the legendary names of Metal, he is writing music with his Progressive Metal outfit, Headspace, whose new album All That You Fear Is Gone drops February 26th through Inside Out Records. I recently got to talk to Adam about everything that is going on in his world. ENJOY!
Hi Adam. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I am an absolute huge fan of you and your whole, musical, family. It is a complete honor to be able to do this with you. February 26th brings the release of the 2nd album from Headspace, All That You Fear Is Gone. What went into the process for the new album?
Well, a lot of time! We started the writing process about 3 years ago. As we all have other commitments with other bands and artists, it’s hard to all get together at the same time, so we tend to work separately or in pairs.
What would you say are the biggest changes, musically, the band has gone through since the release of 2012's I Am Anonymous?
Musically, I think perhaps this album is more ambitious. Not intentionally, but I think the band has just matured a little perhaps.
All That You Fear Is Gone is a continuation of the story started with I Am Anonymous. Did you and the band have any idea where you wanted the story to go before you started writing, or did it come during the writing process?
Damian writes the lyrics and the lyrical concept so yes, he had a strong idea of what and where it was going to go right from the start. He changes lyrics right up until the day of final vocal recording to make sure he’s totally happy with it all. We are all the same with our musical parts. One of the best things about taking a long time to make an album, is that you have time in between to reflect on the recordings and then come back and make changes.
The new album also brings in the addition of drummer, Adam Falkner, how has his presence changed the band?
He’s a great guy and musically he brings a different playing approach to the songs. We’re all looking forward to getting out and playing some shows with him too. He’s better looking than the rest of us too, so he might bring attract some more female fans…
Did you, personally, have any changes in what you brought into the new album? Musical or otherwise?
Not really. When Pete and I write together it follows a very organic method. The songs can turn into 15 minute epics or 2 minute interludes. I used my Hammond Organ on this album which I didn’t use on the last one. I personally like the original instruments rather than the plug ins or simulated versions. It’s more focused on the performance then, because you can’t quantise or tidy things up too much.
Is there any chance of Headspace touring in the future?
yes, we play Ramblin Man festival in England on 24th July and 12th August we will be playing Cropredy, also in the UK. We are looking to put a European tour together for December, once my Sabbath commitment and the other guys are all on a break from their other shows.
2016 also brings the release of the acoustic project you did with Headspace (and Threshold frontman) Damian Wilson entitled, Weir Keeper's Tale . How did this come to be?
I wanted to do something different with Damo, and as we both write in a different style outside of Headspace for our solo projects, I thought it would be cool to do a kind of ‘unplugged’ type songwriters album together.
Considering how well you two work together in Headspace, did you both have a similar mindset going into Weir Keeper's Tale?
We approached it differently as there was just the 2 of us! Damian came to my house and we locked ourselves in a room with a piano and a few guitars and just wrote songs. We did this 3 or 4 times for a period of 2 or 3 days at a time. Damian might say “I’ve got this idea” and we’d work on that for a bit. Then I’d play a piano or guitar part and we’d work on that for a bit. Then we just developed the 8 or so best ideas and sorted the arrangements and Damo sang some melodies. He then went away, and we’d get together again once he’d written the lyrics to record them, whilst in the meantime I recorded some more instrumentation.
Considering Weir Keeper's Tale and All That You Fear Is Gone are releasing pretty near each other (January 8th and February 26th respectively) were any of the songs written at the same time? Any songs that could have made either album?
Good question, but no, they were completely separate. All That You Fear Is Gone was finished well before the Summer. We had to get it to Jen Bogren to mix by then so he could fit it in between his other mixes he was doing.
Were there any songs written in the 2015 songwriting period that did not make the cut for either release that may be used in the future?
Not for Headspace. We wrote everything for this album and there were no left overs! With Weir Keepers Tale, there were a handful of other ideas that we did develop far enough to make the album so we’ll re-visit those at some point. We’d both like to do another album like that as it was really good fun. The idea was that we could play it live anywhere there was a piano and a guitar so it gives us freedom to do a few impromptu shows if we can fit them in at short notice!
For non-prog fans, people may know you best for the great work you have done (keyboards and rhythm guitar), in studio and live, with Ozzy Osborne and Black Sabbath. What would you say you've learned the most from your experiences working with Sabbath and Ozzy (solo)?
I’ve learned so much from those guys - and continue to do so. There’s a wonderful family vibe on the road with everyone with Sabbath and Ozzy - and that runs through the crew, truck drivers and band. Everyone always looks happy to be at work, and there’s not many jobs you can say that about!
What would you say are your favorite songs that you have performed with Ozzy and Black Sabbath? Any songs that you wish you (could) have perform(ed) live?
With Ozzy, I love playing Mr Crowley (because of the intro especially) , No More Tears and Killer of Giants as there’s lots for me to play in those tracks. I always wanted to play Perry Mason - we did in rehearsals once but it never made it on the set list. It’s difficult when you have a back catalogue like Ozzy - there’s too many great songs!
With Sabbath, my favourite has to be Into the Void. I play rhythm guitar on a lot of those songs and it’s just brilliant to play. So many classic riffs in one song. Most people would have made it into 2 or 3 songs, but that is one of the great things about Sabbath, just when you think the song is over, Tony throws another killer riff in there!
Is there any chance of another Wakeman With Wakeman album with your Father, Rick?
We had spoken about it a while back as we were playing a few shows on 2 grand pianos. We play 4 shows on 2 Steinway 9 foot grand pianos at the Dean Street Jazz Club on March 11th and 12th so I’ll probably chat to him about it then. It’s always great working with my dad - it’s a shame that other touring commitments mean that it doesn't happen more often!
You are definitely keep very busy with all of the great projects that you are a part of. If you had/have the time, is there any other musical projects that you would attempt that you haven't explored before?
I’d like to concentrate more on film scoring. I have scored one full length film and 3 or 4 shorts and had a lot of music used on TV but I’d really like to get stuck into more of that. You can’t just ‘drop in and out’ of that world though, it’s all or nothing so maybe when the touring slows down a bit I’ll be able to do that. I have a production music library (www.theperfectmusiclibrary.com) where I look after my and over 50 other composer’s music for TV and film which also keeps me busy in-between flights and shows!
So what are the current plans for the rest of 2016?
Sabbath is keeping me pretty full on this year. We are currently out in the USA and Canada, then we tour Australia, Europe and back to America. That’s pretty much the full year. In the gaps, Headspace will play a couple of festivals in the summer and then we’ll tour Europe in December all being well.
With it being February 2016, have you had time to enjoy any music from 2015? Is there any albums coming out in 2016 that you are looking forward to hearing?
I really enjoyed Dave Gilmour’s last album. He’s someone I’d love to play with. I’ve always held him as one of my favourite musicians and guitarists.
Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview. It couldn't possibly be more of an honor to be able to talk to you. Before we go, is there anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Very kind words! - Thanks to anyone that supports Headspace and please come and see us live when dates are announce and buy the album! That way we can keep making more music! Keep an eye on our/my social media and always come and say hi if you see me in a pub. I can talk for England to anyone that will listen….
Headspace- All That You Fear Is Gone will be released February 26th through Inside Out Records!
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.