|The Latvian Doom band Frailty has recently released a second full-length that managed to shake up a bit the conventions in which the genre often gets bogged down. Diverse and verstalile, this is an intelligent display of Doom Metal's possibilities. Guitarist Edmunds Vizla answered our questions.|
|(1) Hello Frailty, and thanks very much for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. How are things going with you at the moment?|
Hi! Thanx for the interest in our band! Things are going ok with us at the moment. We are currently preparing for the few summer festivals we are going to play this year so it is busy time for us right now. And we are working on some new stuff , too.
(2) Could we start with a quick introduction of the band members and let our readers know who is answering the questions?
Frailty are: Martins - vocals, Lauris - drums, Janis - bass, Ivita - keyboards, Jekabs - guitar, and me, Edmunds - guitars and some additional backing vocals. I also am the one who does all the answers for the interviews.
(3) We don't hear of very many Latvian bands of any sort over here, so, a bit of history - how and when did the band start out? What were the major influences that inspired you and got you into Doom?
The band was started by me in 2003. After I started to listen to heavy music in 1998, it was clear to me, that I want to learn to play guitar and to start a band. I always had a strange passion for things dark and sad, and after I discovered that there is such a thing called Doom metal, it was decided to form a band, that will play this kind of music. The major musical influences at the beginning were the bands that formed the Peaceville Three, mostly My Dying Bride and Anathema. Other major influences were not musical - I remember attending Latvian funerals as a child, and the atmosphere there was sorrowful and yet enchanting. The smell of burning candles, the fir branches under your feet (we have a custom to decorate the path of the funeral procession with fir branches, and it is called the “needle path”), the coldness of Latvian autumn winds and the solemn silence of the other attendants. I was influenced also by literature, mostly stories of medieval times and tales of horror both from the classical literature and folklore. And at last, the religion played a major role too - as a child I was always fascinated by the church building’ s interior and exterior. The symbolism of religious paintings, the majestic and sorrowful look of the Christ and the saints left me wondering about the mysteries they represented. At later times, when I studied Christian theology at the university, I gained clearer understanding of these things, however I am still fascinated by them and they still play a major role in the perception of the world around me.
(4) You signed with Solitude Productions for your first album, released in 2008. Was that a big step forward for the band? Did it change how you approach your music?
Of course it was a big step forward, especially if you are a band from Latvia. It is hard to find a record deals if you come from a country, that has no real history of heavy music with only two or three more or less internationally successful acts. Considering all this, it was a great achievement for us and for the Latvian heavy music as well. If we are talking about the changes it made to our music, the answer is simply - none. We have remained faithful only to ourselves in what we are doing and this will not be changed by any label. Metal music is independence before everything else.
(5) That debut, 'Lost Lifeless Lights', raised a lot of interest and had mostly good reviews, but it was seen as a bit too strange and eclectic in places. Do you feel that was a fair criticism? Were you pleased with the results overall, despite that?
I think, that the criticism was fair enough, for it was our first record, very unprofessionally done judging by the standards we have now. The results, however, were quite surprising, for we received many reviews that gave our first album very high ratings. As for the so called eclectic approach - I think it is not a bad thing to be more or less eclectic, for it helps to avoid repeating yourself. Music must not be bound within some pre-established formulas even in the borders of one definite genre.
(6) This year, of course, you've released the new album 'Melpomene', again to good reviews. It's still crushingly heavy, but altogether more focussed and consistent, slower and with stronger Epic/Symphonic influences. You said it took a long time to make, and numerous changes to the compositions to get there. Was that quite a natural evolution for the band? Do you think you will continue in that direction?
Yes, we can call it a natural evolution, because we wanted to make something more mature, more serious and more musical. The epic and symphonic (I would prefer neoclassical) elements in our music will continue to evolve, but they will never overcome the basic and fundamental elements of Doom metal in our sound. We are trying to achieve perfect harmony between these two.
(7) It's an unusual and striking cover and an interesting dedication to the Muse of Tragedy. You've also said that it's partly to challenge preconceptions about how Doom is presented. Can you tell us about the philosophy behind that?
I have attended lectures about Art-Nouveau when I was a student in the university. This particular style of art and architecture corresponds very well with the Doom metal genre of music, because both are dealing with things dark, asymmetrical and mysterious. What we were trying to tell, is that sadness has many faces and many forms of expression and to limit yourself only to art that has only skulls and bones or blood or dark trees or stuff like that, is unacceptable anymore. The game must be changed, the perception of things must be changed, the eyes must be opened for the world offers you a lot more possibilities how to rise above the cliches.
(8) Despite the dark material in your lyrics, I found a lot of the melodic themes - particularly the guitar work - quite soaring and even uplifting rather than disturbing. Is that something you were trying to achieve in your music? How would you describe your sound?
The most disturbing thing is when you are using something more or less uplifting to express the total darkness that is beneath it. Our sound is not to be bound at one constant place. We are exploring music, and we are not afraid to experiment, however we are not doing something by intention, we simply let things come naturally as they are without forcing them to fit our visions. All of this of course does not mean that we will ever make happy sounding music.
(9) I have to ask about the unexpected but beautiful instrumental "Onegin's Death". Where did the inspiration for that come from? The violin part sounds almost familiar - was it influenced by some particular classical composer?
Back in 1999, I saw a movie called Onegin, which was based on the novel in verse Yevgeny Onegin by famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The story caught my attention by being very sad and tragic one and the whole atmosphere of the movie was simply astounding. This, however, did not make me to write a special song for this story. The opening part of Onegin’ s Death was written in 2008, and the second half of the track was completed only in 2011. Then I realised that the whole thing had a feeling similar to the soundtrack of that particular movie, and the story fitted well to it, too. The next step was to add a violin solo to the guitar tracks, because it seemed right to have a violin there, to make it sound more like in the 19th century...
(10) It was really interesting to watch you all in the studio and working on the release (footage posted at http://www.youtube.com/frailtymetalofficial). Does it help you keep in touch with your fans? Is it something you'll continue to do in future?
I think that it is very useful for a band to have their own Youtube channel. This and other social site profiles helps to be in touch with your audience and also helps to add new fans. In future, we will certainly do studio videos again, because it was a great fun to do.
(11) I also appreciated the effort you put in with extras when I bought the CD through Bandcamp (http://frailtymetal.bandcamp.com): that was a really nice touch. Is that typical of your relationship with your fanbase?
Yes, this is quite typical for us. We are trying to do things differently, to be as close as possible to our listeners. If someone is interested in what we are doing, he or she deserves to get the best from us.
(12) Are you taking a break from studio work now, or have you got anything else already planned?
Currently we are making new songs for our next album. Hopefully we will be ready to enter the studio again in some time in 2013.
(13) We couldn't finish the interview without talking about live shows: something you obviously love doing. Massive and memorable live performances are one of your main goals - how well is that ambition being realised?
As a live band we are quite relentless, and on the stage it is straight from the heart. After the shows we can barely move or talk because of the huge amounts of energy we put into our performance. Doom metal for us is not only in slow motion.
(14) You've shared stages with some huge bands, and supported some pretty famous acts. Have those been good experiences?
Some of them were good, some were not. The worst experience was our second gig in Moscow, when everything went wrong and not by our fault. The organisers sucked and some other bigger artists had their big attitudes. All the other concerts were quite good, but actually we don’ t care with whom we have to play on one stage. We usually don't disturb other artists by being too friendly, we like it to keep to ourselves.
(15) What's next on the live front - will we be seeing you headlining a tour anytime soon? Any plans to visit Europe or other parts of the world?
We have never been on a real tour, btw. But this is one of the things we want to do as a band. A week or two on the road could be ok for us, but this is likely to happen when we are more famous and tour organizers could make money on us. We dream to visit the Western Europe, because we have done everything in the Baltic states and Russia and that could open new doors for us. We have some plans for the autumn 2012, but we cannot disclose any information on this subject at the moment, because the talks are still in process. As soon as any information will be available, we will make an official statement.
(16) I hope these questions have covered enough ground to give a good picture of the band and what you want to achieve. Is there anything that we've missed, or that you'd like to add?
No, not really. Everything was fine.
(17) Thanks again for agreeing to the interview and for giving up your time. I'd just like to wish you success, and hope we'll be seeing and hearing from you here in the UK for years to come!
Thank you for your interest in us! We would love to visit UK and bring the Baltic Doom to your audience.
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Visit the Frailty bandpage.