neděle 10. června 2018

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Interview - OPHIS - Doom Metal is to me one of the purest forms of music.

Interview with death/doom metal band from Germany - OPHIS.

Answered Phil.

Translated by Duzl, thank you!

Ave OPHIS! I has been a year since releasing your new album „The Dismal Circle“. People often say that band should release a new album every second year to stay in people´s minds. That is probably not the same case with doom/death metal because everything is “slower”, but still…do you prepare for your new album? If yes, what have you done already and what do you need to do? 

Hi Jakub. I strongly disagree with people saying a band should release a new record every 18 months. Music is art, not something produced with a machinery pace. Also, I do not know a band who could keep making GOOD records over a long time with a tempo like this. Most bands can make 3 good albums in a row, then it gets more and more dull. Sure, when you live by making music you have no other choice. But we don't, so we don't have to take deadlines from our label and only release a record when we really finished working on it. 

And yes, we started writing on a new album, but no song is finished so far. We just have a few ideas and fragments that we need to work with.

“The Dismal Circle” was released by German label F.D.A. Records. It is a very well-known label for death metal albums. However, it is still a real underground. How many albums have you sold? Are you satisfied with this label? 

I am not allowed to speak about actual sales figures, but I can tell you that Ophis usually sells more than 1000 and less than 5000 records per release. The new album sold about as good as the last one. Our best selling record is still “Withered Shades”, but that does not mean the newer albums sold bad.

We are very satisfied with the label, they did a great job and are very committed. They also paid fairly. Only bad thing is that Rico sometimes forgets to answer my mails, haha. 

How do you compose new material? Who is the author of your music? I mean who compose what? Do you have a democratic band or is there someone who is a “dictator” who always has the last word? 

We have no dictator and are a very, very democratic band. Only when we can not reach a democratic consensus it is me who has the last word and the final decision, because I am the only remaining founding member of the band. We were never a jamming band. Our songs were always written in several steps. Mostly I started on some riffs and fragments at home, then I got together with our other guitarist and worked on it. When we had a rough version of a song, we took it to the rehearsal room and worked on it with the complete band. We always made longer breaks to let the song rest and listen to it with fresh ears, because you can get lost in the process. I do not exactly know how it will be with the next album, because these days some band members live quite far away from the rest and we also have a different working constellation with our rehearsals. So I guess this time, I will write more on my own.

I am just listening to your album “The Dismal Circle” and I feel like being locked up in a room underground with old bands from the 90s. The album has a great sound. Where did you record the album and are you happy with it? Were you able to have any comments about the final product? 

Thanks, man. Yeah we are happy with the final result. There are some minor details that could have been worked out a little better, but all in all this is the record we wanted. The last album had a very good production, but also a bit too clear in hindsight. This time we wanted a more rotten and more old school sound, and we got it. 

We recorded it again at Blastbeat Productions Studio with Oliver Carell. Very cool guy, very good producer, very cool small studio, very good prices. We will record there again. 

OPHIS is an interesting band. Mainly because you care about your lyrics and that is not really common. But your lyrics are a perfect fit for your music, they tell a story, have an idea and makes you stop and come back to the songs. I would like to know how do you write your lyrics. Do you write the lyrics on music or the other way round? I think that it is a very difficult task to do. 

Thanks man, I am glad you take care about the lyrics, because I sometimes think many people don't. I usually have some topics in mind and have some notes, so when we write a song, I check to which topic it would fit. But I only write the final lyrics after the music is completely finished, so I know the exact pace and rhythm for the lyrics. 

I usually write lyrics after an emotional down. I collect ideas, phrases and metaphors over a period of time, and then usually write the final lyric in one session. 

Even though the music is more important and always comes first, the lyrics are VERY important to me and I put a LOT of work into them. They have to fullfill several criteria for me: they have to transport the topic, they have to sound well in the semantics, they have to be open for different interpretation and have to reflect the music. It takes some work to get this all together.

Who is the author of the cover “The Dismal Circle”? The cover is very nice and it feels very depressing, nihilistic. When and how did you came up with this idea? Is the cover connected with the lyrics and the music? 

The cover was exclusively painted for us by Evelyn Steinweg, who works as a photographer for bands and at concerts. We knew her for a while because she took pictures at many of our shows. Only by coincidence we found out that she also paints pictures, she never did any artworks for bands before. We found her pictures pretty cool, so we asked her to paint one for the album. By then we already had the album title, and that was all we gave her. The dismal circle is a metaphor for psychological diseases, which usually go in circles. Neurosises, depression, schizophrenia, mania... or also just bad patterns in relationships - they all come in circles. This is what the song “Carne Noir” is about, and the title is taken from its lyrics. So we asked Evelyn to paint her imagination of that metaphorical circle. And that's what she did and what you see on the cover.

I am a death metal fan and thrash fan. I am mostly bored by doom metal but I like your music. My first listening to OPHIS was in Pilsen on a concert where you played with Czech band ET MORIEMUR and you did a great job. I would never have thought how many emotions you can put into this “slow” style. How do you like playing live? When playing thrash and death it is almost OK to sometimes miss the note because you cannot really notice it with this speed. However, your music would show any error. Do you even like live music? 

Sure, I like live music. When a band is really good, the vibes can be even more intense live. I have to be honest with you, in the last year I did not enjoy playing live that much any more, because I currently suffer from some health problems which made some of our more recent shows a real fucking pain in the ass. When you play shows with huge pain, it may look cool to the crowd, but it feels like shit. But before that, I really enjoyed playing live. Actually that's what a musician does, right? Playing live! I know there are some studio guys as well, but I am not one of them.

And hell yeah, I remember that show in Pilsen, man. We played as headliner, but it was really ET MORIEMUR who ruled the night, haha. I still have some pictures from that gig, and even one song recorded live. MARCHE FUNÈBRE opened the show, I think. I remember that Olly (bass player of Ophis) got a little drunk, and I remember that someone pissed on the floor in our hotel, haha.

Speaking about concerts…you are not a band which would play live concerts too often. How many people go to doom metal concerts in Germany? And what about festivals? Mostly, you play sometime during the noon when the Sun is shining right in your eyes or you play long after the midnight when everybody is drunk or tired. 

Hm, for a Doom band, we played live quite a lot. Doom can not be compared with Death Metal, where bands play shows all the time. Anyway, at the moment, there are less people coming to Doom shows than a few years ago. At the peak, there were usually 100-150 people coming. We still have that kind of audience, but not everytime anymore. I do not worry much. Music comes in circles, and there have been worse times for Doom. As far as festivals go, most festivals we play are indoors, so no problem with sunlight, haha. When we play Open Air, we usually play smaller festivals were we are booked into the later slots. We prefer small festivals anyway. Sure, we also had to play some shows around noon in bright sunshine, which sucked big time, but that's how it goes, haha. Every band has to go through that during their career. It's still better than not playing. I do not understand bands who constantly complain about slots and spots. When there is a band on the bill selling more records than you, they play after you. No matter if you are older or better than them. Sales and popularity define the order and nothing else. That's how the business is. You can accept this or say “fuck that” and don't play the gig. Both choices are ok. But complaining is completely useless and makes you look like a dick. 

We are getting to the end of the interview so I would like to ask you a philosophic question. How would you define doom metal? What do you like about this music, what does it mean to you and why did you chose this style? 

I did not really choose this particular style, it just came out of me by natural progression. Ophis just came to existence originally as a side project. I was writing songs for my for ex-band, which was Thrash Metal. I just wrote what I felt. Very often, I had ideas for songs that were just too slow, to depressing and too doomy to fit to that band. After a while I had a whole collection of songs that tended towards Doom, so I decided to follow that direction. And thus, Ophis was born.

Doom Metal is to me one of the purest forms of music. You just CAN'T play this music just to be cool, to make money or to fit in. It is impossible. You have to feel something inside you to make it. That's why I love it so much. Power Metal, Gothic Metal, Black Metal, even Death Metal sometimes – they all have some bands who just do it for wrong reasons. Not in Doom Metal. Sure, Doom also has some bad bands as well, but at least those bad bands are still somewhat authentic.

In the end, I would like to ask a typical but important question: What are OPHIS´s plans for the next few months and what concerts will you play? 

We will play a few small festivals in Germany in the next months. Then we take a 2 months break, before we will play at the great Dutch Doom Days Festival for the 3rd time as sort of a warm-up show, and then we will embark on another European tour in December. The tour will visit Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France and Italy and be finished at another festival in Berlin. So it will be busy end of the year, especially when you consider that everyone in the band also has other active bands.
2019 will mostly be spent for songwriting.


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