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Interview - GÖDEN - GÖDEN is a continuation of WINTER from my vision.


Interview with doom metal band from USA - GÖDEN.

Answered Stephen Flam, Tony Pinnisi and Vas Kallas, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Recenze/review - GÖDEN - Beyond Darkness (2020):

Ave GÖDEN, greetings to New York. On the way to work, I just listened to your album "Beyond Darkness" and I was late again. I always have to perceive it as a whole. It's dark and cold outside. Sometimes when I walk around the old factory hall, I feel like I see ghosts. How did the idea to create GÖDEN actually come about? Can you introduce the history of the band from the beginning? 

Stephen: Goden is a continuation of Winter from my vision. I write, record and produce the music. I wrote new music for Winter that was recorded and completed in 2003. We started work on those songs during rehearsals for Winter shows with intentions of using them for the follow up to Into Darkness. When those gigs where cancelled due to my hearing loss issues. I broke the news to the group and everyone was extremely bummed. Twenty five years later to have a second chance and finally perform and play out especially since Winter broke up right after the release of Into Darkness. Everyone knew I was suffering with crippling tinnitus. This was a major setback and depressing time for everyone. The group chose to not do the shows without me. Everyone removed their equipment from Tony’s place and that was the end… 

After everyone removed gear from Winter‘s rehearsal space at Tony’s place. I was packing up the last few things I had at Tony’s and he said “so this is how it ends”? I responded that the only way I could continue would be to build an isolation booth to stand in so sound would not affect me and I could see everyone through the glass. Tony said “so build the iso-booth and let’s move forward and see how it goes“. I explained to the Winter members what Tony and I wanted to do. This sounded like a tremendous undertaking, and it was. Some members joined and some decided not to join this recording project. 


Stephen and Tony, I have to ask you. What did you actually do in time between WINTER and GÖDEN? I noticed Stephen in SERPENTINE PATH, but otherwise I have no idea if you played somewhere? You know, for me, "Into Darkness" is literally a “heart matter”. You once brought me to doom metal. What did you do all the time? 

Stephen: Thank you for supporting us… I started the group Thorn with Roy Mayorga & John John Jesse of Nausea. Thorn release Bitter Potion on Roadrunner in 1993. Winter and Nausea played gigs together. Thorn and Hanzel und Gretyl did gigs together and that’s how I met Vas. Vas was the vocalist & bassist of Hanzel und Gretyl. 

Tony: I’ve been in bands with members of 1960s/70s bands Vanilla Fudge, The Illusion, The Vagrants, Soul Survivor, (and Sir Lord Baltimore in the 1970’s,among others); also auditioned for Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, 1981. 

Let's go to your new album "Beyond Darkness". When I first heard it sometime in the spring, it literally engulfed me. I'm very picky about doom metal, but the atmosphere of the album is really very captivating. I am fascinated by the sound of the recording. How and where did you record it? Somewhere I read that with Chris Flam? Is it true? 

Stephen: My brother Chris Flam is a recording engineer so I explained what I wanted to do and he was down. Tony, Chris and I converted Winters rehearsal space into a recording studio. I purchased a drum kit, mics, interfaces, cables and whatever Chris recommended. We started work on and tracking the songs from the 2003 Winter demo. Those songs where Glowing Red Sun, Night, Dark Nebula and various riffs from that demo as well as new music I had. Tony was a godsend for opening his home to me for this five year long recording process. 

We would rehearse a song til it was crushing, then record the song and put it on the shelf. When ten songs where completed. I reached out to Vas Kallas an old friend from Hanzel und Gretyl. We had many drinks and I explained my vison. She was down, Vas spent the next year writing lyrics and doing vocals for Beyond Darkness. Once everything was tracked, I asked Roy Mayorga to mix the record. 


Usually the keyboards disturb me in metal music. Just few bands can implement them into the music that they do not disturb, and are not just an accessory, underline. I really enjoy them on "Beyond Darkness". It seems to me that they are composed as classical music. A real compliment! How did Tony actually get into this instrument? Do you have a traditional music education? Or are you self-taught? 

Tony: I am both primarily self-taught (since mid teens) and also had formal instruction (late 60’s/early 70’s) with two keyboard professors. I’d always wanted to learn classical organ, particularly bach, franck, vierne, etc. My earliest memories include having been deeply impressed with the sound of the real 19th century-era pipe organ at our cathedral/parish church where I grew up. The organist also sang in a baritone voice as he played simultaneously, always giving me chills! 

Other later influences are Virgil Fox(organ), ‘60s bands Procol Harum, King Crimson, et al, and for strings, film composers Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, etc.-So yes, I do try (in some small way, I’m sure) to emulate those masters in the keyboard parts for Goden, hence the classical flavor- a real compliment indeed, and one of which I’m most unworthy! 


Another great step was the engagement of Vas Kallas from HANZEL UND GRETYL. Sometimes her voice reminds me of a demon and and I have goosebumps. Who wrote her vocal parts? I like when the singer believes what is singing and I literally devour every world. 

VAS: Thank you for the nice compliments. I’m glad the art of the vocals can induce demonic goosebumps! That means my job has been done. I did write all the song lyrics myself and I do believe in what I sing. The only song I didn’t write was the first part of ‘Komm Susser Tod’. Those lyrics spoke to me as well, and that’s why I agreed to be part of this project. 

I first met up with Stephen over many drinks, where we would discuss ideas and concepts, which eventually turned into songs. It was a lot of work over a couple of years where I would sit and write lyrics every day, little by little, while listening and being inspired by the music. 


How did you get together and how did the recording the vocals? There is also a lot of whispers and incantations on the album. Is that her work? 

VAS: The majority of the vocals were all recorded on my own with an EletroVoice RE20 microphone in my home studio. 

Basically I incorporated everything I knew and felt about the universe, bringing in languages and personal life emotions. The whole project has been a cathartic experience. 

Tony: Vas and I wrote the lyrics for Goden- I did the eight “Manifestations” and “Komm Susser Tod” (my ‘nod’ to J.S. Bach) and Vas did the rest of the album, including some German and Greek as well! 

GÖDEN are listed everywhere as a trio. Stephen, Tony and Vas. I was looking for more information, were the drums recorded by various players? Why actually? Were they all studio players? New York is a big city and you can find someone for permanently cooperation, can’t you ? 

Stephen: Goden is a concept that evolved as it grew. I played guitar, bass, drum program, wrote music, arranged, recorded and produced the concept of Goden. Vas is the vocalist and she wrote her lyrics. Tony played keyboards and wrote the “Manifestations”. Featured drummers are Scott Wojno, Jason Franz, Vic Pullen and guitar players are Joey Lodes who did the solo on “Glowing Red Sun”, “Twilight” and Roger Blank does solo on “Cosmic Blood”. Margaret Murphy is violinist on “Komm Susser Tod”, “Glowing Red Sun” and “Manifestation V”. They are all my friends and great musicians with distinct style. I feel it helps to keep things fresh and have flexibility to add new artists and ideas. 


In one interview, you mention that GÖDEN are a free continuation of WINTER. Of course, your signature can be felt a lot from the new album, but the time has changed a lot since the 1990s. We have new technologies, internet. How did these things affect you when you recorded? Are you a fan of various technical innovations? For musicians, it is a completely different world today. 

Stephen: Modern work flow of making music with today’s recording technology is pure freedom. I prefer some older gear but as far as the recording process I prefer computer-based because it gives me artistic freedom. I write whenever I want and can collaborate with other musicians from around the world. Even if a record label wanted to lend me a large recording budget I would not take it.. Goden is 100% DIY…. I play guitar, bass, keys and do the drum programming, recording, editing and music writing in my studio. Tony’s place is where rehearsal, live drums and amps are set up 24/7 so we can retain the live real feel. I usually write everything myself then re-track drums, amps and Hammond Leslie at Tony’s place. I still own all of my gear from the Winter days. I used it to record guitars and basses on the Goden album. Tony used the same keyboards as well (Hammond Organ, Moog synth, Arp Solina String Ensemble, Fender Rhodes elec. piano, Kurzweil K2000). 

I used the Goden guitars and basses for the Goden record. These are designed by me and made by Jimmy Mazzitelli and Jimmy Diresta. I will attach some links so you can see them on www.goden.net 

The artwork of the whole album is also special and very interesting. The CD I ordered is really beautifully done. Eva Petric did a great job. The photos from the cathedrals are beautiful and perfectly complement the overall impression of your music. How did you get together with Eva and why did you choose her? Was she inspired by your music when she created the cover art? 

Stephen: Eva and I met by accident in NYC. She mentioned her artwork was displayed at the UN and St John Divine Cathedral in New York City. I attended and was interested in collaborating with her. Eva is a talented artist and it was obvious to me after viewing her work. She create the visual part of the story. I explained the concept in my head as we listened to all 77 minutes of Beyond Darkness. I consider Eva part of the Goden family.. 

I also have to ask about the lyrics. Writing words for such a long doom metal opus needs a lot of inspiration, doesn’t? Where did you get it, what are the lyrics to "Beyond Darkness" about and who is their author? Stephen? Did I understand correctly that you are dealing with science fiction, dark philosophy, but also the world of HP Lovercraft? 

VAS: I wrote the song lyrics and Tony wrote the manifestations. The ideas came from concept ideas that Steph and I discussed which then took a life of its own. I speak for myself only when I say that these lyrics came from within personal life experience, astrology, astronomy, mythology, spiritual universe awareness, feelings and imaginations. I don’t take from science fiction or any movie. It was a lot of work since there was a lot of music. I took each song one by one which would either take 2 weeks to create or sometimes 3-5 months. The concept was beyond reality while remaining very real. Words are like strokes from a brush therefore I like to create lyrics which invoke a surreal painting of a dream. 

Tony: I must reply to this too in part, and say that the inspiration for the “Manifestation” was primarily biblical (and a bit philosophical) in origin, almost as if to personify a god-like entity admonishing humankind for its errant ways… and some Lovecraftian-type references for good measure (also of whom I’m an admirer)! Steph is the sci-fi influence, and Vas is the cosmos/mythology sorceress! 


Will GÖDEN just be a studio project or will they be a regular band? Doesn't it tempt you to perform "Beyond Darkness" live? I could imagine an old church, you in front of the altar. It could be a great doom metal ceremony and experience. Can we look forward to it? 

Stephen: I have already started writing new music for the next Goden album. In general this is a studio project. We look forward to performing this album live. I can envision an old gothic church as well.. Like minds.. Goden has been offered a few festivals in EU and US. We will have to see how Covid plays out!! 

Tony: I’m absolutely taken with your suggestion/scenario of a performance in an old church-probably the penultimate presentation of the album - I can envision it, and would most certainly look forward to actually trying it! Many thanks for your kindness and well-wishes.. 

Thank you so much for the interview. I really appreciate your answers and the music. I would also like to thank WINTER, they have accompanied me all my life and they have influenced me a lot. I wish GÖDEN as many listeners as possible and all the best in your personal lives.

Recenze/review - GÖDEN - Beyond Darkness (2020):



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