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Woods of Ypres - A Canadian Powerhouse

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by circus_brimstone, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. circus_brimstone

    circus_brimstone Forest: Sold Out

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    [IMGLEFT]http://www.russell.ultimatemetal.com/Interview/WY.jpg[/IMGLEFT] By Jason Jordan

    “Summer black metal,” though now a household term, didn’t exist before Woods of Ypres entered the Canadian BM scene. After releasing one of the most heralded demos of all-time – Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat – the band’s name was on everyone’s lips. The follow-up album, Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth, fulfilled audience expectations and cemented the group’s position within the ranks of black metal. The year 2005 found Woods of Ypres supporting the re-release of their awe-inspiring demo, while 2006 finds the quartet ready to record what’s been dubbed “Woods 3” until a title is solidified. I talked with mastermind David Gold (vocals, guitars, drums) about these remarkable developments.

    Woods of Ypres just re-released Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat. Why did you decide to re-release it? Be as specific as possible!

    We re-released it because it had never actually been properly released. Up until now, it had only been available on CD-r with minimal DIY artwork. The re-release version of Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat is now a completely professional offering. It has been totally remixed and remastered and is now sonically maximized, comparable to say Immortal’s Sons of Northern Darkness in loudness, heaviness and intensity (SoND was used as our reference CD for levels and sound in the mastering phase). The artwork and layout were also designed from scratch, with cover art by UltimateMetal’s own “Deadhouse” Ivan, and the layout done by Mattias Noren (ProgArt, who also recently did the Wetwork cover art for their new release Synod), which features old original-era photos, lyrics and dark winter imagery. For those of you who have the album on your computer, I urge you to delete your fuzzy mp3s, get it on CD, hold it in your hands and hear it the way it’s meant to be heard! It took 3 years, but it feels great to finally have it pressed, and have it look and sound how we’ve always wanted. We’re totally satisfied with how it came out.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the Against the Seasons versus Pursuit debate. Do you, as a musician, find it discouraging to record new material when many people are so focused on your previous efforts?

    Discouraging? No. Well not entirely. We could only be so fortunate that those albums got out there to as many people as they did, and that people like them enough to form strong opinions about them. Creating new material is the most fun for me. It’s easily my favorite part of the whole process. I’m always writing the next album before the current one is recorded (including right now). Besides, I don’t really feel like we’ve accomplished too much of anything yet. In my opinion, we have a lot of work ahead of us and the best is definitely yet to come. Funny though, because I was recently talking to the guys in the band Vanquished about how most of the reviews for their new CD Black Northern Storm have been mostly positive, though most all of them commented about the lack of dynamics (their CD is a blastfest!). So I was saying to them: “Watch, you guys will do 2 more CDs where you’ll showcase how your writing has matured and developed over the years, and how it’s become more dynamic with more breathing room, and at that point people at your shows will yell ‘Play the old shit! The heavy blasting shit!’” and then they will cheer. We, as people, never know how good we have it, while we have it.

    [​IMG]

    How do you react when you hear people say you’ll never be able to top your demo? In your personal opinion, to use two widely-known examples, why was Slayer never able to upstage Reign in Blood or Metallica never able to upend Master of Puppets?

    Ha ha! Well, that’s a pretty negative thing for someone to say considering how much new WoY I want to do in the future, but again that shows their appreciation for what that 1st album was about, so it’s cool with me.

    I believe those albums were conceived during those bands’ creative peaks, when they were young, poor, hungry and had yet to really break through and see success and have some real money. They worked so hard back then because it was all or nothing. I am a believer that creative success itself kills your creativity and your artistic drive. It’s a constant struggle, without satisfaction, that will keep you striving to create in hopes of one day reaching that satisfaction that you have made your contribution of art to the world, and maybe you have some money left in the bank and at that point you could then quit and relax a bit. To “blow your load” so to speak…actually it’s a lot like that. You don’t really ever feel like doing much but relaxing and enjoying the moment after blowing your load. I have yet to blow my load concerning the writing for WoY.

    I think people just say those things without really knowing what they’re talking about. Plus, you are always “super true” if you think a band’s 1st album is their best. I recently read a thread on a message board about people’s favorite Amorphis albums and someone posted: “They haven’t done anything good since Privilege of Evil” (one of their first recordings, to my knowledge). I am a HUGE Amorphis fan, and I respect people’s opinions and all, but that is a ridiculous statement.

    I’ll agree that I’m not as “intense” now as I was a few years ago when we did Woods 1 and 2. Back then I was poor, I was hungry and making music and trying to have a band was just one frustrating challenge after another. As a result I was angry, inspired, determined, hopeless, confrontational…at all times. It was the misery and unhappiness of life overall that drove me to do “something,” and that something was WoY. It’s not that I’m that much further ahead now than I was a few years ago, but more that I’m a few years older, I understand the world a little better, and I’ve made peace with a lot of things. Though we in WoY are still workaholics, I have relaxed a little bit, and I’m a pretty happy guy overall now. I don’t think I’ll ever be as intense as I was during the first two WoY records, but I will promise you that we will make better records. We now have the means to make more music, more efficiently, and more painlessly than we used to. I guess that also means that we make music for different reasons now, too. Plus, I compiled tons of riffs, music, lyrics, and ideas during those darker years when inspiration would hit faster than I could capitalize on it. Input, input, input, no output, for years. Those years were enough inspiration for 10 albums. It’s all filed away in a cabinet, should I ever decide to relive the past and milk the scars.

    Back to whether or not we will ever top AtS…. It was written from scratch during the summer of 2002 and at that time, those 5 songs consumed my life. I wanted them to be as good as I could make them, individually, and together as an album in the hopes that they could stand the test of time. I guess they have because all of those 5 songs are still very playable live, and people really seem to have become attached to them and what they are about. I guess the real test for me would be to try to top AtS: CWSftDSH under the same rules and circumstances: focus on writing 5 songs / 30 minutes of music for 3 summer months and record during the 4th month. In my opinion, my songwriting and musicianship is so much better now than it was 3 and half years ago, but like I said, I’m not as intense as I was, but the pressure would be on, and I would not want to disappoint! Maybe I’m on to something here.

    [​IMG]

    You all recently solidified your line-up. Introduce us to the members by informing us of what each of them will do. Have they been in any bands before Woods of Ypres?

    The band is myself on guitar/vocals/drums, Dan Hulse on bass/vocals/recording engineer and Jessica Rose on keys. We will be recording “Woods 3” as a 3-piece. Chris Mezz (Wetwork) has been so kind to fill in on drums for our live shows this year, though he is not yet officially a member of the band. Chris is a really busy guy, even aside from being a total fucking monster on the drums and an overall good guy, he has a full-time job, other musical outlets and he just doesn’t have enough time to commit to us right now. He seems to dig what were doing with WoY and he likes pounding steins with Dan and I, but we’ll just have to see how things go after “Woods 3” is out. We’d love for him to join full-time but he has his priorities with Wetwork and we respect that. We’ll just have to keep doing our thing and see what happens. Dan had played in a few bands before us, but I think he fits perfectly in WoY. Jessica had never played in a metal band before WoY, but she’s conservatory-trained on piano and she’s always been a fan of metal. Also, Jessica is launching a line of gothic clothing, designed and manufactured by her, under the name of “Corpse Knit Clothing.” Check our site for details in the coming months.

    Woods enters the studio in January to record the third record. What have your preparations entailed? Will this be more towards the collaborative side (Against the Seasons) or solo side (Pursuit) of things?

    Both previous Woods albums were written the same way, me by myself with a guitar. “Woods 3,” however, will see some real contribution from Dan who will not only play bass and sing some backup vocals, but he is also our studio engineer (Wetwork, Blood of Christ) and will be recording the album from start to finish. Jessica has also written some really interesting melodic keys that weave ever so nicely through the song skeletons laid down by Dan and I. She’s really impressed us with what she’s shown us so far. We’ve been working on pre-production demos in Pro-Tools all year, song by song. Right now, the album stands at 15 songs at close to 70 minutes.

    If I’m not mistaken, the title The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues has been floating around for quite some time. Will we see this title, or parts of it, on the new album? On a similar note, how important is [/are] a band’s name, album title, and song title?

    The themes of the title The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues will appear throughout the content of the new album. It’s about the origins of your deepest sadness, and the process of how a person becomes who they are, based on the life they’ve lived. Basically asking the question: “How did you end up who you are, where you are, and why?”

    I think song titles are very important! A good song is worth twice as much with a killer title! It’s a sign of the band’s ability to market and package their ideas in a song. For us, the content and the titles are a very big part of what we do. In some ways, Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth was almost like a black metal “rock opera” concept album the way it tells a story with recurring and developing themes, peaks and valleys of hopelessness and hope, conflict and resolve, acceptance and growth, which all ends on a doomy but optimistic note (I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the BM rock opera thing before, but it’s definitely there!). Good titles, to me, are proof of the thought that went into the album. Naming a song closes the circle in the creative process and helps to sum up 7 minutes of blasts and screaming into a handful of words.

    Are you toying around with any song titles at the moment?

    New song titles include: “The End of Tradition,” “Iron Grudge,” “The Northern Cold,” “Your Ontario Town is a Burial Ground,” “To Lock Eyes with a Wild Beast,” and “The Dream is Dead.” “Woods 3” will also have a very strong Ontario theme (the province in which we live, and have all grown up). “Your Ontario Town is a Burial Ground” speaks for itself, but we will also have positive Ontario songs about how it has inspired us to live here.

    [​IMG]

    To shift gears, not only are you a member of Woods of Ypres, but you’re involved with Krankenhaus Records too. How did the label come into being and what role do you play at Krankenhaus?

    Dan Hulse (bass, vocals) and I run the label. I always knew I would start a label and had brainstormed while I was still in university, but it didn’t fully get started until last year with the indie release of Pursuit of the Sun…. Also on the label we have Wetwork (dark tech-death) from Toronto, Ontario, Vanquished (pure black metal) from North Bay, Ontario and of course Woods of Ypres.

    We have distribution in Canada, some distro through The End Records in the USA (but not full distribution yet) and no distro in Europe yet (anyone interested, please get in touch by email).

    So far, the entire Krankenhaus roster hails from Canada. What do you look for in a band? Are you trying to limit the roster to Canadian groups only, or does it have to do with the fact that you can more easily interact with them since they’re within close proximity?

    That’s just it! Proximity is a big reason of why it all came together. Artistically, we snatched up Wetwork and Vanquished as soon as we could because we thought both bands were killer and also interesting, and we knew both of them were getting ready to release an album. Wetwork are a female-fronted tech-death metal band, with a guitarist and rhythm section that totally smokes! Vanquished are 4 huge strapping black metal guys from the desolate northern town of North Bay, Ontario (Vanquished are the truest band in Canada!). We felt it important to get involved with these bands, support what they are doing, make sure they get the treatment they deserve, and make sure their albums see the light of day and are released properly. And of course, both these bands were right in our backyards. Dan and I will go out to almost all of the Wetwork and Vanquished gigs to show our support, set up our merch table to sell stuff and then go out drinking with them afterwards. For now Krankenhaus is an Ontario label, but we would certainly make the effort to adapt, should we discover the right opportunity. I guess I plan to shift the label into high gear only when I myself am done making music, if that ever happens. As it stands, I think I will always prefer making music to running a label.

    How big do you want Krankenhaus Records to be overall, and how would you deal with the rise in popularity and demand?

    Well Dan, Jessica and I all work full-time, 9-5 day jobs, and do WoY and the label at night and on weekends. We will still strive to make Krankenhaus as big as it can be, but will only take on what we think we can handle. If I’m ever able to put just enough money in the bank to be able to quit my day job and do the band and label full-time, you can bet that I will. We’ll just have to wait and see if our ideas are actually as good as we think they are on the bottom line. Until then, you can order a Woods T-Shirt from our website and I’ll still personally pack it and ship it to you!

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of, what’s the significance of “Krankenhaus”?

    Here’s the meaning from Krankenhaus.ca:

    “‘Ich bin krank.’ – the origin of Krankenhaus Records:

    In the German language, ‘krank’ is the word for ‘sick’ or ‘ill’; ‘haus’ is the word for ‘house’; together, ‘krankenhaus’ means hospital. In English, the word ‘Krankenhaus’ may suggest something like a house built for extreme music!

    The use of the word ‘Krankenhaus’ in this case is one of the very few remaining traces of evidence that I once attempted to learn the German language. I came across this word in class one day and, based on its meaning in German and the possible interpretations of it in English, I was immediately convinced of its potential as a name that could represent the current state of modern society and the art that it inspires us to create.

    And so, I quit German and started a record label. Here we are.”

    I was originally going to call it “Practical Art” when I first finished university, but that just shows you the lame state-of-mind I was in after studying business for 4 years. The “Practical Art” name concept was supposed to be a balance of business and music, for example making good, “practical” (profitable) investments in music that will produce returns. Krankenhaus is much more fun. Plus, our website guy Jean Raco designed the Krankenhaus logo that looks like a European beer label.

    [​IMG]

    Up until now, the Woods of Ypres tour situation has been limited, though it does seem like the Krankenhaus frequenters are playing shows together relatively often. What’s in store for 2006, as far as touring goes? Do you believe Woods will be in a supporting or headlining position, and will any other members of the label accompany?

    Yeah, the WoY live situation has been limited but it’s only getting better now. This year we played 4 shows, including the Day of the Equinox show with Green Carnation and Agalloch, and also the Black Metal X-mas in Toronto with Vanquished and others. We also just played another X-mas show with Vanquished and Empyrean Plague (another Northern Ontario black metal band) in North Bay.

    After we release “Woods 3,” my main touring goal for 2006 is for WoY and Vanquished to tour Ontario together next fall, alternating as the headliner, with local metal support in every town. Something like 8 dates in 10 days, right around the contour of Ontario. I have yet to really tour, but I would like to start with my own province of Ontario, as “Woods 3” and the next Vanquished album will have a strong Ontario theme. After that, we would obviously love to eventually play the United States and Europe of course, as soon as either place will have us. Right now I would still say WoY would be a supporting act for larger metal shows, but I am confident that we will one day be headlining material.

    Thanks a lot, David.

    UltimateMetal’s Review of Woods of Ypres – Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat
    Official Woods of Ypres Website
    Official Woods of Ypres MySpace Website
    Official Krankenhaus Records Website
     
  2. FUBAR

    FUBAR Member

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    Cheers Circus really cool and informative review.
     
  3. circus_brimstone

    circus_brimstone Forest: Sold Out

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    Hey, thanks a lot! Most of the accolades go to Mr. Gold, though. Not only was he personable throughout the whole process, but he spent a lot of time with the interview, making sure he went as in-depth as he could. Support Woods!
     
  4. FUBAR

    FUBAR Member

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    Well good job...I meant to say interview BTW, silly me.
     
  5. Trend Killer

    Trend Killer Guest

    Most over rated band in Canada. You want REAL ONTARIO BLACK METAL? Try MEGGIDO or BLOODAXE.
     
  6. The old lineup from against the seasons were better in my opinion and although the others all have a nice musical CV, they lack the raw energy which made against the seasons so exceptional. Although dave gold seems like quite a smart guy its interesting how he always seems to ignore that there were two other members in the band. Why does he always do this? This is not just random criticism im giving but it seems he either ignores OR selectively extracts what he wants from the past when it personally suits him and not others.
    Either way it'd be good to see the WoY come up to Thunder Bay
     
  7. SonOfABitch

    SonOfABitch Floss with my nut-hairs

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