TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with the drummer Gavin Harte of Callenish Circle was done by e-mail by Egemen Limoncuoglu in May, 2006.
Callenish Circle has become one of the most well-known Dutch metal bands since the release of their debut album "Drift Of Empathy" in 1996. Now ten years have passed and a lot of great things have happened to the band, most recently they visited Mexico for the first time on tour with Paradise Lost. The band's drummer Gavin Harte discusses their latest album "[Pitch.Black.Effects]", line-up changes and more in this interview.
Hi Gavin, let’s start with something that surprised me a lot about your website. The main picture at your homepage leads directly to the Myspace page of the band. Well, as I think the Myspace mania is at the top at the moment, I really wonder what you think about that website? Why do you think it’s so popular?
Mmm… I think the main reason for the success is that it’s easy to find people with the same interests. Besides that, it’s easy to configure the pages. In no time you have set up a basic page with all the info people might look for. Another important thing here is that the visitor have fast access to the music. For us MySpace works great. A lot of people got to know us via the pages. The reason for choosing for MySpace is actually lack of time and a bit of laziness from my side. I build the normal website for Callenish Circle… and I just can’t find the time to work on it and finish it properly.
You guys are currently on tour with a pretty busy schedule, how are things going so far? How are the reactions to the new material so far?
Luckily we managed to visit some places where we never have been before. We went on tour to Mexico (as support for Paradise Lost) which was a great succes for us. We never expected these people to know our music. Right now the touring schedule isn’t that buzy, but we’re planning for fall now and it seems to become a pretty buzy fall for us.
The reactions to the new material are really great. A lot of people think that we managed to integrate cool new elements without loosing the Callenish Circle sound we allready build up during the years. Of course, there are always some conservative people who are alergic to some alternative sounds in Metal music, but hey… this is 2006. You have to be a bit open minded in my opinion.
The new album Pitch Black Effects, reflects a speacial concept with its title, cover artwork and with especially the song “Schwarzes Licht”. Can you tell us more about this concept about darkness and light?
The album title, the artwork and the song are connected to one concept. I’ll tell you how we got to it. It’s a long (and maybe boring) story, but here you go…. A few years ago I was in Berlin visiting the Jewish museum. Besides the whole Jewish history the most impressive part was (regrettably) everything concerning the holocaust. One room in the museum was created to give the visitor an impression of how it would feel to be locked in one of the camps. You must imagine to be in a concrete building; pitch black, cold, humid, alone, feeling really tiny, desperate and the only light was to far way and unreachable. For some reason this made quite an impression on me and when I read a poem a few months ago it immediately reminded me of my visit at the museum. The poem told a story of someone in a hopeless situation, who got their energy from really simple things, like this beam of light coming into the room every morning. The poem described this experience as coming from a completely dark environment (pitch black) into a light environment in a symbolical way . If you do this literally what you get is an overexposed effect in your eyes: a pitch black effect. Besides the title PITCH.BLACK.EFFECTS, the song Schwarzes Licht describes this whole story and the overexposed effect comes back into the artwork.
When we first put the new album into the player, the first thing we notice is the electronic sounds with the heavy production. How did you ended up including this electronic elements to Callenish Circle’s sound?
We always experimented with alternative sounds like synths and keyboards. But, most of the time we used those elements as in- and outro’s. For this album we thought the time was right to add more of these non-typical-metal-sounds into the songs itselve. Having Gail Liebling as producer made it much easier for us to experiment with the synths, ‘cause he’s a real synth wizzard. His appearance completed the puzzle for ‘[Pitch.Black.Effects]’
Experimenting with new things is something really hard for bands sometimes. You can’t predict what kind of reactions you’ll get. Especially this is valid for the metal scene. Did you have any doubts about it before the album’s release?
If we had any doubts… yes, we did! We were always very pleased with the final result but we also knew that people can be very narrow minded concerning how metal should sound. We realised we took a risk by integrating the electronics in such a way. We’ve been pretty careful in the amount of electronics we added. It took us quite a while to find the right balance so the amount of electronics wouldn’t surpass the usual elements of our music. We didn’t want to change the band in a electronic pop band. Our main goal was to make a top notch full of energy metal album.
Before the album’s recording sessions, bass guitarist Rocco left the band. What was the reason for that? And then you recruited Maurice Brouwers for the recordings but he’s not in the band right now, Wim Vossen is the bass player right at the moment. Is Wim a permenant member of the band? And can you tell us why you had two different players for recording and touring?
Well, Rocco is a really buzy guy. He owns a rock-club called ‘Ed and Rocco’s’ and besides that he still has his full time job. As a member of Callenish Circle you really have to be into this band for 200% and Rocco couldn’t fullfill this role. So, just a few weeks before the actual recordings he couldn’t find the time to work out the basslines and attend the rehearsels so we agreed that we had to seperate our ways. But as we were about 3 weeks before the recordings, we had the act fast to find a bassplayes with the skills to create basslines from scratch in those three weeks. Maurice Brouwers is a very talented bassplayer who was able to do the recording job. But as he’s involved in other bands too (Engine of Pain) we could forsee some problems in the future. So, we asked Wim Vossen to join us for live shows. The first shows gave us the feeling as if he’s a member for years. It really is great to have him on board. Yes, Wim is a permanent member of the band now. For all 5 of us Callenish Circle is no1. priority, and that’s absolutely necessary to operate on this level.
Apart from producing the album Gail Liebling also was responsible for the electronic parts, right? What can you tell us about his contribution to Pitch Black Effects both as a producer and a musician?
We had a nice interaction going on when composing the songs for the new album. After we finished some song pieces we gave him the rehearsel recordings and he came up with the synth ideas. This count for most of the songs except for ‘Schwarzes Licht’. For this song the synths carries the whole thing. We gave him just some pieces and a basic structure and ideas and he came up with an almost finished song. From that moment on we started polishing untill we thought it was perfect.
As a producer he coach us really well. While recording he was able to explain the feel of the songs, to reach the best possible athmosphere for the song. While recording Pat’s vocals he had some really cool ideas.
I’d like to end the interview with some personal questions, starting with askin you about your all time favorite drummers and albums?
Favourite drummers... well... let me start with some drummer Drummers like Thomas Lang and Mike Mangine. When looking at drummers in a band I really like Dirk Verbeuren who also works with Soilwork. Just speaking generally.. I like drummers who are able to contribute to a song. Not just showing of like ‘look what I can do’.
Favourite albums. I listen to a lot of different styles but just a name a few albums I really digg: Muse / Absolution, Pink Floyd / Dark Side of the Moon, Testament / The Gathering, Queensryche / Operation Mindcrime.
What else do you do apart from your “rockstar” life with Callenish Circle? Does the band take your whole time?
The band takes a lot of time... but it doesn’t deliver the money to make a living off. The little money that comes out of the band, goes directly into the music again. (Re)new drum equipment and investing in my own homestudio cost a lot of money... So, this means I have a full time job to keep everything going. I work as an IT application consultant.
Callenish Circle is active in metal scene for more than 10 years, how do you feel when you take a look at this period of time? And what do you think changed most when we compare these days with the early 90s?
Pfff.. well... more than 10 years. Looking back over the period I can say we did a lot of cool things, learned a lot of the whole music business. We have been able to develop ourselves as persons and as musicians. For each and every album we managed to gain more fans, play cool shows, etc. With some up and downs but overall we managed to climb up bit by bit.
Thanks for the interview.
Thanks you for the interview. I really enjoyed your questions. Sorry for letting you wait that long...
Links of interest:
Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records Europe