Tuesday, 27 May 2014

INTERVIEW: April Weeps

As you may have seen on Facebook, one of my favourite albums at the moment is Outer Calm, Pain Within by atmospheric metal band April Weeps.  April Weeps hail from the small town of Dunajská Streda in Slovakia and are made up of 7 individuals all with different styles and takes on music who have come together to create something truly unique.  The line up is currently N on 'vokills', Marta on vocals, Dex and Doki on guitars, Tosho on bass, Roland on drums and Stronghold on synths.

A few of the guys from the band talked to Femetalism about the band, their music, their nuclear bunker, a new video and what the future might hold for the band.

Can you give us a quick history of April Weeps?

Stronghold: The early years of our band can be traced back to the year 2004 to a town called Dunajská Streda, where a group of friends got together to show the appreciation for metal music not only by listening to it, but also playing it.  After a long time reflecting on the band’s name, APRIL WEEDS was born. We derived the inspiration from names like MY DYING BRIDE, HEAVENWOOD, TRISTANIA, IN FLAMES, DIMMU BORGIR, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, a genre that was not typical for the vicinity of Dunajská Streda, especially with a great use of keyboards.

Our music was not easy to categorise, we included the best from each of the sources of inspiration, but we had one thing in common: a melody. After a year of rehearsing and a few gigs played, we recorded our first demo in a home studio. Unfortunately, the next 5 years after the recording were very hard. Constant line-up changes, loss of rehearsal space and bad luck forced us to get separated. But the willpower and love for metal of several past members have led to a revival and after new members were recruited in 2010, APRIL WEEPS was formed.

Three quarters of a year later another demo was being recorded and another crisis strikes. The band were separated again, mostly because of personal conflicts and differences in opinions related to the band. Nevertheless thanks to the persistence of core members in December 2011 the circle was sealed and the final line-up was established.

In September 2012, we recorded our debut album "Outer Calm, Pain Within".

Can you tell us a little about each member of the band?

Stronghold: I will generalise it – we are bunch of fools hungry for performing at gigs.

Marta: April Weeps is an interesting mixture of various creatures with different characters, opinions and hobbies. Actually, we do not have that much in common, except we are all crazy in a way and love what we are doing in our band.

So, who are we?

Stronghold is a great collector of metal art and an active fan, a real metalhead.

Doki is a little guy with big heart, the kind of musician that does not need more than just a guitar in his hands and can give you a never-to-forget serenade.

Dex is a real veteran. Living for music and hoping that there comes a time for his dreams to come true.
Roland is a punk, the rebel child, not really wanting to accept the expectations of every day, let’s say – normal functioning life.

N is a big teddy – similar to big daddy from Bioshock – as I feel like a little sister sometimes standing next to him on the stage, he is that kind of huge and nice person.

Tosho is the youngest/newest one. A mystery for me just yet.

As for me, I’m not going to describe myself; I just can’t be so objective. :-D

Roland: In general, I can say that I respect my bandmates for everything they invest to the band in order to keep the things going well. Since I am punk, like Marta said, I appreciate that there’s always someone who has the ability to get me to the right direction when it’s necessary.

Where did the name April Weeps come from and does it have a meaning?

Stronghold: When we started to rehearse, we had no clue how to name our band, but it didn’t last long. We were strongly influenced by TRISTANIA’s opus magnum "Widow’s Weeds", so the word "Weeds" comes from this. Since we started to play in April, the name was successfully formed. It has also meaning from the musical background – our music isn’t stable, it is always changing, from aggressive to slow and vice versa, has many influences, there are lot of tempo changes, just like the weather in April.

When we were at the beginning, many people were like: "Why weeds? ", "Do you guys smoke weed? " and so on… Like I mentioned previously, after the band’s first recorded demo, we decided that the separation would be the best option available. When revived in 2010, we came to a conclusion it would be good idea to change the name, perhaps a little, something so that we could forget about those unfavourable days and also to clarify, we’re not a group of weed devotees. :-D And this is how April Weeps came into existence.

Can you tell us more about you most recent release "Outer Calm, Pain Within" - for example the lyrical themes and who wrote the songs?

Marta: The lyrics are mainly inspired by the life itself. We focus on the individual with their attitudes, belief and fears, reactions to difficult life situations and coping with everyday challenges. The appearing themes are: the loss of the important one, grief, regret for past bad decisions, disintegration of inner stability, and hope for the better future, finding the source of energy and facing death.

Stronghold: Well, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about our very first "child", is that it took a very long time and period before we decided to record something bigger.  It can be described as a period of many ups and downs. Fortunately, we managed to get through this. Majority of the music material was composed before 2010 and it was mostly composed by me and Dex, but when new members came, they put their own feelings to the songs and the result can be heard on the CD.

N: Since April Weeps has been functioning for a few years (in different line-ups of course), our debut album "Outer Calm, Pain Within" had been created gradually over the years. The songs don’t have a single composer. Some of them were composed by previous members, others were written by the current line-up. And that also applies to lyrics. They themselves deal with hard moments in life of a modern human and of his internal disputes.

We love the album art for "Outer Calm, Pain Within".  How did this come about and who created it?

Stronghold: At the beginning, there were a few candidates with the willingness to shape the metaphor "Outer Calm, Pain Within". We wanted something unusual, dark and with atmosphere. In the end, we chose Marius Sachtikus, a professional photographer, as an art director of the album. He has such a great sense in these dark things, he’s also a very nice person, it was a real honour to co-operate with him and in the hindsight, we think that nobody else could have brought the right atmosphere to the music with the pictures, as he did.

N: While searching and deciding what our graphics will look like we stumbled across Marius’ website and we immediately came to endear his work. Afterwards we started to communicate and we assigned this project to him. Although we had an idea of our own, it was Marius who brought the design to life. We were there, of course, for every stage of his work to give our feedback. You can see his final work in our CD and booklet.

How would you describe the bands musical sound?

Stronghold: We describe ourselves as "atmospheric metal" – a kind of mosaic that everyone in the band brings to the whole unit.

N: Yes, we have come to an agreement to name our sound "atmospheric metal". Our music has always been about certain feelings and about invoking them. The synths take the largest part in it, but other instruments are as important as them. For example the melodic guitars or Marta’s great voice. But if we were to analyse our music even further, we would definitely find elements of gothic metal, doom metal, symphonic metal and melodic death metal.

Roland: The musical background of every member is different and everyone likes different music, thus the result is quite hard to describe – it must be heard, just visit our pages. ☺

When it comes to writing and creating April Weeps music who is involved and what part do they play?

Marta: Creating each song is a process in which every member takes part. Sometimes one comes with the main idea, which is later on improved and new themes are built around, sometimes the song is the result of a common creative process. On the whole, the lyrics are written by the vocalists.

Stronghold: In the past, we were used to compose the music at our homes and the result was complete song with minimum intervention in the rehearsal room. Nowadays, the whole writing process is different – we compose new songs directly in the rehearsal room. It is much better now, because every single member can interfere in this process and I’ve noticed that a single remark can change the feeling of the whole song. We have composed 5 new songs that are not included on our debut album and I can say that thanks to this composing process, these new pieces are very colourful, diverse and complex.

Which April Weeps song do you most enjoy playing live and why?

Marta: My favourite song is "Unreachable Gratification" – one of our new songs, it is about temptation for the forbidden fruit and craving for more pleasure (even in the sense of addictions) that ends in paralysing state not able to move on and to see the line between reality and fantasy. But when I think about the song that I enjoy playing live the most – it might be "The Last Piece of Eden", because I can release some animal energy through growling.

Stronghold: For me, it is without doubt "The Last Piece of Eden". It is the newest one composed with the strong gothic metal touch, catchy refrain and hypnotic moment in the middle of it. When we play this one on the stage, I feel like I’m going to explode from all the energy that springs from it! The AWesome news is that we are going to make our first official video right with this song.

N: For me, it’s very difficult to tell, because my favourite one always changes. But now I would have to say "The Last Piece of Eden". It is energetic, dynamic and it suits me instrumentally. And since I was the one who wrote the lyrics, it has very personal meaning to me.

Roland: Absolutely… I enjoy our newest song "The Last Piece of Eden" the most, too, mainly because of the melodies and also because of the way we managed to put the themes together.

Dex: I enjoy the most playing live one of our recent songs called "Palingenesis"; it is a song with unconventional structure and has very heavy riff at the beginning.

Is it true you rehearse in a disused nuclear bunker?  Do tell us more.

Marta: Actually this was not the purpose. When looking for places this opportunity arose and it was more a question of practicality then style. But all in all, I find it very epic.

Stronghold: Hehe, yes, it is true. But it was quite a coincidence. When we lost the rehearsal place, we were forced to find a new one, which was very stressful, because it took almost 3 months and it is very hard for young musicians to find this kind of place... One day I was roaming around the industrial zone in our city and found a firm that deals with leasing offices. After a short conversation with the building administrator about the place we were looking for, I followed him downstairs and he asked me: "Is this the place you are searching for?” I immediately fell in love with this shelter. It has also one big advantage in comparison with other ordinary rehearsal rooms – when a nuclear strike will occur, we can still keep rehearsing. :-D

What comes next for April Weeps?  Are you producing new songs?  When can we expect further releases from you?  What are your aspirations as a band and as individuals?

Marta: April Weeps never sleeps. ☺.  We recently finished the recording of "The Last Piece of Eden" in order to make our first official video; it will be for the first time that we will be a part of video shooting, so we’re quite excited about that. Let’s hope everything will go smoothly so you people can experience how the new April Weeps material will sound.

Stronghold: As for me, I’m pragmatic person; I don’t want to talk about new album right now. We will see what the future will bring, but the good news is that half of the material is already composed. My wish is to make another stunning release and of course to perform on as many stages as possible and during all of this, we still keep composing new songs.

N: We don’t have a strict goal to achieve. We simply want our music to reach the broadest audience possible and move forward, for example by shooting a music video, which is currently a work-in-progress. Of course we are making new music, we actually play these new songs live and we look forward to a time, when there will be enough of them for a new CD. We want to deliver a new piece in the best quality we are able to achieve now, so we are taking things slowly and won’t rush them.

Dex: We will be very glad to get our music to as many stages and as far as possible.

We would like to thank everyone who showed the interest in our band, spent the time reading this interview or listening to our music. Big thanks go to Femetalism web for the opportunity to present our band on its pages. Keep supporting your favourite bands, with buying their merchandise, tickets to their shows or just by hitting a single like on their Facebook pages, it is a great satisfaction for them and it gives them a lot of positive energy for their future efforts. Stay metal!

Huge thanks to April Weeps for the time they took to talk to Femetalism.  I am waiting with anticipation to hear new material from the band and to see the new video.  I also think I better start planning a trip to Slovakia soon, so I can see them live.  

You can get yourself a digital copy of Outer Calm, Inner Pain from the bands Bandcamp Page.  You can also purchase a rather dashing digipak with full colour 24-page booklet including all the lyrics and a band photo.  The artwork is beautiful so if, like me, you love a real CD this is a stunning item to get your hands on.

Follow the band on:

Follow me on Bandcamp to see what else I am listening to: https://bandcamp.com/emmasheridan

Originally posted by Emma Sheridan - www.femetalism.co.uk