Romanian ABIGAIL came to me by chance. I was looking for female fronted bands and by chance I found info on the WASP cover ABIGAIL did for a tribute album. That line-up no longer exist but the band is still kicking around . Anders Ekdahl ©2012
The most famous Abigail I know of is King Diamond’s. Why did you name you band after a girl’s name?
R: Well, like thousands of kids at that time we were fascinated by that album and music. But was only after a few years when we were thinking of a good band name. Reasons were three first one being obvious, the next two being a name that is written and means the same thing in all the languages and the third was strictly related to the metal genre we just started to discover through Black Sabbath, Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass. At that time even in post-Communist Romania the info we received regarding world metal scene was so little and was only around 1998 we found out there was one more active band by the same name.
What was the hardest thing you experienced when you started the band in the first place?
R: That’s easy one to answer. Back then if you were lucky enough to have a relative abroad or some friend to travel was a great chance for you to get a “real” distortion pedal or a “real” guitar. So the lack of proper instruments was the main problem for any starting band. I built my own guitar and used it till ’96. Thanks to technical magazines we also built our own pedals, very rudimentary ones. As for recordings… well because there were no recording studios our first demo was in fact recorded like this: we captured drums through one microphone and 2 guitars plus bass through a mixer into a tape deck. Then we played back that cassette through the mixer and we then layered keyboards and vocals all summed into another tape deck. The third hardest thing was the fact that there was no rock media at all to showcase our effort until a few years after that moment.
What is it that has made you survive for so long? Why haven’t you disbanded the band completely?
R: We still live for our dream as kids, apparently. We still dream on a label contract, we still wish
to play tons of tours… We have been beaten all odds that were against us since the very beginning. Looking at some western known bands who started in the same time as we did it is obvious they were lucky enough to live and play on the right place. So we will continue until we decide we have nothing to say anymore musically speaking and until people will stop listening to our music or coming to shows. And to be honest, 2011 has shown us the opposite.
For a band that has survived 18 years what has been the highlights/low points of the career?
R: Well, in every endeavor there is such moments, highs and lows. We were no different from that, so I can consider a highlight everything that happened from 1994 to 1999, then the time between 2007-2008 when we were the opening band for such acts as Katatonia, Evergrey, we played in festivals right before or along Cynic, Helloween, etc. Apparently since mid 2010 until today we live another “career” highlight and we intend to do the best we can this time based on the previous experience we accumulated. The main low point…hmm, starting 2000 until almost 2003 we were almost completely disbanded because in Romania nothing happened in the rock scene: there were again no venues to play live, no magazines, no interest whatsoever. I remember in 1999 we only played one show that year. It was a sad year for the Romanian scene.
How hard is it to release records and keep the band going when you don’t have any real financial backing?
R: Like other thousands of bands around the world we are what it is known as a DIY band. We have day jobs, some of us have started growing a family already. The band is nothing than a Black Hole for our wallets, but as I previously said we continue to believe in what we are doing. When we decide to
release a record, for example, we study all the ways we can achieve that with minimum of financial effort but with maximum of quality results. This last release, for example, is “the living proof”. We recorded drums, vocals and guitars in our rented rehearsal space during our normal rehearsing times, so almost no extra financial effort. Bass, keyboards and mixing was done in my home studio, therefore I only paid for electricity. Mastering was done on drummer’s home studio. So as you see, it can be done and the result is pretty decent. The problem starts when you intend to release it on physical support. Manufacturing of CD copies is not that affordable. Then it comes promotion. For
example to send a package to Australia costs triple than the CD or t-shirt itself. We are not cheap, but we came to an age and reason we begun to think if it’s worth it or not. That’s why we decided to release this material as digital release only just to give us a go ahead until the next release we plan in doing this year.
What is it that you want from a record label for you to sign a long term contract with them?
R: We don’t have a dialogue experience with record labels but we will continue to look for one and this maybe just to manufacture and promote for us the CDs. If they can’t afford more than that then we will continue to finance our own recordings and that is fine. But until then 90% of all the replies we get from labels are related to the country we come from and I don’t know why, really.
You’ve had female and male vocalists. How has the change of vocalists changed the structure of the music? Any things that needs to be done differently when you change vocalists?
R: Ah, yes, back in 2007 I was a bit contaminated by the modern metal type of playing. So I composed some new songs into that manner and for that we needed a girl vocalist. I admit I was wrong because we lost many fans then. I still like the music we did then but it is impossible to perform it live now
as we returned to our roots, musically. Regarding the music structure, I can only say that modern metal
requires a pretty standard song structure, almost radio friendly hence doom/death and related subgenres are a bit freestyle in terms of song structure. It’s more organic and elastic, it has not a form and shape instantly understandable by every mind but rather by special souls. That’s why not every person can be attracted to it. Only the chosen ones, the ones whose hearts beat slower and souls burn longer. It results a totally different approach of vocal singing, of course. But in Abgail, not vocalists
changed the music but rather the opposite. That’s why she left in 2008 as she considered she cannot identify herself with doom metal. Plus, she was not liking too much growling vocals and this would reduced her to a backing vocalist only to play on some choruses, so you understand..
When you have to make a change to the line-up how much of a setback is that? Can you calculate what you lose when changing line-up in terms of band movement?
R: Hmm… I will be very precise on this one: if it’s the bass or the keyboard player, it will be a very quick and silent recovery. Currently we use keyboards on backing tracks, live. If it’s the guitarist then with the right guy it will still take some time, although only a few of them were the exact fit for this position in this band. If it’s the drummer, well… then you might consider to change a bit the songs or expect this will eventually happen by itself in time. Can’t say much about the vocalists since we use growls most of the time. All in all, a major change can set you back even for one whole year. We lived that once, unfortunately.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve? What kind of response do you get from the national metal scene?
R: Most of the time, no. But I understand that we have to act 101% in order to receive 1% back. That’s how it is in underground. Maybe on top it works that 20/80 rule (80% results with 20% effort). I was pleasantly surprised to see the media from abroad, other musicians and fans were attracted to us, especially after releasing “It is the night I fear”. Some guys offered to send us donations, others offered money just to make sure they will get a physical copy, others asked us if it’s alright to review our music and so on. While in our own country was almost the opposite effect in the underground media. We have more fans here than ever, we had lots of people attending our shows and this even without any support bands, our record is obviously musically and production wise better than most of the materials from local underground bands so it makes this result even stranger. Unfortunatelly is not our case only. Not at all. Many bands who released anything this year were ignored by the local media and the reason for that is way beyond me. Luckily some people here were helping us and we appreciate this and we will be grateful, but then people from whom we were expecting this to happen ignored us. Maybe we should have no expectations at all and this is how we will act for 2012. We will once again base ourselves on our fans who love what we do and not on the media. Expectations leads to disappointment.
If you were to predict the future of the band what would your five wishes be?
R: Haha, I love the last part of the question. So here are the 5 wishes: No line-up changes, forced or not. Good health to all the band members and their relatives. More shows and gigs this year, maybe
in places we always wanted to play. A new good album. Keeping our fun and enjoyment for as long as we will do this. Cheers and thank you for your interest in our music, we appreciate. We also salute all your readers.