How different is it releasing an album compared to a demo?
-Well, as a band we haven’t ever released a demo other than a few free bonus track downloads that were released with our first single. As our music is quite complex, with orchestra parts and choirs, as well as a 5 piece metal band, it is quite a lot of work to release anything! When we’re writing the music, we actually generate our own demo versions of the songs using sound samples, which we do not release publicly. Even writing the demo versions of our songs is a huge amount of work, as an 142 piece orchestra, choirs, and 5 piece band takes a lot of arranging! Then we will record us playing the songs in the studio, and release a more polished product to our fans. They deserve no less.
What response did you get on your first album? What was the weirdest response you got?
-We had a very positive response from our first album, more so than we were expecting. We received a lot of support from reviewers and digital radio stations early on that had come across our release, as well as fan pages for symphonic and female fronted metal. We were overwhelmed that people from all over the world were listening to Awaken Solace. We put a lot of effort in behind the scenes (about a year or so of work) before we released our first album, and before we’d even played our first gig! It was a great way of doing things, as soon as we started playing shows we had a whole album of material for people to experience. As for weird responses, none really spring to mind… Just some very positive remarks from fans that blew us away 😉
When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that?
-That people know what you have written on your own? It is a very strange feeling to see a stranger in the crowd singing a song that you wrote, it is also very uplifting. To know that you’ve created something that someone else is enjoying is a great feeling.
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the first album for a second when it comes to lyrics and art work for example?
-For our second album we deliberately wanted to try and avoid simply generating ‘more of the same’ songs and sounds, but push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, and create music that is more complex, more intense, and uplifting. Generally we wanted to make something that was better than anything we’d done before. For our new album we have created a concept and story to base the music upon which has also helped us to create something a little different to the last album. When the music or lyrics are written to fit a story, or a feeling, it does make you write in a slightly different way. As for lyrics and artwork Maree is the best to chat to about that but I know there is a true consistency in the meaning of Awaken Solace and our lyrical content. Even for a band that is very fantasy inspired there are deeper meanings behind the stories we produce and that is replicated in our artwork. Awaken Solace is a world of its own and we have explored this world even more with the new album, I see us revisiting this place in albums to come.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a metal band?
-Definitely, as most Brisbane bands are extremely supportive of each other and great to work with. Because the metal community is fairly small here, everyone knows one another too. I would describe the metal band community in Brisbane as quality, rather than quantity. Being in a relatively small city compared with most of the world, there are only a handful of metal bands who regularly gig and work together. There are even fewer metal bands here that have a symphonic or melodic aspect to their music and we often team up with like-minded bands to present shows catered to fans of our style of music which is not so common here. Thrash and death metal are quite popular here though the metal scene itself it still quite small. A small city also means not many venues for bands to play shows in. That being said though, the few bands that are in Brisbane are of extremely high quality, and easily among the best from anywhere else in the world. Hence the quality, not quantity. Then of course there is the online communities who are so very supportive of our music.
When you have found a sound how hard/easy is it to come up with a songs that fit into the sound?
-It can be a little tricky to write new material that fits the same style or sound that we want to maintain for Awaken Solace, and that means some of the music we write does get discarded or used in someone’s side project instead of the band! We are a very fortunate band, in that quite a few of our members have a high level of musical training, which makes it easy to tell early on if a composition is going to fit in with Awaken Solace’s sound and style. And most of us have other side projects which material gets used in if it doesn’t make the cut.
How much do you look at what other bands do and think that we should have done it first?
-Not that often really. There are plenty of bands which we listen to, and then think, “Wow, I wish I had written that.” But an important thing to do when you create anything, is to try and come up with something new, something of your own, that no-one has ever done before. And not just something new for the sake of it, but it has to be something new that you think people will also really enjoy. That is what we aim to do with our music. Funnily enough, we seem to have done a few things at the same time as some other bigger, more well known bands in our genre. For example, we recorded a boys choir in our first album, which was recorded before Nightwish released Imaginaerum. With our second album, we use a lot of sound design to compliment the music and the story it follows, which was written out long before Nightwish released their latest album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, which has a similar approach. There is actually a joke among our band that Nightwish are getting all of their ideas from us! But of course it is coincidence.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Yes, once you’re in a band and trying to become successful you do notice what is going on. The ‘record industry’ is a relic of the past. The technology available today means an upcoming band no longer needs a record label to distribute or promote their music. Its only the very large bands with a huge demand for merchandise that require a record label’s assistance. It is true that the ease of sharing and pirating music online has reduced cd sales, but when you consider people rarely buy music they haven’t heard before, the situation is not as bad as it may seem. When people can listen to and share your music online for free, you get far more exposure. People like to know what they are buying. As an example, when our first album appeared on the torrent site Pirate Bay, we had a substantial increase in cd sales, simply because people were sharing our music around, and trying out/listening to our music before buying. We do however hope that our fans purchase our music if they like what they’re hearing, we make very little money at the end of the day and every little bit helps us to keep going.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-It is up to people’s personal preference. To speak for myself, I buy digital most of the time, and for my favourite bands I’ll order a physical copy and perhaps a t-shirt to go with it. The good thing about digital is it does makes music more affordable, which in turn makes it more accessible for the fans (and it is also easier for the artist to distribute). And its better for the environment. But there is something nice about owning a physical copy of a cd, with a lyric book and artwork. Plus, it’s a good feeling to support the bands that you really like by spending a bit more money on them.
What lies in the future?
-Nobody can predict! Haha. But in the short term future, we are looking forward to sharing our new album with as many people as we can. We’ve worked extremely hard to make the music as good as we possibly can. It has been almost a two year project to write this second album, as we’ve been very fussy and made sure everything is perfect, from the tiniest trill in the orchestra, to the heavy driving riffs that people can throw their hair around to. We are hoping the work we’ve put into making the music a very high quality will pay off, and hopefully it will open up some opportunities for us to do some touring both in Australia and abroad, so we can share our music with as many people as possible.