The world is full of cool band ready to be discovered. I will always do my best to bring them to you, like with CRIMSON DAWN, and then it is up to you to take it from there. Answers by Dario. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
(Dario) When Crimson Dawn was born, it was supposed to be a studio-project, a one-off to give me and my friend Emanuele (Rastelli, from Crown Of Autumn) a chance to do something together. Over the years it evolved into something completely different: a real band, with a very stable line-up (no changes from 2011, basically from when we first had a real, full line-up) and a very unique style. So I’d say Crimson Dawn has even exceeded my original expectations!
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
(Marco) We are very pleased with our last album and once again, it’s another case of something actually exceeding our expectations! At the beginning we had some doubts ‘bout how this was going to turn out, due to the fact that, unlike what happened for the first album, in which the songs were composed and arranged almost completely by the whole band in the rehearsal room, this time we didn’t have as many chances to play the songs all together before entering the studio. A lot of work was done individually. Yet the result was excellent in every aspect, also thanks to the outstanding work of Mattia Stancioiu of Elnor Studios, which helped us a lot, especially in the construction of a very different sound than that one of In Strange Aeons (our first album).
Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it ?
(Marco)As we said before, we believe, with Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter, to have finally found a sound that really belongs to us. During the recording of the first album of course we still had to figure out what kind of sound we wanted to get, especially with the guitars. The recordings of the EP At The Cemetery Gates helped us tremendously to take the path that brought us to this new album, where we believe we have found what we were looking for, which is the perfect balance between power and dynamics. I believe that everything sound more “seventies” than in Strange Aeons but at the same time more “metal”… I would say: perfect for an epic doom band!
(Dario)I agree with Marco, 100%. Plus I’d like to add that there is a LOT going on in our music. We are trying to give it a multi-dimensional sound. The foundation of our sound is epic doom, but it includes traditional metal riffs, ‘70s prog influences, medieval folk moments… we’ve taken and we will take some criticism because it’s not all doom and gloom in our music, because we have keyboards, or whatever, but frankly, we don’t give a damn. We want Crimson Dawn to have their own sound. And that sometimes implies going beyond genres.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
(Marco) I think that the lyrics are as important as the music itself … since it is precisely the marriage of lyrics with music that acts as a “soundtrack” to build the real atmosphere of a song. Let’s say that, rather than wanting to give a message, we like to tell stories. Doom metal is often thought of as a genre that speaks only of sadness, death and crumbling tombstones in old cemeteries cloaked in fog… well, in some cases it is actually true! We have tried, however, to change a lot of topics, ranging from horror stories (Gaze Of The Scarecrow), to viking sagas of revenge and regret (Dark Ride), old books revisited from a darker point of view (Checkmate in Red), to the classic “depressive” atmospheres of doom metal with To Live Is To Grieve. The song At The Cemetery Gates present on our EP could almost be considered a love song! Great importance in our lyrics has our official “mascot” too … called “The Scourge of the Dead” … an enigmatic undead hunter that is also portrayed on the cover of our last album.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
(Marco) Like the lyrics, even the cover is important, as it helps to give a general idea of the atmosphere that the people will feel during the listening. The fact of living in the digital download age genuinely did not prevent us from wanting, for our three works, covers that would match perfectly with what we felt to be the inner spirit of the record. We are particularly delighted with the cover of our latest album that finally, thanks to the future release of a vinyl edition, people will have the chance to enjoy in every detail!
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
(Marco) We can only answer just speaking about the situation of our country. In Italy there is a strong tradition of popular music, sung in Italian, which has its roots in our local folklore that varies from region to region. This kind of music, for which we are also famous abroad, has drastically reduced the space of all other musical genres (the difficulties encountered in Italy by a metal band are not in fact different from the difficulties faced by a jazz or a blues band). This fact, combined with a general “cultural lowering” of the people (certainly increased by shows like X-Factor!), always made our country a place where making non-mainstream music and finding an audience is incredibly difficult. And in fact the Italian metal band who have managed to reach real popularity abroad can be counted on the fingers of one hand …almost. Scandinavia… well… it’s another world compared to Italy… I still remember that in the mid-90s I was in Helsinki in a very crowded Virgin megastore, and next to the records of the finnish pop bands were on display the latest works of Amorphis, Beherit and Impaled Nazarene! And talking about what success means for us… I would say that is simply being able to carry out our work, play live and have fun doing it.
(Dario) I would also add that, generally speaking, in Italian to be a musician is not considered a “real” job. That means you get zero help, from a financial and practical point of view, to try and make music for a living. If you’re in a band and you have to handle it on top of a 8-hours a day day job, it’s very, very hard to think you can be able to make more of it than just a passion.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music. How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
(Marco) We have never looked, in these six years, to the world of music as a kind of competition because we believe that the only important thing is to have fun. The only thing that really matters for our band is to give to the public good music, regardless of what eventually will be the outcome in terms of popularity. We’re too old now to worry about the fact that there are tens of thousands of bands out there trying to win the rock ‘n roll lottery! We want just to keep creating good songs and playing wherever we can, this will always be our goal, without giving too much weight in search of “success”.
(Dario) Of course every band has that little spark of hope that someday, somehow, they’ll get noticed. But at our age (averaging 40 throughout the band) it’s just not realistic to think in those terms. We just do what we want to do, what we like doing. And believe me – it’s incredibly refreshing to be able to create without having to make considerations about crafting a product to sell, but only about crafting something you personally enjoy. The band is an outlet for our passion and our emotions. We are trying to be as professional as possible, of course. But it is not “our job”. It’s just something we love.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
(Marco) I think I have already given the answer two questions ago … consider also that in Italy everyone is complaining about the little audience present at their shows, but at the same time, none of these people who complain about this thing then go to see the concerts of other underground bands! The fee for the bands is also pretty ridiculous and sometimes you have to pay to play! Among other things, after our last experiences, we can honestly say that our country has huge issues when it comes to live music …we have a lot to learn from the festivals in the northern Europe!
(Dario) Personally, I think the problem is just that there is no audience here for underground metal bands. Most people in Italy only listen to the big, household names and couldn’t give a fuck about underground bands. And the people who could potentially be interested are the same that actually play in those bands! So sometimes it’s very difficult because you’ll have conflicting schedules or generally speaking you don’t have the energy to go to your friends’ show if you played the night before and have to go to work at 6 o’ clock the day after, if you know what I mean. I really believe that a “scene” needs FANS to thrive. Not just musicians giving each others a pat on the back. And in Italy there are not nearly enough fans. Metal is nowhere to be found in the Italian media except for the very huge names, so it’s kinda hard to reach people they don’t even know metal exists. It’s sad, but this is what it is.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
(Marco) No man, definitely it’s not like Finland. As already said our cultural traditions have meant that the metal was always seen by the vast majority of people as mere noise for immature kids. Together with the strong Catholic influence, this situation has built a very poor and bigoted cultural environment, far more inclined to encourage people to identify with the masses rather than to bring out new movements (musical and of other kind). Meaning that here the old stereotype of the “junkie and hooligan hippie” actually never died! The sad thing, however, beyond the musical drama, is to look at the growth of the new generations … that seem to be increasingly composed of arrogant brainwashed assholes that are interested just in new I-phones models and bullshit.
What does the future hold for you?
(Dario) Well the new album comes out on March 31st. That will be a crucial moment. And the day after that, we’ll be playing in Sweden at the Scania Doom Festival. After that, we’ll have to wait and see. Someday we’d like to do a small tour in Europe, but it’s not easy to do organize something like that. We’ll see if we can make it!
(Marco) We aim to keep playing until judgement day!
(Dario) Or until we rot in our graves. Whatever comes first!