You have one of these names that does not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-Actually we didn’t came up with the name for the band. Back in 2008/2009, José Bértolo (our former guitarist and co-founder) and I were active members of an international metal forum, in which we made some friendships. When we decided to form a band, we were having trouble coming up with a name, so we created a thread in the forum asking for suggestions to our then friends and few active members of the forum. One of them was Dani Evans (former bassist/guitarist of Alestorm), and he suggested Dark Oath. Among all of the suggestions it was the one that caught our attention the most, and so, we went with it.
Could you give us a short introduction to the band?
-Well, we are a symphonic melodic death metal band from Portugal. We’re around since 2009, having released two EP’s between 2010 and 2012, and we’re about to release our debut full-length record(“When Fire Engulfs the Earth”) through WormHoleDeath Records on April 15th.
What would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-I wouldn’t exactly say there has been one influence that stands among everything that indeed influences our sound. There’s a few bands that play(ed) a major part in terms of getting to know what we wanted as a band, bands such as Amon Amarth, Wintersun, Hypocrisy, Insomnium, and many more. Great composers of today are also an influence, such as Bear McCreary or Hans Zimmer.
What is the metal scene like in your area? Do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-Since Portugal is such a small country, there’s no point talking about a local scene. I’d say the metal scene in Portugal is not bad at all. There are lots of bands, and shows monthly (almost weekly), all over the country. Metalheads in general are kind of a recognized group of people around here, so there’s not much opposition to the music. I do have to say that the Portuguese scene goes by trends, which saddens me a little. For instance, the trend for the past two years is grind/death, which doesn’t leave much place for a more melodic band like us, but hey, we manage by, so it’s all good.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-That felling is something that I’ve always pursued with Dark Oath, creating a family of sorts, noone in the band, fans of the band, fellow musicians/bands, feeling left out or forgotten. Sadly, it has been difficult to achieve it. For the past 3 years we’ve been working in our debut album, away from the shows, we’ve been through some rough patches, a lot of changes in the line-up, but now we’re back at it, and ready to pursue it once more.
When you play the sort of metal you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-That’s a tough question. I really like album covers that have a lot of details but in way minimalistic, for instance, the artwork for Fleshgod Apocalypse’s “Labyrinth”. It’s one of my favorites and it might be the best example of what I mean by full of details but simple nonetheless.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-I don’t really believe digital is killing music. At least not in the way it is usually discussed. What I mean by this is that when it comes to digital vs. physical it’s always (more or less) regarding distribution. It’s safe to say that digital distribution is here to stay, and it isn’t, by no means, a bad thing. You can get your music to people you couldn’t before, there’s a lot more tools at your disposal to spread the music, for marketing, etc. People just need to understand how to use them, and the state of the industry nowadays.
Nothing’s impossible, quite the contrary. Now, having said that, I think that with the digital development of the technology necessary to record and produce any type of music came a huge problem: there’s too much of it. I mean, don’t take me wrong, it’s great that the tools necessary to record are a lot more cheaper than a few decades ago, easier to use, etc. It gives the opportunity to beginners to have the minimum understanding of the whole recording and mixing process so that, if it comes to it, everything doesn’t seem like rocket science while recording in a professional studio, and maybe participate in critical decisions with the mix engineer/producer with some notion and knowledge of what is indeed happening.
But there’s a problem. It’s not so difficult to record and mix a song on your own with the minimum sound quality to the ears of the common listener with these easy-access and easy-to-use tools. This creates a huge wave of new artists releasing easily their music without a “gatekeeper” (let’s call it that). What I mean by this is that, a few decades ago, in order to release your music you had mainly two options: you had the creative quality and luck to catch the attention of a label that would invest in you, take you to a professional studio, and release your music, OR you had the financial means to do it yourself (but having no one to evaluate the potential success of your music, that option would come with the risk of having spent all of that money for nothing).
So, the labels were these “gatekeepers” of sorts, choosing the artists that deserved the opportunity to record and release their music. Don’t take me wrong, not every band/artist made it, even having a label behind them, I mean, music is subjective, not even a label can be 100% certain of what will make it in the market or not, but you get my point. Nowadays, without these “gatekeepers”, anyone can release their music, and when it comes to a listener choosing something to listen to or maybe even buy, he’s flooded with thousands and thousands of artists and bands having to search through all of them to eventually find something worth listening to. So, a good band, in order to stand out, can’t do it only based off the creative quality of the music. It would need a powerful and expensive marketing plan that not every label have the means to employ.
Which means that when they do have the means to employ this kind of huge marketing plans, they need something in return, but since the listener doesn’t even need to buy music in order to listen to something since he’s flooded with music everywhere he goes (be it in the real world or the internet), the little income that can be generated from the publishing of said music goes mostly to the label, or else it’s impossible for a label to invest this kind of money. I could go on and on about this, but essentially, the digital era erased the existence of these “gatekeepers” and there’s no filter to what is recorded and released, and so the industry is totally flooded, which does nothing but harm every artist that once had the potential to make it. I think you get my point, and just to be clear, this is only my opinion.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-When it comes to our country, like I mentioned before, the scene isn’t really open to our kind of band, at least right now. Outside of Portugal, I know there are multiple festivals that books mainly bands that play our type of music, and some countries favor it, but having no first-hand knowledge of this, I can’t really say.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-I like to think it’s a mixture of both. At least I’d like it to be. I mean, we’re playing live so people can enjoy the music and themselves, but we don’t really want our live shows to become just another common party, I mean, what would be the point of even playing?
What would you like to see the future bring?
-I’d like to see Dark Oath having the means to stay within existence. Not having successfully implemented the band in the charts, tour the world, etc., I’d be happy if we could at least give a lasting and sustainable existence to the band, that’s it.