What do you do when a band comes to an end and yet hasn’t been given the chance to glow. You interview them one last time. So here’s the last ever (possibly) interview with LUMUS. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
How did it all end?
-There were a variety of factors. The simple answer is that Dustin had already moved on, and Joe was ready to move on himself this fall. At the same time I was going through a child custody evaluation and dealing with a serious shoulder injury. A big part of the magic of Lumus was that we had stellar people on every instrument. That made the task of recruiting a new guitarist and drummer a daunting task- one that I wasn’t ready to face given my personal circumstances.
When you spend an amount of your life on a band does it feel like you have wasted time once it comes to an end?
-Absolutely not! The band came to an end, yes. But in the time we were together I was able to grow an incredible amount as a violinist, arranger, and composer. And as a leader. There are very few people right now who can claim to know as much as I do about integrating orchestral strings into metal. The Bacchus’s Curse album I count as my greatest personal achievement. That’s not time wasted. That’s time spent honing myself as a musician- something I wanted to do and continue to do anyway.
When you have ended one thing how soon do you start to think about the next thing?
-That’s hard to say. Working with a great soloist like Dustin has led my to greater understanding of my own instrument. But this last year, with my shoulder injured I haven’t been able to put the practice time in to advance my playing like I’ve wanted. Now that I’m on the mend I expect I’ll be thinking a lot more concretely about what the next project will look like.
No matter how small or big you were as a band you have left a legacy behind you. How do you want people to treat this legacy?
-You know, when I was learning violin as a kid, there was no such thing as symphonic metal. There also wasn’t the kind of genre blending with instruments as you see now. I was always a big fan of metal, but it wasn’t until I first listened to Nightwish’s ‘Once’ album that the idea “I can play metal on violin” really took hold of me. In terms of legacy, I hope Bacchus’ Curse is remembered looked at as a good total package- but for me personally I would like for other string players to listen to it, and have one good ready example of a way to play classical strings in metal.
What was it that made LUMUS come together in the first place?
-An ad on craigslist. Actually a couple ads. Joe, Dustin and Sean all answered my ad within the space of a couple weeks time, and I was blessed by the caliber of talent they represented. I was looking for people with classical and theory knowledge as well as general instrument chops. Joe wanted the symphonic metal style specifically. Dustin I think was attracted to the technical side of what I was looking for. Sean was casting a wider net- he even said specifically at the time “I’ll give it six months, then we’ll see.” Three years later we had an album together, so you really never know. Charlotte took some hunting for. The pool of classically trained lady singers who can sing opera but would rather sing metal is…rather small. But ultimately craigslist connected her to us as well.
Do you feel any bitterness that you could not take the band further?
-Some, yes. More regret than bitterness per se. It sucks to make something great and not follow it up, and in a way that’s exactly what we did. Dustin was out 6 months after we released the album. Sean shortly afterward. That sent us into a cycle of recruiting new people rather than touring and performing- which is what you need to do for people to hear you. Not only recruiting- which is hard enough on its own- recruiting people that are insanely good, meld well with an existing group, and can hear what the hell is going on with their part on an album where each song went 90, sometimes even 100 individual tracks deep in protools. That proved to be an impossible task. Mark, Bob, Dave, Danny- you all deserve thanks for trying to get Lumus a little further in your respective roles. I regret quite a bit that it couldn’t have gone further.
How fierce is the competition in establishing a new band, to build a name?
-Don’t even start! Here in Portland, everybody and their mother’s playing in a band. Every body’s advertising, and there will be at least 15 other music venues having shows at the same time you’re playing. The papers here claim there’s a strong and supportive music scene, but that hasn’t been my experience of it. On the other hand I was just contacted today by an out of town festival wanting to hear Lumus play live. All I can say to that promoter is where were you 2 years ago?
Is digital taking away the mystery of waiting for a new album now that you can upload as soon as you have written a song?
-I don’t think the digital medium takes away from an album release- but then I’ve never been the fan that waits and buys on release date. I’m the guy that when I’m feeling like buying an album, I’ll listen and see what’s available when I’m ready. If it’s not ready or if I don’t have a friend grabbing my arm and saying “dude, you gotta hear this album!” then it’s probably not for me.
How much of a touring band were you guys? What memories do you take with you?
-My biggest regret is that we weren’t a touring band. We lost momentum before that could happen. For me those memories will have to be made another way. We had some great shows- both before and after Bacchus’ Curse and I love playing shows. That’s a lot of why I make music. But the album creation process has shaped me so much this time around- writing and re-writing harmonies, then recording take after take with Joe (who was our recording engineer as well as drummer). That’s a lot of my personal take away is from this project.
Is there a future?
-For me certainly, and for all of us separately. Dustin has another project in the growing stage, Joe is touring with a band, Charlotte is working with people. Joe and I have talked casually about making music together. Music doesn’t stop being a part of any one’s lives just because we aren’t doing it together any more. For me it’ll be a question of who I’m working with, and how- not whether I put together a metal flavored something. Lumus represented me at the most creative I’ve been yet in my life- but I’m not satisfied with stopping there. It was too good to stop altogether.