A while back I reviewed SECRETS OF THE SKY debut album and I liked it. So when the chance to interview them appeared I jumped on it. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
When I talk to US black metal bands they don’t want to recognize that there is such a thing as a USBM scene yet we get to hear of it over and over again. What is your opinion on this and do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-Clayton (Guitars/Keys): First off, thanks for wanting to talk about the band… much appreciated! I would say that Secrets of the Sky really aren’t scene-oriented. USBM is cool, I love all of the Pacific Northwest bands and their take on the genre… Agalloch, Wolves In the Throne Room, etc. Garett (Vocals) is far more influenced by European Black Metal, all of the Scandinavian stuff. But we certainly haven’t tried to emulate any of those bands.
What is it that has shaped the way that you sound? What kind of details has influenced you?
Clayton: I think the main writers for “To Sail Black Waters” were all influenced by completely different things, yet with a common thread. Horror movies, dark and morose authors and books, things like that. We worked to create a vibe with the music, rather than “songs”. The idea of telling stories resonates within everything we end up using… that is the common ground and the only requirement for us when making SOTS music. Our personal influence list would be far too long to even mention.
I reviewed your album a while ago yet this is the first I hear of it getting a European release. I thought we lived in a globalized world where there were no borders. Why wasn’t your album released worldwide to begin with?
Clayton: Well… we were initially supposed to release the album via Gravedancer Records from New York back in January. Basically, some press work was done and some promos were mailed out (mostly by the band), but that label couldn’t keep it together to put it nicely. So the record never came out. We started talking with Lorenzo from Kolony Records shortly after and he was just on top of it and loved the record… there were a couple of other labels interested as well, but Lorenzo and the label were really communicative and enthusiastic so we went with them. It was definitely for the best. So now the record is actually going to finally see the light of day, with an official release in North America and Europe…. October 4 and 5 in EU and October 8 in the States.
The album has been out a while now. What kind of reactions have you had to it?
Clayton: The promo is just starting to get some play… again, record comes out in October haha. But so far, some of the bigger American websites have given it lots of love. Metal Sucks, Gun Shy Assassin, Metal Injection and Decibel have been very kind. Europe is still picking up. It’s all been very positive so far!
How pleased are you with the recording now that you have had time to live with it?
Clayton: We have had a LONG time to live with it, but we are still happy with it. Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Cattle Decapitation, etc) did a really good job I think. I feel like once you have closed the book on an album recording, you just have to be happy and not worry about going back and changing things after the fact. It’s like a time capsule that summarizes exactly what you had in mind collectively for that period.
The album only contains four tracks. Was it your intention to let the tracks evolve organic? Why are there not more tracks on the album?
Clayton: We put it together to tell a story and did so without any preconceived notions on song length, etc. I think we wanted to make a record that flowed really well from beginning to end. More of a journey than a collection of short ideas… we felt like some of the ideas needed time to mature and build.
Now that the album is available almost everywhere how do you intend to take it from here?
Clayton: Oh man, so much cool stuff is happening all of sudden. We have tour dates being announced this week, an official video for the song “Decline” premiering soon, etc. The response so far has been great. On top of that, we have most of our next record written already and it takes the ideas and concepts to new levels. So, we will be touring in October to support the record, then continuing to write the next one and booking another more expansive tour for early 2014. That should keep us pretty busy for a while…
How important is presentation? Is art work, press photos and layout something that you think about and take charge of?
Clayton: Oh yes, most definitely. Artwork is a huge part of it all… We have a ton of new artwork being created by a number of super talented artists. Tour posters and flyers, stickers and T shirt designs are being handled presently by Sean Schock, Shona Crawford and Nate Burns. We certainly give some direction when applicable, but I think we have realized that finding people who share a common style that represents the band well is probably the way to go.
Why is it that metal in the US has to take a back seat to all other music while it in Europe seem to be more respected?
Clayton: I wouldn’t begin to know as I don’t follow any mainstream stuff really. I guess people in Europe have a more refined palate? Seriously though, I think it has always been that way. But I will say certain metropolitan areas of the US hold heavier stuff in higher regard. The San Francisco Bay Area (our home) for instance…
What plans for the future do you have?
Clayton: Touring! We would love to do some European dates next year as well as a full US tour. Also, writing for our next record. We are just starting to get some attention, so we will see what happens! It’s been fun so far, and we would like to keep that going. I think just focusing on the positive stuff and taking it how it comes and with a grain of salt is the best bet. Thank you for the questions!