InSomnius Dei - Interview

As we sit down with Mark, the brains behind Insomnius Dei, we cannot help but wonder - where does this guy get it all from? Not only the founder of Insomnius Dei, but also the vocalist, guitarist, drummer?... Well, nowadays, Insomnius Dei is pretty much a 2-man project, and based on what Mark has had to say about working with Terry - it sure seems to work out for them. Sit down and learn about a great band from Australia - some interesting things they have to say about their work, where it all comes from, and what philosophies are hidden behind their lyrics. Questions - courtesy of Kubiccy.

Before we pass on to the talk about your brand new album, let me ask you a few questions concerning the band history. Cryptal Darkness started from playing grind/death metal sounds but this kind of music appeared only at your demo recordings actually. I must admit that I had no occasion to listen to it unfortunately. Why did you decide to switch into doom metal? Are you satisfied with this choice and that what you’ve achieved behind this facade?

I joined Cryptal Darkness at the end of the grind thing so I could add more ‘darkness, melody and structure’ to the bands songs, the drummer did not like grind and saw a different vision for the band, so I was inlisted & I basically wrote most of the albums that followed. I felt Cryptal Darkness should have ended a few years before it did, things were not so great within the band. Pretty much after ‘They Whispered You had Risen’ the band should have ended, it was very limiting musically and the musicians involved where also limited as musicians, so the last 3 years of Cryptal where very frustrating. I don’t really look back with that much fondness, sure we made a few albums that people like, but I’m quite happy to be moving forward.

Why did you officially end Cryptal Darkness activity and start with completely new project – The Eternal?

Cryptal Darkness was not moving forward, it was stuck and as I mentioned there where a lot of issues within the band, in my opinion my music career didn’t really start until I formed The Eternal and actually began to tour internationally etc. I see Cryptal Darkness as my education in being in a band, but I was far too passive and didn’t have enough confidence to take charge of band’s decisions and because of this we basically didn’t move forward at all. Starting The Eternal was for me like taking charge of my own destiny, no regrets at all about this.

I really enjoy all your materials recorded as Cryptal Darkness, but the music of The Eternal unfortunately is not for me. Could you explain why suddenly the craving to emulate Paradise Lost at playing gothic rock?

We didn’t ‘crave’ to ‘emulate’ anything. If you actually listen to The Eternal properly, it sounds nothing like Paradise Lost. Listen to ‘To Drown’ ‘Everlasting’ or ‘Weight of Empathy’ and then tell me these sound like Paradise Lost. This Paradise Lost thing is a generalization people make who don’t actually listen to the music more than once. We don’t have any of the same motivations that Paradise Lost have and I think if you listen to our upcoming album ‘kartika’ you can hear this.

Some time ago, The Eternal has supported HIM on their Australian tour. Did you enjoy it? How was it to play as a support before such a famous „star”?

Yes this was an interesting experience, it was our first ‘Big’ Tour, so it was a touch overwhelming. I’d say doing the Australian ‘Opeth’ Tour was much more relaxing and enjoyable, we had been broken in from the HIM tour and had found our barings in bigger venues. But yes, it was great to get the music out to such large crowds everynight, hope to do some more shows like this in the future.

Let’s move on to the main topic of this interview. Why did you call to existence InSomnius Dei? Was it impossible to realize all your music visions through The Eternal?

It was basically just for fun, doing some doom/death metal as I really didn’t want The Eternal to head in this direction. So I’d sit at home with my guitar recording doom riffs and being gloomy haha… It was also a good way to remind people that The Eternal was not moving away from this style because we where out of ideas, we just wanted to. I think InSomnius Dei ‘Illusions Of Silence’ is a lot better than anything Cryptal Darkness did and Terry is just a master lyricist.

The music of InSomnius Dei differs crucially from that what you are doing in The Eternal. My theory is that you’re trying to mix two elements in InSomnius Dei’s music. You want to get back to more doom metal sounds and at the same time you don’t want to resign from commercial sounds so characteristic for The Eternal’s music. After all you’re The Eternal founding member, so couldn’t you influence the direction of its music development?

Well yes, the two bands are quite different, one key element in both is my melodic style, similar movements and harmonies I guess, but two different extremes so to speak. The Eternal remains my main vision at this stage, but InSomnius Dei is a great way to get out some of the more ‘underground’ and ‘extreme’ ideas I have.

Initially, InSomnius Dei was one-person project. Why did you start to co-operate with other musicians? Was it hard to proceed with it alone?

Basically, I can’t growl haha, I’m not a growler and Terry is one of the most expressive growlers around, we go way back to the mid 90’s together where we worked together briefly in Cryptal Darkness, since then Terry has been in many well known bands in Australia but we had fallen out of touch. Around 2006 I kept running into Terry at the Supermarket, and invited him over for a beer, so after a few beers I put on some InSomnius Dei and asked him if he was interested, he immedietly began writing lyrics on the spot! All of a sudden InSomnius Dei had this fresh and exciting element. Obviously a one man project in one dimention, which can be fine, but it just happened to work well and Terry added that much needed second dimenton to the music.

For a little while there, Terry Vainoras, James Hunt and Peter Martin appeared in the band. Why James and Peter endedn up leaving the band? What was their input in InSomnius’ music?

Well, they never actually contributed to the band, after Terry & Myself made the project ‘real’ we thought we needed a rhythm section, it soon became apparent we could do this ourselves, so it wasn’t that they left but more that we had no need for them.

At last you’ve recorded ”Illusions of Silence” only with Terry Vainoras, who is your old mate from The Eternal. Don’t you think about co-opting somebody else or perhaps in your opinion working as a couple is the best option for InSomnius’ future?

Terry was in InSomnius Dei before The Eternal, Terry only joined The Eternal before the last European tour as we needed a guitar player. The next InSomnius Dei album will only be the two of us again, I think two active contributors is more than enough for the project as we have no plans at this stage to perform live.

The duties split in the band seemed to be clear now. You’re responsible for composing music. Next, Terry’s scope of responsibility is writing lyrics. Are there any misunderstandings between you and him?

Actually, these roles aren’t as clear as you think, Terry has demoed 4 songs for the new InSomnius Dei album, fully written by him, and they are just great I think, very dark heavy and obscure, I can’t wait to get to work on them. Terry and myself really don’t have misunderstandings as we have a very open friendship and find it quite easy to talk about our musical visions together.

Once The Eternal has colaborated with Firebox, so I guess that when you were thinking of release your debut album the label choice was rather obvious? Were there any other labels interested in signing contract with you? How do you evaluate cooperation with Finn?

Didn’t really shop it around so much, Firebox are well known for doom, so it seemed easy just to give it to them, I didn’t want to get to caught up in business, I just wanted to simply make an album and get it out, so it was a matter of ‘hey guys, here is the new InSomnius Dei album, do you want to release it..?’ the rest is history.

You describe yourself as ambient/doom/death metal band. I can agree with doom and death, but ambient? I must admit that I can’t find an ambient elements in your music.

Really depends on your interpretation of what abient is, for me songs like ‘For the Memories Of My Past’ & ‘Seven Burning Eyes’ have long drawn out ambient passages, not to mention ‘The Aftermath’ which is a 10 minute acoustic piece… this is all very ambient and very moody…so if you can find these elements maybe listen again. :)

On your website you mention Pink Floyd. With all due respect don’t you think that there’s no comparison between you and the PF? In my humble opinion such comparisons may be treated by people as a bit controversial?

Once again, a matter of opinion. Dave Gilmore is a big influence on me and I think if you listen to those things I mentioned above you can hear that influence in my playing, I don’t think its controversial to list one of your influences in your bio, not at all.

On the other hand, I guess that your music is often compare to My Dying Bride style. What do you think of it?

No we haven’t had this comparison yet as far as im aware of, but My Dying Bride play ‘Death Doom’ so I think any band in this style is bound to get that comparision eventually.

As for me, ”Absent” is the track which is the most similar to My Dying Bride music. Its atmosphere brings to my mind the most debatable album of MDB called ”34,788%...Complete”. What is your opinion on it? Do you accept such experiments within the limits of doom?

‘Absent’ for me is progressive doom, it has many different moods, once again MDB played no influence in ‘Absent’ or any song on ‘Illusions Of Silence’ I haven’t listened to MDB for about 10 years on any serious level. But I think experimenting with doom is very important, doom purists may disagree, but I refuse to sit around and repeat myself over and over again to make some doom purist happy. In that respect ”34,788%...Complete” was gret for MDB, but is seems they got scared and kind of head back to what was safe for them, which is a shame, I think they could have taken it a bit further.

While we are at ”Absent”. One of the main riffs of this track seems to be a spitting image of Black Sabbath song taken from their first album. Is this resemblance accidental?

Well. of course Sabbath gets a mention, they wrote the first ever doom riff, I didn’t write it with that in mind but I have no problem at all with it sounding like that! Great! :)

My favorite song of ID is ”Seven Burning Eyes”. You’ve perfectly mixed calm and hard, shrill parts in it. It’s also the most harsh track on the whole album. In my opinion you should follow this music direction. Would you?

Our direction will be much more obscure on the second album, heavier and more twisted. I can’t see us re-writing seven versions of ‘Seven burning eyes’ for the next album, once again, best to move forward and not repeate yourself. There will still be the theme of extremes, very hard and very soft, of course. I think that is very important to what makes InSomnius Dei what it is.

The two-minutes lasting track ”A Funeral Sky” seems to be an unfinished ”casual” idea. Why didn’t you broaden it in the full track, prepared in all detailes?

Because we didn’t want to, it was an interlude & said everything it need to say, it’s suposed to leave you on an ‘unfinished’ note so to speak, it was a complete statement in our opinion.

Why did you produce this material by yourself? Do you have problems with trust in people or you were simply sure that no one will do this better than you?

I produced this album myself because I enjoy production and what better way than to experiment with your own music. I am slowly building up my own studio and the next ‘InSomnius Dei’ album will be done in the same way. ‘Illusions Of Silence’ was my first album so it was of course not a million dollar sounding production. But I still think we produced something that got the ‘spirit’ of the music across. Already from this experience I know some things I will do different as far as the production is concerned for the next album, it’s basically an ongoing learning experience for me. We also used a lot of parts from the original demos, as raw as some of it is, the spirit is there and that is more important than anything I think.

You are also an author of the „Illusions of Silence” artwork. As far as I know, working on artworks was your shape of responsibility in Cryptal Darkness and The Eternal as well. Do you like to control the whole creating album proccess? Have you ever make any other artworks for other musicians or bands?

Yes, for my day job Im a graphic designer so it saves us a bit of money when album covers and websites are concerned. The last two ‘The Eternal’ albums I have outsourced the art to get a ‘fresh’ and different view on things, but I did do the art for ‘The Sombre Light Of Isolation’. I have done much art for other bands, I did the first Antimatter album “Saviour’ and also contributed the image of the ‘world’ on the Ion Album. I have done also a bunch of Australian bands including Virgin Black.

Is InSomnius Dei a one-time project or can I expect more materials in the future?

We have around 5 songs for the next InSomnius Dei album and just this week we have discussed the concept for the artwork, I think we are going to do something quite diferent for the art, we have this idea for an ‘Art Nouveau’ type thing. But it’s still in early stages and we won’t rush anything.

You are a singer, a guitar player and a drummer. Which role do you treat the most serious? What is your specialty – your voice, guitar or drums skills?

Songwriting is most important to me, I have no interest in being a virtuoso, I enjoy playing everything if it gets the point across, obviously my first instrument is guitar. But I also have a strong passion for drums, keyboards and bass and own all these instruments, I have at least 2 keyboards, a few basses and a bunch of guitars. Currently at home I only have electronic drums as I don’t live in a place I can make unlimited noise! Vocals is something that just happened by default, no one else could do it so I got stuck with it, its only recently I’ve started to enjoy it more and think im getting ok at it.

You’ve appeared as a guest on Ion’a album called ”Madre, Protegenos”. How do you recall the cooperation with Duncan Patterson?

Duncan is a dear friend of mine and working with him is great, im my opinion he is just a genius, a master songwriter and a master of the minimalistic approach. If anything, it was an honor to work with him and I hope to do so again on the next Ion album.

You’ve also an occasion to work with Darren White. Have you ever met together in person? I’ve heard that he was a person with difficult character. Is it true or just malicious gossip?

Darren stayed at my house in Melbourne for a few weeks when we did ‘Remembrance Scar’s’ together & he was a lovely guy. He also performed some old Anathema’s classics with us at what was to be the first ‘The Eternal ‘ Show. We managed to hook up again and he performed ‘Sleepless’ with us in England in 2004 I think. I think its all malicious gossip as the metal scene is so famous for. Daz is just a big loveable Hippy and a great guy, hope I have the chance to catch up with him and his lovely wife again some time soon.

In the past you were active member of Paramaecium and Desolate Eternity. Now you are the session musiciian in Virgin Black. Those projects are classified as christian bands. Is the concept of ID christian, too?

I have associated with some christian musicians over the years, mostly because I don’t care about what people’s beliefs are, I think it is irrelevant to the music directly, unless they are preaching. I am not a christian, never was and never will be. So none of the music I make is religious in any way…I think in InSomnius Dei, Terry touches on some buddhist ideas with his lyrics, but we are by no means a religious band, we are very interested in ideas and philosophies, we like the idea that InSomnius Dei lyrics can make you think about the world and your own life, but we have no interest in forcing any beliefs down anyone’s throats.

The Australian doom metal scene has never been especially extensive, but with bands like for example Disembowelment, Mournful Congregation, Elegeion and finally Cryptal Darkness or InSomnius Dei you definitely have no reason to be ashamed of it, don’t you think?

I don’t consider myself to be part of any scene, I think this is very counter-productive to my creativity. I guess all these bands are recognized in the international doom scene, so we have surely contributed something to the international ‘scene’ if you wish to look at it like that.

Perhaps this question shouldn’t be asked, but for the average European man, who has never flown out the Continent, Australia brings to mind only great sunny weather, sandy beaches, beautiful girls and surfing. Is there really a space for dark and melancholic music?

Well I can tell you now, if you where dumped in the middle of the desert in Australia, you would become pretty depressed very quickly! But seriously, I live in Melbourne, this is no tropical paradise, winter is here and its cold, rainy and misty everyday, I am wearing a scarf and gloves as we speak in my home haha… some parts of Australia are more tropical but Melbourne is not! Gets very warm in the summer but we have a nasty windy winter!

Entered: 8/16/2008 5:59:40 PM

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