Thank you very much for taking your time to answer Metal-Maniac’s interview. You are a member of several bands I highly enjoy, so, it is a big pleasure for me to exchange some words about your works. Please, I ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.
Hey thanks for having me. My name is Richard Weeks but I have a number of stage names – The Pope, Amarok, Wraith. Like you said, I am in a quite a few bands – Carnivorous Forest, The Meads of Asphodel, Ebonillumini, and many more. I also run Blackened Death Records in South London. I’m originally from Atlantic Canada. Don’t care for walking on any sort of beaches though. *Laughs*
You are more than welcome. First, let’s talk about your musical background, and then gradually speak about your musical career. Something that I always enjoy knowing about musicians is about how it all started… what are your first memories when it comes to music, what drew your attention to the musical styles you first enjoyed listening to.
I didn’t get into music until pretty late compared to my peers. I only started listening to metal when I was 16. Got my first guitar at 17. And that first year I had the guitar, it just sat on the back of my door.
It was Metallica that first got me into the headspace of wanting to be a musician. James Hetfield especially. I always preferred a good riff to a solo and Hetfield’s riffs were incredible. I later became dedicated to Iced Earth for the same reason – Jon Schaeffer’s riffs were just so damned strong.]
I later discovered Sol Invictus when I was well into my 20s. This one band influenced me so much, I stopped writing metal for a number of years.
People ask me how long I have been playing guitar and when I say “16 years” it’s with the caveat that I am “still learning”. You should never stop trying to better yourself.
Yes, I agree, we should always try to improve ourselves. At least try to. And indeed Sol Invictus is great. Although I’d say that metal music is the main syle I listen to, I highly enjoy bands/ groups/ artists like Sol Invictus and related. As we are still in the initial part of this interview, I’d like to talk about the first projects you had. How did you start them? Afterwards we shall talk about your latest involvements with music As for the period in which you stopped writing metal music, tell us a bit about it as well. Are you still composing, let’s say, non-extreme music?
Yeah, I still write extreme music. Metal is never too far from my mind and even influences my non-metal work.
My first band started was Carnivorous Forest in 2012. Back then it was more or less a thrash metal band with some acoustic passages. I did a 14 song demo for the band called “The Red Demo” and that is a really good way of chronicling the change in style for the band to something more… Bathory sounding.
After Carnivorous Forest I formed a thrash band called Antitheist and a doom metal band called Iron Thatcher. After sitting on both projects for awhile, I am hoping to get back to them shortly. I am actively working on Antitheist material and I have changed the name of Iron Thatcher to World Controller and should be releasing their first album in 2016.
No, Richard, I didn’t mean Extreme Metal… I am aware of your musical career in this field, as I follow it. I did ask you about your non-extreme metal music. But, perhaps, we should focus on the extreme metal ones. Let’s talk a bit about music, not your bands first, but rather, the work behind it. As stated before, you have been involved with many bands, you work in a podcast and you also have your regular job. I’d like you to tell us about how you balance your musical career with your regular career, about all the hardships that it involves, as we know it’s not all roses.
Oh shit, whoops – totally misread the question. We can back up.
Yeah, I am constantly writing non-extreme music. I might write more minimalist music than extreme music. I always have an acoustic guitar nearby so I can whip up some folk riffs. I’ve also recently started an experimental act called Shrug which combines elements of lowercase, folk, goth rock, and a bit of doom.
As for finding time to do it all… it is very difficult. When it comes to my own bands, I can delay things as I see fit – hell the full length Carnivorous Forest debut should have been out two years ago, it’s 90% finished, but other tasks always overshadow it. With stuff like The Meads or Sadael or whatever, I am working under conditions of many other musicians, so I can’t pussyfoot. I gotta get down and do stuff within /their/ constraints. I remember recording all of the basslines for The Higher Craft’s Delta9 in /two days/ and let me tell you, that was super stressful.
Hehe, no problem, Richard, it happens to us all. Many times, in fact. And thank you for the reply. We can see how stressful it must be. When it comes to your composition process, as you are involved in different musical/ metal styles, it must be interesting how you deal with its many differences. Could you share with us how this works for you?
It depends on the mood I am going for. Music, especially lyrics and vocals, are very emotional for me. I always put 1000% into lyrics and vocals because that is the manifestation of what I am trying to say. A sad melody can bring forth intense feelings, but what you are /saying/ amplifies that.
One aspect of a musician’s work that I enjoy discussing is indeed the lyrical topics, themes. Is there a constant theme, maybe some sort of feel or emotion, among your lyrics, even when it comes to several different metal styles? As you said, you find the lyrics very important, how do you create them, how is the working process for you when it comes to lyrics?
Well, I think the reason I have so many bands and am in so many bands is… Lyrical topics. Carnivorous Forest is mostly songs about nature and death, but I also have the need to explore some of my favourite literary pieces. I started World Controller to explore through futuristic dystopian scenarios – something that wouldn’t work with CF.
For me, lyrical topics are absolutely clutch – nothing is more important than an album’s topic. I think that’s something influenced by listening to so much King Diamond as a kid. He is the master of telling stories.
I completely agree when it comes to King Diamond’s lyrics. I always enjoy listening to his album fully, reading the lyrics and imagining them. For me, it is not the kind of music that I can listen different songs from different albums altogether. Well, could we talk a bit about the Meads? How did you get involved with them? And are there any plans for a new album?
Getting together with the Meads was an interesting journey. I ended up reviewing the “Murder of Jesus the Jew” album on my podcast which in turn made it to the ears of JD Tait and his partner Christina.
After chatting for some time on the internet, I was asked if I wanted to play bass for their band Ebonillumini. Of course I had to say yes to this amazing opportunity. After performing with them for some time, I was asked to join another of their bands The Higher Craft.
After a few years I eventually met Metatron as well. I originally joined in 2014 as a guest on a cover of Desaster’s Castleland for a tribute album. I then joined full time in 2015 for the “Taste the Divine Wrath” split with Tjolgtjar.
I can’t say much about the new album other than we are working on it. It has been delayed at this stage by a few years as I think it was originally going to be out in 2014. But rest assured, we are working on it and it’s going to have all of the Meads trademarks you have come to expect from us.
I have been following all these bands as well as your musical career for quite some time. I remember when I discovered Ebonillumini, it was when I was also a part of a podcast and was absolutely impressed. As for The Higher Craft, I got to know them though one of the members. For those that aren’t familiar with these bands, could you talk a bit about them? I highly enjoyed the new album, Arktos. It’s interesting to see that three band members are also in the Meads. I guess you get along well and the musicianship is excellent, in my modest opinion, of course.
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words. Ebon for me was my first real chance to work with other musicians. I also had the chance to push myself. Up until this point, I followed the verse, pre-chorus, chorus formula to a T. Ebon’s jazz and avant-garde styles really made me re-examine song writing. THC has a lot of “happy” sections and I am not one to write particularly happy music, so I felt quite challenged at first when I joined. I have settled in, but I still have to… put myself in the right mindset for it, haha.
I understand. Well, Richard, a few days ago, I read that someone put some albums of your online even before the date set for release. I know this is a kind of “old topic”. Well, not really an old topic, since it happens all the time, more and more each day that passes by. Let’s talk about this topic, share some of your words concerning piracy. I truly believe that there is no “need” for such when it comes to get to know new bands and sounds, as most are actually available online by the bands/ labels. Also, could you please, say some words for the person that leaked your music? Maybe he/she/what will end up reading this.
As for piracy, I don’t like it. But it’s one of those things we will never get rid of. I mean, even going to YouTube and listening to a Slayer album that “DudeGuy666” put up is technically piracy. We all are guilty to an extent. And I understand it will happen. But leaking an album before it’s even out… All I can say is “fuck you”.
And somewhat related to the previous question, you are such a prolific person… as we conduct this interview in a few months, you, as mentioned before, are working in even more new musical releases. Other than those we have covered already. That is impressive. I kindly ask you to present us with them, letting us know more about these present and future works.
As you probably know, I just finished “Apocalypse” by World Controller. I am very happy with how it’s turned out. Up next I am going to work on the debut from Suicide Wraith, my DSBM band and also the debut by Shrug, which is a noise project.
I like to talk a bit more about the persona of the musicians I interview. I don’t get too intrusive, but you have shared some information about you and I can say that I relate as well. As I have said before, I am impressed with your will power and your overcoming powers. Maybe this could explain how much of a workaholic you are. And the same applies to me, I believe. Do you feel that working, especially when it comes to the artistic work itself, helps you, or people in general, to cope with every day’s problems?
For me, being a “workaholic” is a good way to get your mind off of the bad things in life. Sometimes all I can do is get my head down and do music. Other hobbies just don’t cut it. I feel like I am saying something when I do music. I think that’s why I use it as an armour against the day to day.
Still on the personal side of the interview, share with us some of your main passions outside music… what you enjoy doing whenever you’re not working with music or your other job. Be it about cinema, literature, travelling, studies, some of your hobbies, whatever you’d like to share with us.
My hobbies and interests outside of music involves video games (especially strategy games). I also greatly enjoy professional wrestling. It’s like ballet meets soap operas meets fighting. I also like to cook… sometimes! It’s something that takes ages and I don’t always have the discipline for it, haha.
I read your posts and follow you on Facebook. You are person that have a conscience about the world, about politics, about ethics. How do you feel about what we all are living nowadays? I am not asking you to give us a lecture or to state what should be done, but rather, you, as a human being, how do you feel about the world? Do you actually have hopes for the future? When it comes to the mankind, I mean.
Politics sits with religion. Topics that can be loaded and hard to talk about. But I am passionate about both topics. We are all human beings and should treat each other with respect, but religion and politics can be used as swords against others and it’s nefarious. We all need to find a median and start treating each other with respect.
– Richard, we have reached the end of this interview. I thank you kindly for your questions. I truly appreciate it. I hope you appreciated answering them as well. Unfortunately, I have to end this, otherwise I guess I wouldn’t stop “bothering” you with some many questions. Well, thank you again, all the best to you. I leave you the last words of this interview.
Thanks for the interview my friend. It has been one of the longest and most satisfying I have done! Cheers!
September 16, 2016