Virgin Black Interview

Hail! You have already recorded 4 dark symphony/opera veined releases, can you introduce these releases and your latest line-up for those who aren’t aware of Virgin Black?
(Samantha): Our first release was our self- and released independently. This full-length album captured much attention including label interest titled demo which had four songs and ran at almost 30min in length. This was later followed by an MCD entitled “Trance”. It was some time before we returned t the studio, as we were working toward our vision, and we weren’t prepared to rush it. Then finally, “Sombre Romantic” was born. It was self-funded. Massacre Records (Europe) and The End Records (U.S.) picked it up and re-released it through the label. “Elegant…and dying” was the follow-up.
A 75min epic. It undoubtedly created a stir in the music scene.
The band consists of the following members:
Rowan London: vocals, keyboards, writer.
Samantha Escarbe: lead guitar, writer
Dino Cielo: drums
Craig Edis: guitar, vocals
Ian Miller: bass, vocals
Virgin Black has a very atmospheric sound, I know you gigged many times, it must be difficult to obtain this concept, am I right? Actually I’m against when dark atmospheric bands give concerts, to me, I feel they should keep their mysticism in their recordings. What do you think about this idea?
From the very beginning, prior to any formal recording of our music, we have always performed live. The interesting thing is, after we recorded our debut “Sombre Romantic”, the feedback from those we who were accustomed to our performances was one which said, “finally, a release which captures the live experience”. Certainly, not everything is perfectly reproduced, but we continue to capture the intense, emotive quality which is so vital to our music.
Your vocalist, Rowan London, with his unique style, has a big place in your general sound concept; is he taking special training for this vocal style?
Rowan is predominantly a very natural artist. Much of what he does is self-taught, but his talents caught the attention of a renowned opera teacher (who was taught by Pavarotti’s teacher) and has now taken him and begun training him. His training began after we recorded “Sombre Romantic”.
What are the reactions to “Elegant…and dying”? Are you content with the ideas of the audiences?
For the most part, we have had outstanding feedback from reviewers. There has been a handful of very negative reviews also, but upon reading them, one soon realises that the reviewer doesn’t understand the music and would much rather listen to something which requires no thought or intellectual function. It’s a difficult thing because “Elegant…and dying” needs time to digest, and understandably, most reviewers don’t have the time. Overall, we have been very pleased with the response from reviewers and also our fans.
About your lyrics, they are as blue (gloomy) as your music. Can you talk more about them? With which themes you cooperate?
The essence of our lyrics is based on tragedy and hope.
We believe that one may experience the darkest night of the soul, but hope, the smallest fragment of hope still breaths, and waits quietly for us.
What are yo listening nowadays? Give some names from your music collection.
I can’t help it, but I tend to revert to quite a few “old classics” like Candlemass: Nightfall, Ancient Dreams. My Dying Bride: turn loose the swans. Entombed: left hand path. Paradise Lost: gothic, draconian times. Moonspell: Irreligious. Then there’s albums like Saviour Machine: II,
Jeff Buckley: grace, Madder Mortem: deadlands, Nile: in their darkened shrines, Antimatter: lights out, Agalloch: the mantle, Anathema: alternative four etc etc.
“Sombre Romantic” was a real dark opera masterpiece. After the release of this album, did you think that you have more responsibilities about the band’s future releases?
We probably should have naturally felt a lot of pressure after such great responses toward “Sombre Romantic”, but in my mind and in my heart, Rowan and I wrote the second album as if it was our first.
Honesty in music is a great quality and one which can so easily be lost. I never want to lose that fragile honesty. That’s how we have always written and will hopefully continue to do so.
How is the scene in Australia? Enough audience for the dark side of music?
The scene here in Australia is very small but thriving. There really isn’t a dark music scene here. In our city of Adelaide, perhaps due to lack of numbers, people tend to support good quality bands rather than their specific genre of choice. Hence it is not uncommon for black-metal and doom-metal bands to share the stage, or even thrash and hardcore to perform together. I believe this has many benefits, and its important to keep an open mind.
I can find great artwork not only in your album covers but also on your website. Who designs the album covers? It seems you are giving great importance to these artwork themes.
I have photographed all the artwork for our releases thus far (which are also featured on our website).
Every aspect of our art is important to us including the photography. For example, “Elegant…and dying” features artwork which was specifically photographed for the album-title and the interwoven thread within the music. The overall artwork follows the music. For example, you will notice a predominantly white exterior. This exterior at first glance seems warm and inviting, a false sense of security if you will, for when one examines closer, there is a lingering discomfort. The first few songs all reflect this theme up until “And The Kiss Of God’s Mouth”. When one opens the booklet, the art-work transforms into a very dark environment which also reflects the mood of the music deeper within the album (eg. The Everlasting, Cult Of Crucifixion). Then finally, the last page returns to an image adorned in white…a sense of relief, yet somehow still a little disturbing (which is indicative of the last song).
You toured with Opeth in your country (Australia), how were these concerts?
We haven’t as yet toured with Opeth, but will be doing so in less than two weeks.
It is a great honour indeed.
Today’s new-age kids are using the gothic culture/lifestyle as a kind of fashion. Even there is a gothic porn market; what do you think about this new fashion trend? I hope they fed up soon and find new ideology to suck…morons…
I’m not particularly gripped by modern gothic culture as such. I have a lot of respect and admiration for gothic architecture, art and literature. So much beauty is reflected in these art forms, and this is what I admire. But at the end of the day, each person has the right to express themselves as they choose, as everyone is different.
Any words to add/manifest?
To discover more, please visit the official website:
Thanx for spending your time on this mental plague, hope to hail you again in the future!
Thank you , it’s been a pleasure.


1 Comment

  1. The interviewer’s thoughts towards the gothic subculture are so kind. I wonder what he would have said if she expressed an affinity towards it.

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    August 2008
    M T W T F S S
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