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Disillusion have been around for quite some time but it is just these days that the band is about to release their debut album "Back To Times Of Splendor" through Metal Blade Records. Time for us to ask guitarist Rajk about the band's past and the current happenings.
Hi there, how are you!? Are you busy doing promotion these days?
Yes, indeed! We just didn't expect such an amount of interviews coming upon us. On the other hand, of course we feel very happy about the attention "Back To Times Of Splendor" is receiving throughout the world and are trying to answer every question. Then again, while working on the record for the eight months, loads of private things we had to leave aside. We are actually longing for a break, but none is in sight.
You are just about to release your debut album "Back To Times Of Splendor" but Disillusion isn't really a new band. The full history can be read on your website but would you mind telling our readers a little about how the recent line-up came together?
When the "old" line-up of Disillusion broke up in 1998, Vurtox kept on working on Disillusion alone. He wrote songs, developed conceptions and started to get into home recording. At the same time he was always trying to find new companions. In that time Vurtox also wrote the song "Expired" which later found his way on our mcd "Three Neuron Kings". So, this song played a crucial role actually because it convinced Jens and myself about the qualities and talent Vurtox had. Among others of course, this song was the starting point for the three of us working together in 2001. Vurtox also seems to have found exactly who he had been looking for in us, otherwise we would not have worked together ever since and would not have come so far so fast.
What have been your goals and visions when you started playing in bands or in Disillusion in particular?
I felt heavily tempted to work with such extraordinary musicians as Jens and Vurtox obviously are. Actually, I was somewhat standing with my back pushed onto the wall at that time, and almost had to make a decision whether to go on with music at all or not. But when the opportunity came there was no doubt to join in and keep on going. A real vision or definite plan we did not carry with us. We just tried to do everything as good as possible. This goes for the music as well as all the things around.
"Back To Times of Splendor" isn't released yet but how have been the reactions from the media so far? Have you had responses from fans about the sample mp3 on your website or Metal Blade's website perhaps?
Reactions on BTTOS have been nothing but amazing so far. We received best critics all over Europe where the record is sometimes even being labelled a "milestone" and even "Meisterwerk". Also emails from all over the world on our new mp3 on the website are amazing!
I haven't heard any of your previous efforts. How have Disillusion progressed since the release of the 4-track demo "Three Neuron Kings" in 2001? How would you compare that "earlier" work to "Back To Times Of Splendor"?
In 2001, after the release of "Three Neuron Kings" we decided that a suitable label for our music would be melodic death metal somewhere in the tension field of Anathema, Opeth, Soilwork and Emperor. This also fits quite well for the "The Porter" Single (2002). But, now in 2004 after making "Back To Times Of Splendor" we think that the melodic death metal label isn't longer a suitable description of our style. Now, the sound is a very unique mixture of several metal styles combined in harmony. It's very organic and epic stuff, rich with emotions and dynamics with an intense density and flow...The music is like a river, that flows through picturesque landscapes, sometimes roaring powerfully through bizarre canyons, sometimes clashing with massive boulders, sometimes flowing through epic valleys of green. The new material has even more layers, appears even more complex but is also far catchier. This combination we are really proud of - by the way, we are also very proud of our two demos!
We feel somewhat emancipated and more mature after finishing our debut full length, not just musically but more as personalities.
How did you get in touch with Metal Blade? Did you have a couple of offers from different labels to choose from?
In summer of 2002 an email from Andreas Reisnauer/Metal Blade reached us. Andreas saw us at a show in spring before. We must have left some impression because thereafter he had followed us press wise and saw that our mcd "Three Neuron Kings" gained lots of great reactions in the press. He asked us to send him a copy, was excited and recommended the record to the rest of Metal Blade. About a month later we received another mail where Metal Blade asked us for new material to check out. Fortunately, we were just finished with "The Porter", which was released through a small underground label. So we sent a copy. Very soon after that we got a call from Michael Trengert (MB Europe chief). Things became serious. We met up, talked on the phone for a thousand times and checked everything out. Finally, in early 2003 we signed with Metal Blade for the current and following albums.
I read it took you 1 1/2 years to write the material and you needed another eight months to record the album. I realize music like yours requires a little time for arranging and all that but still it appears to be a very long time to me.
How can we picture the actual song writing process in the Disillusion camp?
When we began with the recordings and made plans with Metal Blade for a delivery date, none of us could foresee that we were to be so wrong with our schedule. We expected the recordings to take about 2 months - but in the end they took almost 8 months, during which we worked on the album with no break actually. One reason for the delay was that the songs to record were simply not finished. So, some parts we really had to write while recording the drums. Drum recordings took about 3 weeks and went rather smooth. But when we started to record guitars we changed basically every riff, added some new parts, and updated again and again. So, the songs changed and grew step by step and became better and deeper. Also the atmosphere became denser every day we worked on the songs. At the same point we felt we were growing with the songs and the music, came across boundaries and left them behind and used all the just learned and experienced possibilities for the next tracks and updated the previous to keep the flow of the record going.
Still, most of that was Vurtox' achievement. He'd be working on "Back To Times Of Splendor" from the first through to the last day straight without a break except for exhaustion. He was composing, producing, programming, was singing, played the bass and guitar and pushed everything forward - whether or not he was conscious of what he was doing following some vision or not, he kept on going until the record had grown to the big whole none of us would have dared to dream about.
You didn't spend all this time in a row in the studio, did you? :o
As you can tell from the prior answer, yes it have been 8 months straight with only 2 breaks due to absolute exhaustion and the lack of food. To work and record this long is of course only possible because we have our own studio here in Leipzig where we can work basically without any pressure, mostly financial pressure of course. By the way, Vurtox is also producing and recording other bands here whenever Disillusion is not occupying the studio - he was doing 3 productions right after we came back from mastering in January i.e. the new Dark Suns record "Existence". Vurtox is overdue for a break!
If I remember correctly you even had to postpone the release date a couple of times. I'm surprised you didn't get into serious trouble with Metal Blade because of that issue (or did you and we simply don't know? ;-)). I guess that's not what a label likes to see from their "newbies".
No, there in fact have been no real troubles with Metal Blade, which we obviously are very happy about. Although we always crossed their plans the guys always put a lot of faith and trust in the things we did and understood our situation at every point. We really do feel grateful how everything went with them, I can tell you!
Who are the guestmusicans on "Back To Times Of Splendor" and how did you get in touch with them?
They are friends of ours: Tomas Brehmer is keyboard player of the Dark Suns and did the piano part on "...And The Mirror Cracked". The second piano part, the intro of the title song BTTOS was written by Vurtox, but as none of us are capable of playing piano good enough, Vurtox asked Stefan Launicke who is working at Tam Recordings where we did the mixing to do the part. It really was something to record this part because Stefan put a lot of his soul into his playing. Alexander Tscholakov and Denise Schneider are also from the Tam Recordings Studio they helped us as well.
What can you tell us about the lyrics? What are they about and do you even follow a concept?
When talking about a link between words and music, I think a concept album would be when one starts to write music from a conceptional/lyrical outline at least and tries to tell the story. In that sense, BTTOS is not a concept album. But there is a story underlying, which takes in place in 1822 in a mountainous region maybe the Alps. A young man lives with his father on their farm. His mother died long ago. His father is a suppressing person. The young man's beloved also lives in that village but must leave it with her family because their house burnt down. They will move north in fall. Well, the guy now has to make the decision whether to go with her or stay with his father. At first he decides to stay, is unable to loosen the chains his father laid upon him. But at some point longing overcomes him and he leaves his father and heads north after she already left.
Now, the lyrics do not tell the story but show aspects and experiences he makes on his way north, which he walks alone and has loads of time to reflect on himself. So he grows.
So, it appears to be a fantasy story but it is far more real at second sight. Just the setting is somewhat strange, but I believe everyone can relate to the experiences the character makes on his journey.
Do you generally consider lyrics an important part of music?
Considering the diversity of your own music I guess it's safe to say you enjoy a wide range of different musical styles yourself? Where do you draw your inspirations and influences from, musically as well as lyrically?
We feel influenced by basically everything that surrounds us. If you take the time and listen you draw inspiration from so many things, everyday noises, winds blowing through a tree.
Direct musical influences are of course easier to address. They are as far reaching as from metal to rock, pop, jazz, classical music, film score and world music and ethno stuff.
You already have a couple of live dates lined up. Since currently you don't have a bass player: Do you plan to play live with session musicians on a permanent basis or do you aim to find a new bassist as a full member of Disillusion?
Main goal is to find a steady and full forth member for the band. But apparently, this is not really easy because besides to musical side we also are caring about the personal integrity of the band. For now we will be working with a session bass player. Maybe things will develop, maybe not - we will see.
Any plans for a proper tour yet? Any band you would really like to tour with (regardless if it's possible or not)?
Opeth, Grip Inc., Pain Of Salvation, Meshuggah would surely be great candidates! Tourwise nothing is set as yet. This year we will do as many shows as possible. Here in Germany things look really good for us. We are confirmed for the Summer Breeze Festival in August and are certain that a support tour will also be in reach for us, but regarding a European tour we are somewhat depending on Metal Blade.
Last show you went to see yourself?
The Gathering with the semi-acoustic set at the Passion Church at Berlin - amazing and very relaxing!
On your website you also have a literature and photography section where authors and photographers can show their work. How did you get the idea for that? Why ended it up on the band's website?
The website was initially supposed to be somewhat like a cultural portal to the world of Disillusion with the different ways to express this one mood of friends, the band and ourselves are in. Unfortunately, there is no time left since more than two years to upgrade or take care of the literature and photography sections. We also didn't come about to look for someone to take care of it. I am afraid we will have to shut it down in the near future before all announcements will end in embarrassment when people come to take a look.
Thank you for answering our questions! Famous last words?
Well, I hope lots of your readers allow themselves and the music on BTTOS to be taken away. With the lyrics and the artwork at hand, the cd can offer an almost cineastic experience. I think, whoever takes the time to let go, will be highly rewarded by the music!
submitted by Cora 17.03.2004