Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe of U.K. doom metallers MY DYING BRIDE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On writing new album "A Map Of All Our Failures":
Aaron: "We had so much material that we actually started to put it together in what is recognisable song form. It's fun but it's also hard work as well, because you've gotta make sure that with all these great ideas you don't spoil the broth as it were, so we constructed the songs in the best way we thought we could. We recorded 13 songs in total, although only eight appear on the album. One will appear on a special edition of the album and the other four will appear on the new EP, which I'm guessing will probably come out around April 2013. We recorded at Futureworks in Manchester where we've recorded the last few albums. Mags (Robert Magoolagan) was the engineer again. I'd love to be able to tell you some funny anecdotes about it, but, to be honest, we kind of really nailed the songs before we hit the studio. It was all a case of 'Heads down. Let's get this over and done with. Let's not waste time. Let's be as professional as we possibly can.' We were in and out of the studio in a fairly quick time with a fairly polished piece of vinyl, which we are all chuffed with."
On the title track:
Aaron: "It's about a guy who has nothing left, and not just physically. The idea was he sat in a room which has a bed and a chair, and nothing else. Everything he's had in his life has gone through wrong decisions, bad decisions, dodgy characters, and so on. Now he has ended up with nothing, but it's a mental thing as well. He realizes he's got no love. He's never loved, and you could argue that if you've never loved then you've never lost properly. He feels like he's lost everything, so it's complete and utter desolation. I'm sure some people feel from time to time that the world is really against them, and in realistic terms it probably never really is. You've always probably got a roof over your head, or can find something like that. I wanted to write a song about someone who really has absolutely nothing, and that's what 'A Map Of All Our Failures' is about. He's realised that there is nothing there. The map itself if you want could be completely blank; it just contains nothing, and there's nothing left to live for. I'm not suggesting for one moment that suicide is on the menu for this evening, but you just wonder sometimes. If somebody actually has absolutely nothing, can they survive that?"
On political music:
Aaron: "You're not gonna see much political music in my CD collection — there's no BLACK FLAG in there, for example. There's a place for that kind of stuff, and it's simply not my place (laughs). I like my music to be a vehicle to transport me to somewhere else, somewhere away from the rat race, away from the taxman and the annoying neighbour and the car that won't start, the money that I don't have and the people who want my money. My music has to take me away from all that shit, so that I've got somewhere to go that isn't all nasty. Despite the fact that some of the music I listen to is quite morbid, it's morbid I think in a beautiful way. It's the escapism that's the most important thing for me though, and that's why I write things which some hard-nosed journalists might say is a bit airy fairy. Fine though; that's what I want. I want to be taken away to a different place and a different time for an hour, and I don't think that's too much to ask."
On violinist / keyboardist Shaun MacGowan:
Aaron: "Shaun's been great. He added a bit on 'The Barghest O' Whitby' which was fine, but we're trying to get him to come out of his shell a little bit more because he's quite shy. I think he was one year old when MY DYING BRIDE formed, so it's a bit weird him being in the band. He doesn't wanna tread on anyone's toes. He's joined a well established band, and the last thing we want — and the last thing he wants — is him saying 'I've got some shit hot guitar riffs for you guys,' because he'd get kicked out straight away no matter how good his riffs were. We want him to come out of his shell a little bit more, because he's still quite a shy, young lad. He's put some great, woeful violin parts on the album though, and they've really embellished the material that it's been played over. It's haunting and sounds beautiful, but in a tragic kind of way. With the violin it has always been like that for us, particularly in the early days. He added a real good amount to it. All the violin parts have been his own stuff; at no point has anyone said 'Here, play this.' He's said 'I've got this. Does it work?' We've said 'Yeah, bloody brilliant,' but we expect more from him in the future. Fingers crossed that on the next album there'll be a bit more of Shaun."
On forthcoming four-track EP "The Manuscript", scheduled for release in April 2013:
Aaron: "They're very similar to 'A Map Of All Our Failures' because they were written and recorded at the same time, except for one song. That really stands out… [laughs] It's full-on sort of epic death metal; it's swords and axes, a proper warrior battle kind of track that's almost medieval in flavor. You can almost picture the scene; it's set in a snowy kind of mountainous landscape. There are sound effects and all sorts of mayhem going on in it, and death metal vocals not quite all the way through it, but near enough. It even has a Swedish title which because my Swedish isn't great, I'm not gonna repeat here. [laughs] I need to get the pronunciation right before I do that."