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Castle

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Conor Fynes View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 Jan 2013 at 4:06am


San Francisco trio Castle has been making waves in the doom metal scene lately. Defined by thick, inventive rock riffs and the distinctive vocals of frontwoman Elizabeth Blackwell, Castle’s latest album “Blacklands” is a solid addition to the style, and should be checked out by fans of traditional, riff-oriented metal. With plans for a new album in 2013, we should be hearing a lot more from Castle in the future. This interview was conducted after Castle’s performance, opening for Pacific doom titans Witch Mountain, and a great show it was!

 

Conor: What do you think of Vancouver?

 

Mat: Of this particular neighborhood, what do I think? [Laughs] I've been here many times, I'm from Toronto and have played in Vancouver in the Hastings area, I kind of new what to expect. I love Vancouver, I've stayed here quite a few times in my life.

 

Elizabeth: This is my first time here, I can't wait to see it in the daytime. Really happy to be here though.

 

Mat: When we drove in, it was nothing but fog and rain, couldn't see shit. Hopefully we'll be able to see the mountains tomorrow.

 

Conor: How did you get hooked up on this tour with Witch Mountain?

 

Mat: We did a show last summer in Toronto, with Blood Ceremony and Witch Mountain. They already had a show set up; we were already friends with Blood Ceremony so they asked if we would like to come onboard. I think we just hit it off, we appreciated each other musically. We were first going to just do part of the tour, but now we're doing the whole tour, so it's worked out really well.


Conor: If I'm not mistaken, this is your second date of the tour after Portland.

 

Mat: Portland was really cool, some great local bands. Any city with a lot of fog and atmosphere is good for a riff-heavy metal show.

 

Conor: in a word or two, how would you describe the sound of Castle? Would you compare yourselves to anyone?

 

Mat: It's a tough question for sure, but as I said, heavy riffs, riffs that might set us apart from other bands...

 

Conor: Well, I know you don't like being called a doom band.

 

Mat: Yeah, I never really heard the doom metal sound in our music! I mean, our first album sounds doomy because of the production. [Laughs] But there's definitely an influence from doom, Al (the drummer) and I grew up listening to that sort of stuff: Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Sabbath... It's definitely in my musical lexicon, but there's other things that are coming into play here. Maybe we're called that because we play a little slower, but I'd say we play a classic sound of metal, a 70's/80's sort of Judas Priest, Dio... We love that sort of thing!

 

Conor: And I couldn't help but notice your Necros Christos shirt!

 

Mat: What a band! I've been a huge fan of them.

 

Elizabeth: Necros Christos... They're awesome.

 

Conor: How did you get hooked up with Prosthetic Records?

 

Mat: That was more or less a process of communicating back and forth following "In Witch Order", which got them aware of us. It is really tough to find a record label that's willing to invest money in an unknown band in America, even though we're a North American group. Prosthetic was willing to distribute our new album "Blacklands" though; it took a few months, but it's out and we're happy with it.

 

Conor: One thing that really separates "Blacklands" from "In Witch Order" is the length of time that it took to make. I heard "In Witch Order" took four years to make; "Blacklands" must have felt like a really efficient production by comparison.

 

Mat: Yeah, that's a good way to put it! "In Witch Order" was never supposed to be anything other than me, it was just supposed to be for fun, experimenting and writing the coolest sounding songs I could. Then I met Elizabeth and the vocals came into play on that; all of a sudden we had an album on our hands. The idea for the band wasn't there until Elizabethand Al came into the picture. "Blacklands" was much different because we already had the band and the sound in place. We were coming from something where we already had something, rather than having nothing to start with. Realizing what we had and taking it in new directions; that's what we did with "Blacklands".

 

Conor: Here's a question for Liz; your vocals are one of the most distinctive aspects of Castle's sound; what are your influences, vocally speaking?

 

Elizabeth: I guess all my influences come from the British heavy metal scene; Rob Halford is a huge influence. Every single word- he puts so much expression into everything he does. He puts character into all of the lyrics, bringing the songs to life. Other then that, I listen to all of the greats and try to get inspiration from them. I try to be my own character as much as I can.

 

Conor: I can see the character, but your style is much different than Rob's!

 

Elizabeth: I wish I were like him! [Laughs]

 

Conor: I mean that your vocals tend to be more brooding and lower than his are.

 

Mat: When we're writing the lyrics and melodies; we try to draw from stuff like Halford, or Ozzy Osbourne. The template is well served from some of those guys, but it's rather like referencing than copying- the attitude. I always think of vocals- you can always write a great song, and when you add vocals, you're trying to add colour and dimension to it. 

 

Conor: Is there anything you would like to add upon this style? Even though traditional heavy metal is decades old, do you think it can still advance as time goes by?

 

Mat: Well, we're talking alot about our next record, I have alot of ideas in my head for it already. That's an interesting question; we're not sure where it will go at this point- I'm thinking we may want to dial it in a little bit more as a three-piece band- maybe step away from the production and go to a raw, energetic natural sound... We like to try to record things in one take. I guess in a sense that's a departure from the 'modern' sound of heavy metal. I like alot of modern metal, black metal, European metal, but alot of it uses digital trickery. I prefer to go to the source of it, something organic. We could make it really bombastic with lots of guitar tracks, but I'd rather do something straight up.

 

Conor: That's really true- so many bands nowadays sound like the instruments are being played by compulsive robots.

 

Mat: We tried a bit of the overdubbing and triggers, but we always naturally fell onto the organic sound. Sometime next year we'd love to release something.

 

Conor: Anything outside of metal that influences you?

 

Mat: Absolutely!

 

Elizabeth: We're influenced by everything, we read plenty.

 

Mat: Alot of films. Also, being married we tend to experience alot of the same things.

 

Elizabeth: Terence Malick films...

 

Mat: Or trashy bad comedies! [Laughs] But the heavyweight, meaningful films always leave something in us. For me David Lynch is an inspiration; when I watch him, my mind is reeling. Anyone who does something different.

 

Conor: Kubrick?

 

Elizabeth: Yeah! We like anything that takes us out of everyday life.

 

Mat: I grew up playing metal and I kind of got out of it as a serious guitar player and into other things, but what got me back into it was trying to take it somewhere else. Maybe that sounds pretentious, but using other forms of music- world music- trying to put that in the context of metal. I think that's what we tried to do with early Castle. When I was younger, I would listen to bands like Voivod- you know, bands or guitarists that would do weird shit- and with that in my memory, I've always wanted to see where else metal can go. We play a very 'straight up' sort of metal, but that doesn't mean we can't experiment around and maybe do something that hasn't quite been heard before.

 

Conor: I guess you're still very much in the process of experiencing all of this with the debut coming out only last year, but what advice would you give to other young artists?

 

Elizabeth: Perseverance! 

 

Mat: We had a plan. We had the music, then we practiced. We wrote as much as we could and played together lots, then it was all about hassling everyone we could about our music. Just going at it all the time, just keep focused!

 

Elizabeth: The Three P's: Practice, Persistence, Perseverance.

 

Mat: [Laughs] Yeah, generic, but there's something behind it. Yeah, we wrote the shit for ourselves, and then it was a matter of getting promoters behind it. We're on the road now and that's cool; we just want to get on the road and play right now. You can't control everything, but what you can control is writing, practicing and playing, and that's what we're doing.

 

Conor: Right on! Last question, and by far the most important: do you like cheeseburgers?

 

Mat: Absolutely! I know mine; I had one in Cleveland- melted cheese, homemade burgers. Also a burger shop by our house, they have Hawaiian burgers! Thanks for the interview man!

 

Conor: Cheers!


Castle's MMA Profile may be found here.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 2013 at 3:22am
Nice ConorClap, I´m sorry I didn´t see this new interview before nowEmbarrassed. I will add the interview to the interview index.
 
...I´ve actually reviewed the band´s latest album here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/blacklands--review.aspx?id=277963
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Time Signature Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 2013 at 4:44am
Based on this interview and UMUR's review, I gotta check this band out sometime.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 2013 at 4:52am
Yep I´m pretty sure it´ll thrill you...
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