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a 40 WATT SUN on a doom drama…

20. März 2011

Anfang 2009 war es als das Ende der Emotionsdoomer Warning (UK) verkündet wurde. Wobei Ende vielleicht nicht der richtige Ausdruck ist. Vielmehr musste das Kapitel Warning, mittlerweile auf den Bandkopf Patrick Walker zusammengesunken, geschlossen werden, um Platz zu machen für neue Ideen. Progression in der Doomwelt. Darf das? Mit dem Neuanfang der neue Name: 40 Watt Sun, einem Song einer 80er Prog Rock Band entlehnt. Es darf also! „Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne“, wusste Hesse, weiß eigentlich jeder. Dieser Zauber heißt „The Inside Room“ und wurde dieser Tage veröffentlicht. Vielerorts wurde das Album bereits über den grünen Klee gelobt und schon jetzt als das „Doom-Album des Jahres!“ gepriesen. Dabei erweist sich der Mann aber eher als Doomflüchtling mit weitgereistem Musikgeschmack, so herausgefunden am letzten Abend der „Listen to Doom“-Tour zusammen mit Semlah und Mirror of Deception, in Stuttgart, am 11. März… Wir belassen den O-Ton, damit nichts verlorengeht, überlassen euch einem verbalen Freiflug weg von Gartenpartys durch innere Räume, vorbei an guten alten Glühbirnen, alten Haudegen der Rockmusik und Seesternen…

I’d like to start with that acoustic performance of „Restless“ you did live at Radio Zosh two days ago… I loved it, really adored it. There were friends who sat in front of their computers especially for this, close to tears… So tell me, how many proposals did you get after that?

Patrick: None. So far…

Not even from the guys in the studio!?

P: No. That’s funny… I didn’t know how it’s going to sound on the radio when I play into a microphone and when I finished the song they put some music on and I asked if that was alright and that guy went like this [shrugging and coolly nodding] and said „It was alright.“

It sounded very stripped to the core, only the acoustic guitar and your voice. I almost liked it better than the original electric version on the album, which I love, too. Is that the way you write your songs, acoustic guitar and voice only? Is it how you make your songs from the scratch?

P: I always use the acoustic guitar for writing, but only with this album. I wrote the songs for the acoustic guitar with an intention. You can hear the subtlety of a riff or a chord when you play it on acoustic guitar first. This album was kind of written for the acoustic guitar. We have changed the arrangements later in the rehearsal and that worked nicely on electric guitars…

Do you also write acoustic songs to play them acoustically?

P: „Take Me In“, which you haven’t heard yet because it’s the bonus track on the LP, used to be an acoustic song. I thought the chorus would work really well played with the heavy guitars, so I rewrote it for the band. But originally that song was written for acoustic guitar. To be honest with you, I can’t remember what songs I wrote for what purpose…

I’d like to call your new style – if you can call it a „new style“ – kind of a „singer-songwriter doom“. For two reasons… First because of the lyrics, very personal lyrics I guess – I don’t dare to ask you about any details – But they are written in a way where probably every emotional person can pick something out of them and can recognize a relationship to another person, may it be hopeless or full of hopes. Your lyrics, wrapped in a very credible style of singing, can give very much comfort. And that is – contentwise – what makes a good singer-songwriter to me… as long as he or she doesn’t make songs about injustice or how bad people are on this earth. I think that’s, very superficially spoken, the two lyrical sides of being some sort of a singer-songwriter… I know, that’s not really a question…

P: No, that’s fine. Carry on…

On the other hand I’d like to call it „singer-songwriter doom“ because the music itself turned out very compact and „songy“ this time

P: It is. I think there is a very traditional approach to songwriting on it. I dont’t think there’s an awful lot of difference between the songs on this and what people might consider a classic pop song, Do you know what I mean? Structurally and maybe in the way I play. Of course, when it’s turned up loud some people may call it doom metal, just because of the tempo and it is quite “heavy”.

The melodies themselves have more „air“… They’re not that heavy, I think.

P: No. I don’t think of it like that. I just think of them as being songs. „Watching From A Distance“ – I don’t really like to refer to it because Warning isn’t my band anymore – is a very riff-based album… and „The Inside Room“ isn’t. It’s song-based. That is the difference.

It also doesn’t sound that dramatical / theatrical as „Watching From A Distance“ was…

P: I was very self-conscious after „Watching From A Distance“ came out. The first thing people always talked about was my vocals. They talked about them in sort of dramatic terms and I felt quite uncomfortable about that. I didn’t want people to think I was being dramatic or even melodramatic. And with this record some people commented on the production and some people even don’t like it. But I purposely wanted the vocals to sit back a little. They’re a little bit understated in the mix, because I wanted the songs to speak for themselves rather than have the vocals on the forefront as they perhaps were on „Watching From A Distance“.

I have noticed that as well on „The Inside Room“, in a positive way. The vocals sound a little like from the room next door… well, not really, because it really goes well together with the music. You know what I mean…

P: I know what you mean…

But when you recorded „Watching From A Distance“ did you intend to do it a little dramatical or was it just natural at that time?

P: No, there was no dramatic intention in it at all… Nothing at all. We recorded the first Warning record in 1999 and it is a terrible record, really terrible. And looking back at that from the years following I learned how to sing, learned how to use my voice a little bit. I went into the studio a bit more confidently, knowing what I was wanting to do. But there was certainly no intention to be „dramatic“. I was flattered but also quite uncomfortable. I didn’t want people to think that I was melodramatic. And I hope the lyrics weren’t melodramatic or theatrical, or even a bit whiny. To answer your question: No, I didn’t intend that. I just wanted to sing and express myself as best as I could.

And how do you feel about „Watching From A Distance“ now watching from quite a distance? Does it still feel right?

P: It’s been five years ago that we’ve recorded that album. A lot of things have changed in my life since then. I have changed as a person since then. I feel differently about a lot of things. I also wouldn’t write that album today, because I like to think that I have progressed musically as well. I’m proud I recorded it, but I don’t really feel attached to it. A couple of bits on the album I do feel ashamed of… „Bridges“ on that record, which I think is an okay song, but as soon as we have recorded that record I really wished that we had recorded it differently. Have you heard the „Bridges“ 12“?

No, not yet… Was it re-recorded?

P: Yes, we immediately re-rehearsed it after we have recorded it. Actually with Christian in the band we started to play it differently. There are subtle differences in the arrangement, it flows a lot more beautifully. If you know the album version you may notice the difference to the live version. So there are a few things on the record that I’m not really happy with. A lot in performance. If I would have been with Will and Chris at that time they would have done things differently with the bass and the drums. But at the time it was the best I could do.

„Watching From A Distance“ was my first Warning experience. Afterwards a friend of mine gave me the demos to listen to… he asked me to ask you: How do you feel about the earlier Warning times, 1996 to 1997?

P: I talked about that the other day. That was over ten ears ago and I’m looking at a different person. It feels like I’m looking at someone else in my shoes and everything I did. I was 16 or 17 years old when I wrote these demo songs. And I don’t feel anything at all. I don’t think they’re very good. It’s hard to talk about it. It was very much about exploring heavy music. We were also full of ourselves, young and at college, going to parties all the time. It was just about playing heavy music and having fun.. it’s such a long time ago. We were copying all the time…

I mean it didn’t sound bad. It’s kind of solid traditional doom. But about „copying“: „Nightmare Bride“, it seems to me, is very much inspired by „Electric Funeral“…

P: Haha, of course it is „Electric Funeral“ played backwards! Well, in 1994/95 when I started Warning we were just getting into bands like Count Raven, Saint Vitus and Revelation of course. All these bands had been the biggest influences on my life; musically it was a revelation for me. Of course we were copying a lot. I could talk about every riff on these demos and tell you where it came from, where the ideas and the lyrics were inspired by. There is nothing really personal about these demos at all. It was about having fun and enjoying ourselves. It’s a mig mish-mash of everything that we listened to at that time.

Do you somehow still feel connected to „traditional doom“?

P: No, no, no. And I hate the word traditional. I don’t listen to it anymore, really. Obviously all these influences stuck with me as I moved on. But I have picked up other inspirations along the way. Of course it stayed with me, but I hate the word „traditional“. I think it’s a terrible word. It’s the complete antithesis of the word „progression“, isn’t it? Traditional is the opposite of moving forward. If there’s anything I really value today from this genre, that is John Brenner from Revelation, Against Nature… as a musician and a songwriter, and as a friend as well. I guess he was also my biggest influence when I started Warning. And even today I still revere him.

Now we finally progress and close this chapter. We come into „The Inside Room“ again. First thing that I have realized was the beautiful artwork, the orange birds on the grey ground

P: Hahaha! Recently one guy has mistaken them for starfish! I think it was in Gent and he went: „Why do you have starfish on your album cover?“ And I didn’t want to embarrass him and say, “starfish? they’re birds”. They don’t even look like starfish. Four-legged starfish?

So they’re birds. That’s good because my next question is about birds. That friend of mine also told me that you once you said in an interview that during the last days of Warning you felt like a „caged bird“ and he interpreted the new 40 Watt Sun era to be kind of a release, a liberation of the birds

P: I’ve never thought of it like that, not until you have mentioned it. That’s a complete coincidence, but yes, it was a relief. There was a great sense of liberation when we rehearsed and recorded that album. The reference to the interview you’ve mentioned is really a coincidence, but I certainly did feel that way. When I was young and started Warning it was like getting involved in a music scene that is very tight-knit. It was like being in a kind of “gang” really and everyone was friends. 15 years later it was horrible. I didn’t like being compartmentised. It’s hard to feel that you can progress when people are calling you traditional doom. They put an ideology on you. It was a sense of liberation to have a new group.

What does the album title refer to? Is „The Inside Room“ a room with no windows?

P: I guess so. To be honest, if I’d try to define it I would trap and confine its meaning a little bit. Of course it is metaphorical for something that is personal and inside and private. I don’t want to define it more than that, because it has a close meaning. Sorry…

That’s okay. I just try to figure out my favourite song on „The Inside Room“, but it’s hard to tell… But maybe it’s just not necessary and like Neil Young once said: „It’s all one song!“

P: Is that what Neil Young said? That’s cool, I like that.

It was at a concert. A guy shouted „It all sounds the same!“, Neil answered: „It’s all one song!“

P: Haha. Yes, let’s talk about Neil Young. Are you a Neil Young fan?

Yes, He’s my favourite musician.

P: He’s one of my favourites. Back in the 70s when „Tonight’s The Night“ came out he played the album live from start to finish. And people were getting pissed off because they wanted to hear „Heart of Gold“ from „Harvest“, a really commercial hit, and he was just playing „Tonight’s The Night“ from start to finish, quite a dark album. And when he came to the end of the concert he said „Okay, Now I’m going to play a song that you have all heard before“ and people went „Yeeaaah!“ and he started to play the whole album all over again! That was really cool.

Hahaha, that must have been around 1975 then… following the death of Danny Whitten…

P: Yes. I think my favourite Neil Young album is probably „On The Beach“. I love that record.

A very bluesy one… Mine is probably „Rust Never Sleeps“ (or maybe „Everybody Knows…“ or „After The Goldrush“…?), though it’s a lot heavier.

P: It is heavier, yes. Like the live album that came out first in the „Ditch Trilogy“, „Time Fades Away“, which his sort of his heaviest. But Neil Young has never released it on cd. Chris, my drummer, managed to download a copy of that one for me. It went out of print and Neil Young has never authorised an official re-release. It’s got „Love In Mind“ on it, one of my favourite Neil Young songs… I could talk for ages about Neil Young to you.

We can continue with that later on. What I wanted to introduce with „It’s all one song“ is that it’s really hard to name a best song on your album. Because when you listen to „The Inside Room“ only two or three times – it doesn’t need a long time – you feel like this album sounds like an old friend, like it has ever been there. That is good. That’s a really good album.

P: Thank you.

But if I have to name two outstanding tracks on the album it would be „Restless“ and „Carry Me Home“.

P: Okay, why do you like them?

It’s hard to say… Probably „Restless“ revealed itself better to me when I listened to the acoustic version that Wednesday. And „Carry Me Home“… I can’t wrap it into words… Well, I really wasn’t prepared that you will ask back why these are my favourite songs, haha.

P: I appreciate that you listen to.

So what is your favourite one on your album?

P: It’s all one song, haha. I don’t know… I think the last song on the album, „This Alone“. Maybe not musically, but lyrically. It’s kind of everything I wanted to write for a long time . We were playing concerts and I remember not wanting to play any of the songs we were playing, because it wasn’t how I felt about things at the time…I don’t know…I think the last song… there is something about that, lyrically, that feels the most personally important thing I have done. We played it live and we stripped it down a little bit. We can’t imitate the album, because it has two guitars playing at the same time. It’s probably not the best song on the album, but I like it to sing.

It ends very abruptly.

P: It doesn’t resolve itself.

I thought it might be because on the LP version there is another song afterwards, „Take Me In“…

P: No, the press release that Cyclone Empire sent out was quite misleading. „Take Me In“ is actually the third song on the LP record. No, „This Alone“ is just kind of what I felt I wanted to do. I wrote the lyrics and rehearsed it a week before we recorded the album.

But the last chords are really cut off. It leaves you wanting more…

P: Yes, the song doesn’t resolve itself, lyrically it doesn’t resolve itself either. It’s hard to talk about it, I guess.

I’m really looking forward to the vinyl.

P: I’ve got the test pressing today. It has an etching on side four. It’s beautiful.

Are you a vinyl maniac yourself?

P: No. I sold my LPs years ago. The only vinyl I kept is my Marillion LPs. I used to collect Marillion vinyl when I was at school. And I used to go to record fairs and bought everything by Marillion, picture discs, singles, everything. Apart from that I’ve sold everything. It was an investment, I got quite a lot for Pentagram originals and everything… Are you a vinyl freak?

Yes, haha. But you kept the Marillions at least. And that is my next block of questions. In almost every interview you say that Marillion is your absolute favourite band.

P: I don’t! I might have mentioned it in three. And that’s only because people ask „Where does you band name come from?“ and I have to say „Marillion!“, because that’s where 40 Watt Sun comes from.

It’s from „Emerald Lies“, on an early Marillion album…

P: From „Fugazi“, the second album, yes.

How do people react when they hear that Marillion is your favourite band?

P: It’s not that incredible, is it? They’re a “prog rock” band, aren’t they? I think Marillion is not that unusual, is it? I don’t know.

Most doom bands probably think they’re a „pussy band“.

P: Do they? Hahaha…

Do you even own the late ones with Steve Hogarth?

P: Yes. But I don’t own the last one. They took pre-orders from the fans in order to finance the recording of the LP or something, I think… But I pick them all up. Also with Leonard Cohen: I buy the albums habitually now, even if I don’t listen to them straight away. I don’t have the time to listen to music so much as I have used to. I habitually buy things. With Tom Waits I do that as well.

Tom Waits has released a lot since the 70s. So what is your favourite Marillion era? I guess the Fish era?

P: The Fish era for sure. „Afraid Of Sunlight“ is an album I would probably rank alongside the Fish albums. It’s a beautiful record and it was really sort of an inspiration for me. Musically it was an inspiration for me. So I rate „Afraid Of Sunlight“ alongside the Fish era. But Fish is one of my musical heroes: Very charismatic, a great lyricist… and a great singer as well.

I have seen some old live material with the Fish on Youtube. Really charismatic appearances he made there. Personally I have a bit of a hard time with Steve Hogarth…

P: His early performances with Marillion, 1988 up to 1991, were a little bit clumsy. He was a bit clumsy as a front man, maybe uncomfortable. I found it most excruxiating watching him sing a lot Fish material, like „Warm Wet Circles“, so embarassing. But then, you know, in the 90s he found his footing into the band, found his voice. But there’s some really good material on the first two albums with Hogarth, like „Easter“ or „Season’s End“… or the song „Splintering Heart“ on „Holidays In Eden“.

These albums had some really bad pop songs, too.

P: There were maybe a couple of dodgy pop songs, like „The Uninvited Guest“ on „Season’s End“. That’s not a great song at all, hahaha. There were a few. I like the pop songs on „Holidays In Eden“. I like stuff like „No One Can“ or „Dry Land“. I think they are really good songs.

I more like the darker album „Brave“ that followed…

P: Yes. But again, I think „Afraid Of Sunlight“ is a dark album as well. Beautiful record!

What is your absolutely favourite Marillion song?

P: „Incubus“ maybe, from „Fugazi“. It’s hard to say, but „Incubus“ has that beautiful guitar solo. Maybe „Jigsaw“…

What’s your second favourite band or musician?

P: Oh gosh… I have to lay down that question. I don’t know.

Nobody ever asks for the second one…

P: At the moment I’m really into a singer-songwriter from America, called Baby Dee. She’s a singer and plays the harp and the piano. Listen to her first two albums or her EP. It’s by far the most beautiful music I have ever heard in my life, so haunting and fragile, really beyond words. The first albums were „Love’s Small Song“ and „Little Window“.

Never heard of her, but it sounds good. Okay, as tonight is the last show of the tour. Tell us how it has been so far.

P: It has been really nice. We have been travelling with nice people and we met nice people. The catering has been brilliant, haha. I got sick just three days into the tour. I’m fighting off a cold, taking Ibuprofen and drinking lots of orange juice. I think it’s the adrenaline that keeps me going. As I get home tomorrow I will get really ill. It has been a really nice experience. It’s always a pleasure in Germany.

Were the people shouting for Warning songs?

P: They were well behaved. At the first shows a couple of drunk people were doing that. And there was a guy in Rotterdam shouting something and someone turned around and told him to shut up. The people are cool. They listen, you know. There is a nice warm reaction when we play. That is nice. People come and stand and listen to music.

Were there already some die-hard fans who immediately already shouted along?

P: Yes! Last night there were some people, singing the words along! It’s only out for a week or something. That’s quite amazing. Even I can’t remember the words, haha!

I hope you’ll play something acoustic tonight. By the way, Wino does this acoustic doom as well. His latest album almost sounds a bit like bluesy „country“.

P: That’s good. I like country.

What is to come for 40 Watt Sun?

P: I don’t know. Maybe some acoustic stuff. It would be quite nice to follow with an acoustic one. I will see how it goes…

2 Kommentare

  1. Moor

    Sehr schönes Interview! Freue mich schon auf die Akustik-Gigs im Juni.

  2. […] Moor zu a 40 WATT SUN on a doom drama…Bart Marbley zu ÁSMEGIN: “Arv”Earl Tipping zu A TASTE OF CHAOS @ Hartwall Areena Helsinki, Finnland | 15.11.2010behrang zu Fotos von Samavayo @ White Trash, Berlin | 08.04.2011Katrin zu Gästebuch […]


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