The year is 1992. Joey Belladonna leaves ANTHRAX. Could anyone imagine James Hetfield joining ANTHRAX while still playing in METALLICA? No, it didn’t happen in the bands from THE BIG FOUR. But it happened in he doom world. The most important doom band in the world is CANDLEMASS. The second is/was SOLITUDE AETURNUS. For a couple of years, one of the best doom vocals ever fronted both the bands. ROBERT LOWE, the voice of doom, played on legendary albums released by SOLITUDE AETURNUS and CANDLEMASS. For a couple of years, we didn’t hear from him. Good news. Very soon we will have a doom album with ROBERT LOWE as the singer. If you don’t know his past and present, he will explain you below.
1 – You are now member of the band named TYRANT. And you will release a new album in May. Who wrote the music and the lyrics?
As far as the music goes, it was already done before they asked me to jump on the board. And the lyrics are up to me on this project. At the moment, Greg has a set of lyrics for one song, but I've been writing for the rest of the album.
2 – What else can you tell me about this album?
I know what people are used to with the earlier TYRANT, but this one is going to be a lot freaking heavier. It's going to be more doomy than the early 80's type of metal. So, it definitely fits. I can tell you right now that a lot of the new material is heavier than shit.
3 – Tyrant is a very old band and they play heavy metal. How do you fit in when you are on stage, playing the old songs, that are heavy metal songs, when you are especially a doom metal singer?
Well, that is yet to be seen! Last year, in Ventura, California, we did a headlining show for the Frost And Fire Festival, and that was the first time when I played with those guys. And what we did that night was only new material, so we haven't even been on stage with the older stuff. We are going to do that in April in New York, we are going to a festival in New York and we are going to play some typical TYRANT setlist – some of the older, and also some new material.
4 – Did you rehearse the old songs?
No, we haven't done that yet. I am going to fly to California in a couple of weeks to get all that worked out.
5 – The band is very old, but they have only 3 albums in 39 years. Why did they create so little?
Honestly, I can't answer that one. I don't know. You know, I just recently joined the crew, so I really don't know the history behind – only 3 albums – why, or why not.
6 – But how did you joined the band? Did you find them, or did they find you?
Actually, Greg contacted me early last year. I don't remember if he called me or messaged me. But yes, Greg contacted me. And we talked for a while, we talked for a couple of months and then jammed. And the next thing’you know, was Ventura, Frost And Fire Festival. That's how it started.
7 – You played on legendary albums from SOLITUDE AETURNUS and CANDLEMASS. You could go on tour playing songs from these albums. DISCIPLE OF DOOM was a perfect band for such shows. What happened to that band? Why doesn't it work?
Back in 2015, when I started the DISCIPLE OF DOOM project, that's originally what we were doing. We played some shows in Houston, Texas and we were doing SOLITUDE AETURNUS and CANDLEMASS songs. It started good, but then, things happened and I ended up moving to Arizona. And that's why we put it on hold for the moment.
8 – So bad! There is also a band named DISCIPLES OF DOOM and they play doom. Did you have any legal problems regarding the name?
No, as far as I know! It is a funny thing. When I started to do this thing called DISCIPLE OF DOOM, I didn't know that there is another thing like this. Some people brought this to my attention, but I didn't even know what DISCIPLES OF DOOM are, I thought they are a DIO cover band or something like that. But there have been no issues.
9 – Try to recall the days when you were playing in LAST CHAPTER.
LAST CHAPTER… Jeez, that might be back in 1995. Because the album was recorded in 1993-1994. I did a couple of shows with those guys, but the whole point behind me and the vocals on LAST CHAPTER was until they could find another vocalist. So I did the album, we did some shows and they ended up bringing somebody else, because at that time too, SOLITUDE AETURNUS was pretty hard 'n' heavy and we were doing our own stuff and we were doing our tours and everything, so it was never any plan in being a continuous thing with LAST CHAPTER.
10 – And how did you join SOLITUDE AETURNUS?
Well, short and sweet, me and Lyle Steadham, the bass player at that time, had a band called GRAVEN IMAGE and we were doing typical metal. That kind of a band like MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND and other stuff. And we ended up or he ended up meeting John while we were in college and joined up with him. A few months later, Lyle came to me and told me that they were looking for a singer and ask me to join the band. I said yes I am a guitar player, I don't do vocals, but I'll go ahead and give it a try. And the rest is pretty much history. I joined SOLITUDE AETURNUS and here we are now.
11 – SOLITUDE AETURNUS had 10 great years. Then, after 1999 you played only one gig in 2001 at Bang Your Head Festival, before doing the new album in 2006. What happened to the band after 1999?
The history of SOLITUDE AETURNUS was always a kind of hit and miss. We were going to do something, do some shows, then the other guys started doing other things. So years go by, and that's kind of what happened. After that show in 2001, we got back together to write the material for the new album, “Alone”, we put that out in 2006, and that's pretty much of it at that time. We did a couple of shows for the “Alone” album, but only a few.
12 – Yes, after you released the “Alone” album the band did some gigs until 2010. And the last one happened in 2011 in Las Vegas. After that show, what happened to the band? Did you discuss about a new album, more gigs and anything?
It happened that I joined CANDLEMASS in 2007 and SOLITUDE AETURNUS wasn't doing anything at that time, so I spent most of those years with CANDLEMASS. So, it wasn't really anything happening in SOLITUDE AETURNUS at that time.
13 – And after you left CANDLEMASS, why didn't you try to rejoin SOLITUDE AETURNUS and get the guys together and do something new?
At that time, when I ceased to be in CANDLEMASS, John Perez was doing his thing as a tour manager, the bass player was doing his thing, everybody just went their own way after that, there hasn't been a lot more. We still talked about doing some shows, but all of us lived everywhere, I live here in Arizona now, and it's hard to get things put back together.
14 – Why did you create CONCEPT OF GOD? It looks like a rebellion against John Perez.
Ha-ha, no, it wasn't a rebellion against John. But that was another of those times when the band went into a hiatus. And I said “Fuck this, I am still gonna play, I still got material, I wanna do and I'm gonna do my own thing!” So I told John and I said “if you venture into something else, that’s cool, but I’m gonna continue on”, so, basically, I got Moseley and Covington from SOLITUDE AETURNUS started to write material for CONCEPT OF GOD and put that album out. We actually did a few shows in Dallas, were we lived and that was it. It wasn’t really meant to be a touring act or anything like that, it was just me wanting to continue playing and writing music and I had great musicians at my disposal. Well, they weren’t exactly at my disposal, but the three of us wanted to continue, so it was a kind of a side-project were we could squeeze out creative juices and to continue playing and recording.
15 – You were the songwriter in CONCEPT OF GOD?
Actually, Steve Moseley did 90% of the music. I helped, writing some part of the guitars, and, as usually, I did the vocals and the lyrics.
16 – If John Perez is too busy to carry on with SOLITUDE AETURNUS, why can't you, the others, do it with CONCEPT OF GOD? The press stated that you were preparing a new album, but it was never released. What happened?
Yes, me and Moseley had some words about doing another CONCEPT OF GOD, but in the end, CANDLEMASS and touring and moving and just not being around each other all the time made that project just being put in the backburner. But I wouldn’t say it is something that will never happen again, because I still talk to Moseley and who knows? It is still a lot in the air.
17 – When you joined CANDLEMASS, did you talk to the guys from SOLITUDE AETURNUS? Did you ask them if they agree, or they had no right to have an opinion?
Well, of course I had words with the others and I told them that CANDLEMASS wants me to do vocals since Messiah left, and they said “Very well, go for it!”. And therefore, for a couple of years I did the vocals for both SOLITUDE AETURNUS and CANDLEMASS. And at one point of a time it was supposed to be a show in Romania with CANDLEMASS and SOLITUDE AETURNUS at a festival, but that festival fell apart. It would have been cool to have both bands at the same festival. SOLITUDE AETURNUS was supposed to headline on Friday night, and CANDLEMASS was supposed to headline on Saturday night, but for whatever reason it fell apart.
18 – How strange is to be the frontman of the two biggest doom metal bands in the world?
I never really gave it much thought. I just simply loved doing what I do and fell lucky to be able to front both of these bands. The time with CANDLEMASS was great, and the time with SOLITUDE AETURNUS was incredible, so I never really thought much about it, I was just doing what I want to do and, if there is an opportunity to do it, then straight I will be there.
19 – After Messiah Marcolin left CANDLEMASS in 1991, the band managed to release one more album with an anonymous (by then) singer and split-up. In 2004 they did the reunion in the classic line-up and Messiah left again after 2 years. Do you think you were the only solution for the band not to sink again in 2006, no matter how good the new songs were?
I know that they had open auditions. After me joining CANDLEMASS, Leif told me “We didn’t even think about asking you”, because at the time when they were looking for a new singer, SOLITUDE AETURNUS was in the studio recording “Alone” and they didn’t think to ask. But when I heard that Messiah left again, I emailed Leif and told him “I’ll do it” and the rest is history.
20 – How did the fans react to the fifth CANDLEMASS singer?
As far as I know, it was really well. Of course, there were people that miss Messiah, but personally, I didn’t get any negative vibes or anything from anyone. The press was always good, the albums speak for themselves. It is a really good CANDLEMASS material and is heavy as hell. So, it never was an issue, as far as I know.
21 – Did you meet or talk to Messiah Marcolin?
No, I didn’t meet him ever. I know that he still has words with some of the other guys, but I never had the chance to meet him. Even when I was in Sweden I never crossed with the guy.
22 – The songs from “King Of The Grey Island” seem to be written for your voice. But we know that they were already written when you joined the band. Did you do any changes in the songs, so that they would be properly played by you?
No. I got the material, took it to the studio and put my vocals on the top of the music, because everything was done. Music was done, lyrics were written, I just went in and put my vocals on it. So, it really wasn’t any kind of change. I just finished doing the “Alone” album, and a couple of moths later I went back in the studio, doing “King Of The Grey Islands”. And I ended up doing it in a week.
_23 – You were living in the USA and the other guys were living in Sweden. How could you rehearse before a show? And how could you rehearse before going in studio? And how can be the usual jamming be present when you are so far from the others? _
That’s a good one, because we never did rehearse for the albums. Leif sent me files to listen to the music with the lyrics and I would step down and sing it so anyone could hear. And when I actually got to Sweden to record, we were just talking about what we were going to do, and then I was going to the booth and put down the vocals. For some of the festivals, I was going 3-4 days ahead of the time, we got together and do the setlist and that was it. So, it was never a proper rehearsal or proper get-togethers before any of this stuff. So, it was a kind of a one thing off and one step and I’ll do the festivals or the tours or whatever it was.
_24 – How difficult is to come from the USA for a show in Europe? How many days do you need to recover from the jet lag? _
I usually liked to fly a day or two ahead of the time. I don’t require a whole lot of time for recovery. I just get there, have a day of sleep, a day for recover, then hang out with the guys, have a couple of drinks, and on the third day we were either on a plane or the bus or whatever. So, it was pretty quick. I don’t require much time. I get there, have a rest, have a few beers and then hit the road.
25 – When did you learn that Leif decided that the follow-up album to “Death Magic Doom” should be the last for CANDLEMASS?
If I can remember correctly, it was about the time slightly before we started recording it or around that time we had a talk about it and he told me about his thoughts and it is going to be the last proper CANDLEMASS album and to stop the project. I mean, obviously, they are still playing, but as far as recording proper albums, that is what I was told.
_26 – Mats Leven did some rehearsals with the band in 2006, after Messiah Marcolin left. He also did the demos for “Psalms For The Dead” and some backing vocals. Do you think that he was prepared to be the replacement after you complete the recordings for “Psalms For The Dead” and the decision of your replacement was taken in 2010 or 2011, when they realized that they don’t need you anymore in the studio? _
I really don’t know much about that. I mean I knew that a lot of the scratch vocals were done by Mats, because on some of the material I sing Leif would say “Basically, you will send me the material, but this is where I want you to put the vocals, but don’t sing on Mats, because this is the scratch tracks, so you know where to put yourself.” And obviously, since we didn’t have rehearsals or sit down, then I will get it like “well, here you want the vocals, we’re doing coarse here, we’re going to do this here”. I knew he was doing stuff with Leif, obviously they lived in the same town, but I cannot figure that he knew he would probably hit the road with them after I was gone. But I really don’t know a lot about that.
27 – Do you think that not living in Europe was embarassing for the band and that's why they wanted to get rid of you?
I really don’t know. I haven’t honestly seen much or heard much from that, so I don’t know. I mean I know that Mats has got a good voice and is good with the other stuff that he does so, whatever their choice was, it was up to them.
_28 – Before you ceased playing with them, did they ever talk to you about things they were complaining about concerning you? _
Hell, no! No, there was really not much discussion on that. It was kind of “What the hell?”, but that’s the way it went.
_29 – Do you keep in touch with the members of Candlemass? In case of some anniversary show with former members, do you think they will invite you? _
As far of being invited, I don’t know. Talking to the guys – yes, I still speak to them. I spoke to them in the last couple of years. There is no animosity, there are no problems. And if there is an anniversary or they invite me to come and do something, I’ll be there.
_30 – On Metal Archives, on your page there are mentioned 2 bands that don't fit to that website: GRAVEN IMAGE and THE HOLY. What can you tell us about those bands? _
THE HOLY was the very first band I ever started. I was probably all of 15-16 years old. That’s where I met Lyle Steadham, with which I formed GRAVEN IMAGE, which, eventually, turned into SOLITUDE AETURNUS. THE HOLY was my very first band and it was a typical punk-rock type of thing. But me and Lyle said “We’re gonna do metal” and we ended up doing GRAVEN IMAGE, like I said, which was more like MERCYFUL FATE, we were doing some SABBATH, FATES WARNING kind of stuff. And that ended up, snowballed into SOLITUDE AETURNUS. There is nothing released with GRAVEN IMAGE or THE HOLY, I think there is a tape, a cassette with THE HOLY somewhere, and a videotape with GRAVEN IMAGE playing some show in Texas.
31 – You were invited to play a song with FUNERAL, and a song with LIQUID SOUND COMPANY. That’s what is written on Metal Archives. Yet, you are a great name. Did other bands ask you to play on their records or even to become a full member?
Well, the deal with FUNERAL was that I met Eek Anders in Stockholm after the anniversary show in 2007. We started to talk and he was like “Hey, dude, we are fixed to put out a new album. It would be great if you could do some vocals on it”, and I said “OK, sure, I’ll go back to the States, just send me the track and I will put some vocals down”. And with LIQUID SOUND COMPANY, obviously it is John Perez and we’re buddies, we lived in the same town, he had that project going on and I said OK, I’ll do a track on it.
32 – But after you left CANDLEMASS, didn’t other bands ask you to play with them or even become a member?
No, I never really got anything from anybody. I always get people asking me to contribute with vocals to projects, but I was never approached to take over, or not to take over but join somebody full time. Nobody ever approached me. I don’t know why.
33 – Before TYRANT.
Yes, TYRANT was the first one that actually came along and said “Hey, let’s do this!”, and here we go.
34 – On which other albums did you play as a guest, after you ceased with CANDLEMASS?
Well, it was this project, and in 2014 a friend of mine had a project named LYRAKA, which I did a track for him. And then, my first solid project was in 2015 with Michael Millsap, the bass player. We were both living in Houston, Texas at the time. And we both started a project called GATHERED IN DARKNESS. That was a concept album that now is completely finished and recorded and, as a matter of fact, we got one of the tracks on a compilation that came out last year. So GATHERED IN DARKNESS was my first full album project that came after CANDLEMASS. And that’s a solid piece of material. It’s a kind of a doom/prog concept, which is heavy and shit. You can look up on the web, we got some clips and videos with us in the studio and silly stuff that we put up. This stuff is on YouTube. It was fun recording it. I’d like to see it coming out. Like I said, it’s done, it’s recorded, we got a single out there, but right now I honestly don’t know what’s happening with the project, I tried to get in contact with the bass player, he still lives in Houston, but we’ll see what it goes from here.
35 – If other bands will ask you to play a song or more with them will you agree?
I don’t have a problem. If somebody wants me to put my noise on one of their recordings, I’ll be more than merry.
36 – Now you play with Tyrant. What do you think you will do in the future? With Tyrant, with Disciple Of Doom, or with other projects?
Right now, I focus on TYRANT, we will put the album out this year, we’ve already got festivals booked, we’re gonna hit this hard and heavy, and this new album is going to be fucking killer. It’s, like I said, heavier and shit. And as far as DISCIPLE OF DOOM or anything else like that, we’ll see. I am looking forward with TYRANT and we can kick some asses and take some names in the next few years.