Interview with DAUTHA - “Murky Medieval Doom aus Schweden”

DAUTHA e o formație nouă, dar cu muzicieni vechi. Abia au scos albumul de debut, ei înființîndu-se acum doi ani și jumătate, dar muzicienii din trupă sunt persoane experimentate, care au mai cântat sau mai cântă în diverse alte trupe, cei mai cunoscuți fiind vocalistul Lars Palmqvist, care este în același timp și vocalistul trupei Scar Symmetry, și chitaristul Ola Blomqvist, care a fost chitaristul și compozitorul formației Griftegard, acum desființată, dar care a lansat un memorabil album de doom metal în 2009.

StudioRock: There is not much information about you on the internet. You don't even have a website. When did you start the band?

Ola: Well, I can readily admit that there is not much information about us online but we do have a Bandcamp page and a Facebook account . These two pages are perhaps not crammed with information but the most essential Dautha -data is there.

StudioRock: Ola, you played in Griftegard, who split-up at the end of 2015. You created Dautha because you needed to play in a doom metal band?

Ola: Actually both bands existed parallel to each other for well over a year. I started Dautha due to my fascination for medieval atmospheres/music/aesthetics/history and also because I could create more freely than in Griftegård, who demanded a very specific, creative modus operandi.

StudioRock: Griftegard released only 1 album in 11 years and some other songs spread on EPs and split albums. Why did the old band wrote such few songs and what do you intend to do in the new band?

Ola: Life came in between, that is why. I had family obligations during most of the bands life span, a house, dogs, a horse and also I am the co-founder of I Hate Records which was in full swing when I started Griftegård. Then, in 2011, I went through some personal turmoil and in 2013 Jens Gustafsson, our drummer died. Top this off with managing a full time, heavy day job and one is left with very little time, energy and inspiration to be creative.

StudioRock: Who is the main songwriter? How do you write the songs?

Ola: I am the main songwriter and sole lyricist of Dautha. I do the basics for all the songs, and by basics I mean the riffs, cause that is what we are about. I then present the riffs, and sometimes whole songs, to the others at rehearsals and they do their own drum patterns, bass lines, guitar leads and harmonies, violin and song melodies. So, one could say I provide each song with a skeleton and together we flesh it out until we have a murky, medieval carcass to reanimate. The arrangement of each track is also done collectively, although in the finishing stages it is mostly me and Lars that puzzle the pieces together so that each part works with the lyrics/song melodies.

StudioRock: All of you played for many years in other bands. But except for Lars, who is still a member of Scar Symmetry, you played in small underground bands. You are not young anymore. Isn't it difficult to start with a new band after many years of experience (but in the underground) now, when the competition is so high?

Ola: No, it really isn't difficult starting a band at our age, simply because we are old enough to really don't give a damn whether we get a break or not. Our main concern is the creative process itself, and selling enough records for Ván to go break even on the budget they gave us for the album. Playing the kind of music we do is not something you make a career out of. Oh, and we have no competitive feelings towards younger acts either, we only get inspired (by the few that do it right).

StudioRock: Living in Sweden in another city than Stockholm can be disadvantageous for a metal band?

Ola: Well, if you aim to do a career by IRL networking and but kissing on the right club's and concerts, then maybe it is disadvantageous to not live in our capital,  otherwise no. We are not, and never will be, hip, cool, right and in-the-now, on the contrary, we want to become passé enough to pass for medieval.

StudioRock: Lars, you still play with Scar Symmetry. If Dautha will grow, will you be able to keep on playing in both bands? Isn't it complicated to be the front man of 2 important bands, but who play different styles?

Lars:: Greetings! I think it will work out excellent to play in both bands. Regarding Scar Symmetry I can tell you that we lay low for the moment and we only have one gig planned for 2018. This is due to Per Nilsson's commitments in Nocturnal Rites and Meshuggah (he's a stand in guitarist for Fredrik Thordendahl when Meshuggah is touring) and he will play a lot with them this year. Also, Andreas Holma will release an album with Road To Jerusalem this year. Hell, all members of Scar Symmetry are busy with side projects! When it comes to live gig's for Dautha we'll see, but right now no gigs are planned. The thing that will take up a lot of my future time though is neither Dautha nor Scar Symmetry, but the musical in which I play the main role, namely Krankenstein –

StudioRock: Lars, tell us more about the involvement of your father in the band activity.

Lars:: Well, my dad used to be a music teacher and he is really good at music theory. What's more, he is gifted with perfect pitch and once I couldn't come up with a violin harmony for a refrain in one of our songs and decided to play it to him to see what he could do about it. Needless to say he solved the matter by composing a great violin harmony in an instant.

StudioRock: Lars, did you talk with the band mates from Scar Symmetry about the fact that you are the front man of a new band, now, when Scar Symmetry has more than 3 years since the release of the last studio album?

Lars: Yes, they know about my role in Dautha. Regarding our upcoming Scar Symmetry record I might add that I recorded my vocal lines two years ago. It would not be wrong to say that the album is put on ice for the moment….

StudioRock: You use the violin, but not as a permanent instrument. Will you still use it in the future? Will you play violin live? Don't you worry about possible comparisons with My Dying Bride style?

Ola: The violin will have its place in upcoming Dautha material for sure, maybe not in all songs, but we will never abandon it completely. We are no strangers to using whatever instruments a song of ours calls for. If we ever play live we definitely would want to bring our session violinist Åsa Eriksson Wärnberg with us on stage. We never worry about getting compared to whoever it may be, people will be people and people will always have opinions so we let them.

StudioRock: You play doom metal. How can you describe the doom metal scene in Sweden now and compared to what happened 10 or 20 years ago?

Ola: I regret that I need to say this but we are a bit out of the loop here-too busy with just surviving and no time to keep track of the scene. Guess we just got even older…This said, a couple of newer bands that comes to my mind that play it right are Acolytes Of Moros, B_elow, Order of Israfel_ (consisting of vets, of course, but…) and The Doomsday Kingdom (Leif is always the king in my book). If we go back ten years, hm…Isole started making waves through the label I used to run with my college Peter Lidén (I Hate Records) and we in Griftegård were preparing to record our debut. I think Sorcerer got re-animated about this time also and Count Raven as well (also signed to I Hate). Oh, and Tristitia were still active then as well I think, love them, so over looked! 20 years ago…Quicksand Dream, Forlorn (later Isole). Then we have the big canon looming over it all in Candlemass… If Messiah and Leif could see eye to eye Sweden would have the greatest Doom scene in the world even if Candlemass were the only Doom band around. Nothing wrong with Mats Levén, love his vocals, and Robert Lowe is one of the five best vocalists in Metal ever, but Messiah is in a league of his own. Anyway, what I'm getting at here is-there has never been a proper Doom scene in Sweden, nor in any other country, at least not in the way that there has been a Black Metal scene in Norway, nor anything remotely aching to the Swedish Death Metal scene of the 90's. The Doom scene (and by Doom I mean Doom with clean vocals) has always been a global phenomenon IMO, we simply are too few and far between to afford thinking regionally.

StudioRock: You worked a lot for the sleeve of the first EP. Tell us more about that and if you think that it was worth doing it. Will you do it again?

Ola: Actually I have done two similar runs of special packages before, one for the first band I started, The Doomsday Cult (93 copies), and one for my second band Griftegård (81 copies ). I make the card board sleeves with a leather spine and patinate them with a mixture of soy and coffee, and I burn patterns into the spine and, on the Dautha release, I also burned the cover motif into the cardboard to achieve a bas-relief. It is a very time consuming, meticulous work and it took me 10 weeks (spending between 5-10 hours each day cutting, gluing, folding pasting, burning) this last time to make the 78 copies. The reason I do these editions is because I have a very strong vision of how I want the listener to experience the band. In short, I try to make this first release carry the blue print atmosphere for all future things related to it. Atmosphere is key for me, always has been, always will be, and if I can give the listener something unique (all copies are handmade) in this regard, meaning something to look at, to touch and even to smell I know it will enhance the atmosphere of the music in ways no mass produced sleeve can.  For the album there will be no special packaging though, I simply don't have the time right now to do it. But there will most likely be future releases that demands to be packaged in certain ways…

StudioRock: In the description of your album, you say that you play epic folk/doom metal. Is the Swedish folklore doomish?

Ola: It definitely is, yes. Our folkloristic heritage is full of things that goes bump in the night or lures you away during the day if you wander lost in the deep forests or are foolish enough to take a rest by a seemingly placid lake or stream. However, the inspiration for the lyrics on the album doesn't primarily stem from Swedish folklore, but more from a general sense of the futility of existence. In this I try to keep a mundane perspective - the misery of the lower, oppressed classes is a thing I feel it is important to lift up. History is (like everyone has heard to death by now) written by its victors, and very rarely did the beggars, serfs and peasants win, well, anything, when in confrontation with those in power. There is one exception on the album though, and that is Maximinus Thrax, in which I let one of the small (but in reality he was an acromegalic giant, although of simple stock) rise to power and be victorious in that I cut the story short in the lyric, right before our hero dies. Oh, and then there's the plague, always the plague…both In Between Two Floods and Brethren Of The Black Soil has this gruesome ingredient to them.

StudioRock: Why did you choose medieval history as theme for your lyrics? Is it much easier to write the lyrics because the facts are already there and you only need to put the rhyme?

Ola: I have always felt drawn to the middle ages, ever since I was really small. I used to think that everything around me was wrong, like if I didn't belong in this modern age. I remember hating cars, planes, 20th century architecture (still do) and other modern inventions and that I longed for a time when these did not exist. Youthful romanticism, of course, but here I am a middle aged man still dreaming about the middle ages, tragic, isn't it?  In certain ways it is easier to write about historical events than going inside for inspiration, however you always have to take factual history into account when doing so, and sometimes it is not so easy to paint poetically with words while staying true to the plot, so to speak.

StudioRock: The first album is ready. Do you already think about the second one? Do you have any extra songs from the first album? You will write the music in the same manner? You will keep on writing about medieval history?

Ola: Yes, we have already begun thinking about the second album, for which there is loads of material in the shape of loose riffs, parts of songs and even an almost finished one. Lars actually tried out vocals for it a couple of days ago, and with great result, I might add. Really exited about this one! No spare songs from the recording of the album exist, only a few parts that were edited out and that we may or may not use in the future. The music will most likely be in the same vein as the first one, no radical changes will occur. We will most likely try out some additional, traditional instrumentation though, looking forward to this! And yes, we will continue to revel in antiquity and in the medieval for the most part, although we might occasionally stretch ourselves up to the 17th century thematically.

StudioRock: Did you play live until now?

Ola: No, we have not, although there has been offers.

StudioRock: How will you promote live the album?

Ola: Most likely we will not do any live shows at all, for various reasons.

Dautha is:

  • Emil Åström - Bass
  • Lars Palmqvist - Vocals
  • Micael Zetterberg - Drums
  • Erik Öquist - Guitar
  • Ola Blomkvist - Guitar, lyrics, aestethics