Latest release: As Angels Bleed (Independent)
New Gothic-symphonic metallers on the block As Angels Bleed have a sound probably more suited to Europe than Sydney. But here they are with their well-received debut album, ready to conquer the world. Loud caught up with vocalist Avelina de Moray to talk about being a Gothic-symphonic band in Sydney, how her art and music influence each other, plans for the future, and how lo-fi is not a term in the band’s vocabulary.
Your debut album has had a pretty good response from fans and media across the board. You must be stoked about that.
Yeah, we are! Considering it took a good two or three years to make, we were always a little bit apprehensive as to how it was going to be received. Of course, production took up most of that time, and to get all the comments on the production, and having it put up there with some of our favourite bands albums was fantastic! We want to start working on the next one!
I bet! You’re a Gothic-symphonic metal band from Sydney. Do you find it’s a hard market to get into, with Europe being so dominant in that genre?
[Laughs] Definitely! Yeah, our location is against us. I can’t think of any other bands releasing a similar album to ours in this country having any success overseas. We’re definitely not going to let that stop us. Our next point of attack will be media overseas and management, and even trying to get publishing deals for our music to be used in movies. We want to target the European market because every single person, be it managers or fans, is telling us we’re in the wrong country. But fuck it, we live in Sydney, what are we going to do? [laughs]
Have you noticed any reviews cropping up from overseas at all?
We have seen a lot of reviews that we haven’t actually arranged coming from overseas. One recently from Russia and Romania, so yeah Europe is listening to the album! There seems to be a lot of websites for female-fronted metal. Not specifically bands from Europe, but the sites are from Europe, because as you mentioned this is normally where this music comes from. They seem to be quite excited about what we’ve done, and they’re grabbing on to the more Gothic-like, Nightwish type songs. Like ‘Sinfully Yours’, ‘Carnifex Abbey’ and ‘Desire’, or maybe even ‘I Drown’… actually I’m just listing all of them. [laughs]
[Laughs] As you said the album took a few years to make, and I read that some songs were still be worked on just days before mixing the record. Can you tell us about the song writing process?
Oh, yes! It’s crazy. I’ll start with that. It was an experience that’s for sure! I don’t think it’s how people do it, but Von and I aren’t normal, we’re kind of control freaks. So I guess what makes the album special is that we reworked it, and reworked it. I mean literally, I can remember Von being out two weeks before we went to Florida and I was listening to ‘Blood Kisses’ and I was just like “Meh, I don’t really know if I like the chorus.” And I only just rewrote it a month before that. Von came home, and I had this look on my face, and straight away it was “What have you fucking changed?” [laughs] I assured him it was better, so yeah I rewrote the chorus to the version that’s now on the album. But honestly, for five songs I could sing you two or three alternate choruses. It definitely was worked and reworked until we were happy with it. And we probably would have kept doing that if not for the fact that we had to go overseas, so it’s good to have deadlines.
So it’s you and Von that do all the song writing?
Yeah, the live band wasn’t actually together when we started, it was just Von and I. Then when we were ready to look into live shows that is when we found the musicians. So we really look forward to the next album to see if we can bring them into our closely knit circle of creativity.
That’d be cool to get some new insights and writing with new people.
Yeah, yeah it’ll be good to get some different ideas.
You spoke earlier about the album being mixed overseas. You did it over at Audio Hammer Studios. What was that like?
That was really good! I think that’s what has helped finish our product as well. We knew, or, well, we thought, that the songs were pretty good and the production was pretty good as well. So to have it sonically sound as good as we hoped, and you know, when you put on a Nightwish album or Lacuna Coil album, it’s up there on that level. And I think that’s added to the confusion as well, and with the promotional photography being as strong as it is, it does have a European look to it. Sounding that good, I think it has confused people, and they are quite surprised to find that we come from Sydney.
If I was handed the album and told nothing about the band, I would have just assumed you were from Europe somewhere.
Exactly! And I don’t have a heavy Australian accent either. On the new video clip for ‘Desire’, for some reason I sound French! [laughs] I don’t know what the fuck that’s about, but there are a lot of elements that aren’t Australian. Not that we’re being anti-Australian, it’s just if only the Gothic metal scene was a little bigger here.
Speaking of the video. It was released earlier this week, how did you find the process of doing the video? And why did you re-record the audio?
It wasn’t originally our idea. We were going to do the album version, but there were two reasons to re-recording the audio. The first is the drummer that is now with us, wasn’t there when we recorded the album, so he wanted to have his performance on the clip. And the second being, I changed the ending of the melodies so much for what I’m doing live I was having trouble syncing to it [laughs]. Of course, I would have been able to do it. It wasn’t the main problem, but it was just so different we thought why not re-do it. Von had also changed some of the guitar parts, and you know, you just become accustomed to playing it that way, we thought fuck it, just re-do it. And it gives the fans a different version to listen to.
Filming it was a lot of fun, but incredibly tiring! People have no idea how fucking hard it is for six hours straight to jump around, while you sing the same fucking song! [laughs] For a week after that Von and I just sat on the couch and watched movies.
I was part of a Mz Ann Thropik video. I was just in the background and didn’t really have that much to do, but I was dead after that! [laughs]
Oh cool! Yeah it really is just so draining! We do have a second one we are working towards too. This one actually wasn’t supposed to be our first official music video. It was just supposed to be a lo-fi rehearsal video, and of course Von and I don’t understand what lo-fi is, and it turned into this ridiculous production, which ended up looking really, really good. I video edit as well, so the plan was to have a professional film it and I was just going to edit it together to let the fans that aren’t in Sydney and come to a show, to see how we perform. Then the guy who was filming, got really into it and wanted to edit it too, and was putting all these tricks on it, and I mean I would have taken the damn cords off the floor if I knew it would turn into this! [laughs] But yeah, our main clip will be a more creative one. More in tune to what fans would expect. I don’t want to give too much away, but if we get permission to use the location we asked for, it’s going to be really special. And leave people thinking “How the fuck were they allowed to use that place to film their video clip?”
I have to admit, that I did expect something very different from the clip. I thought it would be more like a mini-movie.
Yeah, that’s what I mean. I was a bit hesitant to call that one our official video clip, I was just going to call it a rehearsal video. But you know, the audio is live, but we didn’t record in one take, and it lost that live charm. It’s over produced, just like everything we do! [laughs] And I get that, but it wasn’t meant to be our first clip, but it just looks too…expensive, to call it a rehearsal video.
To call that a rehearsal video would definitely clash, I think.
Yeah exactly, and people would be like “Sure, this is live…” [laughs] So yeah, I agree with you and am looking forward to the next one which will be more over the top.
Some parts of the album were recorded with the Hell’s Gate Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of the Damned. Tell us about them.
I guess I’m going to have to burst the bubble here [laughs]. The whole album was recorded in our home studio, including the orchestras so it was actually programmed, with the EastWest/Quantum Leap Platinum 24-bit orchestral package, where they’ve sampled entire orchestras. Every single instrument, every dynamic on every type of instrument, it’s ridiculous as to how many nuances they’ve actually got. So we got as close to the kind of sound we could have, being able to program that orchestra. Obviously, being on a limited budget we couldn’t afford the actual cost to record a proper orchestra, because to have one of that calibre we’d have to go overseas. I know a Sydney band recently did that, and it cost them something like $20,000 to hire a Czech orchestra. They got a grant from the government, which is cool, but it’s something that was just a little bit out of reach for our budget. But I think Von and I did a really good job at programming all the nuances, so no one has actually picked up that it’s not real.
Well I certainly believed that you recorded with an actual orchestra!
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s always funny because we came up with those cool sounding names for the choir and the orchestra, and everyone says, “I’ve never heard of that choir, I’ll have to look it up,” and I’m just like “Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist…” [laughs]
[Laughs] Now that we’ve got to the bottom of that, you’re an artist as well, and you did the artwork for the album and the photography. A lot of your work is vampiric, and the album has vampire themes. Did your art influence the music?
Yes and no. As to which came first, I honestly can’t remember. This isn’t something we have spoken about too much, but Von and I wrote two or three other albums, before this one, while we were discovering our sound. We would get to the end of a record, and then decide we didn’t like it, scrap it and start again. That process was just taking so long that I started to get a bit bored, so I looked for a hobby. It started with photography and then it mutated into art and then into a business. I tend to take things a bit too seriously; I can’t keep casual hobbies, so I just turned into a worldwide conglomerate, as everyone does [laughs]. You could really say the art and the music were created at the same time, they influence each other. They are both reflections of what Von and I are into. They really do come from each other. The idea with the limited edition book we released was to have fans be able to listen to the album and look at the artwork that was created at the same time.
I didn’t realise you and Von had made music before this album. Was any of it released?
No we didn’t release anything. They were probably really good songs, and I hope we have kept copies of them, but they just weren’t in the genre we were heading towards. They were probably more like my favourite band at the time, H.I.M. I love his earlier work and we had one very similar to ‘Gone With the Sin.’ I wouldn’t say acoustic, maybe like pop/goth/rock. Not acoustic based but definitely a lot softer, and we just kind of went “This shit is gay, we need to metal!” [laughs] It was very premeditated, and I remember writing ‘Desire’ – the first song we wrote after the other albums – and we kind of stumbled into it, we were listening to a lot of nu-metal at the time, but we knew that had to be the vibe of the rest of the album. The other songs kind of followed a lot quicker after that. Unlike other bands that come out with their first album and are still looking for their sound, I feel like we’re there, and it’s very premeditated.
Have you started working on the next album?
We’re always writing new songs, and we already have a few songs that we’re demoing for the next album. We’ll be taking some time off at the end of the year from rehearsals to get back into writing full time, because Von and I don’t like to do it part time. If you can imagine, for about two or three years we basically lived in just one room. And we’re night owls, so that’s when we work best, up from about midnight to 4am probably annoying the hell out of the neighbours! That’s the most creative time, a lot of what we’re doing at the moment seems to be waiting, and it’s just 10% creativity.
That must be frustrating.
Yeah, but I’m not too worried because we have our home studio, we just need the inspiration and start writing.
Do you have many gigs lined up around Australia?
None at the moment. We did two Sydney shows and we’re trying to space our shows out. We don’t want to oversaturate our market. We’re trying to shows of a certain calibre as well. I don’t think it suits our music to do pub gigs, we’ll still do more shows, but we’re going to do a bit more of a marketing campaign behind them before we go to Melbourne or Brisbane. We’re going to try and get some publishing deals to try and help support that as well, because it’s just so expensive. And videos as well, doing more “live” or “rehearsal” videos [laughs] is important, because our main demographic is definitely overseas. I don’t see the point in trying to gig so heavily in Sydney, I mean I’m not anti-gigging at all, of course I want to do it, but I don’t want to do it every Thursday, Friday and Saturday of every week. Our main fan base is overseas, so at the moment we’re very interested in getting management and publishing deals overseas, even trying to get small tours with bigger bands overseas, and see if we can elevate our profile.