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Ontario band As Autumn Calls have just released an EP, their first venture since 2013's 'Cold, Black & Everlasting'. Comrade Aleks took the opportunity to catch up with them.

Interview with As Autumn Calls.
"In an ideal situation a band with the name As Autumn Calls should be interviewed during the three months of autumn, especially if the band has a new release. But, technically, the interview was started on the 30th of November, so we were almost on time! This band was founded in 2005 by James (harsh vocals, bass) and Andrew (guitars, clean vocals), later Darren Favot (drums, keyboards) and Brendan (guitar) joined this duo, so As Autumn Calls' debut - the full-length 'An Autumn Departure' - was recorded as a full line-up. The second full-length, 'Cold, Black & Everlasting', appeared two years later - in 2013 - and the band kept moving in the same direction: cold yet picturesque Death Doom metal. I love As Autumn Calls because they include nothing unnecessary in their music, their compositions are always natural, and they evoke an atmosphere which strongly reminds me of the doomy side of Agalloch. I think that that's a common thing for Canadian bands - Longing For Dawn and Norilsk have something similar… So, As Autumn Calls return with a new EP, 'Resignation". Just five tracks, which aren't new, but - well, why not discuss it?"

As Autumn Calls founders Andrew and James.

Hello James! It's the 30th of November, but I guess that it's still okay to interview As Autumn Calls! The band has been on the scene for about 12 years, and as some may not know about it, maybe you can tell how it was started?

Hello Aleks. First of all thank you for the opportunity to discuss our music. The band was started in 2005. Andrew and I met in high school and shared a love of extreme metal. We didn't actually start playing music together until after College/University. It started slowly at first as the two of us would play along with a tab or a song but of course this got boring, so we started writing and recording our own songs. Our initial attempts at recording were brutal but we kept at it, learning as we went.

What kind of concept did you want to present through the band? Looks like you're into old school depressive Death Doom from the mid-'90s, and you managed to keep the unique spirit of that time beside influences of Katatonia.

I can't speak for the rest of the band but I'm drawn to depressive music in general. I think the 90's death doom era had a big impact on us and really introduced us to this style of music. Bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia, Evoken, Morgion, November's Doom, Necare, Forest of Shadows and Saturnus inspired us to start playing. Of course, Opeth and Agalloch were also a big inspiration for us outside of the doom metal genre. We grew up on '90s metal and I think for that reason it will always be dear to us.

We don't intentionally set out to create that type of sound but it is deeply engrained in us so it might tend to come out that way. I suppose you could say our concept is to create dark, emotional music that is full of atmosphere and melody.

Discography: 'Emotionless' (EP, 2009), 'An Autumn Departure' (2011), 'Cold, Black And Everlasting' (2013), 'Resignation' (EP, 2017).

The band's debut full-length, 'An Autumn Departure', was released in 2011 - six years after the band was born. What slowed down your progress?

Not long after Andrew and I started the band he moved away to a different city. Living so far apart made getting together to work on music difficult. We managed to write several songs and over the course of 3 years or so we recorded what was to be An Autumn Departure. I had to travel over 6 hours each time we recorded so I was only able to make the trip a few times a year. Unfortunately, the final production wasn't great so we decided to put the release on hold indefinitely.

In 2009, Andrew moved back to Sudbury and we wrote and recorded the Emotionless EP which became our first official release. We had no intention of ever releasing An Autumn Departure but we were approached by a small Canadian label The Northern Cold Productions to do a one-off cassette release. Andrew and I figured this might be a good opportunity to release An Autumn Departure so we re-recorded the album and it was eventually released on cassette and CD in 2011.

What were your requirements for the band's sound during the work over 'An Autumn Departure', and how did that change when you started composing 'Cold, Black & Everlasting'?

The songs for An Autumn Departure were written between 2005 and 2008 except for "Unearth My Sorrow" which was written a bit later. The idea behind the music was to create a classic death/doom album. We didn't really have any real direction for the sound other than creating heavy, melodic music. We weren't happy with how the album turned out which is why we did not release it at that time. In 2009 we wanted to simplify things and we wrote 3 songs which became the Emotionless EP. We simplified our approach to everything from the song writing to the production. For the EP we wanted to make an honest, simple release that explored darker thoughts and emotions. Atmosphere became important since the music itself was more basic. With Cold, Black & Everlasting we wanted to build off what we did on the Emotionless EP. We wanted to incorporate more of our musical influences and styles. Like the Emotionless EP, Cold, Black & Everlasting tells a story. We wanted each song to convey a part of that story and yet have each song stand on its own if taken outside of the album. It was important that the album flowed together naturally. It was the first time we recorded as a full band with Darren performing the drums for us and Brendan bringing his skills to the rhythm guitars. For the production we wanted to create a natural, organic sound that held onto a sense of rawness yet still have enough polish as to not sound completely terrible. We are an underground band after all and we embrace that fact.

'Cold, Black & Everlasting' gives the impression of a strong and honest work made with a pretty straightforward approach. How did you create this bleak soundscape of eternal autumn?

Creating honest and sincere music is something that's extremely important to us. We're not trying to be something we are not. We started writing Cold, Black & Everlasting in 2009 and 2010 and took our time with it. Some of the songs were completely rewritten by the time we had finished writing. For me it is a deeply emotional album with a lot of personal meaning. We all poured a lot of time and energy into it. We took a mostly D.I.Y. approach. We did everything ourselves except the album cover which was done by a close friend of ours. We borrowed some elements from other genres such as black metal and folk and tried to keep it as doomy as possible. As I mentioned earlier we tried to keep the production organic and raw which I think added to the bleakness.

Didn't you think that with better production or wider promotion you could reach more listeners? I think that your approach, and its final result, have a strong charm but the problem is just to reach people…

It's true with professional production we might reach more people but we enjoy doing everything ourselves. Plus, we just don't have the money to pay for professional studio time or a producer. I'm sure there's a lot of people out there that continue to overlook us because we don't have a polished sound like some of the more popular bands on bigger labels. That sucks but our hope would be that people appreciate what we're trying to do and listen to us because they like our music. We like our sound and will continue to try and develop it as best we can.

Not sure how to get wider promotion without paying for it. That's not something we are interested in. We could do a better job at self-promotion which might help reach a few more people.

As Autumn Calls - 'Resignation' (Full EP):

Your new EP 'Resignation' contains two new tracks and three songs from the EP 'Emotionless'. Why did you decide to include them in this release? How do these versions differ from original ones?

The intention behind Resignation was to be a straight up re-release of the Emotionless EP without any changes. Basically, produce a new run of Emotionless CDs since we released it ourselves back in 2009 and it was limited to only 50 CD-Rs. 2015 would mark 10 years since the creation of As Autumn Calls and this would be our small acknowledgement of that feat. The two new songs are actually old songs that were written during the time we were writing for Cold, Black & Everlasting. Instead of letting them go to waste we decided to put them on as sort of bonus songs. One thing lead to another and we ended up re-recording all the songs and it became the Resignation EP. There are not many changes to the original three tracks. On Isolation we changed the ending to match how we played the song during practice sessions. Basically we added the tremolo picking and double kick drum. The song Emotionless is pretty well unchanged. On the intro of the song Resignation we added some keyboards and cello to create a deeper atmosphere. The biggest change is that we were able to add real drums to all the songs since we had to use programmed drums on the original recording.

The album was released by Russian label Frozen Light: how did you get on to that?

Our label, Naturmacht Productions/Rain Without End Records was not able to release the EP so we got permission to search for a label that was interested in releasing it for us. We wanted a 2015 release to match the 10-year anniversary of the band and that made time a factor. The Russian label MFL Records put us in contact with Alex from Frozen Light who was interested in doing the release for us. Unfortunately, we took much too long to finish the EP and it wasn't released until Oct 2017. We are very grateful to Frozen Light for being patient with us and doing this release for us.

What about new material from As Autumn Calls: how quickly do you think you could record the third full-length album?

Well it's hard to say. We have several songs written or at least close to be completed as I write this. We started recording a couple preliminary demos to get a feel for the tones and sounds and to help us develop the songs further. So far the material is slightly different from our previous releases as we continue to explore more complicated acoustic arrangements. Unfortunately, our drummer Darren recently left the band due to personal reasons. So now we will have to find a new drummer which will likely delay things. We also want to take our time with this one to ensure it is the best we can deliver. So it will be while yet before we are ready to release anything new.

What inspires you in searching for new nuances of the sound? What's your vision of the band nowadays?

That's a tough question. With every release we have a slightly different vision or concept for the music. For our last full length, we wanted something atmospheric and dark. We took inspiration from nature and the concept of Autumn giving way to Winter. Without giving too much away, the new album is a lot more acoustic driven with acoustic passages mixed with a sort of blackened doom metal sound. Inspiration for the sound comes from the dreamy comfort of nature and the cold, harsh darkness within ourselves.

James, you used to run Rain Without End Records: how did you start that?

When As Autumn Calls joined the Naturmacht Productions roster Robert (the owner) and I quickly developed a friendship. He needed some help to run the label and asked if I'd be interested. At the time the Naturmacht Productions roster was made up of mostly black metal bands. I had always wanted to start a doom metal label, so we created Rain Without End Records and it became a doom metal sub label of Naturmacht Prod.

As Autumn Calls - 'Closer To Death':

What were the most significant releases for Rain Without End - and why did you leave the label?

I'd like to say our release Cold, Black & Everlasting was a significant release for us only because it was significant for me to release my own band on my own label. However, our most significant release would be "Origin" by Enshine, not only because it was a great album but because it gained Rain Without End Records some attention. Another significant release was "BlackTombsForDeadSongs" by AstorVoltaires because it was the first official release for the label.

Did you really leave the label? Did you think about starting your own to support bands akin to As Autumn Calls?

Yes, I left the label. Mostly due to financial reasons. I do miss being a part of the scene. I often think of starting another label but it is a tough business these days and I don't have the money to invest in the startup costs. It takes a lot of work to do it properly and it can take a while to see any kind of return on investment. If I ever did I'd be interested in releasing vinyl's and I'd build a small roster of high quality doom metal (and doom metal related) bands.

How do you see the band's place on the world doom scene? Are you satisfied with it?

I think As Autumn Calls remains an underground band in the doom metal scene. I'm not sure if people know who we are. We don't get much attention from online metal blogs, magazines or communities and we don't tend to do a very good job promoting ourselves. I feel that because we don't have high end production on our releases and we don't tour we will forever lurk in the shadows of the doom metal world. Honestly I am satisfied with that. When Andrew and I started the band we never thought we'd even get this far. We aren't looking for notoriety, we just want to make the music we love and share it with whoever wants to listen.

Do you at least communicate with other bands of this kind? Who would you name as your brothers at arms?

We are a pretty reclusive group so we don't really interact with other bands (or people). As far as I know, we are the only doom metal type band in our local scene. We don't spend a lot of time using social media so we have a hard time making friends.

I remember that about ten years ago your countrymen Longing For Dawn even played in Russia on Moscow Doom Festival during their tour with Mournful Congregation and Mourning Beloveth. How often do As Autumn Calls play live, and do you play outside Canada?

Some great bands. We've only ever played one live show and that was a private show in our home town. We've discussed playing more shows but for a variety of reasons it hasn't happened yet. Right now we're hoping to find a new drummer so that we can get back to playing together as a band and then possibly look at playing a few more shows. If we were ever invited to perform outside of Canada at a festival, it would be something we would consider doing.

Thanks for the honest answers, James! I wish you all the best with As Autumn Calls: give the band more space, it really deserves it.

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Visit the As Autumn Calls bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-12-25 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Rotten Copper
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