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Australian band Ligeia Wept took their time over getting to debut release 'A Funeral Of Innocence' last year, but it proved to be a lush slab of Gothic/Doom when it arrived. I spoke at length to band founder Alister Haskell and guest vocalist Emily Highfield about the long and winding path to its genesis...

Interview with Ligeia Wept.
"They're not exactly new, as bands go, given that Melbourne's Ligeia Wept was originally founded in 2006, under the name Ashendusk. But it was quite a long and slow journey from solo project to full band, culminating in the debut release - 'A Funeral Of Innocence' - last year. I heard of it when founder Alister Haskell got in touch with via Facebook, and after some correspondence on the subject, it turned out this would also be his first ever interview. We thought it would be cool to make that memorable, so it ended up being an in-depth, trans-world live Skype conversation - time differences notwithstanding. Thanks have to go to Alister's friend and Ligeia Wept guest vocalist Emily Highfield for not only joining in for part of the interview, but also hosting the Australian end of it in her kitchen. Doom being what it is, the actual interview took place in March, but apart from brighter evenings over here at the moment, nothing has significantly changed and we all still labour under the same shadow of the pandemic...so, welcome to the dark Gothic/Symphonic Funeral Doom-influenced world of Ligeia Wept..."


Ligeia Wept official promo shot: Marianne - soprano vocals, Xen - (guest) growls/screams, Alister - guitars, Matt - piano/keys, James - drums, Hayley - violins, Emily - (guest) vocals.


Very pleased to meet you - welcome to doom-metal.com, and if I could just ask you for a brief introduction...?

Alister: Ladies first... Emily: Thank you! Hi Mike, I'm Emily Highfield and I have been getting back into music with a little bit of a vengeance. I have a project called Suldusk, which is my project, and I've known Alister for some time and he asked me to be part of his project, which has been brewing for many years, and I was delighted to be able to help out. And that's pretty much me. Alister: So, I'm Alister, and I'm an alcoholic... all laugh Emily: Wrong meeting! Alister: So I'm a doomaholic! Introduction...well, I've always loved music, one thing led to another, I bought a guitar when I was about eighteen and played in various bands. The main band I played in back in the nineties was kind of crusty punk, thrash metal, grindcore, a bit of everything really, and we were called Oppressed Earth. Since then my musical tastes evolved and I just fell in love with doom metal. The first band I discovered, in the early nineties was My Dying Bride, of course, the staple, but Draconian were the band that inspired me to incorporate female vocals into my music. And fast forward about a decade and more, and here we are - finally managed to release an album.

So how are things over there, how's the pandemic treating you?

Emily: It's been rough. We had extreme lockdown here in Melbourne, back in March [2020] - we were freed, and then had to go into more severe lockdown for many, many months - until the end the end of the year, essentially. I had to cancel gigs, couldn't rehearse with my bandmates - I'm a recluse, basically, but when the autonomy was taken away - the knowledge that you couldn't do what you wanted to do, venture more than five kilometres from your home, that was very intense...how about you, Alister? Alister: Well, personally, I've seen it as an opportunity to write more music - and what better time to write doom metal than during a pandemic? I'm trying to find the positives in it! At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I'm still very sceptical about the information we're being fed by the media, and the control the government's exercising over us, and that's the thing that pisses me off. I mean, being told if you don't wear a mask you get fined 200 dollars, that's just outrageous - but there's the other side of the coin where we do have to be careful, give it the benefit of the doubt, and be responsible. So I've been very productive - we'll probably touch on this a bit later, but there is a second album in the cauldron at the moment - and I've tried to make the most of it. But I'm really dying to go to a gig and see some live music! That's really the thing for any musician, or music lover... Emily: How are you going over there?

It's been pretty bleak. We haven't been locked down as hard, I think - I've spoken to a couple of other Australian friends about it, and I think we've been more lax about it. But it's fair to say that we got hit by it an awful lot harder - I guess it's more difficult in some ways that you haven't had that many cases. We've had about 120,000 deaths, so everyone knows someone who's had it, someone who's died of it. That makes it more real, perhaps, or more surreal - I never imagined the zombie apocalypse would be as boring as being locked in my home office for a year...

Emily: laughs Yep.

Nice to hear you're hanging in there, anyway.

Alister: Yeah, we'll get through it.


Emily.


So, band history is as good a place to start as any - you originally, and for for most of the life of the band, went under the name Ashendusk. I get the impression from reading your bio that was an act more dedicated to live performance than anything else?

Alister: The idea of starting a band back then was much more oriented towards live performances, and that's obviously still a thing. But now we have much more of what we call projects, which might be one or two people writing and then getting other people onboard to play what they can't play. So the intention was always to have a live line-up, but really...at one stage we did have a gig booked. We weren't even ready, but I got to the stage where I said let's just book a show. So we booked a venue, and some other bands. But what got strange was that we then had a singer - who hadn't actually attended any rehearsals - who took over the booking of the show, and then took us off the bill! And that was the only time we ever got close to getting on stage!

What's problematic, I guess, with this type of music is the sheer number of musicians required to play it. You're looking at a minimum of seven people on stage - drums, bass, two guitars, at least two vocalists, keys, violins - so you're looking at quite a few people to all be interested in doing the same kind of music at the same kind of time, also being reliable and just...genuine... And the other thing is I don't think this type of music is really huge in Australia, so the other issue we've got is that it's really difficult to find enough people to really bring it to the stage. I guess more popular styles of metal in Australia are your death metal, thrash... Emily: Metalcore... Alister: ...yeah. All the cores! So the slower doomy atmospheric stuff, obviously there's an audience for it here but it's not as big as it is in the UK, Europe, even the States and South America. We're sort of a bit more geared towards more aggressive styles.

That was obviously quite frustrating - but it went on for quite a long time and you stuck with it, so there must have been some good points, presumably?

Alister: In the first phase, the Ashendusk phase, the turnover of members was crazy, and as it says in the bio, I just reached the point where I threw in the towel and went "You know what? I'm just going to leave this for a while". And then I got a message out of the blue from someone on a musicians' networking site and he was really keen. He's long gone as well, as a member, but that was what really sparked the second wave...I guess...pauses...lost track of the question! Emily: Band history! Alister: OK, band history, thank you. And then I guess I got really motivated again to actually continue, had the same sort of issues for a couple of years with people coming and going, coming and going, but that was OK. And I got to a point where I decided I'm just going to write this stuff, and at about this time I also discovered this fantastic program called Guitar Pro, which is a bit of a misnomer, because it's pretty much Everything Pro. It allows you to write, basically, an entire band's parts - so obviously you get your guitars, drums, bass, there's also vocal, choirs, strings, there's even a banjo on there, triangle, whatever you want, it's all in there. Discovering that software - which was only $70, best $70 I've ever spent on musical equipment - just completely revolutionized my ability to write music and to communicate that music to other people. So that's when I took all the songs I'd written and just started documenting them and reworking them, and it still pottered along as a kind of solo project for a couple of years and then I met Emily, through another networking site for musicians, and around 2018/2019 people just jumped on board and were really committed, and I think that's just because there was more to work with. Previously there was just a few dodgy demo tapes that I'd recorded in my lounge room, but now there were some proper songs with actual lyrics and scores, people could have the music to read, they could have the audio files, so I think that really helped. And I'm really honoured to work with the people I did on the first album. In terms of moving forward, the vocal line-up is very different for the second album, but we can touch on that later.


Home studio.


Again, from the bio, it looks like it was about 2017ish when it really started to turn around and pick up momentum - would that be about right?

Alister: A bit earlier than that, maybe. Around 2016, I was desperate for a drummer, so I thought - bit of lateral thinking - and joined a Melbourne metal drummer's group, even though I wasn't a drummer. So I put a post up there, and I got a response from James - who's still our drummer. He's actually in Tasmania, so technically “overseas”, you could say...and he responded and said damn, wish I was in Melbourne or this was in Tasmania, and we started talking straight away and his enthusiasm and dedication is just unsurpassed! Basically, I sent him the Guitar Pro files for the songs, which had the drums in it, and he recorded the entire album in one weekend on an electronic kit. He nailed the whole thing in one weekend, it was amazing, and it was late 2016 when he did that so drums were recorded way back then. And they're the ones used on the album, obviously with just a bit of mixing to make them sound amazing. So that was when the actual album recording started.

That's also about the time Emily's name first gets mentioned, so maybe it's a good moment to, well, ask you Emily about your involvement, and maybe tell us a bit about Suldusk, what you do with that?

Emily: Sure. So, as I started to emerge from my bedroom, which is where I was creating music, and started to do live stuff, I started to become familiar with a few people in the scene, because I just hadn't done music for a long time. Alister was one of the people that was extremely supportive from the get-go. He heard about my project, which was very kind of black metal-inspired folk, I'd say, and Agalloch were one of my biggest influences - I know they only touch on doom, but more dark, melancholy music is kind of where I was coming from. The same pond, in some respects, and Alister like roped me into it laughs.

There were a couple of other amazing vocalists who I also heard were working on the project and even though I was going through a bit of a rough patch personally, I really wanted to do my best for him because I wanted to reciprocate the support he'd given me. Plus, the music he'd given me was quite sparse but very expressive - it resonated with where I was at the time, which was not in a great place. But as you know, doing what you do, this kind of music is very important, very profound for so many people because they can just get lost in it, it provides some comfort, and to me working on the piece Alister gave me was therapeutic, so, yeah, I was just really happy to be able to support him.

Suldusk - 'Lunar Falls' (Album, 2019):


OK, might be skipping ahead a bit, but do you see yourself being able to commit to being a full member of the band these days, or it still more of an association?

Emily: I definitely will support him and help him any way I can, as he does with me, and that's very precious, and I'm very grateful. But having said that, my cup is running over laughs so... I'm working on my second album, and I have a full band now that I'm working with on that rather than being the main composer, so I'm pretty busy keeping that going, and there's quite a lot of personal upheavals - I'm just trying to sort that out, but also to keep my second album, like, working on it and refining it, and my energy's very much used up on that. But, like I said, I will support him and help in any way I can. But I do believe he has a new vocalist who can do all the duties: the more operatic, the more ethereal, she's a very, very talented musician... Alister: Well we can speak about this at your leisure, but, indeed, we do have a new - I guess you could say I've allocated her as the Head of the Vocal Department all laugh. She has an amazing soprano voice but she can also do the guttural and the growly stuff and she writes amazing lyrics too. Her name's Lydia - hi, Lydia! - and she's actually in Brisbane, so she's about a thousand kilometers away. We can go into the new line-up a bit later if you like, because we are literally all over the planet! So, Lydia's jumped on board as the new vocalist for the soprano, but we also have a second soprano in Mexico. And also, to back up Lydia's guttural vocals, our keyboardist, Matt, he's also taken on some vocal duties - he has a beautiful singing voice but he can also do those more black metal-style gutturals, so we've got, I'd say, a very solid vocal component moving forward with the new opus: I'm pretty excited about it, to be honest!

Nice to hear! Let's pick that up a little later, and stay vaguely chronological...it sounds pretty much like you had the album wrapped up before changing the name of the band. How complete was it at that stage?

Alister: Do you mean the change from Ashendusk to Ligeia? Yes. I mean, if you've spent years working under a name, people know you, you've got branding, presence, possibly merchandise - it can be quite a big thing to throw all that in the bin and start over. So I was curious as to what triggered that?

Alister: OK, well, in our case - no-one, apart from a few of my friends, knew about Ashendusk. We didn't have anything released, we didn't have any merch, it was just me doing demos in my lounge room and occasionally rehearsing with other people. And I mentioned earlier, we hadn't played live. So it wasn't really such an upheaval to change the name, and I guess in terms of the reasons for changing it...see, Ashendusk is more or less purely a visual reference. I'm a very visual person - I'm a photographer and graphic designer and that sort of thing - so for me it was like this post-apocalyptic scene where everything's grey and there's dusk falling: in a way it didn't really have any meaning, beyond what that visual represented. The use of the word dusk was also a bit of a nod to my favourite Cradle Of Filth album, Dusk And Her Embrace, so that's where that came from.

Anyway, I'd started reading Edgar Allan Poe, and I read the story Ligeia, and I thought this story and this character just kind encompasses the sort of feeling that the music is portraying. So I changed the band name to Ligeia and then - I should have done this the other way round! - did a Google search and someone pointed out there was already a band of the same name. I think they're broken up now, but they were a metalcore band, and I checked them out a bit and thought probably don't want to be confused with such a different style of music - I just wanted to be original.

Still, there wasn't really much of a following at this stage, so - and this actually took place during the final recording sessions for the album - and I thought let's get something that's absolutely not going to have been used again and for some reason the shortest phrase in the Bible, "Jesus wept.", came to mind. And Jesus and the character Ligeia are polar opposites, they're kind of the anthesis of each other, and I thought, yeah, that works - a little bit of thinly-veiled blasphemy - so, that's how it happened.

Ligeia Wept - 'She Arose Unto A Dying Kiss' (2020):


So, are they big influences on you, any of the aforementioned? Are you inspired by Poe, or other classic horror literature, religion, the dark humour of introducing a subtle blasphemy?

Alister: Well, I guess I never really thought about it in so much depth! But definitely there will be a theme throughout future releases where each release will have one song which is not a retelling of a Poe story or poem, but is based around something written by him. So, for example, on A Funeral Of Innocence, She Arose Unto A Dying Kiss is actually my version of an Edgar Allan Poe story, called The Premature Burial. In that story, there's a young couple, the man is rejected by her, and she marries someone else who treats her so badly she falls into a state of catatonia and she's pronounced dead and buried alive. But her lover somehow comes back to find her just in time, digs her up and nurses her back to health. In my version she actually dies just as he's digging her up, so that's where the title comes from. So, long story short, those influences from Poe will definitely carry on throughout releases.

Other literature which inspired lyrics for A Funeral Of Innocence was actually not so much classic - it was two books, one was called The Book Of Shadows by James Reese, that's all around witchcraft and demonology - the last two songs on the album are inspired by that book - and then there's The Circle And The Cross, which basically tells the story of when the Catholics invaded Ireland and all the chaos that ensued there, and that was by Caiseal Mór, also contemporary. There will definitely be classic literature inspiring future lyrics, also non-literature-inspired lyrics, just more introspective, more personalized things. Emily: Sorry guys, if you'll excuse me, I'll leave the interview now and let you keep going - I need to get ready. Nice to meet you, Mike.

Thank you Emily, nice to meet you too!

I think that's, lyrically, pretty much a parallel for what My Dying Bride do, right? Aaron is a master of constructing narratives, whether they come from older stories retold, or invented and reconstructed stories, with some personal interjections thrown in. And who'd argue that MDB isn't an incredibly valid approach to the music, something people can really identify with?


Alister: You probably get the feeling by now that they're easily my biggest influence as a musician. A friend introduced me to them in the early '90s, so the first album I heard was As The Flower Withers - still my favourite Bride album, very closely followed by Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light. Both very different albums, but I absolutely adore them both. Before the interview, actually, I was reading the lyrics to one of my favourite tracks, the one where the band name is mentioned, and that's The Return To The Beautiful, and it gave me goosebumps - just, whew. He's just an artist, he really is. The way he crafts his words is just sublime - there's so many adjectives I could use, but I just love it.

holds up glass This isn't vodka, by the way!



Sadly, this isn't either! Well, I suppose that other musical influences would follow - aside from literature and your visual inspirations, what other bands inspired you in the beginning?

Alister: Well, we've mentioned My Dying Bride, and I think we touched on this earlier, but there's quite a big influence from Draconian as well. More the first three albums, because they're much more doomy and atmospheric - well, everything they do is doomy and atmospheric, but for me those were the best. I know it's the cool thing to say 'I like their early work...', but I actually really do prefer those three. I love everything they've done, but those are just - wow! The first song - somebody sent me a link to A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, from Where Lovers Mourn, and that was the first time I'd heard female vocals in doom metal, and from the first note I was just in love with it. And as I said earlier, that's where I decided, straight away, I wanted to incorporate female vocals into the music that I make. So those were two of the big ones; there's also Swallow The Sun: again, first note I heard of Swallow The Sun was instant love - love at first note! The first album I heard of theirs was The Morning Never Came and I was just - the heaviness and the darkness and the beauty of the melodies, it just grabbed me straight away, so I'm a huge Swallow The Sun fan. But also, on the flip side, there's Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, and some more post-black metal symphonic influences.

It's funny, a friend of mine was listening to Ligeia Wept, and she has two or three teenagers, and they thought she was listening to Cradle of Filth! It was amusing, but it was also a bit of a compliment, I guess - I've seen Cradle play a couple of times, and just love them to death.

Beyond metal, though, there's a lot of classical influence in there - particularly, for me, baroque era. I adore baroque music, particularly your Bach string concertos, and Vivaldi of course, and Telemann. So those composers really do - well, there are motifs, particularly in the violin and guitar parts which I write, which are more or less, not plagiarised but heavily influence by typical baroque violin motifs and styles and sequences. Also, there's other classical, like Beethoven and Chopin, from the later romantic era.

The other thing that a lot of people may not pick up on, and this is again more in the violin parts, is that I'm a huge lover of gypsy music. So if you listen carefully, more in the first two songs, you might pick up a few gypsy-sounding violin motifs in there too. I actually want to bring that in more prominently in future releases too.

I don't always like to do lots of name-dropping, or 'sounds likes' - it can seem a bit lazy, and also quite annoying for people to be constantly compared to others...

Alister: I think it's inevitable, really, though...

It can be convenient to have that shorthand, certainly. But I was struck, listening to the first few tracks particularly, that I could easily take for an Italian doom album - it had that cinematic horror-film vibe, particularly carried by the creepy piano melodies. And I did namecheck a couple of comparisons in the pre-interview draft I sent you, Theatre Of Tragedy, that kind of thing for some similarities. But you didn't mention any of them, so I guess that's just my interpretation, rather than any real influence for you!

Alister: It's interesting that you should mention Theatre Of Tragedy, because I have a very, very long list of bands that I haven't explored yet, and they were on that list. And Xen, who did the male vocals on the album, posted a link to it once it was done, and he mentioned it was for fans of Theatre Of Tragedy. And I thought, OK, I've never listened to them, but maybe I should check them out. So literally, last week, I listened to a couple of albums - can't remember which ones, probably the first two. One of them I thought was nothing like anything I'd ever write, but the other of the albums was much closer to what I'd do in terms of writing music.

OK, so there have been a couple of comparisons, and I think that's fair enough because of the duality between the female and male vocals, and it's dark symphonic metal...so I understand the comparison, but it's really just coincidence because I hadn't listened to them or been influenced by them.



Fair enough! But you were aiming for a cinematic element to it, something that would inspire a visual visual element as well as an aural one?

Alister: Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, I am a photographer - not for a living or anything like that - but I am a very visual person, so for me it's very important to stimulate people's imaginations so they can create like a movie in their mind and just be taken away by the music.

When I listen to this sort of music, typically I'll have candles all around the room and incense burning and a glass of wine and I'll maybe have someone there for a meal or enjoying a conversation, but for me doom metal is more of a sort of relaxed musical experience. I mean, I wouldn't sit down in a darkened room and listen to death metal - but doom metal's different, and I think the visual element is really, really important.

You can also see from the album artwork - there's also quite an element of sensuality throughout the lyrics, and I wanted that to come across in the artwork, so there's that side of things, too, definitely.

So, you self-released the album. Was that a deliberate choice - did you search for labels, or just plunge in there and get it done?

Alister: I did reach out to some labels, yes, but the thing to understand - and I knew this from the start - they get inundated with people sending them demos and going 'hey, listen to US'. So I wasn't really expecting even to get a response from any of them. I did get a response from Solitude Productions basically saying they had a full roster, but that was the only response I got. So I did look for labels that specialise in doom metal and some of them - I can't remember what they're called, and I wouldn't name them anyway - I just felt they don't really present very professionally, and I wouldn't feel that comfortable being in their hands, so I didn't even approach them. I thought, why not - I'll sent it to Peaceville and Nuclear Blast, the worst thing that can happen is that they can say no, or not respond at all. And that was what happened, I didn't get a response at all!

But I think now that we've got an album behind us, we might be in a better position to get some label interest. I have had some interest from a couple of smaller labels, but I'm a bit hesitant to engage at this stage. The other thing is, we're working on demos for the new album at this stage, so before I go down the PR path, I'd like to have some demos to say 'here's what the new album's going to sound like'. I was fortunate enough to have a bit of cash at my disposal to fund the recording and production for this first album, so that was kind of lucky - I've gone into a bit of debt, but, you know, we'll get there...so it wasn't really deliberate, it was just I'm going to do whatever I need to to get this album out, and if that means spending my own money and going into debt, so be it, it needs to be done.

And obviously, from the liner notes, you went the extra mile to make the album as environmentally friendly as you could produce. That's not something you always see in the music biz, so could you tell me a bit about that?

Alister: Sure. So, going back to the '90s and the early noughties, I was involved in quite a bit of forest blockading, otherwise known as non-violent direct action, so basically "tree-hugging" is the common term both laugh.

I actually did some of that in the UK as well. I lived in London for two years, in '96/'97, and did a few trips up to just outside Bradford - which I believe is where My Dying Bride hail from, at that time I didn't know that - where there was a road protest, some protesters blocking a bridge construction site, so I spent a bit of time there. But back in Australia I've done everything from sticking my hand in a hole in the road to stop the trucks, sleeping up trees - forty meters up in big mountain ash gum trees - let's just say I've done some things that were not entirely legal, in defence of Mother Earth, so that's where that comes from.

I don't do any of that stuff any more, but it's still in my blood, and I still do whatever I can to minimise my impact on Mother Earth, so it's really important to me. I did have to shop around to find a supplier that could accommodate those needs!

Ligeia Wept - 'Empty Into Void Spiritus Mundi' (2020):


So I guess perhaps the important question is how happy are you with 'A Funeral Of Innocence', in its entirety?

Alister: I'm really happy with the final result and, as I touched on earlier, I was honoured to be able to work with amazing artists and musicians. So, Xen, who a lot of people know from Ne Obliviscaris, he also has another couple of bands-slash-projects, he's also got Antiqva - who have just released an amazing single - and Omega Infinity and probably a plethora of other projects that no-one knows about...it was a great honour to work with him. I've actually known him for quite a few years and he's a really, really great guy - we were having dinner one night and I was playing him some demos that I'd done and I thought 'I'll just ask him'. So I said "do you want to guest on the album, do some vocals", and he said "yes", so that's how that happened.

But, yeah, like I said, a lot of people came on board all around the same time: we have James on the drums, Matt, our keyboardist, he's been a stable member for five years now - probably even longer - Marianne, who did the soprano vocals, she'd actually been involved before and then stopped, and then - through a friend on Facebook - it came to her attention that I was seeking a female vocalist, so she just said 'look, I'm happy to help out', jumped on board - and did an amazing job! She wrote probably, I'd say, 90% of the vocal melodies as well. There were a couple of lines that I'd already written, but she wrote pretty much everything else, and I couldn't be happier with what she's done - and she smashed it out all in one take! She just went into the studio, I was just waiting outside, came out and said "We're all done", and I'm like "Wow!".

And Matt's done an amazing job on the keys, and he's done all the choir sounds and the string sounds as well as the organ and piano. And Hayley, our violinist, she's absolutely wonderful as well. I went and saw her perform with another band as well, called Aquilus - I'd tried to get Hayley on board years ago, but at that stage it was all just shabby demos, so there wasn't much to go on - but I thought I'd just ask, and she said yes, and she's so on board, and she's really dedicated and great to work with. And for the bass - I actually had a guy who was interested in doing bass, but our sound engineer, Troy, knew this young guy Hayden who would spend a lot of time at the studio, and he was really keen to get some experience and do some recording. He was just there on the day, which was the day we did the photoshoot - so that's unfortunately why he wasn't included in any of the promo shots - and that day he just recorded all the bass.

And, of course, Emily: she did all the lyrics for Empty Into Void Spiritus Mundi, and wrote the vocal melodies as well, so that was very much Emily and me collaborating. The backing track for that's all done electronically, apart from - just a little side-note, and sorry if I'm rambling! - throughout that track there's a percussion which is actually a metronome. I put it in a bathtub and put a mic on top of it, and just recorded it, then slowed it down about twenty times and put on stereo bounce reverb - that's where it bounces from one side to the other - and that's how that sound came about. But the rest of the track was done electronically, with a few samples from other songs of violin parts...

...I actually think I've forgotten the original question!both laugh

It was really just how satisfied you were with the album - did it express what you wanted it to?

Alister: Absolutely, and I think going off on that tangent I've just been on, about all the people involved - I guess the point of that was the people who jumped on board and did the recording all did an amazing job, but what really got it over the line was the production. So Troy - whose monicker as a sound engineer is 'Audio Ninja' - Troy McCosker, he did an absolutely incredible job. He recorded all the vocals and violins, and I gave him all the recordings I'd already done, and James had already recorded the drums, and he put it all together and made it sound absolutely amazing. So, yeah, I'm happy with it!



I'd say it's a solid foundation, very impressive for a debut! So, we've already touched on the fact you're working on the second album - what are you keeping, and what have you changed from that foundation?

Alister: In terms of the line-up, or the music, or just everything?

Just in general terms, in approach?

Alister: Well, just skipping back briefly to the previous question - there were just a couple of sections where I felt things were too busy and you can't really hear what the guitar's doing unless you're really focusing on it, so the take away from that is to make sure all instruments get their space, and their moment to shine and everyone gets the space to come through, so really, I guess changing some of the ways we write.

The other thing to mention about the second album is that I've written the foundations for four songs, and they range between 27 and 30 minutes each, but I'm also starting to hand over the writing and composition duties to other members, so - similar to what's happened with Suldusk - it's gone from a solo project to an actual band. So, for example, Hayley's writing all of her own violin parts and we actually have five cellists on board at the moment laughs, so I've allocated some solo parts to a couple of them to write... Basically, I have to admit that I'm a bit of a control freak, but I'm really trying to let go of that, leaving the drum parts for James to write, Matt to write the keyboard parts, the vocalists to write lyrics and melody lines - so it's much more of a collaborative effort, the way it's being written and put together, and that's a main difference.

And one other thing: the guitar parts on the first album were pretty basic. I'm the first to admit I'm no Joe Satriani or Kerry King, so the guitars are always going to be relatively simple, but I have made the effort to have more guitar melodies and featured parts - it's a little more guitar-driven, you could say. There's probably also more exploration of the funeral doom subgenre - it's not going to be a funeral doom album from start to finish, but there are a lot more prominent elements in the new opus.

Sounds promising - do you have a timetable, or is it just "ready when it's ready"?

Alister: Well, we actually do! So, look, because the first album took over twelve years to get together, essentially laughs doom is a slow burner but that's just ridiculous! So what I've done is - and also because we've got some momentum going, we've got a solid release, we've got a bit more of a following, and I really wanted to pick up on the momentum and get the second release out as soon as possible, without stifling the creative process - so we actually do have a production schedule! And, in a nutshell, we're aiming to have this second album out in August, so it'll be just over a year after the first one.

Almost unprecedented in doom circles, then!

Alister: Well, I'm not that familiar with how other bands and musicians work, but I just thought 'let's try and keep this going, and not lose the momentum'...I actually started writing the songs for the second album back in 2017, so they were all at least 50% there. And one of the songs, I haven't written a single note for it - that's Matt and James, they both collaborated and created this monster. It's very funeral doom, the funeral doomiest piece on the album, so I'm looking forward to getting that recorded!

Ligeia Wept - 'A Hallowed Suffering Rode Upon The Ninth' (2020):


You said you're quite international now, in terms of line-up?

Alister: Yes, well, you know - the joys of the internet! I guess back in the '90s, even the noughties, international collaborations were quite problematic, and not even really possible for a lot of people, but now...

So, as I mentioned, we have a soprano singer in Mexico, Angeliqua, and the call for cellists drew attention from the far reaches of Germany, Canada and three Australian cellists, only one of whom is in Melbourne, I believe. And one of the cellists, her name's Alla, she's from Canada and she's also a singer, she has a solo project which is called Subterranean. But she also has an amazing singing voice. So we have a "virtual" string section, but also a "virtual" choir.

On the first album, you'll notice at the start of A Hallowed Suffering Rode Upon The Ninth, I had a friend in Ireland, Ives, who did the voice-over for the introduction, because that song's set in Ireland, I wanted to have an authentic Irish accent. So Ives recorded that - he's also a singer and a bassist, photographer, multi-talented - and he's going to be jumping on board with some baritone, more pads or drones and chants. And also the digital artist who did the cover for the first album, Krisztina, she's from Romania, and she's going to be doing some vocals - and I'm even going to try and learn to sing and do some! So basically what we're going to try and do is instead of using keyboards for the choir sounds we want to have real human voices. So that's going to be interesting and exciting - I'd just like the second album to have a more organic, authentic feel to it.

So it's obviously quite complicated in terms of participants and arrangements and all the rest of it. Do you see Ligeia Wept as a viable live act, or is that logistically too much?

Alister: Logistically that's going to be a challenge. Right now we're probably one member short of a live line-up - but having said that, with members overseas that throws a bit of a spanner in the works! But I'd absolutely love to get on a stage with all these amazing people and play for - hopefully! - a crowd. It's definitely something we've got our sights on, but, as you pointed out, the logistics are quite challenging. So at the moment the focus is on studio recording, but we'll definitely look at ways of bringing it live in the future, if we can.

Great, so to wrap up the interview - is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't touched upon?

Alister: pause...Nothing I can think of, to be honest, not on the spot!...Well, maybe, as I've touched on before, I think what we do is very much more of a European, UK sound in terms of audience...so anyone who's listening over there, check us out!

That'll do perfectly!

Alister: And I guess I'd love to also give a big shout out to Aaron and My Dying Bride for being so amazing for all these years, and being so inspiring and getting me through some pretty hard times. And all the other bands I've mentioned, it's really important to have those influences and inspirations to drive you as an artist.

Well, then, thank you very much for all the time, and participation! Hope we haven't held Emily up too much!

Alister: It's been very interesting doing the interview, and thank you so much, really appreciate it.

Emily: Thanks, bye Mike.


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Interviewed on 2021-06-27 by Mike Liassides.
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