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So, maybe you're wondering why you haven't heard anything about this band, if they've been on the scene for 25 years? The answer is simple...there are only two full-length albums in their discography. I heard they were recording new songs, and the idea to do this interview was spontaneous."

Interview with Dawn Of Winter.
"The very name of this band brings a '90s vibe, and, indeed, Dawn of Winter was founded in 1990, though originally went under the name Cemetery until 1991. Gerrit P. Mutz (vocals), Joachim "Bolle" Schmalzried (bass), Jörg M. Knittel (guitars) and Dennis Schediwy (drums) – this line-up has remained unchanged since the band was born. (Well, strictly speaking, drummer Oliver Schramm played with them between 1991 - '93, and took part in the recordings of the demos 'Path of the Worm' (1991) and 1993's 'Celebrate the Agony'). So, maybe you're wondering why you haven't heard anything about this band, if they've been on the scene for 25 years? The answer is simple – Dawn of Winter perform slow traditional doom metal, and they never hasten. So, there are only two full-length albums in their discography – 'In the Valley of Tears' (1998) and 'The Peaceful Dead' (2008). But don't think that's everything they have: there's also a bunch of demos and EPs (including 'The Skull of the Sorcerer', released in 2012) in their store. I heard that Dawn of Winter had slowly awakened from slumber and was recording new songs, and the idea to do this interview was spontaneous. Gerrit Mutz, the voice of Dawn of Winter's (and also of Sacred Steel, Battleroar and Angel of Damnation) found enough time and energy to provide some epic answers. Pray for Doom!"

Dawn Of Winter: Gerrit P. Mutz (Vocals), Dennis Schediwy (Drums), Jörg M. Knittel (Guitars) and Joachim "Bolle" Schmalzried (Bass).

Hello Gerrit!

Hi Aleks!

How are you?

Quite OK for a doomed fellow, sitting in the cellar, staring out of the window into the burning sun. Longing for winter´s dawn.

What's the current Dawn of Winter status?

We are working on completing the recordings for our upcoming album, entitled "Pray For Doom". The drums are finished, next will be strings, then vocals. No idea yet when we will be ready to release it or what label we will release it on but what I know for sure is that it will be a worthy successor to the latest full-length "The Peaceful Dead". Songs featured will be "The Thirteenth Of November", „Woodstock Child", „A Dream Within A Dream", „Pray For Doom", „The Orchestra Bizarre", „Paralysed By Sleep", „The Sweet Taste Of Ruin" & „Last Dark Winter".

So… will we find in there any new influences, besides the classic Doom metal Dawn of Winter's always played?

Nope, surely not. The only aim that we are striving for is to make another 100% true doom effort. Just pure Dawn Of Winter stuff. No adventures, no surprises. Just the best possible doom songs that we could create.

What do you see as the strong sides of "Pray for Doom"? You know – there are a lot of Doom bands now, so do you feel this release to be a challenge?

We don't try to be better than any other band out there, we don´t try to steal fans from anybody. So, I guess that the strong side is that we are 100% ourselves. We know what we want to achieve and we know how to do it.

The only challenge that we face is to make music that lives up to our standards, music that we feel is worth being put out and worth being heard. I don´t feel any competition that pushes us to reach whatever aim. If there are people out there who cherish what we do: fine. If not: also fine. You can´t force anybody to listen to or like your music anyway.

The band's existed since 1991, so this year Dawn of Winter celebrates its 25th anniversary. Do you plan to play a special gig, or even a small tour?

Nope, no tour planned. We are planning to continue this band until one of us dies. Also we are planning to release an album whenever we have enough songs ready that we are happy with. We are not looking for gigs, in fact we turn down most offers. That is just because most offers are shitty and demand us to come to whatever country for no money, no flight tickets, only promising to give us a place on the ground to sleep and some gas money. We have done this 20 years ago, gladly. But nowadays, nearing the age of 50 personally, we are not willing to rehearse for shitty gigs at the end of the world for nothing anymore. It´s not fun and if it´s no fun we won´t do it. To celebrate our 25th anniversary we will put out our new record. Quality over quantity.

Dawn of Winter – 'Throne of Isolation':

Do you feel the support from Dawn of Winter fans through all these years?

Not really. From time to time I meet some people here or there and I´m always very surprised that they know this band at all. Some even bring their old tapes or CD´s to sign them. That may not sound totally out of the picture to most people but to me it´s always quite "shocking". To me it always feels like nearly nobody even knows about Dawn Of Winter. We´re the lowest profile band that I can think of.

Speaking about the band's history - which milestones could you mark on Dawn of Winter's way?

All our official releases, from demos to Mini LP´s to CD´s are special milestones for us. Also our rare and special gigs are great memories we cherish. We 4 members share an old and stable friendship with lots of respect for our different lives besides Dawn Of Winter. Whenever we meet to rehearse we know that we still share something very special. Sure, we never had anything like success, a fan base or big tours BUT we are still here and we still love what we do. Dawn Of Winter for myself is still a dream that never stops.

The band has had a pretty stable line-up since its early years, how have you manage to keep it the same for so long?

The big secret is that we don´t see each other that often besides rehearsals, even though we´re all good friends. It´s just that we don´t live close to each other anymore. Life changes. And whenever we meet we are talking ´bout how we should meet more often, play more often etc, etc. But it never happens because we are all very busy besides playing in a small underground doom band.

And why do you have such long breaks between records, with such a constant crew?

Because there´s just no need to rush things. We take things slow and convenient. We don´t force ourselves to come up with new songs. When we have gathered enough good ideas THEN we make a new record. There´s no deadline, no label pushing us, no fanbase screaming for new tours/releases/underwear. We are absolutely in no hurry. If we should manage to release 1 album every 10 years, fine with us, if we´re faster, also good, if it should take longer, why not?

What's Dawn of Winter's inner chemistry?

The pure and honest love for all things doom. The common knowledge how Dawn Of Winter has to sound. No bullshit detracting us, no futile dreams luring us. Real friendship combined with a common goal: to play real doom until we die.

How do you usually work over new material?

Most of the times Jörg, our guitarist, comes up with some riffs that we all form into a song structure. Sometimes Dennis, our drummer, brings in riffs or even ideas for whole songs. Very seldom I write a song, too. Usually we take 2-3 riffs and try to arrange or change them until we all like the result. Then I try to come up with hopefully interesting and fitting vocal lines and lyrics that are (also hopefully) not too embarrassing.

You and Mirror of Deception are the oldest German Doom metal bands, though they are more active and have four full-lengths…

Yeah, they may have more full-lengths (still) but we have more Mini LP´s, hehe. I think we are both pretty inactive in the long run. They are great friends of ours and Jochen – their guitarist – is by far the most important doom person in Germany. He has done more for the scene than anybody else.

And you started in the times when doom wasn't as popular as it is today.

That is true. When I started Dawn Of Winter in 1990 there was NO doom scene in Germany and only a very little doom scene worldwide. Well, doom is my true love. I am a slave to doom totally. So it wasn´t a conscious decision really…there was just nothing else that I could do to feel a bit better and more complete and happy with myself back then.

Dawn of Winter – 'The Music of Despair':

Have you kept any constant contact with other bands? For example: new heroes of doom Cross Vault, or old dudes like Dreaming?

The only person that I run into from time to time is Jochen from Mirror Of Deception. Sure, we´re also friends with Doomshine e.g. and we know a lot of people in the doom scene personally but I wouldn´t say that we keep a constant contact with anybody. Back in the day we also played some gigs with Dreaming and one guy in Cross Vault is also sometimes helping out in Angel Of Damnation.

Gerrit, you also sing in another Doom band, named Angel of Damnation, and it's absolutely not the same as Dawn of Winter. What's the story behind this band?

I was asked 12 years ago or so to help ´em out because they wanted to put out a tape. That tape was then also releases as a 7". Later they approached me and asked if I could also do the vocals on a full-length, I said "why not?". I would not say that it´s a real band. It´s more a project centered around Daniel (the guitarist) who´s playing in many bands simultaneously.

Angel of Damnation released its debut full-length, 'Carnal Philosophy', in 2011: did the work with this line-up differ from the work with Dawn of Winter?

Sure, very much! I had nothing to do with the arrangements and we never met to rehearse before recording the album. They finished the songwriting, then I got the tracks to come up with lyrics/vocal lines and then we found a day to record my vocals, I travelled 3-4 hours to their rehearsal room to sing everything first take.

What did you want to put into this work? What's its musical and lyrical concept?

Well, I like all kinds of doom but especially very traditional doom. Angel Of Damnation has a bit more weird riffs and song structures than Dawn Of Winter but I also like the feeling these more complex songs create. I can´t say anything about the musical concept but I guess that Daniel uses stuff that doesn´t fit in with his other bands because it´s to doomy or old school. The lyrical concept is easy: to be as blasphemous as possible within the boundaries of a non-black metal band.

You also have the split album with cool Peruvian band Don Juan Matus (by the way, they're just 'Matus' now): how did you manage to organize this release?

I have no idea. I was not involved in organizing this. You should ask Daniel about things like that.

What're your plans considering the future of Angel of Damnation? Do you have time for it now, when you're also busy with Sacred Steel and Battleroar?

When I last met Daniel he told me that he´s writing new material. 4 songs are close to be finished and I am already working on vocal lines/lyrics whenever I find the time and inspiration. The future might see a new Angel Of Damnation album but I can´t predict exactly when. At the moment I am most busy with promoting the new Sacred Steel album "Heavy Metal Sacrifice". When that´s done I will record the vocals for the new Dawn Of Winter album. When that is done as well I will start to work on new Battleroar songs. And maybe finish the Angel Of damnation stuff I´ve already started working on or on newer AOD songs. We´ll see. My life is never boring.

Angel of Damnation – 'Into the Coven of the Damned':

Do you think that it's the right time to return in full strength now, when Doom has finally raised its profile?

Well, if out there there would be somebody with money who would buy us out of our regular jobs and give us the opportunity to concentrate on playing doom forever, nothing else besides it, sure – we would do it. I just don´t see this coming. We all have to work and care about our families. We all have other bands and projects/hobbies besides Dawn Of Winter that also take time, money and attention. Under the circumstances that we have to function, we do our absolute best, since 25 years. And we are very proud of that. No need for world domination. I don´t know of ANY doom band out there, besides Black Sabbath or maybe Candlemass for some years that EVER was able to make a living by just playing doomed music. Doom is not for the masses. And even though it´s more successful today than it was 25 years ago it doesn´t mean that you can sell tons of CD´s or LP´s or even do good, bigger tours with music like this.

The band very rarely appears in public; would it be right to say that it turned out to be a studio project?

Why should we call it a studio project? It is not a studio project. And just because we don´t play every shitty gig possible or release average albums every 2-3 years doesn´t mean that we are not a real band. Most other bands out there disband after some years because they bow to all the stress, the regular touring/album release cycle, festival gigs etc, etc., does that make them a more complete band than Dawn Of Winter is? I truly doubt that. We have all the rights in the world to call us a real band because we have promised to continue until we die. And we are not talking bullshit like other bands. We have and will never change our style and we will never do anything that we don´t like ourselves. All 4 of us.

Live in 2009.

So, everything just goes according to plan, and you're going to release the third album in 2018?

I guess that the new album is finished by then, yes. There´s no guarantee and I will make no promises regarding the release date or year but a release in 2018 is very likely to happen.

There's a ten-year gap between the 'In the Valley of Tears' and 'Peaceful Dead' albums. How do you see the main differences between these albums?

Oh my god. I guess I´d have to listen to both albums in depth to really answer this question. They both have in common that they are doom metal to the bone. And they feature the best songs that we had at the very moments. We love both albums just the same. Lots of bands compare their albums to children and that you can´t say which child you love more. I agree. To me "Peaceful" is like a younger child to me while "In the valley" already has grown up. No idea if that makes sense…The difference might be that "In the valley" was a little more adventurous in the songwriting. Back then we also incorporated some stranger riffs or breaks while with "Peaceful" we fully concentrated on being as solid, epic, even catchy (in places) as possible. I guess, like every band that is in existence that long we just tried to make a more perfect version of our vision. That´s what every artist tries…reaching perfection even though failure always lurks in the corners of the mind.

What would you mark as the main features of the 'Peaceful Dead' album? How do you see Dawn of Winter's individuality?

Hmm, main features…easy heavy riffs, memorable vocal melodies, good guitar solos and quite unique drumming. Our individuality comes from the fact that we are 4 guys playing together since more than 20 years, who found a formula that works totally.

Dawn of Winter – 'The Skull of the Sorcerer':

Dawn of Winter's last release was the EP "The Skull of the Sorcerer", it was released four years ago. What drove you to take your time and record this material?

We wanted to put out something to please ourselves and we love the Mini LP format. We didn´t have enough songs for a full album but we had the opportunity to release those 4 tracks as a vinyl EP. You can´t say no to an offer like this. We love vinyl. We could have waited some more years to write more songs to come up with a full-length earlier but we make the rules and we do as we please. And we thought that keeping the tradition of releasing a Mini album from time to time is still great.

How did this recording session go?

It was pretty similar to the way that we also record the new album. Dennis works on the drum recordings until he is happy with the result, then Jörg and Bolle add their guitars/bass and in the end I supply the banshee wailing. No tricks or studio magic. Just as much emotion as possible.

What kind of feelings or message do you put into Dawn of Winter's songs?

Wow, I could write a book to answer an open question like this but I won´t. To keep it short: All possible human emotions are featured in all of our songs but being a true doom band of course the most prevalent feelings are that of loss & despair. There is no real message, maybe just that you have to be yourself and try to work on the fact that you are not perfect and constantly struggling to cope with life and love.

But I bet that being in the band brings mostly positive emotions to its members!

Yeah, that is true!! No doubt about that. We wouldn´t do it if it wouldn´t help us going on with our regular lives and struggles.

So I wish you all the best with finishing "Pray for Doom", and I hope that you'll entice more new fans with this record. Good luck Gerrit! And do you have a few more words for our readers?

Thanks for your support, Aleks! Few more words? I guess I´ve already said enough :-).

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Dawn Of Winter bandpage.

Interviewed on 2016-09-18 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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