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After their surprise reunion just over a year ago, Comrade Aleks went in search of '90s Death/Doom legends Dusk to find out where they stand today, and how the new EP is coming along.

Interview with Dusk.
"Personally, I found the disappearance of Dusk from the Metal scene a kind of puzzle, as from outside you usually just see the results of a band's activity - studio records and sometimes live shows. So what's the reason for stopping a band when you have made a proper full-length, as Dusk did? They started 25 years ago, and two demos and a self-titled EP laid the foundations for first album '…Majestic Thou In Ruin', a sonic embodiment of sorrowful and depressed states of mind. The album has its charms, it's not extremely slow - as Dusk used to change tempos - it has some bleak, desolate atmospheres and a bunch of good melodies. The only problem is it's only 33 minutes long… Anyway, Dusk disbanded in 1998, and the post-mortem compilation 'Mourning… Resurrect' and a split with Aphotic (who included ex-Dusk members) were the last documentaries of the band's existence.
18 years later Dark Symphonies remastered the band's work as a compilation, 'Dusk / …Majestic Thou In Ruin', and the release turned out to be a premonition - Dusk reformed in 2016. They gathered an almost original line-up featuring Steve Crane (vocals, bass), Steve Gross (keyboards, guitars) and Tim Beyer (guitars, keyboards) - all of them were together in 1993 when Dusk fell. Right now Steve Crane (with a little help from Steve Gross) will tell you almost everything you'd like to know about the band."

Dusk current line-up: Steve Crane, Sean Smith, Tim Beyer, Steve Gross.

Hi Steve! Dusk returned to life in 2016, and I bet that no-one expected such a turn. What motivated you to take instruments in hand once again? How long were you discussing this idea?

Steve Crane: Hello! We had our old material reissued by Dark Symphonies/The Crypt on CD and vinyl. This caused some new interest in Dusk. Fans were asking if we would ever play again. Tim and I were talking for about a year and a half about possibly playing again; half jokingly. I actually never thought we would play again to be honest.

How did you manage to gather the original line-up? It seems to be something impossible!

SC: Yes! It does seem unimaginable. We pretty much just decided to get together and see if we could even remember the songs, and sure enough; things started coming together. Unfortunately, our brother Shimron has since stepped away from the band for private personal reasons. However, Dusk is thrilled to report that Sean Smith will take over the drumming duties. He was hand picked and has a great reputation in the Green Bay Area. We are eagerly looking forward to what the future holds.

Original 2016 re-union, with Shimron Heemstra.

What's Sean Smith's background? Did he already play Death Doom?

SC: Sean is an extremely diverse and well respected talent within the local scene. He is an outstanding sound man as well as a world class drummer. As far as doom, I believe he has never played in a death doom band. He plays in Aronious, which is somewhat of a technical; complex death metal band. Also, he plays in another band called Crater; they play a unique style of heavy metal with varying styles. Sean's work truly showcases his diverse musicianship. He grasped the overall vibe of Dusk immediately, retaining the overall feel of the original material; as well as bringing his own unique style moving forward with new material.

Steve, how did it all start back in 1993? What did you want to express when you gathered as Dusk for the first time? What were your main goals?

SC: Well basically we were looking to do something just a little different from the death metal that was mainstream in our area at the time. We all played in different bands so when we came together we focused a little more on atmosphere than what bands around us were doing. That is where the guitar synth came to be used. It was very important to us to be able to duplicate any sounds/atmosphere that were on the demo live.

Dusk - 'Majestic Thou In Ruin':

The Death Doom scene was still young when you created Dusk: what influenced your sound? Did you get the sound you were searching for on your self-titled EP?

SC: As stated above we were just trying to do something unique. We tried to get a European/Swedish vibe on our first recording. I'd say we were happy with the initial recordings. Before that, all we had were recordings dubbed from a boom box during practices; so in terms of quality this was a major upgrade.

What do you mean about a European/Swedish vibe?

SC: Simply speaking, I would say just the overall guitar tone. There was an overall tone, a unique grinding tone accented with truly in your face drums in the early 90's.

What do you remember about the recording sessions you did for '…Majestic Thou In Ruin'? How serious were you considering the band's image?

SC: For me personally, I remember recording the clean vocals/chants. I had set up the whole room with candles and incense. It gave me the vibe I felt I needed to portray the haunting anguish of the vocals. I wanted them to almost have their own personality, if that makes sense. We were happy with how things turned out. We didn't take our image seriously. At the time we weren't even aware that we had an image. Majestic was just a natural progression for us musically.

Early Dusk, circa '97/98.

How did you compose this material? Did you want to add some features to your sound, or did you have some bands in mind whose sound you'd like to imprint in your compositions?

SC: It was just a natural course for us. We didn't overthink anything. Basically, we just thought some riffs sounded cool and put them together. The only feature we felt needed to be added was the ambient chants/vocals.

But there were some general ideas which you wanted to express? Slow- or mid-paced songs, some atmospheric parts, growls, dark lyrics focused on negative states of mind and so on.

SC: Yes! Songs just have a way of working themselves out. The number one thing we were shooting for was atmosphere coupled with groove. Whether the parts were slow or mid-paced we always tried to keep in mind the overall mood, undercurrent if you will, of the emotion we were trying to convey. This seemed to be accomplished easier with slower as opposed to super fast riffs. That is also why we incorporated chants on Majestic, simply because we felt it portrayed the overall emotion of the entire album.

Speaking about lyrics - how was that element important for you?

SC: Dusk lyrics have always been a focal point of the overall musical vibe. Deep and full of profound emotion. I have always felt that the lyrics had to have substance to match the musical qualities.

What influenced the lyrics - other bands, or maybe some poets and writers?

SC: I've always had an affinity for literature and different writing styles. I eventually started to appreciate poetry. It started with Poe; I loved the dark but yet truly poetic ways my mind would wonder/interpret what I was reading. From there I dug deeper into poetry stumbling across Louise Bogan. Here is an excerpt from Song For The Last Act:
"In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed."

Reunion show, 2017.

Sounds impressive! By the way, speaking about influences… I guess that two of Dusk's songs used samples from the 'Hellraiser' movie: do you have songs based on certain films?

SC: I wouldn't say based off any films. Again, we just felt that the 'Hellraiser' samples used in 'Element of Symmetry' added to the overall feel of the song correlating to the opening lyrics, "Woeful times now awakening." Followed by the screams of anguish at the end, we just felt these were perfect expressions that fit the song.

The band was active from 1993 to 1998, with just one full-length album - but it's still remembered. How did you see Dusk's perspectives back then in the late '90s? What were the band's highlights, and what made you stop?

SC: We had no idea anyone would even find us relevant to the death/doom scene of the early 90's, much less that we would be having this conversation 20 something years later. We are profoundly humbled that anyone even knows who we are/were. Even more amazing, that '...Majestic Thou In Ruin' (our full length) would even be remembered amongst all the amazing music this genre has to offer 23 years later. As far as highlights, I'd have to say playing the Milwaukee Metal Mania with all of our idols, and playing several shows with bands that we really looked up to. We eventually stopped because I quit the band, and after I left the band put out the Dusk/Aphotic split but couldn't seem to keep the momentum going.

Aphotic - 'All We Have Is This':

Some of Dusk's members started Aphotic in 2000: it was faster, more melodic and more aggressive. Is it true that the band split because of unlucky searches for a proper label? The stuff Aphotic performed on the split with Dusk is absolutely strong, so that seems at least strange.

Steve Gross: Not getting a proper label was part of the reason I left. There was some tension within the band and it just wasn't fun anymore…stale to me. Once you lose an original member it's hard to find a replacement that fills the void created by them. Dusk struggled mightily with that. I, personally, needed a fresh start with a different approach. Aphotic let me do that…and it was great not having to deal with a drummer.

Is it possible that you will perform some of Aphotic's songs live, or maybe re-record some of them?

SG: Highly doubtful that I will do anything with Aphotic again. Keith would have to want to and I just don't see that happening. Dusk will not perform any Aphotic songs ever.

Steve, did you work on the songs included in the split 'To Find New Darkness'? It came ten years after '…Majestic Thou In Ruin', and you left the band in 1996, but I wonder if there were some old ideas used in the album?

SC: Actually the song 'An Aerial View' was written before I left the band and was originally entitled "and" other than that there was just a few parts that I was involved with when I was still a part of Dusk.

Dusk - 'An Aerial View':

Steve, it's said that after converting to Christianity, you quit Dusk in order to perform missionary work in Africa. Can you tell how this journey influenced you?

SC: Well I actually never actually quit the band to do missionary work per se. It is true that I quit to reexamine my life and part of this included getting back to my Christian roots. After leaving the band I did go to several countries in Eastern Africa to provide famine relief and was part of providing overall humanitarian needs with a Christian Church and the UN. This month of my life was eye opening and did change my view of the world and my life for sure.

Now in 2018... How has your vision of Dusk changed? You're not the same people you were twenty years ago, so I wonder how your experience is reflected in lyrics and music.

SC: Our goal this go around is to finally get to Europe and play all around the world. We are very excited to be playing Maryland Deathfest in a few months. We are hoping this is just the beginning of us playing more amazing shows; and we are open to new bookings as well. Musically nothing has changed. We are still just writing songs that we think are cool, and hopefully others will too. I believe the new lyrics will still remain within the original Dusk vibe.

Live in 2018.

The band is working on new songs for an EP release. What is your progress? What can you already tell about these songs?

SC: We are very excited to release a new EP after all these years! The songs are all pretty much written and Sean is getting ready to lay down his drum tracks any day now. We should be done recording very soon. I'd like to think that the songs retain the old school Dusk identity. We are hoping to have physical copies available by Maryland Deathfest.

Then I wish you luck finding a proper label for this record, so it would be available world-wide! Thank you Steve for the interview! I hope we get more news from Dusk soon!

SC: Thank you so much for the opportunity to get in depth about our music and feelings behind what we write. Dusk would like to thank our fans and friends that we have met along this amazing journey. We have always wanted to engage with our fans personally. Also, we are looking to expand our social media presence, just simply to let everyone know that we are back at it and ready to play worldwide, and make some new fans along the way. Please spread the word to your friends and reach out to us and follow us online on Facebook. We are on Twitter and Instagram as well. Thank you for your support to keep Dusk alive for over 25 years. It's truly humbling!

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

Visit the Dusk bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-04-02 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Rotten Copper
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