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German band Flame, Dear Flame followed up their lush, female-fronted Epic Doom EP of 2019 with a full-length debut this year - something Comrade Aleks wanted to know more about, and guitarist David was happy to discuss.

Interview with Flame, Dear Flame.
"Having been formed four years ago, Flame, Dear Flame just came out with their debut album 'Aegis' literally now. Some good things demand time to finish, right? After a few attempts to keep a line-up with two guitarists, and after the promising EP 'The Millennial Heartbeat' (2019), Flame, Dear Flame, under command of its spiritual leader David Kuri, seems to be ready to conquer occult Doom realms - even though David mentions Bathory as one of the most significant influences in this sphere. The band managed to create a hypnotizing Doom Metal piece with Pagan touches, and as this definition is pretty blurred, I invite you to share the Flame, Dear Flame experience and read this interview with David himself."

Flame, Dear Flame: Martin Skandera (bass), David Kuri(guitars), Maren Lemke (vocals), Jan Franzen (drums).

Hail David! Accept my congratulations on the release of your debut full-length album 'Aegis'. Did everything go according to plan with this release?

Thank you! According to plan, no, in fact the production of Aegis was hideously cursed. The recording sessions went quite alright. An acoustic guitar got damaged, so I had to redo things with a backup instrument, and one of the drum tracks was found to be unusable a week after the microphone setup had already been torn down, so that was quite a hassle. This is how all professional productions go, isn't it? When we approached artists with the ideas for the cover artwork, few of them felt comfortable realizing them, so it took a lot of time and several tries, but in the end we couldn't be happier with the works of both Kodex Barbaricus and Karmazid. A pandemic certainly doesn't help when you're planning an album release, because everybody's schedules are suddenly upside-down, shows get postponed, pressing plants and suppliers can't hold deadlines etc. Together with our label Eisenwald, we picked a very conservative release date for Aegis, but still the vinyl release will have to come later. We got the test pressings already, and they sound fantastic, but we honestly don't know when we'll get the full delivery.

Do you keep on supporting/buying artists you like yourself during the pandemic? What was your most expensive purchase considering Metal or Rock music?

With all shows being cancelled or postponed, I think it's now more important than ever to support the artists you like. I myself am not much of a vinyl person for practical reasons, so I like to buy CDs and shirts to support the artists I appreciate. It's hard to say what my most expensive purchase was, because I prefer spending my money on small to middle-sized bands rather than prized collector's items.

Flame, Dear Flame - 'The Wolves and the Prioress (Part 1)' (Official, 2021):

But speaking about Flame, Dear Flame… How did you shape the band's concept back in 2017? Was it, roughly, a mix between Trad Doom and Folk with a lady on vocals from the start? Or did you try another approach?

The basic idea behind Flame, Dear Flame was the combination of Maren's floating, delicate vocals and a crushing and solemn doom instrumentation. The whole sound of the album turned out very traditional, because that's where I come from and feel at home. There's no folk in the concept of the band. Instead, we always try to go from a story that we want to tell, and 'The Wolves and the Prioress' sounds the way it does because we followed the narrative. That said, we like to work with a lot of contrast, so I think tranquility will always have a place in our music.

Which bands helped form the concept of Flame, Dear Flame, both music- and lyrics-wise? How much of your own individuality did you want to channel through this band?

When my brother Jonas and I began working on the songs for 'The Millennial Heartbeat', Bathory's Hammerheart was the common ground to start our journey. Of course, all musicians in Flame, Dear Flame are influenced by a number of bands, but I don't think I could name any bands that we really based our concept on. Our focus is taking narrative ideas and transforming them into music. It's an experiment to some extent and often proceeds in ways that we ourselves would not foresee.

Oh, I see – Jonas spent around one year in the band. Why did he leave? I see you tried two more guitarists but you've stopped on just one guitar in the band. Is it comfortable for you or do you aim to return to a "twin guitars" set?

He had other things to take care of and could not dedicate as much focus to the bands as he felt necessary. So, instead of doing things half-heartedly, he'd rather not do them at all. It is different working with family, so needless to say I was sad to see him leave the band, and I am very grateful for his contributions to the song material on Aegis.

After Jonas left, Philipp Horenburg joined and stayed for the recording of the EP, then went on to focus on his primary band Asanbosam, which he also seems to have left in the meantime. Johannes Rahm then joined us, contributed to the songwriting and recorded Aegis with us before leaving to go in different musical directions.

We will surely be looking for someone to fill the role who, most importantly, fits with the band and can identify with what Flame, Dear Flame is about. I hope this will get a little easier when Aegis is out and potential guitarists get the chance to familiarize themselves with our music before deciding to join the cause.

You tell about Bathory's Hammerheart as the common ground for early Flame, Dear Flame, but how fast did you assimilate the band's "folk" side?

The ideas for 'The Wolves and the Prioress' slowly took shape when 'The Milennial Heartbeat' was almost completely written. We knew we wanted to open it with this natural, elemental acoustic intro pretty early, but it wasn't clear until much later that we would do a complete song, albeit it being the shortest on the album by far, almost completely without electric guitars. We followed the story, and this is where it led us.

"Doom with lady on vocals" automatically gets labels like "occult" or "pagan", would you accept some of these definitions considering Flame, Dear Flame's concept?

I have a hard time labelling Flame, Dear Flame, because most of the comparisons I heard fit in some ways, but don't in others. We work with a lot of mysticism in our lyrics, so if you want to label it "occult" or "pagan", go ahead. That said, we don't consider ourselves as a female-fronted occult rock band, like they emerged following the success of The Devil's Blood, and I mean this without any disrespect – I like many of those bands myself.

Flame, Dear Flame - 'The Millennial Heartbeat (Part 1)' (Official, 2021):

Aegis is split into two different stories. 'The Millennial Heartbeat' trilogy is taken from the same-titled 2019 EP and 'The Wolves and the Prioress' grants four new tracks. Are these stories connected between each other somehow or do you see both as separate pieces?

Both stories are completely separate, and quite different. 'The Millennial Heartbeat' is a narrative of cosmical proportions, while 'The Wolves and the Prioress' tells a more personal, intimate story. I think you can hear this clearly in the way the music sounds.

How do you choose lyrical themes for your songs? Did you work with interaction between the songs' texts and music during the album's composition?

The idea for 'The Millennial Heartbeat' stems from a documentary about ocean currents that I have watched some time before the band was founded. It stated that the heart of a living being as large as the world's oceans might only ever beat once every thousand years, hence the title, and we developed it from there. Regarding 'The Wolves and the Prioress', I think I had this idea of a feral child falling into the custody of a prioress for some time before it 'ripened', but I can't tell you anything about the origins.

The music and the lyrics are tightly connected in all music we write. We try to write each part so that it is in line with the lyrics, and sometimes find that a slight change to the narrative will make things work even better, so the lyrics might be changed to comply with the music as well. We also work with symbolism and recurring themes throughout our lyrics.

The band is based in Brunswick, Lower Saxony. How does your cultural and historical background influence Flame, Dear Flame?

Brunswick (or Braunschweig, as we call it) does have an interesting history and there are a lot of well-preserved or reconstructed buildings from the middle ages. I also remember my grandfather telling me the stories from the nearby woods and hills and the Harz mountains when I was a kid. While this does not play a part in the concept of the band, I'm sure it had some kind of influence on me as a person.

Flame, Dear Flame fits well with other Eisenwald releases. Did you approach the label first or did they find you?

We approached Eisenwald with the rough mixes of Aegis some time in 2020. I think the label has a great selection of black metal and ambient or neo folk artists, which are tendencies that can be found in Flame, Dear Flame as well. They also have an open mind if they are convinced that a band is great, as you can see with their signing of Unto Others (formerly called Idle Hands). We are very grateful for the trust they have put in us.

Thanks for the interview David! What are your plans for the rest of 2021 considering Flame, Dear Flame? Are you satisfied enough with 'Aegis' to continue following the same direction on the next album?

Right now, we are busy with the final preparations for the release, and then I think a celebration will be in order. Personally, I am very happy with how Aegis turned out, and even though it is hard for me to judge our own music, whether it is 'good' or 'bad', I am confident in saying that the album is not run-of-the-mill and offers something that you don't get too often. Aegis has many facets, and we can't tell yet which of those you will hear more or less of in the future of Flame, Dear Flame. We have started noting down everything that comes to mind when thinking of what comes next: themes, words, emotions, vague sounds and melodies, and also abstract things like colors or concepts we'd like to explore. Whichever direction we choose to go, I doubt it will ever be 'more of the same' for us.

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Interviewed on 2021-09-14 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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