Lithium Dawn [Interview]
Looking back on a big year for metal, Lithium Dawn’s brand new Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension marks them out as genuine innovators. I’ve already ranted at length about it in this review – and here, Lithium Dawn discuss the story behind the new album, their plans for 2016, and more…
You’ve managed to spice up an epic prog-metal mix with some unique flavours of your own. So, I have to open with an old cliché: Who were your influences while you were writing your new album?
Well, [the] earliest influences that informed our sound were prog rock/metal bands like Porcupine Tree, Tool, Opeth, Meshuggah, and some of the newer bands like Tesseract and Periphery. Deftones and Korn were also a big influence early on.
Our founding members, Ondrej Tvarozek and Matt Benoit, actually met on Korn’s message board back in the early 2000s. As we were making this new album though, we embraced a lot more of our experimental influences: reggae, psy-dub, and other electronic music played a big part in that, particularly artists like Ott, Shpongle, Younger Brother, John Brown’s Body, Stick Figure, and many others.
Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension is about to be let loose into the world. What thoughts and feelings are floating around the Lithium Dawn camp right now?
We’re all just excited to have people finally hear the whole record, and we can’t wait to hear what people think of it. It’s been a long two-year process to get this album made and throughout that time it’s only existed to us, so it’ll be a trip to see what songs people respond to and if they dig this new direction we’re going in.
While you were writing and recording Tearing Back The Veil I, what was your creative process?
Typically our process involves one member coming to the band with a pretty well-thought-out demo, and the rest of us will offer feedback to help sculpt the final song.
This album was extremely collaborative, whereas on our first album, Ondrej wrote nearly everything except for one song. Having all of us involved made it much easier, and resulted in a lot of parts that couldn’t have happened without that collective mindset.
The new album represents the first of two parts. What is the underlying concept and story behind Tearing Back The Veil?
Tearing Back The Veil doesn’t necessarily have a concrete story with characters. It’s more of an overall theme and feeling that permeates both albums.
Over the course of making this first part, we had some transformative experiences that resulted in a lot of change in our personal lives – and the lyrics kind of reflect that. It deals a lot with fear and having the gumption to face it and overcome it.
Overall, I think the message of the album is reflected in the song Horizon where Ondrej sings, “Home / Here is where you are”. It’s a somewhat obvious and simple concept, but sometimes we have to be reminded that no matter how caught up we get in our own future or past, the present moment is really all we have and the ability to make positive change in our lives is there for us at any moment.
How have you evolved as musicians and people over the course of this album’s creation?
Part of why this album took a while to make is because we were learning how to do a lot of things as we went along. Incorporating the reggae/psy-dub stuff into what we were doing meant that we also wanted to reflect that in the mix with a dub-style approach to the production with lots of effects and delays, so Matt worked really hard on developing those techniques.
We also spent a lot of time with our newest member, Aaron Gage, trying to figure out different ways to incorporate other instruments like strings, piano, and flutes in ways that could enhance the music. Our bassist Jens Marcelis contributed a lot of key songs like Decimator and Tidal, and also wrote a ton of lyrics this time around. And Ondrej really worked hard to step up his vocals this time around too.
I think everyone in this band is 10 times better at what they do compared to when we started making the album.
Is there a spiritual aspect to what you do?
To a certain extent, yes. None of us in the band are particularly religious in any way, but I think we all have a certain individualistic perspective on our place in the universe, and that certainly informs what kind of music we make and what kind of message we want to send.
With a new year on the horizon, what do you have planned for 2016? Will you be touring in support of the album?
As we work to put together Tearing Back The Veil II, we’ll be turning our attention toward developing our live show and hopefully touring eventually. In the meantime we have a TON of music we’ll be releasing. As part of our crowd-funding campaign for this album, we’ll also be releasing a series of cover songs, re-orchestrated versions of some songs from our first album AION, as well as a couple brand new songs we’ve written that are not part of the Tearing Back The Veil cycle.
If money and good taste weren’t issues, what would your stage show look like?
Probably something like what Tool and Porcupine Tree do. They really nail that full audio/visual experience that is truly unforgettable and keeps people coming back with each tour.
Tearing Back The Veil I: Ascension is out December 5; check out TMMP’s full review for more!