Saturday 19 July 2014

Another Interview with SIGIRIYA

When I last interviewed today's guests back in Oct 2012 – they told their original lead singer – Dorian - had left and they were on the lookout for a suitable replacement.

I was wondering if the guys could pull it off as Dorian had such a unique and powerful voice on their critically acclaimed début album – Return To Earth. To be honest I was afraid that we heard the last of Sigiriya. The band announced they had a new lead singer – Matt “Pipes” Williams and a new album would be released in 2014 via Candlelight Records.

It give me a brief glimpse of hope. I still had my reservations but all those fears were unfounded when I heard their amazing new album – Darkness Died Today – for the first time. This album spoke volumes to me. It's style of Hard Rock, Doom and Stoner Metal has struck a chord with the Doom/Stoner Metal community. It's a powerful ride from start to finish held together by soaring riffs. Plus the album artwork by Jimbob Isaac of HARK and TAINT fame gives this album a real edge.

I thought it was time to catch up with the guys and see how things are going with SIGIRIYA. You can read the other interview that I carried out with the band here.

Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Stu - Hey Steve, all is good man. The sun is out and I’m busy cutting out stainless steel custom car engine panels.

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

Stu - Excuse my foggy memory, but I think it was around 2008 when myself, Dar and Mead started back jamming just for a grin. Dor came on board soon after that, we did our 1st record RTE in 2010, which Church Within released in 2011. Dorian quit the band in 2012 due to family stuff. We recorded our 2nd record DARKNESS DIED TODAY last year with our new singer Matt Williams, which Candlelight kindly released this year. That’s kind of it in short I guess??

Q3 – Now you have a new lead singer with Matt. How did you guys meet? And why did you decide Matt was the vocalist for you. Though it was a brilliant choice.

Stu - I was aware of Matt’s other band Tabularasa, but never really checked them out? It was actually Dar who swung the wheels into motion after checking those guys proper and suggesting we get in touch, see if he’d like a jam. He agreed to come down one Saturday arvo and give it a whirl. He turned up, was a true gent and sung like a lord. We were all pretty much floored from the off, a couple more jams and we knew we had the real deal. Asked him to join and the rest is history

Q4 – I was sad that Dorian left. Was that a hard thing for the band to go through? Are you still in touch with Dorian. How are things between you all?

Stu - Yeah man, it was kind of hard, but it was more of a surprise more than anything as we were only talking on the working vibe of doing the 2nd record a month or so prior to him saying he wanted to leave and everybody seemed stoked. He related leaving to family stuff and maybe moving to the States with his wife and son. Thing is he’s still about and living down the road from me? I reckon he wasn’t happy doing it, but I could be wrong? He’s pretty much cut ties with mostly all of us. I still consider him a mate and wish him all the good stuff, but who knows what really went down?

Q5 – A question for Matt. So how have the dudes in Sigiriya been treating you. And have you enjoyed the ride so far.

Matt – I’m kept in a cage in Stu’s basement, which is ok because I don’t have to pay rent or bills. Sometimes they even let me see daylight…but that’s only when they are beating me with sticks. In all seriousness though, you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of boys, Kings among men. Lunatic Kings, but Kings none the less. I think we’re lucky that we all have the same mental issues as each other so we tend to spur each other on as opposed to trying to kill each other.

Q6 – So lets get down to business with your new album. Darkness Died Today. WOW. What an album. Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for.

Stu – As soon as Matt was on board, it all took shape real quick, like in a space of maybe a year? I think knowing how good a singer he was gave us the impetus to rise it up totally. And for me personally it was one of the easiest and best sessions of recording I’d ever been involved with any bands I’d been in. Nice vibe all round and it helped just recording it a few miles from home with our old Acrimony recording supremo Tim Hamill. Oh and I can’t forget, having the legendary Andrew Schneider, who kindly agreed to mix the album and our good friend Rich Whittaker handled the mastering like a true pro.

Q7 – Did you feel any pressure making the album as your début album was so well received within the Sludge/Stoner Metal community.

Stu – I think every band feels the weight of a little pressure doing their follow up lp’s. Sure RTE was a good start off record for us, but I think there was definitely better stuff to come. Once things clicked on the writing front with Darkness.., personally I could tell it was going to be a better album, more coherent, a step up in some of the songs and it all flows a little better. There’s some nice epic heavy grooves going down too, which is always nice on the ear.

Q8 – What is the album about? As it has some pretty dark lyrics within the album

Stu – The records about head banging and being chuffed, Matt over to you with the lyric rap.

Matt - There’s a whole mix of stuff on there, but I think very little of it is particularly dark. Topics range from Quantum theories of reincarnation to space travel to giant mythical stones falling from the sky and toppling global conglomerates, you know, the usual stuff ha ha. Godspeeder might be the darkest one on there but that’s only because it’s highlighting the greed and hypocrisy in the Catholic church. The whole album is generally very positive in vibe, but how can you really appreciate the light if you don’t have the dark to compare it to?

Q9 – Why did you call the album – Darkness Died Today.

Stu - I came up with that, late one night after a few bevy’s, think I saw something on the tele with someone ranting on about the Darkness dying and it kind of rung a chord in my head about all the bad shit that happens to folk in the world, people living in fear etc.. Wouldn’t it be nice if all that shit went away and they could say yeah ‘The darkness died today’. I wanted a positive title really and that’s what stuck.

Q10 – The album has been acclaimed all over the place. Did that surprise you the response that it has received.

Stu - I’ve read some good and bad stuff about the album, which is the way it’s always gonna be, people either get it or they don’t. I think we wanted to create something that would make ourselves and other people chuffed, elated if you like. Some say it’s not as good or as strong as RTE.? Personally I think it’s a much better ride.

Matt – Everyone’s got a mouth and everyone’s got an arsehole, problem is some people get them two confused. It’s nice that people dig the album but you can’t take it to heart if other’s want to talk shit.

Q11 – We have to talk about the amazing album cover designed by Jimbob Isaac. I think it's one of his best ever designs. It captures the tone of the album so well. How much input did you have with the design of the album cover.

Stu – Jimmy’s work is amazing for sure and he did a sterling job. But getting the cover just right was far from easy, we had to bat back and forth a little more doing this one compared to the RTE cover, which can be little stressful at times. Jim has his own style and vision, which we respect. We got there in the end though which is all that matters. Input wise, myself and Mead just went to the pub with a laptop drinking cider with JB shooting him our ideas. We wanted our very own free bird visually, just a lush picture really that would accompany the title.

Q12 – What is the song-writing dynamic with this album. Was it a group collective or down to one individual.

Stu – I’d shoot the guys a riff I’d been working on or maybe just come up with something off the cuff, then we all get involved. All 4 of us write the music together, that’s about it.

Q13 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Stu – Without giving too much away, just use reasonably good shit and get to know your gear and sound, jam loads and get to know how each of you work out and if that sits right, roll with it. We use Green Matamp, SUNN, Ampeg, Hartke, Fender, Gibson, old shitty pedals, custom drum stuff, bust cymbals/sticks and a killer voice, strong cider and some good weed.

Q14 – You have recently performed a few gigs in Greece and London. How was the audience's reaction to the gigs. Any plans for any more tours and gigs.

Stu – Ah , yeah man, we also went up to Sofia in Bulgaria. Those guys were the bomb and one of the best ever crowds and so too was Athens, absolute pleasure. We did the Black Heart in London village too a couple of times just a month or so ago. 1st time was part of our mini tour with Swedish king’s Goatess ( this shit just fucking rules ) and HEAVY master class doom gents Serpent Venom. This was a total doss, all those guys are the best ever people to tour with. Then we returned a few weeks later with the sickest ever Coltsblood and the west country majesty doomage that is The Wounded Kings, good night , all totally different shit, which is the sort of show we like. No plans on future tours at the mo, it’s a weird time round the summer , loads of fests etc.. We’ve had some offers, but they are not feasible due to not covering our costs which is a bummer. But it is what it is, I’m currently trucking on writing the next record at the mo. So all is good.

Q15 – How did you hook up with Candlelight Records who are doing a stunning job in raising awareness within the UK Hard Rock/Metal Scene.

Stu – Yep those guys are on the win for sure, some real killer bands on that label. Darren Toms, that is all I can say really, he’s an old friend and a believer. If it wasn’t for him the record would have been put on tape and sold at the good old Sunday car boot. Big thanks goes to Steve Beatty also, he knows his onions.

Q16 – Your new album has been released on vinyl. Did you have much input into the design of that or have you left it to Candlelight Records to sort out.

Stu – YES, 180 gram white vinyl, killer!! Again Jimmy came through with the design, Candlelight may have tweaked it a bit here and there. Initially we didn’t know if they were interested in doing a vinyl release? But thankfully they came through. I would have preferred Rich Whittaker to have done the LP master mind you, as he did the CD mastering for us. But hey it sounds pretty sweet, next time Rich mate.

Q17 – Lets talk about the Wales Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. Lots of great bands from your country starting to make a name for themselves. HARK, Hogslayer, Bloodlung, Spider Kitten, Thorun and Prosperina to name but a few. Have you noticed anything different within the Welsh Hard Rock/Metal scene over the last few years. If so, what do you think has changed.

Stu – Yeah and I better mention Matt’s other band’s, Suns Of Thunder and Tabularasa otherwise he’ll get the skull smasher out. Ha. Yeah call me ignorant, I know Hark, Prosp’s, SK, Thorun for sure. But I don’t follow the scene like I used to 20 years ago, man I’m 42 this year. I think there’s always been a good underground scene for good music in wales , you just got to dig it out. I’m stoked there’s all this music out there and some of it is pure gold. I don’t even leave the house much and haven’t seen a gig in ages, actually I caught the Misfits the day and thought it was pretty pap.

Q18 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Stu – Write good music with good people, enjoy yourself, don’t take it too seriously and listen to BLACK SABBATH.

Q19 – What are your thoughts of the entire crowd-funding scene. It seems to have it's defenders and people think it's a waste of time. Would yourselves ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

Stu – Man, I don’t even know much about this stuff, I work and pay may way to do my music, that is it. We scraped the cash together ourselves to do RTE and the same with Darkness, until Candlelight paid us back.

Q20 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Stu – Thanks to all the good people for digging the music, coming to the shows and hopefully enjoying the vibe. Live long and strong-Don’t let the bastards beat you down. Steve man, thank you also for being a good bloke and showing an interest. Word!

Well guys thanks for doing this. All the best with the album and forthcoming tours.

Check The Band From Links Below
BandCamp to buy Digital Copy. And here for Vinyl Record

Written by Steve Howe