It could be said that The Duskfall came out of nowhere with last year's amazing debut, Frailty. Without losing any momentum, the band recently got out of the studio from recording their soon-to-be released second album, Source. Fortunately, I was able to catch up with founder and guitarist Mikael Sandorf to hear how things turned out.
Wayfaerer - Could you tell a little bit on how The Duskfall was formed?
Mike - The band was formed in January 1999 by myself and Glenn. Back then it was supposed to be more of a "jam/cover" metal project, playing metal in the vein of Pantera and Judas Priest. It only took a couple of rehearsals until we realized that we wanted to put together a full-time band, playing our own music. At that time I had plans on doing a solo project after Gates Of Ishtar was buried, named Duskfall, but I changed my mind and took the written material to this new project instead.
How did the time in the studio go for Source? Any interesting stories to share?
Musically, we had a great time in the studio the second time we entered Dug-Out. This time we all knew what to expect and how Daniel and Orjan liked to work. We used a different approach to the recordings this time, using a pre-recording of the guitars to use as "default guitars" during the vocals and drum recordings. This simplified the recordings alot, we were able to get a better feel of the final result and it also helped Daniel and Orjan to hear where we were going with this new CD. A very sad thing that happened when we were in the studio was the terrible news of an old friend´s departure from this world. It really had an impact on me and the others as his death came from out of nowhere. This set a strange mood to the recordings but it also made me focus on doing my best as a musicican, honouring him and the love we shared for the music.
What was the first word that came to your mind once you first heard Source as a finished product?
Intensity... I felt that "Source" has a more even phase running through the whole album. We wrote the music for this album during a shorter period of time, maybe 6 months while "Frailty" was written during a period of 4 years. I think that we got back to our roots and also took a step towards a harder sound again.
Frailty got alot of great press associated with it. Did you feel any pressure to have to make an album that excedes Frailty?
Of course! I´d never dream to do an album that feels "ok". I try to push myself further towards my standards of perfection, still keeping it funny and interesting to play. The pressure is always present when you make each new riff, "is this good enough, will this fit the frames of the album?", but pressure is good sometimes. It still took me like 4 months, after the finished recordings of "Frailty", until I even looked at a guitar again. I "wash-out" totally with every recording and it´s always hard to get back up on the horse again.
You have posted a new song from Source on the website (Case Closed), do you feel this is a good representation of what to expect on Source?
I choose that one, simply because it was the first song I recieved from Daniel and I wanted to give people a taste of the new material a.s.a.p. I like the song alot, especially Kai´s dark vocals on the chorus, it gives me chills down the spine. I think it´s a good song to have as an pre-teaser for "Source", as the song is variating in speed and aggression.
Any special meaning behind your choice of title (Source)?
Again, Kai´s lyrics (he wrote all for this album) were dealing with the darker side of the human mind. "Source" is the well of darkness, where all men fall into from time to time.
You recently posted the artwork for Source and I am again impressed (Frailty was awesome as well). Were you going for any type of theme for the art, and was it the same artist?
We liked the artwork on "Frailty" so we didnt hestitate when BLR (Black Lotus Records) wanted to use Seth once more. This time he already had an idea that we had some changes made to to fit our preferences.
Speaking of artwork, I've gotta give you two thumbs up for the transparent lyric sheets on Frailty, was this something the band came up with?
It was our label that came up with the idea. They told us that it would do wonders to the booklet and I think it sure did. I had never seen this paper in a booklet before and I think that it was nice of them to add that extra touch to the booklet. It costs more but it made everything look so damn much more professional and aesthetic.
Frailty had some great lyrics and I saw on the linear notes that both you and Kai are involved with the process. Do you collaborate together or do you write some songs and Kai writes some songs?
On "Frailty" we sat down and worked through all the ideas and concepts we had. I had already written alot of "temporary" lyrics for the demo versions but I wanted Kai to use his own words instead of mine as it´s easier to sing about your own feelings and beliefs. On "Source" I had to focus on the creation of the music and Kai had free hands as he is the vocalist.
Why did you choose to have Magnus Olsson play your solos on Frailty? And did he do any solos for the upcoming Source release?
We talked alot about the solo parts for "Frailty" and Glenn told me about his old friend, Magnus Olsson, a guitar genius that lived in his old hometown. We talked some more and decided to ask him to play lead on 2 songs. He got ecstatic and recorded some improvised leads in his home studio. I remember listening to the first solo for "Age Of Errors". I couldnt close my mouth and after hearing the second solo I called Glenn and told him to tell Magnus that he had to do the rest. We didnt use him on "Source" as we now have a new guitar player that really loves playing leads. Joachim did all the solos on "Source" and he also plays Magnus leads live. I think its better to keep things in the band but "Frailty" was experimental on that level, using both Magnus and Lawrence (did vocals on the title track).
I've heard you put 3 bonus songs on the Japanese release of Frailty, but no other information. Is this true, and if so, will they ever be available somehow in the rest of the world (other than the brief sample of "Unspoken")?
We released 3 songs on the Japanses version of "Frailty", that´s correct... it was 2 older demo songs and "Unspoken", recorded at the same time as "Frailty". That song was taken off the tracklist as it didn´t fit the frames of the recording. We will add full versions of all japansese bonustracks on our webpage as mp3s for the fans to download some time after "Source" is released.
What do you think is your favorite song that you have written for either The Duskfall or Gates of Ishtar?
I have to say the song "Source" from the upcoming album... It´s very hard to choose one, but this song is my favourite right now, catchy and still heavy and intence to play live.
Any plans to tour after the release of Source? USA maybe?
Right now we have just a few festivals confirmed... 2 in Finland and one at Party-San festival in Germany. We would love to do a tour and in 2004 we will. I don´t know whether it will be in the USA or here in Europe but Black Lotus is hooking us up as we speak.
What are some of your favorite albums that have came out so far in 2003?
Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Armageddon.
What one band would you say has had the biggest influence on The Duskfall?
Napalm Death... they were the ones that introduced me to the heavier sounds of metal and Yngwie J Malmsteen was the guy that made me pick up a guitar for the first time.
Random Question: What the most disgusting thing you've ever had to do in your life?
Everything involving vomit!
Thanks for your time and good luck with Source, any last comments you'd like to make to the Harm.Us readers?
Thanx for the interesting questions and the support of the band! Keep an eye out for The Duskfall on the festivals of 2004!