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The Eternal - Interview (no.2)

Interview with: Mark Kelson
Conducted by: T.V.

Australian dark rockers The Eternal must be one of the most unduly underrated and sometimes overlooked bands on the scene. The band already released five fantastic and not to be missed albums, the last one titled When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade came out in August last year and presented The Eternal in the most elaborate and professional manner so far. In 2014 the band celebrates its 10th anniversary since the release of their debut album The Sombre Light Of Isolation and have some surprises in their pockets that should enthuse their fans. This is already our second interview with bands leader, vocalist, guitarist and producer Mark Kelson (the first one can be read over HERE), who revealed us many interesting things about the last album, recording process, experiences with Duncan Pattersons project Alternative 4, future plans and much more.

T.V.: First of all congratulations for your new album! Can we say that When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade is your most complex work till date?
Mark: Thank you! I think it may be, we produced it our selves so we were able to take things as far as we wanted. The thing with The Eternal is a lot of the complexities and layering is very subtle, some parts may have 16 guitars or vocals but it's not just for the sake of it, I am usually trying to build a texture. I think this album did take the most personal energy to complete.
T.V.: There's much more melancholy than ever before in your music. What's the reason for that?
Mark: Well, I had a really tough few years. After we bleed financially and musically for our last album Under A New Sun we went though a very difficult phase, we had a tough badly promoted tour and at the end of it we just started to wonder after so many years how can we pick up the pieces. I also lost some very important relationships to me which hit me very hard and went through a stage of some serious depression. I would probably say it was one of the hardest times I have faced. I really had to take a good look at myself. I put a lot of this into the lyrics of the new album. I'd say lyrically this album is the most personal yet without a doubt.
T.V.: This time you made all the production. Have you achieved what you really wanted and how the things went in the studio?
Mark: In a way it's good when you make your album by yourself and band in other ways. As you are not paying huge amounts of money you can tend to take your time. I think really since day one I am probably the only person who really knows what the band should sound like and I think a lot of people that have heard this new album say its the most 'The Eternal' sounding album yet. I went into the production and songwriting looking at our 4 previous albums and trying to work out what I loved about them and what was the common threat that made them sound like us. I wanted to make an album that encapsulated all the things that I dug about this band. I think we have achieved that sonically.
T.V.: Still I see that you do a lot of experiments with the sound of yours as each album has a different production...
Mark: I think if you make the same album 5 times it can get boring, as you grow each year as a person I think it's only natural you want to try new things and as I am now the full time engineer for the band I have sounds in my head I can actually attempt to get out. In one way I think When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade is probably the bench mark for our sound, so I think the next album will probably flow on from this and not be so dramatically different.
T.V.: Still no proper record label to release the album in Europe and North America... Anything on the horizon regarding this matter?
Mark: Getting signed on these days isn't as easy as it used to be, although we are a fairly established band I don't think we fit into a box that labels like, we are not quite rock, not quite metal, not quite avantgarde etc... We are sort of a bit of all these things. And labels want a safe bet these days. This is power metal and I can sell x amount of this… So really since Under A New Sun we have been fairly independent except some distro deals and a deal with a Japanese Label who have released the last three albums. We have been working on getting a deal for europe, including one of our European contacts and still no luck, at the end of the day we make the music because we enjoy it, but we won't get back over for another European tour without some label support at this point.
T.V.: You did some gigs since the release of album and I'm interested how your fans accepted new songs?
Mark: I think a lot of them are happy, we have a second guitarist again, the big dark sound is back in full force and all the key elements our fans like about us. I think the response to those that have experienced it has been fantastic but I would love to get the album to a broader audience.
T.V.: If I'm not mistaken you played some gigs with Amorphis.... Any words about that?
Mark: Playing with Amorphis was a great experience, I had been a dance since they started and they were in an influence on me, and they were actually really great guys, they actually seems to watch us and had some kind things to say about us which was just really flattering, the crowd responded very well to us also. I hope one day we can join them in Europe or something!
T.V.: Next year is the 10th anniversary of your debut album The Sombre Light Of Isolation and you are prepairing two interesting releases. Can you say something more about that?
Mark: Just after we finished the album we also did an EP at my studios of songs from the first album, so we will release this digitally some time in the 2014. We picked 5 songs from the first album and gave them the treatment of the current line up, I think it came up pretty well! Also we recorded one of our home town shows this year and I think the recording sounds great. So I will mix a live album and if the footage works out a DVD also. I don't intend to start that project until next year.
T.V.: I believe that for this occasion you'll play some special songs. Can we expect to hear The Sombre Light Of Isolation played in its entirety?
Mark: We don't plan do a 10 year The Sombre Light show at this stage. In our current set we are doing 5 songs from the album. I think that is enough of a taste for people at this stage.
T.V.: When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade, your second album Sleep Of Reason and The Sombre Light Of Isolation, have some connections. Two albums have a word "light" in its title and two of them birds on the front cover artwork...
Mark: I always try to connect the concept and covers a bit. I used to like how Iron Maiden always had Eddie on the covers, it was cool when I was a lad! So yea Circle and Light and birds seem to be a common theme, maybe deep down I feel my life is going in circles and I'm looking for the light haha, I have no idea. But I liked the idea of birds to tie the album in with Sleep Of Reason and The Sombre Light Of Isolation.
T.V.: I kinda missed a special ballad like only you can do on new album. There's nothing like "The Sleeper" or "Hollow Inside". Why so?
Mark: I think "Carry Us Away" and "Without A Trace" could be some of our most emotive ballad type songs… have another listen!
T.V.: Yeah, I know, those are both very emotive and really great songs, but they don't have that special slowly, yet simple evolving balladic structure like before mentioned two.
Mark: I feel they are probably more emotive to me personally, maybe the meaning is deeper.
T.V.: Some months ago you announced that you'll release a solo album and also presented one song. Any news about that project of yours and how would you describe your solo songs, where's the difference with The Eternal?
Mark: I have been working hard in my own studio here in aus, and I thought after 10 years of The Eternal I would take a quick break. The one song I presented will most likely not be on the album. I have many riffs and ideas, I am basically walking around my studio playing lots of instruments and just seeing what ideas pop up, but I haven't committed to anything. I think in my mind it will be floydish at times but with lots of vocal harmonies. I intend to write it the length of a vinyl - in a way make an old fashioned album. Really the whole process is just for me, I don't intend any big promotion on it, I'm doing it for music sake and music only. But yes moody progressive rock with lots of space and harmonies with classic instrumentation - 70s yet modern haha… lets see!
T.V.: Last year you've had quite an interesting adventure with Duncan Patterson (ex-Anathema, ex-Antimatter, Ion, Alternative 4) and his project Alternative 4. Any new experiences out of it and why you left?
Mark: It was a good experience, I had some fun touring with some good friends, and of course Duncan writes great music. But I was starting to feel like a session musician really. Duncan has such a strong idea of what he wants, so musically I don't feel many things were a band decision. In The Eternal even though I write most material we talk about things more, pick live sets together etc... But Duncan is on his own mission and I am on mine so I think that just started to rub each other the wrong way. I did go over and record the new album they are about to release in Ireland, I also engineered it. But my understanding is now all my parts have been replaced. I wish the guys the best, I was upset about the whole situation for a while, but we are all on our own path and I have been able to bring my focus back to my own work. We did have some fun times on the last two tours so I'm glad for those experiences. It was occasionally a trip to be playing an Anathema song I was into when I was 17 and look over my shoulder and see Duncan on one side and Martin Powell on the other. It was good to be playing songs I grew up on with the guys that inspired me in the first place! I wish to the guys all the best!
T.V.: How's the current atmosphere in the band since you have a new member in your line-up, Brad Cook?
Mark: Brad and myself have very similar tastes in classic music, guitars & playing styles and he is a great guy, people have mistaken us for brothers at gigs because I think just how we carry our selves is very similar. I'm really happy having Brad on board, we have never had another guitar play that has fit in so well stylistically I think. Although Lincoln Bowen from the Sleep Of Reason era was a great fit, also Brad is the first guy since that time that has filled his shoes I think.
T.V.: Please explain me why The Eternal are always connected with the name Cryptal Darkness?
Mark: I think in the beginning because two of us came over from Cryptal Darkness to form The Eternal. We used that name a bit so people would pay attention as obviously we had put 7 years into that band. I don't really feel the two bands are related. Leaving Cryptal Darkness behind has been one of the most freeing musical choices of my life. It wasn't going anywhere as a band and the musicians in the band (besides Martin Powell) were just not holding their own. The Eternal is a much more professional well oiled machine with great musicians and of course we have been working with Martin Powell again on the new album which was great as he is one of my dearest friends.
T.V.: How this collaboration and friendship with "legendary" Martin Powell (ex-My Dying Bride, ex-Anathema, ex-Cradle Of Filth)  started and how it has been working with him.
Mark: I think when I was in Cryptal Darkness he had just left My Dying Bride and we contacted him to work on an album with us and he did. Not long after he joined Cradle Of Filth and our contact was more sporadic for a few years but we managed to stay in touch, when I was in Alternative 4 I was really keen to have Martin come on board for the live shows, and it turned out really well, he is a very professional musician and great to be around. One drunken night on one of those tours I asked him if he would contribute the new The Eternal album and he agreed and it was really nice to work with him again. I hope we get to do it more.
T.V.: Is there a possibilty that he'll join The Eternal as a permanent member?
Mark: He is in the UK and we are in Australia so it is a little tough as we don't have huge financial backing, but if we tour Europe again I would gladly invite him along.
T.V.: Beside announcing two new releases for your 10th anniversary, you also pointed out the possibility of new album for 2015. I believe that you must already begun working on new songs?
Mark: I haven't began a note, haha. For the first half of this year I plan to focus on my solo album, so lets see what I come up with by the end of next year, I think Brad will probably contribute some material also, so I expect it should flow quickly when we start and I intend the recording process to be much quicker and more spontaneous. So maybe we'll start writing at the end of 2014 and record in mid 2015. Something like that.
T.V.: Tell me Mark, are you producing any interesting release right now in your studio that we should pay attention to?
Mark: I am currently mixing an EP for a Canadian pop/rock band called Deadbeat Super Heroes which is going well. I enjoy working with Canadian bands. I also worked with a band The Bleeding Lights this year. Canadian bands have good sense of melody and are great people to work with. I might be working with an Australian doom band around April, but lets see how that shapes up.
T.V.: Beside your album of course, tell me which albums released in 2013 gained your attention?
Mark: I like the new Queensryche album with Todd La Torre on vocals, I think it's a great comeback album for a childhood band I was into. The new Vista Chino album is great. Von Hertzen Brothers from Finland also released a very strong album. Spiritual Beggars new album is great also! Honourable mentions include Steven Wilson, Satyricon, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Black Sabbath and The Gathering, they all released great stuff!
T.V.: Ok, Mark, thank you very much for answering this interview, and is there anything that you would like to say at the end?
Mark: Thanks for your time, it's always a pleasure! And for your readers,... if you haven't already checked out our new album When The Circle Of Light Begins To Fade, jump on our Bandcamp page and have a listen. It's also available on iTunes and at for you Europeans. Cheers!

The Eternal links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud

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