Friday, July 1, 2011

Creations Tears

Creations Tears may be an unknown quantity to most of you, a band from Ireland who have not hung around waiting for things to happen. They’ve gone the DIY route, which may have some of you groaning, but make no mistake; they have produced a professional sounding record, one even their peers may be envious of! Produced by Jens Bogren no less (Katatonia, Opeth etc) I caught up with Brian Reynolds, recently to discuss the album and more. Fans of Katatonia, Grey Waters, Anathema, Paradise Lost etc could do worse than to check these lads out

1. For those who are not aware of the band, can you tell us something of the motivation/inspiration behind the formation of Creations Tears?

I was frustrated with the cycle of jamming but never releasing an album.  There was an early incarnation of Creation’s Tears back in 2002 and we never managed to get our shit together to release anything despite having some strong songs.  Two of us in that early line-up also played for a band called Apathy (NI) some years before. 

I had hoped to revive the original Creation’s Tears line-up but a couple of the lads had commitments to other areas like business / family which I completely respect, so it was clear we didn’t share the same focus.  As a musician, there’s always a desire to play music and have an outlet for your creative energy, so when I put Creation’s Tears together again in 2009, I vowed that things would be very different this time.  The recruitment drive commenced and from the offset, I made it very clear that an album would be recorded with a top producer outside of Northern Ireland.  Initially the only goal was to record the album, but now, 9 months on from the release of Methods To End It All - why quit?

2.Forgive the ignorance here, but from what I can make out, it’s yourself who has handled most of the writing for the album if not all. Did you intend to take on the bulk of the work or was this just the circumstance you found yourself in?

I heard that the guy who writes the music gets all the chicks?  Is that a lie? 

The ethos of the Creation’s Tears reformation and in particular the Methods To End It All album was a very personal statement for me, a kind of “fuck you” to all the people who told me I would fail.  

A couple of the songs on Methods To End It All were written by me many years back (before Creation’s Tears was even thought of).  When the rest of the songs were being written, it was just me and Ian (the bassist) in the line-up so we didn’t even have a “band” as such, just a concept for a band.  Musically Ian and myself are cut from the same mould.  I write the guitar parts, vocal melodies, lyrics etc and send them to him; he’s my “sounding board”.  To answer your question, you could say it was circumstantial that I wrote all the songs on Methods, but at the same time, there needs to be a musical “quality control” guy in every band.

3.Regarding your debut album “Methods To End It All” You have a couple of notable guests on there, can you tell our readers about your guests and how it came about that they agreed to play on the album? I have to say this has definitely drawn some extra attention to the band, was this intention behind recruiting them specifically in the first place? Also were the guys your first choices, if not can you tell us who else was on the shortlist?

I’d been struggling on and off for years to get a solid band line-up.  The departure of a drummer is what finished my old band Apathy back in the day and drummers are a rare commodity in this country.  When I put Creation’s Tears back together in 2009, I couldn’t find a drummer here.  The scene is really small here and nobody else in Ireland is playing the kind of music that I write (at least not that I’m aware of). 

After some months of advertising for a drummer in music shops and online it was obvious that nobody was interested.  I was determined that the lack of drummer would not halt the project this time.  I had this bizarre idea for years that I’d love to work with Lee Morris.  His debut with Paradise Lost on Draconian Times and in particular, the closing sequence in “Enchantment”, had really caught my attention.  As a songwriter, I knew his drumming style would be perfect for Creation’s Tears. 

So, I went back to my CD collection and revisited Draconian Times and it just made sense in my mind that Lee Morris had to be part of this project.  The problem was that he’d been out of Paradise Lost for nearly 10 years and I couldn’t locate him.  Undeterred I continued to track down Lee although I spoke to a couple of other drummers and session guys as a kind of insurance plan.  While any of those drummers would undoubtedly have had the ability, it was Lee Morris I really wanted to work with.

After 3 weeks, I managed to get a number for Lee Morris.  I made a kind of nervous / excited phone call and while Lee was very polite, I detected that he thought I might be a crazed Paradise Lost stalker.  He didn’t express a great deal of enthusiasm when I described the genre, but he asked me to send him some demos, although I honestly thought that was just him telling me to “fuck off” in the most polite way.  Luckily for me, he was really into the demos; he was singing phrases from my lyrics back to me in our next call.  I was compelled by his excitement about getting involved and on top of that, he said he had a few drum lines he’d been working on that he was looking for an outlet to use.  I couldn’t wait to hear his ideas!

For a guy who toured the world at the height of Paradise Lost’s career, I have never met more humble and affable gentleman.  He was such an inspiration to me during the drama that surrounded making the album, that I refer to him as Lee “life coach” Morris and he is now a good friend.

The story with Sarah Jezebel Deva goes much the same way.  I loved her vocals on Angtoria’s “God Has A Plan For Us All”.  When I sent her the demo for the track Creation’s Tears, she compared it to early Anathema; she was into it.  So, between recording sessions in Sweden, I flew to England, hooked up with Sarah and recorded her vocals with a guy called Daniel Abela (who now plays guitar in Sarah’s solo project).                          

4.As for the Album itself, it sounds magnificent guys, aside from the quality of the music, the production is excellent, and there is great clarity and separation between the various components. In terms of distribution and label you have gone the DIY route, how is that working out for you?

The clarity in production is really down to the techniques used by the album’s producers, David Castillo and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork, Amon Amarth).  David Castillo spent a lot of time on the right guitar sound in the studio which had enough grit without being too muddy.  He’s an excellent producer; demanding nothing short of your best take.  He’d always say, “one more time” to the point it was driving me nuts!  He worked tirelessly to get the best from the guitars and vocals during the recording sessions.

Similarly, Jens Bogren produces albums that always have a lot of clarity and definition.  He mixes alone and sends you a mix for approval, an idea I really struggled with as I like to be hands on.  We knew what we wanted in the Creation’s Tears sound, and Jens Bogren knows what he wants, after all, he’s the producer – the guy we’re asking to ensure we have a good sound so we just had to trust him on some aspects.  He did an immense job!  We wanted an album with a production to rival any major commercial release and we weren’t working with a massive budget; David Castillo and Jens Bogren delivered as far as I’m concerned.           

5.I can hear a lot of Mid – Period Paradise Lost/Katatonia in your music as well as something of your own identity, would you agree with those comparisons? Is there anyone else you would cite as an influence on Creations Tears?

Everybody hears something different.  There have been comparisons to bands I haven’t even heard of!  Of course Draconian Times still ranks as an iconic album for me, that’s why I chose Lee Morris but beyond that, it’s hard for me to pinpoint specific influences.  Ironically I don’t listen to much “Gothic” music. 

I had this discussion with Lee Morris over a drink in Liverpool recently.  We’re both of the same mindset that influences can come from anywhere.  A good song is a good song no matter who performs it.  I don’t have rigid rules to say that what I write or what I listen to must belong to a certain genre.  Listen to Odyssey (OPUS IX) from Methods To End It All, is it even a metal song? 

6.You guys are not very prominent on the live circuit, I don’t mean disrespect with that statement, and I just find it to be the case. Have Creations Tears played live or indeed do you ever intend to a la Darkthrone, Burzum?

Initially the vision for Creation’s Tears was to record a great album, my personal statement for posterity.  I recorded all the guitar parts in the studio, so even after the album’s release, Creation’s Tears didn’t have a proper band line-up.  Since around February 2011, I’ve been working with a couple of guys and we have just performed 2 local gigs.  One was a very intimate gig in my hometown of Ballymena and the other in Belfast.  The response to the gigs and the album has come as a great surprise to me.  There may be more live performances yet to come.

7.Just following on from the performance question, you have made a great record and one that I think could potentially go down very well in Europe, I think a tour or a suitable support slot could see the band go from being relatively obscure to securing something of a following. This is obviously my own opinion though, I guess what I’m asking is how is the album being received in terms of sales, and do you intend to follow up with a tour in order to increase sales and raise profile?

Creation’s Tears / Methods To End It All, was never about sales.  If it was, we’d have sold the idea to a record label with a great marketing department right from the offset.  Methods was my personal journey, my “fuck you” to the naysayers.  It was important for me NOT to hand over control to some commercial force. 

As far as I’m concerned, if I never leave the house again, I’ve already achieved what I set out to do with Creation’s Tears.

On another note though, I have received e-mails from people who now look at Methods To End It All and the journey to get there as a source of encouragement.  I don’t mean that in an egotistical way; what I mean is; I’ve had e-mails from musicians who can’t get a record deal who have been roused into action by the statement Creation’s Tears has made with Methods without label support.  It shows people that they don’t need to follow the rules or some traditional path although I must also say that the right record label does still have its merits. 

Others associate strongly with some of the lyrical ideas from Methods.  It’s rewarding to know that from such a dark album comes so much light and for that reason, I’m not going to stop the Methods journey now.     

8.Who would you ideally like to tour with?

Metallica / Iron Maiden / Megadeth or any of my childhood metal heroes – I’ll join the queue.

9.Have the band written any further material since Methods has been released? What direction do you see the material heading in? I think personally, Bands like My Dying Bride, PL and Katatonia have coasted for periods in their career without taking major risks, do you see Creations Tears offering up album after album of the same thing or would you prefer to see how things pan out naturally?

You’ve cleverly disguised multiple questions in one paragraph ;)

A musician is always writing.  I have new song ideas on my computers and mobile phone and lyrics scribbled on pieces of paper etc.  I’m very selective though.  One day I’ll write a song and then delete it.  For me it’s about whatever fits the mood at the time of recording.  For that reason, there is strong material that didn’t make it on to Methods.  I have finished songs that may never be used.    

As for the musical direction, I remember a review of one of the early Creation’s Tears gigs back in 2003 where the reviewer gave some very positive feedback but asked how we could make the synthesis between the light and heavy moments in recorded form.  Take Odyssey (OPUS IX) and then play the closing track, Untimely Reminder or take Another Collision and then play No Saviour Here – those songs are all worlds apart.  You couldn’t download one album track from Methods and allow that to represent the entire album.  I don’t want to be pigeonholed into having to regurgitate the same stuff over and over. 

On your point about bands coasting, the one thing I admire about Metallica is the diversity in their catalogue.  I’m not saying I like every song or album, but that’s irrelevant.  The fact remains that if Metallica want to play The Thing That Should Not Be, or Mama Said, they have that right as musicians.  For me, Methods To End It All came from a dark place and my songs reflect personal experiences so who knows where I’ll be at on the next album.     

10.As mentioned earlier, you Methods is a DIY effort, but make no mistake this is a professional release, which is no small achievement, there are bands on major labels that haven’t put out a package as professional as this, what advice do you have for any young bands out there thinking of recording their first album?

Thanks for your kind comments.

To young bands and “old hands,” I’d say fuck the rulebook!  Do whatever it is that you love to do.  I wasted too much of my life sitting around with ideas instead of rolling up my sleeves and doing what I really wanted.   

Strap on your guitar or get behind your kit and play whatever it is that you’re feeling.  Don’t try to be some parody of whoever is selling merchandise this week; people see straight through false bullshit.  Don’t get hung up on production – you should have heard the bedroom demos I sent to Lee Morris!  Turn off your games console, turn up your amp, hit record and go for it.   

11.Lyrically you are not a very happy bunch! What gives? There is no way you could stick Methods on at a party! In all seriousness, are the lyrics based on personal experiences? Do you think there is any positivity in there at all, and was the intention to be negative during the writing process? I’m literally asking regarding the lyrics, as the music can be bizarrely uplifting at various points.

You’re going to the wrong parties mate ;)

The topics in all those songs are very real as are the people they are about.  All the songs are about events in my life.  I couldn’t sit down and write you a song about World War II.  I wasn’t there so I couldn’t truly capture those emotions - it’s just not how I write.  The first ever Creation’s Tears song, “Years Apart” (which didn’t make it onto Methods a long story for another time), came off the back of a row I had with my then partner.  That’s the song that led me to form Creation’s Tears back in 2002.  I suppose I have some morbid infatuation with darker subjects. 

Ironically though, I’m not a fan of Doom Metal so that’s probably why the music doesn’t echo the lyrical sentiment.  Funnily enough, I was just loading up my Ipod with a playlist of my favourite 300 (or so) tunes.  There’s not a fucking happy number in there! 

12.Finally, I’d like to ask what the heavy music scene is like back home. Are there any Irish bands out there we should be on the lookout for??

The scene is small and you could play every hole in the hedge here and never be heard of outside of Belfast unless you can afford to jump on a plane.  I’d have bet money on the success of a Belfast band called Stand-Up Guy after watching them support Katatonia but they broke up a short time after.  It definitely is a challenging scene and many promising bands break up as a result of hitting the same barriers repeatedly.     

The disadvantage for bands here undoubtedly is our geographic location and the extortionate extras we have to pay for living on an island.  Another negative subject – I’m off to write a song ;) 

Please visit Creations Tears Website for more info on the band and to pick up the album.

There is also a three track sample available here

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