Tuesday, September 13, 2016

interview: Dracena

Dracena (Sweden) is an extreme metal band that began in 1994. There were a couple of demos in the 1990s and one in the early 2000s. After the usual line-up changes, and ups and downs, in 2006 there was the full-length album Infernal Damnation, a work with a knack for bringing together black thrash with a bit of the songwriting of traditional heavy metal. After some more life changes and hiatus, in 2014 Ravenous Bloodlust was released. You would think that after a long pause in recordings the sound would change, but Dracena is still about black thrash and time has not altered that. The music generally sounds like earlier, 80s black metal, the style nowadays would be considered a bit less restricted, at the intersection of thrash, black, and death metal, and occult heavy metal, it’s all in there. Now, in 2016 Dracena is getting ready to record a new album, so let’s find out more about it. Dracena’s mastermind, MiA, answered these questions.
Hello, MiA. Can you tell us a bit more about the current activities?
Hej! Dracena is currently working with the next full-length album which will be recorded in Studio Cave in November 2016. We have 8 brand new tracks completed and are now focusing on the details, such as arrangements, vocals and lead guitars. This album has been the main focus for Dracena during 2016 so basically that’s all that’s been going on for the last 1.5 years.
Dracena began in 1994 and was active until 2006, and there is a gap of no recordings until 2014. Was the band not active 2007-2014?
Dracena was formed in 1994 and we recorded 3 demos with a full line-up, but in 2002 we decided to split up the band and I continued with Dracena on my own. The first full-length was released in 2006, Infernal Damnation. I continued to write on yet another album, but then I decided to focus more on my job for a few years and due to this I also moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm in 2009. During this period of time Dracena was on hold, although I still wrote new songs on the side I made no recordings or involved any new musicians until 2013 for the recording of Ravenous Bloodlust.
Who are the current members of the band?
Since 2002 I write all the music and lyrics in Dracena. When there is a studio session booked I involve a drummer, but the rest of the instruments I play myself, the bass and the guitars as well as vocals. For lead guitars I have occasionally used other musicians as well. Today the current member is me, all string instruments and vocals, and my drummer.
How much of the soloing on Infernal Damnation and Ravenous Bloodlust did you do? What are your favorite guitars and equipment that you use? How have your preferences in guitars changed from 1994 to 2016?
The lead guitars on Infernal Damnation was played by Chris Loud of the Swedish band Loud n’ Nasty. For the recording of Ravenous Bloodlust I play all the leads except for the “Crypt of Darkness” main solo which was played by Jimmy Hedlund of Falconer.
My two favorite guitars is an Ibanez King V, pl 2660, probably made in the mid 80s and a very, very nice guitar, indeed. Last year I bought an ESP Frx II which I also am very pleased with. Both guitars have slim necks and are fast to play. I use EMG pick ups and here at home my only gear is a Boss ME 70, lined to a sound card and the computer. I can’t say that my preferences in sound has changed too much over the years, more than the technology makes it easier to simulate the sound you want. I am still a sucker for the classic old school thrash buzz of the 80s and I got all my old gear stuffed away in case I need it. When I have a studio recording I prefer to record all instruments as live as possible, with Marshall amplifiers and old guitar pedals.
I like Infernal Damnation and it sounds good today in 2016. Can you believe that album is 10 years old?! What do you remember about the recording of the album?
Yeah, it sounds great, seems like I recorded it yesterday! This was the first recording where I wrote all the songs myself and also the first full length, which at the time felt huge, but in the end turned out to actually become a really good album. I remember that my drummer, Mojjo, recorded all the drums in one day, and since we also recorded a cover of WASPs Animal (**** like a Beast) for a WASP tribute CD that was a total of 8 songs. I did not envy him any physical pain the next day due to this. The vocals for this recording was done in a separate studio, 2-3 songs per day to assure my vocals would be as good as possible for every song.
Aside from making music, do you have time for hobbies or family where you live?
Music is my hobby! Other than that I read a lot of books when I have the time, mostly fantasy or ancient history. When I create an album it is always the main focus for me outside of my day job hours and I don’t have too much time left for other things. Even during noncreative periods it is always on the mind because no one will write it for you and nothing will be done unless you do it yourself. It can be difficult to plan to do anything besides that because one never knows when creativity strikes. Here in Stockholm there are a lot of gigs, local bands or bigger bands, every week, so there is always something to do besides just going out on a club, if you’re in the mood for that. Since music is my main interest I have always attended festivals, gigs and other musical events every year even if Dracena has not been too active, and I will continue to do so as often as I have the time.
Was 2014’s Ravenous Bloodlust a comeback?! How are things different now in comparison to the 1990s?
Ravenous Bloodlust in a way was a comeback, since it was the first official album for such a long time. I am very pleased with the way it turned out, great songs, great sound and a killer cover art, my greatest appreciation to everyone involved in this album! The main difference today from the 1990s is that now I am the sole band member and I decide everything, but there is also difficult to write a whole album on your own. Easy to get stuck with no fresh blood or input. My objectives today are basically the same as it’s always been since I started this band, I want to play the kind of metal I love, live and breathe for.
How do you see the future of Dracena?
I will keep working with Dracena as long as I feel that I can write the kind of music that suits the band or are in a progressive direction. If not I will start another band suitable for that genre! The fact that I don’t have any continuous band members has never been a problem for me, in case of live gigs and studio recordings I have always been able to involve other musicians. Although, it would be nice to have a steady line up when it comes to writing and all surrounding tasks when having a band!
Are your lyrics based on fantasy? Nowadays immigration, terrorism, religion and nationalism in Europe seem topics of everyday life. Do you have strong opinions about these things? Do you think that Sweden will see the same problems as France and Belgium?
Yes, all my lyrics are pure fantasy, short stories of the unreal, dark worlds of imagination. Dracena is not a political band and therefor I will not involve any politics in the lyrics. The world is becoming a smaller place and the situation in Europe is not unique, only new to this continent. The events in France and Belgium are tragic and shocking but to say it would not happen again I think would be too optimistic.
Finally, do you have other news or events?
Right now the main focus is to finish this new album and release it, after that I have plans to do one or two release shows in Sweden and hopefully a lot more gigs later on in Europe or any other continent where I can find a good gig for the band.
Thank you for your time!
Thank you for a great interview!
www.facebook.com/Dracena.SE/
www.dracena.se
THE END

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