Fireworks - The Melodic Rock Magazine interview with Season's End, June 2005
Interview with David Smith and Becki Clark of Season's End
[Fireworks - The Melodic Rock Magazine]
"As Darkness Dims Their Eyes..."
"Unfortunately there's nothing interesting about the origin of "Season's End" as a name - it's simply the fact that one of our former band members, Tim Hull, liked the common phrase and suggested it, and it stuck. We're still happy with the name - it both suits the style of music we play and also doesn't give any preconceptions to those who haven't heard us."
So says David Smith, scotching the rumour that the best band names take some working up and shaking down. Still, if Season's End didn't have to spend too long on their moniker, they've been burning the midnight oil since then. As winter drags by (ie at the time when the bulk of the UK's population would be happy to emigrate or hibernate) the collective six-piece of Becki Clark (vocals), Daryl Kellie (guitar), Tom Nicholls (bass), David Smith (synths), David Stanton (guitar and vocals), Paul White (drums and percussion) have been "silently busy". Silently busy?
"Yes, let's say we're silently very busy at the moment," is how David describes the current state of play. "The most exciting part is that we've just finished sorting out record and publishing contracts because our debut album, "The Failing Light" is being revamped and re-released professionally worldwide in the summer. We have a lot of preparation to do for this release: we've nearly finished remixing and mastering it and the artwork is being completely redone. We're also working on a video for the track "A Ghost In My Emotion" and planning several live shows around Easter time, so we're definitely not slacking!"
The history of Season's End so far, according to David, is what they call a game of two halves. "Yes, there are two quite distinct chapters in the Season's End story. The band was initially formed at school - the first proper line-up had Paul White on drums, David Stanton on guitar (but not vocals), Becki Clark on keys and backing vocals, joined by Tim on lead vocals & guitar, Danny on guitar and Matt on bass. The formation must have been some time around 1998, I guess, perhaps even earlier. This first incarnation of Season's End only released two EPs in their time which are now long forgotten. The music wasn't too distant from our current direction, but generally more raw and heavy, less structured and, in our opinion, not as good!
"So, in successive years between 2001 and 2003, Danny, Tim and then Matt left the band. We had a temporary guitarist in the name of the mighty Adam Bickers, who also played for Power Quest for a while, before Daryl joined. The current - and hopefully definitive - line-up has stood strong since the middle of 2003, now featuring myself on synths, Tom Nicholls on bass and Daryl Kellie on guitar. The three most notable events of the band's career to date would have to be the recording and release of our debut album "The Failing Light", playing the Whitby Gothic Weekend festival in 2002 and appearing at Bloodstock last year."
Ah yes, Bloodstock; headlining Bloodstock 2004's Friday night Femme Fatales stage must have done them the world of good, both in terms of fan base and attention, and they were definitely yet another pf the weekend's highlights, so much so that they have been invited back to the main stage for Bloodstock 2005. Pressure of time meant that Phil Ashcroft could do little more than point out the band's talent in his event review in issue #18 ("I have to admit that the girl can really sing," he hastily noted of vocalist Becki Clark as he raced from stage to stage) but I'm sure that anyone who stayed to catch their whole set will agree that Season's End are a very obvious band to watch out for in the future. On the night they exuded confidence and enthusiasm, even given the confines and less-than-perfect acoustics of the smaller side stage, and their songs demand attention. That September night was the first time I'd come across Season's End and, as you might have already gathered, I was very impressed with what I saw. To my mind, the trio of Season's End, fellow Femme Fatales stage band Liquid Sky and the kick-ass power metallers Intense made the weekend value for money just by themselves.
"Bloodstock was an immense weekend," recalls David. "It started off with a great, busy warm-up show in Nottingham on the Thursday, our main set on the Friday then a day off to chill out and watch all the fantastic bands on the Saturday. It was certainly the best response we've had from a crowd before and luckily one of the best performances we've ever done. Our set went down very well with the crowd and Vince the organiser, hence us being invited back for Bloodstock 2005. It was definitely the best performance we've made to date and it couldn't have been better timed!"
"Yes, we had a great time at Bloodstock," chips in Becki Clark; "obviously being on stage, but also meeting and watching some great bands."
"Well, there was that too. I mean from a spectators' point of view I personally immensely enjoyed it," adds David. "There were a lot of fantastic bands playing, the venue was great and the whole event was organised very well."
Season's End obviously impressed the right people as they've been invited back this year, this time to the main stage, an achievement not lost on them. "It's great that we got the sort of response that they asked us back," responds Becki, "and hopefully the people that missed us last year will come and catch the show this time. One of the things that's great about this festival is that it gets such a good crowd in Britain and also promotes new British metal bands. There aren't enough people doing what they are doing unless your band sounds and looks like Busted!"
As noted earlier, Bloodstock 2004 rates as one of the band's three career highlights so far, the other two being their performance at the Whitby Gothic Weekend and the appearance of their self-released debut album, "The Failing Light." "The Whitby Gothic Weekend festival we played at on the Halloween weekend in 2002 was our first major show," says David. "I think there was around 1,000 people watching us and we seemed to get a very good reaction from the crowd even though it was a mainly "Goth"-orientated event. But I mean there's an extra buzz about playing to a huge crowd that you really can't imagine until you get up there.
"And as for "The Failing Light"; well, the album took a long time to record, and I mean a long time. As an unsigned band we didn't have the backing as most bands you hear of do to go in and record it all in a studio. Having said that we did record the drums in a local studio, but then found the equipment to record the rest ourselves in our own time. I think there are a lot of benefits in doing it this way: we were free from all the pressure of having limited studio time and we could go back and add or make changes to any of the music at any time. The final release of the album was a great relief though and the reactions we have got thus far have been very good in general. We're going to get to experience this all over again with the re-release, though on a larger scale, and to be honest we're really looking forward to it."
OK, we're in danger of getting ahead of ourselves here. "The Failing Light" was reviewed in the last issue of Fireworks, although the album originally came out at the end of 2003. It's not a straight-forward listen: taken as a whole it's generally both downbeat and complicated although well crafted and beautifully played throughout. So with the best part of a year-and-a-half between its release and the present day, I wondered how the band regarded "The Failing Light" now. It's Becki who picks this one up: "When you work for such a long time on six songs I think there will always be things that you hear when you listen to recordings that you wish you'd done differently. It's really easy to become totally obsessed with a really small thing like a guitar sound or one syllable of a word! I really love some of the moments in the music, but when we record future albums I think, obviously, there'll be things we'll do differently. However, something I really like about the album is that you hear different things each time you listen - it has lots of layers.
"A lot of the songs on the album have overlapping and intertwining messages. "Touch" is a particular favourite of mine, as although some people have interpreted and commented on the lyrics being some sort of romanticism of death in a vampiric/goth sort of way, it is actually about something totally different. The message is about those people who go to funerals of people they were horrible to in life and cry and say "oh, they were my best friend" and that kind of thing. It's about the hypocrisy and put-on piety of those sorts of fake people - the type of people I really hate. Having said that, there are bits in all of the songs that mean something to all of us. I really like the fact that people are able to interpret the lyrics however they want - it isn't just what the lyrics were inspired by as much as what they mean to others."
So, following on from that, I wondered if the band felt that the album captured the essence of Season's End - "I think 'The Failing Light' captures the essence of what Season's End was about when we wrote each of those songs," Becki continues. "The next project will reflect where we are at that moment in time. The band is a constantly evolving unit, so no one song or album will ever really capture the whole picture."
And the plans to update it?
"Well, as I said we've have recently signed with a company who will be re-releasing and revamping "The Failing Light"," David replies. "The new CD will be released worldwide this coming Summer, with a new mix - which I've got to say is currently sounding fantastic - new artwork and a video to accompany "A Ghost In My Emotion". We are hoping to tour as extensively as we possibly can to promote the release. There is a brief Bloodstock "Femme Fatales" tour already lined up in the Spring, and there'll be much more to follow. If I can sound sound cheesy and arrogant for a second, 2005 will definitely be the year for Season's End.
"It does mean though that the plans to release a second album have obviously been put back a while because of this. We have been writing songs for a follow-up for over a year now and have been playing a couple regularly in our live set for a little while now. I think you'll find that the new material is a reasonable progression from the songs on "The Failing Light"; there is still a good variation of upbeat, heavy, slow and soft but I suppose the feel is more mature and structured. Given that we expect to be touring in support of the re-release of "The Failing Light" for a lot of 2005 I would guess that the new material will hopefully be put out in 2006. I mean, we haven't made any real plans to record as yet but it will happen. The deal we just signed was just for the debut album so we're again unsigned and I suppose seeking a label. All going well then the hunt for the next label shouldn't be as hard - we'll have to see how "The Failing Light" goes down worldwide."
Considering the band's appearance at the Whitby Gothic Festival, and given that band's invariably get pigeon-holed, did David consider that the band were tied to the Goth scene and, if so, is this a good thing or a potential musical straight-jacket?
"In the past we've occasionally had Goth reviewers questioning why we were trying to fit in with the Goth scene then Metal reviewers doing vice-versa. The diplomatic way of stating our position is that we haven't ever consciously tried to fit into any particular scene, and that we will play wherever we're asked and to anyone who wants to listen. People do often label Season's End a Goth band, and as with any genre labelling this does give rise to pigeon-holing as you suggested. It's something that is always frustrating for bands but ultimately necessary in a lot of places; but also, I know a lot of people are put off by the Goth or Gothic label for whatever reasons. Having said all that, I think "Gothic Metal" is one of the more appropriate descriptions that we often get called, although it doesn't capture all of our sound."
Finally, I was curious to know if, as a band, Season's End had a vision of what it wanted to be, or what inspired them. After all, it's not easy keeping a band on the road. Becki ponders on this one a minute: "I think we have a basic idea of what we want our music to be about. We certainly strive to be true to ourselves in the writing, and not to deliberately conform to any particular stereotypes or conventions. I think we are all inspired by wanting to create the music we would all listen by choice. We are motivated by trying and continue to promote our own brand of British metal both in the UK and throughout the world. Europe has some great, very successful bands and there's always the thriving American rock scene but there doesn't seem to be any real equivalent here. And while I guess it's almost impossible to be truly 'original' in today's music scene, we write the type of music we would want to listen to, and try not to be like anyone else. And just hope that others appreciate it as much as we do!"
John Tucker of Fireworks - The Melodic Rock Magazine