Monday, November 7, 2016

Second Grave Interview

Second Grave has popped up on this blog for years now; their debut EP was an early Bandcamp Pick, and their hook-heavy doom metal has only gotten better since then. Sadly, the band called it quits a few months ago, shortly after releasing their first full length Blacken the Sky. Nevertheless, drummer Chuck Ferreira and guitarist/vocalist Krista Van Guilder were kind enough to answer my extremely tardy questions about their history and their releases.

Dreams of Consciousness: What is Second Grave?

Krista: Second Grave was a heavy melodic doom band made up of Krista Van Guilder (vocals/guitar), Chris Drzal (guitar), Chuck Ferreira (drums) and Maureen Murphy (bass). The band was in existence from 2011 until 2016.

DoC: Tell me about the origins of Second Grave - How did the band come together, and what were your intentions at the time?

Krista: The band formed in early 2011 when Chuck had reached out to me to ask if I wanted to start a band. I brought Chris down as a second guitarist, and Dave Gein (Black Pyramid) joined several months later on bass. Maureen took over on bass when Gein moved to the west coast in 2014.

DoC: Your songs show a wide variety of influences, from classic metal and traditional doom to more melodic/"radio friendly" styles. If you had to name 5 albums without which Second Grave wouldn't exist, what would they be?

Chuck: This might be a ridiculously simple answer, but it's easy to say that the first five Black Sabbath records fit that bill. You hit the nail on the head, though, with your assessment that there is a wide range of influences--we always had a foot planted firmly in the Doom genre since day one, but we're all into other styles, like classic metal, NWOBHM, thrash, heavy 70s rock, and even more classic pop bands. It may be a cop-out to list the first five Sabbath records, but it's pretty obvious when listening to those that there are a lot of styles being melded in those tracks.

DoC: One of my favourite aspects of Second Grave are the vocal lines, and the emphasis on memorable hooks and real choruses. What is your approach to songwriting with regards to the vocals - are they written after the music, or before, or is it a mix of the two?

Krista: The lyrics are generally written after the music is written. I might have a vocal melody in mind as the music is being written, but it always starts with the music. Sometimes the vocal melody will inform the lyrics, so I’ll work the lyric so it fits. In terms of hooks and choruses, that is just how I have always written. Can’t ignore a good melody if I hear it in my head!

DoC: How did the e-Zine Pariah Child get involved with releasing your second EP Antithesis?

Krista: I’ve known Danny for many years as he has always promoted other bands I have been in (WarHorse, Lucubro). We were thrilled when Danny asked if we’d be interested in working with him on a release. It originally was to be a 12” split with another band, but when that fell through, Danny asked if we were interested in putting out our stuff on a 10” instead. We jumped at the chance.

DoC: You just released your first full length. What was the writing process like? How would you compare your new material to your previous two EPs? What would you say is the difference between the band now and when you released the first EP four years ago?

Krista: The writing process has remained the same throughout. Chris or I (and earlier, Gein) would bring down either a handful of riffs or a complete song and everyone else would work out their parts to it, with Chuck adding a lot of arrangement ideas. Some songs we’d spend some time arranging little parts, others just formed very quickly. On occasion Chris and I would write together outside of the whole band and then bring what we had down for everyone else. The newer material still has multiple dynamics moving throughout along with tempo and feel changes that we had first envisioned. In terms of differences in the band, there had been more time together getting comfortable with each other’s playing styles, anticipating where one was going next. And naturally as a writer you are always evolving.

DoC: The title track "Blacken the Sky" is a bit of a departure from the band's usual style. Tell me a little bit about the song and what it signifies.

Krista: I wrote that in the late fall here in New England. It is about the end of the world, and not being able to do anything to change it. I hadn’t intended to write it as a solo piece, but once it was written I thought it would be best played solo as it had a very melancholic feel to it. Vocally I initially had a different concept, but didn’t feel it was working so I changed my approach and re-wrote the lyrics. That version is the one that was recorded.

DoC: As of this writing Second Grave is unsigned. Do you you prefer to be independent, or would you rather be signed to a label? Why or why not?

Chuck: That's the million dollar question these days. Some say it's better to operate independently, and others insist being on a label is the way to go. With that being said, my preference would be to be on a label that supports our sound--a vinyl release, for instance, would make a LOT of sense for this record (if anyone with such connections is reading this, we're all ears!). But, as Krista said in the first interview question, Second Grave is now in the past tense. [I hadn't realized the band had already broken up when I sent these questions - Dreams of Cluelessness.] In August of 2016 we performed our last show at RPM Fest, so any label interested would have to be OK releasing Blacken the Sky posthumously. Still, that's been done before, and with success, so who knows?

DoC: A Second Grave/Holy Grove split is the best idea I've had all year - Yay or nay?

Chuck: Oh hell yes! I really love Holy Grove, and stylistically, we'd pair well. Let's make that happen, shall we? [This would have been an even better idea if I had it 6 months ago - Dreams of Contriteness]

DoC: What's next for Second Grave?

Krista: Myself and Maureen have started a new project with drummer Brain Banfield (the Scimitar) called Benthic Realm. We’ll be playing our first show the end of December and will be hitting the studio to record an EP in the near future. Chris has been actively playing with his new band Winterbolt.

Chuck: I currently play in a couple of non-heavy/non-metal bands (Eddie Japan and Aloud), and I'm pretty busy with studio session work as well. Still, I can't help but feel that I'll need to join up with another heavy band in the not-too-distant future. We'll see what arises.

In the meantime, we're hopeful a label might want to release and distribute the record and our hope is that people continue to download the new record from our Bandcamp site, visit our Facebook page (for updates on what each of us is up to), and enjoy all of our material. We're all quite proud of it.

Second Grave on Facebook

Second Grave on Bandcamp