‘Looking at a lot of history and myth, women have been treated as a “temptress” or “seductress” – forcing “pure” men to commit evil. Even in this day and age, a lot of people treat women as monsters.’ -PR
Running out the door to see Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble play up the street so I am not writing the longest intro for this, but Pope Richard is a positive force in the underground metal scene and likes a lot of my snarkiest Twitter posts about politics that a lot of people think go too far, haha. Blackened Death is an incredible label more people should support and he is a major force behind it. Fucking A+ stuff that breaks stereotypes about metal as a haven for hate groups while still pushing very classic elements and the cutting edge? Look no further!
I also was a dungeon master as a kid and at several points in my life have actually OWNED every Dragonlance book save two or three harder to find joints like Murder In Tarsis (have it now) and Love & War (have it now as well, haha). Of course I was thrilled to see Pope Richard has a musical project called Takhisis! This was a metal band name that needed to exist. The record fucking slaaaaayyyys as well, doomy self-made perfection that rocks hard but is just rough enough around the edges to keep it feeling more hungry and coming for you.
Read our chat BELOW in the Abyss.
So half of the songs were written years ago. I know the Wizards Of The Coast company seems to have stopped publishing Dragonlance stuff and all that ever got made was a pretty crap animated movie, which bummed me out. What made you go back to this concept to finish your material with more fleshed out songs for a complete album?
The original concept of Takhisis came after a falling out with another band I was a member of. Unfortunately that band fell apart for me, so I decided to move forward with the songs I wrote. A lot of the songs I wrote were about mythological dragon women and the song “All Colours and None” was written about my main recording guitar I had to sell to move house a few years ago – I had named that guitar after the Dragonlance character. It only felt natural to continue that theme with the solo band.
Did you play everything on this? You did, right? It has a great feel and the guitar tones are nice and murky. It is not super high fidelity but I personally think that works better for doom as a genre. And you have a pretty hoarse scream that is cool but the words can be made out. It almost reminds me of early crust metal rather than more unintelligible death vocals.
Yeah, there is definitely a bit of a crusty edge to the things I write and record. I did play all of the instruments and sing all of the vocals. The guitars, bass, keyboards… It’s all me.
Is it fun being in full control or would you like to flesh this out into a live entity? I know my friend Nate from Spirit Adrift (who are great) started that project as an outlet for depression and soul searching
and now it expanded into a full fledged band. Or is in your case this more of a personal outlet for you? You seem fairly busy.
I always keep the idea of playing open for all of my projects. I’m not sure if there will be a full Takhisis show any time soon, but one of the tracks from the album will make it into the setlist for my next live project.
All of the music I write comes from somewhere that is deeply personal for me, so there are definitely sections of the Takhisis album that stand out for me. The opening track is definitely one of those moments.
So let’s talk Blackened Death a little bit. How do you know if something feels like a good fit? Also, the BDR and HNM Records Noise Against Racism comp is a killer idea. Nice to see a label putting a firm stance forward when a lot of murky bullshit happens in the industry for the sake of profits. Do you have any favorite tracks on the comp? I get a lot of stuff sent to my to blog about from bigger labels, though I can choose to write about whatever I want. But it is always cool to see people kind of curating great lesser known acts to create a groundswell of excitement. That was what initially made me love punk and metal in the first place more than some major label branding.
Glad you like the direction we are taking the label. I think the ideals of racism, fascism, homophobia, transphobia is all shit that needs to be stamped out. For a long time I was a purveyor of “support the art, not the artist” – But after some rumination on this adage, I realized that supporting an artist who is racist is supporting racism. Varg might not write about racist things in Burzum, but buying Burzum albums supports Varg and Varg is a racist. And I won’t support him or others with bullshit ideals.
My favourite track on the comp is CDR’s track. It’s absolutely manic!
I agree that hurting racists wallets is the best way to hurt them besides…hurting them, lol. As much as I love some band’s music (there is a big debate if Hate Forest are real NSBM, for example), it is hard for me to set aside ideals of a band that want to actually eradicate me as a trans person or others. What was it about Takhisis as a character, this seductive but also capable of being anything she wants sort of personification of evil or war or ambition, that appealed to you for an inspiration? I mean, obviously there is a legendary band called Tiamat already, haha. Though the characters aren’t exactly the same they share a certain link. Obviously also in many religions around the world also the sacred feminine is sort of attacked as sinful and the power optics subverted for patriarchal means by male sky dieties, though the chthonic powers of the underworld and crone are very key symbols for female wisdom and autonomy.
My whole plan for the band is to write specifically about mythological women. Even in 2017 there is a lot of sexism out there. Looking at a lot of history and myth, women have been treated as a “temptress” or “seductress” – forcing “pure” men to commit evil. Even in this day and age, a lot of people treat women as monsters.
The four names “Takhisis”, “Tiamat”, “Qarinah”, and “Drakaina” all summon up similar characters from different religions / mythos. Takhisis from the Dragonlance campaign, a beautiful Goddess of evil. Tiamat from Babylonian myth, bringer of the apocalyse. Qarinah from Arabic myth, an evil seductress, demonic succubus. And Drakaina from Greek myth, a mighty dragon Goddess.
I take aspects of these four characters for the Takhisis character in the band’s narative.
Being from the UK, of course there is a huge tradition of great metal or outsider music from Sabbath to to Discharge to Fen that still blows minds and helps arguably make the world a better place. I am a fan of regionalism a lot and am often convinced the UK and Sweden have the best track record for rad bands, but of course it is a community that has bonds the world over. What keeps you invested in it as a passion?
Ah see, this is where things get a bit interesting. I live in the UK and I am part of the scene here, but I am actually Canadian! I emmigrated here many many years ago, so my views of the scene are a bit different than if I grew up here. The UK does have a very good scene. It is a little insular, but UK metalheads appreciate metal as a whole. Black metal, death metal, power metal… it’s all loved! This is different from the small town in Canada where I am from where any melody was considered evil! Haha!
Not sure this is a “question” but I like that you used the “All Colours And None” phrase from the Dragonlance boxed set and novels for a song. Was it just inventive sounding to you? It always made me think of how light and dark and feeling full or empty are constant co-existing forces. And how something that seems to offer everything can also be barren. I guess cuz I read those fantasy novels a lot when I was a teenager and really struggled with heroin, also. I related to Raistlin a lot in his desire to learn sort of forbidden knowledge from both love but also vanity and he ends up harming himself and sort of scarring his own life’s karma but at the end of Legends, despite all the darkness, he manages to do some very selfless things and find some manner of wholeness. That was also inspiring to me after feeling like a scumbag when I messed my life up with drugs to think, even though it is fiction, a character could fall far and be frail and damaged but find a way back our of said Abyss, so to speak.
There is definitely a balance between “good” and “evil” in everything we do. For example, telling a lie is immediately branded as “evil”, but if you lie to feed your family is that really /evil/? The world and everything in it is made up of shades of grey and I really enjoy examining that realm.
I sense a Paradise Lost or early Katatonia influence in some of this? Though not as gothic or morose and def more harsh. Would that be a fair influence to note? What wells were you drawing from. Some great, controlled riffing! That intro section to “Takhisis” with the sort of rolling bass and drawn out chords is a favorite section.
Haha, yeah that track is one of my favorites too. I do enjoy Paradise Lost and Katatonia, but I wouldn’t say I am overly influenced by either band. To be honest, I am not sure where my influence to play doom comes from as I don’t even really listen to a lot of doom bands! Some My Dying Bride, Pentagram, and Candlemass probably. I just love slow, heavy, creeping chords.