Interview with Arcane Winter

Arcane Winter 2Arcane Winter is a new project made by very experienced musicians, also they are very well-known names in the underground scene from the UK. This new project includes former members from such bands as: Every New Dead Ghost, The Realm, Lupine, Midnight Configuration, etc. Their music is very guitar-oriented with an exciting and electric sound, which is described as “Back to basics”. Interview by Daniel Olvera

First Question is for the new generations, ¿Can you talk about your previous bands? (Question for all the members of the band)

Trev: Where shall I start?

Nick: Every New Dead Ghost!

everynewdeadghostTrev: OK, I’ll start with Every New Dead Ghost, although that evolved out of an earlier band called Urban Desolation. That was when I met Charley who sang on our first single Visions, but the line-up with singer Bones was the one most people will know. Then I formed Midnight Configuration, originally a one man project, but then Nick joined on guitar. We made 8 albums over 18 years! I had a side project with Brother Orchid as well. From the ashes of Midnight Configuration came Arcane Winter. I also have the side project Death Party UK.

Nick: Well, most notably Midnight Configuration, I played guitar in Faithful Dawn, another Nightbreed band, bass guitar in Lupine, The Realm and Nick Turner’s Sphinx Experience.

Charley: Well, I’ve been drumming a long time! I began with Three Second Rule, Uncle Vulgar, an early punk band The Tribe and a punk covers band The Skanx. That band always got paid, which was a bonus! Doing that I fell in love with playing gigs. As Trev said, our paths have crossed in the past, and I feel they have again for a reason.

Piers: I was in a band called deadblackwhite, and like Charley says, our paths crossed, as my final gig with that band we played with Every New Dead Ghost. I’m on the last few Midnight Configuration albums, and played keyboards on the last dozen shows. But you could say the common thread with this band is the Ghosties. Our paths have crossed!

When I listen to Arcane Winter; I don’t want to think about, genres or musical styles. I just want to enjoy your music. I feel a very spontaneous vibe in your sound, ¿How did you decide the musical direction, and how did the style of Arcane Winter took shape?

Piers: Well I think we sound spontaneous because we write together. I always think when someone turns up and says “I’ve written this, you boys learn it” makes for really dull music.

Trev: I have an agenda for Arcane Winter. One of the reasons I wanted to get back on to guitar was to explore all the things I could do with a particular sound, stretch it as far as it could go, but mix in new techniques like the glissando and different tunings… get back to the old Ghosties sound but update it. I want to push the concept of alternative guitar playing without becoming a heavy metal dirge.

Piers: I think that everything that can be done with metal has been done a million times.

Trev: I don’t like to follow established patterns, chord structures.

amebixNick: Well, how do you decide a musical direction? It just happens, its natural. We stated our influences – Hawkwind, Killing Joke, Amebix – and just pooled that. We all like similar bands, and have lots in common. That’s how we came up with the direction of Arcane Winter.

Charley: Whatever music you hear influences you, from whenever you’ve heard it, even from childhood. It just comes out of you.

Piers: We’re building our own paradigm… it’s interesting.

Nick: We don’t need to try, whatever we do sounds like Arcane Winter.

Trev: It’s nice to experiment too, not have established rules. We’re open ended, we have a natural structure. It just works.

Tell us something about the origin of the band, which of you came with the idea of making a new project?

midnight configurationTrev: I wanted to get back to being in a real band again. I’m proud of what I did with Midnight Configuration, but wanted to try other things. Get on stage with massive amplification!

Nick: With a drummer.

Trev: Yes! I’m not against drums machines, I used one for 18 years, but I like the idea of a drummer gives an organic sound. Plus I wanted to be in a community band. The value of being in a band is to reflect your community.

Piers: I would definitely go with that! We do reflect our community. Most importantly its great being in a band with your mates. We spend enough time together as it is, why not form a band?

What’s the meaning behind the band’s name?

Piers: For about a year we deliberately didn’t have a name so that we didn’t burden ourselves, choose something that would define our sound. Finally, we had to decide on a name as we had some gigs.

Trev: And the name I originally chose was already taken!

Piers: So we went to the pub, and our first drummer Hannah liked Arcanus. We liked that, but not the “anus” bit, as it sounds like…we’’, “arse”. So we plumped for Arcane, it has many meanings, it just fit. I went home, printed it out and added some other words- circle, winter and night. Winter just looked right with Arcane, so that was it. Winter is a good word if you’re from England we have ten months of winter, so the imagery is stark.

The lyrics are clear and straight to the point; they deal in with different topics of our world. I really like that. ¿Who is writing the lyrics for the songs?

Piers: Thanks, man. I write the lyrics, that’s my input to the band. I like the idea of lyrics being straight to the point, open and understood, particularly the political material. That said, there are coded references to some events and people, but that’s for the benefit of us, Arcane Winter. We’re brothers, you know? Some things are personal.

By the way, “Bad day about Gothic Rock” has very good lyrics, and reflects much of the reality about the current scene. But luckily not everybody is like that. There’s something more that you can say about the current Goth scene?

Piers: In the UK the scene is definitely fractured. The idea for the song came from something I saw on Facebook, someone I used to knock around with as a teenager making disparaging comments about a band I know they used to love. I can’t stand duplicity; you’re either honest or you’re not.

Trev: I think we’re precious about the gothic scene, but it’s become the new rock n’ roll, an old man’s music. To young kids we’re seen as how we saw teddy boys and that’s a shame. The way the music industry treated goth in the late 80’s, particularly here, fractured the audience by embracing then rejecting goth, things became factional. Now there is no new blood coming into the scene, those goths haven’t changed but newer generations have moved on. They don’t know what goth is.

Piers: I grew up in the south of England, in a small market town. All my friends were either goths or metalheads, so my idea of what goth is will be different from Trev’s coming from Nottingham, or Nick’s coming from Leeds. The scene is fractured by distance as much as by time.

Trev: We’re going to be playing gigs with younger bands, and what we do they will love, it’s just they don’t know it yet. We’re trying to attract a new audience. I don’t see us as a goth band per se, just a group of men who’ve been into alternative music for a long while. Those influences will play out. As Nick says, we don’t need to try.

Arcane WinterTalking about today, Arcane Winter has been very active using social networks and stuff like that. You were active since the days in which noting of this existed, ¿What do you like about this new media, about the internet?

Piers: It was always our intention to use social networks. The world has become a lot smaller since the invention of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter. It’s good to be able to reach people in Greece and Mexico, Indonesia, wherever. It’s healthy. Nightbreed Radio has a worldwide listenership; it’s good to spread the word. To me it goes back to the old days of fanzines and tape trading but on a much larger scale.

Trev: In this country we recently had the death of Margaret Thatcher and the media coverage was very one-sided. The social networks were the place for people to say what they thought, the opposite view. The voice of the people.

Piers: Citizen journalism. Opinion pieces.

Trev: The mainstream media can’t yet control social networks, so we can reach across the globe and touch people on the other side of the world. In the 80’s record labels bough press for the bands you know and love, but now the mainstream isn’t selling music as much anymore, they can’t do it. The mainstream is becoming narrower but the alternative, underground can use the internet without fear.

Nick: There’s still pay to play, though.

Piers: Yeah, we were offered a support slot with a band we love, but we’re not going down that road.

Trev: We can invest our money in a more constructive way.

I read about a gig that was streamed up live, ¿What can you tell about this experience? If we missed that streaming, we can see it in some website, is still available somwhere?

Charley: Yes! On Air Gigs dot com. There’s an Arcane Winter page.

Trev: It was a good gig but the vocals were rather high in the mix. Piers sounded like Foghorn Leghorn!

Piers: I say, I say, boy…

Trev: It was a good gig, though.

Piers: Well it was more of a practice with the world watching. We broadcast from the bunker we practice in. Brilliant fun.

Charley: But with messages from everyone we know. We’ll definitely be doing it again.

Piers: Yes, we will. A great experience. We’ll be organizing one soon.

I’m glad to see that Arcane Winter is very active; talking about live gigs. What has been your most memorable experience about live gigs, and why?

Charley: Our first gig, it was a joyful occasion. We played really well, we were really tight. You have an impression of what you sound like but it’s all about seeing how the audience reacts. That was the first time people heard us.

Nick: Yeah, the audience reaction. Not just standing there. Looking at you like “What the fuck?”

Charley: We rehearse and record but you need to go out and play with confidence, maybe improvise. We’re ahead of the race, really, we don’t have things carved in stone. We’re not free form jazz, but there’s a song of ours called “Another Sorrow” it’s fluid. It’s a blinding song.

Nick: We need to record that.

Trev: Every time we play it it’s different.

Charley: That’s what I’m saying, it’s fluid. It’s got a great lyric too, I was really going through some personal shit at the time, and the lyrics really talk about the human condition and how you get through things with good people around you, there’s always hope. Very emotional for me, check it out on Youtube.

Nick: I like it when people come up to you and say “thank you”, let you know they’ve enjoyed it.

Trev: That’s because we reflect our community. Arcane Winter has many elements, and they touch people. They like what we’re doing.

Piers: Our first gig was immense. We’d built up a body of work and had a set of an hour. It went down well, people enjoyed it. We enjoyed it.

Trev: A lot of old Ghosties fans turned up, they’re a tough crowd. Just wait until we play “Miranda”. That’ll be interesting. They did like us, though.

Piers: The Greyhound was good, too. Great sound, lots of people there, good atmosphere. We played everything we had, well over an hour. We improvised a couple of songs, too. We’ve just played with The Danse Society, that’s been a definite highlight.

Trev: We’re playing Dark Waters in a couple of months, too. That should be fantastic.

Piers: I want to play other countries too. Greece, Mexico, Germany…

Trev: To a younger audience as well. There was a programme on TV the other day about aging rock stars. Some were saying “I can’t write angry songs any more”. I was thinking “What the fuck are you talking about? All our songs are angry songs!” We still deliver.

Piers: We do play angry songs. We want to play to punk audiences, metal, whatever.

You have made three videos. I remember that the first one was for “King of nothing”. I like those faces doing head banging; it fits quite well with the rhythm of the song. Who did this video?

Piers: That video was done by Trev and our friend Stu, who has made all our videos. Stu basically took photos of us, isolated our faces and used an iPad app to make them headbang. The whole video cost 69p. The song is the first we ever wrote too. It makes me laugh whenever I see it.

You are doing a good work with the video clips: Shooting on locations, etc. Please, talk something about the shooting for the video clips of “Sagittarius” and “Civil War”

Charley: “Sagittarius” was filmed in deepest darkest Derbyshire, not a million miles from where we live, at the Nine Ladies stone circle. We wanted something a little odd and we got just what we wanted. Something dramatic happened when we entered the circle. All of a sudden loads of interesting people just appeared.

Piers: I’ve never seen such a big knife in all my life.

Charley: They were cool people, though. A community of interesting people. Hard work, but a good time.

Piers: The location is only accessible on foot, we had to carry everything and the weather had been bad.

Nick: It was freezing! Not as cold as “Civil War” though.

Piers: “Civil War” was shot in Nottingham on the coldest day of the year. We were at Nottingham castle, which played a part in the English civil war, too good not to use.

Trev: I got hypothermia.

Piers: So did Stu, he was lying on the ground for most of the shoot and we did about four hours. And he’d gone down to London to get some extra footage as well, which we cut in… the Cenotaph, places like that. He’s a top bloke.

I think that you are much updated and very well adapted to the new technologies and media. Please some words about your other activities on the internet

Nightbreed RadioPiers: That would be Nightbreed Radio, playing probably the darkest music in the world. I host a show called Dark Frequency, give it a listen. There’s also Nightbreed dot org, a forum which anyone can join.

Trev: It’s Cruel Britannia who does most of the work now, but in the past Piers and I did most of the programming. A big thanks also goes to Mark from On Air Gigs, he’s been a big help.

Piers: And Ray from ANKST. He did so much in the early days, he convinced us to do the whole thing in the first place. When Ray talks, we listen! There’s Reverbnation, Facebook, all that stuff. We also have Arcane Winter dot net, that’s the place to go for everything Arcane related.

What do you think about the new options used by artists to release their stuff? I’m talking about pledging, digital albums, limited editions in C.D., and even limited editions in retro formats such as vinyl and cassettes?

Trev: We’ve been talking about this a lot of late. At first I wasn’t too keen, but now I’ve had a change of heart. Music has only recently, since the 1940’s, become capitalist fodder, before it was by the people for the people. Nowadays everyone downloads music for free, we all do it, but with pledging what you do is sell a piece of the band, makes you closer to the audience.

Piers: I’m all for it, it circumvents the record industry. They’re only interested in the cash, not the art. When I was a kid I was really into cassettes, every band I love I first heard on a bootleg tape. I collect vinyl, so I’m happy to do that too. We know full well that whatever format we put material out on it’ll be straight on the net anyway.

Nick: It is nice to have a physical example of your work.

Trev: Pledging gives you a link to the band; you could have a copy, even get a night out with Charley.

Charley: Yay!

Piers: That’ll be a night to remember.

Trev: It’s about creating a relationship with the band. That whole rock star paradigm doesn’t work anymore. Justin Beiber, you know.

Piers: I can see why he exists, it’s about record companies making money, and it’s not about his music. He’s a sexually non-threatening thing; it’s what they’re selling.

Trev: Music as a capitalist tool. He’s a brand.

¿What’s the next for Arcane Winter: a new EP, a Full length album, some release in physical format?

Piers: We’re working on our next EP, writing songs and playing them live. We need another couple of songs recorded and we’re there. The artwork is done, but not the title. We’ll definitely be doing a full album too…

Trev: I’d like to do a live album.

Nick: I like live albums “Space Ritual”, “Into the Fire”… MC5two of the best albums ever made.

Piers: “Kick Out The Jams”. I fucking love MC5.

Trev: Definitely. More albums!

What are your future plans regarding to live gigs, what’s next?

Piers: We’ve just played with The Danse Society, we’ve got Dark Waters Festival in Nottingham coming up, Darkend Festival, more dates around the country. Check our website for details

Trev: We’re going to play often. I’d like us to do more online gigs as well.

Thank you so much guys!, some final words to the audience of Gothic Rock?

Trev: Thanks for taking an interest in us!

Piers: I’d like to thank everyone in the scene that actually does something: the people who go to gigs, DJ, write, make mixtapes, listen to Nightbreed Radio, the folks who’ve seen us play, bought the EP, and Daniel for the interview.

Trev: Do the right thing no matter what the cost, and keep the fires burning.