Hey folks, how excited are you that Winter’s Wake is almost here??
I know I really am — there are so many bands I’m really excited about, some of which I’ve never seen before, some of which I’ve been a fan of for a long time, some of which I don’t know that much about yet, but there literally isn’t a single band that I’m not looking forward to checking out.
So when Jon Leone of Allure of the Earth Productions asked me if I’d mind doing an interview with each of the bands leading up to next weekend’s event, of course I jumped on the opportunity!
With so many people to talk to, I had to keep these kind of short and sweet — mostly enough for you (the reader) to get a sense of the band’s history, to learn a little about where they came from and what they’re doing now, so you can get excited about seeing all of them too!
Here is a conversation I had with Karl Simon of The Gates of Slumber…
VOS: Hello, and thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me! How are you? Would you mind introducing yourself for the readers?
KS: Hi Eric. I’m Karl, I play guitar and sing for The Gates of Slumber.
VOS: First of all, in your own words, how exactly would you describe your band to someone who’s never heard your music before?
KS: I’d say we are a raw Doom Metal band — a cross between early Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus. There are some other touchstones, but those are the big two.
VOS: I know you guys have a pretty long history, but could you briefly describe some of the band’s story, please? For example, how you originally got together, and perhaps some of the highlights of the road from the beginning til where you are today?
KS: The band started back in 1998, but really didn’t get going till 2002. We’ve done a bunch of stuff since then. Highlights would have to be going to Finland, recording in London, Roadburn, and both of our Doom Shall Rise appearances.
VOS: What’s the metal scene in Indiana like?
KS: It’s pretty decent I guess, to be honest I don’t get out a lot.
VOS: Do you have a lot of opportunities to play locally, or do you find you need to travel a lot?
KS: We can set up a show here at home almost anytime we want. Thing is, we just don’t care to. Playing the hometown more than a few times a year isn’t my thing. We’d prefer to tour.
VOS: Is there something unique about where you come from that has shaped you as a musician or as a writer, that might have been different if you lived in a bigger city somewhere?
KS: Boredom. Hating life, school. The morons I grew up around. That kinda colored my views and tastes. It was clear early on that I did not fit in around here and as a result, alienation set in. By some awesome twist of fate, I heard Black Sabbath; ever since it’s been ok.
I can’t conceive a reality where I’d lived in a different city. I’d probably be doing the same shit feeling the same way.
VOS: Speaking of writing, a lot of your songs and albums seem to be inspired by or based on fantasy literature. Is that something you guys all have a shared interest in? What are some of the most memorable things you’ve read?
KS: Yeah, a while back we were on a real fantasy kick. Three albums worth. That well kinda ran dry… it started to feel like a gimmick. Like “oh we must have a warrior on the cover… flip a coin for the topic of this next song — heads Lovecraft, tails Howard.” That’s all well and good, and if I still felt that way it’d be cool, but I just don’t. I’ll never rag out a band for doing fantasy metal — Cirith Ungol is pretty much Godhead. But I can’t pretend that I feel the same way that I did.
It’s funny how the shift back to real world shit confused some people. I mean, I had one guy ask if I threw away my Conan comics. WTF? Did this guy think that I strapped on a fuckin loincloth in the morning? I mean some of it is just plumb goofy, guys (and always it’s guys) asking me what barbaric weapon I most favor. How do you answer some goofball shit like that?! And for the record, it’s a thermo-nuclear missile.
Don’t get me wrong: I just finished a re-read of Conan: The Renegade. I might smoke a bowl and watch the new Conan here in a bit. I love that shit. But that’s not the sum-total of my interests.
VOS: Since your last full-length album [2011’s The Wretch], you’ve had your very first album […The Awakening] re-released by Abyss Records, and then more recently, you put out an EP [Stormcrow] of brand new material through Scion A/V. With more than a decade worth of songs there to choose from, what sort of set list have you been playing at shows — mostly older songs or newer songs, or more of a mixture throughout your catalog?
KS: Mostly newer stuff, a couple of old tunes. I guess a few people are or might be bummed out by the fact that we don’t do some stuff. But some of it is so long, and honestly, a lot of it I just don’t give a fuck about. I havent played the shit in years, and I’m more into working on new songs. There are like two or three songs that might come back, down the line. But right now and for the foreseeable future, it’s new stuff. Look for a new album later this year.
[A brief pause, for me to — mentally — do a sort of happy little dance, after that last statement.]
VOS: And finally, is there anyone else playing at Winter’s Wake that you yourself especially look forward to seeing?
KS: Dream Death, It’ll be Killer to see Terry [Weston] play guitar again, he’s one of the heaviest ever.
VOS: We will look forward to seeing YOU on Saturday, and thanks you again for taking the time to do this!
KS: Thank you Eric!
The band’s most recent release, the Stormcrow EP, was made available by Scion A/V on 29 January 2013. If you haven’t heard it yet, it can be downloaded FOR FREE right here.
The Gates of Slumber are playing at Winter’s Wake on Saturday, 23 February 2013, at 6119 (6119 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh).