At the end of March we reviewed “Fractures” by Birmingham Progressive Power Metallers Dakesis, the third studio album from a band celebrating 12 years together. We had the privilege of being granted an audience with bassist and vocalist Amie Chatterley and drummer Adam Harris to ask a few questions, so this is what they said…
What was it like having guitarist Matt Jones produce the album? Was the lack of an external voice a help or a hindrance at times?
Adam: It’s been fantastic, we all had faith in him, but Matt’s risen to the challenge in a big way, and it means we’ve been able to spend time on the details. Amie: I think it worked out much better than expected. Usually when you send your tracks off for mixing, you wait for a mix to come back, send your feedback and wait for version 2 and so on. What we found really benefited us, is that we were able to sit in on mixing sessions with Matt and act as an external voice and it couldn’t have worked better.
You must have been very happy to have Svante Forsback of Chartmakers in Finland (Rammstein, Dragonforce, Apocalyptica) back on board for the mixing? What was it like working with him and how did you settle on him the first time around?
Adam: Svante did a great job of mastering ‘The New Dawn’, especially with Nino’s (Laurenne, [Thunderstone], [Sonic Pump Studios]) amazing mixing job after we transferred him a billion tracks of brass and harpsichords. We thought the new mixes sounded great when Matt was finished, but when we got the final masters back for ‘Fractures’, the brightness and life he breathed into them was fantastic. He’s a pro. Amie: For ‘The New Dawn’, we’d already decided that we were going to ask Nino to mix the album and asked him for his advice on mastering. He recommended Svante to us and we trusted him implicitly. He did such a great job last time around that there was no question about using him again for ‘Fractures’.
There have been 5 years between “Trial By Fire” and “New Dawn” and then 4 years again until “Fractures”. Is that the sign of perfectionist writers or just people who like to take their time to create something wonderful and spellbinding?
Adam: I guess you could say that. We are perfectionists so we’ve made sure we’re in a position to spend the time on the details. We tend to fall into the ‘more is more’ trap, so with so much going on in the mix it takes a lot of work to bring out the clarity.
Amie: We also had a lot of other things to contend with when writing the new album. Although most of the tracks had loose demos in place for sometime, we opened our own recording and rehearsal studio which definitely took away a lot of our free creative time as we were working with other artists. We’ve also had a heavy gigging and touring schedule since the release of The New Dawn and it’s only been the last year or so that we’ve managed to book significant recording time out to start the process.
While researching the album we came across footage of yourselves ripping up a version of the Bonnie Tyler hit “Holding Out For A Hero”, which is really good and you make your own. Have you thought about doing a covers EP? Who else would you pick to cover?
Adam: It is something we’ve considered. Part of our crowdfunding campaign was the offer to buy a Dakesis cover song of your choice, so we have been producing our own versions of select songs. Maybe we’ll do some more; we do have work and other projects to focus on, but we’ll see what happens with all this downtime we’ve been thrown! Amie: We have actually been toying with the idea of releasing some covers of bands that influence us. It would definitely involve songs from Symphony X, Thunderstone, Genesis, Evergrey and Nightwish though.
“Legacy In Memory” seems to be an ode to those loved and lost and is a beautiful song. How hard was it to write something so emotive? Was there any thought to cutting it before the rest of the band came in and leaving it as simply voice and keyboards?
Amie: The whole album is based on the concept of losing people, whether it’s through their passing or people who drift in and out of your life. But it’s also about the things life throws at you and we cope with such a vast array of emotions. Legacy In Memory was actually one of the hardest songs to write and perform lyrically because we’re very clever at disguising things in metaphor and this track specifically was way more open and honest about it’s lyrical themes.
The title track itself, “Fractures” is of epic proportions! That industrial inspired start is a real departure from the rest of the album – so what brought you to that and did you ever think it was a brave decision?
Adam: We’re all into many styles of music, and that part was written after we experienced The Algorithm supporting Haken a couple of years back. I’d like to think we can deviate from what people might expect, and actually most of my favourite bands are the ones who push the boundaries and surprise you. Sometimes you want that comforting AC/DC experience, and sometimes you want to be taken on a journey.
Have you read any reviews of your previous releases? How do you feel about comparisons with the works of other bands like Epica, Nightwish or DragonForce?
Amie: We do try and read as many reviews as possible, whether these are album reviews or live performance reviews. We’re constantly striving to improve our performance and writing and seeing what other people think, providing it’s constructive can actually be very helpful. We are often compared to the likes of Epica and Within Temptation, but they aren’t really one of our influences and I think we have a far different sound. Nightwish certainly has an influence on some of us and Floor Jansen is a huge inspiration, but you’ll hear this more in the upcoming release than anything we’ve written before. I think sometimes we are compared to bands with other female singers because we just “fall into that niche” when actually we sound nothing like them at all.
As “Fractures” is a crowd funded album – do you have any tips for bands thinking about going down that route?
Adam: I think it’s a great way of offering the fans something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience, while funding the production. In keeping things as in-house as possible this time, we have made savings, but releasing an album still involves a huge upfront cost, especially when you want to produce the best product you can for those who are waiting. It’s not something that we could do without the help of our supporters, so we’re very grateful to have people interested in being a part of this. Unfortunately, around the time we made the decision to crowdfund was when Pledge Music went under, and we saw other bands and friends of ours lose a lot of the support they had built up. So we made the decision to put our own together from scratch. Luckily between us we have the skills to pull it off; Amie’s a web developer and organisational wizard, I’m a graphic designer and video producer, Gemma’s brilliant at marketing and Matt’s production skills are next level. These days being in an independent band is far more than just writing a bunch of songs and walking into a major label’s office. If you want to succeed, you have to teach yourself to become the manager, the designer, the accountant, the booking agent, the lawyer, the technician and so much more. It’s all about perseverance and consistency but it’s definitely something any band can achieve if you’ve got the motivation and the right work ethic.