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Interviews

SOLSTICE


Britain is known to be the purveyor of top class music, I guess everyone knows the bandnames. Well Britain is also considered to be motherland of doom metal from old Sabbath to My Dying Bride, Anathema and Cathedral. Britain has also several less popular doom metal acts which are very good as well. Read this interview with leader of SOLSTICE Rich Walker. The band is remarkable for several reasons - splendid music both dark and beautiful, somber and melancholic and aggressive. In 90's SOLSTICE released three cult albums - "Lamentatiom", "Halycon" (mini) and fabulous Age" released by Candlelight and Misanthropy Recs. SOLSTICE brought up many musicians subsequently appearing in CRADLE OF FILTH, BAL-SAGOTH, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, MY DYING BRIDE and ANATHEMA. Then the band vanished for several years to emerge again, well let Rich Walker tell us everything.


Velingor: At what age did you start to play guitar? Under influence of any known and legendary band? Perhaps, you tried to play on other instruments, did you? Why has doom metal been chosen? Did you play music of any other genres?

Rich: I started to play guitar in 1988 when I was 20 years old, before that I was a singer in a hardcore punk band, And a drummer too. I made recordings as singer, drummer and guitarist in all the years I have been playing with bands. I only ever played in metal or hardcore Punk bands which were the two music styles I grew up listening to and always liked (BLACK SABBATH, DISCHARGE, IRON MAIDEN, MOTORHEAD, THE EXPLOITED, BROKEN BONES were my favourite kinds of bands when I was a teenager..).I was mainly inspired by the guitarist of DISCHARGE, Bones Roberts at first and the guitar player of US Doom metal band SAINT VITUS, Dave Chandler. Both in style and in their songwriting approach. But other bands who inspired me were of course BATHORY, MANOWAR, IRON MAIDEN and CANDLEMASS

Velingor: It is a little history: Apparently, the initiator of creation SOLSTICE were you?Tell us about creation of band more in details. Why this name is chosen, it symbolizes something for you?

Rich: Yes I formed SOLSTICE back in 1990, from that original line up only I remain but as I compose all the lyrics and pretty much all the music nothing ever really changes too dramatically. The name was chosen as a symbol of our non Christian heritage, harkening back before the plague from the middle east began to infect us….

Velingor: Whether there were problems with name SOLSTICE? As far as I know, in USA there are two bands with the same name, one playing death metal, another - hard core (or punk).

Rich: Fuck them all, that shitty death metal band also had members of those idiots from Cannibal Corpse, their manager wrote to us in 1992 telling us to change our name. I wrote back and told him I would cut his throat should he ever set foot on English soil. Eventually those Amerikaan idiots split up and disappeared into the depths of obscurity the deserved

SOLSTICE

Velingor: Who wrote lyrics for the previous albums and who writes it now? What was a source of inspiration?

Rich: I write all the lyrics, on the first album the lyrics were more inspired by Candlemass but still had an anti Christian message in songs like "ONLY THE STRONG". As time progressed the lyrics have became much more strange as they deal with pre-history doom cults, violence, arcane knowledge and the ongoing battle between ourselves and the shadow veiled forces of hypocrisy.As a writer of words I was always influenced by the author Howard Phillips Lovecraft since an early age.

Velingor: Your first album "Lamentations" has been published by "Candlelight Rec " which is known now as publisher of EMPEROR and some known death metal bands. Why you had been published by this label?

Rich: We were offered a deal by the candlelight label as we worked hard to get ourselves known and make the best possible music we could at the time. We also had a very fearsome reputation as been the heaviest live band ever from the UK which we were.When we played live we blew up the PA systems on a regular basis due to the incredible guitar sounds we had!! And this of course made a lot of shitty UK bands try to copy us!It also made sense at the time, as we were the only Doom metal band on the label!

Velingor: Your album " New Dark Age " was very interesting and various at the musical plan - besides classical doom metal there are some other elements, for example English national folklore. You decided to make music more various, did you?

Rich: Of course, the key to make the music more enjoyable for myself mainly was to begin to incorporate more inspiration from other epic metal. Mainly Bathory and Manowar, plus the twin duelling guitars of Iron Maiden and the medieval/folk elements. Combining all these created a metal behemoth to march to war to!! I'm very proud of all SOLSTICE releases that's why now I think the next one will be the most complete yet in vision and musical approach, as I finally found what I was searching for in songwriting.

Velingor: " New Dark Age " has been published by" Misantrophy Rec. "Besides this label had become famous for black metal bands BURZUM and MAYHEM. Is there certain link with music of these cult black metal stars in SOLSTICE's music?

Rich: There is no link. I think both those bands are shit (MAYHEM is nowadays a total commercial joke) and I hated ALL the bands on Misanthropy except PRIMORDIAL from Eire. Once again we were signed on the strength of our music and ideological standpoint.

Velingor: Why there was such long break after the release of " New Dark Age "? I met the information that SOLSTICE has disbanded. As far as this information is authentic?

Rich: First, I left the band as I was kind of tired of the shit that was happening with the old members been lazy and never doing anything except complain. Also their lack of willingness to press forward in musical ability was just depressing. After a few weeks without me they split up, so a year ago I reformed the band with new members to record in the future a new album of crushing epic doom metal.

Velingor: Now there's official information about forthcoming release of new album SOLSTICE " Blood and Honour Vol 1 ". Is it comeback? Whether musicians who took part in recording of previous SOLSTICE's albums participated in creation of this album or not?

Rich: The BLOOD & HONOUR releases are the old demo's and various rare stuff from the history of SOLSTICE. These will be released as soon as I have the money to or I can find a suitable label. It is also my intention to create a special exclusive release of various tracks for Eastern Europe to introduce people to the history of SOLSTICE if they do not know us already!The musicians on the next SOLSTICE recording are totally different except for me, it never really matters anymore I think as things always pretty much sound the same in the end with my songwriting for SOLSTICE.

Velingor: Which will be this album? Returning to classical doom, or the further development in spirit of " New Dark Age "? Whether presence of " Vol 1 " in the title means that " Vol 2 " also have to be?

SOLSTICERich: The fourth SOLSTICE record is called "TO SOL A THANE". Musically it is still epic doom metal with Medieval influence, but I think it is somewhere between "HALCYON" and "NEW DARK AGE". I am very proud of the new songs I have been writing, as they will crush anyone who dares listen to them into submission by their immense power!!!As I've said before, the two volume set is basically a collection of rare demo's and unreleased songs!! Totally different to the next studio session.

Velingor: Do you plan to make a tour in support of a new album?Do you want to come to CIS-countries?

Rich: We will make a few shows only, basically as we are all playing in other bands and have other commitments to keep. I have a job, family, label to run also etc as well as I need to spend more time drinking beer…!! Ha ha!Of course, I would love to play in Russia especially, many years ago we were to play in Moscow in 1994 with the band ANATHEMA, but because ANATHEMA did not want to drive 20 hours to Moscow we never made it to the show which we were pretty fucking angry about, but we were just the support band on that tour so there was nothing we could do as the bus was anathema's. They are fucking lame posers.

Velingor: There is lot of very qualitative doom metal bands in England.Do you think that your legendary misty land gives you inspiration that once was given to Black Sabbath?

Rich: BLACK SABBATH is of course great, and other UK doom metal like PAGAN ALTAR, REQUIEM, DESOLATION ANGELS, TELLURIAN and more modern bands like WARNING, THE RIVER, IRON HEARSE etc. There have been many great Doom bands from England.I find a lot of inspiration from England, and been English, more so than any other band from England I think.

Velingor: Do you communicate with any English musicians? Perhaps, you together drink beer in a pub with Dany Filth from "Cradles" and Aaron from "Brides"? J

Rich: I would rather kill these filthy fucking subhumans than drink beer with them. I piss on their bands. I hate both of these idiots, their music is pure shit for gays.The only bands are communicate with are the doom bands WARNING, PAGAN ALTAR and a black metal band called THUS DEFILED.

Velingor: As far as I know, England is relatively expensive country, so not everyone metal musician in your country can live only by music. What's about you?

Rich: I have to work a normal job to survive as I make no money from my music, but I do not want to be a famous rock star, I am happy making music that I love for myself and my friends and not for a profit. If I do make money then I spend it on records and beer….And it is very expensive in England I think, for example a beer would cost you US $5 or a CD album from a store US $25. This is crazy, but I buy only albums direct from labels or trade them to get cheaper prices!!Still, I am thankful that England is not as expensive to live in as say Norway or Denmark!!

Velingor: I know that you also play in ISEN TORR band (except SOLSTICE).What is music of this group? Do you act with this band?

Rich: ISEN TORR plays Anglo Saxon Battle metal, and we play it LOUDLY!!! The music of ISEN TORR is similar to "NEW DARK AGE" SOLSTICE in a way, but a lot different in others, basically because I am writing it I guess, it is more uptempo than SOLSTICE been much closer to the classic NWOBHM sound of bands like TYRANT, ELIXIR and IRON MAIDEN. It still has the EPIC feel which to me is most important of all..!!We recorded and released the first EP already, it is called "MIGHTY & SUPERIOR" and we only pressed 666 copies as a 10" vinyl release. Later this year we will record our second release, which will also come out on vinyl only as well!! ISEN TORR will never release a CD!! Only vinyl!!

Velingor: I know that you collect vinyl. Is this sounding is more priority for you than digital on CD?

Rich: Of course, I love vinyl, I collect metal vinyl because I think it sounds better than CDs, and looks better too. Given the choice, I will always buy the vinyl version of a release rather than a CD, but you know I have CDs in my collection too…But I think vinyl release is more honest in a way than digital.

Velingor: What bands do you like, your favorites? It's interesting too what are the musical preferences of other SOLSTICE members.

Rich WalkerRich: Well I like many different metal bands, but I honestly prefer EPIC sounding metal above all else. IRON MAIDEN, CANDLEMASS, BROCAS HELM, CIRITH UNGOL, MANILLA ROAD, ELIXIR, DESOLATION ANGELS, MANOWAR, BATHORY, CELTIC FROST, ARC, TYRANT (UK) and RUNNING WILD are just some of my favourites. I basically like all metal music (Except gothic, rap or industrial which I think is for homosexuals), some early 80's British punk & Oi like DISCHARGE, SKREWDRIVER, THE EXPLOITED etc. and Medieval/folk music.I won't call myself open minded, because I am not, you will always mainly find me listening to metal 99% of the time!!

Velingor: On your mini album "Halcyon" there is a cover version of MANOWAR - " Gloves of Metal ". Did you play any other covers? What covers would you like to play?

Rich: We also played covers by IRON MAIDEN, CANDLEMASS, SAINT VITUS and TRESPASS with SOLSTICE. I enjoyed playing covers sometimes as It was a lot of fun to try and make someone elses music. There are many other bands I would like to play songs by, but you know that it would take me forever to cover them all…ha ha! I like too much!! I would like to cover songs by EXCITER, RUNNING WILD, CIRITH UNGOL, BROCAS HELM, TYRANT, ARC…just too many to mention as I said

Velingor: Do you know anything about metal music in CIS-states?

Rich: Sure, I know ARIA, SCALD, CANONIS, KRUIZ and other east European bands like GODS TOWER (Belarus), ROOT (Czech), MASTERS HAMMER (Czech), and polish metal like KAT. I think my favourites are ARIA and SCALD from Russia, but there must be many old Russian metal bands that is unknown to the Western European metal fans. Most people over here are idiots, they think that to play metal the words must be in English, they are full of shit. I never care as long as the music is great!!

Velingor: Please write some words to SOLSTICE fans in CIS-states (here are not a few of them!!!)

Rich: Never surrender!

Velingor
12-03-2004

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