Friday, May 16, 2014

Interview with Ian Arkley

Photo courteous of Pete Skilton

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of talking with multi-instrumentalist Ian Arkley about his band My Silent Wake and let me just say that when it comes to the death/doom scene there are few bands that have intrigued me as much as this UK act has! My Silent Wake ( has been active since 2005 and since day one it has been lead by veteran musician/founder/gentleman Ian Arkley. For My Silent Wake (often times abbreviated as simply MSW) their strength lies in the emotional and spiritual depth of their lyrics and the almost effortless manor in which they can blend subtle melodic passages into songs which (more often then not) border on furious, nail biting metallic death! We're talking about a drop-dead, doom-laden death metal onslaught here and nothing short of it so it's not like MSW's music is for the faint at heart! And yet in Ian's talented hands the music in question, brilliantly worked out so that it reflects many different shades of suffering (as all good death/doom bands should!), is not all death, darkness and despair (or, if you will, brutal metal!). In fact, MSW crafts it's music so that often times individual tracks are filled with smooth interludes, tempting melodies and pieces that hint at a musician whose appreciation for classical music runs almost as deep as his appreciation for the likes of Black Sabbath! All of which ends up making this outfit that much more interesting and, frankly-speaking, it helps them stand amongst their peers! My Silent Wake deserves more recognition, a bigger audience for sure given the bold way this outfit goes about delivering adventurous music. Especially as the adventurous music this UK-based act delivers is real, emotional in a raw way that really tugs at your insides! It reflects the tragic balance of light and darkness in a world that we've made for ourselves (having only ourselves to now blame!) that seems to teeter back and forth at an ever increasing, alarming rate! If you have yet to experience this act for yourself then what are you waiting for?  Head over to the group's Facebook page (after reading this interview over of course!) and go from there. For now though read on as we discover together just what makes MSW so special....

Andy-My Silent Wake, how did it all come about?

Ian-The band started in 2005 straight after the demise of my former band Ashen Mortality. 3 of us from the last line-up of that band started to work on new songs and unused Ashen Mortality songs, and within a few months we had recorded our debut album 'Shadow of Sorrow'. We had been quickly signed to Bombworks records after they heard our initial 2 song demo. There were a few changes in the line-up and in the various instruments played by band members as we got ready to gig after the release of our second album 'The Anatomy of Melancholy'. We were unable to gig for the first two years as our drummer at the time (Jasen) had damaged his wrist. Steve, the engineer from the studio we recorded at was also a drummer and started playing with us and soon joined the band officially. Jasen switched to doing joint vocals with me. His vocals are the more black metal sounding ones. Kate switched from keys to bass and Andi from bass to rhythm guitar for gigging purposes and this arrangement stuck, with Kate also providing keys and some vocals on the recordings. Other members have come and gone, but another musician we had early on was Alan, who played bass on our early acoustic songs. All a bit complicated! The line-up has been through a lot of changes in the nine years we have been together.

Andy- Is there a new full-length release in the works for 2014?

Ian-We are doing a special re-release of our fourth album 'Et Lux Perpetua' entitled 'And Everlasting Light'. This will feature two new short tracks and different mixes of most of the songs from Et Lux. The whole thing has been newly mastered and sounds great. This will be vinyl only, at least for now and will be released on Fragile Branch and House of Ashes (the label we recently signed to). We are set to record our new album in Sept this year for a release next year and have an album's worth of ambient songs we would like to release. Next year we hope to do some form of compilation to celebrate 10 years in existence.

Andy-You've had a long and varied career now. When did you first know that music was calling you to you?

Ian-I loved music from an early age. The first song I liked was 'Mull of Kintyre' by Wings in the seventies. My Mom has a recording of me singing this with a toy guitar when I was very young. Soon after this I got into Led Zeppelin and later Black Sabbath as well as other metal, rock and goth bands. As soon as I realized that forming a band was a possibility, I jumped at the chance. I was late teens by this time, even though I had dabbled with playing guitar and songwriting prior to this.

Andy-The first time I ever heard your work was when you were with Seventh Angel. To this day I look at "The Torment" as one of Christian metal's best albums! I'd imagine that there was no way back then that you could have foreseen just how far you'd come!

Ian- That's great that you have heard that. I still think it was a decent album, but don't like the lyrics. When I formed Ashen Mortality I tried to get away from being tagged a Christian band and am still trying to get free of that tag! I was very young at the time (20 or 21) and didn't know much about life, coming from a fairly sheltered background. I am very pleased that various labels have seen fit to release the music my bands have been making. I love recording and gigging and hope I can keep doing this for a while yet.

Andy-As someone soon to be 41 I understand what you mean when you say that at 20 or 21 you didn't know much about life as you came from a fairly sheltered background. My upbringing was similarly in line with what you likely went through. Still, from a musical standpoint, "The Torment" is way more creative then anything I would have dared to try at that young of an age! It's easy to see that music has always played a huge role in your life Ian!
Ian-Thanks! I think I have always enjoyed a lot of different styles from folk and classical up to black metal, so the influences from all of that comes over in the music. With MSW we always said we would play what we wanted and not be restricted, but even in Seventh Angel days we used doom and medieval elements and the band was never just a thrash band.

Andy-When can we expect to see "And Everlasting Light"? As someone who collects vinyl I will be looking to buy this one for my personal collection!

Ian-I really hope it will be released by late summer. The masters are ready, we are awaiting artwork and then we can press ahead with it. Our last vinyl came out last year as a result of some very kind and generous friends and fans contributing to our Kickstarter project. We do love vinyl, but postage is so expensive these days it almost doubles the price people have to pay to order it.

Andy- So, 2015 will mark 10 years together as a band for My Silent Wake? Does it feel like it's been that long to you or has it all been a blur?

Ian-In some ways it does, when I look back to the very first things we did, but the time has gone quickly as it does as you get older. The good thing is that we have managed to release a lot in that time and have had a fairly steady run of gigs. We all work so we couldn't have a hectic gig schedule but it is enough to keep things going.

Andy-Speaking of steady gigs, does My Silent Wake ever make it here to the states? If so how often as My Silent Wake comes across as a band which must be experienced live!

Ian-No we have never played a gig over there, even though we were signed to a US label. We would love to play there but I think the costs would be prohibitive. We have played as far afield as Norway and The Czech Republic and we have done plenty of other European gigs.

Andy-Alright, we have a new vinyl release in the works and an album slated for 2015. Are there any other projects that you'd like to touch on?
Ian-I mentioned the ambient album. This is something quite different to anything we have done before except maybe the song 'A Photograph' on Anatomy. We hope that we can find a label that will be interested in this and hope to get a really nice package together. If this doesn't happen, we will at least make the tracks downloadable. I am not sure as yet what the compilation or compilations will be like, but hopefully we will be able to do a double album or a metal one and an acoustic one to do the back catalog justice.

Andy-Where's home for you these days Ian?

Ian-I live near Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset and have lived here for 16 years. I am originally from the West Midlands. I live in a small town called Worle and the sea and woods are very close and I can get to work and to the motorway easily, so I am very happy living here.
Andy-Are there any local bands that you'd like to spread some love to?

Ian-Our bassist Addam has a band called Striga and also plays in the band Leppe, which are both great bands. He has helped out a cool doom band called Husk. We have been friends and fans of The Drowning from South Wales for years. Probably a lot more I should mention but just woke up!

Andy-When you're not on the road or in the studio what does downtime look like for you? Any hobbies of note?

Ian-I work as a freight train driver and I enjoy railways and model railways in general. I like a lot of comedy and films and enjoy reading - mainly The Fortean Times or occasionally books. I like photography a lot too.

Andy- Wow, it sounds as if you plan a lot on your plate outside of music! That's cool though. As we wrap up our talk today is there anything else you'd like to touch on?

Ian-Just to say thanks for the interview and support for MSW!

Andy-Thank you Ian for talking with us and you can rest assured that I will be throwing my support behind My Silent Wake!

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