Before the Rain
Interview with Pedro Daniel
Tell me about the significance of the band’s name, who chose it and what meaning does it hold for both yourself and the one who came up with it.
Well, the name for the band came up on a very early stage, years before I even got in the line-up. I never discussed this issue with the founding members at all, but I will surely try to express my view and feelings towards it. When thinking about the concept “before the rain”, the first thing that comes to my mind is a barren, desolate wasteland, where all life seems withered and consumed by the scorching sun, always craving for a new tempest that will bring the hope of a new existence. The use of Nature has been present in Before the Rain’s music and visuals since the very first moment and it’s surely one of our main resources when writing (both music and lyrics).
Speaking of which, I believe Nature has had a major impact on your recordings, given the fact that you went through this process far away in the southern branch of Portugal’s countryside.
Indeed. We moved to an isolated studio on the countryside of Portugal, located in some sort of farm and that change in our daily habits (considering the fact that we’re all city-folks) had a huge impact on the result of the album. If you check the artwork, all the photos on it were collected in that particular place (apart from two or three images taken elsewhere). When you’re afar from your daily routine and affairs focus flows in a much more natural way. We used to take a break from recordings and when stepping out of the studio door, instead of a choking cityscape, cars and pollution, we had trees, sheep and clean air. At least for me, apart from a couple of situations where stress or tension came up (due to tight schedules), it was a time to be remembered.
Grabbing the issue here, how did the idea of mastering the album abroad came up and how did you like the final result and experience?
Well, from the very start there was the notion that we would do whatever possible to mix and master the album in a studio abroad. We checked some possibilities and in the end, we understood that our budget would only allow us to do the master and from all the places we scouted, The Cutting Room was by far the best option available. When our deal with Major Label Industries became official they offered us the possibility of financing the master, so we grabbed it and that was it. When the mixing process was finished, with João Bacelar, we sent the album up to Sweden and Thomas Eberger did his magic and managed to spice the whole thing up with more volume and substance and I guess that, for this stage of our existence, it all worked out pretty well.
Speaking of Major Label Industries, how did you hook up with them in the first place and are you pleased with what they’ve been doing (especially due to their short experience as a company)?
Well, when Hugo Santos, our second guy in the guitar (at the time), started to deal with them about his main band Process of Guilt, we were nearly finished with our own recordings and we already had an audible promo to show. He brought our name up to the guys at Major Label Industries and things moved on from there. They were quite honest and straightforward about their plans for the label and it was a matter of time until we had a closed deal with them.
All I can say at this point is that they have been doing a very competent job, both in distribution and promotion and, despite being a new label, the guys in it have enough years of experience and know-how to get this rolling in the right tracks from the start. Our sincere regards to them, for believing in this project!
…One Days Less seems to be quite an emotional and in-depth piece, so I was wondering if there was actually a concept running through it, or are the songs individual creations on both grounds?
… One Day Less was not conceived or crafted in the fashion of a concept album. Some of the songs in it are re-recordings from the 2003 debut demo … And With the Day Dying Light, so it would be hard to think about a linear storyline when integrating these songs with the new material, although the listener can take his/her own “reading”.
One of the finest principles of Art is to provide the audience enough space for each individual to compose his/her own interpretation, depending on their personal life experience and emotional background. I took the pen for some of the lyrics and my writing is different from Carlos’, because I tend to write with metaphors and subliminal messages, while he has a more direct approach to poetry. In the end, this combination of writing-styles results in a way that you’re never being taken astray with abstract notions and ideas, because amidst all that subjectivity there is something earthly to rely on (I hope you understand what I’m trying to say)…
The core that, indirectly, defines the whole.
Yes, there’s a constant balance that defines it. I guess that’s one of the reasons for the “concept” album notion to emerge (though it wasn’t planned as being so).
During the nineties, you also played in a Doom Metal project that was mostly inspired by the old, classic British trinity, so in retrospective, I was wondering how do you recollect those days in Sculpture and if your outlook on Doom Metal has changed that much ever since (regarding both the old and more contemporaneous standards).
I recall those years with a heavy heart. Despite the fact that we had a group of people totally focused on the objectives we were trying to achieve – and the fact that we were producing really emotional music – everything always happened in a way that it was terribly hard to sustain for long. Anyway, as I see it today, it was necessary (both for me and Carlos, the vocalist) that we endured that experience and, from a distance, those were very intense days. Not only my outlook on Doom Metal did change, but also my perspective from Music itself. When getting older, the big picture changes, the reason why you’re playing depressive or extreme music changes and your whole perspective on Life also changes. The concepts and notions we wrote about ten years back are still pertinent, but today we express them in a fashion that is less obvious, I think. That is also happening with the Doom Metal scene as well (lyrical and music-wise). Our new material is far more abstract, metaphorical and oniric (sic) than the previous and I think that is also a proof that we’re all changing with the years.
And speaking of facing your current and future assignments with a broader and maturer perspective, how do you remember the days you spent touring with Mourning Beloveth (not only from a musical, but also personal point of view) and do you happen to greet the live environment as much as the studio setting?
Well, the tour with Mourning Beloveth was just a two days’ set and it’s obvious that you won’t really “know” people within that time span, but, anyway, those guys are a kick: amazing people with a great sense of humor, highly fond of red wine and always keen for a warm conversation. They’re Irish and there’s not much more I can say.
You can’t really compare the experience of being in a studio with playing live. If you don’t have a sky-high budget to spend recording than all seconds count and somehow there’s a permanent state of stress due to tight schedules but, once ended, it’s always a time you keep dear because, for all accounts, it was all for the sake of making music. Playing live is always more cathartic and visceral. You make your plans and you rehearse and make all sorts of preparation, but when stepping the stage, there’s this combustion of emotions and all hell breaks loose; especially when playing small venues, with the audience face to face… You can’t really compare it, though I love both in different ways…
Recently, Messiah Marcolin played a small, one-off set of songs with Therion and we’ve seen Aaron Stainthorpe and other Doom Metal celebrities doing similar doings, so how do you look upon Doom Metal’s state of affairs in this day and age and do you think Portugal can be considered a household reference for the genre (given both its acts and releases)? Also, what have been your most revered artists and efforts throughout the years?
Well, I think that the genre Has evolved in a very interesting way but managing to keep its founding roots firm without losing the main features that primordially characterise it. You still have old-school acts like Candlemass or Cathedral still active and releasing albums on a regular basis and a whole bunch of recent bands contributing to keep the seed alive. Funny to see how in a few years the hegemony of Doom Metal that was mainly established in the U.K. has now massively moved to Finland, where a crest of new and exciting bands emerged.
I believe that the main obstacle that Portugal has to surpass to become a substantial reference abroad is the small-minded mentality and victimising attitude it stubbornly loves to nourish. But the potential is definitely here and slowly some bands are breaking the glass dome and thinking wider and broader. Let’s see what the future holds for all of us.
I can’t really name artists or releases that particularly affected me because, somehow, every music I voluntarily consume has that effect on me for one reason or another. I hold Music dear and precious, as a metabolic necessity like air or water, so it’s hard for me to name a few in detriment of a multitude of others (I hope you understand).
Feel free to address any future goals concerning Before the Rain, as well as something else you find suitable to share.
All I can say for now is that you won’t have to wait much for a new release. Our recent line-up change allowed us to speed up the working process, so things are shaping ten times faster and I think the new material is coming out really strong and heavily ambient. We feel that we’re growing within, both as a band and as musicians…
Before the Rain