Interview with Flame
Tell me about the band’s current situation and your goals.
Recently, what happened was that we have rescinded the contract we had with Skyfall – due to several problems we had with them – and now we don’t have a record label; but we’re working on new songs to find a new contract in the short, medium-run. There are some labels interested, but from our side we want to create something of great quality and a dignifying successor to our debut Infinity… a Timeless Journey Through an Emotional Dream, seeing that Pentacrow, as some of you might know, was more like a mini-CD.
Regarding the changes in the line-up, we thought we had found the right person, but that didn’t happen as there were some details that made us think about it again… And, contrarily to what happened throughout Desire’s history, people aren’t what they seem to be. Initially, it always exists an identity that is shined by the musicians’ side when they belong to Desire’s line-up and, thereafter, that side is the total opposite to what we pretend to achieve. In the long-run, they end up “unmasking” and that’s what’s been revealed by the bassist we thought we’d recruited a while ago. He’s no longer involved with the band – much like the female vocalist, which had a certain relationship with him – and once more Desire is without a bassist. Once in a while we recruit some bassists to perform live on our shows, but, in reality, we don’t have what you can call a “real” bass-player. Dawn, our keyboardist, has, regretfully, abandoned the band for professional reasons, but it’s a leave that can be faced in the long-run, seeing that it’s highly complicated to find a worthy successor to Dawn to fill the key duties. It is not our goal either to find a person that can play all the stuff he executed (composition-wise), but at least a person who’s able to transmit the main ambiances. Like I said, Dawn keeps working with us, but at the level of an invited musician in some concerts, when his availableness allows. As such, we have three persons interested to play the synth for us and we have already started some sessions with them. We are more or less playing new songs with a keyboardist (which is not his vocation) and he’s showing his abilities really well. We putted aside our old material to dedicate ourselves completely to our new songs and to that person. At this moment we’re satisfied with him, but that doesn’t mean he has entered the band, as we are merely working at an experimental level.
You have recently released Pentacrow. Why this name in particular? Tell me also about the new songs, lyrics and the way you approached things this time.
Since we’re used to be in long periods of composition, after the release of our debut we thought it would be a good timing to release something that could encapsulate, in general traces, everything we’ve been doing so far; in a way, to tell people that the band is still alive and in a fine good health.
Regarding Pentacrow, what I can say about the title was that we tried to conciliate several factors in only one word and that’s the sole reason for the name. Why? Because it represents five years of the band’s existence, five years we tried to approach things in a way that we included our first ever song, Death Blessed by a God (recorded from the promo-track). We also tried to sort of comprise the album to the people who weren’t aware of it through the new track Ride in a Dream Crow. And then we have that other recent phase of Desire, with the song When Sorrow Embraces My Heart and with our homage to Candlemass (Solitude). That is, perhaps, the explanation of the section “Penta”. Regarding “Crow”, we gathered the symbol of the band (the crow) and the designation of why we describe ourselves as crow-lovers.
As far as the topics of the new songs are concerned – especially When Sorrow Embraces My Heart, which is the one that is properly the new song included – we tried to explore even further the tragic-negative and highly emotional line of Desire’s lyrics, which has been a voyage initiated with the debut. That is our goal: to evolve even more in a poetic manner, hence the inclusion of Solitude, our homage to the great men of worldwide Metal, Candlemass, a band we all grew up listening. And maybe the album from which that song was taken (Epicus Doomicus Metallicus) has woken us to play our type of music: melancholic. Solitude wasn’t chosen merely at random, seeing that the song itself – and its own lyrical component – has a lot to do with Desire’s universe, so we think we accomplished that quite well.
Back in the spring, you performed a quite successful show in a Lisbon’s amphitheatre with a somewhat unusual choreography. How do you look upon it today and who were (at the time) the new female vocalist and bass player?
Indeed, we tried to make a very special concert in connection with the release party of Pentacrow. We had some difficulties and delays concerning the place where we wanted to play (a different kind of room, which would be different from a mere Metal venue). Without any doubt, I think the chosen place had a great intimacy between the band and the audience and I think it was extremely well accomplished.
Talking about the concert, and in behalf of all Desire members, we understood quite well the event’s responsibility, because it was, for us, a big surprise to see a complete sold out venue with approximately 400 people to watch us. Maybe this was due to our attitude towards the national scene – I could apply the word modesty – because, as people have previously told us, maybe we don’t realise what Desire are at an international level and maybe because of that we had a big surprise seeing so many people; plus we didn’t have any support act, so that leads to erase any doubts that people might had, as they knew it was only Desire that was playing. One week before the show we played in Covilhã and we also had a tremendous gig and the bond between the audience and the band was great. It was one of those concerts where we were most relaxed and it was really like true madness there! That same concert was good for us, because we took the time to prepare for the release party a week after. But that didn’t come to happen as we thought, because we were very withdrawn of that human moulding. Concerning the reaction of the crowd, it was excellent, as the receptivity to our songs and our capacity to perform our studio’s sound on stage was great (a lot more superior than we thought). We have a great concern about the scenic level when trying to set a great ambiance and theatricality that perhaps we only have achieved on this specific concert, because we were more close to reach our goals but, as it’s easy to recognise, the theatricality of the scenic effects demanded a lot of strength and will (plus a share of the budgets). Everything the audience has seen was brought by the band, so it’s was a lot complicated; not only because of the money to carry the band upwards, as it is easy to comprehend what such a task evolves, but because we don’t have the help of anyone but ourselves. But with the little we have, we always try to come up with things that people can relate to. I also think that when it comes to live shows, people have to face things in a different way than with any average band. Not that Desire distant ourselves from the Metal line – far from that (such thing will never happen), as Desire is in essence a Metal band – but people really appreciate Desire’s sound and there’s a huge intimacy between us and the audience and we really want that to happen sp that people can be involved in a great ambiance and atmosphere in order to witness our sound live in a more demanding way than hearing it safely on CD.
As I previously told, the female voice we used on the release party is no longer with us. It was more like a try-out (and well succeeded, in this case) in order to join Desire on stage. For the future we have already some people in mind and in that way we are really hoping to perform big shows in the future, but it’s not always easy, mainly due to the conditions and the places on which we have to play in Portugal. But I think people were really happy with the concert and, as usual, the more unhappy ones are always us, but it’s a healthy reaction, as it makes us work more demanding (individually).
Regarding Shadow, at the time we were looking for a bass player and he was introduced to us by the people at Skyfall, because he had recently left Fallen Seasons and he was with us (I assume) since the beginning of this year, so he must have entered the band during January. He played two concerts with us, rehearsed and, fortunately, didn’t enter the creative process because if we have a very negative thing with musicians is that when we enter in a phase of composition people think that by their own will they have to take the stuff they compose when they leave the band and that’s a thing we haven’t accepted very well, so it leads to discussions with those people. It’s not our spirit, or our way of being, seeing that when a person enters a band he or she must be working for the band and not for personal reasons, and that was a thing that started to grow in Shadow’s personality. It seemed to us that he was trying to reach a more personal acknowledgement than a recognition at a band’s general level and that was proved by some of his attitudes. Sometimes we used to say this, ironically, but perhaps Desire is a band that talks too much and it should do more and talk less, but, normally, the chats between us have been really productive and in some of those talks we saw that such a personality like his didn’t interest us, which led to his leave.
Why do you use aliases (something that is more common within the Black Metal spectrum)?
Our choice of heteronyms owes to the fact that it reflects our hidden selves into Desire, and it’s only through the music we make that we can reveal certain feelings and emotions that we can’t otherwise. That’s why all the members decided to choose certain aliases that could have something to do with Nature and, above all, a bit with each other’s personality. This also allows us to express certain emotions that our regular name can’t, therefore the use of the pseudonym of Tear on vocals, Mist on guitar, Eclipse on the other guitar and myself on drums. I chose this one, in particular, because it allows me to express certain feelings within my actions, therefore my vast changes of personality during certain places and situations. I have a certain attraction by fire, but the choice for the flame owes itself to the duality that it can awaken – both good and bad feelings regarding the most diverse situations.
Talking about the connection with Black Metal, we have seldom been appointed as such, but we have a thing that distance ourselves from Black Metal bands: the heteronyms we use have really something to do with each one’s personality and its respective elements are really concrete and known things to most people, unlike many individuals who have often really complex and funny names. But no, our aliases don’t have really anything to do with Black Metal’s ideology, since they’re the mirror of our personalities and our true identity.
The name of the band has progressively changed over the years: first from Putrid Cadaver, then to Incarnated and, ultimately, to Desire. Why is that?
The band has, progressively, changed its name because it has always been in search for perfection. Our first name, Putrid Cadaver, is a name that we practically ignore these days. It was chosen by me and Tear and it was inspired by Death Metal. We have always been – and still are – unconditional fans of Death Metal but, as I said, the choice for that name doesn’t really mean anything for us now, as we never really recorded anything under it. Our first and only real name was Incarnated, created in 1993, a little bit before the release of the Death Blessed by a God promo, although we soon realised that there were too many bands under that same name abroad, hence our last change for Desire, as we think it reflects both lyrical and musical elements perfectly. The day that Desire changes its name is the day the band ceases its activities, has there will be no point in continuing afterwards. Desire will always be Desire, no matter the events that will occur.
The Portuguese scene has been growing abroad over the last couple of years, but don’t you think that it’s still quite homogeneous?
Without a doubt, there is a major recognition from the worldwide scene in relation to our Metal. We can’t forget that the fact that some bands have signed with foreign labels has launched Portugal to a higher status on the worldwide scene and I think that there exists some talented bands, but it’s sad to see that those bands of real talent are the ones more occult within our environment; maybe because of though break, or some misfortune throughout their lives, but I think it’s mainly because the scene gives more space to untalented bands than to original ones and I think that reflects on that bad luck I was mentioning. I also think that Portugal is a very influenceable country by the music that comes from abroad, as people always have an urge to make something similar and I think that’s totally wrong because there are lots of good music in Portugal. Pity is that much of those bands aren’t still recognised yet.
In connection with the Black Metal trend over the last couple of years, I think Portugal has followed it, but there are exceptions like Decayed, who haven’t been influenced by it due to their coherence. Also Firstborn Evil is another good example but, apart from that, little more. I think that Portugal can be proud of itself by having an elite of a couple of bands within each genre and bands with quality -ranging from traditional Heavy Metal to the most extreme Black Metal. I think Portugal has good bands in these fields and it’s also important to mention that, as the years go by, people have an urge to do more and better and it’s not only good for them as musicians but also for the scene, in general. But I really don’t like the fact that Portuguese musicians have been adapting themselves towards the current trend, as I am thinking of Gothic Metal – something I really can’t understand – because it’s either Gothic or Metal, as simple as that. The fusion of both styles I really can’t comprehend.
Narcissism and self-importance are major traits to be found among several bands and entities, don’t you agree?
As you so correctly refer, most people tend to behave like this because they have a tendency to think that the world revolves around them, when in fact it doesn’t. I see many bands trying to be as difficult as they can to one another in shows and I’m totally against that. As far as we’re concerned, we have already noticed that some people see us like that but they’re totally wrong. The good thing is that when they come to actually meet us they end up getting a different opinion, but it’s quite unfortunate that sometimes there are still rumours about Desire about the band being something that it’s not.
Why are only you and Tear answering interviews?
As you said, all the interviews have been done by me and Tear simply because we’re the creative core of the band, and I think it would be wrong having other members doing this for logical reasons.
Tell me a bit about the “misanthropic tragedy” reference.
As I previously said, the world of Desire is very personal and individualistic. We have our own universe, which bases itself in very depressive, misanthropic and tragic-negative feelings, so we decided to opt for that reference, because as much as Desire might change in the future we’ll never forget our origins and we’ll always keep to that spirit. The “tragedy” aspect symbolises that whole universe we feel familiar with and no matter what people might think of us because of a cover, or a symbol, we will never change. We always say that all the things concerning Desire must be released the way we want – be it lyrically, musically, or even aesthetically. It’s a very negative world, as we’re the kind of people who always see things with a different approach, seeing that from day one we haven’t really been welcomed by luck, so we vent this kind of utter misanthropy and negativity through music. Above all, those are our main influences, both musically and lyrically, although we also share some of what happens to us (mentally) outside the band because, in one way or another, Desire reflects all of this. A good example that mirrors this duality can be found in the track When Sorrow Embraces My Heart. I admit that I couldn’t be comfortable with myself if I spoke with somebody on a daily basis about my personal life, which has been really negative.
Your previous label, Skyfall, has recently ceased activities. How did this affect the band and are you already in contact with other companies? Also, why did Skyfall’s manager – a member of Desire at one point – did leave the band in the first place?
We automatically annulled the contract due to some past allegations. We never forget that Skyfall released our first two records and maybe if it wasn’t for them we would’ve never released the albums so, all things considered, we are grateful to Skyfall for their work. The band gave the best it could, but maybe our demands as musicians were a bit too weird for them, but there’s something that we’re very adamant about: if we are demanding to ourselves – as people and musicians – we have the right to expect the same from others and that didn’t happen from their part in regards to our work, and it makes me wonder a bit because, according to figures, we were the best-selling band on the label (go figure).
Nowadays we have no label, nor any kind of contacts with labels. There are some Portuguese labels who have reached us already, but we’re not very interested to sign with another national company due to the experience we had. Right now we’re more interested in writing new material but, in case we don’t find a worthy deal in the short-run, there’s a chance that we might go back to the demos again. Time will tell, I guess.
Concerning Luís Lamelas, he really played with Desire some years ago till the recording of the album but, at that time, he went to the studio as a session musician already. But he was kicked-out of the band for the same reasons as Shadow; both had really no belonging within Desire’s universe and they really didn’t agree with some of the aspects of its concept, so it was for the best to have them out. They were also trying to mould the band according to what they though was best and that was when they started to step over the line. Meanwhile, Lamelas went to Skyfall and we never really had any bad feelings towards him (or vice-versa) from the moment he was running the label. He’s a person we talk once in while, because we all have stuff to do and we’re busy all the time, but he is a person we have no hard feelings with and I hope he thinks that way as well.
Recently, television has been giving a fair amount of attention to the more extreme factions of Rock and Metal. Are you planning to shoot any video in the future? Also, tell me a bit about your underground distributors, Tears in Flames and Velvet Castle, and if you have any favourites.
It’s a shame that there aren’t any Metal shows in Portugal, because I think there wouldn’t be a lack of audience or bands. As far as Desire is concerned, we always wanted to have a video and we suggested this many times to Skyfall, but we never had any positive feedback from them. Speaking of which, I remember that when we released the album we had a proposal from a French promoter to include us on a European tour with Marduk and Gehenna but, right from the get-go, Skyfall declined the idea because it involved a great amount of money to invest and this was really absurd, because, if they had done it, the revenues could’ve been pretty interesting and both parties would’ve gained something from that. The same happened when Adipocere Records wanted us to be on a compilation distributed by Metallian (the magazine), but what saved the day was that they included our album’s epilogue in the end, for free – although it wasn’t a good example of our sound, per se – and this was a compilation where bands like Septic Flesh, Satyricon, Emperor and Nightfall (to name a few) would be featured. But going back to the question, we had great ideas about the video, as we were thinking of doing it for the track A Ride in a Dream Crow, but we never got any support and now it’s practically impossible to think about it, as we aren’t on any label at the moment.
Tears In Flames is a parallel project of myself and Tear (the name comes from ourselves, Tear and Flame). We have been collecting videos for some time now and we saw that there were many people interested in acquiring video material, not to mention the fact that there are many people who have only heard the bands but haven’t actually seen them live yet, as in Portugal we never get to see many bands playing here. We have been getting good feedback, actually.
Right now I’m also involved in the Velvet Castle project, which is a distribution mail order service I work with my girlfriend comprising CDs, videos and also some magazines. The first catalogue is supposed to be completed by the end of September, in a quite professional way. Apart from the lists, there will be some pages talking about the Portuguese scene, as well as international scenes, plus a poster is also included.
Personally, the official live tape from Nuclear Blast with Dimmu Borgir and Dissection really caught my attention, as well as Satyricon’s Mother North video, which I think is excellent. I was really unhappy with the way the Emperor video came out, because I had access to it before the EP was released, and I think they could’ve chosen another track to shoot, like With Strength I Burn. Another favourite of mine was a tape released by an European label, whose name I don’t recall, which featured Sabbat, Celtic Frost and Candlemass (I guess). That was a really good one. Also the official tape from Running Wild, Death or Glory, is a cult to me.
Have you got any plans about a new album? Feel free to tell about you plans for the future.
To all that feel identified with what was said above – fans, labels or distributors – I urge you to write us, as your contacts are always welcomed.
Regarding future activities, Desire hopes to release a live-tape gathering the best we’ve done during 1997 and 1998. Labels interested to release it can us soon.
In a short note, I must say that this interview was excellent, as it shows some knowledge on what Desire has been making throughout the years, which is good and extremely gratifying. More interviews like this are always welcomed.