Hi there. Congratulations to your great new album. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
Thank you! The reaction has been unbelievable! The Longest Night was a very well-received album, and we were maybe a bit skeptical that people would not respond as well to Be Gone. But it has turned out even better than we could dared to hope. Our fans are loyal to us as we are to them. Be Gone is not as immediate of an album, and we were lucky to have patient and hungry ears waiting.
Some of our readers may never have heard about you. Please give us a short briefing in the band's biography.
We formed ten years ago, although our first album came out in 2003. The delay was because of various things, such as finding a singer, securing a good label partner, and so on. The lineup has always been the same four people: myself, Matt Johnsen shredding the guitar, Chris Kerns playing bass, and of course Tim Aymar singing. All four of us write both music and lyrics. We've been fortunate to have built a fantastic extended family around the band, including our label Cruz del Sur, our producer Matt Crooks, and our album artist Jean-Pascal Fournier. These people have helped make Pharaoh what it is, and they are ready to continue with us for as long as we can keep it up!
Let's talk about your new CD. What are the differences between "Be Gone" and "The Longest Night" in your opinion?
In a word, density. There is more action in a shorter length of time on the new album. As a result, it takes a few listens to really unfold. We also recorded the guitars in a very different fashion. For my part, I think the drumming is far more sophisticated, but that is in keeping with the material overall. I didn't make any great improvements as a drummer in the time between the two albums, but the more challenging material demanded a more elaborate performance. I don't really take any credit for that. It's my bandmates who pushed me, and vice versa.
What are the reasons for these differences?
We decided it would be that way before we wrote anything. We're very analytical.
My favourite is "Cover Your Eyes And Pray". Can you tell us something about this song and it's history?
Ah, sure. Well, musically it is something of a eulogy for Quorthon of Bathory, although I added a lot of spice to the drumming that may have obscured this somewhat. Chris Kerns wrote the music, Tim wrote the vocal melody, and then Matt and Tim worked up the lyrics together. My interpretation of the song is that it describes a meaningless crusade based on idolatry and false prophecies. False promises. This song has been very well-received, and I'm keen to try it live.
And what about "Rats And Rope"?
That would be Matt Johnsen's assessment of the current United States government. Put mildly. He speaks for most, if not all, of the bandmembers here. He's also indulging his fondness for The Police in this song. It was the last one I recorded on drums, and I was exhausted, mentally and physically! There were a lot of mistakes to scrub, but Matt Crooks always knows what to do.
Which one is YOUR favorite song from the album and why?
Probably "Speak to Me", because I feel like it was a turning point within us. We have always collaborated and cooperated in many ways, but I think there was a higher level of trust in each other that we reached while working on that song. It's hard to pick a favorite, because myexperience listening to it is quite different from that of a casual fan, or my experience listening to some other band's music. I have many associations with the songs that can sometimes be distracting, such as a funny moment we had in the studio, a drum mistake (not as many this time, haha!), things like this. But this is also a positive thing, to be so deeply connected with it.
How and why did you choose the album cover?
Well, we don't choose the covers. We create our own concept and then ask Jean-Pascal Fournier to paint it. He always adds a lot of his own ideas and details, but the basic idea is always coming from us. The cover for Be Gone is meant to depict a scene where mankind has been defeated by natural forces. There's a depth and elegance to JP's work that fits our music perfectly. He also created our gem icon, which has endured.
Are there some lyrics that are special to you? Tell us something about them.
I'm very close to the song "Be Gone". The first verse of "Telepath" is pretty sharp as well. I write a lot of lyrics. I think my personal best lyrics are on the Superchrist album Headbanger. The song "No Color" from that album is probably the most close-to-perfect set of words I've laid to paper. I'm proud of a lot of the lyrics I contributed to the upcoming Nachtmystium album as well. It's something I enjoy and also take very seriously, whether something full of pathos like "Be Gone" or something a bit more fun like "No Remains".
What are your musical influences in your opinion?
My musical influences personally? Quite difficult to give ameaningful answer. My favorite three bands will always be Motörhead, Iron Maiden,and Black Sabbath. But purely as a musician, I've been influenced mostly by people I've created music with over the years, starting with my piano teacher when I was four years old, and right up to the present.
Tell us about your journey to the Keep It True Festival where you played the first gig of your career!
It was fast and fun! A great opportunity for us, really. Like adream almost, to make our live debut under those circumstances. Wonderfulpeople at this festival, the organizers, the audience, the other bands, everything. Even the travel was fun!
How important is it for you to play live on stage, now that you have tastet live blood?
Probably the same as it was before. We're still a bit shy! Our label wants us to play as much as possible, and of course our fans. But we still consider our studio work to be the absolute priority. We are songwriters before anything else.
Please tell us something about further live activities.
We have one show confirmed for the USA, which will take place in August. I think it is too late to organize any other shows during 2008, but I hope that in 2009 we can maybe do a short tour of Europe. If we do have this opportunity, it is thanks to our fans in Germany and all over the continent!
We are looking forward seeing you in Germany. Best whishes to you all. Time to greet our readers and your fans:
Thanks to you and to everyone reading this for supporting Pharaoh´and helping us grow. We hope to see you again in 2009!