|-Hello, how are you doing? It´s John Doe from Pitchline-zine.com. It´s my pleasure to have the opportunity to interviewing you. Last year, on the occasion of your appearance on Madrid is the Dark Fest we tried to do an interview with you, but finally it didn´t happen. So this time we hope to succeed. How are going things with the new release?
Jesse Haff: The reception has been fantastic with both press and old school fans alike. There’s also been a noticeable wave of new fans coming out of the woodwork as well.
To start off, is obliged to ask about your “hot off the presses” new record, “A Frail Becoming”. There has been four years since “Lost to the Living” came out. How do you assess this new move with respect to the previous releases? What new elements does it feature?
Egan O’Rourke: I think this album is more refined. It’s at once more aggressive and more gentle than previous releases and as I listened back there is almost a story arch to the sequence of the songs even though it’s by no means a concept album.
To me, with the new LP you´ve delved into darker melodies and oppressive atmospheres, moreover, very characteristic of your style, but this time, going further. What do you think about this? If you have to describe “A Frail Becoming” with a single word, wich one would you choose?
Jesse Haff: Mature. I think we’ve been able to distil and refine the elements we’re best at and trim away everything else. The end result is a more mature album. We’ve been making music as Daylight Dies for a long time, and we feel very comfortable in our skin.
I´m interested about the meaning of “A Frail Becoming”, is a very suggestive title. What relation exists between the title and the lyrics featured on it? And the snake from the cover, Is it rather like a symbolic “shed of skin”?
Jesse Haff: Yes, you’re right above the cover. “A Frail Becoming” refers to the delicate and fragile process of moving from one era of your life to another. Change is inevitable for all of us, and we all have a place where we want to be. But the struggle and path to get there is the frail becoming.
You recently did a video for “Dreaming of Breathing”. Is the second video-clip you made if I´m not mistaken. What story does it tell? Do you thing that the making of promotional videos is a good way to promote the band?
Egan O’Rourke: The story concept was developed by our director, Ramon Boutviseth, as his interpretation of a narrative of the lyrics. Essentially it is the story of a woman living in the water and dreaming of living and breathing on land only to discover the reality much darker than she had thought.
I think doing videos still has value these days even though the TV side is a non-factor these days. As a band we know every song is going to end up on Youtube anyway but an official video gives us a way to further our vision of the album as well as giving us a promotional tool.
Your first official release, “Idle” EP, has been re-released in digital format with some demo stuff as bonus tracks. Why did you decided to do a digital reissue exclusively instead any physical format? I guess, being an out of print album, there will be enough demand to sell copies on CD or vinyl, don´t you think so?
Egan O’Rourke: There may be demand on a cult level but we aren’t really worried about the money grab element of it. Essentially Tribunal Records, the original label offered to put it back up for digital sales and we said “sure” because as a group we like the idea of fans being able to hear that stuff even though it’s from a lifetime ago. I won’t rule out a re-release but it’s just not anything we’re actively pursuing.
Regarding “Idle”; how do you perceive your development as a band? Some days ago, listening to the whole EP, I noticed a lot of influence coming from the current melodical death metal scene at that time (late nineties). You weren´t such a common band in the death/doom camp... do you agree?
Egan: O’Rourke: I think that’s true. When I first started playing with the band there was more of an influence on faster tempos and really tight technical riffing. Idle was a turning point that established a new style that depended on slowing things down creating a more brooding tone. We never really lost the tight articulation and unison rhythms though and I felt then and now that sets us apart from some of our peers. Obviously we grew from the Idle days but Unending Waves is definitely a harbinger of where the band was headed.
And then, you got signed by Relapse Records. “No Relpy” came out in 2002, your sound turned darker and more developed with some “proggy” approach... However, I found curious that Relapse Recs. decided to release melodical death/doom stuff such as Morgion or yours. How do you get in contact with them and got signed? You´re both from the same area; North Carolina. Is the signing for Relpase related with this fact?
Jesse Haff: The founder of Relapse, Matt Jacobson, was impressed by “Idle” and saw a promising future for the band. It was really that simple. I was in talks with many labels at the time, and we were only a week or two from signing with someone else. Matt contacted me out of the blue and expressed his interested in signing the band. The decision to sign with Relapse was obvious, despite our music not being an exact match to their roster.
Four years later came “Dismantling Devotion” and a new deal with UK´s Candlelight Records. Why did you split up with Relapse? In my opinion, your style fits better in the Candlelight roster. You´ve released three full length albums with them; are you pleased with their work? Do you expect to take a leap forward in terms of sales with the new album?
Egan O’Rourke: We’ve been happy with Candlelight. Relapse was a big deal but ultimately I don’t think they knew what to do with us and we weren’t prepared to be the hardcore touring act that they thrive on. Candlelight seems to understand what we’re doing and has been really supportive of the band and our vision.
I don’t know that we’ll take a huge leap forward in sales but we believe in the record and hope that new people check out the record and agree.
To continue with “Dismantling Devotion”, I think you established your own style on that album, wich proceed with “Lost to the Living”... I mean, you´re not the typical death/doom metal band; you´re a kind of modern metal band with melodies and a very dark harsh feeling, but you´ve been labelled as doom metal. How do you feel with this fact? Are you able to find a “genre-defining” word for your style?
Egan O’Rourke: Firstly, thanks for recognizing that we’re doing something different. Often times the last twenty years of doom/death gets thrown in together as though it’s one static thing. That said, I do feel like Doom/Death is a fair label if you don’t freeze your understanding of Doom or Death metal in 1995. There is a handful of bands that have been pushing the genre and we’re proud to be among them.
I´ve heard about the band where Barre and Jesse played previously; Circle, that splitted at the time Daylight Dies started. I haven´t found enough info but a demo released on year ´95. What can you tell us about this band? Is its music related to Daylight Dies? Is it worth to pay an excessive price on ebay for this (just kidding, hehe)?
Jesse Haff: Wow, I’m amazed you brought up Circle. That was the band Barre and I played in during High School. We were extremely influenced by “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” era Amorphis, and that was obvious in our sound.
You´ve released four albums to date; I want to ask you about those “classic bands” with your same background, I mean, Anathema, Paradise Lost, Katatonia etc; they had change a lot throughout these years, from a very rude and simple style in their beginnings to a more sophisticated music and heading for major audiences. How do you perceive this? Do you see Daylight in the future recording something like “One Second” or “Judgement”? Many people say this kind of change of style is always projected to increase sales. Are you agree with it?
Egan O’Rourke: I think those bands have all redefined themselves really well ultimately ended up making some of the best albums of their careers. That said, I think sophistication isn’t limited to cutting more radio friendly songs or selling more records. There’s little doubt that going all clean vocals lends itself to accessibility but we don’t have any real need or want for a giant left turn. Ultimately we write what we want to and don’t really worry about the rest.
In the beginning, wich bands inspired you to shape your music?
I want to ask you for early and present influences regarding your peers from Katatonia. I think you´ve taken a lot of inspiration from their whole career, from their early releases as their later stuff. Am I right? Could you pick any (or various) of their albums as your favourite?
Jesse Haff: Yes, Katatonia has been a big influence, as has Paradise Lost, Anathema, Tiamat, Amorphis, Death, early Metallica, early In Flames, Iron Maiden, Shape of Despair, Dissection, and so on. We’ve also been largely influenced by non-metal bands like The Cure, Talk Talk, Depeche Mode, classical music, etc. I think all Katatonia eras and albums have been brilliant, but the one which resonates most strongly with me is probably still Brave Murder Day.
And regarding Katatonia, you´ve toured with them previously as well you shared stage on a festival appearance in Spain. How do you feel playing with them?, I guess, there´s a great bond of friendship with them.
Jesse Haff: Yes, I’ve been personal friends with them since about 1997. Initially Anders reached out because I had created a Katatonia website in ’96 which eventually became the official site. We became really good friends, literally talking every for many years. I also became great friends with Jonas. And the rest of the band became friends with them during our 2003 tour of Europe with them. So they’re like family and friends.
I´m not sure about it, but your appearance on Madrid is the Dark Festival was your first time playing on Spanish soil. Am I right? How did it go? How was the feedback of the Spanish audience?
Egan O’Rourke: You are correct. It was great and we can’t wait to get back. The only feedback I’d give is that fish aren’t vegetarian.
Are scheduled any dates supporting the new release? Would you love to play in Spain again?
Egan O’Rourke: There is stuff in the works but still nothing locked in and ready to announce. We definitely plan to get back out.
Well, that´s all from our side. Feel free to add anything you want. Thanks for your time. Cheers!