I will add a couple of notes to bring the dating of this interview in perspective, as though the interviews fell within 7 months of each other, there were noticeable changes. In between the fall 2008 Metal Maniacs interview and the 2009 WAMM interview, Woods of Ypres were reduced from a sextet to a quartet following the departures of Lee Maines & Brian Holmes, and David Gold had left Gates of Winter in between the two interviews as well, so mentions of their lineup and David's non-Woods bands will be different or unaddressed. With that said, check out this nice long Woods of Ypres interview from the spring of 2009 below!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Out Of The Woods: The Return Of Woods Of Ypres
by Jamie Greer
When David Gold puts his mind to something, chances are it’s going to get done, people listen. After toiling in area bands as a sidekick drummer (such as a brief stint in Mister Bones) back in the early 2000s, Gold emerged in late 2002 with an outfit that was all him - the thunderous black metal band Woods of Ypres. Joined by Brian McManus and Aaron Palmer, Gold took their 2002 debut album, Against The Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat and unleashed it upon the world of metal. The world of metal responded. Gaining critical success and solid reviews from the global metal community - both online and in print - Woods underwent several line-up changes before Gold released the follow up, Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth in 2004 and the accolades continued to rush in. Unrestrained Magazine, one of the most trusted names in metal media picked it as the best album of 2004, and even more indie rock oriented magazines like Exclaim! picked it as one of the year’s best releases.
With Gold moving from drums to guitar and vocals (he’s always written all the songs), he’s bringing a revamped lineup back to Woods’ birthplace - the mean streets of Windsor and the darkness of The Coach & Horses, with a special show on Thursday, May 14th to showcase songs from their latest offering, 2008’s Woods III: The Deepest Roots and Darkest Blues. WAMM recently talked to David Gold about Woods of Ypres’ success, what lies ahead and what it means to come from Windsor.
WAMM: How’s the writing and recording going for Woods IV: The Green Album? Is it still on pace for the 2010 release?
David Gold: We are actually ahead of schedule for once. Instead of waiting until next year, we decided to prioritize Woods of Ypres, record The Green Album this summer and release it ASAP. The songs are ready and the listeners are ready for a new album so the timing is perfect. We’re working with 15 song skeletons that include some doom/sludge ballads… some dark post-rock… and some “forest” metal. There’s even a folk/viking metal song. We hit the studio in June and we’ll be focused on recording until it’s done.
WAMM: You’ve always been the “voice” as far as the songwriter for Woods of Ypres but over the past few years, you’ve gone from being the drummer to becoming the singer/guitarist. Do you ever miss just being the guy behind the kit again?
Gold: There are times when I would miss being responsible for the thunder of black metal drumming, but I don’t really miss being the drummer for Woods of Ypres. I’m much happier having our new drummer Evan Madden blasting away back there, allowing me to be the front man, playing my songs with a guitar in my hand, staring the audience in the eyes, having a microphone, screaming my lungs out, cracking dry jokes between songs. Because I do need to drum however, I’ve taken on some session work as drummer for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania female fronted operatic metal band L’anguisette and a yet unrevealed black metal project from Eastern Canada, which is pure blast beat double bass mayhem. I am recording drums for this project in three weeks and I can’t even play a few of the songs fast enough yet. I think Woods of Ypres is the only band I want to play guitar and sing for, but I will drum on anything.
WAMM: You took a brief sabbatical from Woods of Ypres to join the Korean metal band Necramyth. How did playing in the Korean metal scene differ from the North American metal scene?
Gold: Metal is exciting in Korea because it’s still considered “taboo” there. Seoul is about 12 million people strong, about one million of those are foreigners, and about 100 of them pack Club Sapiens 7 (kinda like Seoul’s “Coach & Horses” in the basement of a Korean BBQ restaurant) in Hongdae (one of the arts/music districts) every Saturday night to see seven or eight Korean extreme metal bands in a row, and go nuts! I guess some of the biggest differences are that the clubs all provide their own backline (drums, cabs, heads, etc…) and you can buy a plastic 2L of beer at the corner store for about $3 and bring it into the bar and chug away while you watch the bands. One of the most charming differences is the tradition for all the bands to go out for dinner and drinks after a show, usually followed by a trip to Seoul’s only metal bar, “Judas or Sabbath”. I invested in a good video camera when I got out of there and I shot a ton of video throughout the year. I hope to eventually release a documentary of my experiences.
A few things I don’t have on camera, but I wish I did: After the first night of drum recording in the studio, I drank too much, lost track of time and ended up on the wrong side of town after the buses and subway stopped running and without money for a cab, so I slept at a bus stop using my double bass pedal case as a pillow until morning. It was still winter and my iPod was dead. The Necramyth guys would always joke about me having a Korean girlfriend (which I never did.) During the week before I left Korea, the guys told me that they got me a going away present that they thought I was “really going to like” and then they would look at each other, speaking in Korean and laughing. I was worried that they had hired me a prostitute, but thankfully they had just bought me a paperweight of this Korean soldier statue that I liked instead. Overall, it was an awesome, life altering experience. I taught “business English”, ate spicy food every day, drank tons of beer and “soju”, played drums for a legendary Korean metal band in the Seoul metal scene, travelled around the country looking at temples and mountains and caves and stuff, nearly shit my pants 100 times but never puked once. Amazing. (See www.youtube.com/davidypres for a preview.)
WAMM: Despite the rotating home bases, you’ve always been very vocal about Woods’ Windsor roots. What memories do you have of Woods’ beginnings in Windsor that will carry with you forever?
Gold: That first summer was exciting. I was on academic probation at the university, working part time at HMV, living in the loft above the Juice Express (next to Pepper’s on Ouellette.) I was 22, my hair was long, my beard was huge, I wasn’t getting laid and I was obsessed about making black metal. Between May and July 2002, Brian McManus (guitar/vocals), Aaron Palmer (bass) and I rehearsed six days a week in a hell-hot, aluminum storage unit in Guardian Storage near the airport. We played our first show at Changes, our second show at Champs, played at Diesel amongst other shows, and in August we recorded the “demo” album, Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat. I consider the beginning as a very pure experience of doing something real, making an album as a completely unknown band playing an unpopular form of music at the dawn of the age of MySpace and digital photography.
WAMM: You started your own label to house Woods. After three albums, is there anything you can offer to people starting up labels?
Gold: The only advice I can give is to go out there and make your own mistakes. Those who are in it for the right reasons will suffer through the challenges and find a way to survive. You can either commit yourself to all of this 100%, or accept music as a hobby, but anything in between will probably be full of frustration and disappointment. I started a record label at just about the stupidest time in history to start a record label, but I did it anyway simply because that’s what I wanted to do with my life, despite the fact it was 2004 and people stopped buying CDs because they could download anything they want. In our age, you write songs or start a band or a label for yourself, your friends, the scene, the music, but no one is actually making money unless they’re exploiting someone else. The “business” I do is just a necessity to pay the bills from your last project and fund the next one, keep the music going. The recession be damned, music needs to be made when it’s ready!
WAMM: Is Krankenhaus Records purely a Woods home or is there a growing stable we should be on the lookout for?
Gold: Krankenhaus began as home for Woods of Ypres, then I released a couple albums from other bands and realized how unsatisfying that was and vowed never to do that again, and now I’m doing it again. I will be releasing the new Vanquished album Habitual Severity (black metal), the Necramyth album (Korean death metal); we have a “Best of Ypres 2002-2007” promotional CD coming out featuring the best standalone tracks from the first three Woods of Ypres albums, a vinyl 7” of the Woods of Ypres song “Allure of the Earth" with a cover version B-side by an Australian cello group, and finally, Woods IV: The Green Album. There’s more, but it all depends on how well all of those releases do first. Until then, I have about as much debt as Gene Simmons has money in the bank, but thus is the risk you take in doing something meaningful with the last of your twenties. It’s nothing that can’t be paid off from a couple weeks of work as a crab fisherman off the coast of Alaska.
WAMM: What does 2009 hold in store for Woods of Ypres?
Gold: We’re touring Eastern Canada in May, with a show at The Coach & Horses in Windsor on Thursday, May 14th, we’ll be headlining a two day metal fest in London, Ontario on Saturday, July 25th, and then returning to Windsor a second time this summer to play our first ever gig at The Phog Lounge, Friday, August 14th as the start of our Western Canada tour, with dates all the way out to Vancouver and Victoria, BC. In between touring, we will be recording Woods IV: The Green Album. Our show in May will include a few songs from Pursuit of the Sun & Allure of the Earth and a preview of some new songs that will appear on the new album.