Monday, June 4, 2012

Woods Of Ypres: A Cold Northern Forest Of Gold (2008 Metal Maniacs Interview With David Gold)

Hey guys, this is the first of two special posts dedicated to some interviews from major music magazines with the late David Gold, the frontman for the local blackened doom metal standouts Woods of Ypres! I picked up both of the interviews as photocopies at their second-last local show in August 2009 as part of a free giveaway at their merchandise table, and I only just recently came across them again when doing some cleaning. Both are otherwise unavailable in full online, so I thought I'd share these with the world like they deserve. I'll share my opinions and thoughts on the interviews separately in upcoming news posts, but for now, I'll start with the earliest of the two interviews. This was conducted circa October 2008 by Agalloch bassist Jason William Walton (a.k.a. JWW) for the November 2008 issue of Metal Maniacs magazine, which was one of the last physical issues released before it was closed early the following year, though it now exists in an online-only format. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED!! I'm just trying to share this very nice (and insightful) interview with a wider audience like it deserves! The only edits I made to the text were for some minor spelling & proper name errors, and to add relevant links for mentioned bands.

Though many details are dated/now inaccurate and didn't reflect Woods of Ypres' lineup or recent events by the time of David Gold's passing last year, the article is not made current out of respect to it's original intention. Just remember that it was from the fall of 2008, not last year. With that said, check out this very nice Woods of Ypres interview from the early stages of their local tenure below, and stay tuned for both a new news post later today and the other old Woods of Ypres magazine interview in the near future! Thanks everyone!
Woods Of Ypres: A Cold Northern Forest Of Gold
by JWW

I first met Woods Of Ypres (pronounced "Woods Of Ee-Pray") mainman and founder David Gold at The Day Of The Equinox festival in 2005 in Toronto, Canada. We spoke of our mutual love for Amorphis and each other's band and we've been friends ever since. Woods, as Gold affectionately refers to his band, has always stood on the sidelines, so to speak. After the release of the band's sophomore album, Pursuit Of The Sun And Allure Of The Earth, I was waiting for labels to bust down their doors with offers. I'm not sure if that's happened or not as to this day the band remains on their own label, Krankenhaus Records, retaining their independent spirit. Since the release of that album, they've gained a strong cult following across North America and Europe despite not having a high profile label or extensive tours to support their records.

It's obvious when listening to Woods Of Ypres that it is a deeply and intensely personal outlet for Gold. Through the lyrics and music, Gold explores his own psyche and past to the point where he's practically ripping his heart out and showing it for all to see. His concepts and lyrics are so bare, so naked, that you feel his discomfort and heartache as though it was your own. That kind of open-book policy is what makes Woods Of Ypres truly unique. So, when the band released their new album this year, Woods III: The Deepest Roots And Darkest Blues, I jumped at the chance to reconnect with an old friend and explore this intriguing album.

Metal Maniacs Your newest album, Woods III: The Deepest Roots And Darkest Blues, touches on a few interesting themes and concepts. Most remarkably perhaps is "Through Chaos And Solitude I Came..." This seems to draw upon personal experience describing your fascination, obsession and utter immersion in the black metal lifestyle.

David Gold: You are correct. This song is about identifying, defining and connecting with one's own interpretation of black metal and the black metal experience. For me, this would be driving across Highways 17 and 69 between Toronto and Northern Ontario, in the winter, while listening to black metal, in my early-to mid-20s. It's about questioning the perplexing idea of why some of us can now easily associate images of snow and trees with distorted guitars, blast beats and high-pitched throaty screaming, and have it somehow "fit" and make perfect sense in our minds. It's about giving yourself to a lifestyle of social isolation where the music itself and your own reflections of it are your only rewards for belonging. For me, belonging to black metal is a time and place in your life where you are amongst society but mostly alone with yourself, both physically and mentally. You can do a lot of thinking here, but that's about all.

MM: At the end of this song, there's a line: "And in the distance, a stranger flashed his lights." What does this mean?

DG: The metaphor of motorists in Ontario flashing their headlights to warn oncoming cars about icy conditions or a hidden police trap on the highway is used to represent a subtle warning interpreted by someone to be careful while so confidently traveling down that black metal path. There is so much more to life.

MM: So you think that living a "black metal lifestyle" can be unhealthy? How is your life different now? You are still performing black metal music.

DG: I believe that life is best spent traveling through a series of personal reinventions. Black metal can be a part of that journey, but not all of it. The fact that you can one day move on from black metal shows that you have learned something from it and that it has prepared you for what's next to come. Trying to recapture that old feeling of my black metal youth in new material would dilute the authenticity of our past. I admire and respect what that pure black metal feeling is about enough to know that I'm not "there" anymore, but cheers and all the best to the guys who are there, now. I've been living winter for most of my life.

MM: "Your Ontario Town Is A Burial Ground" and "The Northern Cold" seem to explore contradictory ideas.

DG: "The Northern Cold" is about reflecting on adolescence in the north from afar and acknowledging its influence on the person you have become in a proud and prideful way. "Your Ontario Town Is A Burial Ground" is about reflecting on how you felt while still living in the North, how you couldn't wait to leave and the fates of those who chose to stay. Basically, "Northern Cold" is about the gracious acceptance of your roots whereas "Ontario Town..." is about the rejection of them, like spit in the face.

MM: Woods Of Ypres has always been a very Canada-centric band, writing about life in Canada, life in the northern cold. Is life in the Toronto area a unique experience, and how has it shaped you as a person, you as a musician and Woods as a band?

DG: Since before the beginning, it was important to me that Woods was recognized as a Canadian band. In recent years, it has become important to me to define Woods as an Ontario band more specifically, because Canada is so massive. Ironically, at the time of this interview I now find myself living back in Northern Ontario for the first time in almost nine years. I chose to give up the working pace of Toronto for the time being to allow me to actually focus on music. In my opinion, Toronto is not an inspiring place to be if you're a metal musician. For me, it was an expensive, congested pain in the ass place to be when trying to get shit done and get ahead. Many times I've considered printing a new Woods shirt design with the most disturbing and negative four words I could think of on the back: "The Toronto Metal Scene." For the time being, I'm happy to be back in the north where I spend less time doing business and much more time making music.

MM: Are you working on anything besides Woods?

DG: Yes, aside from my ongoing work with Woods, I have joined Sault Ste. Marie prog/power/doom metal band Gates Of Winter as their permanent drummer. Both Woods and Gates are currently based out of the ol' "burial ground" of Sault Ste. Marie.

MM: I assume that Woods IV will represent a rebirth of sorts, new town, new experiences, new members?

DG: Yes, I would like to take the opportunity to announce Philadelphia's Evan Madden from The Green Evening Requiem as Woods Of Ypres' new drummer. The guy is great, as a talented and creative drummer and as a human being. He's been up in Ontario, Canada with us, rehearsing the old stuff and helping me to write Woods IV: The Green Album. The new band is rounded out by all four members of Gates Of Winter: Lee Maines (guitar/backing vocals), Steve Furgiuele (bass), Brian Holmes (keys), and Bryan Belleau (lead guitar). We just played our first performance with the new lineup co-headlining the Noctis II festival in Calgary, Alberta with Ahab and Korpiklaani. We had a great time onstage, playing "Ontario Town...," "The Northern Cold" and Against The Seasons in its entirety.

MM: Any more live performances planned with the new band?

DG: Yes. the Heathen Crusade 3 festival this November in St. Paul, Minnesota. This show will be followed by a tour with Woods Of Ypres and Sudbury, Ontario's black metal band Wolven Ancestry that will take us through Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Along with songs from Woods III, we will be playing Against The Seasons in full.

MM: You moved to Seoul, South Korea for a short time. Why the move?

DG: I had apparently somehow demanded so much negativity from the universe that it decided to give it all to me at once. My whole busy life in Toronto had unexpectedly fallen apart in a matter of weeks a couple springs ago. After carrying the weight and maintaining the course for so long, I finally broke down and said, "Fuck it." And so, after an agonizing few weeks trying to decide what to do, I decided where to go instead. Korea had me realize new levels of both being social and feeling isolated at the same time. It was quite a shock to my soul that had been knocked numb and unconscious with rage. It was at times enlightening, terrifying, frustrating, blissful, sickening, exciting and self gratifying... but I needed something to do when I had nowhere to go. Korea gave me both and gave me time to calm down emotionally and regain some new sense of self-identity. Plus, I did a shitload of lyric writing there. Dark stuff overall, but at least it ends with acceptance and forgiveness, for almost everyone.

MM: Tell us about Necramyth, the death metal band you joined in Korea.

DG: Necramyth is kind of a legendary metal band in the Seoul, Korea scene. Fronted by Spanish-born Korean extreme metal wild man, Pedro Chae, Necramyth has been around for almost a decade. We first met for dinner and booze - Korean pork, beer and soju, cooked on your table, sitting on the floor style. We jammed, they offered, I joined, they gave the other guy the boot and we got to work on their new album. This spring we went into the studio where I recorded the drum tracks for eight heavily rehearsed songs. Pedro tells me that mixing is now underway. The tentatively-titled Pagans In The East will be released by the end of the year. Expect some fresh, raw Korean thrash 'n' death driven by the Canadian blast beats of the only foreigner to ever slaughter the Seoul metal scene from the inside! I worked my crushed, drying heart back to life drumming on this album. It's intense.

MM: Back to Woods, I hear a lot of early Pyogenesis in this record. Are they an influence?

DG: I've honestly never heard of them. My influences for this album were latter day Sentenced, Agalloch, various unmentionable raw black metal, work, stress, debt, lack of sleep, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, traffic, winter, one bedroom apartments, the evening news, dinner for one and beer for two.

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