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Ade Mulgrew (Darkest Era, Ironborne): nature and politics in an autumnal state of decay

Ade Mulgrew (Darkest Era, Ironborne): nature and politics in an autumnal state of decay
BANDS : Darkest Era

The group Darkest Era from Belfast, Northern Ireland, will perform for the first time in Romania this autumn. The band will join the Romanian dark metal masters from Bloodway for three shows in Craiova, Bucharest and Constanţa as the group will play a few select shows to promote their new album - A Fragile Riddle Crypting Clues. We thought that this would be a good occasion to find more about this Thin Lizzy, Bathory and Primordial worshipers so we asked Ade Mulgrew, the guitarist of the band, to tell us more about the Darkest Era work.




Metalfan: Hello, Mister Ade! What’s the mood in the band these days and how’s the vibe in the Northern Ireland?
Ade Mulgrew: These past months we have returned to playing live shows and writing new material after a number of years of silence so the mood is very positive right now; especially as we are about to have the honour of visiting Romania for the first time with Bloodway and hopefully capturing some new fans. The mood in Northern Ireland is probably similar to all over Europe… nature and politics in an autumnal state of decay.

Metalfan: It would be really great if you could tell us more about the years when you’ve discovered rock music. Which were your musical heroes when you were a teenager?

Ade Mulgrew: There were many different ways that I became exposed to rock - an uncle of mine had old AC/DC and Queen records that me and my cousin used to listen to, from an early age I just really liked the sound of an electric guitar. It always just sounded really cool to me, before I had any kind of self-awareness to question why. Secondly I had a PC game in 90’s called Carmageddon 2 which had Iron Maiden on the soundtrack, so that was to be my introduction to my favourite band of all time. Then finally in school aged 13 or 14, some older boys had copies of “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns N’Roses, some Slayer, etc. I thought the names and artwork sounded really dark and dangerous so I was intrigued. At that point there was no escape, hooked for life!

Metalfan: Do you remember how did you get those first records? It would be really nice if you could share with us those stories…
Ade Mulgrew: There was one music shop in Enniskillen, where I went to school, that had a metal section upstairs. It was small, dark, with posters, t-shirts and merchandise everywhere and they would play metal very loudly all day! It was almost a hidden secret, a place “normal” people didn’t know. It may sound silly and romantic now but this notion of discovering a dark, forbidden magic was really special to me at the time when discovering metal. Each new record was a relic to be studied for hours, from the artwork to the lyrics to the music. Of course about two years later Napster/WinMX/Limewire came along and suddenly we were discovering dozens of new bands every day. Which was fantastic for a hungry new fan, but I already started also to feel we were losing something important.

Metalfan: Hailing from the region in question, Darkest Era got rapidly associated with the more renowned peers of Primordial and music-wise, this connection makes a lot of sense. In both cases, the listener witnesses a vivid approach on mythology, a Celtic touch infused with poetry and drama, all rendered within some of the most massive heavy metal techniques. But at the same time, Darkest Era walks in its own direction and the differences between its creation and most of the other deeds of these days, including Primordial’s music, are tremendous. For instance, Joseph Schafer of Invisible Oranges put it really well: “too fast to be doom, too downcast to be traditional metal, and [they] don’t use enough folk instruments to truly earn that tag either.” Please describe your view on your music. Is there something which you tell yourself often regarding the work you do along your fellows in Darkest Era?
Ade Mulgrew: Joseph Schafer is one of the few journalists who really listened to us and understood our music, rather than simply repeating words from the bio the label had sent or whatever. The band has not been a stationary organism. The roots began when were in school playing covers, we developed into Darkest Era and released some albums, lost some members, the usual story. And honestly we are still growing, each release has been a snapshot of a particular moment along the way. I prefer not to talk in terms of genres, sub-genres or labels. But what we’ve always set out to do is something that is has a lot of emotional weight; something that is very potent and expressive – a storm that somehow brings with it the spirit of heavy metal. How this spirit manifests itself has changed across our releases.

Metalfan: Let’s talk about a potential third full-length, please. My feeling is that Darkest Era will bring in the near future a work of art which surpasses the previous releases. I can sense in my imagination the desire of reaching a higher level when I think about the sound and composition from your first releases. You needed three years to bring your second full length and today we see that another three years have passed since “Severance”. That’s why one could wait for something new, although the year 2017 heads quickly to its end. What would you like to tell us about some new music made by Darkest Era?
Ade Mulgrew: As I said we had some years of silence for various reasons; there was new material and ideas but no progress. And honestly earlier this year I had to ask myself if the band still had a purpose, if we still had a reason to exist because for a while I could not find it. Eventually I wrote some new material and we had some discussions together, and there was a spark again. As I mentioned the band is a lot different than it was five years ago, but together we have found our common purpose. I believe our next release will be the purest, most focused manifestation of what we have been trying to achieve from the beginning. Which in itself would be our biggest achievement in our existence. We start to feel more and more removed from the previous two records which is probably the biggest sign I can give you that you are correct in what you say. But for sure the spirit of beautiful melancholy remains.

Metalfan: We would definitely love if you share with us some of the ways you see music, no matter the genre. Let’s say I ask you about the latest three albums you have listened and left you with a beautiful impression. Which are these albums? Please explain why you have enjoyed them.
Ade Mulgrew: I listen to music probably six-seven hours every day, both in the background and with my full attention, so it’s very much part of my daily existence. Three albums from the past days, OK, let’s say these. Bruce Dickinson, “The Chemical Wedding”... Without a doubt one of the finest heavy metal albums ever made. Incredibly dark and layered, it has a very individual tone. A perfect “marriage” (excuse me) of artwork, lyric, atmosphere and songwriting.
Wardruna, “Ragnarok”... I like to listen to albums sung in a different language, because it forces you to focus more on the details of the voice – how it is sung rather than what is sung. I get shivers when I listen to this record, the instrumentation is often basic and primal, but incredibly beautiful and atmospheric.
FM-84, “Atlas”... There are many synthwave bands I could mention like Gunship, Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, but this kind of  “sunset” synthpop brings me right back to my childhood of arcade machines, Nintendo, 80’s movies and generally an idyllic vision of Californian smokey neon glamour. Far away from the wind and rain of Ireland, pure nostalgia-core but mainly just great songs!

 


Metalfan: When it comes to Darkest Era’s formula, a thing which is a bit unusual in today’s metal scene is having a woman in the line-up, who doesn’t play vocals or bass. Not to mention the wonderful skills of Sarah Wieghell on guitar, the band just minded the music and never took into account the idea of building an image around an attractive female figure like many do these days. You have a pretty talented and beautiful woman in the line-up, but all you guys care is music, and that’s very natural. Beyond these little things, which maybe are big in other’s eyes, please tell us how do you work with Sarah, describe the creative process in which you both engage.
Ade Mulgrew: As I mentioned we began in school – there was no grand design or masterplan. It was a small town with a small scene and Sarah was into metal, played guitar and wanted to play in a band, just like the rest of us. And that was that, so you are right there was no contrived notion to choose a female and put then front and centre to get more popular. The creative process is quite guitar driven, so in the beginning we drew a lot of creative energy from simply playing together and enjoying the sound of two guitars playing a harmony, or playing a heavy riff in unison. Often she was my soundboard – that is the person I would bounce my ideas off and things would take shape from there. I think it’s important to have another person in the band who has roughly the same vision but is able to comment on your ideas a bit more objectively.

Metalfan: I believe Thin Lizzy’s music has some imprint in the Darkest Era rhythm and melody, besides the epic and the monumental side of your work which honours the Bathory legacy. Which is your favourite Thin Lizzy album? Why is that?

Ade Mulgrew: Probably “Black Rose”, I think it has all of the elements I love about Thin Lizzy. Wonderful twin guitar harmonies, dark romance and of course a Celtic spirit. Of course, it is hard to go wrong with “Live and Dangerous” too, as there are so many killer songs on there.

Metalfan: Now, tell me about the latest live performances you had. Darkest Era doesn’t seem to be that sort of band hunting for slots all over the festivals and events in order to play as much as possible. It appears that this band plays only when some nice occasion comes in sight. How went the most recent shows you did?
Ade Mulgrew: It’s true we are selective with the shows we play, however it’s also the case that often promoters are afraid to book us, for festivals and so on, because they cannot easily categorise the band. We don’t fit easily into a sub-genre so they don’t know where to put us. This has been very frustrating on the occasions where we are ready and willing to tour and play shows. Our most recent show was a festival in England named Warhorns – a mix of black, Viking, pagan, doom and heavy metal. Which was pretty much the perfect festival for us, it was great to return to the stage after so long. Ideally we want to play a lot more shows after our next record but we will see.

Metalfan: Pretty, pretty soon you will come for the very first time in Romania for three concerts (in Craiova, Bucharest and Constanţa), as guests of the local trio Bloodway. What are your feelings about this trip? Do you know something about these places from other musicians?
Ade Mulgrew: Our feelings are already that it will be something special, to play in new lands with such a wonderful group of people. I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Ireland with Bloodway last year so I am personally excited to see them again! I know little about these places from other musicians, except for perhaps the guys in Primordial who spoke very highly of the people and the countryside. We are really excited for this experience!

Metalfan: Who do you like more, James Joyce or Oscar Wilde? Which of these great writers brought experiences and phenomena that were closer to your mental and emotional perception?
Ade Mulgrew: I had a particular interest in Oscar Wilde as he went to school in the same town as me, however I confess to probably being even more familiar with the work of James Joyce. His poems were of particular influence to certain songs on the “Severance” album. I would say, like a lot of the romantic poets, I’m attracted to the sadness, the longing, the melancholy in a lot of the writings by these poets. The language seems to resonate with me in some way, and indeed the imagery Joyce uses in particular is sometimes not so far removed from heavy metal lyrics!

Metalfan: Now we are good, we won’t ask you anything else. If you think that some things are not said yet, please reveal everything you want to.
Ade Mulgrew: See you soon Romania, hail and kill!

Photo: Darkest Era Facebook
Autor: H., Gina S.
   October 30, 2017  | 0 Comments  | 1894 Views « BACK

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