With a good deal of music coming from Iceland, and Iceland bands coming more and more abroad to play concerts we took the opportunity to ask frontman of the band Darknote, guitarist Jon Dal, a few questions to bring more light to how they see the music situation from an Icelandic point of view.
Please tell us about the beginning of the band, how you started up Darknote, and why you choose the name Darknote for the band?
Our drummer Villi and I were introduced through a mutual friend back in 2004. We started jamming and eventually had a full program of progressive rock songs, but we always felt like we wanted to do something else. A year later we got into metal and we knew right away that we had to throw out all of our progressive music and write all new material. In 2007 we released our first demo album with many of the songs that eventually found their way to our debut album Walk Into Your Nightmare. The name Darknote came up in one of our random name quest sessions. We'd been trying to find a name for months and we couldn't agree on anything. When someone suggested Darknote we were all okay with it and just went for it.
When did you start to write songs for Walk Into Your Nightmare?
The first song we wrote for the album was Mara's Dream. I came up with a few riffs back in 2005 and that's when it all started. We wrote a lot of the songs in 2007, but it wasn't until 2009 that we recorded the final versions and then in 2010 we finally released the album. We promise our next album won't take that long to write!
Do you write songs as a band? Or is it mostly you, Jon, who writes the music and lyrics?
I had a lot to do with the songwriting in the beginning, but everyone in the band pitched in their ideas and we all shaped the songs until everyone was happy. Only one of the songs remains exactly the way I originally wrote it and that's Sacrifice. Diddi wrote all the vocals and lyrics and his voice adds a lot to the songs. Today, as we're working on new songs, we all work closely together right from the start. We all have different ideas but we're trying our best to compromise and I think we finally have a shared vision.
What inspires you to write music / lyrics? And what made you choose that line of metal that you play in, this mix between death metal and thrash metal?
I like the idea of mixing thrash metal with melodies and long epic parts or soundscapes, but it's a difficult thing to do. A lot of people who listen to metal only favor one specific genre so we sometimes get criticized for either being too melodic or not melodic enough. It's hard to please everyone, right? We have different ideas about where we want to go with our music but we've managed to meet halfway and we like the result. But naturally we will have to evolve and we'll be exploring different musical directions on our next album.
By the way... What bands / artists made you start playing? And which bands / artists are you listening to these days?
The band that got me listening to metal was Opeth. They've always managed to mix their dark death metal with bright melodies in a convincing way. Today I'm listening to bands such as The Agonist, which is one my favorite bands now. I've also always been into Mastodon, Machine Head and a lot of metal bands that have a melodic side to them. The other guys usually laugh at my taste for metal, they're into much heavier stuff like Gojira and Meshuggah. It's an interesting mix.
How long did the recordings take? And who produced your EP?
We recorded the songs first as demos in 2007 but we didn't release them as an EP back then because we felt they weren't ready. After the band took a short break we re-recorded the songs in 2009 and 2010, so I guess you could say it took quite a while to finish. I did most of the recording and mixing in my home studio, although Diddi sometimes recorded parts of his vocals at his home. I guess you could say the EP was produced by the band as a whole.
Who made the artwork? And how is it tied to the album title?
One of Diddi's friends is a photographer and he had already shot the cover photo some time ago. He kindly let us use it and we figured it sort of represented an entrance to a nightmare in a way, with a reference to the album title Walk Into Your Nightmare. We had decided on a completely different artwork at first, but when we saw that photo there was no question -- we had to use it.
Which songs do you think represent Walk Into Your Nightmare best? And why?
My personal favorites are Mara's Dream, Black Morning and Lavoera. They all share the elements that I love about metal; dark riffs mixed with melodies. They also tell dreamlike (or nightmarish) stories that Diddi delivers with his intense vocals. We all have different favorite songs though so there's probably no song that truly represents the album as a whole.
I can see that you have made an official video clip where you perform live with the song Bring Down The Skies... Do you see that as your main song? Or why did you choose this one for an official video?
We mostly chose that because of its length, to be honest. We wanted to make a video for two other songs with a whole storyline, but in the end we decided to go for Bring Down The Skies. It's definitely not our best song but it seemed to be a good fit for a performance video.
And now we are talking about videos... Have you considered to make something else than a concert video?
Yeah, we are planning on making bigger videos in the future, but that requires a bigger budget. Maybe if we're lucky we'll find someone who's willing to work with us on a smaller budget.
I guess you already got some feedback.... Are you satisfied so far?
Walk Into Your Nightmare has been pretty well received, but we always knew it would be difficult for a new band like ours to find success with the first album. We had been working on it for such a long time that we honestly just wanted to get it out there so we could start working on new material. The focus now is to take our music to the next level with our next album.
Talking about the internet... Social network is both a blessing and a curse. What's your opinion about it?
It's definitely a blessing. There are so many talented musicians and bands out there that have the tools like YouTube and Facebook to share their music with the world. There are so many opportunities nowadays and the demand for music has never been greater. If you know what you're doing, social networking is your best shot at fame and fortune. We haven't really been active enough on the internet, but we're trying. We're always getting some attention here and there so it's moving slowly but steadily.
What's next on your schedule?
We're working a new album now and we'll probably just focus on that, so we won't be playing any gigs for a while. We have a lot of ideas and our new album will be a huge improvement in both songwriting and performance, so once we start doing shows again we will have all new kick ass material. We'll let everyone know when we're ready to come out again, so watch out for announcements on Facebook.