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Ephel Duath interview

By Alex
Mon, June 8, 2009 2:04 PM PT5,951 views

Lambgoat spoke with Ephel Duath founder and mainstay Davide Tiso over the weekend to get the scoop on Ephel's departure from Earache Records.


So you guys just parted ways with Earache Records. What happened?

We signed with Earache in 2002, at the time we were the first band on a newborn sub-label called Elitist Records run by the Candlelight founder Lee Barrett. In the same year Elitist Records reprinted our debut album "Phormula" and in 2003 "The Painter's Palette" came out. The album received an impressive feedback by the underground scene. The reviews were so positive to be often embarassing, tons of magazines did a spotlight on the band and the buzz around Ephel Duath grew to the point that huge labels and important musicians in the metal scene approached the band. I felt we were on the right path to reach great goals: I was wrong.

While Lee Barrett was believing in Ephel Duath, Earache never really felt right to completely bet on us. We have never been their cup of tea. Lee Barrett wanted us, not Earache. They just continued focusing their attention on their own roster, snobbing most of the Elitist artists for the exception of English metallers Biomechanical. It was already clear that the Elitist-Earache communion was not going to last. While we were preparing the next album Pain Necessary to Know the tension between Lee Barrett and Earache reached a non-returning point, and right before the album release Barrett quit. PNTK came out on Elitist Records, but the label was already no more. Just Biomechanical and Ephel Duath passed onto Earache, all the rest of the Elitist bands finished on other labels or splitting.

From that moment on I started feeling in the wrong place, nothing personal, just with the wrong label. We were a white fly in the Earache roster, but not like a little jewel to be proud of, more like a package becoming heavier and heavier year after year. Earache never got interested to find the right way to propose and sell Ephel Duath, and if they tried they did it without imposing the band in the market like they did in the past, while succeeding in supporting much more difficult acts to place genre-wise. This caused poor selling, that album after album meant less promotion, less buzz around the band, no tour support and a much more difficult situation for Ephel Duath, in the already difficult music business status. In the last year, the trash metal revival, Earache's new target obsession, has been kind of difficult for me to digest. The label was so absorbed trying to revamp that genre that they totally lost interest in Ephel Duath, making me wait for more than 6 months to book the studio, and then six more months after the album was recorded to release it. Few months after our last album "Through my Dog's Eyes" finally came out, I called them asking to part ways and they accepted without questioning. It sounded like a relief for both parts; I should have done it before but at the time, some ED members were scared to have more problems.

Who else is in the band at this point? Is it just you currently?

The band's first demo tape came out in '98. At the time I put some tracks on the mp3.com website. The demo had so many downloads that the website decided to reprint it in a weird digital package. Few months after I received a check for approximately $400. In the Ephel Duath career this is the only money the band ever received from a label. All this is just to let you know how it has been difficult for me to keep a solid line-up around Ephel Duath. I did everything possible to make this happen, paying from my pocket all the band expenses: session musicians, guests, pre-productions, fuel, highways, food, hotels, years and years of rehearsing rooms. Sometimes even paying members to not quit the band. Sometimes bluffing about the show fees, adding money from my pocket to the poor amount to not discourage the band. No matter what, band members continued to leave, after recording sessions, right before or right after touring, during holiday, by phone, by email, once even by letter. They were often complaining, without even realizing how many problems I was hiding in front of their eyes. Now it's just me, and I'm pretty comfortable like this.

It must be demoralizing to have to convince (or pay) people to stay in the band. Are you losing faith? How are you staying motivated?

My will to compose music for ED is much stronger than any kind of obstacles I've faced in my career. An underground band has no time for complaints, it's better to keep working hard to survive in this musical jungle. Moreover, if you look around, you will notice that there are tons of bands that are facing the same economical and line-up problems I'm dealing with. Talking about line-ups, can you imagine how it's been for DEP to loose a talent like Chris Pennie? He's one of the best metal drummers out there. I'm sure it has been a sort of surreal nightmare for DEP to see him leaving, to waste his career with that embarrassing and cheesy band he's in right now. I still ask myself how Chris Pennie can play every night behind that singer. Money should not change one's musical taste.

Or think about Poison The Well; have you ever checked their Wikipedia page? Look at the list of ex-members. I counted more than 20. When I feel demoralized I look at bands like these, who are humbly continuing their path no matter what, and I convince myself that whoever leaves Ephel Duath is the one making a mistake, and not me by keeping going.

What's the plan now? Are you talking to other labels, or have any labels contacted you? Will there even be another Ephel Duath album?

Some labels already contacted me, but this time I'll think twice before signing any kind of long term deals. If I'll not find a situation I feel comfortable with, I'll opt for an auto production and a distribution license. I don't think the music business is still owned by labels. It's no mystery that pirate downloads are destroying the market, but it's also true that nowadays there are new ways for bands to exist, selling their music directly to their public. In some way that reminds me of the tape trader period.

I'm working on a new album, and I want to consider this one man band status as a way to give Ephel Duath a new, even deeper, experimental face. I consider this the third phase of our career, (1998-2001 studio band duo, 2002-2009 live enlarged band period) and given that I'll be the only member directly involved, I assume this phase will last longer than the other two.

So what bands are you impressed with these days? What music are you currently listening to?

I'm kind of obsessed by drumming, even if I don't get along with most drummers. My listening is often driven by elegant rhythm. I'm literally left speechless by Meshuggah's Obzen. It's one of the best albums I've ever heard. I'm impressed by how well the double drums are working for the last two Melvins albums. I'm impressed with the job done by Jacopo Battaglia on "Carboniferous" by Zu. I'm blown away by Zach Hill's style and his touch on Team Sleep.

Talking about notes, I'm impressed with Thom Yorke's solo career potential, by the melodies of Red Sparowes and Russian Circles, by Cult of Luna's crescendos. I love the last albums by Opeth, I think the two new members did a fantastic job.

At the moment I'm listening Neubauten, Interpol and the songs I'm preparing for the Karyn Crisis Band.


8 comments

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ion_stasi_ 6/8/2009 3:09:16 PM

First post? I love this guy and grew to like each Ephel Duath album more and more, with the latest being my favorite. This is the epiphany of innovative and creative music. Much respect for never giving up with all your difficulties and producing some of my favorite music. =)


thetruthhurts_ 6/8/2009 4:27:30 PM

Integrity = Davide Tiso, keep on keepin' on brohammer


Har_ 6/8/2009 11:09:57 PM

less songs about being a dog plz, you're not DMX


punisher_ 6/8/2009 11:34:20 PM

"less songs about dogs"?! so are you dumb AND illiterate? there aren't any songs about dogs. it's a concept record, from the perspective of a dog..like a story written from its point of view. i don't think you're deep enough to tell anyone what to write about. now go stick your head back up your ass where it belongs.


DaveClinch_ 6/9/2009 5:56:03 AM

Freaking awesome dude, and I think every band he mentioned enjoying I love. Godspeed Davide, I will purchase your next cd..


dot357_ 6/9/2009 6:12:56 AM

nothing but respect for this guy!


Har_ 6/9/2009 11:51:58 PM

hey punisher, learn how to read and f*cking blow me, thanks


anonymous 6/10/2009 9:08:35 AM

Name dropping chris pennie for being in a cheesy rock FTW!