Deathwhite (anonymous): “Song-writing is an inexact science that we are far away from mastering, but that’s what makes being in Deathwhite exciting — the thrill of writing songs and sharing them will never grow old. ‘Grey Everlasting’ is simply the next step in our journey. Where we go next, remains to be seen.”
Het derde album ‘Grey Everlasting’ is uit van Deathwhite en het derde interview van Arrow Lords of Metal is volbracht. Dit zegt genoeg over de hoge kwaliteit van de melancholieke songs van deze geheimzinnige outfit uit de Verenigde Staten. Ditmaal heeft Deathwhite hun weemoedige melodieën voorzien van enige ruwe uitbarstingen en dat is als slagroom op de taart. Het album is ontstaan gedurende de coronacrisis, een tijd van isolement en vrees, waarin donkere gedachten vrij spel kregen in menig brein. Het hoeft dan ook geen betoog dat deze derde worp nog net wat intenser en wanhopiger klinkt dan voorgaand werk. De band geeft tekst en uitleg over deze periode en hun nieuwste schijf.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 17 juni 2022
Hello guys! Congratulations with the amazing new album! How are you doing?
Hi Vera. We are doing well, all things considered. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to speak with you again.
We did an interview early 2020 when the previous album ‘Grave Image’ came out. So let us pick up the thread around that time. When’ Grave Image’ came out, the pandemic hit the world. So I guess you could not support that album with selected live gigs or did you?
We started rehearsing for live shows in January 2020. The pandemic, obviously, hit not too long after and whatever plans we had were shelved. We didn’t have any shows confirmed but were strongly considering playing out more throughout 2020. The pandemic altered those plans significantly. Our approach to live shows is somewhat tempered now; we do not have any plans for shows in support of ‘Grey Everlasting’, because of current geographical realities and personal situations. However, this is not to say we won’t jump at the right opportunity, but it has to be something worth doing. Otherwise, Deathwhite will remain a studio band. We are quite comfortable with that approach too.
How did you try to make the best of this pandemic situation? In which way did that affect the song-writing process for the new album ‘Grey Everlasting’?
We are a band that has worked in isolation since our inception. Since we don’t play shows or interact with other musicians concerning Deathwhite, we operate in a vacuum, so to speak. Therefore, the pandemic didn’t alter the song-writing process a great deal. It probably isolated us even further — which is perfectly fine. We enjoy the solitude and the work that goes into song-writing. It is an inexact science that requires a tremendous amount of thought. We’re not a band that hammers out songs in a rehearsal room. Instead, we have a primary songwriter who writes the bulk of the material, then presents it to the band. The same applies to another gentleman within Deathwhite who contributed three songs to ‘Grey Everlasting’. We finalized the songs via a remote setup that included file sharing. And once May 2021 hit, we were ready to start tracking. Therefore, pandemic or not, it’s unlikely we would have changed how we work.
How did you end up with the title ‘Grey Everlasting’? Was that the feeling that prevailed when wading through these seemingly endlessly pandemic?
That is correct. The title is self-explanatory. The feeling of dread, despair, or that the world is perpetually “grey” made it a logical choice. While we consider ourselves quite fortunate in many respects, we cannot help but feel a prevailing sense of sadness for those who aren’t so lucky. This often rang through during the pandemic when families were ripped apart by this horrible disease. We’re seeing it now in Ukraine. To a degree, we feel helpless, so our only measure is to convey these thoughts into our music. We never want to preach, though. Our aim is always to bring to light these various topics and allow the listener to make their own decisions. But, ‘Grey Everlasting’ certainly felt like a fitting title for the times — and from now on.
I remember that the lyrics from the first album happened to be personal and introspective, while the ones for ‘Grave Image’ used to be written as an observer. What about the lyrics on this new album?
‘Grey Everlasting’ follows the same lyrical path as ‘Grave Image’, although we have a few topical songs like ‘No Thought Or Memory’, which is about the opioid crisis in the United States and ‘Quietly, Suddenly’, which is about the pandemic and denial of science. Beyond them, the album addresses the aforementioned ills of the world with scant traces of hope and optimism, although they come more from a personal perspective in relation to overcoming obstacles. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our lyrics since we have a vocalist who is easily understood, not to mention very adept at conveying the emotions necessary for our music. Sadly, we don’t think the world can get out of its own way.
Your music is a catharsis of emotions, inspired by the sad and wicked world we are living in. I guess that explains that grandiose black metal alike acceleration in the first song ‘Earthtomb’? Can you tell a bit more about this song, one that has a superb atmosphere of working with contrasts?
The four of us have heavier, extreme metal backgrounds. We’ve each played in black, death or thrash bands at one time or another — and in the same bands together. The idea to incorporate the blast beats in ‘Earthtomb’ and ‘White Sleep’ was a concerted decision — we felt now was the right time to expand our sound. It provides an interesting contrast (as you suggest) within our music. ‘Earthtomb’ was one of the first songs we wrote for ‘Grey Everlasting’ and provided the roadmap for the rest of the album and likely even future releases. The song is about people in positions of power who use deception, gaslighting and grievance to achieve their nefarious goals, but in the end, they are nothing more than dust. You could easily direct the song toward several high-profile political figures of the time. It doesn’t require a lot of deciphering to figure out who these individuals are.
What is ‘White Sleep’ about?
‘White Sleep’ is about not wanting to wake up, to remain in a state of eternal sleep to avoid the world and people. It is about accepting the inevitable and being content with whatever comes next. It’s also about not dwelling too much on things and not worrying about receiving approval from others. It was written during the thick of the pandemic and political strife here in the United States when there was nothing but bad news. ‘White Sleep’ was our way of escaping from it all.
One of the most touching songs happens to be ‘So We Forget’. Would be nice to give some words about this great track…
‘So We Forget’ is, as the title implies, is about forgetting. It may be the most “positive” song on ‘Grey Everlasting’ since it encourages the idea of moving forward and finding inner strength. People, it seems, are far too often hindered by their limitations and some of that stems from negative experiences. They are, of course, a part of life and virtually inescapable unless one decides never to leave their homestead.
Is ‘Asunder’ a cry for freedom after the isolation of the lockdowns?
‘Asunder’ is primarily about the divide within our societies, how our differences are no longer celebrated but ridiculed, and how opposing viewpoints are no longer met with careful discussion but wrath. Civil discourse and the open exchange of ideas used to be one of the primary tenants of society. With the increased popularity of social media, people live within their own echo chambers and refuse to see outside their little bubbles. From that, they will attack anyone who is different or is trying to advance a cause. This has all torn at the fabric of the modern world with little chance for repair.
By the way, how is the situation in the US state where you live? Did you manage to play some gigs after the pandemic already?
We have two members in Pennsylvania; the other two are in Southern states. It varies depending on location, but we’ve managed to deal with the pandemic by staying busy and following safety protocols to protect our loved ones. It has not been easy, but nothing compares to losing a family member or a friend to this terrible disease. Therefore, we will follow common sense and do whatever is necessary to help the more significant cause. Live shows have resumed mainly here in the States and most venues no longer have mask or vaccine requirements. No doubt that has been great for the bands and crews whose lives depend on live shows. It has been nice to see bands perform live again. For a while, it felt like they would never come back.
How would you yourself describe the evolution of your music since the former albums?
We’ve come a long way in ten years. We had recently thought about our formative period when we were determining Deathwhite’s direction. It was a blank canvas, which is exciting, but we also needed some framework. It’s likely we didn’t find that until the ‘Solitary Martyr’ EP came along in 2015, which was when our line-up stabilized. Musically, we’ve stayed true to ourselves, but the progression between albums is apparent on the heaviness front. We’ve made a dedicated effort to get heavier and have also worked on new vocal styles while not abandoning our primary clean vocals. More importantly, we learn more about song-writing with each album. It’s an inexact science that we are far away from mastering, but that’s what makes being in Deathwhite exciting — the thrill of writing songs and sharing them will never grow old. ‘Grey Everlasting’ is simply the next step in our journey. Where we go next, remains to be seen.
It is a sad yet beautiful video clip for ‘Earthtomb’. Where is it filmed and can you tell a bit about the making of this video?
The clip was filmed by Guilherme Henriques, who is Season of Mist’s in-house video director and producer. The ‘Earthtomb’ video was shot in Portugal and Spain in February. Guilherme provided a treatment for the video and we agreed upon it; he and his fantastic staff did the rest and deserve all the credit. The video is eerie, given the current situation in Ukraine and hopefully makes viewers think about what happens when power goes unchecked and certain individuals are allowed to ravage and destroy a free, autonomous country.
Are you planning to shoot more video clips?
We have a clip in the works for ‘White Sleep’ which will be the third single from the album. Guilherme will also helm it.
How do you look back at the recording process of ‘Grey Everlasting’?
It was a smooth process. We were so pleased with ‘Grave Image’ that we used the same production team for ‘Grey Everlasting’. Shane Mayer recorded all instruments in Pittsburgh. We tracked vocals with Art Paiz in Mana Recording in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dan Swanö took care of the mastering. It’s reassuring to work with individuals who are professional and reliable. It takes out the guesswork and occasional stress from the recording process and enables us to focus on tracking. We’re always super-prepared before entering the studio, though. Our demo process is long and extensive, which means that by the time we hit the studio, everything is mapped out — vocals included. We did, however, have our first moment of improvisation on ‘Blood And Ruin’. The completion of its drums revealed the song needed something new tacked on to its conclusion, so the closing lead melody was created in the studio. We usually avoid doing such things, but in the case of ‘Blood And Ruin’, it worked out nicely.
What can you tell of the beautiful artwork which reflects life and death (bare tree)?
Jerome Comantale is once again responsible for the cover. This is the fourth consecutive album he’s provided artwork for us and he tops himself every time. You are right: The ‘Grey Everlasting’ cover continues the theme of life and death as displayed the vibrant scenery, but also the bare tree and the “Deathwhite” character. We asked Jerome not to use the colour grey since the ‘For A Black Tomorrow’ cover is heavily grey. He then came up with a sketch and concept that tied into the album’s themes while maintaining the continuity of previous covers. We’re very fortunate to work with an artist of Jerome’s calibre. He never fails to impress us.
What are the plans for the near future?
Our immediate plans involve finishing a cover song we began during album tracking last year. The drums are complete; we need to finish instrumentation and vocals. It’s not a very obvious choice for a song, although it certainly makes sense when thinking about the kind of band we are. The cover song will likely see the light of day in 2023. A vinyl reissue of our first two EPs, ‘Ethereal’ (2012) and ‘Solitary Martyr’ (2015), is also in the works and should be released before the end of 2022. Aside from that, we are already working on new material for album number four. We feel quite inspired in the aftermath of ‘Grey Everlasting’ and already have a clear, set direction that will build upon said album and take us down new paths. I
If there is anything you like to add, please feel free to do it right here…
Thank you for the great interview, Vera. We are grateful for the support.