Vallenfyre is maybe a new name on the metal scene but behind it stand some very prominent people. The mastermind of this troop is one and only Gregor Mackintosh, known as guitar player of Paradise Lost, and he is here to give us all the information about Vallenfyre we needed. You will maybe notice that I couldn’t hold my enthusiasm because of speaking with this legend, but what the Hell – read on and enjoy!
Hello Greg! It is true honour for me to welcome you to the pages of Metal sound as you are one of my all time metal heroes, how are you doing these days?
Hi, you’re welcome. I’m good thanks.
Since the main reason for this interview is Vallenfyre let us start from the beginning… The reason for inception of this project was not particularly happy so can you please tell our readers that sad story?
In late 2009 my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died that December. This really screwed me up as I was very close to him. As part of grief counselling I began to write down thoughts and feelings. I had a lot of anger and sadness. These slowly turned into lyrics. At the same time I was listening a lot to my old demos and LP’s and I decided to do a few songs. This really helped me at first but after a while it wasn’t really helping so I asked a few friends to join me. This was the beginning of Vallenfyre. A friend of mine at Century Media heard a demo I did and asked us to do a record. We did and it was great fun to be playing the kind of music we all grew up with, with my best mates. I am happy that I managed to make something positive from such a horrible event and I think my Dad would see it as a great tribute.
If I am informed well, you stand behind all the music and lyrics so can you tell us in details your musical inspirations for Vallenfyre, and also the lyrical content as it is very important part of the whole package.
Musically I just went back to the music that I first fell in love with as a young teen. Various death/doom/crust bands between about ’84 and ’90 like Celtic Frost, Napalm Death, Autopsy, Nihilist, Antisect, Candlemass, Discharge, St Vitus , Death, Amebix, Carnage etc etc. Lyrically, about 60% of the album is about my Dads illness and the aftermath. The rest of the lyrics deal with my views on society, religion, prejudice amongst other things.
I was wandering about this: as Vallenfyre, in your own words, serves as a sort of exorcism of your own demons and dealing with the death of your father, what did actually come first – lyrics or music?
Initially it was just a few lyrics but as it slowly took form as a band I started to write a lot of riffs too.
I can tell you one thing: even though Vallenfyre is Death Metal basically, I can still hear that it is you standing behind the music because of your unmistakable guitar melodies. Can you comment on that?
It is just my style of playing I guess. It’s not really a something I try to do, it’s just how things turn out.
Let’s now focus on the line up: can you tell us how and why each and every member of the band was chosen? They are all obviously your friends.
Yes, first and foremost it is because they are good friends of mine. It is also because we all grew up with this sort of music and have a real inbred passion for it. Scoot on bass is the person I have known the longest. We used to share a house together 20 something years ago. He has played in a few bands over the years, most notably Doom. Hamish is also from the town I grew up in and I have also known him for many years. Every time I go back to my home town we meet up and have a few beers. I think he was the first person I asked to be part of Vallenfyre. Adrian grew up in the Gothenburg scene and was part of the whole tape trading thing the same as me. He has lived in the UK for the last 10 years and plays in Paradise lost as well. Finally Mully is a mate of mine from the pub. Every Thursday I go to his house and we get drunk and listen to metal.
In connection to my previous question: can we call Vallenfyre a project or full time band? Will you, for example, do a full tour?
At this moment in time it is a band and we will be gigging next year- We are having fun doing it and as long as it remains fun and people want to see us I don’t see that changing.
Vallenfyre’s debut was „Desecration“ 7”, was that format chosen deliberately as a throwback to your UG days? How are you satisfied with this release?
I have never released a 7″ in my career and I always wanted to, but the main reason for it is that we wanted to release it anonymously so that we didn’t have any biased reviews. I think because of this it was risky to release it on CM so we released it on Imperium. I think it’s great. I like the fact it was limited to 500 hand numbered pieces.
Century media was chosen label for the release of the album, I guess because of your fruitful cooperation, am I right?
Kind of. We have friends at CM and the guys I deal with there really understood what I was trying to do with Vallenfyre. It was a pretty obvious choice for me.
Now let’s concentrate on „A Fragile King“ a bit more, how would you personally describe the music on it? I’d call it „death/doom“.
Yeah crusty death/doom kind of sums it up really. I had to laugh when I saw one review which said it was nothing new. Haha no shit. How many times do I have to say old school before it sinks in.
Would you say that, after the creation and recording of „A Fragile King“, that all the bad emotions are out of you for good?
No not at all. I don’t think you ever get over something like that. I think you just learn to live with it. Good days and bad days.
How it was for you to sing on the whole album? By the way, have you ever thought to do that in Paradise Lost?
It was good. I was slightly nervous at first but I made sure I practiced a lot and made sure I was comfortable with the style of singing. I would never do it in Paradise Lost. It’s a totally different thing.
Can you please tell us something more about the video for „Cathedrals of dread“ that you have just released?
The video imagery is very much a more literal interpretation of the lyrics. The lyrics deal with my view on religion and the people who follow it. The sheep mentality of the followers and the sinister people who lead.
I am huge fan of old death / doom scene from the beginning of the nineties, so I have to ask you (one of its creators) how do you look upon it nowadays? For example, can you recall that Autopsy / Paradise lost tour which was done in 1990 (I think)
Yes I have very fond memories of that time. It was quite exciting being involved in the early beginnings of that scene. That tour with Autopsy was a real laugh but the touring conditions were terrible. There were 5 members of PL, 4 members of Autopsy, Hammy from Peaceville, a roadie and a driver, and all the equipment in the back of a transit van.
What lies in the future for Vallenfyre, are you maybe already thinking about the next album?
No, I have no idea if we would ever do a second album. If in a couple of years’ time we were still having fun with it and we felt inspired then maybe. We don’t have a plan. Let’s just see what happens.
Excuse me but I simply cannot pass the opportunity to add some questions about Paradise Lost! The first one would be: since you have went totally to the roots of your career with Vallenfyre, can we expect some experiment in the vein of „Host“ on the next Paradise Lost album? Are you thinking about going full on experimental in the future with Paradise lost anyway?
I am in the studio recording the new PL album right now. The new album has many classic doom and classic metal influences. Lots of guitar work. If you liked the song “True Belief” I’m pretty sure you’d like the new record.
Today is the day when your new DVD „Draconian Times MMXI“ will be released, so how are you satisfied with it? By the way, would you say that „Draconian times“ is the ultimate Paradise Lost album and why?
Yeah I think it’s a solid live DVD. Jens Bogren has done a great job with the sound too. I don’t think Drac Times is the ultimate PL album but I think it was the right album at the right time back in ’95. I see it as a polished continuation of Icon.
This summer I have visited Kavarna Rock Fest in Bulgaria, the whole experience was like a paradise to us fans of that particular brand of metal! What can you tell me about your experience there?
It was good. The night after our show we got very drunk with Katatonia and Opeth. Bad hangover on the flight back.
You have also done one guest spot on new Orphaned Land DVD, so tell us something about your cooperation with those guys… (I have actually saw Paradise Lost and Orphaned Land in Serbia 2005!)
I got along very well with the Orphaned Land guys on our tour and we see them whenever we are in Israel. When I was asked to guest on their DVD I was more than happy to.
Can you please give us your all time top 5 of metal and non-metal albums?
Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
Candlemass – Epicus Doomicus Metalicus
Trouble – Psalm 9
Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
Carnivore – Retaliation
Dead Can Dance – Within the Realms of a Dying Sun
Jesus Christ Superstar – Film soundtrack
Depeche Mode – Ultra
Tapping the Vein – The Damage
Sisters of Mercy – First , Last and Always
Well that would be all for now! I don’t usually say this in the end of the interviews that I am doing, but I would like to thank you for all the music that you have done Greg – it means so much to me! Thank you very much, your last message to fans…
Thanks for sticking with PL and hopefully enough people will dig the Vallenfyre album for us to come and gig where you are.
- Answers by Gregor Mackintosh
Interview was done by Slobodan Trifunovic