HELL The Age of Nefarious

I missed the chance to do the interview when Hell’s second effort was released, but, never the less, I finally took the chance at Christmass-bash in Germany (Geiselwind Meeting) and I’ve met with the band and done one interview with David Bowler, vocalist in the band who is, in the fact, professional actor.

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The first question, obviously, about your latest record. Can you tell me your impressions about The Curse and The Chapter?
We felt it was the step forward from the first album because it was 50% old material and 50% new material. It’s great to do the old stuff again but it’s important to keep progress and do some new stuff. Generally speaking, the feeling within the band, we felt that the new material was the strongest stuff on the album. And we were really exited. There is always that question: „We never did this before…Can we do this? Do we have the vibe that the band used to have or are we taking it somewhere new?“

Could you compare the latest record with the first one?
We kind of felt like we owed debt to the way the band had been and we tried to keep it that way. I think that was easier for me to come in and do that, than it was for the rest of the band, because they were kind of trying to remember how it felt and how it sounded. And we were very fortunate because Andy was such a big fan of the band, so he knew that material backwards. And, you know, he guided everybody through that. I knew the old material, the way it used to sound, so I tried to make it sound like that. Now it’s kind of easier for me. I think it was pretty harder for the others.

As a matter of fact, I will always compare Hell to Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, so what can you tell us about that? Do you agree?
It’s one of the strange coincidences because, this may sound weird to you but, I’ve never heard Mercyful Fate. The first time I heard Mercyful Fate and King Diamond was when we produced the first album, and then we read reviews and it compared the band to Mercyful Fate. Now, I have no idea because, I don’t listen to huge amount of metal. Being inactive for twenty years, my life has gone to different direction so, I’ve kind of missed that out. It seemed to me that, historically, they’ve existed at the same time and Mercyful Fate were doing something similar at the same time. There was no internet, I really think the bands were unaware of each other at the time because, I had no idea who they were. Andy knew who they are. And, when I started listening to Mercyful Fate, because I read about them, I thought: „Actually, they do sound like us…(laugh)“, and it was a genuine surprise to me. Certainly, I remember going out to Hell gigs and Mercyful fate was never mentioned at the time.

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There is definitely a story to tell when it comes to your involvement, in a way, you’re actually an actor, could you tell us something more about that?
Yeah, I am. I’ve been acting for twenty years. I saw Hell back in the day when I was a child, and I must have stood next to Andy and we didn’t know each other at the time. I went to it and do my thing and when Kevin said they were gonna get together and do some production and recording, I was very exited because I thought the band was important. I’ve been playing my tapes of Hell to my friends for years saying: „This is my brother’s band, listen to this, this is great stuff…“ I don’t understand why they didn’t get anywhere back in the day really. So, they were gonna produce something and, I was really exited. I haven’t been much of a studies of metal for years and I didn’t know who Andy was and who he became, so I did my research and I thought ok, this guy is really interesting. And if he’s interested there must be something in it.

Since Andy is a good producer, well-known producer as a matter of fact, especially in Britain. So, can you tell me something from your experience of working with him?
He’s very, very direct like, It’s right or it’s not, and I like that since people don’t usually say what they think, and that serves nobody. Andy doesn’t care who you are or what you’re doing, it’s right or it’s not. And if it’s not right, he will tell you in a way to encourage you to try again. I think that the results that he have spoken for themselves. I think that, the bands that are much bigger than us are allowed to do what the hell they like, and that’s not necessarily good for them. As an actor, you get the directors who don’t direct you, and yet you need directing because otherwise it gets very comfortable, you do what is safe and that doesn’t push you anywhere. Andy does that. He pushes you and makes you think about it and he makes you try harder, and that’s good for everybody.

Could you actually tell us something about your experience, difference actually, between your experience as an actor on one hand and as a singer of a heavy metal band on the other? There are some differences, there are some similarities…
You know, I talk to singers quite a lot, and they ask: „How do you make the sounds you make?“ and I don’t know, because I’m not a trained singer. I’ve never trained to be a singer, I have no musical training. I’ve adopted my theater acting, my Shakespeare acting to my singing, I did the same thing, but I did it louder and longer, and it gives you a certain sound and a certain vibe that a trained singer won’t get. As an actor, if I go to an audition for a musical theater, I don’t sound right, because they are all trained the same way, they all sound the same and that’s what they want. And I would never get a job like that. I would never get a job in a power metal band because I don’t sound like that. I sound like I sound and that’s what I’m looking for. He wanted something that sound different and unusual in metal, and apparently, I’m unusual.

How did you get the idea to look like this, definitely different, and also, what about the lyrics? Shakespearean time and satanic influences as well.

Yeah, I mean, lyrics are very important to me. I think the first time, they worked very, very hard on the lyrics, they really did. And if I could, I would make it even further with my own experience because I’m used to working with Shakespearean texts and there is a lack of good lyrics. I think a lot of lyrics in music in general are just lazy. It sometimes has a great melody that makes you feel something but if the words don’t mean anything, I don’t understand why people would sing it. And that’s the way I work. If I write something, and It doesn’t mean anything to me, I don’t feel like singing it. I think if I don’t feel like singing it, I don’t think anybody would feel like singing along with it and listening to it.

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About the forthcoming album, could you tell us, are finishing it or something like that. And, about the new songs, maybe some titles to unveil as well?
Well, all the titles are provisional because they are all work in progress. I would say we probably have seven or eight songs that we think are probably just about there. When you go to pre production, you change things and, you think about the vibe of an album. They will change but we think they are solid, the ideas are solid, the lyrics are solid. Everything has to be pleased. Melody has to be right, and if it’s not, we just think that it’s not good enough. Not because we are insecure, nervous people but, we just think, there are millions of albums out there, why would people listen to what we have to say if we have nothing to say. So we’re taking a lot of time because it needs to be at the point where everybody feels like they’ve got something to say. Then, if it means something to all of us, it will mean something to the people who are listening to the band, because if it doesn’t, we’d rather shut up, there’s no point. We’re not gonna be the next big thing, we’re not that kind of a band. We’re gonna do what we’re gonna do and there will be, I don’t know how many albums, but they have to be important. And if we’re not saying something important, there’s just no point.

Since you’re an actor, could you tell us your, so to say, favorite or most important movies? What kind of movies do you like?

It depends, you know, if there’s a good script and good actors, it’s a good movie. Same with the playing. If there’s a good script and good actors, it’s all great. I like all sorts of things. I think the movie business is phenomenal, and the TV business is even more phenomenal. I think it’s fantastic. I think the most people are doing their best work in TV now, because, I think the TV producers are taking more risks. And the theater, it’s never been very well attended, since they are keep doing the same thing. And, I think there’s a lot more great movies being made now than ever before. It’s like music. There will be three or four very important movies made every year, and you can say the same for music, there will be three or four important albums made every year.

  • Interview by Marko Miranovic, December 2016
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