I had the pleasure of interviewing the legendary Old Season:
- What inspired the band, and what shaped the name of the band?
Iron Maiden have definitely been a major influence, particularly with Anto and John, and Frank previously. They’re a foundational influence for a lot of metal bands in the last 20 years, including ourselves. However, there is a massive variety of influences within the band as each member has his own set of influences that they bring to the table. I suppose While Heaven Wept and My Dying Bride were influential to a point. While Heaven Wept’s ‘Of Empires Forlorn’ and My Dying Bride’s ‘Turn Loose the Swans’ got many a spin in the Old Season HQ back in the day and these albums probably seeped into our subconscious through the amount of times they got played. It is very hard for us to nail down specific influences because we all listen to such a variety of music, but some of the bands that come to mind would be Amorphis, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Opeth, Thin Lizzy and the list really goes on and on, sometimes extending outside the metal genres. We try to blend them all very subtly, to the point where you could have 4 different people listening to the same song and have all of them name 4 different bands as possible influences.
The name Old Season was thought of by our drummer Anto. It conjures up images of a time and
state before ‘now’ – our time of modern complexities. What we liked about the name is that it suited our approach to the music in that it didn’t tie us down to any particular sub-genre. It doesn’t point to any specific type of metal, which allows us the room to explore all our range of influences.
- What’s the process like for writing and recording music, and has that changed on this record?
The song -writing process for us, particularly in the last few years, is a very natural and enjoyable thing for us. Because there is a deep rooted respect for each other as musicians, the riffs and songs just seem to flow in the room. I think because we’ve been through a lot as a band, and as friends, which has solidified us, along with general personal growth as people and musicians, we’ve created an environment for ourselves where everyone feels comfortable to write and share ideas free from criticism or judgement. This really broadens the base from songs can emerge.
An example of how a song may emerge for us is Smyth, Fuzzy, or myself could come to rehearsals with a riff and everything else would rally behind it. From there, myself and the others would explore the potential variants of that riff and try out other phrases that might work in conjunction with it. . We then put a basic structure on the song and as time goes by we edit it, play around with different ideas, then nail down the final structure with the vocals. However, this process can often start with the bass, vocals or drums either. The great thing about playing in this band is that we get riffs and ideas from everywhere. While I’m probably the most proactive (maybe just the loudest at times!), everyone else contributes, writes and arranges with me as a solid team. There are times when I may have 75 – 100% of the song finished in my mind before I even bring it to the table. Fuzzy sometimes starts the process when he comes in with a riff that we all rally behind, John sometimes picks up the guitar and plays a piece or even an alteration of something we’ve done on guitars, or he might have
a whole song idea that he wants us to jam out. Anto could have a riff in his head and would just sing it out and the guitars would emulate it. Dave is your stereotypical bass player – super chilled, goes with the flow, but is super confident in his own capabilities when it comes to taking control of his own parts. It’s amazing. Everyone has the ability to write and arrange songs and we all respect each other’s opinions. For me, this gives the music a lot of depth and dynamic, 6 writers are better than 1.
- What themes did you explore on your upcoming record?
Beyond The Black is essentially an exploration of the everyday human psyche in our modern world. There is a major theme of inner turmoil and the inability to control one’s own inner reality when faced with the pressures of external reality. People often get trapped in a negative thought cycle which can make them feel like a prisoner in their own heads. This often comes to a head when faced with the stresses and pressures of modern life, particularly in a society that doesn’t naturally equip people with the coping mechanisms to deal with these problems. Beyond The Black is an exploration of this, and as a result it touches on themes like depression, anxiety, psychosis, seclusion, personal development and there are more in there for the listener to explore and decipher. There are also hints of positivity and ‘a light within the darkness’, but we’ll let the listeners uncover this. I mean, different things resonate with different people, and some will find meaning where others won’t, so we won’t spoil the discovery
- Do you think the music industry has changed from when you started out?
Yes for sure. When we started, social media and streaming and torrents weren’t as widely used. Bands relied a lot more on touring, external promotions companies and word of mouth to promote themselves. Now, with these things, we can reach audiences digitally anywhere in the world on their phones, laptops and pc’s. Obviously, now we have streaming and illegal downloads. This is a double-edged sword really. On the one hand, there is potential revenue leaking out for bands with regard to sales. On the other hand, bands like ourselves, without big financial backing, are getting their music disseminated globally to audiences who might not otherwise have interacted with the band. The way I try to look at it is that anyone who downloads the album illegally, or streams, is still a potential customer for other merchandise or may buy a ticket for a show.
Social Media is an important aspect in the business now. In the past, we neglected this side of things a bit, but we’ve fully embraced it now and have seen great results. It’s not always feasible to do things the old-fashioned way by touring and playing loads of shows to small audiences and trying to just cover costs. The internet allows us to access audiences in their own homes. It’s also allowed us to speak to fans from all around the world, something which is really important for us. We like the personal touch, speaking to people individually has allowed us develop a good relationship with our fans and supporters around the globe. People regularly send us messages, via social media, from North and South America, Europe, Russia and the Middle East, and it’s fantastic to be able to speak to these people. The internet has afforded bands this opportunity, and it is very positive.
Regardless of all these changes, the one element that remains the same in the industry is that people want to listen to good music. They want to listen to music that they can resonate and identify with, and particularly in the metal and rock scene, they want to feel part of a wider community. These are all elements that every band tries to provide.
- What plans have you got for the future?
We’ve recently been added to the Rally of Lúch Longarm festival in Co. Louth, which has an incredible line-up of great bands and acts playing over two days from the 27th to the 29th of July. We’re working on finalising some more dates for the summer so as soon as any more gigs are confirmed, you can check for updates on our social media platforms and website in the coming months. We love playing and we’re always on the lookout for interesting shows and events to do, so
we’ll see where this takes us into 2018. We will also keep an eye out for suitable shows in Europe for the summer and beyond.
We will have a limited double vinyl edition of Beyond the Black which will be released on the 25th of
May. The album will be available to pre-order on the 11th of March through the puresteel-records.com online store and from oldseason.com after the release date.