Thursday, 22 March 2012

Interview with Dave Lumsden (Davidian) of Ashes

01) Wæs þu hæl Davidian of Ashes. I am very honoured that you have agreed to be interviewed for Fyrnsidu – it makes this first issue an even more exciting project.

Thank you. It's always nice to talk to people who have a genuine passion for the music, the ideology... And it's also nice to come across fans of my music. The detractors are always more vocal than most, I find. It's always a pleasant surprise!

02) Please can you give our readers some information about the English band Ashes – for example, what genre of music do you perform?

Black metal, of the raw, semi-melodic, atmospheric variety.Inspired mainly by Emperor. Some ambient and clean folk inspired passages.   

03) Is it correct that in February 2010, you yourself (former sole member who performed all instruments and vocals) “announced via Myspace that he was ceasing his involvement in Ashes, passing the entire project onto another musician named Abrecan.” Why was this? If Davidian was the sole member, what part did Justin perform? It has been speculated that Davidian is in actuality Abrecan but no longer wanted to perform under that name for some reason? Hopefully you can clear this up for our readers. Additionally, can you give us a brief history of the band – when, where, and why was Ashes formed?

Right, yes. I did pass on the Ashes name to Abrecan, as at that point in time I had neither the patient or the inclination to carry on with the scene in general. At the time, it made perfect sense to me - Ashes has a fan base - albeit a small one - and I felt that I had worked too hard to just throw it in the bin, and I wanted it to carry on, but I couldn't do it. I felt I'd hit a wall, Ashes had gone as far as it could under my command, and perhaps, someone who had a brighter flame could pick up the baton and run with it. As it happens, due to personal issues with Abrecan, and my mind being in the right place, I took it back.

I was never Abrecan. That's just odd. Why would I change my identity? I'd just release it under a different name. As for Justin..... He was a guy who I met through the local metal scene who could really do a good guitar solo, and I wanted a few on "Yggdrasil". But he was just a waste of time and space. It amazes me how someone who has no job can always be late for rehearsals. He never contributed any music or lyrics to Ashes. He was a semi member for about 2 weeks. Can someone please remove him from my Metal Archives page, please? Ha ha!

Ashes was formed in 2003. I had been a black metal fan since I heard Emperor's "Anthems..." in '97, I think. It was only when the software for home recording was becoming simple and inexpensive that I started to mess around with song ideas. I recorded the first demo in my bedroom, burnt about 50 copies and sent them to anywhere and everywhere.

There was no social networking at that point, no Myspace, or Facebook, just forums. That's how I got feedback. The rest is history.

04) It is my understanding that you have known Abrecan for some time and that you sold the Ashes project to Abrecan. Why did he choose to take on the project from yourself do you think rather than start afresh with his own personal project?

Ha, why not? All the hard work had been done, he just had to carry on. The Ashes name carries a tiny amount of weight behind it, so he thought his luck was in, I guess. I don't want that to come across as an attack on him, but it if someone offered me the chance, I'd have taken it.

05) To date Ashes, under your penship, and reunion with, have released 6 works, listed below. How do you feel Ashes have progressed in style and content over this 7 year period?

2003 - 5 track self-released demo cassette tape - Blackened Wrath. All tracks later appeared on the 'Funeral Forest' demo/album.

2004 - 9 track self released demo cassette tape - Forest Funeral

2004 – 9 track CD release of the original Blackened Wrath and Forest Funeral demo cassette tapes. This was released as Funeral Forest. Tracks 5-9 were originally on the 'Blackened Wrath' Demo. Re-released Nov 29th 2004 with new cover art on Supernal Music. The title was changed from 'Forest Funeral' to 'Funeral Forest' for the Re-release.

2005 - 8 track full-length album - Hymns to a Grey Sky - Supernal Music. July 11th, 2005 -The tracklist below is from the sleeve notes. However, it appears as one single 46 minute track on the CD.

2007 – 9 track full-length album - Yggdrasil - Supernal Music, May 14th, 2007 – Announced as the third and final album.

2009 - 8 track full-length album - Runeworks - Wolfs Hook Records, November 2009.

Hmm. I'm not sure, to be honest. I don't have any plan when I write music, no direction, so it just comes out as it comes out. The production on "Runeworks" was that bad on purpose. It's like, "How far can I push it sonically, without losing the guitar line? How necro can I get it?" It think I got it pretty fucking messy, ha ha!! Keeps people on their toes after the relatively smooth sound of "Yggdrasil".

The only thing I strive for with each release is to for it to be as good as it can be at that point in time. Epic, mysterious... just good black metal. Well, in my opinion, anyway. I still always feel as though I haven't reached full potential, yet.

05a) - In 2011 Abrecan released the Forest Psalms E.P. under the Ashes title – his only release under this name. What are your views on this release? What are your views on it being released on DTM and your overall views on this release having the name Ashes attached to it as it is now back under your stewarsship?

I like it. I'm certainly not embarrassed to have it as part of the Ashes discography. Very Burzum-ish, very sad sounding. It's on my Ipod, anyhow. I feel the DTM situation a good one, as the artist has control still, and it's not about making money - you don't make any in black metal. Well, I haven't, anyway. I told Abrecan, "You won't make anything from this, you know that, right?" He was going to self realease it, I think, but DTM came along.

Everyone just steals music off the internet anyway, so I'd rather people go some where "official", you know? It makes sense to me.

DTM is a good label, run by James Fogarty (ex-Meads of Asphodel) mainly as a front for his musical projects. I have no problems with the release or the label.

06) What direction do you feel Ashes is now going to take in the future and are you working on anything at present?

Oh yes. Exciting times are on the horizon. I can say no more at this point. Announcements will be made in due course.

07) There are no lyrics printed in any of the first 4 releases under your name. Please can you tell us the lyrical theme and content of these releases? I am led to believe it is about nature, war, Anglo-Saxon and Viking history. Is this correct? And, if so, why? Why was the choice made not to include the lyrics in with the releases?

Yes, at the begining of Ashes, lyrics where never my strong point, and I didn't have enough confidence in them for them to be printed - like a teenager finding her parents reading her diary, it was something I was never too keen on. Plus, Supernal never approached me about printing them when it came to discussing artwork, A four page booklet is cheaper than an 8 page, I suppose. So with Supernal it became the norm not to have them printed. They never asked for them.

I write about stuff that interests me. As a fanatic of all things steeped in Anglo-Saxon and Viking history, I tend to write short stories to the music, about battles won and lost, and the emotional side of it. Nature, too, inspires alot of my lyrics. You can step into the countryside, take a look around and think, "My word, you're amazing". Parts of England are among the most beautiful in the world, in my humble opinion.

With "Runeworks", I took alot longer over the lyrics, not knowing at that point in time who was going to release it. Again, the whole album focus' on the Viking raid at Lindisfarne, and the tale was told from both sides. I was pleased with them. When I got in touch with Wolfs Hook Records, I could see that they were on a budget, and to ask for them to print an 8 page booklet was a too much to ask from a D.I.Y. label. So, I took the decision to leave them out, sadly.

07a) Additionally, there were no lyrics issued in the Abreacan release, can you speculate as to why? Do you have any idea what they were about and his choice for not releasing them?

I couldn't tell you - I never saw them. I'd have thought because the chap is fairly right wing.

08) 3 of the original releases were released on the infamous England based label and distro, Supernal Music, under Alex Kurtagić. Then, the final release by yourself, Runeworks, was released on Englands Wolfs Hook Records. Can you explain why this change of record label took place?

I felt that Supernal were not doing all they could to promote Ashes, especially the final album for them, "Yggdrasil" had zero coverage. Alex claimed to have sent out 50 promos, but to this day, I've never seen a review. Even the Supernal news letter didn't cover it's release - I felt he was too interested in the cash cows - Drudkh, Meads... plus, royalties stopped. He hasn't paid me a penny since 2007. Communication between us broke down. Alex... is difficult to get on with. So I decided not to release anything else with Supernal. I felt very let down. My time at Supernal, sadly, jaded my view on the business.

I was the one promoting my own releases, going on to forums, printing flyers... Supernal did nothing for the lesser artists on their roster.

I went with Wolfs Hook as an anti move, I guess. Get as underground as possible, as opposed to being on one of the more well known labels. Plus, them having Ashes on their roster would bring them more attention. They where a new label, and I didn't have anything to loose going with them. I did the album for free, too. I didn't want any money for doing it - it was a proper underground release.

Funny thing is, "Runeworks" got way more attention than any of my Supernal releases. It's a shame WHR is shut down now. It was a promising label - a very raw, 'fuck you' black metal label. The lads who ran it were a pleasure to work with. And of course, now, "Runeworks" is out of print. Nowhere to be seen. If anyone wants to re-release it at some point, they can. I still have the master.

09) In 2007 Ashes contributed to the ‘Anti-Geldof Compilation’ with the single track ‘Fimbulvetr’. Can you tell us more about this release (why Anti-Geldof, ETC) and why Ashes chose to contribute to it?

It was during my time with Supernal, Alex told me he was putting together this compilation, and I agreed with the ideas behind it, and I had a song left over from the Yggdrasil recordings sitting on my hard drive, so I let him have it.

It's a really good compilation, with some great tracks on it... but again, he never promoted it. I just didn't get it. You put all that effort and money into a big release like that, and just let it fall by the wayside? I mean, the booklet that came with it... It was like a fucking novel!

Alex put a lot of work into that release, and the idea behind it was great. Geldof is an utter cunt. I can't stand him.

10) What is the meaning of the term 'Ashes' and what is the concept behind the band? – it's inspiration and motivation?

I chose the name Ashes after Burzum's "Aske" (Norwegian for Ashes). It also suits the music, I think. Ashes themselves....well, it's an empty shell, it the destruction left behind. Quite fitting, I thought. The name for me conjures up many shades of grey... a bleak blanket of nothingness.

11) What is your specific involvement with the band? Have you ever been involved in any other projects – musically or otherwise that you might like to share?

Well, I am the band. All the instruments, vocals, lyrics. No-one else, apart from Abrecan, has ever had any creative input into it. As for other bands, no, I never have been involved.

12) How have the releases of Ashes been received?

That is hard question to answer. There have only every been a handful of reviews on sites, that I know of, and they seem fairly positive. In the beginning,(2003-04) around the demo's, I would receive a fair few email from the elite underground, all filled with bile, not just for Ashes, but English black metal in general. Europe seemed to have a huge problem with UKBM. I don't know why. But then I'd see an online review saying "90%" or "Brilliant". And then Supernal signed I must have been doing something right.

But I honestly don't know how Ashes stands in the scene. I don't know what the general opinion is. Could you tell me?

13) How well have these been received in your homeland and across Europe?

The Eastern part of Europe - Poland in particular, has always given me positive feedback. Russia, too. I'm in a strange position in England, because I honestly think Ashes is not that well known here. Terrorizer or Zero Tolerance magazines have never contacted me, neither have any zines, - apart from yours, and about 2 others - so I can only assume I'm an unknown entity. Which is odd, seeing as I've been signed to Supernal and on the go since 2003... Any forum list of top ten UK black metal bands never feature Ashes, so I don't know... Europe over the past few years has been more supportive, certainly.

14) How well known is Ashes in England and, indeed, outside of Britain and Germanic lands in general? Who do you find, primarily to be the followers of your art? And, if not already, would you like your music to become more known in the West?

The English black metal scene has exploded over the past few years, the two main bands - Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone have both told me I've influenced and inspired them, which is a huge compliment, and I know they are fans of Ashes, but apart from that, I think England is fairly closed to Ashes, in general. I don't want to sound bitter, but I love this country. I love England, proud to be English, so you'd think Ashes would be more in the murky limelight, as it were. I guess I've just been in the wrong place at the wrong time for the most part - I like to think of Ashes as the old withered tree covered in ivy at the back of the field, while the more impressive oaks cast a shadow over me, ha ha!

I often thought it was because I was a solo act. If I'd done the live circuit, perhaps Ashes' profile would have been raised.

I found that mainly followers of Ashes are proud, intelligent people. All are nationalists, certainly, and all are interested in the history of Europe. Obviously I would like more people to hear Ashes, because I feel a lot of people could connect with it . But. as I've said, I honestly have no idea if Ashes is known or not.

15) Are Ashes primarily an underground band or are you known in the mainstream?

Very underground, for the time being. I really don't know if the Ashes name is something that is known to the upper levels of the metal circles. Coverage of past releases would suggest not, but I'm fine with that. As I've said, exciting times on the horizon.

16) Have you ever performed live within Ashes and are their any plans to do so?

Seeing as it's just me, no I've never performed live. That could be a possibility in the future, and something I'd like to do. Although, I'm not sure if I could play the early material - it's been so long, I'd have forgotten it!!

17) If so, what is the reception to Ashes when performing live?

18) Heathen revivalism and reconstruction seems to be increasingly observed in both Germanic and Slavc lands - alongside an increasing connection with nature and the environment. Would you agree with this and why? Is it primarely a revivalism of the pagan Germanic old ways or it is coupled with new-age spirituality like Wicca?

I think people are becoming tired and weary of the city. Spend a weekend in the countryside, and it's so healing, mentally and physically. As the urban areas expand, filled with multi-cultural neighbourhoods, crime, filth... people want to get back to nature. People of my generation have seen massive change in the social landscape over the past 15 years, and it's only natural that there is a yearning to go back to old ways as we loose our national identity. To retreat, as it where. Leave the city to the rats, they will eventually drown in their own filth.

I think people are beginning to look to more natural ways to heal, and have that spiritual well being that has been lost over the years. The more advanced we get, the more we loose our way in a sea of different faiths and believes, the more the indigenous population of any country want to revert to a simpler, easier way of life. New age isn't a phrase that snigger at anymore, like in the early nineties.... It's a healthier way of life. Clean, Simple. I'm a firm believer in holistic healing, the power of crystals, etc.

19) To what extent are you pagan?

I see myself as a neopagan, as in I love nature, the healing power of natural herbs and flowers found in the wild... It's hard, because to call yourself Pagan is to acknowledge the existence of a Christian God, because Pagan as we all know, is a Christian term. I think I'm more Heathen, but then again the term is rooted in Christianity.

I love nature. It's defiantly the nature element. I worship the Green Man! Let's leave it at that. I never actively participated in any rituals.

20) Do you find the followers of Ashes to be pagan and/or fan of your specific style of music?

Yes, I find the two are connected, more often than not.

21) Do you consider Ashes primarily a vehicle for your beliefs, or do you consider yourself a musician first and foremost?

Hmm. Good one. I've never really thought about it. I guess.... a musician first, but with the intention of creating music that I can lyrically put my beliefs to, if that makes sense.

22) Are their any other good bands heathen (metal, folk or otherwise) coming out of Britain that you would recommend looking out for?

I couldn't say. I don't keep my finger on the pulse to much of what's going on. Obviously Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth. Fyrdsman. Instinct, if you can track him down. Very much in the underground. Forefather, of course. They come to mind.

Can I say Cast In Stone, too? She's German, very good. Plays folk songs, just her and an acoustic. Very atmospheric. "Hear The Voice" is a great album.

23) Our world today seems to be in a dire situation on so many levels and in so many areas. If you could change anything about the world today, what would it be?

I think dropping the bomb on the whole of the Middle East and closing off England's borders would be a good start. Ha! Outlaw religion. It is the reason the world is in the mess it's in. The cause of all wars. And the perfect cover for those who don't want peace. Take it away from them, then what are they fighting for? They fight because they are intolerant, because they hate. You can never solve all the problems, because someone will always find an excuse to kill and terrorize.

24) Today, in this politically correct and multicultural world, being proud of your culture, heritage, ethnicity and your folk (and even following a reconstructionist religion of their pagan ways), is often seen as 'hatefull' and 'racist' - or at least it is propagandized as such in the mainstream. However, it seems that for the non-white peoples, especially in Britain and the West in general, it is not only encouraged and promoted, but glorified also. Would you agree with this and why do you think this is?

Totally agree. The last Labour Government ripped the spine out of England, and flung open the doors. They encouraged this multi-cultural bullshit, this "We can all get along" attitude. They, unwittingly, made it so that being proud of our history and heritage was frowned upon. It became, over time, that the indigenous people were beaten down, told to make our guests feel welcome.... "Oh don't put up the St. George Cross, It might offend". What?! Since when was the national flag turned into a racist symbol?, which it has. It's amazing. And very sad. It's not England anymore. Her identity has long since gone, and it will never come back I'm afraid.

We can't possibly offend the immigrants, can we? Let them build as many Mosques as they want. It's a sorry. sorry sight, that fills my heart with sorrow.

25) Thank you Davidian. This has been a very pleasant interview and very informative – a great honour. I personally urge all readers to take a listen to Ashes and support them – a truly tremendous band. Is their anything else that you would like to add Davidian?

Wow, thank you for your kind words and support! Everyone, keep on being proud to be proud. Your not racist, your not hateful. Your English. Never forget that. This is your land.

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