Interview With Pilgrim Of Vancouver Doom Metal Act Funeral Circle
The underground metal scene in Vancouver is one that is constantly thriving and growing each and every day and is a city that is constantly churning out new, young metal bands. Some are fantastic, some are good and some are down right terrible. One thing that remains a constant though is the fact that Vancouver has one of the top metal scenes in the world. A scene that has have given unholy birth to numerous internationally recognized bands.
One of the more respected and talented of these young Vancouver metal acts is Funeral Circle. Signed to the U.K. based Miskatonic Foundation; Funeral Circle have slowly become a name to be reckoned with throughout the world doom metal scene. Having released it's debut EP "Sinister Sacrilege" in December of 2009 the band are preparing their second onslaught to be unleashed upon the globe. Funeral Circle guitarist Pilgrim sat down with Metalunderground.com to discuss the band's history, present day and its blasphemous future.
Metalunderground.com: Funeral Circle recently hosted and headlined the annual IANFEST concert. Describe the concept behind this show and how it came to be.
Axemaster Pilgrim: This does start things on a bit of a sombre note, discussing the background and history of Ianfest is a complicated one, but nevertheless I am up for it. It is a tribute to my best friend Ian, who was an absolutely great character. He was in Funeral Circle for a time, but eventually left although it was on a good note with everyone (personal reasons). Not too long afterwards I received the news that he passed away. Christopher Lee remarked on the death of his friend Peter Cushing, and he said something along the lines of "I don't want to sound gloomy, but, at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much...", and when that person leaves this mortal coil, there will never be another friendship like that ever again. That is how I feel. However, some friends and I decided that his influence and friendship is everlasting, and we play a show as a tribute to him every year. It's always a time to remember that life is too short to hate unconditionally, to live on with no trust for anyone, to declare everything as folly, and that the only way to be happy in this life is to seek brotherhood and friendship, to agree to disagree, and to have a good time. Maybe that's not very Doom Metal for me to say? There will always be the more gloomy aspects of life to write about in music, but that is how I feel about my life outside of the music of Funeral Circle. Perhaps some would deem it hypocritical, but that is how it is for me.
Metalunderground.com: How would you describe your fallen band mate Ian for those who never got a chance to meet him?
Axemaster Pilgrim: A great fellow, the most important lesson I learned from him was to make the best of every situation that wasn't exactly favorable. It always made things easier, and I say that without implying that he would "shortcut" around things. He was a great guy, who wore his heart on his sleeve, who spoke his mind, and who had limitless forgiveness and a vibrant personality. He will always be missed by everyone close to him, without him we trek through this world with no light to lead us.
Metalunderground.com: You guys first released the “Sinister Sacrilege” EP on your own, then later it was picked up and re-released by U.K. based Miskatonic Foundation. How did that evil alliance come around?
Axemaster Pilgrim: We released it, we sent it about, the Miskatonic Foundation liked it and decided to release it for us with a better re-mastering down at the Rosenquarz studio in Germany, which made everything sound much, much better. We were all very excited because of the motivation Mr. Walker of Miskatonic showed to get our name out there, and how enthusiastic he was about our music. It made me feel really good, since I regard his work in the band Solstice as the gold standard in Metal music, no matter what genre we talk about. As for the music on the EP, it is not the best, and we have a different vocalist now, so I don't know if people will be too attached to the only sound, but the reception we have gotten so far with the new line-up has been even more enthusiastic to my relief and that makes me feel good. It is always a nerve-wracking thing to have to change something as vital as the vocals.
Metalunderground.com: Are you still signed with the Miskatonic Foundation?
Axemaster Pilgrim: Yes, but other labels have also expressed interest in releasing our material and the Miskatonic Foundation is very flexible to work with. There are no contracts to sign, so as a band we are free, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Metalunderground.com: Is there a "Sinister Sacrilege" follow up in the works?
Axemaster Pilgrim: Of course, I won't divulge much about it at this point, but expect a sprawling, massive, colossal, and most important, CRUSHING doom metal monster we will yet conjure!! We are all making sure that this debut will reflect everything we have learned about song writing and conjuring supreme Doom Metal sprawlers and fast-hitters up to this point. There will be old songs on it that have been revisited and polished as well as new numbers that we have begun to play live to great reception, such as Scion of Infinity. But I am already saying too much! The album is indeed on the horizon, but it will still take us some time to have everything completely finished the way we like.
However, that doesn't mean we won't have any other releases in the works. We have a split with the legendary and outstanding band ATLANTEAN KODEX coming up soon, where we both cover a classic NWOBHM song on each side, it is part of the Miskatonic Foundation's "Hail Britannia" series, and I'm sure it'll be a crusher! I won't divulge which songs we're both covering now, but when it comes closer to the release date, I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised. Aside from that, we're working on something with the mighty SLOUGH FEG as well! That is all I will say about that, however.
Metalunderground.com: Funeral Circle recently added a new vocalist to the band’s ranks. How has that been working out?
Axemaster Pilgrim: I couldn't be happier! His enthusiasm for Funeral Circle is unlike anything I have ever seen, and unlike the others, he isn't a dead beat shithead (just kidding guys...!). It was great to recruit The Revenant to our ranks, since I think his more bass-baritone range invokes a more funerary atmosphere to the sounds of Funeral Circle, but that doesn't mean that he cannot unleash the most insane wails! On some tracks he is just all over the map with a lot of insanity in his vocals, it's fantastic. That isn't to say that I am not happy with the rest of the line up though, sure there are some minor problems here and there we must all endure with one another, but that isn't true for which band? When we mean business, everything comes along very smoothly.
Metalunderground.com: Being from Vancouver, how would you describe the metal scene here and the bands involved with it?
Axemaster Pilgrim: I think the scene here is quite poor, to be very honest. There doesn't seem to be any initiative for anyone to lead on with the old spirit of Metal, and that is what I care about. There are new bands play and have fun, that is good for them, but for me I need something more. I am weary of seeing a new act and automatically being very unimpressed with them. I wish it wasn't so, but that is how it must be I suppose. Not enough bands have enough "bite" for me, and if they have attitude then they try to show they have way too much and get tangled up in really weird political or Satanic shit... it just makes me question their motives for having a metal band. It's very how in "extreme" genres of metal now you must always keep up appearances, it's hilarious. They seem to spend very little time learning about how to play and write good, honest music. Instead they are committing devious acts to emulate the stupid controversial antics of the Scandinavian/Germanic bands.
To put things simply, there are the two fields I see bands divided into. Either they're way too uninspired and are trying to piggyback on a sound that is known and popular without introducing anything new, or they take everything way too seriously, cannot really play, and try to push the imagery too much while the music gets little to no attention.
Metalunderground.com: Which Vancouver metal bands would you recommend for our readers to check out?
Axemaster Pilgrim: I am the wrong person to ask this question. I pay attention to the international metal scene, but out East in Quebec there are Cauchemar and Dark Covenant, and these bands definitely deserve your attention and support. They are related to Funeral Circle because they play Doom Metal as well, but they do it a tad differently from us which is great, they show how flexible the genre of Doom Metal is. Many people think it is very linear and it has to be either along the lines of Candlemass, and I won't even get into those who think "My Dying Bride" the second they hear "Doom Metal".
Metalunderground.com: Being an underground doom metal band, what is the band's stance on the city of Vancouver trying to stomp out underground metal?
Axemaster Pilgrim: Are you talking about the Cobalt being closed down? It sucks for those who maintained that venue, but Metal is impossible to "stomp out". It will always find a new home, but it isn't a venue that decides what happens to music, it's the musicians. If some people feel like they do not have a platform to play and have given up, then so be it. They might never have tried to begin with and don't have the passion.
Metalunderground.com: What do Funeral Circle have planned for the future?
Axemaster Pilgrim: Playing live is definitely on the agenda, and we have a lot of ideas we're currently bouncing around with one another. Of course there are the releases I spoke about before, and we are putting things together to visit Europe in the near future. I would love to play on the European mainland, that is what I would like to do more than anything!
Metalunderground.com: Any closing thoughts?
Axemaster Pilgrim: Metal until death. Never surrender!! Those who are dear to us and have helped us, you know who you are and you will always have our thanks. To the betrayers, traitors and scoundrels, you're always be fucking filth mongers. Fuck off to the fires of Hell!!
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