Mastermind Ed Warby Discusses The Making Of The 11th Hour's "Lacrima Mortis"
It may come easy for most to be sad, moody depressive and otherwise despondent in one’s daily life. Just through dealing with the world’s daily negativity or living through the death of loved ones and friends, it is easy to see how the road to sadness is a slippery one to travel. It is a whole other thing to tap sadness and despair so perfectly through music that it alters the listener’s emotional state. Now try to accomplish that essentially on your own. Welcome to the world of Ed Warby.
Warby, who is best known for his drum work with Gorefest and Hail of Bullets, caught up with Metal Underground to discuss the making of The 11th Hour’s “Lacrima Mortis,” which stands toe to toe with the greatest doom metal masterpieces of all time. With The 11th Hour set to unleash its tears of anguish onto a world already filled with so much despair, we learn that Warby is more than just a mere drummer. He is a one man band. Unlike other one man projects, with something not quite right with at least one of the instruments, Warby is a perfectionist who will work until “the 11th hour” to dazzle and stun the world to prove he is an aficionado of doom.
CROMCarl: It must bring such a sense of pride to complete “Lacrima Mortis,” from the writing to performing all of the instruments and half the vocals and to have the current reviews be mostly positive! I know you are a first and foremost a drummer, but when you were conceiving the idea of The 11th Hour before the “Burden of Grief” LP, at what point did you decide that this project was going to be the product of largely one man?
EW: As soon as I wrote the first riff, which was the opening riff of “One Last Smoke.” At first I was just messing around, trying to write some heavy doom riffs for fun, but I soon noticed I was on to something and I kept going and going until I had an album’s worth of material. Rogga [Johansson (Demiurg)] had already planted the seed in my mind by mentioning he’d like to do a doom project together, and when that failed to materialize I went off on my own. At the time I was still in Gorefest for which I’d composed a lot of music and I’d just written 75% of the first Hail Of Bullets album as well, but the doom angle helped me tap into an even richer well of inspiration; quite a surprise to me after contributing heavily to 2 albums. Gorefest’s Rise To Ruin had been a bit of a power struggle so I was keen on doing something by myself without any outside input, if only to see if I could pull it off. I asked Rogga to help me out with some lyrics and he lent his fabulous roar to the album, that’s one thing I can’t do myself…
CROMCarl: Of all the band roles that you play, which one was the most challenging to adapt to? Is it harder to create albums were you make all the creative decisions and master the instruments than it is to direct a band of other individuals? Would you ever consider making The 11th Hour more of a band than a project?
EW: Making an album is always hard, no matter which role I have. I can never be “just the drummer”, as soon as I start something I get as involved as circumstances allow. Each situation has pros and cons, the hardest part about making an album all by yourself is keeping perspective. After months and months of total immersion in a project it’s not easy to remain objective, so in that sense a band album is definitely “easier”, but it can also be difficult when you’re dealing with conflicting opinions. Making “Lacrima Mortis” was quite grueling and somewhere along the way I decided the next album is going to be a group effort, should be interesting to see where that leads! By the way I already consider The 11th Hour a real band, even if I did the album on my own again. The guys understand completely, and secretly they’re probably glad they didn’t have to endure what I put myself through.
CROMCarl: As I said in my review of “Lacrima Mortis”, you captured the essence of sorrow so perfectly. Were the ideas for the songs, dealing with the grieving of death, personal in nature?
EW: A little less so than on “Burden Of Grief,” but there’s still a lot of personal grief in the lyrics. As you may know I lost my father quite unexpectedly in 1995 and that changed my outlook on life (and death) completely. My mom died a few years later, so I have more than enough grief to draw on as they were both extremely important to me and losing them was about the worst thing I could imagine. The lyrics are mostly fictional, but the emotions in them are real. “The Death Of Life” is the best example of this, singing that one really had me on the ropes, I actually used the demo version because I figured I couldn’t recreate that moment again.
CROMCarl: What happened with Rogga Johansson which forced him to miss out on the recordings of “Lacrima Mortis”? I found that Pim Blankenstein (Officium Triste) more than made up for it!
EW: Rogga was struggling with some health issues and we both decided it was better if I looked for an alternative. Pim was of course within reach and he did a truly marvelous job. I already knew he could match Rogga’s massive growl, but he really blew me away (almost literally at times) with his performance. His voice is a bit more solemn than Rogga’s, which works well with the music and my own voice.
CROMCarl: I read that much attention was given to your vocal delivery on this album. For one, I thought it turned out to be a spot on double of Candlemass’ Robert Lowe. Which vocalists have inspired your sound?
EW: On the first album I got some criticism that the vocals weren’t convincing enough, so I was adamant to avenge myself. Apparently my voice is one of those love/hate things, but this time I wanted to make sure I gave the best performance I possibly could. My inspiration comes from a lot of different singers, but if I had to single one out it’d be Steve Walsh from the band Kansas. I get compared to Buddy Lackey/Devon Graves of Psychotic Waltz fame sometimes, which is also fine by me. And there are some bits on the album where I’m trying to find my inner John Arch (first Fates Warning singer), which is another favorite. Robert Lowe is a terrific singer too, so thanks for the compliment!
CROMCarl: Are there any plans to do a full tour with The 11th Hour?
EW: No, touring isn’t an option for a band at this level unfortunately. We try to do as many clubshows and festivals as we can, but it’s not easy to go outside the doom metal circuit. I love playing live and I’m sure we’ll get more offers once the album is out, but the days of getting on a bus and touring the world for months are definitely long gone.
CROMCarl: Is there anything new on the horizon with Hail of Bullets, Demiurg or Star One?
EW: I understand Rogga has a new Demiurg album ready to be recorded, and he’s waiting for me to get out of my self-imposed sabbatical. I’ve gone from one album to the next for years and I decided I really need some time off to recharge the batteries, at least a few months. Around that time we’ll also start working on the next Hail Of Bullets album, which should be out sometime next year. And I’m hoping there’ll be a follow-up to either Star One or Ayreon, but that’s up to the tall genius himself.
CROMCarl: Of all the bands you have worked with or currently work with, which provides the most challenging? Which brings the most satisfaction?
EW: Right now I’d say The 11th Hour, because it’s all so fresh and new to me. I’m still finding my way as guitarist/singer on stage and “challenging” is a huge understatement here. Hail Of Bullets still gives me a lot of satisfaction too of course, as do the various adventures Arjen drags me into, so it’s all good really. I’m a lucky guy to be able to do all these different things and while the music industry isn’t what it used to be, my enjoyment of what I do has increased dramatically compared to the old days which also counts for something.
CROMCarl: Best of luck with the album!!
EW: Thanks a lot!
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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