Interviews : Abigail Williams
With Ken Sorceron
There aren't many bands out there that sound like Abigail Williams. Symphonic Black Metal with hardcore influences is a really tight genre, with little margin for error, and these guys have blazed the trail for anyone who wishes to follow.
After seeing their live show, on tour with Dark Funeral and Enslaved, I felt compelled to prod their tour manager to set up an interview with them to accompany the dual-headliners. So here it is, totally off-the-cuff and honest. Ken Sorceron from Abigail Williams.
So what's it like to tour with these guys?
Pretty sweet. (laughs) It's really fun, especially for me and a couple of other people in the band, since we've been fans of both of these bands for a while. We never would have expected to tour with them. And it's cool because they're cool people, and good bands. We've done tours in the past where you dread watching "the one band" every night, and this is not like that at all. Every night kicks ass.
How did you guys get started?
We got started doing bedroom-style demos, like drum machines, Ashley on keyboards and me on guitar and vocals. We put some music up online and we honestly got interest from labels from that. We totally faked it, I say "fake it 'til you make it" and that's what we did. Once we had the interest, then we had the idea to make the full lineup.
It's alright, that's better than how Evanescence got started! I only know that because my wife likes 'em. That's it.
Alright, we'll let it slide. (laughs)
So "Symphonic-Black Metal-Core" isn't exactly an established style. How did you get started doing that?
Hey, it wasn't on purpose. (laughs) You know what I mean? Well, when we first started, we didn't have a death metal drummer, and we had more beats that were considered hardcore. I'm not talking shit to hardcore drummers, but they can't play death metal drums, or black metal drums.
There aren't many drummers in the world that can.
Yeah, you know what I mean? So we kinda kept some of the style, but we never really intentionally though of ourselves as metalcore or hardcore, but that's not to say that there aren't certain bands that we like. There are, obviously, but I think it's a curse when people disregard us because of an influence that I don't consider to be too apparent, especially on our new stuff, like on our EP. But at the same time it's cool to be considered to be doing something new, even when we don't think we were. (laughs)
So what do you think you're doing?
We just think we're making metal. We won't say, "Oh, here's a hardcore part," or "here's a black metal part," it's predominantly me and Ashley that write most of the music, and Bjorn too, but he's straight death metal. That guy's a beast. We just play and if it comes out a certain way, then I guess it does. I'm not going to complain that we have kids into it, but it's a little annoying to have the more metal people disregard us because of people calling it metalcore.
Have any of you been classically trained?
Ashley, definitely. The guy we have on tour that we have playing guitar with us, his name's Mike, he's actually from Cleveland, he just learned our songs in the van. He's definitely classically trained. Ashley actually has a degree in musical composition, and he's about to get one as well. So they're trained, and the rest of us just go for it. (laughs) If I'm writing something, and I'm like "Ahh! I can't figure out how to make this part go into the next part," she always knows what to do.
Here you go, have a segue!
Yeah! It works, though sometimes it's cool not to be trained, and to think out of the box.
So who would you consider your contemporaries?
Hmmm. That's a weird question...
Ok then, only from the US...
I can't think of any bands that sound like us, but I can think of bands that are considered to be going at it at the same time as us that we think are cool. There's a band called "The Faceless," we get the "Black Dahlia Murder" thing because of Zack. We have buddies in this band called "Two sides of silence," that we've toured with. I can't think of too many interesting bands in the US- well actually I can, but not some that are the same style as us. I like Us Black Metal bands like Xasthur, Nachtmystium, Leviathan, but we're not going to fit with any of those bands. It's obviously more deathcore bands that are considered to be our contemporaries.
So how did you guys get signed?
This guy, Lee Barrett, owns Candlelight records, heard us on myspace, believe it or not.
Myspace is fucking phenomenal. That's how I found out about you guys.
Yeah? It's crazy because I put those songs up for my friends to hear, and this was early on on the myspace scene because there weren't as many bands on there. It wasn't like it is now where you have Enslaved and Dark Funeral on there.
It was all underground bands and emo kids?
Yeah, exactly. Even though it was a site for emo kids, we could totally use it. And we put our music on there, because it just worked, and I think that's another reason why we kinda got lumped into the metalcore category, this is when 4 other metal bands were actually on myspace. We've been on there awhile, way before we started and we had a lineup.
Is there an album in the making?
Well, it's 90% written. And when we get home from this tour, we're either going to go back on another tour or finish the album. Either way, we're finishing the album after the other tour. I would say we'll have an album in August or September for the US. Maybe a little earlier. And we'll have an EP coming out on January 23'rd.
I saw the dumbest thing on MTV a while back saying that albums should be done away with, because bands don't fucking write a whole album. They write six songs or something and then have the rest be filler. How does that sit with you?
That's totally bullshit. We actually don't have an album written because we didn't want to do that. What we had was some old songs that were written, and then some new ones, and we went to record the album, with the old and new ones, and it was almost not natural. The label offered to put the older songs out as an EP, and then finish writing the record. So we can do what we wanted to do with that album. I think when people hear the album, they'll be surprised a little bit from the departure from the older sound, and at the same time it's the same band and we have the same thing going, but we've taken it to another level. I think we sucked when we first started, and within even a year we've come a long way and we're really excited for getting that out. But here's the complaint that I have. Back when I was a kid, metal was all about buying the album and reading the lyrics, picking up the artwork, and here's the complaint that I have with myspace, these kids have a "favorite band" on myspace and they don't even own the album. And you lose a part of the experience when you don't have the artwork and everything, you don't have the experience of going to the record store, seeing some brutal cover art, and "Oh. I'm gonna buy this," and being surprised when you got home. People don't do that these days, well they do, but it's a lot less. It's kinda sad.
What do you guys do outside of music?
Nothing. I, personally, do nothing.
Checkin' outs pron on teh internetz?
Actually, yeah. I won't lie. I do a lot of porngazing. Do the whole "Beer drinking" thing.
I hear that's very popular with the youths these days.
I have the studio stuff in my room. If I'm not doing music stuff then I just party. Just wake up at night because it's so damn hot during the day. Some of us teach music lessons, sometimes I do myself.
Mostly the ones that are trained to do it?
Yeah, she (motioning towards Ashley) does it all the time, so does Mike. We all just party full-time. Bjorn's got a day job, and he's the only one actually. Other than that, not much. It's pretty ridiculous.
How do you guys keep up with that schedule?
well I have to have an organizer.
Bust out the PDA?
I've got the PDA. There you go. Scheduling porn time, party time, music listening time, downtime, uptime, there are lots of things to do in the day.
You need the little electronic thing to tell you what to do!
Yeah! I wish I had my Mom to tell me what to do, but she kicked me out a long time ago.
So what's the metal scene like in Phoenix?
Pretty gay. There are some bands that have been going for a while, but we've been around the world a bit now, and it's a shit scene. I got so jealous the first time I was in Nottingham, England. It's the most metal place I've been. We went to a club and it was literally "death metal night," they were playing death metal and people were on the dance floor headbanging. And that was just one place. I went to several metal places in one night with a good metal friend, and people were just hanging out. These weren't even shows. And that's when I realized that Phoenix sucks. We have a lot of hardcore bands that are good at what they do, but I'm not into the scene at all.
Any final words?
Or a final word, should you so choose.
I have to pick "piss." The bathrooms are pretty fucked up here. Here's what I can't figure out- people go to a show, and they can't remember how to use a toilet. Like do they have that problem at home? They can't remember how to piss inside the toilet. I mean we all get drunk outside of shows, and I'd hate to think of how people have destroyed their bathrooms thousands of times over. It's pretty fucking ridiculous, actually. That's my final word.
That'll work! Thanks man.
Nothing if not a colorful personality, Ken Sorceron and Abigail Williams have some bright days ahead of them. If you haven't heard them, go check out all of the songs on their aforementioned myspace page. Now. It's good stuff.