Alunah’s singer Siân Greenaway and bassist Dan Burchmore speak to Paul Castles about the band’s latest doom-laden effort, Violet Hour.
Since Siân Greenaway joined Birmingham doomsters Alunah in 2017, her life has been one long psychedelic, doom-laden rollercoaster. With relatively little experience behind her, the singer suddenly found herself immersed in record releases, a UK tour alongside The Obsessed, headline shows and, at the tail end of last year, the keys to open Damnation Festival in Leeds. Siân’s barely had time to catch her breath and it’s evident that the experience has been overwhelming and enjoyable in roughly equal measure.
“I had no knowledge of who Alunah even were until a mutual friend shared their Facebook post with me two years ago when they started looking for a new singer,” recalls Siân, recounting her journey from the beginning. “I was in a band at that time but nothing was going on, no gigs or anything, and as soon as I listened to Alunah, I knew it was much more my thing. Since joining the band, the whole experience has just been incredible. I’ve thrown myself in at the deep end having never been a frontwoman before, and within two years we’ve done a European tour, supported some amazing bands and released an EP and now an album.”
The album, Violet Hour, is Alunah’s fifth, and it does signal a defined shift in direction for the band following the departure of previous singer Sophie Day in September 2017. The band’s first four albums, starting with Call Of Avernus. in 2010, had a much more pagan pull exemplified by wonderfully esoteric songs such as ‘Belial’s Fjord’ and ‘Demeter’s Grief’. Siân has contributed fully to the songwriting on ‘Violet Hour’ and while some elements of the early atmospheric Alunah are still to be found, it’s evident that the band is now exploring a slightly more psychedelic path with bewitching tracks like ‘Dance Of Deceit’ and the shimmering ‘Hunt’.
…as soon as we heard Siân’s amazing demo, along with a very convincing message about how committed she would be to the band, we knew she would be right for us.
Bassist Dan Burchmore is keen to explain that when Sophie departed, she gave the remaining three members – including her guitarist husband Dave – her blessing to carry on with the band. Back in February, Dave perhaps also opted to relinquish his duties, leaving Dan and Jake Mason (drums) to pick up the pieces. “It was a difficult time and the tapes we did receive from potential new singers just weren’t right for us,” recalls Dan. “But as soon as we heard Siân’s amazing demo, along with a very convincing message about how committed she would be to the band, we knew she would be right for us. Obviously, Soph also played guitar while Siân just sings. There’s no rhythm guitar now, so I play in a different way. But the new music has been written to suit the new dynamic and we all interact with each person in a different way. Bringing Dean Ashton [Diamond Head bassist] in to replace Dave on guitar has also made a big impact. He’s just clicked and is an amazing musician.”
Violet Hour, recorded at the Welsh Foel Studio under the exemplary stewardship of producer Chris Fielding, also marks the start of Alunah’s relationship with Heavy Psych Sounds, a label they feel will be more in keeping with their new style. “We’ve been on labels in the past where we felt we weren’t getting much support,” says Dan. “Heavy Psych are much more proactive. They’re constantly pushing bands, helping with artwork and so on, and they have already hooked us up to play Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in London and Berlin next year. We’ve a different dynamic now; we all share common goals, which just makes things easier. Siân is so talented that it leaves us to do our thing,” he adds. “We’re all on the same wavelength, and while we don’t want to leave old fans behind, our new sound will also help to open up a new audience for our music.”
Violet Hour is out now via Heavy Psych Sounds l heavypsychsounds.com
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