Crowned In Earth have just released their third album and one that is already an essential listen for any progressive rock fan in 2015. ZT sought out main man Kevin Lawry to discover how and why he put such a fantastic album together.
Founded by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Lawry seven years ago, initially as a solo project before adding drummer Darin McCloskey for their first two full-length releases (and now Pug Kirby on bass), Crowned In Earth hark back to an era where prog rock was fresh and exciting, fuzzy riffs were something new and Lemmy was still in Hawkwind. Their first two albums introduced the more experimental style, as opposed to Kevin’s previous doom metal outfit Silent Winter, but latest release Metempsychosis is a real step up.
Fusing laid back acoustic rhythms with memorable riffs and being unhindered by conventional songwriting structures, Metempsychosis is a beautiful piece of work all those partial to even just a little bit of experimental/progressive rock should seek out.
ZT: How did the writing and recording for Metempsychosis go?
Kevin Lawry (Vocal/guitars/keyboards): Overall, I think the recording and making of Metempsychosis went really well. There is always a long time frame to make a Crowned In Earth record because of the distance between us as some of the band members live in the USA.
I write the songs on my own and record them in my studio with drum software and click tracks. Once I have this all done, I then send the songs to Darin to learn. Once he has prepared his parts he will go to Brian’s studio to record the drum tracks. It’s the same way we have worked all the CIE records. Then Brian works his magic on mixing and mastering all the tracks. I have long discussions with Brian beforehand about how I want the record to sound and he always comes up with something very cool!
Did you do much differently to your previous two albums, especially with the addition of a new bass player?
The only thing I did differently this time around was I didn’t write all of the bass parts. I wrote a few bass riffs which Pug had to learn but other than that I gave him free reign to play what he thought would suit the specific songs. Pug got into the jazzy vibe of the album and played great! Similarly with Darin, I never tell him what to play. He always comes up with amazing drum patterns to anchor the songs. I think on Metempsychosis Darin excelled himself.
Do you feel this is your best album yet?
Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. This is the record I’ve wanted to make for a long time. When I started writing the songs, even from the very early demos, I knew this was going to be very epic
There are plenty of sections again with a clear influence from the likes of Pink Floyd etc. but did you draw inspiration from any new sources? I’m not sure I drew from any new sources for inspiration, as such. This time around my doom and metal influences were left out and I explored other sides to my musical palette. There’s a fair jazz feel to some of the new songs where influences like Return to Forever and Weather Report came through which weren’t previously heard on earlier recordings. Other than those it was mainly Pink Floyd, Camel, Mike Oldfield, Genesis and King Crimson as the key sources.
What sparked your transition from more doom metal beginnings to the experimental, progressive style you now create? It was musical boredom that led me to make Metempsychosis. I’ve been around the doom scene since the early 2000s and I got to the point where I became tired of it. When I made A Vortex of Earthly Chimes, it was all the progressive sections which I enjoyed writing and recording the most. I think that’s why it sounded much more vibrant than any of my previous work! So, I decided to explore the progressive influences further. This is the most musically excited I’ve felt in far too long. It was literally a musical rebirth that is reflected in the album title Metempsychosis.
What is it about 70s prog rock that appeals to you?
For me, even from the late 60s it was such a wonderful era of musical creativity. The bands weren’t bothered about genre and just played whatever they wanted. Look at how much King Crimson evolved over such a short period from ‘69 to ’74. I think it’s something that bands are frightened of now. They stick to tried and tested formulas. As well as the musical creativity, I enjoy the raw sound to the analogue recordings from the era and the wonderful gatefold sleeves. It’s the whole aesthetic of that musical period I love.
And how do you avoid becoming just a tribute band to the genre?
This is a good question. To some extent, every band could be argued of being a tribute to a certain genre. However, I think if you are playing a style of music for the right reasons the honesty of the music will come through. This is what I have done with Metempsychosis. The references are there but it sounds fresh and vibrant at the same time.
Many genres seem to be undergoing resurgences (such as the psychedelic/retro rock trend of recent years). Do you think something like this will ever happen to prog rock or will it just keep its steady popularity? I can’t see the genre being as big as it was during the 70s. The majority of people don’t want to listen to a ten minute plus piece of music. We live in a time of instant gratification. They want a three minute single to listen to. Saying this, there is still a section of music listeners who want to explore music and listen to something more artistic which progressive rock will give them.
What future plans and ambitions do you have for Crowned In Earth?
I have rough sketches of new songs which I am eager to begin work on. I’d like to put another record out next year. However, people have been screaming at me for ages for CIE gigs. This is something I’ve been reluctant to do in the past. It’s well documented, I’m not a massive fan of gigging. I much prefer working on songs in my studio and making records. But I will be putting up ads soon through the CIE Facebook page for session players to help play live. If there is an interest then I will concentrate on gigging for a while. If not, I’ll stick to my comfort zone and continue writing more epic music!