My Silent Wake, currently on the forefront of the UK’s death/doom scene, splashing pained vocals and melancholic riffs across vinyl grooves; etching life experiences and sorrows into the purest of analogue formats.
“There is no message,” says MSW frontman and guitarist, Ian Arkley, on the meaning behind his lyrics. “Rather a communication of experiences and thoughts.”
Inspired by Celtic Frost’s mantra of writing music that feels right and appeals to no specific style, MSW with no doubts about them, completed four studio albums, including one split release with fellow UK group, the Drowning. MSW’s latest album, “Silver Under Midnight,” to be released June 2013 via Bombworks Records, was recorded at Priory Studios in Sutton Coldfield, with the help of Greg Chandler (mix/master).
Formed in 2005 by Ian Arkley (Seventh Angel, Ashen Mortality), and dealing with many line-up changes throughout the years, MSW have continued to stay strong as a band, never suffering fallouts between members, and often times recording and playing live together. “When you have been doing this for 25 years like I have, you learn to enjoy it for what it is and not let ambition spoil things,” says Arkley. “I do however have a vision for the band which mainly concerns keeping things alive and fresh and not giving up.”
Coinciding with Zero Tolerance’s June issue (#053), “The Last Man,” by My Silent Wake can be found featured on the issue’s free 18-track covermount CD.
Talking Christian stigmas, ups and downs, lyrics and inspiration, Arkley gives us the scoop on all things MSW.
ZT: Aside from the My Silent Wake Wikipedia page, everything I’d read about you guys describes you as a Christian group. How do you approach such a touchy subject?
MSW: I am glad you asked the ‘Christian’ question as this is something which has followed the band around from the beginning. This is partly due to my involvement with my thrash band Seventh Angel and partly because Bombworks Records is primarily a label which promotes ‘Christian’ bands. I don’t believe this division should occur personally. MSW never set out to be this and we have never promoted ourselves as such. There are lyrics about many things, and personal faith has sometimes influenced the lyrics.
The band contains atheists and agnostics, and as always, has no particular agenda. The lyrics are honest reflections as they have always been. The band is certainly not anti-Christian, but we don’t have any time for the judgmental fundamentalist side of things. I have friends who are Christians such as Seventh Angel’s Mark Broomhead, who has had a lot of media coverage for his activities as a priest. People like this are great individuals who accept everyone as equal, whatever their beliefs.
I was brought up as a Christian, but am more agnostic these days. This doesn’t mean I have abandoned my faith; it means I no longer ‘know’ that God exists and find it increasingly hard to believe in organised Christianity. It is something I have a strong interest in (as well as many ‘Fortean’ subjects) and keep an open mind about. I want Christians and non-Christians to find things in our music which they can relate to and I do not wish to alienate anyone.
ZT: Accomplishments that you’re proud of?
MSW: I am proud of many of the band’s recordings as they have all been done on stupidly tight budgets and often in a very short space of time. Getting the songs out and letting people hear our ideas has always been more important than having everything polished. We have never been about playing everything like a machine or producing things to death. The band is very much an underground band that has had to fund much of what we do ourselves, and have worked very hard over the years.
ZT: As veteran musicians, tell us a bit about your future potentials and vision for this band.
MSW: We don’t have any expectations. When you have been doing this for 25 years like I have, you learn to enjoy it for what it is and not let ambition spoil things. I do however have a vision for the band which mainly concerns keeping things alive and fresh and not giving up even when you face tough times such as losing three members in short succession. I decided some time ago that this band would continue and keep its name long term as I was tired of forming and splitting bands. The band was basically a continuation of Ashen Mortality which was my doom band which started in 1993 after Seventh Angel split. Three of the members at the time carried on and we took the name My Silent Wake.
ZT: With the looming release of ‘Silver Under Midnight,’ give us a quick look into the workings behind this latest album. What are fans to expect from you in the near future?
MSW: The new album ‘Silver Under Midnight,’ was recorded with Greg Chandler from Esoteric at Priory Studios in Sutton Coldfield. This is due to be released anytime now on the US label Bombworks Records. Greg has contributed some vocals to this, as has Martin Bowes from Attrition. These are both friends of mine and have both been a great help to the band. They also produce music which I admire. The album was recorded in only four days and took only a few days for Greg to mix and master. He has done an amazing job with this album and we are very pleased with the outcome.
We are also releasing an acoustic album which has been recorded over the last couple of years at various times. We are running a Kickstarter campaign to get this out on vinyl after the vinyl release was cancelled by Bombworks. Hopefully it will have a CD release as well. The Kickstarter project is doing really well so far. The album is entitled ‘Preservation Restoration Reconstruction.’
We have a new video for the song “The Last Man” on YouTube which is a short film based on a Twilight Zone episode. Our second double album was also re-released recently as “The Anatomy of Melancholy – reanimated edition.” In the near future we are planning a split album with another doom band that we are friends with.
ZT: Enlighten us. What has been your hugest source of inspiration? What are MSW’s music and lyrics all about?
MSW: There is no ‘message’ but rather a communication of experiences and thoughts. The lyrics are very important to me and often convey very personal insights into my own life and ideas. My hope is that they will provide comfort for those who have been through depression and trials in their lives rather than depress people. Lyrical and musical inspiration has come from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Dead Can Dance, Trouble, Sabbath, Zeppelin, My Dying Bride and many more artists which have prompted us to get out there and express ourselves in one way or another.
ZT: Shout-out to ZT readers! Broaden those musical spectrums!
MSW: Take 20 minutes to check out some of our songs and lyrics. Some people don’t even listen to any music they think doesn’t fit into their very narrow musical appreciation bracket.
We span many genres, some people find this confusing. Celtic Frost had the same thoughts about music and has inspired our musical philosophy of taking each song as it comes and not making it fit into any particular style. Thanks for the interview and thanks to everyone who took the time to read this! We hope that our new albums will be enjoyed by many and that our old albums will be discovered as a result.