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Claim The Throne: On The Path To Darkness

Claim The Throne

Claim The Throne have always taken a professional approach to their music, but they’ve never really managed to discover their defining sound. Until now. 10 years of experience has helped the Perth-based band find their feet, giving them the confidence to explore darker themes that they couldn’t come close to touching before. Singer/guitarist Brendon Capriotti took us down the road that led to album number three, Forged In Flame.

How have things been going since Forged In Flame came out?
It’s been going really good. We just released it in September so we haven’t done a whole lot of touring other than some city launches around Australia which were really successful. All the reviews coming in have been really good as well and we’re feeling really pumped for 2014 and getting on the road with Be’lakor in January.

All of your albums have had an epic cinematic feel to them but Forged In Flame takes this one step further into a darker realm, which is a stark contrast to the likes of “Set Sail On Ale” and so on. What drew you to the darker approach?
We’ve always been really keen on merging our influences with folk metal as well as melodic-death kind of Scandinavian stuff, which we did try to do ever since the band begun. Of course we experimented with our Ale Tales EP which had “Set Sail On Ale” on there, that was really short, catchy and just upbeat folk metal. But since then we’ve gone back to try and do what we were originally doing. I guess the idea was that we really like heavier styles of music, we really like music with a lot of riffs, fast drumming and technical stuff and a lot of our favourite bands do a similar type of thing – they combine the darker side of black and death metal with epic folk. But it’s also just the way that it’s come out, as we started writing songs, blending them with the keyboards and experimenting it just came out that way. We recorded it at home as well, so we had a lot of extra time to really experiment with a few different ideas and we came out with the exact thing we’ve been trying to do all these years.

Do you feel like you’ve captured the sound that Claim has been aiming for all these years?
Yeah absolutely, and that’s probably been one of our downfalls over the years I guess. A lot of our songs might sound different and might not be so recognisable, but I think the new album has a sound that we’ve built for the band, so we like to think now when people hear a song they’ll know it’s from us.

After being in a band for so long do you feel like you’ve matured as a group, and if so, has this maturation helped with dealing with darker themes in a way you might not have been able to before?
When we started out we were all young musicians who hadn’t been in bands before and it was all just for a bit of fun. Now we’re getting on to eight or nine years, we’ve had a few line-up changes but we’ve had a solid line-up now for a good few years. We’re mastering our instruments, we’ve had lots of song writing and recording experience so we’ve matured our approach. I’d certainly say that it’s one of the reasons that it’s come out the way it has. Initially it might’ve come out sounding a little try hard but these days we can handle the darker side of music and we can combine it with folk metal in a way that sounds authentic. If you stick with it and have a clear focus on what you’re trying to achieve, it will pay off in the long run.

The compositions sound a lot more confident too. Has anything changed since the last album?
Not a whole lot, I mean the songs still sort of write themselves as we go through but we did do things a bit differently this time. We did a lot of demoing individually which we haven’t really done in the past, it was more just jamming it out in the rehearsal room and hoping for the best, sticking to standard song structures. This time around we’ve had everyone in the band contributing a bit more with the demoing, so we could experiment with a few different structures by putting someone’s riff after another riff and seeing if it flows for example. We were still keeping choruses and verses but we stopped it from being too predictable by doing what suited the song instead of sticking to a standard structure just for the sake of it.

Your huge cinematic sound is even symphonic in some ways, not just in its power but also in how everything is arranged. Is anyone in the band classically trained and do you write with that massive orchestral structure in mind?
I personally do when I’m writing riffs or parts of songs, I always look at the bigger picture as opposed to the single riff. That comes back to the maturity factor as well, just knowing what’s worked in the past and how a small riff has turned into a big sounding element. As far as being classically trained, that mostly came from our keyboard player Jesse who studied music at uni and she’s a music teacher as well. She had a lot more writing input with this album so a lot of the sections were written with keyboards and pianos first, which is something we’ve never done before, so I think that contributed to the cinematic sound you mentioned. She’s keen too, she’s trying to write songs for the next album already and we’re like, “Slow down, we’re not ready!” [Laughs].

So do you want to keep making each album bigger than the last?
I guess we just want to follow this natural progression and keep working towards the Claim The Throne sound that we’ve discovered. Now that we seem to have it I think we can nail it pretty well next time around. This one is pretty epic and pretty long with tons of songs, so I don’t know if we could make it much bigger, but we could definitely do another one on the same scale and just improve on our song writing skills.

Even some of the quieter acoustic elements like the intro to “Darkened Seas Collide”, there’s a dark beauty to them but also a kind of seriousness, you know?
We’ve experimented a lot with acoustic guitars and folk singing in the past so we wanted to continue that this time, and we always will. But we wanted it to fit in the context of this album, so previously when we’ve done that kind of stuff it’s been a bit jovial and light-hearted, whereas this time we wanted it to fit in the album. We’re not trying to get away from the folk metal scene at all, but we are trying to create a more serious feel so we can be taken a bit more seriously by people as well. It was a bit more tough guy this time around as opposed to the jovial side. If people come out and see us live the songs are going to be much more serious but our live show is still far from being serious. It’s still a whole heap of fun because we’re absolute idiots on stage.

So does this album touch on more emotions than previous ones?
That’s a tough question but yeah, I think it does. Probably because it’s much more epic music so there is more to it, the music sounds like it has a lot of emotion to it and of course the lyrics bring that out a bit more. The concept behind the lyrics is all about the Earth being disgusted with the human race so it decides to kill everyone off and start over but then as the new race is reborn they realise that everyone has been born in blood so they’re back to where they started. Getting into the zone behind that idea when we were putting the music together and writing the lyrics brought out the emotion and the passionate side of things. The other thing as well was that we recorded at home so we were all together during the recording, everyone was around, we were all really getting into it. The vibe of all the band members coming together and wanting it to sound awesome brought a lot of passion to the music as well.

What were some of the differences with recording at home compared to a studio?
Well you’re not on the clock so you’re not rushed and you don’t have to settle for second best. There’s no, “You played that okay but we’re running out of time so we have to move on.” It let us take our time until we made sure it was perfect and we didn’t move on until that was done. That being said, you do need to remain really focussed because it’s easy to get sidetracked and before you know it you can waste a whole heap of time. As long as you’re focussed on getting it done and spending as much time as possible on it with a diary mapped out of who’s recording when and sticking to it, then it works well.

You touched on it before, but why is storytelling an important part of Claim The Throne’s music?
It’s something we’ve always done but part of it is that we’re in a genre where it’s not probably entirely appropriate for us to even be playing the music. Europeans might look at us and think Australians playing folk metal is crazy and with a lot of the European folk metal bands, they’re singing about actual lore or things from their countries like Vikings or pirates or whatever it might be. We can’t really do that otherwise it comes off as a bit try hard, you know, looking at things we’re not entitled to be singing about. So in the first album we actually wrote a novel, a fantasy book where we could make up stories ourselves and we based the album on that, so we weren’t stealing mythology from any other countries. We still do that to an extent these days where we just think of a concept and base everything on that.

So are any of the lyrics historically based or is it all fictionalised?
They’re all fictional. We’re certainly slightly inspired by certain things but we’ve never used any of it.

But in 2012 you got pretty close to the cultures that inspire your music when Alestorm took you over to the UK and Ireland. Did being there have an effect on how Forged In Flame was written?
Not really in the concept side of things but it definitely helped us mature as a band. You know, having the opportunity to tour with a band that’s doing so well in the UK. Getting to play in front of bigger crowds every night helped us get solid at playing our set and songs, so I think we came away as better musicians because of it. We met a lot of people out there as well so knowing what people on the other side of the world listen to and what resonates with them probably did impact on Forged In Flame without us realising.

So in the context of live shows in general, is the epic live sound difficult to pull off on stage? I imagine you’d travel with a pretty complex rig.
It’s definitely tough especially because we don’t use backing tracks, all of the symphonic elements just come purely from the keyboards that Jesse’s playing. We don’t have complicated setups though, we just use standard heads. Where we manage to pull off the live show is in the energy and being entertaining, but also in just nailing the songs as best we can. They probably do sound a bit different live, probably a bit more raw but I think that works better for a live show as opposed to too many layers. It just doesn’t sound authentic with too many backing tracks and too many layers of stuff that isn’t real.

Now we can’t wrap this up without talking about your new podcast or the “Blodgecast” as you call it. Why did you start it up and whose idea was it?
That was myself and Ash, our drummer. We both listen to tons of podcasts so it was something we wanted to experiment with anyway. The initial idea was just a chance for us to practise podcasting and talk about our band, as another communication method for people to get involved with our band. But now it’s started to evolve into a kind of DIY musician type blog and podcast so every week we release a new podcast and a couple of articles on how to be in a band and how to do certain things. They’re tips we’ve picked up over the years and we love to pass them on to aspiring musicians to show people that it’s not that hard to do it yourself. Everything in regards to playing, recording, management, marketing, online stuff and how to communicate with fans. If people in bands want to ask us questions they can speak to us on social media, flick us an email or record questions for the podcast.

What are the kinds of things you can cover with the fans through these podcasts that you may not be able to look at in a regular interview?
It gives them more of an insight into the band and how we go about things, it’s a chance for them to hear news or plans before other people do when we’re chatting about it initially. I think they’ll feel like they’re really involved in that process and they can give us their ideas or requests on what we should be doing in the future. When it comes to people that might be interested in marketing or recording, the podcast just gives them food for thought on what’s failed for us in the past and what can work in the future. It’s a good opportunity to get people to understand us a bit better and watch things progress. Next year we’re pondering doing interviews with other bands and it would be the same thing, trying to find out how those bands have come to where they are as opposed to their actual music or future plans. It’s a good promotional tool for us also because if people are fans of other bands they might stumble across us.

Is it weird to think that people are now turning to you for advice or even looking upon you as teachers? How do you handle that?
It’s pretty crazy but I definitely like the idea because when I was starting out 10 years ago I was asking people questions like, “How did you go about this?” or, “Are we doing a good thing here?” So if there are people coming up in the scene now who happen to ask us questions then I’d feel honoured if they take on our advice and I’m more than happy to help out wherever possible.

Well that’s it, but before I go I just have to tell you that you look a lot like Devin Townsend. Sorry, you probably get that a lot.
[Laughs] Yeah man, I always get that, but I was a bit devo when he shaved off all his hair. I liked it when he kept it long on the sides and bald on the top, so that’s what I’m going for!

Catch Claim The Throne on tour with Be’Lakor this month!

 

Claim The Throne / Be’Lakor Tour Dates

Thu Jan 23rd – Miami Shark Bar, Gold Coast (18+)*
Tickets: On sale at the door 

Fri Jan 24th – Crowbar, Brisbane (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

Sat Jan 25th – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

Sun Jan 26th – Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

Thu Jan 30th – Karova Lounge, Ballarat (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

Fri Jan 31st – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

Sat Feb 1st – Enigma Bar, Adelaide (18+)*
Tickets: On sale at the door

Fri Feb 7th – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)
Tickets: On sale at the door

*Be’Lakor not appearing

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