No Clean Singing recently conducted an interview with PARADISE LOST guitarist Gregor Mackintosh about Gregor‘s death metal band VALLENFYRE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
No Clean Singing: You’ve been quite open in explaining that you created VALLENFYRE‘s music as a way of dealing with the death of your father John. I don’t suppose one ever fully comes to terms with a loss such as that, but do you feel that the process of writing and recording the music helped you? And if so, how did it help you?
Gregor: Initially writing down feelings of grief was better than bottling it up and many of the things I wrote eventually turned into lyrics. This form of therapy only lasted so long however before the act itself became depressing. That’s when I hit on the idea of turning it into a real band with friends so as to make it fun to do. This turned out to be a revelation. Having my mates with me whilst knocking the album into shape and recording it was a great joy and really did take something very sad and make it very positive and productive.
No Clean Singing: Your father sounds like he was a rare man, the kind of father who would support his son pursuing the kind of “extreme” music that you began to pursue. I know more musicians who have to fight their parents to do that! Was he actually into metal himself, or was it more simply a matter of supporting his son?
Gregor: He liked rock music but his understanding of metal music came more through me. He was very interested in how things worked and how things came to be and this mindset probably had something to do with why he was always very curious and full of questions about where we were playing and who with. In the latter years, I used to video call him from a venue or a studio so he could see what was going on.
No Clean Singing: You said in the video preview that some of the themes on the album deal with the tendencies of religion to turn people into sheep, to make them pliable to the dictates of other people rather than thinking freely for themselves. Was there a connection between those thoughts and what you were feeling about the death of your dad?
Gregor: I have always abhorred religion. I get very angry about it so it was an easy subject for me. Having said that, while my Dad was ill, I found that I actually envied people who had faith because they had this safety mechanism to deal with death. It’s at those moments you realize why religion began. It’s still fucked up though.
No Clean Singing: Which of the songs deal most directly with the vices of religion?
Gregor: Well, “Cathedrals Of Dread”, “As The World Collapses” and “A Thousand Martyrs” are the main three. “Cathedrals” is a straight-forward rant, really. “As The World Collapses” is more to do with the horrors that religion has forced upon the world and how I see the consequences. “A Thousand Martyrs” sprang from a one-off event when a priest at the hospice my Dad was in was going from bed to bed every day really kind of harrassing these poor dying people into accepting christ. It really confirmed to me that these bastards are calculating people who pray on the vulnerable.
No Clean Singing: What other themes do songs on the album address?
Gregor: “Ravenous Whore” is about a woman I knew who is insanely greedy, driven by consumerism and the need to suck the life out of people. She was only happy when others were miserable. “Humanity Wept” deals with the fact that huge corporations are intrinsically linked to politics and government and how the rich get richer at the expense of the most vulnerable. “My Black Siberia” carries on this premise into the future where these greedy pigs have turned the world into a wasteland and there has to be retribution.
No Clean Singing: Because this project began for you as a form of catharsis for a very personal loss and the music is so connected to that event and those feelings, how do you foresee the music changing (if at all) as VALLENFYRE moves forward? Will you need to find some new inspiration?
Gregor: I haven’t thought that far ahead. I have no plans for a follow-up. If, in a couple of years’ time, we felt inspired and it was still fun to do, then maybe. The lyrical matter would obviously be different, but I can’t see that the music would be any nicer. I don’t like to plan, though. It’s too depressing. You never know what’s around the corner.
Read the entire interview at No Clean Singing.
“Cathedrals Of Dread” video: