Interview with Andy Clarke from The Crawling by Vera in January 2016
Sometimes a debut EP/MCD happens to be so amazing and a promise for the future. That is the case with ‚In Light Of Dark Days’, a doomy gloomy statement with death momentum that convinced us right away. The Crawling is a band from Northern Ireland, founded in 2014. They are working on their full length debut and we are proud to introduce them through the words of vocalist/guitarist Andy Clarke…
Andy, we know you from Honey For Christ, but what was the spark to form a new band in 2014? In other words: how did The Crawling come into being?
Actually, it was nothing to do with me – it was entirely down to Stuart! In short, Stuart had been to watch a rather inspiring local band, The Obscene Machine, and after the show decided he had to start a band again, having been out of the scene for over 10 years. I’ve known Stuart for decades, and he knew I wasn’t playing much anymore, so asked me to come on board on guitar; he had already sourced a drummer and singer. So, as a 4 piece we jammed a few death metal tracks, and we moved forward from there. The original drummer and vocalist didn’t work out; Gary from Zomified joined on drums, Stuart and I tried some singing. As a trio, it all worked beautifully, so we just hammered away and The Crawling was born!
Can you introduce your buddies and how you got to know them as partners in The Crawling?
Stuart is on bass, Gary is on the drums. Stuart has a long history of playing local metal, stand out bands being Severence and Consume, which has allowed him a fair amount of touring experience. Gary also drums for Zombified, a Belfast extreme death metal act, and was the original drummer for Overoth; both bands have a strong following in the underground. He has extensive touring and studio experience by local standards, and is probably the most talented to the three of us!
As I said, I’ve known Stuart for years, so playing music with him was a no brainer. I’ve known Gary for a long time too, as I’ve played alongside Zombifed in HFC on many occasions. I’ve also recorded them a few times, so I knew he was more than fit for the job!
The first single ‘Choking On Concrete’ instantly made a fuzz on social media. What happened?
Yeah, the single worked well. Basically, we had a tour coming up with Desecration, and were desperate to get ‘something’ released for the tour. Gary wasn’t long in the band, and we were still building a set, so we opted to quickly record one track, in the hope of getting the name out. Grindscene Records helped us immensely; they pressed us a really cool cardboard sleeve single, and worked along with Zero Tolerance magazine to give it away to 500 (un)lucky subscribers. We also did a pretty cool lyric video, which again helped spread the word. Metalireland was very supportive and streamed the track prior to release, and gave us our first interview. It was amazing how much support we received, and the feedback was really positive. All these factors led to spreading the name, and we had a cd to hand out during the Desecration tour to get a few fans locally. It just spiralled from there.
Now we were blown away by the MCD ‘In Light Of Dark Days’. Can you tell a bit more about the three monumental songs we can find on it?
Firstly, thank you! We are really thrilled you enjoyed the CD! The 3 tracks are taken from a span of 12 months of writing. Catatonic was one of our very earliest tracks, which we played at our debut show, with the original drummer. It was a pretty cool track, but Gary brought a few significant changes to it, which turned it into the monstrosity you hear now. It was quite surprising how much the song came to life with the new drum take on it. End of The Rope was a slightly newer track, just at the point where I decided to remove any restrictions on what I thought The Crawling should sound like, and simply started playing whatever I thought sounded good; hence the clean guitar sections that we hadn’t done before. I feel it’s a more accessible track, due to being slightly shorter than the others, and it certainly works well live with the crushingly heaving chorus! The Right To Crawl was the newest track we had at the time of recording, and I think it stands out as such. It’s more in the vein of where the songs have progressed to; and our latest tracks have the same feel.
Lyrically the tracks share the same sentiment of loss; something we long to be part of, the loss of someone close, and the loss of self through own action, that cannot be undone. The overall theme of “In Light of Dark Days” is based on the human condition of focusing on the negative. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and the EP is focused on the habit of reflecting on happier times when we are most miserable; which effectively removes any enjoyment of the memory and transforms it into further despair. I think we are all guilty of practicing this thought pattern, but some ruminate more than others, and the 3 tracks are based on individuals I have met that have done just that – become obsessed with not being able to undo certain past events and not moving forward.
One of the strong features of the music is the contrast between slow echoing dark notes and accelerations. Although the music is ponderous doom/death, you verge towards blackened fury sometimes during fast parts. Do you agree on that (and any explanation would be nice)
My initial approach to writing is always to create an emotive response, which is best achieved through the dark notes you’re referring to. That said, for me personally I find that certain things work better in contrast; so I find adding faster sections to the music shocks the listener out of the more hypnotic melodies, and when they subsequently return they sound even slower, heavier, and darker. I’ve always liked music that mixes it up just a bit, we do have songs that are entirely slow, but it can be a difficult task to keep interest in the song; so I don’t do too much of it. The same applies to constantly blasting. There are some really impressive bands out there playing at blistering speeds, but without some form of alteration I become adjusted to the speed and lose focus on the song.
A few reviews have mentioned a black metal edge to our music. The three of us are into various black metal bands, so it was inevitable it would spill over into the writing process. I have always enjoyed Dark Throne, Emperor, Abigor, Satyricon and some Burzum; and every now and again we play a riff and those bands spring to mind. Again, I like the slight variations within our stuff, so I just keep them in if it suits the song. I wouldn’t know where to begin writing an entirely black metal song, so I like throwing a few elements into The Crawling from time to time.
What can you tell about the live activities of The Crawling so far?
We have been working on our live show for the last 12 months now, and it’s really coming together. To date we have played a lot of local shows, with sporadic dates around Ireland. We opened up for Desecration on their Irish tour last year, which was fantastic fun, and it was educational to watch an established act do their stuff; we learned a lot from them. We play a lot with Zombified, as Gary also drums for them, which works well. They get a lot of good shows, so it’s handy for us to come along. I’d love to get the band further a field, nothing as yet alas, but we’re working on it!
You are working on a full length album. We are on the tiptoe of expectations to hear the latest news and details about it from you…
We’re pretty excited about it too! Currently we have 6 tracks album ready, and have just started another. The album will feature 2 tracks form the EP, plus an additional 6 unreleased tracks. I would like to record 9/10 and choose the best; but we’ll have to see how time progresses. We don’t want to leave too much time between the EP and the album; momentum is the key I think. The EP has been very well received, and we are aiming for winter 2016 to release the album. Title as yet is undecided, and duration will hopefully be around the 45-50 min mark. That said, things change, but that’s the basic plan.
One little thing I want to add: the production of the MCD is ace. Please tell us about your recording facilities… will there be a change/upgrade when making the full length or not?
Yeah, the CD came out really well. It was basically recorded by us. I began recording my own band over 10 years ago, purely as we couldn’t afford a studio! Lol! Over the years I started helping mate’s bands out and recording their demos and stuff, I’ve recorded all the Zombified releases to date. As a result I got paid on occasion, and slowly, but surely acquired various bits of kit and computer software over the decade that followed. By the time The Crawling were ready to record I was getting more proficient, so we figured we’d just go ahead in my ‘studio.’ It was a free process, so we thought we’d see how it sounded and take it from there. The single was well received, so we thought ‘fuck it’ lets record the EP as well. It saves quite a bit of money, and allowed us to pay other people to do things we couldn’t do ourselves.
We will approach the album the same way. I have upgraded a few more bits and pieces, learned some new tricks and learned some lessons from the last recording process; so it will be an upgrade to a degree. A lot will depened on the label side of things as well. Ideally I’d much rather go into a ‘real’ studio, more for the experience, but it depends what the budget is. At the end of the day it’s all about the songs. If we feel the music sounds the way we want, and the message is delivered; job’s a good ‘un.
To occlude: what are the plans with and is the status of Honey For Christ?
Ah, the monumental question! To be honest; I’m not entirely sure. It kinda rests on drummer Chris. He was very ill a few years ago, which was why Willy joined in drums. Unfortunately Willy died 2 years ago, which fucked us up in all sorts of ways, after which HFC never rehearsed or played again. None of us have officially said its done, so there’s always a chance of something happening – but I’d imagine it would be maybe some live shows, more than a release. Depends if Chris feels he’s fit to rehearse or play live again. Sorry, that probably doesn’t answer the question … I promise to let you know first if HFC do something! Ha, ha, ha!
Okay, thank you Andy. Good luck with the next steps for The Crawling then…