The Crawling: a doom-tastic band hailing from Northern Ireland, their music a bleak wretchedness set ablaze with phosphorescent soundscapes, diverse structures and intricate melodies.
I interviewed Gary Beattie, Andy Clarke and Stuart Rainey to get an in-depth look at what makes The Crawling tick.
Am I right that you won the Northern Ireland metal to the masses?
Andy: We won the Belfast region final. It’s fantastic, we really enjoyed it.
Is it your first time here, then?
Andy: As a band, yes. We have been here as fans but not as a band before.
How does that feel? Now you’re on the stage!
Andy: It’s fantastic! Whenever you go to a festival you don’t expect to be standing on the stage a year later – It’s basically as good as it gets.
Do you have anything special planned for your set?
Andy: Just a couple of tracks off the new album, two of which featured on our last EP. The problem is, being in a doom-death band our songs are quite long so we’re actually only playing four songs.
So how long is each song, roughly?
Andy: Roughly, 7 or 8 minutes.
Cue the time-old joke about arriving an hour late to a doom show and it still being the introduction of the first song!
Andy: It is 8 minutes of music, not 8 minutes of feedback or nothing happening: It’s a very dynamic music and structural setup. That’s the idea anyway, you might watch it after 6 minutes and say I’ve fucking had enough!
So what do you have out at the moment?
Gary: We released a single at the start of 2015 which was Choking on Concrete onGrindscene Records. Zero Tolerance magazine came in on that and distributed 500 copies to their subscribers which worked very well. It was fantastic that they helped us with that and in October we worked towards our EP. We found our sound a bit more at this stage and in October, through Grindscene Records again. We released ‘In Light of Dark Days’ which was a 3 track EP spanning over just 20 minutes worth of music. This year, we are now focusing on the album. It’s all written, tempo tracks are done and we literally have to record it.
Is the album different from the EP?
Gary: 2-3 tracks from the EP are going to feature on the new album which is the sort of basis of what our sound has become, so it’s just stepped up from there.
Do you all write the music together?
Gary: Andy writes pretty much all the music and the lyrics.
Andy: I sing and play and guitar so it’s natural to write a lot of the music. So what happens is I write a lot of the music and it’s all done via the internet now and send the guys demo tracks. After the bass-line is written and the drums get put down and then the three of us get together and move things around to create the diversity that the songs then become. That’s where the emotion and the feeling comes from. There’s only so much you can do in the house with a fucking computer – it takes humans to create organic music which is what the idea Is behind music in general.
What I’ve heard of your stuff, it is influenced by a lot of misery and darkness. What about that spoke to you as an influence?
Andy: Well as I say, the whole negative aspect of the band is human nature: it is human nature to focus on negative things and it’s an easy thing to focus on. Gary will tell ya! It’s human nature to dwell on things and I’m no different than anyone else. You find yourself focusing on it and writing lyrics about it and that lends itself to the slower death doom music which is how it all comes together.
It’s quite a fitting medium, death-doom for those themes.
Andy: It’s all I’ve ever written anyway, and I’ve been playing guitars in bands for over 20 years. It always gets channeled into the same sort of vibe which is the more negative aspects of life and the inspiration is always there, you know, it’s all around you. Personally for me, it’s quite cathartic to put music to it, it is something everyone will relate to at some stage in their life; bad things are going to happen. It’s nice to listen to music and someone else has been through it. I’m a massive fan of Anathema, My Dying Bride and Katatonia and when you listen to it, it creates a connection to the music and it makes you feel a certain way, it makes you turn it up it makes you have another drink. That’s what the whole thing is about, for me anyway.
Do you channel this into your live shows? Are you about the doom and gloom live or performing and energy?
Stuart: Energy and atmosphere.
So how do you build the atmosphere?
Andy: It’s all musically based – there’s nothing else to really add to it to be honest. It is difficult here because it is such a big stage set up. If we’re playing in travelling distance of our own home we’d bring our own lights, smoke and strobe lighting. We use a sampler and it creates sound effects and soundscapes in-between tracks. I don’t really speak between songs because I don’t really have anything to say, the music does it. I’m not being ignorant or ignoring anyone I just don’t have anything to say! Long periods of chatting in-between songs, for me, ruins the flow of the music which is what you’re trying to create.
So do you have a certain intention when you go out to perform?
Andy: The idea is to stimulate an emotional response through the music. You can usually see people leave or they stay and you can tell they sort of get fixated on what the band is doing; that’s the intention, to create something.
Is there something in particular you want them to go away with?
Andy: Just any sort of impact at all, to trigger something you remember or you sort of thought ‘yeah, I was really getting into that’ that’s the plan.
Are there any really specific elements that are key to your sound?
Andy: It’s light and dark. Anything that is constant creates nothing. Gary is an extremely talented drummer, he can play a thousand miles an hour if he wanted but if you do that for half-an-hour, it loses all its impact. A lot of our stuff is very focused on the percussive side of things. The guitars don’t really change a lot, but the drums is what creates the dynamic, it can be the same tempo, but you can double up the double bass at one stage and then bring it right back down to bare bones for a rock beat. It’s that dynamic we use live.
Do you have much planned this year?
Andy: Pre-production for the album. We’re putting together the album release for the end of this year or early next year, when we get back from here we are going to start recording it. A few shows also.