Catalepsia interview (12/2015)
|Conducted by:||Bad English (e-mail)|
We had the opportunity to talk with Catalepsia's Erwin Franz. Read below what he had to say.
Bad English: Hi. Thank you for doing this interview with Metal Storm. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about how you started listening to metal and your first steps into music?
Erwin: Hello there, my name is Erwin Franz and I am the vocalist as well as the guitar player of Latvian doom band Catalepsia.
If we go back to the time when I was a little kid I remember myself sitting on a chair being unable to reach the floor with my feet and moving my legs to the rhythm of overdriven guitar riffs. But to be honest, the first heavy band that got me into metal music was HIM. I still wonder how person's music taste can grow from mainstream to very underground stuff. Because I went from sweet gothic songs to evil sounding Norwegian black metal.
About first steps into music - if I'm not wrong, I was 8 when my parents sent me to a music school where I learnt to play trumpet. I wanted to play guitar but there was no guitar class so I went for the weird brass things.
Bad English: How did you become the singer for Heaven Grey?
Erwin: It's a funny story. I discovered Heaven Grey when I was 11. My cousin gave me their tapes Memory River and Northwind and I fell in love with these records. After some time I made a cover of their song "Upe" with Catalepsia which was a disaster. It completely sucked but we kept playing it at our live gigs. In 2009 Grey's drummer of that time messaged me and offered to come to their rehearsal place and try singing their songs. He had heard me singing their song and since there was a trouble with their vocalist they were left desperate, haha. I was confused but I decided to take the chance and I tried it. That evening I discovered some new vocal skills I wasn't even aware of before. So, they took me as their singer.
Bad English: How hard is it psychologically to be the frontman of such an iconic Latvian doom metal act?
Erwin: Well, it was kinda stressful at the beginning. I remember me being confused during my first gig with them because I was used to play guitar while singing but suddenly there was only a mic. After the first gigs I got used to everything, so there actually is nothing exciting about being pressured or something. It was a great experience. We shared many exciting moments.
Bad English: How have fans accepted you? What is your feedback like after performances?
Erwin: As far as I remember the fans were quite welcoming. I don't remember anything being thrown at me or hissing off. Of course there were some comments from individual persons about me replacing the former singer (may his soul rest in peace) but I was too busy to give a shit. Speaking about feedbacks, there are always people coming and saying that they enjoyed the performance but I don't always believe them. To be honest I haven't been doing research in this field. All I know is what I can and cannot do and I know what should be improved. That's all.
Bad English: If Heaven Grey and Skyforger had never existed, how would you picture the Latvian metal scene today?
Erwin: I think it would be the same because I don't see a huge influence on the local scene left by these both bands. There isn't a bunch of folk or doom acts. Maybe some other genre representatives would take the position of the most famous Latvian band like Skyforger is today.
Bad English: Lithuania has Kilkim Žaibu, which has been around for 15 years, and Estonia has the Hard Rock Lager Festival, also a long-running event. Why doesn't Latvia have any such long-running metal festival?
Erwin: We had so called Metalshow Open Air festival which took place in a beautiful and scenic place in the middle of countryside. It was getting bigger by every year but then something went wrong with the local municipality and festival moved to Riga. Also, the wave of financial crisis affected it. The last Metalshow Open Air events took place in an industrial area of the capital and it wasn't that enjoyable for the visitors. As far as I remember the last festival happened back in 2010. This year they are organizing "Zobens un Lemess" festival for the second time which is actually as great as Metalshow Open Air back in days. You should definitely come to Latvia next summer. You won't regret it.
Bad English: The eternal question: what do you think about the internet, illegal downloads, Spotify, the good and bad aspects of the internet, etc., and how it affects your band?
Erwin: Well, I cannot await the day when the Internet will die and the mankind will be forced to go back to simpler stuff, haha. To be honest, there is a feeling that the art is dying and everything is losing its value including music. I admit that I enjoy digital opportunities but it is sad that people just take everything without any gratitude. Sometimes I wish I was born 10 years earlier in order to enjoy the slow exchange of music and art. Internet is full of opportunities. You can just download a software and program the guitar riffs without being able to play. I hate it. Speaking about Catalepsia, for now we are using the Internet to build our fan base, promote our stuff. Internet makes it easier to spread the message and music. We are not awaiting a huge profit now but I believe we will get stricter in the future, if it will be doable of course.
Bad English: Today, music is not a big business; how do you find the motivation to go to the studio, jam, play music, etc., since probably you all have day jobs?
Erwin: Music is my main passion and one of the rare things I enjoy. I enjoy writing, playing and singing it as well as managing stuff for Catalepsia. I have a goal and I will do my best to succeed. Yes, we all have jobs or other regular duties but somehow we find energy for rehearsals, gigs and other band related activities. Sometimes I get tired of everything and I lose the hope. In such moments sleep is the best medicine for me. A new day brings a new wave of energy and motivation.
Bad English: How do you write music - in the old school jamming way, or in the so-called modern way, where everybody writes a part, sends it via e-mails, and does basically all the writing via computers?
Erwin: I don't really remember the last time we jammed together. It usually leads to nowhere. So far I and Juris has been doing the composing. The riffs usually come up at home while jamming alone. We join the parts of the songs at rehearsals. Then, Krišjānis adds the rhythms and the composition is almost ready. The five of us have barely been together for a year. I know that Silvija and Jānis are used to write some music as well, so we hope to bring all our ideas together in the next album.
Bad English: How did the idea for Catalepsia come about? Was it hard to get the line-up, and is it easy these days to find musicians who are able to perform on a professional level?
Erwin: The first attempt to found my own band was 10 years ago when I being a teenager gathered some local guys to play heavy music. I lived in a small town called Jaunjelgava and the first members were barely able to play their instruments not mentioning their music taste which wasn't very metal. The members of Catalepsia have been replaced many times and I am glad that Krišjānis and Juris are with me for the last era of the band. I believe the hardest period was not that long time ago. It was when Krišjānis decided to leave the band and one month after him our bass player Valentīns did the same. It was quite shocking at first and we still had the album to record. So, after a few days I started to look for new members and step by step we got them and fortunately Krišjānis decided to return last summer.
Speaking about professionalism, I think we all are amateurs in Catalepsia and we do not strive to be virtuosos or something. We are just doing our thing and even if it sounds boring or shitty for someone, that's not our problem. I do not say that there is no need to work on our skills or experience, we still do it and try to improve whatever we can but becoming professional takes decades without breaks I think.
Bad English: World Of Cliché is a great album, and it doesn't jump out of the traditional gothic/doom, death/doom borders; would you agree? Who inspired you write such an album?
Erwin: Thank you, receiving positive comments always makes us feel better and more motivated to continue our work! I have been trying not to categorize our music as one genre lately. Actually it is very hard for me to put it in one shelf. I like when listeners call us names, haha. However, so far all the music have been composed by me and Juris. I think that our cooperation works very well. For me the best inspiration for music comes when I am stressed out or just angry. At those moments I get the best guitar riffs I think. I guess it's like everyone else does when the energy is being converted to an art. I try to put my feelings in both, music and lyrics. Lyric-wise I write the song texts about things I do not dare to talk about - like things I cannot throw out of my mind, especially those thoughts I have been fighting for years and actually singing about them helps to deal with all the shit at least for a moment.
Bad English: Speaking about the single "Damnation," I think that it is the most emotional song ever written by a Latvian band in English; what inspired you?
Erwin: Well, thank you so damn much! Actually we pulled this track out of the grave since it was our last song before the split up. We did it in order to make a submission for some mainstream events we cannot talk about now but you will definitely get some news later. Again, this song was written by me and Juris. I remember that he came to rehearsal and showed me some riffs, I put them together and added the vocal melody and chorus and here it is! It was 5 years ago, if I'm not wrong and at that time I was ending one phase of my life to enter a new one which was disturbing. I guess, that was what inspired me to write lyrics and vocal parts.
Bad English: Thank you for your time and for doing this interview. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Erwin: Well, thank you Edgar for supporting us and metal in general! I truly appreciate the work of guys like you. The last words… Hmm… Well, thank you for spending your time to read this interview and I hope you have checked our music out. I wish you piece, happiness and to be yourself no matter what it takes! Cheers!
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