Sensory have had a great track record in recent times with releasing solid progressive metal albums from up and coming bands around the world who in all likelihood are the future of the genre. One such band is Dark Suns, whose new release Grave Human Genuine is a moody, progressive, and atmospheric metal experience that will no doubt be mentioned as one of the sleeper albums to come out in 2008. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo spoke with singer/drummer Niko Knappe about the new album, the band, and the future of Dark Suns.
SoT: Grave Human Genuine, your debut for Sensory, is a dark yet rich stew pot of many styles. While some songs have plenty of metal moments, for the most part the album is steeped in melodic prog rock and atmospheric, often time ambient passages. How would you describe Dark Suns?
Niko: Somehow our musical intension is to see life as a game, devotion as the key,
wishfulness as energy and melancholy as power... It's all about sharing ideas and emotions ; ...we just do what we love.
SoT: How did you guys hook up with Kristoffer Gildenlow? Besides his bass parts, what else did he contribute to the album?
Niko: Knowing him from our tour together with his former band Pain Of Salvation during 2005, somehow a friendship arose. After our longterm bassplayer Chris parted from DS
we just asked Kristoffer to join the stage with us for some shows. He fortunately agreed to this idea and so we had an amazing time together (for example, at Progpower Europe 2006) Later, while we prepared Grave Human Genuine more and more, we decided not to be shy asking him for the bass role on the album. And with his "Yeahh, …why not" for us a dream became true. Needless to say that Kristoffer is one of the greatest bass players around Europe. Though he unfortunately couldn't join our studio personally (logistical facts, time scheduling) we cooperated via the internet, means filesharing to-and-fro...
Finally he did a great job... We're proud to have him on the record.
Niko: There's lots of flavors throughout the new that remind of bands like Opeth, Riverside, Porcupine Tree, even Rush. Are any of these bands influences at all to Dark Suns?
Niko: Of course these mentioned bands created unique pieces of music, so we like them a lot. Opeth especially is one of our longtime favourites, but also Tool, Pain of Salvation, Anathema, Soundgarden, King Crimson and even Tori Amos inspired us over the years…
But there is much more: I think we're like every inspired band being in progress. You always capture a lot of new things wether music, books, movies or just life-time experiences. For me DS represents a musical freedom, creativity coming into bloom but primarily music from the heart. I mean, there never was a main influence or band that inspired us the most, so that we tried to copy it in a way. No, …it's the unconscious mixture of own creativity and captured art inputs.
SoT: Production wise, there are lots of little nuances throughout the CD that give it a very full sound. Is the band happy with the outcome? How long did it take to put the CD together, from writing the songs to time in the studio?
Niko: We spoke a lot about it afterwards, and of course, next to all pleasure the album gives, you also expose some detailed points that should be done better next time…
There'll never be THE perfect album I think (ok…, maybe Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" is one! ), but we don't care too much about these things; because it's totally normal. Today it finally works leaning back and just becoming one with the atmosphere;
a great feeling after such a long time of being creative…so maybe not until after now we know about its whole quality; and perhaps we also love it because of its charming imperfectness; ...yes, that's it!
The songwriting process: Seen as a whole, we don't distinguish from other bands preparing an album on their own. At first it's the usual way of collecting new ideas, of course. Maybe my brother Maik is our main riffing machine coming along with most of new ideas; nevertheless the detailed arrangements or character of each song develops the collective way. So you try to figure out which parts could come together; vocal lines, rhythms, melodies or a solo to develop; you record a lot to bring everything in line; jam sessions and rehearsing days follow but also programming takes place. We don't have a mastermind person in the band, it's always kind of teamwork (Maik, Torsten & me), but a normal way of being creative, I think. Anyway, apart from some interpersonal stress rituals , we had a lot of fun watching the baby growing up.
All in all "Grave Human Genuine" is the quintessence of a three years band process and we're proud to hold it in our hands.
SoT: As good a job as the production of the CD came out, are there any famous producers that the band would like to work with in the future?
Niko: Hmmmm, I guess next time we're gonna cooperate with Bob Rock cause we really like the snare-sound on St.Anger! LOL! Just kidding...
SoT: Are there plans to take Grave Human Genuine on the road?
Niko: Of course there are. We love to play LIVE and the first gigs for GHG were really cool. Unfortunately our booking situation isn't the best right now, so we have to stay patient. We still hope to capture a support-tour for the end of 2008 for that the fans don't forget us completely…To be honest, the booking business really sucks … and we're probably the wrong characters for promoting our own stuff…So… CALL US NOW !
SoT: What are the long term plans for the bassist role? Is Kristoffer going to be working with Dark Suns in the future?
Niko: Because of the logistical circumstances (Kristoffer lives in the Netherlands) we don't think about a perspective musical cooperation with him right now. There are a few guys around us being able to take this role over, but a detailed comment would be to early… We'll see what happens. Stay curious!