Sea of Tranquility Staff writer Carl Sederholm recently chatted with Ian Arkley from My Silent Wake. The band's latest album, There Was Death was released in February 2018. Read on for the full interview!
SoT: Please tell readers unfamiliar with My Silent Wake a little more about the band.
Ian Arkley: MSW started in 2005 with members of the final line-up of Ashen Mortality minus the keyboard player. We carried on in a similar vein but had a much more open approach to using various styles within the music and stopped playing AM songs. We finally got to play live with MSW for the first time in 2007 due to some complications and by then there had been some changes in who played what instrument. The band has been through quite a few changes over the 13 years since the Ashen Mortality/MSW morph, but I have been a constant member. We play for the love of it and play a genuine form of music that is at times very personal rather than singing about things that mean nothing to us. To us, the substance of a song is more important than the style or even the form of recording. The last album before the new one was mainly home-recorded and very raw; it combined our acoustic and experimental sides.
SoT: My Silent Wake is frequently described as a death / doom band, but you've never shied away from experimenting with any variety of different musical ideas. How would you describe the band's music right now? How has the band's sound changed over the years?
Ian Arkley: If I had to put the band in a nutshell I would say we are death/doom and experimental. To fully describe the sound you can go on and on saying we have influences from black metal, prog, goth etc etc and it can get a bit much. We do metal albums and non-metal atmospheric and acoustic albums to put it in another nutshell!
SoT: Your latest album, There Was Death, sounds like an extended meditation on the problem of death. Was that something you were hoping to accomplish with this album? If not, what was the overall vision, if any, for this album?
Ian Arkley: I think it never started like that but the songs ended up with similar themes and so it may seem like one big concept. As you age, the questions around death become more prominent in your mind but you realise that it is something you have to accept and be at peace with. The album talks about more than just physical death and touches on other ways that things can die in our hearts and minds. The lyrics to some of the songs are very close to my heart indeed and have been written as the result of some difficult times, to say the least.
SoT: There Was Death is also your 10th full-length album in just over a decade. You've also released multiple EPs, compilations, and splits. What is the secret behind the band's incredible productivity?
Ian Arkley: We release it all under the same band name whereas others may choose to do side projects. This makes us seem more productive than we really are, but we do enjoy recording and like to keep things moving with the band. Once one project is over, we are thinking of the next. To me, as much as I like gigs, they are fleeting things, but recordings are a permanent record. We have done 7 metal albums; one of them has two disks with an acoustic side. We have done two ambient/experimental albums and an almost fully acoustic album. Every album is very different from the last if you listen closely.
SoT: What might the next 10 years look like for My Silent Wake?
Ian Arkley: I think a move towards more experimental, ambient and acoustic music as age starts to creep up. I don't want to rule anything out and we will always enjoy playing metal. On the gig front, I can see things eventually slowing to very few worthwhile gigs as the effort required by an underground band is enormous. Trying to juggle everyday life, the band, other bands, jobs, various commitments and social activities can be intense these days. Another point to make is that recording experimental songs isn't nearly as expensive as recording metal. These days sales are low and I think a time will come when there won't be enough money coming in to record in a conventional manner. For There Was Death we did have to contribute from our own pockets to get it finished to the standard we wanted.
SoT: What are your plans for touring in 2018? Does the band ever do world tours, or do you stay mostly close to home?
Ian Arkley: We did one tour in Europe which was with Norway's In Vain in 2010 and this was the biggest we have ever done. In the grand scheme of things it was a small tour of less than two weeks, but was a big deal for us. We have done mini tours over the years and selected one off gigs; MSW have gone as far as places like Slovakia but have done nothing outside of Europe. We play gigs when we can around full time normal day jobs as the band is not a way of making any money, it is just done for the love of it. We have a few gigs coming up this year starting next month. Details are on the website.
SoT: Tell us a little about the cover art for There Was Death. Who did the artwork?
Ian Arkley: Juha Vuorma, a very talented artist whose work we used on our last metal album 'Damnatio Memoriae'. He has a website with a lot of his work displayed and has done work with various musicians including In The Woods. He is very professional to work with and his art has been a perfect fit for both albums. We have been fortunate to work with some great artists over the years.
SoT:Where can our readers find more information about the band or purchase music / merchandise?
Ian Arkley: Our Facebook profile, YouTube, our website. A Google search will find plenty of stuff. We also have a Bandcamp page for CDs etc.
SoT: Thanks very much for your time! Is there anything else you'd like to mention before signing off?
Ian Arkley: Thanks for the interview. For anyone reading this, please listen to the band and give our songs a few listens as we have a lot of variety in our music. One song will not tell you what we are about!
(Click here to read our reviews of There Was Death)