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Apostle Of Solitude's Corey Webb: "Darkness, depression, difficult times, etc… sometimes you just have to put your head down, hold on, and wait for it to pass…"

Interview with Corey Webb from Apostle Of Solitude
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 12 December 2021, 5:09 PM

Negativity, and self-doubt, may as well be easy to accept, but to confront them with positivity, that is a challenge that a lot of people face on a daily basis. So how do you find an angle, they way out of a personal torment that at times becomes part of the person it holds? There is no straight answer but only a path to be set. The US Doom Metal band Apostle Of Solitude have known the darkened feelings deep inside, along with depression and its peers. “Until The Darkness Goes” is yet another token of their statement in regards to these strong emotions, but between the lines, invite the listener to experience coping in their own special way. Steinmetal had a good chance to talk with the band's drummer, Corey Webb, whom he talked about the sign of the times, being in family band, which isn't a cliché, and more…

Hello Corey, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how is everything going on your end sir?

Hi Lior.  Things are well enough here.  One day at a time, brother.

I think that this past year or so made us look into ourselves, as people, as sort of comrades in days of agony and insecurity. No doubt that when most of the world went into a stop, due to the virus, the meaning of friendship and companionship took center stage. When you look back, which wasn’t long ago, how do you reflect on it? How did that period of time treat you?

That is an interesting perspective, and one that I am inclined to agree with. The last year or so was definitely a bit of a “reset”, and I think you summed it up perfectly with regard to friendships.  Especially for those of us who are not particularly social animals, and who are somewhat loners by design, recent events have highlighted the value of friendships, and the importance of those in our lives whom we hold dear.

I personally thrive on isolation when I can get it, but after a few months I definitely gained a greater appreciation for my family, my friends, and my bandmates, and the role they play in my life.  As much as I enjoy my little antisocial bubble, the companionship of those in my circle certainly provided a much needed sense of gravity and a necessary degree of emotional support.  I think for a lot of us, if there was anything good that time provided, it was a bit of a reminder with regard to the things that are most important in life.  We are fortunate in the sense that we were able to maintain day jobs and keep the wheels from falling off, so things certainly could have been worse.

I read that one of your band members suffered a great loss in the family. First of all, my utmost condolences. Due to that personal, and close, loss, would you say that there was a time when there were thoughts to put the Apostle Of Solitude into a hold? I guess that there wasn’t much motivation there after a thought.

Well to be honest this band is so much a part of who we are at this point, I don’t think that was ever really seriously considered.  I can’t speak for the others, obviously.  I’m sure losing a parent, let alone both parents, is a life event that will change the way you see most everything.

Without getting too personal, I’m sure that sort of life event is a cause for a bit of self-reflection and perhaps maybe even a bit of natural self-doubt during that time.  We stood side by side with our brother during that time, though.  If it came down to it, any of us would drop this band in a second if that’s what was needed.  As cliché as it may sound, the four of us are very much family, so the thought of not getting together and making music as we have for many years now isn’t something I like to imagine.  We do this pretty much solely because we enjoy it, and family is infinitely more important than art, or any band, so we all provided the necessary space and support during that time, and when it felt right to resume rehearsals we did.

We talked about motivation to champion hardships, there were bands throughout the hungry days of the pandemic, where there were no vaccinations, that simply evaporated. Would you say that it also has to do with the power of will over negative energies of standing still?

Yes, I do believe there’s a lot of truth to that.  Something like a global pandemic is of course hard on all of us, but especially so for those whose livelihood depends on live events, “in person” gatherings, etc.  This band isn’t something that pays our bills or puts food on the table, so we are fortunate in that sense.  Otherwise though, you are absolutely correct.  Without a means to tour and to make money, there were bands who folded during that time.  It’s difficult enough to get along with 3 or 4 other people in a band setting, to reach agreement on things, to spend extended periods of time in a dirty van together, etc. during normal circumstances.  If a band stays together for 10 years under “normal” circumstances, that’s quite an achievement in itself.  I feel happy that we are able to do this as a creative outlet simply because we choose to.

Evidently, the band marched on, even with the pandemic strong, continuing its efforts for a new album, which was later titled “Until The Darkness Goes”. I found your influence for the title fascinating. Such a song as “Paint It Black”, which I automatically connect to the Vietnam War, shares a sum of fear, whether from an unknown force, or simply what we don’t understand. In your view, how do you relate to that look away from darkness? What is the title for you personally?

That title is a bit of a summation of what this music is to us.  Darkness, depression, difficult times, etc… sometimes you just have to put your head down, hold on, and wait for it to pass.  Because that’s really all you can do, isn’t it?  I think anyone who has experienced depression or dark times will find truth in that notion.  Music has played such an important role in our lives, and it’s what gets many of us though the blackest of times.  Putting on a certain record when you’re down is a way to get through it; to either take your mind away from the troubles at hand, or to feel some sense of embrace or stability until the darkness goes.

Your references to fear of the unknown are a good representation of what much of the world felt during the last year or so.  Nothing was certain; politics and absurdity took centre stage.  Making this record, and channelling this album, helped get us through it; hopefully others will feel a similar connection, and it will serve a similar purpose to others when listening.

A little cutting back towards the pandemic, how do you find today’s new normal? How does the band, in its songs, relate to the normality of the days after vaccinations, where there is a glimpse of hope?

These songs were all written with the intent of playing them live at some point.  Maybe it’s for the best that the album is released during a time when there are still comparatively few live shows?  We do hope to return to our typical schedule of occasional US live shows, and 2-3 weeks of touring either in the US or abroad, hopefully in 2022.  Until then we will continue to exercise patience, “until the darkness goes”.

There is a mentioning of hopelessness when it comes to the displayed artwork of the album. It is understood that it is there, and probably will forever be to stay in the minds of those that are immersed by it. Nevertheless, in your opinion, is there a way out of that sense, perhaps even a solution for people, who heed your call, to seek absolution from that sort of negativity?

Absolutely, because there has to be, right?  Otherwise, what’s the point?  We are all just getting through this life, and playing the hand we’ve been dealt.  Everyone of course can identify with feelings of dread and impending doom, but finding a healthy way to get through it is vital.  Love, kindness, and empathy are the things that are most important in this life.  Be patient.  Maybe those are the things behind the dark clouds.

Being adamant towards Doom Metal is your natural playing field, and you have proven yourselves on more than enough occasions. Nonetheless, a new chapter is born with every album, and fine tunings of direction and sorts. Therefore, I ask, what is that gamechanger, or gamechangers, that lay within “Until Darkness Goes”? What is that cutting edge?

I think the four of us would agree that this album represents a more refined version of the things we feel we are good at, and the elements of this band that we have sharpened over the years.  The presentation is intentionally somewhat succinct by our standards, and I think that’s where this album really shines.  We spent a bit more time on the production end of things, fully aware that a more polished sound might raise a few eyebrows from long-time fans.
I think both these factors contribute positively to the impact and longevity of this album in particular, and hopefully the connection our friends and fans will feel with it.  From an artist’s perspective, it’s difficult not to feel that each new album is the best yet, but we all truly feel that way about this album.  The vocal harmonies between Chuck and Steve have really matured, and the relationship between Mike and I have never been better or closer.  It feels good to play in a band with 3 other humans who you love.  And if some don’t dig the slightly more polished sound of this recording, please come to the next live show so we can remind you we still absolutely bring that raw intensity in the live setting.  In fact, that’s where we really shine.

If there is one thing that the pandemic contributed to artists is the fact that they had, and some still have, time to work on fresh material, refining and making it twice as strong. How do you find this spare time given for the purpose of the album making?

The delays associated with studio dates did play a role in the making of this album.  We had to reschedule the tracking dates at the studio several times, and during that time we continued to refine certain aspects of the record, while being cognizant not to go the “Chinese Democracy” route, ha.  On one hand, we hated that we needed to push back the recording on multiple occasions.  We have a really great relationship with both Cruz Del Sur and Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording, and take pride in staying true to our word and our commitments.

But on the other hand, in the midst of a global pandemic of course all parties were totally understanding and supportive, and it felt good to have that level of support.  Everyone agreed that our personal health (both physical and emotional) and making a good record was of far greater importance than rushing anything.  Because we can’t afford to waste any time in the studio, we are usually well prepared and the songs are pretty much finished by the time we get to the studio, but especially this time around we were comfortable with the arrangements etc. so we could just enjoy the process of making an album together.  For the most part, ha.  The vinyl pressing plants were mostly shut down anyway, so we used that time to our advantage.

“Until Darkness Goes” sounds somewhat more melodic that your previous exports, not mainly the hard breaking grooves and fuzz driven riffs, but an inspiring form of spirituality made by the melodic elements on the record. Would you say that melody, in overall, received a better care this time around?

I would venture to say yes, though melody is always an important consideration for us.  That aspect of music is something that each of us appreciates, and something that we pay particular attention to when crafting our sound.  We’re all old school metal fans, but we’re also fans of good songwriting, which of course incorporates a healthy serving of melody on most occasions.  I wouldn’t say we really made any sort of intentional move to focus more on the melodic aspects this time around; rather, it was just a natural progression of us as a band, and particularly the ideas that were brought to the table as material for the record.

No matter how veteran a songwriter, and musician, is, there is always that necessity to continue to learn, to be educated how both the world and Metal music of the present works. What did the songwriting process of “Until Darkness Goes” teach you? Would you say that you already implemented early criticism comments and remarks, whether by yourself or by listeners, into actual solutions within your material?

I think our sound is continually evolving, but quite honestly, we seldom pay much regard to reviews or criticism (positive or negative).  It’s obviously all so subjective, right?  If you are shaping your art with regards to what others want, are you really being true to yourself?  I realize that may sound a bit pretentious, but we really do sort of maintain our “purity” if you will, by simply making music that we like. The riff writers of the band may give you a different answer, but from my perspective and involvement we just make songs that we are feeling in that moment.  We meld them, rehearse them, record them, and then move on to the next thing.  If anything, as I mentioned previously, this record was consciously a bit more focused than prior albums.

One of the hardest tasks is to find a cohesion between music and lyrics. With “Until The Darkness Goes” running on slow tempos at best, there is plenty of room for express one’s self. How did you know how to find that edge that would help find that fit?

Lyrics typically come last in our songwriting process.  There is typically an idea of which part might be the verse and which part might be the chorus etc., but we do some “pre chorus” type parts that evolve over time, and having more space is sometimes beneficial in that regard.  There is often discussion of whether or not vocals should go over a particular part, or whether we should just let the song breathe.  From my own perspective, the space between notes is something I have a deep respect for.  At the risk of sounding cliché, sometimes it really is what you don’t play that speaks the loudest.

The sound of “Until Darkness Goes” pays a truthful tribute to the nostalgic past, a form of a British oriented sound, which turns out to be monstrous on the lower registers. How do you find how the band sounds on the record? How did the efforts of Mike Bridavsky help shape the message of the band through the record?

We have worked with Mike Bridavsky for so long now (he’s recorded and mixed each of our records to date), we really have a close relationship and a real friendship with him.  He knows the sound we are looking to achieve, how we work best, and where our strengths and weaknesses are.  This relationship and our shared goals play a large role in each of our albums.  We typically give Mike some demo recordings ahead of the tracking, and have a bit of dialogue regarding our direction for each record.  Recording should be enjoyable, and our time spent at Russian Recording is always akin to being together in our practice space.  Mike is family to us.

While there is the heavier opener, “When The Darkness Comes”, I found the follower, “The Union”, as an intriguing piece of music. It shares atmospheric values, alongside flamboyant vocals and enchanting, sometimes aching, melodies. What can you tell in regards to the creative process that went through this song? How did it make an impact on the record in your view?

“The Union” was the first song we wrote for this record, and I believe we first started rehearsing it around the time we recorded “From Gold To Ash”, so it was perhaps the most comfortable of the songs on this album for us.  We also played it live a couple of times prior to recording, so it really sort of shaped the sound for the rest of the album.  Shortly after melding that song, it was decided that this was sort of the direction the new album would take.  It felt natural, and we followed that intuition.

What form of experience do you undergo when you listen to this album as a whole? Would you say that it also inspired you to make plans for the next record, or mainly a type of listening that sends you to a different planet?

Personally speaking, I’ve listened to the album quite a bit since it’s been finished, but as most bands might tell you we’ve been listening to these songs for like 3 years now, so I don’t focus on it very much once it’s done.  We are all very proud of how this album turned out, but we’ve been working on 3-4 new songs for the past few months, so our focus does tend to shift pretty soon after the album is recorded.

I have sat and listened to the album from front to back a few times over the past couple months though, and it does provide some inspiration for the next album. Honestly, I’m still just stoked on being fortunate enough to play drums with 3 of the most talented guys who I am also lucky enough to call my friends.  I figure someday when it’s all said and done, I’ll sit back and listen to the albums and reflect a bit more, but until then we’ll keep pushing forward.

Earlier on, you had the chance to get back on the road with a measure of strong bands, how did it feel to return to the stage after so long?

It felt great, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say we didn’t approach those shows with a bit of trepidation.  The  shows we did with The Obsessed and The Skull were all during that couple months period of time when things felt safer than they had before.  To be honest, it felt great, but at the same time a little “off”.  Everything was so uncertain during that time.  Like “is this ok?…”  The guys in both The Obsessed and The Skull are close friends of ours who we’ve known and played with for years.  Obviously, the tragedies that followed with band members and loved ones of those bands who fell to the virus sort of tainted that whole experience.  Our hearts go out to those guys.  We love them, and hope nothing but the best for them.

What does your calendar show, trusting the fact that there will be shows in 2022? Where are you headed?

We currently don’t have any shows booked, though we are rehearsing both new material and songs from the album.  We’ve rehearsed on the same day, at the same time, for 17 years now.  We will likely start the planning for some 2022 performances soon.  Thus far though we’ve just been cautiously optimistic that we can return to that life sooner rather than later.

Corey, I can’t thank you enough for your time. Thank you for the great music of both massiveness and spirituality. All the best

Thank you, Lior. It is very sincerely appreciated. Peace, Love, and Happiness to you and yours.


 



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