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Drift Into Black's Craig Rossi: "Whenever something good happens on this planet a million bad things happen. We are always one step forward and two steps back"

Interview with Craig Rossi from Drift Into Black
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 28 June 2022, 10:16 PM

So as it seems, there is no chance at all for humanity to survive in the far future, and let's hope that it is the far future and not the closer one. There have been too many reasons to why our existence is a big time question mark, however, people are living their lives, trying to get by, to make something out of what the present offers. Drift Into Black, and Craig Rossi, believe that there is a definite ending, and we are marching towards it with arms wide open. The band's new album, "Earthtorn", might be a concept story, totally fictional, but it shares a variety of messages that every listener should take note of. Steinmetal had a good talk with Craig about the entire journey.

Hello Craig, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview with Metal Temple online magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Thank you for having me Loir. I’ve been doing well. I’ve been very busy promoting the new record

I believe that you hit the spot this time around with your band Drift Into Black, and its new offering, “Earthtorn”. Following its close proximity to the previous record, released just last year, would you say that the pandemic, upon its waves, paved the road to the new record, and its sorrowful tale?

Thank you! The pandemic absolutely helped. I now have a hybrid work from home and office career which gives me lots of time to write music. I took that time in all of 2021 to write Earthtorn.

“Earthron” focuses on a decaying Earth, yet its protagonist / antagonist is an outsider, an alien lifeform. That same alien grew up to more than his disguise as a human, he actually became a human being. Therefore, in your view, love conquers all eventually, even after death, no matter what one is trying to be or hide from others?

Love absolutely conquers all but without empathy there is no love. This story focuses not just on a sci-fi plot but also on human growth, right and wrong, etc

In a way, I could find a certain connection between the alien’s dying love and the slow rate decay of our planet. Eventually, there would be nothing left to save, or to have, or salvage. Like the Cancer in the cells of the loved one, there would be a time that our situation would be untreatable. Is that your view? How do you find that analogy?

Very interesting, I wasn’t intentionally trying to make that connection but now that you mention it that would be cool if listeners have another take on it like that. The thing is that his intentions were never to “save us” . It was to analyse us, deplete all of our natural resources, and then destroy Earth. While I was crafting the story I viewed her death as like the last good thing on this planet for him. She is the reason (even in death) that he decides not to deplete us and end our existence abruptly. He realizes that humans don’t have much time left on Earth. He now knows the importance of every moment with someone you love surrounded in a world that’s completely fucked. So he has the empathy to not rob anyone else of their time and decides to leave the planet to it’s slow decay.

From the looks, and feel, of the record, it appears that through it you channel that you gave up on humanity to change its ways, at least most of the time, in order to save itself from extinction. Did that notion cross your mind at any particular time while this record was in the making?

That was on my mind the entire time and that totally fuelled my inspiration of lyrical ideas. It’s easy to write lyrics based on the shit show of the world today

If you were the alien, coming over to study us, and afterwards exploit us, would you have gone through it, after seeing our history, and how we have been destroying ourselves in a variety of ways?

Hahaha good question! I generally do and say shit just to watch people’s expressions change. Put it to you this way I genuinely get pissed off when they report in the news that an asteroid is heading towards earth but not to worry it is expected to pass us by a few million miles away

After finishing my first listen of the record, it hit me that with all the pessimism going on, there might be a glimmer of hope for us, as a worldwide society, to actually save ourselves. The last instrumental on the album indicates that there is a way. Does your belief system lead you to that same result, maybe there is no need to give up after all?

No my belief system does not believe that at all. The last track on the album that you speak of is a total sarcastic mock on patriotism. Whenever something good happens on this planet a million bad things happen. We are always one step forward and two steps back.

In your perception, in our current state of affairs worldwide, whether on social or economic basis, do you believe that we actually stand a chance against anything of our own doing? In short, what do you think that should be done better, or right?

No, I don’t think we stand a chance at all. There are so many idiots on this planet that there is no reversing this. I think the internet and social media has truly ruined us. Instead of facing the truth these morons would rather run from it. They dive deep into conspiracy theory rabbit holes to the point that there’s no way they can find themselves back to normalcy. They believe everything they see on the internet and spread it around whether they know it’s true or not. They do it because we as humans are easily manipulated so might as well throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. Social media has uncovered the worst in people and gave narcissistic people a platform to spew their bullshit. Now everyone’s a disease expert, then the next day they’re a political expert, then the next day they’re an expert on war. So you know what I say to them? If you think you’re smart and important than just remember that there are 8 billion other people on this planet. You’re not special.

“Earthtorn”, as it turned out, became quite a richer ground for a selection of Metal directions, crossing between extremity, progression and the traditional aspects of the genre. It also shares qualities of the modernized form of Metal, tending an interesting setting, portraying the proper atmospheric nature that the album needs. In your view, how did the band make progress this time around?

I think it being a Sci-Fi concept helped make the music touch on many different genres as well as opened up a more atmospheric tone.

Other than being a concept in structure, which forms of lessons, our outputs that you took, were implemented on “Earthtorn”, which were needed, or didn’t really exist, on the previous album, which as I mentioned, wasn’t too far behind?

We added some violins, female vocals, as well as lap steel guitar on some of the quieter moments. There are a ton more of keyboards on this record compared to the last one.

Let’s talk influences for a bit, while listening a lot of names crossed my mind, but I want to ask you, what were those influences lying around as the album took shape in its writing phase?

Good question, well I am a huge Pink Floyd fan so my atmospheric sounds are very much inspired by Pink Floyd. I’m also a fan of the band Skyclad (only the Martin Walkyier albums) and his lyrics about the human race.  Another album which was an inspiration was Amorphis Elegy which to me the keyboards on that album are amazing.

What was your initial vision of the story meets the music? How were you able to find that utmost important cohesion between the lyrical and musical ends?

Lyrically I wanted an album about the current state of world today but I wanted it to be interesting. So I threw the sci-fi element into that which involved a being from another world on a mission to destroy the Earth. That enabled me to expand my lyrical ideas as well as for us to explore different tones and atmospheres

The songwriting of the record generated a Grey coloured atmosphere, which looms nearly over every song on the record. How were you able to capture the right aura so it would fit the nature of the story?

That was not our intention but I think when writing a concept album, you shouldn’t steer too far from home base. We kept the mood the same for the most part but the songs are all different as far as tempo, and structure.

With the record made deeper within the pandemic’s waves, which generated some of the longer lockdowns, how were you able to complete the record with all the restrictions that went on? Would you say that the process has been a challenge from the get go?

Not at all. We all have home studios. So we were able to get it done at our leisure. I wrote and recorded my parts between November 2020 - November 2021. Enough time to make sure everything is recorded to perfection

“Earthtorn”, as the band’s fourth record, is another phase in its existence. Nevertheless, it is also an experience, another bullet to your belt. Every kind of experience can be a learning curve of sorts, a guiding light. What can you say that this record taught you about yourself as a musician, a thinker and a songwriter?

Whenever we finish an album I always say to myself “How the hell do we top that?” But now I realize that we HAVE been out doing ourselves. Another important thing that we’ve learned is fluidity. An album has to flow perfectly from the 1st track to the last in order to keep the listener engaged. It also taught us not to be afraid to experiment in regards to writing and introducing new sounds.

“Left To The Burning Sun” is where the alien gives up on its mission as it seems, the music on this particular track is highly melodic in contrast to the rest of the tracks, it provides an insight of the anguish of the one who let go. How do you find this particular track? Would you claim it to be the pivotal point of the story where the only was rather up than down?

Yes, this track IS the pivotal point of the album. At this point there is no more conflict on what to do whether he should still carry out his mission or just leave. I kind of likened this track to the same mood you get when you put in your two week notice at your job that you hate and you just cannot wait for your last day. Or when you’ve been on a two-week vacation and at the final 3 days you just want to get back home Hahaa.

Looking forward into the deeper end of 2022, is there plan for Drift into Black to retake stages, anything in the pipeline for you guys?

Well our drummer doesn’t even live close to New Jersey so in order for to play live we would definitely need a live drummer. So right now there are no plans for any stage shows even though I’d love to. We shall see.

Craig, I wish to thank you for your time and patience for this interview. You created an interesting story, and no doubt that it should serve as one of the many voices for people to open their eyes and minds. All the best

Thank you! This was fun. Take care!


 



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