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Eight Bells's Melynda Jackson: "Every time I eat a strawberry I savor it and imagine that when I am in my 70s I will still remember what they taste like and describe it to a child who has never had one because they won’t grow anymore"

Interview with Melynda Jackson from Eight Bells
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 March 2022, 1:48 PM

Feeling lost in a world that has already bound itself in the same sense, beyond saving kind. To find motivation to actually live a life to their fullest, now that is tough for who believe that there is nothing good waiting for us at the far end of the tunnel. It is understandable, life hasn't been easy on Earth in the last 10 years, changes haven't always been to our favor, and that is to be considered a mild saying. Melynda Jackson, with her band Eight Bells, created a new chapter with “Legacy Of Ruin”, where the anguish and dismay from this world come a live, and in the extreme. Steinmetal had to find out more about Jackson's perspective of life at present, and in light of the album  

Hello Melynda, it is quite the pleasure to have you for this conversation with Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing?

As well as can be expected in times like these I suppose

Even without knowing, I have the feeling that the ongoing pandemic has a place, perhaps even minor in your latest material. After two years of change, and we are worldwide in a process of truly trying to capture that change’s magnitude, how have you been receiving it from your end? How were you able to overcome the effects of what has been going on outside?

The year Trump was elected changed me, and I will never be the same as I was before that.  2016 is where it started, before the pandemic. Covid-19 was just a new shit sandwich. You ask about overcoming it. I don’t feel that I have overcome it.  I have no choice but to live with it.

One of the many things that this pandemic has been doing, maybe a little less when there is no threatening variant going on, is the term of lockdown, and I would also add isolation. These two counterparts share a lot of sorrow and dismay by many. Furthermore, it also damages motivation in a way. In your view, how did Eight Bells overcome this distancing, and came out energized?

There had been many obstacles for Eight Bells even leading up to recording the album. Again 2016 was not a good year.  I don’t know that the way I / we feel could be called energized. I suppose we were motivated by repeated obstacles to get it done.  I am pretty relentless and never stopped trying, though the slow pace has been maddening.

The distress, and the feeling of the end, is coming strong on your new album, “Legacy Of Ruin”. I have to admit that it is a celebration for all the doomers and thinkers about when, and what, will our end be, look and feel like. In your personal view, how do you find mankind’s demise? When do you think it will happen and what will be the probable cause?

I feel like we are in demise now. It has been slowly approaching for years. So slow that people just get used to a new animal becoming extinct, the loss of air quality, the changing of weather patterns….it has been slow enough that we can pretend it isn’t happening but it feels like it is pickup up pace now as chain reactivity in our natural world is part of the process.  I assume we will begin fighting over scarce resources (even more) with the rich victimizing the poor (even more) all the while distracted by lies and propaganda and pitted against one another.

Maybe the population will shrink to a sustainable level then slowly make its way back in a cycle like a herd of deer or basically any animal that outgrows the ability of its environment to sustain it.  I assume we will die malnourished and sunburned and thirsty while the Jeff Bezos and Elon Musks of the world find a new place to destroy. Every time I eat a strawberry I savor it and imagine that when I am in my 70s I will still remember what they taste like and describe it to a child who has never had one because they won’t grow anymore.

I have been contemplating with myself in regards to the title, “Legacy Of Ruin”, and I am finding myself concluding that whether we are leaving scorched Earth behind us, once we will take our leave, or even what we are leaving for the next generation, and it goes on and on. What is your perception about this?

My perception is that in reality we don’t care what we leave for future generations. If we did, we would find a better way to live.

I also looked quite a lot at the album’s artwork, which I find quite impressive. From what I could capture about it, it is like a dying process, yet right from the foundation and up. What is your perspective in regards to what this artwork portrays for a viewer? Is that a form of alam coming from this art?

The art shows the world as beautiful and populated, with a great oak tree, and comfortable houses, crops growing people out for a stroll, but if you look into the well, you see another reality of fire and destruction.  An unacknowledged process

Although you clearly stated that this is a sort of emphasis of what the end will be, there is a moral to every story. In your opinion, what is the main moral, or morals, coming out of “Legacy Of Ruin”? What do you expect from the listener to understand, other than self-interpretation?

I had to leave expectation of understanding behind.  I would say the overarching theme is that human nature is ultimately destructive. We can’t help ourselves. We wear blinders and keep focused on our own little personal bubbles to stay sane as we burn down and use up everything given to us. We can’t save for another day. We are utterly myopic.  I don’t want to say that NO ONE has any idea what is going on, its just that there are too many of us with different agendas to make much progress toward stopping the manufacture of our own collective doom.

“Legacy Of Ruin” is one of the many meanings of the term musical journey. No doubt one of the albums of late I listened to that does so much exploring into the music, crossing Metal and into a handful of horizons, breaking borders as it advances forward. Since the band has always been on the exploring end, attempting to break barriers, how do you find the band’s musical progress on the record?

Well – I feel like I am still progressing as a guitar player and have so much I don’t know. I have my own way and it has been a slow process – the cool thing about that is that I can keep learning until the day I die and still not consider myself a master. Once a person claims to be a master, there isn’t much further to travel. Matt who plays bass and our drummer Brian are certainly great additions to the band and push me to want to do better.  We make our songs mostly for us, and then hope that someone out there gets it.  We use music as a means of emotional communication.

With the album being a summit of a variety of genres, even though Metal is still the core, and of course that you proved yourself to be quite eclectic, what do you perceive to be the game changing element on “Legacy Of Ruin” in contrast to your previous records?

I think the songs are more aggressive, and the songwriting a little more to the point.  Also, I believe the male / female harmonies are fun and different since we only had female voices previously.  I don’t actually hear a lot of bands in this genre and or subgenre using male female vocal harmonies, so it’s been fun for us to explore this new vocal territory.

With “Legacy Of Ruin” being a stimulating record to listen to, highly different from the merely hooking note, and in this case this is actually what makes it special, what can you tell from the songwriter’s point of view, how did the record challenge you while working on it? How were you able to find the way to form a cohesion of states of mind?

We are not trying to write or mimic top 40 hits obviously. When you go into the studio you can observe your ideas recorded and make changes. You may find that there is something that isn’t aptly expressed, or a note combination that isn’t what you thought it was. We used similar production elements across the board on all of the songs which does help form a cohesive quality to an album, we considered heavily the order of the songs on the album and how that might compliment or take away from the overall ‘feel’ we wanted it to have.

The album was made during a horrible election, a pandemic, and a wild fire and drought.  Air quality on vocal days was horrible.  These were all challenges in its making- not even including all that it took to get to a point to even make a record. You can lose continuity and momentum trying to create something with creators coming and going. Personally, I have issues sometimes with using headphones as I suffer from Menier’s disease, and it has caused some hearing loss on one side. This makes it difficult to understand a ‘thick’ layered mix in headphones and presents challenges for vocal recording and live tracking basics- both of which require the use of headphones.  For anything else I can record in the control room while listening to the mix monitors.

No matter the experience of an artist, there is always a chance to learn something new, to develop and to grow. How did you evolve from the “Legacy Of Ruin” experience? What did the album change in your perception about your eclectic musical choices? Which lessons of the past did you implement while the album was in progress?

I think every time I have been in the studio; I have learned something new. This time we went in to do the basic tracking live, and I had continuous issues with my guitar holding tune even though I had had a set up prior to the session.  It had gone unnoticed that the neck was cracked. I had to muddle through it treating the guitar like scratch guitar tracks.  I had to redo all of the rest of the recording in the control room using studio monitors and an amp in an isolation booth. I have never recorded that way before with no live take in the mix.  I had done harmonies that way but never the basics.  It can be a difficult thing to do when you have songs that don’t adhere to a click map. We were able to use a click on some sections, but others would have become robotic.

Now looking back, I like the results of being able to record guitars this way and will likely continue doing that especially considering my difficulties with headphones.  I’m not sure about lessons from the past really – everything you experience affects the future that you experience I suppose. I had to shut out critical voices in my head as much as possible- but this is something I am constantly learning to do. My eclectic tastes have not changed.  I would say that my bandmates also share a love of many types of music.

Other than the musical variety of the record, there are its sound and production, I believe that Billy Anderson did you more than a great service in order to provide the album its needs to fulfill its potential. What do you make of the end result of how Eight Bells sound on the album? How do you find the album’s sound as yet another layer of the expression of your ideas?

I can’t say enough good things about Billy.  Without really having to get granular with him, he instinctively knows what feeling and over all vibe we are going for.  This is the third album we have done with him, and it only gets better as we build on what Eight Bells started as. You can listen to much of his output and hear the epic quality he brings to the music he produces. He is also very diverse in his musical tastes which makes him kind of perfect for any project I may be involved in.  He is also very creative and fun to work with.

Once “Legacy Of Ruin” was completed, did you feel the need to take a sort of a break, perhaps mentally, in order to sustain the mind drainage or have you already started self-brainstorming for the next Eight Bells episode?

We have toyed with a couple of new ideas, but mostly just trying to get a regular schedule of rehearsals together and thinking about the possibility of tour and shows for 2022-23

When you had the chance to listen to the record in its entirety, from the angle of the listener, where did it take you? What did it make you feel about yourself in the world?

I think it might be impossible to listen to an album you make strictly as a listener if you created it.  I have taken time off from it and listened to a song here and there and felt like it is the best EB album to date. Its also nice that the band itself feels really supportive and cohesive. I always feel like an outsider in the world, and especially in the music world. Its never enough of this or too much of that – at least from the point of view of music listeners.  For me- the album represents a turbulent time both personally and for the world and I feel like we said exactly what we wanted to say to the folks who matter most. I feel like its like floating a message in a bottle into the sea- you hope that the right person finds it.

Since Eight Bells has been an active live band, and along with the world slowly opening up, how will they be supporting the album? Have you started making plans ahead?

We notified our agent that we are ready to start considering live shows and tours.  My biggest wish is to get the band to Europe somehow.

Melynda, I wish to thank you for your time for this interview. Certainly the new record opened my eyes to the possibilities within Metal music, and even beyond. All the best

No problem, we are glad you enjoyed it.


 



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