Old Night – A Sorrowful HelloTuesday, 31st October 2017
Doom, in its proper form, cannot succeed without a top-notch vocalist. If a doom band doesn’t have one, then it’s off to sludge-ville, or, obscurity, we go. Croatian ensemble Old Night hardly have such concerns. Fronted by the stirring, soaring, wonder-throated Matej Hanžek, the band is sure to become the next “it” band in doom. Their Pale Cold Irrelevance debut is a stout, ever-climbing body of work, stacked with crushing, molten riffs, obviously with cues from the epic doom cabal of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. But it all comes back to Hanžek, who, as bass player and founding member Luka Petrovic goes on to describe, is someone Old Night plan to using to the fullest…
Dead Rhetoric: Old Night was originally formed as a solo project, but soon became a full band. What prompted this decision?
Luka Petrovic: It was in 2015, we just finished our 20th anniversary concerts with my other band, Ashes You Leave, and I started toying with the idea of a new project. It was something that was brewing within me for a while but never truly had the time to completely dedicate myself to it. Since it was decided that we’ll take a break with AYL it was a perfect timing to do my band then. I just didn’t want the fuss of having a band to work with so I started the whole thing as a solo project. Fortunately I was urged to reconsider after a while by a friend of mine who heard one of the songs from the record. We had one rehearsal, more a jam actually, and that was it… I just needed a change.
Dead Rhetoric: What brought all of you guys together? How did you get to know each other?
Petrovic: Luck more than anything else. Nikola, our drummer, and I go way back as friends but never had the chance to play together since we were always busy with other bands. This time around he had no projects so it was the quickest and easiest decision I made regarding the lineup. One of the smartest ones as well.
For years both Nikola and I have been judges on one of the oldest demo festivals in Europe, RiRock in Rijeka, and there we heard a band that had an amazing guitarist. This was a few years before Old Night so we did a bit of Facebook stalking and found the guy. I basically saw him a few times later but seeing him perform that time made such a great impression on me that I just sent him a text and asked him to come and jam with us. So we found Ivan, our lead guitarist and singer. It was much harder to find a lead singer, especially for a band like this one. We basically asked everybody we thought could fit the bill. In the end Ivan said that his brother sings but never fronted a band. He was actually the backing vocalist in that band Nikola and I saw perform on the demo fest.
With Matej in the fold all we needed was either a second guitarist, a keyboard player or a saxophone player. The latter two we couldn’t find in our home town so we started looking for guitarists. Both Nikola and I played with Bojan in various bands over the years and he was our first choice! Of course he didn’t want to play with us because he had a few other bands as well at the time. He changed his mind a few months later after hearing us play.
Dead Rhetoric: You’re clearly a doom band, so, what doom bands do you look up to? I can detect a Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus influence. Anyone else?
Petrovic: If we are talking about the traditional doom those two are my favorite but also bands such as Count Raven, Pagan Altar and While Heaven Wept. But at home I listen to a lot of death doom and funeral doom as well so bands such as Saturnus, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Swalow the Sun, Thergothon, Doom VS etc.. I could go for hours on this topic but my favorite “new” bands out there now are Clouds and Enshine. Amazing bands that are definitely worth checking out!
Dead Rhetoric: Matej, for lack of a better term, is simply an incredible singer. Can you describe the moment you first heard his vocals?
Petrovic: He is amazing! I’m so proud of what he did on the record and how he interpreted the lyrics. He is a shy guy normally so I guess a lot of people who know him weren’t aware of what he can do and how good he is.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you build the songs around his voice? Or, do you write the music first and let him pick and choose his spots for the vocals?
Petrovic: None of the above. Most of the music and the arrangements for this record were already written before I formed the band. Of course we did re-arrange some parts and details but the majority stayed the same. What changed the most were the vocal lines since the original idea was using only growl on the record, and I’m really glad that wasn’t the case. Not using a talent like him would be stupid so of course I’m open to suggestions concerning his singing, and a lot of those ideas we ended up using on the record.
Dead Rhetoric: A singer like him doesn’t come around very often. What other ways do you hope to use his voice?
Petrovic: He already has such a distinguishable voice and singing style, I just want to explore it a bit more. Force him to go somewhere different so that he can have the freedom of using that if needed. Fortunately for us we have two amazing singers in the band, second being his brother Ivan who sings the backing vocals, so using them more together more. They have so complementing vocals that it would be a shame not to use them.
Dead Rhetoric: You use the word “doom” in two of your song titles. What kind of significance does the word have?
Petrovic: The word by itself has such a great ring to it. It is not that often that the music genre and the word describing it sound alike. It’s a fun word to use and I always wanted to write a song with a title that has it. So when we finished “The Last Child of Doom” I immediately knew that this song must open the record.
Dead Rhetoric: Reaction to Pale Cold Irrelevance has been extremely positive. For a new Croatian metal band, how does that make you feel?
Petrovic: We’ve been graced with only positive reactions since starting this band and it is truly humbling. It has been a real wind in our sails! I guess that a new band from any country should be proud of it, but it is something special when it’s a new band from Croatia. Our country is not exactly a place known for its metal bands or the metal scene, so we are really glad that more people will hear about it and maybe look into it more deeply since there are quite a few amazing bands from Croatia.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there any long-term plans for the band?
Petrovic: Yeah of course! We are currently working on our sophomore album. The idea is to finish half of it and then just play and jam with it to get a sense of the direction for the next record. So the long-term plans are to finish our second album, put out vinyls for the first one and try to play as much as possible and promote ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on your agenda for the rest of 2017?
Petrovic: As already said above, working on the next record, we have a great festival in Croatia called Udar Groma coming up in a few weeks, album promotion in our hometown and a few concerts in Croatia and Slovenia. We are also planning to record a video that should come out by the end of the year.