DRACENA returns with a new opus since the release of the debut lp in 2006. The 4 track MCD Ravenous Bloodlust is the powerfull and inspired new release. We contacted the founder member and mastermind Mia to talk about this new dawn for the mighty Dracena. The Dragon spread its wings...
Hi Mia, Thanks for answering this questions, how are you? And how does it feel to have a new recording out since 2006?
Hi Chris! Thanks for the interview, I am doing fine. It feels great to have a new release out! It’s been waaaay too long! Ravenous Bloodlust turned out to be so much better than I excpected! The sound we got from Sonic Train Studio fits so good with the songs, the cover art looks amazing and I have a full line-up again for the band. This is such a great start for the “new” Dracena and I feel very positive for 2014 to be a great year for us!
What happened during that period? What caused the waiting of 8 years to hear new songs from Dracena?
I’d started working with new material after I finished the recording of the Infernal Damnation album and recorded 2 new demo-tracks on request from a label but it never lead to anything. Then I have re-located a few times and basically been busy with my ordinary job for the last 5-6 years. Now when things finally slowed down a bit I decided to do a recording of some of the material I have created meanwhile. So early 2013 I was searching for a drummer and a friend of mine, the very same day, sent me a message to listen to his latest recording and asked if I needed a drummer. So we set a date for the studio and decided to record 4 songs to see what kind of reception it would receive before we’d go for a full length album.
Can you tell us about the new line up?
The new line-up is me on vocals/guitar, Piet the J (Savagery)- guitar, K. - bass and F. - drums. The other guys are from the old death and black metal scene. During the studio session K. came over to hang out and contributed with some additional vocals on 2 of the tracks, Ravenous Bloodlust and Witching Hour. I asked him to join the band to handle the bass and he accepted. Piet joined a few weeks later and Dracena was again set with a new line-up. I think the new line-up works really well, great musicians and more importantly we also get along very well on a personal level. So let’s see what kind of material will be spawned fo r the next album…
On your debut LP Infernal Damnation you did the vocals and played all the instruments except for the drums, is it the same this time?
Yes, I am again responsible for both the guitars and the bass, except for a guest solo on Crypt of Darkness which is played by Jimmy Hedlund from Falconer. He happened to be around the studio while we recorded and was asked to shred some hellfire on that particular song. The main vocals are also me with additional backing from K. whom later became my new bass player. The drums are played by F.
On the way to the studio we listened to Slayer’s Show no Mercy album in the car and immediately decided to change a lot of the drums to a more old school “Slayer assault”. It was a lot of fun to be back in the studio again and to hear how the recording turned out when it was finished.
How would you define the style on Ravenous, and what differences exist compared to Infernal…
The style of Ravenous Bloodlust is more towards Black Thrash Metal than the material I have written before. I also want to try to get back more to the old style of metal as I grew up with and I would say that Ravenous Bloodlust is far more aggressive compared to Infernal Damnation. Both by the sound and by the material itself. That was why I chose Sonic Train Studios, because we were very pleased with the “Demonic Women” demo we recorded with Andy La Rocque and I wanted Ravenous to have the best possible sound I could get. It’s very much a Dracena production but better than ever. All of the 4 songs are different and I’ve heard comparisions spanning from Bathory and Nifelheim to Running Wild and Helloween.
What´s your lyrical inspiration? Is there any lyric on Ravenous that you like specially?
I prefer to write lyrics with roots in supernatural and fantasy… like short stories. I try to write the lyrics so it reflects the music and write it in a way that will make the listener see and feel what I see and feel. My inspiration is mainly from books, movies or documentaries.
The lyrics on Ravenous Bloodlust is about 4 different individuals, creatures, and how they think and feel about killing their prey. For these lyrics I had a lot of inspiration from anime series like Trinity Blood, Hellsing and Black Butler to name a few.
I do like all the lyrics on the album, can’t say I prefer any of them less.
I like your vocal work, which thankfully is not the trendy “Angela Gossow” guttural style. ( I also commented this on my interview with Körgull The Exterminator with singer Lilith) Which female and/or male singers have inspired you to sing this way?
This is just the way I turned out to “sing” when we started the band. Our first vocalist quit and no one else wanted to handle the vocals so it’s more of an accident that I became a vocalist at all. I like the Black Metal style vocals, not much the growls of Death Metal though, but I can’t say I have a particular “grunt” vocalist to refer to in this case. I do admire vocalists of more traditional metal like Blackie Lawless, Kai Hansen, Rob Halford, Doro Pesch… wish I could sing like one of them.
What can you tell about the cover artwork? I think it´s great and it has some kind of 80s style and feeling….
The artwork is so cool and I am really glad I decided to use a professional artist for this. It is painted by Mariusz Gandzel, a fantasy illustrator who creates such amazing artwork and he’s done a lot of covers for role-playing games. I got in contact with him through Bart Gabriel Management, in the very last minute. The album was already sent to pressing, so I had to stop the order to re-make the whole layout and it was just pure luck Mariusz had time to make me this cover artwork in such a short notice. I sent him the “Ravenous Bloodlust” track and gave him a few leads about what the lyrics were about and he made the cover from scratch to finish in just 4 days. Very impressive! I would love to have more of his illustrations on my future album covers.
What bands inspired you and influenced you when you formed the band?
My main influences, as I have mentioned earlier, hails from the 80’s, old heavy/thrash/speed metal. I listen to Bathory, Mötley Crüe, Annihilator, Kreator, Attacker, W.A.S.P, Metal Church, Testament etc. Those are the influences I try to recycle into my own music.
I know you have a good taste for 80s bands, but is there any “new” band that you discovered and listen to recently?
Hmm can’t say I have. But a lot of my old favorite bands are back and they have released some very cool and heavy new stuff! Like Kreator – Phantom Antichrist or Testament - Dark roots of Earth
Your second demo Demonic Women, got a great impact in the scene when it was released, what memories do you have from the recording, and how do you see the demo in perspective nowadays?
I remember I was nervous about playing the guitar with Andy La Rocque sitting there watching, was a very scary moment of my life. One of the funniest moment which happened was when Pepa (Lord Belial/Vassago) came to the studio to record the solo to the Hounds of Hell track. He appears dressed in a suit, carrying his guitar case and he looks like some kind of mafia member on his way to a hit. He opens the case and plugs in the guitar and rips off this solo, puts the guitar back in the case and takes off again. Took like 5 minutes.
I still think the Demonic Women is the best of the 3 demos we recorded back in the days, both in material and sound. It received lot of attention and positive reviews and press. I often get requests about if there are still remaining copies available of the demo or the 7” which was pressed by Bloodstone Entertainment, but it’s sold out long time ago.
You recorded a cover of Wasp “Fuck Like a Beast”, (great choice!) is there any other songs that you would like to cover?
It was a cool song for a W.A.S.P tribute but the main reason I decided to record that particular song was that it was one of the first metal songs I listened to. I got it on a cassette tape from a class mate along with tracks from Kiss and Twisted Sister and it just seemed like a great choice. I have plans to release it on a 7”vinyl split with another Swedish band but nothing is decided yet.
There are so many great songs to cover it’s really hard to choose. For live covers I would choose some classic (not too original though) tracks to speed up the audience a bit.
Judas Priest – Leather Rebel, Mötley Crüe– Red Hot, Slayer – Antichrist
Judas Priest – Leather Rebel, Mötley Crüe– Red Hot, Slayer – Antichrist
You have been involved in different projects such as Deathwitch and Pagan Rites, are you currently involved in any other projects besides Dracena?
No, nothing right now. I am more interested in focusing on Dracena for the coming year so maybe later or after the next full length is done
If I´m not wrong the EP is an independent/Self-release, in your opinion which are the pros and cons of working this way?
Ravenous Bloodlust is completely self financed and released under my own Drac Productions, same as previous album Infernal Damnation.
Pros – the freedom of being in charge of everything and that I can decide anything without having to get permission from anyone else than band members.
The cons are the question of financing for example a studio, pressing the album, artwork, layouts etc. A professional recorded and pressed album cost money and a lot of time to prepare. Then there is also the time needed to take care about all the other activities happening meanwhile, website updates, making the music available online, press, requests for gigs , reviews, interviews… with a full time job on top of that there is not much time left over for other things.
Do you have plans for touring to support Ravenous? With which active and inactive bands would you like to play with?
We will probably do a few gigs here and there in Europe during the year, but there will not be any actual tour supporting this album. Right now we will focus more on writing the next album to get it recorded as soon as possible. It would be great to go on a tour and if we get an offer we will of course consider to accept it.
Active bands I’d like to support right now would be Kreator, Testament or perhaps Annihilator. Inactive bands – Heavy Load, Bathory, Mercyful Fate
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?
I Can´t recall any such situation, guess I am just not too easily shocked :D
What are the next steps for Dracena and what do you expect for 2014!
Next step as already mentioned is to complete the upcoming full length and record it as soon as possible. It feels good to finally have a full line-up and I am certain that the new members will be a great addition in writing the new material and to the Dracena sound! If everything turns out well I hope Dracena will get a label to support the band. Also a tour by the end of 2014 would be really cool. I really hope that 2014 will be a good year for us, I will make sure of that.
Thanks for the interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Thanks Chris! You pretty much covered it all! Keep the blood running down the screams! !..!