There has been a very interesting noise emanating from The Wall located within the depths of Leichardt’s Bald Faced Stag as of late. It is the sound of hard working, underground bands doing what they do best - playing music from the heart. One of these underground gems has being shining through with quite some intensity as of late, a band by the name of THE VEIL.
After countless performances sharing the stage with many local greats such as KATABASIS, REVEREND KRISS HADES, BEASTIANITY to name but a few but also recently with French metal band ALCEST, THE VEIL has been refining their sound and working their way up to finally release their debut album Ghosts of Memory. Sludge Factory’s Gary Grim spoke to the bands founder, guitarist and vocalist Che deBoehmler about the new album and what it has taken to make it to this point.
“I started looking for musicians to work with soon after my previous band, SPAWN, folded. We had built a reasonable amount of momentum, and relocated to Sydney, but the line-up dissolved soon after and the band seemed to reach a natural end,” explains deBoehmler of the events leading to the beginnings of the entity now known as THE VEIL. “There was a very specific (though quite broad) sound and direction that I hoped to take with the new band that was to become THE VEIL – basically incorporating everything that I loved about the music that had inspired me over the years, with a new focus and honesty, and with a determination to ignore any contemporary trends and genre confines.”
The word went out that deBoehmler was looking for musicians and he even met a few that didn’t quite seem right for what was envisioned for this band but as he hit the studio to start recording some demos, that’s when deBoehmler was contacted by Wayne McIntyre (guitar/vocals) and Megan Hanlon (bass/vocals/oboe). “The three of us had an instant rapport and this trio quickly became the early core of THE VEIL, with both members getting on board early enough to be part of the recording,” explains deBoehmler. “A couple of months later we met Ola Nilsson who provided violin/viola on the demo tracks and played many of our early live dates.” Nilsson didn’t end up becoming a long term member of the band but his ideas live on as deBoehmler explains. “Ola never formally left the band, but being based overseas it was no longer practical to collaborate regularly – a couple of his ideas from the demo sessions were incorporated into the album however.”
A lot of the string sounds you hear in THE VEIL’s music now are provided by the next member to join the group, Vanessa Ritchie on keyboards, who seemed a natural fit for the band. “We worked on the backlog of material, rehearsed hard and built the band up through regular live work, the debut EP Nightfall Watching was finalised in late 2008 and launched in 2009.” The only problem for the band was finding a stable drummer. “Conversely hindering the momentum of the band at times, there were a couple of different drummers involved over the years before our good friend Dan Nahum joined the band fulltime in late 2010,” says deBoehmler. “Dan brought some much needed stability and dedication to the position, doing an excellent job of getting up to speed just in time to play an interstate date that we had previously booked.”
Finally, with a sturdy core to the band and many live performances under their belt, THE VEIL has developed a sound that is hard to pin down. There is a definite gothic element to their music and a great hard rock sound with moments of metal in the mix. When listening to them, I can catch glimpses of bands like MY DYING BRIDE, THE TEA PARTY and SWAN/MICHAEL GIRA but without these guys (and, of course, gals) sounding like they are trying to imitate or emulate these musicians. “To varying degrees, all of those artists mentioned are valid reference points/influences. Of these, particularly for myself, MY DYING BRIDE’s first few albums had a big impact when they came out, as did the work of Michael Gira’s SWANS dating from the Children of God period through to The Great Annihilator,” says deBohemler. “A few other important influences I’d add would be some of the key bands of the Post-Punk era (such as THE CURE, JOY DIVISION, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHESS, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM etc), Doom Metal and some of the doom related dark atmospheric metal bands that peaked in the 90s, what I would call the golden era of both Death Metal/Black Metal (1980s to mid 1990s), British alternative rock that pre-dates the contemporary “Indie” era, 60s/70s heavy rock/proto metal and dark folk.”
With these influences and more contributing to the band evolving their own unique sound, it was time to coalesce their material into the form of an album. How was going into the studio with the intention of recording an album different to when the band recorded their EP? “Recording the Nightfall Watching EP was a very gradual, sporadic process. The tracks were taken from a set of demos that we started working on at the band’s inception. The EP was recorded in a project studio (albeit by skilled engineers), and from a number of tracks worked on during the period, we selected the final three songs that appeared,” deBoehmler explains. “By contrast, the new album was recorded in a professional studio with the clear intention of it being a definitive work. The band had been together for a number of years by this point, and with the chemistry and confidence that comes from this, tracked some very strong performances.”
The finished product, Ghosts of Memory, was unleashed to an extremely appreciative crowd recently at The Wall in the form of a performance to launch the album. Having heard an unmastered mix of the LP before this interview, I must say it really seems as though the band has perfectly encapsulated all the elements that give them such a fantastically rich sound, showcasing all the nuances and details in their expertly crafted songs that make this band so unique and intriguing.
deBoehelmer shared how the band went about achieving the sound that is heard on the recording. “We were aiming to document the material honestly, with as few concessions to modern/contemporary recording/production trends as possible, and thankfully we found this to yield pretty much the sound we were hoping for,” he says. “We tracked the drums/bed tracks to analogue tape, recorded the guitar and bass with real, loud amplifiers as opposed to using digital modelling, kept compression to a minimum, didn’t use any tuning programs on the lead vocals etc. This wasn’t done with the intention of being ‘retro’ so much as just seeking to make an album that sounded powerful and real to our ears. Also we wanted to avoid an end result that would date in the way much recent metal and rock production has already begun to – I’m sure the robotic, sterile un-dynamic sounds of the past few years will soon look as oddly quaint as the proliferation of sampled hand claps on 1980s pop recordings!“
As for plans for the future, deBoehlmer states, “THE VEIL will be heading interstate for some tour dates (which we’ll announce shortly) to support the album’s release. We’re also currently looking into the possibility of heading overseas for some gigging, with a few interesting possibilities already on offer.” If you get a chance to see this band live then you should by all means seize this opportunity to hear THE VEIL’s brand of great gothic rock/metal. Until their next show, their new album Ghosts of Memory can tide you over. It is available through Tactical Solutions Recordings, Le Cabinets des Curiosities and at their shows.
Tactical Solutions Recordings
Le Cabinets des Curiosities