1. Can you update us with what is going on with the band these days?
"Right now we are preparing for the official release of "Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion." Our cd release show is scheduled for Feb 12th at the annual DIY against Domestic Abuse show here in Milwaukee. We will be performing the 4 black metal songs and possibly debuting a new one. So we've pretty much been practicing for that. Jeremiah and I have written the skeleton for the aforementioned new song and we've captured some promising jams which will end up being organized for a cassette release on Poison Infiltration records later in the year.
2. i noticed that when I listened to your new album you went into a more progressive direction than thereabout recordings that I have heard in the past, what made you decide to go into this direction?
"The simple honest answer is I grew as a musician. I like to make the best of my time on this shit planet and that means avoiding some of the misguided social interaction alot of people seem to think necessary. A pretty regimental practice schedule as a guitarist and writer is a natural product of this and my band mates share this discipline as well, in and outside of Shroud, which is why I feel comfortable working with them. I should also say that even though we met as devoted metalheads with many similar favorites within the genre, wediscovered a pretty similar list of rock/prog bands we find inspiring, so its only natural that those influences creep in as well, but I feel safe in saying they will never dominate our music. Creating metal in its tired and true forms is very important to us."
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and concepts the new release explores?
"Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion" is a concept album involving a man, grown tired and disgusted with civilization, who seeks solitude and spiritual enlightenment(if such a thing is possible). He enters a cave with the intent of meditating on life and becomes trapped within it. He soon realized the cave has mystical powers and is forcing him, through a series of hallucinations, to face his own despair concerning life. Each song, except the first which is narrative, represents a hallucination. Topics dealt with are mans animal nature, suicide, apocalypse, fear of death, and reverence of self.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band's name?
"Its a name that represents something much different to me now than when I started the band years ago. When I came up with the name I was relatively young and dealing with he suicide of a close friend. On top of that there was alot of natural teenage angst and alienation in my mind so depression was definitely the motivating factor. Nowadays this "Shroud of Despondency" is merely a tool that I use to empower me to myself. Its more of an artistic statement concerning the beauty of sublimation and self exploration. Its both less personal and more personal than it was before.
5. Have you had any opportunities to do any shows yet, if so what are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
"So far we've had a limited amount of live perforamnaces but we've shared the stage locally with Sacrificial Massacre(locally black metal 2 piece) and Northless(local sludge/doom greatness) a couple times as well as NY's Mutilation Rites. All three bands are worth your time. A potential observer could expect the usual. 5 sweaty guys playing instruments like they have something to prove to a world they wish to violate. You know....metal."
6. The new release was self released, you have worked with labels before, what happened with the ones that you worked with in the past and do you have plans on signing another contract in the future?
"We're not interested in working with anyone based on anything other than the supposed quality of our music. If we cant earn a spot on a decent labels roster then we dont deserve one and that doesn't necessarily bother us. It wont deter us from creating. That said we definitely hope someone will be interested as we took it on the chin financially to reealse the album. Also Im insanely grateful for the labels that have released Shroud material. In fact Marty/Bindrune, besides releasing some of our favorite albums, was an integral part in this cd being heard by ears that would promote it. So, much gratitude is due to him and Clawhammer PR."
7. On a worldwide level how has your newer music been received so far by black metal fans worldwide?
"Everyones response has been most flattering thus far. We feel honored to participate in the art form that has enhanced our lives so much. But even if/when hated by everyone we will continue our mission.
8. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
""I feel no limitations or restrictions as far as art is concerned. I know that statements like this are often met with animosity from metalheads, but I also would like to stress that metal in all its grimy underground forms has influenced each of us for over 10 years now and I never see that changing, no matter what outside influences may enter the fold. We will always give respect to heavy metal as an art form and Shroud of Despondency will always be primarily a metal band.
9. What is going on with the side projects these days?
"The only active metal band i Have is Shroud because I have found it to be the most fulfilling emotionally/creatively. I do, however have an active indie/folk band called The Drought and I have the material written for a solo album called "love songs about death" which has thte goal of crossing "Nebraska " by Springsteen with Simon and Garfunkle. Lyrics centering around the loss of loved ones. Also Ive been working back and forth with a friend in Upper Michigan and Phratry Records just put out our first album. Im really honored to be working with the group of people responsible for its creation. Its called The Terminal Orchestra and our cd is called "Performs The Seasons." Its all acoustic guitars, percussion, stand up bass, and some beautiful violin playing. Everyone in this band also has projects worth your time as well. Jon is pretty active with Face of Ruin. Tyler does Cholernik and plays with Never Ending Circle. I met Jeremiah and Mike because of their previous band, Owlscry, who are about to unleash their first full length. Jeremiah also has Sundown for acoustic fans and Mike has MZRX for noise fans. Music consumes us!
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
"Making a list of set in stone influences is fucking impossible for this band. Id say the bands we share in common that influence creating in Shroud are the following: Emperor, Darkthrone,Burzum, King Crimson, Agalloch, Morbid Angel, Death, Immolation, Neurosis, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Randy Rhoads, Dissection, etc etc. I know Tyler and I have been playing Immortal and Absu a bunch recently to prepare for their Chicago show. I know Jeremiah has been on an old school death metal kick lately(Gorefest, Asphyx, Death, Morbid Angel, Hail of Bullets, etc). On top of that Ive jammed the following in the last weeks
I Shalt Become-Poison, Velnias-Sovereign Nocturnal, Of the Wand and the Moon-Emptiness Emptiness Emptiness, Bonnie "Prince" Billy-I See a Darkness, Tori Amos-Boys for Pele, Atheist-Jupiter, Danzig-Deathred Sabeoth, Bethlehem-Dictius de Necare
11. Does Paganism or occultism play any role in your music?
"I cant say that any specefic brand of paganism or occultism plays a role in our lives but each of us take time away from the world in our own way. Sending time in nature is a huge part of that. We also meet with open arms any philosophy that seeks to expose mainstream organized religion as the oppressive force that it can be. As far as the lyrics are concerned, I'm a pretty avid reader and I borrow from a lot of sources. Symbolism and mythology are very important for my writing, even when not specific to any specific brand name.
12. Originally you came from Michigan but know live in Wisconsin, what was the decision behind the move, and how would you compare the metal scenes in both states?
"I moved away from Upper Michigan 8 years ago, 2 of those years were spent living in Colorado. My girlfriend and I moved for better employment/schooling opportunities than da U.P could offer us. The Upper Michigan scene has grown with there being some actual metal bands recording some awesome material. Apocalyptic Session and Sons of Northern Thorns both rule. The Milwaukee scene rules and the following bands(active or inactive, metal or non) deserve attention in our opinion(excluding our bands of course):Northless, Sacrificial Massacre, This Specific Dream, Concentric, Half Gorilla, Gate, etc. Lots of great bands in Wi.
13.Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
"Music is my interest. Its my main hobby. I try to read alot but Im also a full time worker and a full time student. I volunteer and try to see my girlfriend and our dogs. Thats been my life for years and I cant say I desire too much of a change. Forcing myself to suffer civilization is the biggest part of the creative process, next to taking the time to practice my instrument. I know Jon and Tyler spend a great deal of time practicing/learning as well. I know I can speak for everyone in saying that music is the main interest.
14. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
"Thank you for providing me with a space to be longwinded and boring. Cheers!"