The band started out as a one man project back in 2008 or so. I was recording an album at my home studio under the same name of Gates To The Morning, although is was much more pure second-wave black metal at the time. Half way through the recording process the files somehow got corrupted, and I had to either start over or give up. I chose to give up on it because I was preparing for jazz auditions for Colleges at the time, so there was no way I could divide my time. Fast forward to late 2016 and I started accumulating material again and decided I had to do something with it. It was only supposed to be a studio project but it has just kept growing and now we are getting ready to play live shows this coming July and finally release our debut album ‘Return To Earth"
2.You have your first full length coming out in June, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on the recording?
The record actually drops July 19th, 2019 but physical copies will be available at the shows we play during our east coast tour a week prior to that. The musical style on the recording is really an amalgamation of everything I love, particularly within the realm of metal. The idea was to create a really keyboard-driven black metal album, but I wisely kept my mind open and let the music be what it needed to be. By the time the album was fully written, I needed other people to tell me what the genre or style was. I just called it Progressive Metal but I knew that fell short of an accurate description. It wasn’t until I started working with a guy named Matt Bacon who told me it was “Post-Black Metal.” That was just a few months ago back in January 2019. I had never really heard the term before so I just trusted him with it. Hopefully the album is hard to categorize, I think that is a good thing as long as it is done in a cohesive way.
3.The lyrics on the new album are a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the story you covered on the album?
The concept of the album is about being on a "spiritual path.” I think often that term is very misconstrued and misunderstood. For me personally, my “spiritual induction” , if you will, came at age 17 and it was very tumultuous and difficult. I didn’t quite understand what was happening to me and I often felt like I was going insane. However, the kind of wild part about it is I wouldn’t change anything from that. (Well, maybe a few things) Part of the process was realizing that everything happening to me was necessary for the evolution of my soul, no matter how adverse it may seem. I think most people go through this phase at some point, whether in this life-time or one of the next incarnations, because eventually your soul asks for it. “Dark Night of the Soul” a phrase termed by St. John of the Cross describes very well what I have gone through, and am still going through. “Chapel Perilous” is a term popularized by Robert Anton Wilson that also accurately conveys my experiences, as well as “Crossing the Abyss”, a term used by Kabbalists. The album is about my journey on this path, which has been crushing, confusing, beautiful and enlightening and just about everything in between. This album encaptures all of that for me. The idea of ‘Return To Earth” was a message I received along the way that told me to be here and be human. At some point I basically wanted to astral project myself to the stars and get the fuck off this planet, but I realized that all my work was to be done here, and perhaps my greatest challenge is to simply be human for a while.
4.Originally the band started out as a solo project, what was the decision behind expanding into a full line up?
I enjoyed doing the bulk of the work for the album, but I always had plans to include a few other musicians on the record. They are musicians I have known for a long time and had played with in other musical outfits. I deeply trusted all of them and they enhanced the music so greatly, it is safe to say this record would not be what it is without all of them. The only musician I hadn’t known for at least some period of time was Meg Moyer, who was a recommendation of Kevin Antreassian, the engineer for the record. I had a very particular vision of what I wanted the female vocals to sound like and she fit it perfectly, it was meant to be. Ædan McEvoy was a friend that I attended college with, and we were both music majors. All the other guys I have known since my early teenage years and are dear friends. Then of course when we decided to put together a live band so I had completely left behind the idea of a solo project.
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Gates to The Morning'?
"Gates of Morning" is a J.R.R. Tolkien reference. Not much is written of it, but from what we do know according to Tolkien, the sun re-enters the world through the Gates of Morning and exits through the Door of Night. This is all highly symbolic to me. The Gates of Morning are the promise that there is hope, and though it is necessary to pass through that Door Of Night, the Gates of Morning always await us. It is a necessary beacon of hope for me. It also symbolizes rebirth. I can recall from a particularly difficult ayahuasca ceremony I had participated in, the “Shaman” or facilitator of the ceremony said something along the lines of “I know it’s dark, and feels like it may never end, but the sun will come up in the morning.” I think that sums things up pretty well. I changed the name slightly to Gates “To The” Morning because it represented a more ongoing process and a journey.
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
The artwork for “Return To Earth” was one of the last things to come together conceptually for the album. I was struggling to come up with the artwork for some time and Mark Glaser, who plays lead guitars on the record, encouraged me not to settle for something I wasn’t in love with.
One night I was going through old photos I had saved on my computer and I stumbled across this beautiful picture. I knew immediately it was going to be the album cover. The album was already entitled “Return To Earth” and that theme is extremely apparent in the picture. The winter time theme was important as we have a couple odes to winter on the album such as “Two Winters” and “Freezing The Sundials.” Another song is titled “Rekindled” and we see the mother earth type figure (that Meg Moyer’s vocals on the record symbolize) decorated with fire as she returns to earth. She is waking up after a long winter to return to earth. All the music and song titles were already set in stone before I even found the picture. Of course, there are no coincidences.
The next dilemma was finding the artist. I had seen it used on a few different websites but none of them credited the artist. It took me at least a month to find out it was from Jesper Alvermark, who is a visual artist from Sweden. The female was a picture of a model and then Jesper touched it up along with some other stock images. I’m very grateful that he allowed me to use the artwork, it means a lot to me personally.
7.I heard that the band is planning to do their first live shows later this year, do you have any shows line up yet?
Yes we do! We will be doing a couple shows in Brooklyn, one in Philadelphia and one in Northern New Jersey in July. I am really excited to announce some of the bands we are playing with so stay tuned , that announcement is coming very soon.
8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
We are currently looking for a label. The idea is that we have a very solid record that we feel great about, and now we just want to play a few live shows and once we do we will have a very complete press kit to send out to labels, so that process will begin soon.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of post black metal that have heard it so far?
Once again, I am pretty new to the term “Post-Black Metal” and we have been compared to bands I’ve never even heard of before, but I am totally fine with that. The overall reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, which is part of the reason I’ve been encouraged to pursue this further. I have heard from people in the U.S. as well as internationally who really enjoy what they have heard so far, and that been very encouraging. I am only just beginning to target the “Post-Black Metal” audience because I have just recently discovered it, but I am finding fans of all types of music are enjoying it. We fit a lot of different sounds on the record and I am proud that it has been done in a cohesive way that is authentic and not forced.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
In the near future, I think the different sounds we have touched upon on “Return To Earth” still have a lot more depth to be explored. I basically have the skeleton of the next album already written and it seems like a natural followup to our debut. In the more distant future I can see this project going just about anywhere. My musical tastes are very eclectic and so are the rest of the bands’, so I would say nothing would be surprising down the road, because we are capable of exploring so many avenues. I could envision us doing a more folk/acoustic type of record at some point, as well a more pure 2nd wave black metal EP, or a perhaps a death metal EP in the vein of Nile and Decapitated, or a more progressive route and even paying homage to classics such as Yes and King Crimson. The doors are wide open for the future, and I am not afraid to explore any and all avenues as long as it happens organically and authentically.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
It is hard to nail down exactly who has inspired me because I, and the rest of the band are all over the map with our influences. But to give you something to work with I think some of the sounds that come through on “Return To Earth” are Novembre, Extol, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth, Yes, Old Man’s Child, Windir and Eucharist. There is even one song on the record I think sounds like the Deftones. Lately I have been listening to a lot of Post-Black Metal ever since I’ve been told we have that sound so I have been enjoying Alcest a lot. Another band I have been grateful to stumble across is Eneferens, they are fantastic and I think everyone should check them out. I’ve listened to their whole catalog recently. Jazz is always in the rotation too, Brian Blade and The Fellowship band is among my favorites and I’ve been also listening to a lot of Bill Frisell lately.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Life experiences, the ebb and flow of life. Tolkien has always been and will always be a HUGE influence on me, and on a related note I am highly interested in doing research on Atlantis. Yoga and meditation are very important practices to me and their teachings are an influence. Mysticism and Occultism fall under that same umbrella as well. Plant Medicines, Shamanic practices. I have recently discovered how deeply important Norse mythology is to me, not just on a level of fascination and wonder, but on a practical and applied spiritual level. And of course, Nature.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Keep an eye out for us, we plan on doing a lot of interesting things. Collectively as a band we all have a lot to say and a lot to offer, and we are excited to have it come to light. You can check us out at www.gatestothemorning.com and from there we have links to all of our social media and bandcamp, etc. July will be a big month for us, so stay tuned. Thank you!