Translation: Dope Fiend
John Calvin – Vocals
Tim Wayne – Guitar
John “OJ” Morris – Guitar
Micheal Millsap – Bass
The comeback that you don’t expect, the bands that you listened to and loved and then they are gone for a long period of time. Well Of Souls had done it, thankfully now they’re back and, after having reviewed the second album “Sorrow My Name” (the link is in the list), let’s learn more about what they had combined in recent years.
Welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine, 2012 is almost finished, how was your year?
John Calvin: Our year was pretty good! We finally finished and released “Sorrow My Name” and got to play our first show in a very long time. We are rehearsing again which feels great and we have already started writing for the follow up to “Sorrow My Name”. We are still missing a permanent drummer but right now we have the best lineup we have had in a very long time. We are really looking forward though to 2013 and this new chapter for the band.
Well Of Souls are in activity for fifteen years, right? Let’s offer, to those who aren’t yet in contact with your reality, the chance to know the history and the members of the band?
Yes, it sure does not seem like fifteen years but it is. I started the band in december of 1997 with Brandon Johnson just really to have fun. We had quite a few people play with us over a year or so but as we got better we became more serious about it. So we fired the guys and brought in better guys and started writing our first demo called “Black Reign” We started playing live in 1999 and got pretty popular here in Houston, Texas. We cut the song “The Realms Of Reverie” and got the interest of John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus and owner of Brainticket Records. He recorded and put out the selftitled cd in january of 2004 and it did pretty well. we put out a ep called “The Pilgrimage Of Doom” when we went on the road with Gates Of Slumber and Reverend Bizarre in 2004 or 2005 i think it was. After that I had to change jobs and we started writing the follow up to our selftitled release, but the job left me with very little time. Brandon and Ray and our bassist got upset with me because i could’t rehearse enough and i didn’t have the desire to play live in local clubs every week, plus OJ (John Morris), our guitarist, had some serious health issues. Those things let to them forming a side band which before OJ and I knew it became their permanent band. OJ and I went on hiatus and slowly finished the recording of the cd. We did basically nothing for about three years after playing our last show with Brandon and Ray in early 2008. Tim Wayne, our guitarist on the first two releases, came back in 2010 and the three of us recruited a new drummer and bassist. The drummer did a couple of rehearsals with us in 2012 but didn’t work out at all. The bassist Micheal Millsap who played with Axe and James Rivera of Helstar did work out great though and he recut the bass parts at the last minute for “Sorrow My Name”. He is hands down the best bassist we have ever had and also plays with a great prog metal band called Six Minute Century that is signed as well. So starting 2013 we are still searching for a permanent drummer and we are promoting the new cd while we write songs for the next one!
Two albums and two line-up almost completely different: in the homonymous were Raymond and Brandon by Project Armageddon, in which relationships have you been? What has changed in the band and in your life of musicians from that times?
Well, the “Black Reign” demo and the selftitled cd had me, Brandon, Raymond and Tim on both of them. Tim played bass and lead guitar on those releases but he left in 2004 so John “OJ” Morris who was our live fill in guy for over a year at that point, became Tim’s permanent replacement. On “The Pilgrimage Of Doom” we had me, Brandon, Ray, OJ and a guy named Adam on bass. This same lineup recorded the new cd “Sorrow My Name” and we had this lineup from 2006-2008 or 2009. I am a very loyal person to my friends and the band as a whole and OJ stuck with me in 2008 when the other guys bailed. Tim came back in 2010 and we added Micheal in 2011 and re-recorded the bass tracks on the cd. It felt weird at first not having Brandon and Ray with me anymore but they obviously wanted to go do their own thing and when i look back it’s obvious to me that we were on different pages. I am fiercely loyal to my friends but things did not go down well with those guys and we will never work together ever again. Well Of Souls clearly meant way more to me than it did to them so i soldiered on without them. Tim and OJ are amazing and loyal friends and bandmates so I feel better with them than I had with the other guys in a long time. Micheal is a dear friend and such a great musician that i couldn’t be happier with this lineup. Everytime someone has left the band we just got better and better. hopefully this will be the final lineup because I’m tired of finding new guys! Of course we still need a permanent drummer, haha!
In the review I talked about the connection with tradition in contrast with what is happening today in the metal world, why we often talk about “dated” meaningless music because it sounds “old”? There aren’t the groundwork which should be what we will become in the future?
I’m a child of the ’80’s… and I love it! We emulate our influences and try to create something personal at the same time. I love all heavy metal from the ’70’s to now but when we write for Well Of Souls we don’t even think about what anyone else is doing. We write for us, and if we love it and don’t get tired of it then we’re happy and if others like it then that’s the icing on the cake.< How is rooted the doom metal scene in Texas? In addition to you, Armageddon Project and the leaders Solitude Aeturnus what other bands are moving in? There is cohesion between the various bands? Well, there really isn’t a “scene” in Texas or America at all for that matter. Solitude Aeturnus rarely plays and of course they are the biggest there is. Las Cruces is playing again and they are really great but other than that I don’t hear of much. We play with progressive or death or gothic type bands because there is no one else to play with. We wish we lived in Europe because you all seem to care a lot more than people do here.
“Sorrow My Name” is an album without fillers, it sounds fucking good and it has a superlatives couple of songs, one of these is certainly “Sanity’s Lie”. How does your songs born? There is a perfect recipe to combine music and lyrics?
Thank you so much! When I wrote this album i made a more conscious effort to make the songs stand alone and have a little more of a hook to them. Usually one of the guys will bring in a part or parts of a song and then I will arrange the parts to flow. after that I listen to the song about a million times and somehow at some point it speaks to me and tells me what the song concept should be. As soon as I write a piece, the rest of the lyrics usually flow right out of me. I spend a lot of time crafting the words and meaning of each song. They are all really important to me and I hope the fans enjoy reading them and getting into the meaning. The music sets the mood and the lyrics take you on the journey< The lyrics seems to have become almost unnecessary with the advent of mp3, people download, puts the files in their iPod and then they delete it, it was devastated the conception of art represented by a full release, or it’s just the price to pay to keep up with the times? I personally hate mp3’s but others seem to love them so it’s a necessary evil. We put out an actual cd though that has amazing artwork by a Portuguese artist named Ana Cruz and it has all the photos and lyrics and everything that a fan w0uld want. People who really love music and love doom metal and what we do will really appreciate the package we put out. If there’s just a casual fan out there that just buys the download or just a song or two then that’s fine with us too. I hate what the music industry has become but all we can do is adapt. I would love to even go back and put out vinyl for the diehards.
I wouldn’t be wrong, can I mean “Sorrow My Name” as a concept album? The songs seems a concatenation until the end with “A Dark Soul’s Destiny”, you might clarify the situation in this regard? It’s a story or someone else?
No, there is no concept for this release. We do have an overall feel or theme of “sense of loss” though. There’s songs that deal with insanity, freezing to death, child molestation, suicide and all the other wonderfully doomy things in the world! On the first full cd we had a concept song called “Black Reign” that had 3 parts but so far that is the only concept piece we have written. I would like to do one on the next cd though.
The album was released for the label of John Perez, Brainticket Records, you already knew, you were on good relationship with him?
John is a dear friend since 1995 and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. He helped us immensely when we started out and he is still supportive to this day. We would love to keep working with him for as long as he is willing. We are hoping to find a European deal though because Brainticket does not have a UK or Asian distributor at all and we really want to get our music out to as many people as we can. Hopefully some great European label will want to pick us up.
Doom metal has long been a niche genre within the metal scene. On the contrary, in recent years there has been a growing interest around this type of sound, what is the reason of this “revival”, in your opinion?
I’m not sure what the “revival” in doom is but I can say that I think it might be for the same reason that we were drawn to doom. It is a pure true form of heavy metal that has deep feeling and meaning and when you really listen to it, it can take you on a journey deep within. The feeling and power doom metal has is unparralleled in metal I think and maybe new listeners are drawn to that.
What it mean the doom metal for you? It’s true that it is a very deep style and sometimes difficult to assimilate: what is it for you? An artistic necessity, an indomitable impulse, an intimate expression?
All of the above. It is an artistic release for me for sure. When i’m performing I feel more connected to the music than to anything on earth. It is the most amazing feeling on earth to create this music.
What are the bands and albums that prompted you to undertake this musical path?
100% Solitude Aeturnus is what started me on this path. I saw them open for Mercyful Fate in 1995 and I had never heard of them. They played “Falling” off of “Through The Darkest Hour” as the first song and when it finished i was hooked for life. I had never seen a band before or since that moved me like they did. Before them I worshipped Ozzy and Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and Dio and all the great metal stalwarts from the 70’s and 80’s so i guess it was an easy transition for me. I had played in metal bands before for years but once i fell for doom metal that was it for me. When i started the band in december of 1997 i had the sole intent of doing nothing but doom. It’s my calling. The other guys that honor me by playing in Well Of Souls had never heard doom metal either until I introduced them to it. Tim really got into it and OJ did as well. We are indoctrinating Michael now and we should have him brainwashed very soon, hahahaha!
Speaking about Texas and doom metal is impossible not to pull out the name of Solitude Aeturnus which, in turn, can easily be connected to Candlemass via the figure of Rob Lowe. It seems that the Swedes have really going to leave the scenes: as you can see this retirement? What do you think about their latest album, “Psalms For The Dead”?
Robert and I are dear friends and I love every note he has ever uttered. That album like all of the Candlemass albums are great and it will be sad to see them go but I don’t think it’s the last of Leif. People compare us to Candlemass a lot but except for our name I really don’t see why. I sing clean like Robert but our music is structurally very different I think. Since Rob is no longer in Candlemass I hope that Solitude Aeturnus can come roaring back in the near future.
Changing point of view, you have been impressed by some band or album of the “new generation” of musicians dedicated to that style?
I haven’t been able to listen to much music lately sadly. We did a show with Novembers Doom in New York when we were on tour and I liked them a lot. I’m sure there’s some great bands out there now but sadly I haven’t had the time to discover them. Hopefully the new year will allow me more time to listen to music again.
Your live activity is prolific? What is the average feedback of the audience when you are on stage?
Well, we played in august of 2012 and that was our first time on stage in four years. It felt amazing to be back up there again. Everytime we play we seem to get a pretty good reaction and we gain new fans. I’m very energetic on stage and I think my enthusiasm is contagious to the crowd. I hope we get to play some big shows again like we did when we opened for Savatage and Helloween and Helstar because then we get to play for a metal audience that doesn’t necessarily understand doom but they seem to really like it.
You will organize a tour to promote “Sorrow My Name”? If so, there will be the chance to see you here in Italy?
We really hope that we get to do a european tour this time around so we can play for the great audiences we hear about overseas. We all dream of playing all over Europe as well as Asia and South America. With no record deal in Europe though I don’t know if anyone will give us a chance. We just hope the more reviews and interviews we do the more interest Well Of Souls will get and the better chance we will have of a UK tour. For now we have some shows booked in Texas in early 2013 but so far that is all.
The interview is over, thank you for your availability. The final word to leave a message for our readers is up to you.
Thank you so much for your interest in Well Of Souls and for the great work you do to promote heavy metal in this day and age! Please continue to spread the word of doom and Well Of Souls everywhere! Check out our website www.wellofsoulsband.com to keep up with our tours and to get new Well Of Souls merchandise and music! We are all… doomed for life!