Tuesday 21 March 2017

An Interview with Kevin Lawry

Kevin Lawry started his musical activity with doom metal outfit Crowned in Earth in 2008. His debut album “Visions of the Haunted” was an example of traditional doom metal with guest appearance of drummer Darin McCloskey (Pale Divine and more). The record was released by Shadow Kingdom in 2010, and was not bad for a debut effort.

Those who already knew Crowned in Earth were surprised with the sophomore album “A Vortex of Earthly Chimes” – this time Kevin had combined his visions of doom metal with progressive rock influences that made band’s sound lighter and more complex in the same time. So it was natural that after third record “Metempsychosis” Kevin got rid of the doom elements in his songs and went to explore progressive territories alone.

I got chance to speak with him about past and present of his artistic life.

Hi Kevin! How are you? What’s going on in Crowned in Earth camp?

Hi Aleksey. I’m well thanks and hope that you are too! Crowned In Earth hasn’t existed since around the summer 2015.

Indeed i was thinking that you decided to rename band due to the switch on another musical direction...

I decided to call it quits with CIE, after the not being able to put together a full UK line up to play shows. I became very disenchanted with the whole business for a while and took a step back. I began writing new music at the beginning of 2016 and the songs had a feel all of their own. Although there were elements of CIE in the songs, the newer compositions had a much different feel. As I was playing all the instruments on the album, I decided why not just release the album as a solo album! These new songs would eventually make up my ‘The Shadows Stole The Dawn’ album which was released at the end of last year.

Will you play all parts alone again or do you have any guest musicians in mind?

As on ‘The Shadows Stole The Dawn’, I’ll be playing all the instruments myself. I’m happier and more confident now as a songwriter and musician to play everything. It means I have greater control over getting the sounds I hear in my head recorded.

We spoke with you really long ago, it was soon after release of Crowned in Earth debut “Visions of the Haunted”. Back then you played maximally traditional doom, but then… what did happen when the time has come to record the second album?

I was becoming more musically confident which is why there was such a massive leap in quality from the traditional doom sound of ‘Visions…’and to the more progressive sounds on ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’.

There weren’t much keyboards on “Visions of the Haunted”, but their role grown a lot with the second album, how did you learn to use it progressive manner?

This all comes back to becoming more musically confident and striving to keep my music moving forward. I don’t like to make the same album twice! Naturally, as the sounds I wanted to hear were becoming more cinematic my keyboard playing came into the mix more.

There are strong progressive rock influences in “A Vortex of Earthly Chimes” album, was it easy to attract the attention of Black Widow Records?

I can’t remember the exact series of events now as we’re talking about something that happened nearly five years ago! I remember I spoke to Massimo (BWR owner) before he’d even heard the album and he was very keen to work with CIE. Once he’d heard the album, he was very excited and enthusiastic towards my music. At the time, it seemed the best way forward to sign with BWR.

Crowned In Earth – Ride the Storm

You recorded “A Vortex” with Darin McCloskey, he lives in the States, how did you get in touch with him?

We were put in touch with one another by Tim who runs the Shadow Kingdom Records label before we record the ‘Visions album’. Darin and I worked perfectly on that album so I was very keen for us to work together on the follow up ‘A Vortex’ album. Bar the first demo, Darin played drums on all the CIE recordings. He’s awesome!

How was it natural for you to switch from riff-oriented slow music to more complex compositions with richer arrangements and harmonies?

It all happened very organically, it wasn’t as if I decided I’m not going to play doom anymore. I think I’d become bored with playing the same style for so long and my love of 60’s and 70’s music started to influence my writing more.

How was it to work over "A Vortex" in the studio? Was it really different when you recorded “Visions of the Haunted”? Complex music demands complex approach, right?

It’s difficult for me to remember all the details now. I actually remember it being quite easy to record because I was having such a fantastic time arranging all the different sections. It certainly took longer than ‘Visions…’ to record and mix because it had a lot more going on in the songs.

Your lyrics changed as well, what kind of feelings did you express on “A Vortex”?

I was unhappy with a lot of ‘Visions…’, when I listen back to it I find it a very difficult listen. I was an unhappy person when I wrote those songs and my mood shone through on those recordings! Ha ha! I think I was feeling more inspired when I wrote ‘A Vortex’ and lyrically the lyrics were a snap shot of my thoughts at the time.

And your mood became even better on Metempsychosis! Do you have an author who inspires you as a poet?

I was very cheerful, for me, on ‘Metempsychosis’! I was in a very good headspace and the bright and colourful new sounds on that album most certainly inspired the happier lyrics. ‘Although, on ‘The Shadows…’ I was back to my melancholic grumpy best! The lyrics for ‘Metempsychosis’ came to me when I was out walking the countryside with my dog. This is where I write most of my lyrics and hear ideas for new music in my head. I then end up rushing back to my studio to try and remember what my ideas were!! I don’t have any authors or poets that I can say I look to for inspiration. The rural landscapes of where I live have always provided me with the most inspiration.

Crowned In Earth – Morning Light

As I understand you released Crowned In Earth third album “Metempsychosis” on your own. Didn’t you search for a label this time? Did this way of publishing the album justify itself?

Metempsychosis’ was an ambitious project and I couldn’t find a label that wanted to release the album in a way which I liked. I am very strong minded when it comes to my music and if something doesn’t fit right with me, then it doesn’t happen. My biggest issue with record labels these days is the lack of promotion. I can’t understand why promotion seems to be completely left up to the bands these days. It’s laziness really. At the time, I thought ‘Metempsychosis’ was the best music I’d ever written and I wasn’t prepared to let a label waste it.

Two friends of mine which I knew through the underground music scene in the UK had set up their own PR company called Imperative PR. I knew I could trust their judgement with regards to the albums press etc and decided to put the album out myself and then let them take care of the PR side. It worked perfectly, as I sold more copies of ‘Metempsychosis’ than the previous albums because they put together a fantastic press campaign to support the album. Both of my previous Record labels did little to no press whatsoever for the other albums and I think they suffered because of it. The labels didn’t make the money they wanted (as we all know this is a money business now, it’s not about putting a record out just because you love it!) and the albums didn’t get as much coverage so never reached the potential audiences they could have.

How do you value Crowned In Earth development on this album? It looks like if you finally get rid of all doom metal elements and start moving forward right to progressive rock realms.

I don’t consider myself a doom musician anymore. However, I see it as a very important part of my musical past. When I was working on ‘A Vortex’ my favourite parts to play and write were the progressive sections of the songs. I decided to keep that excitement of new sounds developing and so the doom was gone on ‘Metempsychosis’. I believe you can literally hear the development of my music from ‘A Vision…’, ‘A Vortex…’ and then ‘Metempsychosis’

Kevin Lawry – Fracture

Did people get the changes in Crowned In Earth music? Or did you rather find new listeners with “Metempsychosis”?

I think people who liked my music enjoyed what I did with ‘Metempsychosis’. The feedback I received was generally all very positive. I gained a lot of new listeners too who were more put off by the heavier side to some of my older music. I just wish I could have had the chance to play those songs live!

What are your plans for 2017? Do you already have new record in your mind?

I’m actually in the early stages of putting a new album together. This will be my second solo recording. It’s going to be somewhere in between what I did with ‘The Shadows Stole The Dawn’ and the bigger more epic sounds of ‘Metempsychosis’. It’s aspiring to be an extremely energetic album with lots of interesting twists and turns. It’s definitely going to be a record for lovers of the golden era of 70’s progressive rock.

You’ll be able to keep up to date with everything at 

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Kevin Lawry