Saturday 22 February 2020

An Interview With SIGIRIYA

Welsh Doom/Stoner Metallers - SIGIRIYA - make a welcome return with their incredible new album - Maiden Mother Crone. Coming 6 years after their last album - Darkness Died Today. The band seem more heavier and hungrier than ever on this album and it shows.

Being released on Burning World Records in April 2020 and coming back off the recently acclaimed Acrimony (Sigiriya features 3 members of Acrimony in their ranks) back catalogue reissue which Burning World Records released as well. I wanted to catch up with the band and talk about the making of the new album, touring plans amongst other things.

So I'm more than grateful and beyond happy that the band agreed to do this interview.

Enjoy - An Interview With Sigiriya....

Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

MATT -- Pretty good. It’s Friday and we’re jamming tonight so looking forward to making some noise and working on some new tunes.

For people not in the know, can you give a brief history lesson on how the band came together and where it is today.

MEAD -- IN 2009 Sigiriya was born from four old friends wanting to play together again. Together with the fact that we were too antisocial to find new band members. As it does, life got involved and the band had to evolve. incredibly we found 2 people who are on the same wave length and Sigiriya has continued to shine on.

It’s good to have Sigiriya back. As you guys have been away for six years. A long time since your last album. What have you guys been upto since then and why the long wait for the new album.

MATT – That’s a long and winding story. The short version is Darren left the band after the last album due to an ongoing knee issue that was starting to affect him, so it took a bit of time to regroup and find and find a suitable replacement. Luckily Rhys entered the frame and we didn’t need to look any further. Still, it took some time to bed in with the new line up, as it always does, so that accounted for a chunk of that time.

For some reason life decided to systematically have a pop at each of us, throwing us curveballs that just kept delaying things. So while it’s been a trying few years in some aspects, and definitely longer than we would have wanted between albums, ultimately its been worth it to get to where we are now. We’ve all kept busy though. Stu’s got his business, Mead DJs, Rhys has had a kid. I’ve still been playing with Suns of Thunder and my other project HWDU so no-ones been slacking.

RHYS -- Primarily we’ve been writing and playing shows, with me joining there was an obvious shift in dynamics so the writing process perhaps took a little longer because of it. That aside we’ve all had heavy duty life issues to deal with. I won’t speak for the others but I became a dad just over two years ago which was a big (albeit brilliant) adjustment and in the winter of 2018 I was diagnosed with cancer which was not only a shock but something I had to overcome and it took time. The guys were incredibly patient and a source of support and I can’t thank them enough really... I got back to it as soon as I was physically able and here we are.

We are here to talk about your new album Maiden Mother Crone which is absolutely fantastic. Loving the album. Are you excited for people to hear this album.

MATT -- Yeah definitely, we’re all really proud of it. I think the key thing is to make an album that you love listening to yourself, and we’ve definitely achieved that.

RHYS -- Thank you! I’m incredibly excited for people to hear it as it’s been a real journey for us all. It’s very satisfying seeing it come to life.

What can people expect from this album.

MATT -- Big, heavy, catchy songs. It’s not a million miles away from the other albums but it’s definitely a progression.

RHYS -- I think they can expect the classic Sigiriya majesty with, at times, a darker more focused energy and tone. It’s a true reflection of the last few years of our lives and it hasn’t been an easy ride. Although, I think it contains some of the most melodic material in the band’s history. I would hope it has a little something for everyone

This is perhaps your heaviest album to date with the band moving to a more Doom based vibe especially with the vocals and lyrics compared to your other albums. Is that a fair assumption to make.

MATT -- Yeah, it’s without doubt the heaviest album to date, but it’s not overtly heavy for the sake of being heavy. It’s still really melodic in places, and it still grooves, but there is a darker element to it.

RHYS -- Definitely - It wasn’t a conscious decision. It was an organic process and this is the result. We never set out to make a particular sounding album, this is what came. It’s definitely a cathartic experience, it certainly was for us.

MEAD -- I think we found our sound on Maiden... musically influences from doom, dub, space rock, prog, classic rock and a world of other sounds are in there but congealed into a big Welsh heap. Lyrically Pipes has taken our usual cosmo-pagan-gibberish and wrung emotion out of it with some great lyrics/vocals.

What is Maiden Mother Crone all about.

MATT -- The album itself stands as a testament to survival in the face of adversity. We’ve all lost friends and loved ones recently and death has, in a variety of ways, loomed large over us in recent years, which has bled through into the music a bit. But while death and illness have been an inescapable part of all our lives of late, and the album does deal with that, it’ does it in a positive way. I think it shows that as bleak as things can be there’s always hope, although it took some time to get to that realisation. The album is basically an act of defiance against the shit we’ve been through. Aside from that, it also blends elements of welsh folklore, sci-fi, social commentary and personal demons. Just the usual stuff that rattles around our heads.

MEAD -- Maiden Mother Crone is a representation of the sacred number 3 / goddess in Celtic lore. It stems from the fact it's our third album, the fact that she represents different stages of life, and so on.

What inspired and influenced you all when recording this album.

MATT -- Pretty much what we’ve already touched upon. For me, Arise and Crushed by the Weight of the Sky are the two most personal songs I’ve ever written lyrics for as they deal with the fallout of, and the coming to terms with, the deaths of two of my friends. Those two songs are forever linked in my head, like yin and yang, as they deal with the healing and despair respectively. The lyrics for Arise we re-written several times over the space of a few years as I dealt with it, and it needed that time to develop the sense of hope it has it in it now. It was much darker originally.

RHYS -- I’m always inspired by the greats, although I was hugely influenced by YOB, Goatsnake, Clutch, Darkthrone etc. I prefer albums to sound organic, I want to really feel like I’m in the room with them.

How was the recording process for this album compared to the other albums you made for Sigiriya.

MATT -- Much longer. Not having a fixed deadline to work too allowed me to really drag my feet! Obviously, Rhys getting his diagnosis mid-way through the recording process made us stop for a little while. Luckily, he’d already tracked his parts before he started treatment but we didn’t really want to plough on too much without him so that added a little time. Me and Stu used that time to really work on lyrics and leads and then we came together and finished it off.

Did you do anything differently when recording this album.

MATT – Darkness Died Today was recorded all together in the same studio over 6 days. This one was split up over several different sessions between two studios, with the basic tracks being recorded live together in the old BBC building in Swansea and the vocals, leads and overdubs being done in my studio afterwards. One pain in the ass when recording in the BBC building was that they have a radio studio downstairs. Stu’s guitars were so loud that they kept being picked up on the mics in the radio studio and being broadcast out. The BBC weren’t too happy about that and kept interrupting us trying to get us to stop, which obviously we weren’t too happy about either!

This album is being released by Burning World Records. (The folks behind the legendary Roadburn Festival). How did you hook up with those guys.

STU – It seemed the most logical thing to ask Jurgen if he’d be down with putting the record out after the Acrimony thing, he had first dibs really. I think the labels great and really concentrates on doing some special things with the bands it works with.

MATT – Jurgen is an absolute legend and a pleasure to work with. Luckily those guys had just done the Acrimony re-issues so it was a no brainer for us.

Did you have any other offers to release your album with.

MATT – They were the first people we spoke with and we honestly didn’t even consider doing it with anyone else. When it’s right, it’s right, you know?

RHYS – Once we agreed with Burning World we were set. They were our first choice and here we are.

Burning World Records have just released the entire Acrimony back catalogue. (For which I bought the digital versions). It’s great hearing those classic albums once again. How did that idea come about to release/reissue Acrimony back catalogue again.

STU -- Jurgen got in touch with me and said he was keen to put the stuff out, re-mastered with up dated artwork etc. He was an old fan of the band and I knew he’d put his heart into getting it done right.

The response has been great for the reissues. Did that surprise you that folks were still interested in these records. As I feel your work with Acrimony has stood the test of time from the UK Doom/Stoner Metal scene.

STU – Definitely and it’s real nice you know

MEAD -- Burning World have done a great job with the remasters, they look and sound great. it'sA really nice way to get the music out to everyone who wants it and end on a high, as we started. The chronicles have been inscribed for eternity, the Blue Star will burn on.

This is a question for Matt – Matt, your vocals are superb on Maiden Mother Crone and feel more soulful and more aggressive compared to your last album with Sigiriya. How did you prepare for this album and what did you differently as well.

MATT -- Thanks, I appreciate that. Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of real feeling in this album and its definitely more personal from a lyrical standpoint, so I think it’s inevitable that that is reflected in the performances. It’s been very cathartic doing this album, whereas the last album was much more optimistic from the start. Being able to track the vocals myself also had a huge impact as I could take as much time as I needed, and really explore different possibilities without doing everyone’s heads in in the studio and wasting all the studio time!

You’re perhaps considered legends within the Welsh and even UK Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene with your body of work stretching back since the mid-nineties. Looking back then, did you ever think you would still be releasing music over twenty-five years later.

MEAD – As far as Acrimony goes, i personally never even considered further than what we were doing at the time. It’s an honour to think anyone gives/gave a fuck, and I've felt a lot of love for the band from people the world over in the years since. Hopefully people see we were genuine, and just made the music that we wanted and didn't just play a 'genre'.

What is your verdict on the current state of the Welsh Doom/Stoner Metal scene. There have been some amazing bands coming from Wales over the years. Are there any bands that we should be checking out right now.

MATT -- Absolutely, Wales is always overlooked and has consistently kicked out great bands that haven’t been given enough recognition. Right now everyone should go checkout Estuary Blacks and if you want one of the best live shows you’ve ever seen go watch Lacertilia. I’d be missing a trick if I didn’t mention my other band Suns of Thunder too!

STU – Yep defo check out S.O.T, Made Of Teeth (Chris West’s, ex-Taint 3 piece). And BUDGIE of course.

MEAD -- I don't know anything about Welsh stoner doom, or any kind of stoner doom really
I’m more into shamanic BM, space rock, crust punk, 70's prog, dub and so on. There's a Welsh psybass producer called Saxone Higgs (Beatroots/Brujo's Bowl) who's pretty cool though.

Will you be doing a tour for the new album. Or will it be dates here and there.

MATT – There’s talk of a tour but nothing concrete. There’ll definitely be dates throughout the year though so keep your eyes peeled.

Thanks for doing this interview guys. Best of luck with the new album.

MATT – Cheers dude!

STU -- Aye, nice one Steve mate.

MEAD -- Cheers for the interview man, hope the world treats you well.

RHYS -- Ta man.

Words by Steve Howe and SIGIRIYA

Thanks to Jurgen at Burning World Records for arranging the interview and to SIGIRIYA for taking the time out to do this interview.

Maiden Mother Crone will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Burning World Records from April 15th 2020.