Hails, Gateway. I’d like to congratulate you on behalf of the Cvlt Nation following for a record well done. The first impressions that strike me when I hear the new record is the sheer weight of the guitars and the deeply bellowing vocal descants. Tell us, are you pleased with your latest effort?
Thank you. Yes, I’m very pleased with how things worked out on the full-length. The last couple of months have been intense on a personal and musical level. I channeled most of it into Gateway. It’s a work of primal passion that grew out of the darkest corners of my love of extreme music. What lacks in technicality on this album makes up in sound and presentation – this has always been the main focus of this project.
Gateway sounds like a band that doesn’t care about hype or stereotypes. What do you think about doom being quite en vogue these days and whether you think such an occurrence is good for metal?
I think that’s a logical step in a (digital) world where everyone can release their music for the masses with little to no limitations. If you want to get your band out there you have to adapt and follow certain rules to be noticed in the endless ocean of available music nowadays. That’s what happens in this genre, Doom Metal doesn’t hide in the shadows anymore, it’s not some obscure secret anymore. It’s part of a bigger machine, so it has to be promoted in some way, following trends and gaining popularity. A lot of artists and music fans are obviously hopping on this bandwagon for all kinds of reasons. It becomes a product, a status symbol. Where the music itself doesn’t really matter anymore, it’s the package around it.
I don’t think this is good for Metal, but I believe these kind of things pass. And when they do, only the essence remains. The true hard-working artists, labels and fans that know what’s up.
Do you use vocal effects on this self-titled release? It sounds impossible for the human throat and larynx to gurgle on such a low register.
I put my vocals through a spacious reverb with some delay, that’s about it.
What is your favorite track on the album, and why is that? It’s hard to pick a highlight track, as the record is good from top-to-bottom. What song do you look forward to playing live?
“Kha’laam” – this is the track where it all started on the demo. I re-recorded it for the debut album and it’s always a blast to play. Simple chords, idea and execution. This one also has a lot of room for variation (i.e. for playing live).
It’s always interesting to learn more about a band’s influences. Would you care to name a few bands that were integral to inspiring Gateway’s brand of music?
I’m a heavy fan of both stoner rock and old school death metal. Both had their glory days in the early 90’s, with a lot of great modern artists following the old school tradition nowadays. Gateway started as an instrumental stoner/doom thing inspired by bands like Sunn O))), YOB, Electric Wizard and Bongripper. When I felt this was going to be another run-of-the-mill thing I took a long break from it. It was shortly after I discovered I could actually sound like a hellspawned cookie monster I started experimenting with my vocals on top of the music I wrote. It felt natural and satisfying. I was listening to a lot of recent death metal acts back then. Disma, Funebrarum, Coffins, Krypts, Hooded Menace, Bölzer,… So that’s how two extreme musical worlds got together.
Why are some bands that use folk music with doom so popular these days? Would you care to comment on the scene as it is today?
I think the use of folk is an easy way to get the listener immersed in the music. A touch of folk brings a lot of imagery to mind. Listeners want to be immersed in it; they want to escape from reality into a dark forest, gloomy swamps or lush plains stretching over a vast landscape. Aside from being an Agalloch and Winterfylleth fan, I’m not really an expert on that scene today. But I guess don’t mind it.
I like the subtle grooves on the album. Are the guitar riffs central to your songwriting process? How does a Gateway song start coming to form?
Riffs, riffs and riffs. Yes, they are central. I usually start with writing a groove that goes with a certain mood and I build upon it. The vocals further enhance the atmosphere I aim to create.
Care to elaborate on your sound? Why do the guitars sound impossibly down-tuned, but fuzzy at the same time? It also sounds like you use a drum machine on the record.
I think the fuzz mainly comes from the bass, which I play and record on the same guitar. It further enhances the distorted sound I reproduce. I play dropped A on an Epiphone SG with really thick strings. The drum machine part is true, the lack of a real drummer didn’t stop me from releasing the album. I’ll just thank Mortician for that.
Will Gateway sign with a label in the future? Are major labels scared shitless of the music you make?
Gateway recently signed with Helltrasher Productions in Poland to release the album on CD. Major labels should be scared shitless of my music.
In line with the last question, would you eventually like to release your records on cassette and vinyl? I am particularly interested in how the vinyl format of your latest release will sound like.
A vinyl release is being discussed with a local label. There will be a cassette split release with Santa Monica death/doomsters Skull, which will be released soon.
Will you do shows soon? What are your future plans for the band?
I’d like to do shows if I find like-minded musicians to hop aboard the Gateway project. There are some exciting plans in the making, time will reveal those.
Thank you, Gateway. It was fun getting acquainted with the band and this latest release of yours. We, at Cvlt Nation, would like to thank you for opening up to the Cvlt Nation audience.
Thanks for having me! Keep up the excellent work in the underground and beyond.