Khthon is amazing epic doom band from England. Gentlemen were starting in 2007 and two years later release a brilliant EP “Songs on the Grave Side” which keep a spirit of old foggy sacred places of Albion, massive doom riffs and haunting melodies from realms on the edge of mortal world. Short EP “Above the Fog” (2011) wasn’t enough for me so I’ve decided to reach the band virtually and my try was truly successful! Adam Robinson (vocal) and Kevin Lawrey (guitars) patiently answer our questions.
Hi comrades! How are you? You’re closing with your band’s mates to release of first full-length album of Khthon, where are you now? How much you have to do to finish a record?
(Kevin) Hi Aleks! I’m very happy as I’m going through a very productive spell of musical creativity at the moment. I would say we’re almost ready to record the Khthon record now. We just need to decide which songs to record, as we have a lot of material. The plan is to start recording in September/October time depending when the band can get together.
I’ve invited Khthon’s vocalist Adam to take part in this interview as well to give your readers further insight into the band.
Man! I thought that you’re on a half way to the finish and you yet choose songs for record… How many songs do you have now? Do they continue the line of your last EP “Above the Fog”?
(Kevin) Khthon will be recording 6 songs for the record which are almost complete. We plan to re-record ‘Look Where She Lies’ and ‘The Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog’. The new material is in a similar style to those two tracks. But each song we write sounds better than the last. I think the band is starting to discover what our sound is and where our strengths lie as a band.
Don’ you think to do a split-CD with some band if you have songs which will not be included in full-length album?
(Kevin) A split EP is something we’ve discussed doing with another band. However, I think that it’s better that we concentrate on getting the début record finished before thinking about too much else. Khthon have several other songs which are part finished so I can see us releasing two albums fairly close together.
You’ve released a very good EP “Songs on the Grave Side” in 2009, then you recorded EP “Above the Fog” and again – it has amazing stuff but there’re only two songs! Why did it take to long before Khthon finally enter a studio and how many songs did you prepare for release?
Everything to do with the band seems to take forever! I think that, mostly, it’s down to two main factors. First, we’re quite spread out geographically so getting us all together in the same room can be tricky. We’ve tried using modern technology, emailing files to each other and so on, but, for me at least, it’s not the same. I think I need to be in the same room as the guys, hearing the hum of the amps, to get my creative juices flowing. Second, we all have other commitments (families, careers etc.) that sometimes have to take precedence. If we were all in our early 20s I think we’d be putting all our time into Khthon, but the average age of the band is 38 – everything gets slower as you get older!
Adam, let me tell you that such factors do not impact on quality of Khthon songs! Well, and I wanted to say it since I’ve heard “Songs on the Grave Side” – your manner of singing is one of most remarkable characteristics of the band, it’s pleasant to see a good English doom-band with such crew as you have. Is band’s crew still the same?
(Adam) Thanks for your kind words about my singing. I’m my own worst critic and I just can’t bear to listen to myself, especially live recordings; all I can hear are the mistakes! I do think my vocals do make us stand out a bit though – there just aren’t that many bands using a purely clean style. My main influence vocally is Messiah Marcolin, although I’d never claim to have anywhere near his power and range!
As for the line-up of the band, it’s changed a bit over the years. We struggled for ages to find a drummer but that seems to have settled now. The only other major change was the departure of my brother, Benjamin, a founder of the band alongside Kevin and myself. His life is pretty hectic and he just couldn’t commit to both us and everything else he had going on. It was a difficult time for the band when he left but, luckily, Jeff parted company with Eye of Solitude at exactly the right moment. So, for now, the line-up is stable and everyone is contributing to writing the new stuff.
Lyrically you still held same conception in your last EP as it was in “Songs on the Grave Side”, how it will be at this time? Will you keep on writing songs of dark foggy times evoking spirits of Old England in your songs?
(Adam) I’m inspired by folk stories and ballads as well as classic literature and art and that’s what I draw on when writing. It’s really important for me to tell a story via my lyrics; there has to be some sort of narrative there. I get very frustrated when I read a band’s lyric sheet and it’s just a random collection of words that fit the music. Thematically, I suppose I’m mostly interested in loneliness and loss, and the strange beauty that can be associated with these ideas. The challenge is to find characters and stories that allow me to explore these emotions.
Excellent! I never had any doubt that your approach to lyrics composing is serious. How do you share responsibilities between yourself in the band? Who is leading author and do you have someone who work with promo or gigs’ organization?
(Kevin) Initially, I will write riffs and have a loose structure of how I imagine they will sound within a song. Then we work on the song as a whole band and it turns into something better than I originally planned. Also, Jeff our new guitarist is coming up with some great riffs too. Adam has an endless amount of lyrical themes and ideas to accompany the music we write. In all though, the thing I love the most about being in Khthon is that we’re all so creative and there are no ego’s within the band which is what makes Khthon work. We do most of the promotional work ourselves as well…we’re very DIY!
(Kevin) The ‘Above the Fog’ EP is printed on a black vinyl cd replication. The disc fits inside a black Cardboard sleeve which is very similar to a 7” vinyl so an actual front cover wasn’t necessary for this release.
How much time did you gather in studio’s cellar? Is it more fun or work for you?
(Kevin) We try to get together every other weekend with our drummer Simon as he lives the furthest away. But as Adam mentioned earlier in the interview this isn’t always possible. Adam, Mark, Jeff and I get together in between the weekend sessions to write and work on material when we can. Even though we play Doom and our songs have a melancholic feel it’s always a fun time for us when we can all get together as Khthon.
What is your ultimate goal with new album? What kind of visions would you like to summon with your music?
(Adam) One of the things I think we’ve always done well is to combine massive, crushing riffs with haunting melodies and harmonies that take the listener on a journey of light and shade. When we play live we spend a lot of time thinking about how to create a dynamic set and we often talk in terms of build and release. Hopefully, the album will achieve the same result.
You name Khthon as English Epic Doom band, I know my own answer on this question, but how do you perform English elements in your songs?
(Adam) First, as the singer, I feel that it’s incredibly important to sing in my own accent and about my own culture. So many English bands sing in a fake American style and that really upsets me! It’s like they’re ashamed of their own heritage, or that they think that, somehow, it makes them sound cool. It doesn’t.
Second, the music itself has a distinctly English feel. It’s hard to define but I think that there is an understated quality to what we do; we’re not ‘in your face’ or arrogant and. I guess, those can be seen as typical English qualities.
Adam, I understand your point of view and I totally agree. Can you name few more “real English” doom bands? Right now I can remind Arkham Witch / The Lamp of Thoth as example.
(Adam) There are a few great bands around at the moment. Witchsorrow, Serpent Venom, Iron Void and Grimpen Mire are probably my favourites.
How do you plan to release your first full-length album? Have you already found a label or will it be DIY?
(Kevin) I think we’ll most likely self-release but do something special with the record so people will want to buy it. We have been discussing some good ideas about the record but we’ll wait and see what happens nearer the time. There is still time for a label to get involved!
Will you play a tour or something supporting new album?
(Kevin) It’s unlikely that we’ll tour as we don’t have the budget for that at the moment and it would be difficult with band members other commitments. I think Khthon will definitely put on a special release party/gig or something similar when the record is ready. The key for us is to get the band noticed so we can play a few European shows as this will help break Khthon to a wider audience.
Then did you already try your songs onto listeners? Do you like to play gigs and how often you have opportunity of live shows?
(Kevin) Yes, the band have been playing live the material we plan to record. I think this is important as the songs start to take on a different feel as you play them live. As our good reputation for live shows is spreading we are getting more opportunity to play live. Please keep your eyes on the Khthon website for details of live shows.
Khthon “Asleep On Her Grave”
Kevin, what’s with your band Crowned In Earth? Where’s second full-length man?
(Kevin) The new Crowned In Earth record will be released by Black Widow Records at the end of the summer. It’s taken a while to finish but hopefully it will be worth the wait for everyone. The record’s titled ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’. For me personally, it’s the best record I’ve released so far. It’s a huge step forward from ‘Visions of the Haunted’ and has so much more going on compositionally. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprise for when people first hear it. ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’ is incredibly epic to say the least. I still plan to put together a live line up of session players to perform live. I just need to create a few more hours a day to fit it all in with work, Khthon and home life!
Okay, then we has to be patient. What can you say about Khthon and Crowned In Earth popularity in England? How would you describe the local doom-scene and where’s your place in it?
(Kevin) Khthon have been steadily creating a fan base over the last few years building up our reputation as a live band to see within the Kent Metal scene. We’ve had loads of great feedback from the gigs we’ve recently played. Khthon will be supporting Orange Goblin in October which will give the band some extra exposure in front of a larger audience.
I think Khthon is probably better known in the UK currently than Crowned In Earth. As I’ve not been able to play the CIE material live, I’ve most likely hindered the bands progress. A lot of the people who write to me about Crowned In Earth are in America where I seem to have more of a fan base. I’m hoping to raise Crowned In Earth’s profile with ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’. Massimo (Black Widow Manager) is planning a big promotional campaign for the records release which will definitely help! And, of course, hopefully playing some shows as Crowned In Earth will mean I can reach more listeners with my music.
There are quite a few doom bands now in the UK but I don’t feel it’s a particularly close scene. I think this is because the bands are all spread out. I have friends who play in great bands such as Pantheist, My Silent Wake and Witchsorrow for example in the UK but because of the distance we live apart we rarely get together.
(Kevin) Yes, some parts of the UK were hit hard by flooding due to all the heavy rain we’ve had since April. Maidstone was lucky and unaffected by it but it was scary to see the damage the floods were causing in other areas.
Good, then I hope that you have no other obstacles on your way to Khthon and Crowned In Earth new albums. Let me thank you for that conversation, I’m sure that news from both bands come in nearby future. Thank you gentlemen! Do you have something to add?
(Adam) Only to say thanks to you for your interest in Khthon and also thanks to everyone who has supported us so far. We promise we WILL pay you guys back by getting the album done as soon as we can. Doom on!
(Kevin) Likewise, thanks again for your interest in Khthon and Doommantia’s terrific support of Crowned In Earth. I hope your readers enjoy ‘A Vortex of Earthly Chimes’ when it is released later in the year. Cheers!
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
Khthon | Official Website
Khthon | Facebook