THE LONG COLD DARK (BUFFALO METAL)
PHOTO CREDIT: MEREDITH SNOW
Here at WRETCHED SOUND, we’re celebrating 15 YEARS of THE LONG COLD DARK, and if you’re at all familiar with local bands in any community, you know that 15 years is some impressive longevity. Furthermore, they’re a band who have been consistently churning out quality metal music for their entire career, proudly and openly channeling their love of bands like Metallica, Machine Head, and Gojira to produce an eclectic metal sound a wide range of heavy music fans can enjoy.
We got together with the whole band to talk some Buffalo metal history, so without further ado, let’s dive right in…
1. We’ve been over this a few times in past interviews but for newer readers, talk about the conception of The Long Cold Dark. How did you first come to form the project? What were the first few rehearsals like, etc.? Besides Metallica (lol), talk about some other musical influences you guys had in common right off the bat if any.
Drew Celestino (rhythm guitar and vocals): The Long Cold Dark spun out of my previous band, Dark Alone. DA was a three-piece for the longest time and wanted to fill out our sound with another guitar player, which led to Zack Del Moral joining the band. Dark Alone sort of reached the end, but Zack and I continued to jam with him on drums rather than guitar. It was just the two of us, but I was working on new songs that Zack was just better suited to playing that would not have fit in Dark Alone. TLCD was going to be more groove/thrash focused, dual guitars in mind from the beginning, more double-bass drumming, and sort of a reaction against a lot of the early-2000s nu-metal stuff. This was around 2007 or 2008. I wanted to bring my love of Machine Head, Max era Sepultura, Chimaira, Strapping Young Lad, In Flames, and of course, Metallica, to the forefront. Zack loved a lot of that stuff, and of course, Jason Oberg and I went back 10 years at that point and we had much the same foundation of influences, so once he joined the band, TLCD was truly up and running.
Adam Malone (bass): Hey, Mike! Thanks for the opportunity. I’m going to defer to Drew for many of these answers, but I will be a peanut gallery here from the back seat. I appreciate all you do for us as a band. It means a lot!
Jason Oberg (lead guitar): The actual conception would be more of a Drew thing. There was a bit of a transition and rebirth from his previous band Dark Alone to TLCD. He had some new members, my previous band Evil Eye Virtue had pretty much dissolved, and I was practicing with Ronnie Lepine’s band at the time Never Ending Process. I was filling in for them while they looked for a drummer. Ronnie had switched to drums. Drew basically asked me to fill in for his band as well. Drew and I had played in our very first band together so we had a lot of history. I started doing double duty. The NEP thing kind of dropped off when they found other people and Ronnie returned to his rightful place on guitar. I was just going to help TLCD through a couple shows. 15 years later, here we are haha.
What I remember about the first rehearsals is that they were cramped. Small extra room in Drew’s old house. But we made it work. It was just hammering through the songs that he had at the time and prepping for a show that was booked in Cleveland in April of 2008. In that time, I developed the first solo for Maze during the clean part on a whim. Drew had the second solo already in the song. The show went off well and the band then fell apart again. Losing our former (and now current) drummer Zack and bass player after that show. But we got it back together soon after with Mitch Krieger on Drums and Phil Boyle(our friend from Cleveland)on bass. Phil filled in…(Philled in?). After a while Adam Malone came in as permanent bass player.
Drew and I have always been on the same page with a lot of our influences. Obviously Metallica. But Sepultura, Machine Head, and Fear Factory were big driving forces for us. As well as Slayer, Megadeth, Strapping Young Lad, and more.
Zack Del Moral (drums): I originally join the band as a guitar player around 2007-ish before we were called The Long Cold Dark. But after a few rehearsals and shows we realized that things weren’t working out in our rhythm section and parted ways with our drummer and bassist, although we found a new bassist relatively quickly, we had a long and unsuccessful search looking for a drummer so I just switched to drums, Jason joined, and TLCD was born.
The first few rehearsals went pretty well. We would play at Drew’s old house and it was my first experience playing drums in a legit original metal band.
As far as influences go, I was really into thrash metal, stuff like Testament, Slayer, Metallica, Flotsam & Jetsam and Megadeth but we also had other common interests like Type O Negative,Carcass,Nine Inch Nails, Devin Townsend and Life of Agony so there was a wide range of influences to draw from which gave TLCD it’s unique sound.
2. How long have you guys been playing your respective instruments and who first inspired you to play?
DC: I can only speak for myself, but I’ve been playing guitar actively since around 1995 or so. Don’t let the longevity fool you into thinking I am any good. I assure you, I’m a hack. Albeit a slightly better educated hack than I was when I was but a young headbanger. Learn riffs, learn what makes them cool, spin them into your own riffs. That’s worked out pretty well for me all this time. Self-deprecation aside, I have also studied some music theory along the way and it’s helped me to round out what I want to accomplish in my playing and writing. There’s always room for improvement, but having the knowledge of how all the notes work and why is more important to me than just shredding Scale-X into Scale-Y aimlessly. That’s a mentality that I’ve had all along, stemming from my primary influences in the beginning who shared a similar “song first” mentality – Metallica, Joe Satriani, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Sepultura, among others. By the time I was getting into playing guitar, the 80s competitive shredder scene was out of fashion. It was the 90s, and people remembered that songs are what mattered. And that remains true all these years later. At least to me.
AM: Since I was a kid, but I never learned songs. I’d just learn cool riffs, and play those for buddies to smile at and say, “Cool!’. I actually never really learned full songs until I had joined The Long Cold Dark. I had written some, but never learned someone else’s. It’s been a really great experience for me though, because I really only play TLCD songs, it’s becoming MY style via osmosis in a way. The new songs Drew writes, they feel so natural and make sense to my hands. It’s like I’m remembering forgotten riffs instead of learning new ones.
JO: Crazy to think about, but as of 2023 I’ve been playing for 30 years. I’m not sure it shows in my skill set, but I do what I can. My early influences would again be Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, my dad who was also a guitar player, and Jimi Hendrix.
ZDM: i’ve been playing guitar most of my life but I started playing drums around 2001 when I got an electronic drum kit because I couldn’t have a real one in my old apartment for obvious reasons. I’ve always had an interest in drums since I started listening to late 80’s and early 90’s thrash metal as a teen so drummers like Dave Lombardo, Nick Menza, Kelly David Smith and Lars Ulrich were huge influences on me. It’s what made me want to play a second instrument.
3. Talk about the first bands or artists that inspired you to become musicians in the first place. I’m talking about more than just who inspired you to pick up your instruments. Talk about any and all music you were listening to when you were younger that inspired you to want to play before you even knew which instrument you wanted to try.
DC: I think the bands that made me pick up a guitar are pretty well established, so I guess I have to dig deeper into the memory bank of like, what music did I first like as a youth. My mom had Bruce Springsteen records, Michael Jackson records… I’m sure I liked those as a kid in the 80s, though I don’t remember much outside of the hits really. I remember watching MTV with my older cousin and she pointed out like, Aerosmith to me. The Sweet Emotion video. There’s a part where Steven Tyler is like swinging upside down from the ceiling over a pool table or something and she was like “He’s so nuts!” That sort of wildness was obviously attractive to a young mind. I got pretty into Aerosmith. Great songs. Big hits. (Sensing a trend here?) I think I also liked Phil Collins Genesis records too. I suspect the videos helped in that regard. If you had a cool video, as a kid, that definitely left an impression on you almost as much, maybe more, than the music itself. My dad was also a huge music fan. He had a great record collection. I remember being really attracted to his Grateful Dead self-titled Skull And Roses record cover. It just looked so cool. I don’t remember the music at all. He also had an Elton John record we’d listen to a lot that had Saturday Night’s Alright on it which I liked, and I remember really liking Funeral For a Friend, the intro mainly. It’s funny looking back on it now, because it’s so dark and gothic sounding. Seems like I was attracted to that sound from a very young age. Joe Satriani though was like my first “guitar hero” though. I had his whole discography on cassette at like age 7 or 8. I’m sure he’s the reason I gravitated to guitar to begin with. And he remains my guitar hero to this day.
JO: Mostly what I stated above. My dad having guitars around the house was an inspiration. I learned piano when I was 6. Also some high school friends inspired me. It seemed like the small group of metal heads in my school were all becoming guitar players. We all picked it up around the same time and that pushed us forward. I think once we all saw the live videos from that Metallica Live Shit boxset, we all went “oh yeah… guitar time!”
4. When it comes to music today, talk about some bands (including locals if it calls for it) who have emerged in the past 10 years who continue to inspire you and influence your playing/writing.
DC: So at my age, I’m fighting with “Get Off My Lawn Syndrome.” Granted, I have never been the most open-minded, so I’m extra prone to rejecting things. But knowing how I spent most of my youth with that mentality, I’ve been actively trying to open up more and more as I get older and give things a chance. That doesn’t mean I’ll like it, but I won’t outright reject things on some weird sense of principle anymore. Show me what you got, and if I like it, I’ll ride with it. I don’t wanna be like, the stereotypical dad who just rants about how much better his music was than the youths. It may be better to me, but that doesn’t mean whatever is new is bad. Anyway, that is a long-winded way of saying my current favorite “new” stuff that inspires me is Greg Puciato’s solo work (never was into Dillinger, but boy is his solo stuff fantastic), This Be The Verse (great unsigned industrial rock band from the UK), and Unto Others (an excellent goth-tinged band from Portland, Oregon). These bands aren’t really in my “groove thrash” comfort zone. They’re more in the “moody and dark” comfort zone. Great stuff. And locally, I think my favorite band right now is Cemetary Echo. Again, just really atmospheric and gothy.
AM: I’m easily inspired. The last decade it’s been by Jason Isbell, Gunship, Chvrches, Gojira, and Ghost.
JO: I’m always on the look out for something I haven’t heard before. Old or new. In the last 10 years? Might be tough because even bands I consider to be “newer” like Gojira are still 20 years old at this point. I’ve been getting into Eternal Sleep from Pittsburgh. Also hardcore bands Zulu and End It, both from Baltimore. I like them because they’re familiar but also pushing boundaries of their style. It seems a lot of hardcore and death metal are the styles currently that are pushing boundaries and mixing in new influences. That’s the kind of thing that interests me. Locally I don’t know if I’m being influenced currently by anyone. I must admit I’m not as up on the scene as I should be. I’ve been in hermit mode for a while lol. But I’m definitely inspired by all my friends in bands that continue to push forward and be creative.
ZDM: That’s a tough one because I’m now more influenced by non-metal things than ever and there would be too many to list but some of my favorite recent discoveries are Ulver, Soen ,Pallbearer, and Stolen Babies.
Although, I am a little late to the party because some of these bands have been around more than 10 years.
5. Where does the name The Long Cold Dark come from? Is it more than just living in Buffalo, NY during the wintertime, or is that literally it?
DC: So I wasn’t necessarily trying to tie my entire musical career to the word “dark” when Dark Alone ended, but here we are. I had considered some other names. I think Hylian Lake Effect was a contended for a bit, playing off my love of The Legend of Zelda and my Buffalo roots and our lake effect snow. It sounded mysterious. But somehow The Long Cold Dark won out. It was taken from a Punisher comics run by Garth Ennis. It tied up most of the ongoing arcs and themes of his run on the series, which was unrelentingly bleak and showed how broken and monstrous a man like Frank Castle really is, which only serves to highlight how it would take a man like that to fight even bigger monsters in the real world. This man would not have a happy ending. And whatever ending he could hope for, the path would be long, cold, and dark.
AM: I believe it’s named after an arc from the Punisher Max comic books. I actually bought the trade paperback of The Long Cold Dark after I had joined the band. Drew got me back into reading comics, so I figured I’d give the titular arc a spin. Weirdly, there is a scene where one of the characters is singing a licensed song. That is kind of a rare occurrence in comics from what I’ve read. It only makes sense, the arc out band is named after features music. The best part? The lyrics he’s singing in the issue? They’re from the song Stagger Lee, by my favorite songwriter, Nick Cave. How’s that for serendipitous?
JO: That’s a Drew question but I definitely think it’s something reflective of the area we live in. Maybe also the mindset that we can get into sometimes. The struggles in life. Sometimes the world just seems to put you through a long, cold, and dark time.
Taken at the band’s 10-year anniversary gig in 2018*
Photo credit: Lynsey LaLonde
6. Thinking back over your entire discography, talk about just a handful of songs you’re most proud of having written. What specifically makes those songs so special to you?
DC: I will be bad at this as I take a lot of pride in all of my songs. But if I had to pick a handful to single out, I’d probably say I’m particularly proud of songs like Walk The Path, A Statement of Intent, Legacy, The Old Machines, Obelisk, Undefine, and really, every song on There Are No Answers. Walk The Path because it ties in so many of my influences in one song. It has Fear Factory, Metallica, In Flames… and it’s structured really well. Statement I’m proud of because the band wrote it together, and it kind of defined TLCD really well – it was thrashy, it was groovy, it has an absolutely crushing mid section and outro, and it’s long. Long songs are kind of a signature thing for us. The Old Machines, also long, is near and dear to me because it’s just super epic and atmospheric and dark, and again, has a totally punishing outro. And I got to incorporate my love for Mass Effect into the lyrics. Obelisk was the first TLCD instrumental, and I’m super proud of it because again, we wrote it together and we all brought our influences and our hearts to it. Undefine I’m proud of because it has a big Gojira vibe, but with a nutty ending that is spacey, off-kilter, AND crushing, thereby fulfilling in the Meshuggah quotient in my heart. And in terms of There Are No Answers, I take pride in it because I put so much work into it, but also because so many awesome people contributed their parts to songs and all went above and beyond. I can’t thank them all enough. I think it shows on the album. I love every single song. I wanted to sort of expand the sonic range of what TLCD could be and I think I succeeded. It planted seeds of where I hope we can go. So I hope we can now go there.
AM: I’m very proud of the instrumental Obelisk from The Inner Workings Of Infinity. I just love the vibe of it. We’ve only gotten to play it live once, due to it’s length coupled with the length of the sets we are normally allowed. Hard to justify one third of your set on an instrumental. It would only leave room for one other song on each side, because we won’t ever go over, not even a minute. So, we would only be able to play a three song set. That would be hard to justify. Especially because, maybe it’s just me, but the more songs you can play, the longer your set FEELS for the crowd. They’re both thirty-minute sets, but the band that played ten songs is more firmly embedded in fans minds than the one who played three. Maybe that’s why I love it so much, it’s the one that cannot be had.
JO: Infinity was probably our most collaborative era. We just seemed to have more time to get together and hammer things out all in the same room. That gets harder as you get older. So that was a bit of a special time in the band. I had more writing credits on that one so maybe I’m biased. “The Old Machines” is a special song. It’s just epic. One of our more progressive songs. Lots of different parts and they’re all killer. “Monkey Knife Fight” has become one of our most popular songs and it’s always so much fun to play. That’s a special moment on that album and I’m proud to have contributed a fair amount to that song. I could point to a lot of songs on that album like “Facade” which absolutely annihilates, and the often overlooked “Last Breath” which has a lot going on in a short period of time. Great vocals and harmonies by Drew in that one. Another crowning achievement of the band is the song “Undefine” from our Captive Audience EP. It’s just an awesome song and seems to be a crowd favorite. The ending slays too. Other recommended highlights are “Statement of Intent”, our musical journey of an instrumental “Obelisk”, “Lost Faith” has a great groove and intense riffs. I like that one a lot. While I didn’t have a part in writing this one, “What We Should Fear” off the newest album is a banger that everyone should check out.
7. Talk about any recent (within the past 2-3 years) gear purchases that have changed your lives. Discuss any new toys in your home studios or in the rehearsal space that make you wonder how you survived without said toy in the past.
DC: Ah gear. We all love gear. Besides new guitars, which are always inspiring, easily the best piece of gear I’ve scooped up in the last few years has been my Fractal FM3. It has replaced my live rig entirely, because I was able to recreate my entire Mesa Mark IV rig over a weekend, and it sounds 99.9% accurate to my long-standing setup. On top of that, I no longer have to bring out a 45 pound vintage amp in a 45 pound road case and worry about it being damaged or stolen at a gig, or bring out the additional rack unit and giant pedal board to control it, which also weren’t exactly light weight. I have ALL of that on one pedal board I can sling over my shoulder now. And again, it sounds as good as it ever did, and probably better to a live audience, because I have it set such that the PA gets a choice speaker cabinet output from my board and not whatever half-ass microphone setup whatever some half-ass sound guy puts on my speaker that particular evening. They get exactly what I want them to get, clearer than ever. And I still run a speaker cabinet on stage for stage volume so I can feel some air pushing and groove on it. It’s just been incredible. And on top of that, with all of the features, amps, effects, and everything that the FM3 offers, I’ve been tinkering with more amps, cabs, effects, and soundscapes than I’d ever have been able to before and it’s just been a blast and has opened up new songwriting avenues. I was a digital skeptic for years. I can’t deny it anymore. The technology is so good that there’s no reason to be afraid of it anymore.
AM: My favorite shows I’ve gotten to play with the band are the GWAR show at Ballroom and Devin Townsend in Cleveland.
GWAR felt so cool because it was our hometown, in a famous venue we frequented often – dreaming of playing its stage, but never thinking it would actually happen – and it’s GWAR for fuck’s sake, that’s awesome!
The Devin Townsend show was special because of how important he was in the formative years for two of our founding members, Jason and Drew. I don’t want to speak for them but I think they’re both big fans of his work, especially, but certainly not limited to, with Strapping Young Lad. So for that reason alone it was a very important show for me. Add on top we are playing with a big, national touring act in a city and state that isn’t our home. That’s pretty great to me.
As I get older though, the shows I appreciate most are the ones we had at Broadway Joe’s, when Drew and Jason’s parents could and would all make the shows. I’m so happy that I got to be up there with them, playing the songs we love, in front of their parents. I think that’s pretty special and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
JO: Drew and I both recently acquired the FM3 amp modeler from Fractal Audio. It has a plethora of professional sounding amp models. It’s allowed us both to scale down our rigs to basically a pedalboard. We use the Seymour Duncan Powerstage as a power amp. It’s the size of a pedal and fits on the board as well. So we can run all of our sounds from just our board and a cabinet. It makes live setups easier because we don’t need to mic the cabinet. We can run an output with cab simulation to the front of house and get a great sound every time. It’s been an awesome upgrade.
ZDM: A recent change I made was switching back to using an Audix D6 mic on my kick drum after using triggers for years. But the biggest game changer was when Jason and Drew got the Fractal FM-3’s (amp modeler) and I would get a perfect mix in my headphones when we would rehearse, that really improved the sound and feel with how we played together.
8. Talk about your respective “scene histories”. I want to know about every band you’ve ever been a part of, or might currently be a part of besides The Long Cold Dark.
DC: I don’t have a ton of “scene history” really. I’d say the closest thing to “brushing with local legends” would be the fun bit of trivia that my and Jason’s very first band, Shattered, played a battle of the bands at Showplace theater with Fireborn, themselves a new band, and the only other metal band on that bill. We buddied up at that initial meeting where we were issued our tickets to sell and supported each other at the show. Matt Swistak is still a friend. I love that dude. I mean, we played our fair share of Madd Dogg shows in Dark Alone and TLCD. But those two bands have been my entire musical life really. So aside from that, I’ve always felt like an outsider in the scene. I still do really. But I think that’s either a lot of self-doubt talking, or maybe self-awareness that I may not always have been the friendliest or most supporting person to people in the scene. I hope it’s the former, but I fear it’s the latter. Live and learn.
JO: My first band with Drew was called Shattered. We were together from 1997-99.
I went on with my own band called Evil Eye Virtue, on and off, from 1999-2008. We had a lot of band member changes aside from me and my drummer. Other than a good run from 2003-2005 we couldn’t get very far off the ground due to member changes.
I was briefly in the reformed Displaced in late 2002-2003. I recorded some backing vocals on a demo they did around that time. That was another band with a lot of shifting members. They went on to switch up their style a bit. Ronnie Lepine came over to EEV with me after we both departed from Displaced.
As stated before when Evil Eye Virtue dissolved. Around 2007/2008, I was a temporary fill-in member for Lepine’s band Never Ending Process.
Then it was on to The Long Cold Dark. And the rest is history.
9. Discuss the most memorable shows The Long Cold Dark have played over the past 15 years and what made those events so special? These could be road shows, local shows, etc. I’m looking for the best times you guys ever had on stage AS The Long Cold Dark.
DC: Any of our CD release shows have been so enjoyable. People coming out to support you when you drop new music is just so fulfilling. I’m grateful. It makes you want to keep going. The release show for The Inner Workings of Infinity has the distinction of occuring during a massive downpour that flooded into Broadway Joe’s. We also had Pollock on the bill with us at the height of their encouragement of their fans taking off their clothes. So when said fans saw a literal river flowing down Main Street after the show, they all stripped to their skivvies and jumped in. Memorable! When we got to open for Devin Townsend Project in Cleveland in 2011. That was huge. I’ve been such a Devin fan for so long. Huge influence on me. So that was a dream come true. And of course, opening for Gwar at Town Ballroom in 2013. The Infinity record had just come out. It felt like a big deal opening for a legendary band like Gwar, especially at the Ballroom. I’ll probably never have the chance to play that stage again, so I really look back at that show with pride. Apparently some of their roadies commended us and gave us props after our set as we got our gear off stage, only for us to find out later it was actually Gwar themselves. That definitely felt good. But after all this time, we’ve played so many shows, and they’re all memorable in their own way, but also blur together in their own way. Might be time to make some new memories soon!
JO: I think whenever you get to be on a bigger stage with bigger bands it’s always exciting. We got the opportunity to be direct support for Gwar at Town Ballroom in 2013. Even with all their crazy stuff on stage we still had tons of room. Being on stage the venue felt bigger than normal, from that angle. Playing to a packed house in a bigger venue was also a perk of that show. I don’t know if everyone dug it but we certainly got a good response. We also got the chance to be direct support for Devin Townsend Project in Cleveland in 2011. There were two stages in the venue and all of the openers were on the second stage but us. So we got to share the stage with one of mine and Drew’s heroes and influences, Devin Townsend(who had previously fronted Strapping Young Lad). We also had a show in Cleveland on 2013 with a line up of all our internet friend’s bands. A lot of us spent years in an online guitar forum and became friends and supported each other’s bands. We finally got to bring a few of them together and all play a show together. It was an absolute blast. One of those bands, Days Beneath from Cleveland, has one of mine and Drew’s really close friend, Phil Boyle, in it. He’s been our bass player, producer, and has mastered many of our recordings over the years. So any time we get to share the stage with his band it’s a special time. Greg Rinker(R.I.P.) will always be the reason that shows at The Evening Star used to stand out. He always made us sound so crushing! And finally I think one of the other shows that really sticks out to me would have been our 10th anniversary show at Mohawk Place in 2018. That show was a blast. Days Beneath opened for us. We played our instrumental “Obelisk” for the first and only time live and that was really cool, not to mention challenging.
ZDM: My most memorable shows would have to be the release show we did last year at Mohawk Place for “There Are No Answers” We had a great turnout and the crowd was really receptive to the new material which I was very excited to play live. Also, I have to go back 15 years to the first show we ever played as TLCD at The Foundry in Cleveland. I was so nervous because it was my first show as a drummer but about 15 seconds in the nervousness went away and we had a great show and I’ll never forget that one.
10. What is next for TLCD? What are you at liberty to divulge? I’m talking about recording, shows, merch, art, etc.. For the sake of making this a whole vanity piece, I’m thinking about including every logo you’ve ever had since 2008.
DC: What’s next? Well. I wish I could say definitively. We are booked for some shows in the summer/early fall out in Centerville where Adam lives. He’s been putting them together for years and we’ve played them most years. Such a great time. People out there are so appreciative of the bands who come out to play, so it’s always a good time. But that aside, there isn’t much on the calendar. I have a couple of songs in the works that I think take some steps into newer territory for TLCD. Like I said, the Answers album was sort of about taking things a little outside the confines we were in, so I hope the next thing we do keeps going down that road, but also remembers what brought us to this point. Could there be a new TLCD EP in the works? Time is so short these days, but I really hope so.
We have a lot of ideas we are kicking around for this year. I don’t want to say anything because we tend to get delayed like a Zelda game, but we have things almost ready to be put into motion at some point in the maybe near maybe not so near future. So, stay tuned! Big news could drop at any second! Refresh our Facebook page, something will happen at some point, you wanna be the first to see it, right?
JO: I’ll refer you to Drew on that one. There’s some shows in the works. We never really got to fully push the last album because of Covid and other limitations. And yet there is talk of more new material coming. We’ll see what happens. It’s early days as far as that goes.
ZDM: Right now we are at the very early stages of some new material. I’m actually working on something new Drew just sent me that’s in a 15/16 time signature that I will have to figure out how to play correctly lol. So, things are happening. Although I don’t have any details for you, I do know that new music and shows are coming soon.
11. Going album by album, what were the recording processes like? How has your process evolved over the years? On the flipside, how do you think each album was received by the public comparatively? If it makes things easier, just answer that last bit by analyzing the responses at your CD release shows ONLY from memory.
DC: The recording process has been largely a DIY affair from the beginning. I recorded the entire first album myself in my old house. I had been programming drums for a decade at that point, and I had great raw samples. So it was really just a matter of making sure the guitars, bass, and vocals were recorded well and sounded good enough to be mixed by someone. An old message board friend did the mixing and mastering of the first record and I think he did an excellent job. Jason took over the production/engineering duties on the Infinity record and the Captive Audience EP. We recorded both at his studio, Shapeshifter. Those had real drums on them. Real drummers too. I love the creative aspect of recording. Trying out mics or pedals. Finding sounds. That part of it is great. And it’s just fun hanging out with Jason, working on something we created. He’s really my musical partner in crime. He knows what I’m going for instinctively. He knows how to add to whatever I’m trying to do and make it better than I could have ever conceived. We also had help from our “fifth member,” Phil Boyle, in the mixing and mastering stages. He’s an ear we trust. He’s helped us out in so many ways over the years. He’s played bass, filmed shows, made lyric videos, you name it. Phil’s the best. When it comes to the Answers record, that was a big undertaking for me. The band had sort of been on a mutually agreed upon break, but I couldn’t sit still. So I finished a bunch of songs that had been lingering around for years. I had been actively taking music theory lessons as well as vocal instruction and it helped get those songs completed. And with Jason focusing on his photography, I decided to sort of make the album a “family affair” really, asking people from tons of bands we’ve played with and loved over the years to contribute to songs. Again, I can’t thank them enough for contributing. Thank you Rob, Jason, Lindsay, Brian, Bobby, and Grant for killing it! When it was all said and done, I was the one who had to mix it. That was a huge challenge to take on. But I did, and I learned a ton. I think the mix is good. The mastering was contentious, but in the end, I am happy with the final product. But regarding how the albums were received… I wish I knew how to answer that. Everyone seems to like them when they come out. The release shows are always fantastic and have such a feeling of optimism behind them. People are so supportive. But there is a point of diminishing returns. If we aren’t touring the world trying to make new fans, the well is going to run dry. People don’t stick around forever. Life goes on. And that’s fine. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s ever come out to see us or listened to us or said a kind word about us. It has meant so much. But I won’t lie. It does hurt me to think that I’m perhaps making the best music I’ve ever made, but less people than ever actually care. You do reach a point where you wonder if what you’re doing just sucks. Like if this hasn’t taken off yet, maybe the simple reason is that I’m just not good. Otherwise, it would have taken off by now, right? I think about that a lot. I hope it’s not true. It’s hard out there even for “established” bands. So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I don’t know. It’s a real artists’ lament sort of thing. But I’m going to keep playing music, because I love doing it. Hopefully other people love that I do it.
AM: Everyone is always so nice, it’s hard to honestly tell. I’ve never had a friend go over an album, track by track, and tell me what they like and don’t like.
I never get any negative feedback at shows, which is nice but also makes me nervous because maybe I’m playing like total shit and people just don’t want to tell me, ya know?
The CD release shows are always so cathartic for the band. I’ve mentioned before that it took me awhile to feel ownership of the band, and I do. But, I can also objectively look at it. I know how much work Drew and Jason put into recording these records, putting the art together, getting it mixed and mastered, getting it pressed. I don’t do shit but show up, sling strings, break hearts, and leave.
So when they finally arrive in the physical and we have our release show, it’s a release on multiple levels. It’s the release of the album for the band, but it’s also the release of stress and uncertainty for Drew and Jason. To have the record in fan’s hands and be up there playing new songs to an enthusiastic crowd, that’s the real release, what comes with us on stage and stays there when we walk off.
JO: Our recording processes have been fairly consistent. Drew may give a more in depth answer. But he did the first album all on his own. I came in to lay a solo on “Maze” and “Walk the Path.” Infinity and Captive Audience were done in my studio. I don’t know if there’s any great stories from those sessions unfortunately. I worked with our drummers Mitch and Colin for Infinity and Captive respectively, to set up and lay down the drum tracks. Then brought the guys in, Drew and Adam, to record their tracks. I would do mine. (See, it’s boring. No drunken debauchery with strippers or anything.) I engineered and mixed those two releases with mastering and production help from Phil Boyle. The latest release “There Are No Answers” was done like the first album. Drew did everything! Haha. It’s just what had to happen. We didn’t have a drummer at the time to practice or collaborate. Schedules were tough. Drew tried but ultimately I just told him that if he had ideas he needed to get out that he should go ahead and do what he needed to do. It came out very well so I can’t complain. Like the first album, I came in to lay down a solo on the title track. He had a lot of great guests come in to contribute as well. Lindsay from Pollock on bass for a song, Grant from Dredneks sang on a track. Brian Platter from Last Reign and Robert Hall from Seven Faces also played solos on songs. Others as well. So cool!
The release shows were mostly good. The release show for the first album wasn’t so great. Someone else took charge of booking the show and the lineup isn’t what we would have really wanted. Plus it was at Diablo, which we liked as a venue, but shows would always start so late. The promoter had us headlining and last which would have put us on stage at 1am for our own CD release show. When we asked to switch slots with the band scheduled before us, the request was granted, but seemed to piss off that band and led to a little animosity for a short time. It’s all good now though. The Infinity release show was at Broadway Joe’s. We had a great turn out and good time. People seemed to dig it. Dan Metz had just recently become our drummer after Mitch moved to Nashville and Dan really nailed it. The Captive Audience release show which was at Stamps. Great crowd and great response. We did the recent Answers release show last year at Mohawk. First show with our new gear, as mentioned previously, and we brought our own light guy. It really ramped up the show. I’m not sure how to judge the response from the new songs. Some better than others but that’s to be expected when people don’t know what you’re playing. Overall it’s positive at the shows. I’m not sure how long the excitement lasts after that though. You’d have to tell me. I’m never quite sure what kind of impact we’ve had, if any. Other than being cool with most other bands in the area, I don’t really know what our fan base is. I hope people out there have dug some of what we’ve done and found some enjoyment in it. If not, we had fun doing it at least.
12. Plug yourselves! Leave links to your full online presence here:
DC: You can find all of our pertinent links at thelongcolddark.com. From there, you can get our music from anywhere you prefer. I don’t care how you listen and enjoy, just that you do listen and enjoy.
AM: Thanks again for having us, Mike! I appreciate it, it’s always nice when people let you know they enjoy your work and want to discuss it.