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THE 11TH HOUR: Another Side of Eminent Drummer Ed Warby

Interview with Ed Warby about his doom passion The 11th Hour by Vera in February 2012

It is always great to find out the multilateral interests and passions of a technical skilled musician. Who’d ever thought that Ed Warby – favourite drum excellence of Arjen Lucassen and merciless beast(ie) boy for Gorefest (once) and Hail Of Bullets (still) would be charmed by the train of inertia called “doom metal”? As he says, not as a drummer however, that’s too slow. He was an aficionado and wanted more… that’s how The 11th Hour came into being, by now having their (or his) sophomore album fixed. ‘Lacrima Mortis’ solaces the souls of those who are mourning again. A conglomerate of Candlemass, Officium Triste and more… Ed does the talking…

Ed, we all know you as talented drummer, mainly in progressive and death metal bands (Ayreon, Gorefest, Hail Of Bullets), but when and how did you decide to focus on doom metal with The 11th Hour? Are you a doom metal fan yourself?
I have been a doom metal fan almost as long as I’ve been into metal, a friend of mine was a very active tape-trader and he introduced me to Trouble through their now famous live tape which landed them their record deal with Metal Blade and I was hooked by the time their debut album was released. He also pointed me in the direction of a band called Nemesis, saying that the guy had a new album coming out soon and this turned out to be Candlemass’ ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’, still one of my favourite albums of all time. The reason I never played doom until now (although I was briefly involved with a doom band called Tempter) is that drumming slowly didn’t interest me so much. It was only when I started playing guitar that I discovered how much I enjoyed making doom myself. A few years ago I also had a rather intense “doom immersion” period where I really dove into all the different subgenres and bought loads of CD’s.

It started as a try-out and a studio project. How do you look back at the debut album ‘Burden Of Grief’?
I’m still really proud of it as it’s the first time I did (almost) everything on my own, it has its faults but in all I think it’s a good album and the songs still hold their own in the live set. Making it was a huge learning experience, a lot of trial and error in almost every area and when it was done I was absolutely drained. I was really happy with all the positive feedback the album got, it’s no small thing to bare your soul like this.

What were the things that made you play some live gigs? Special events, contacts, etc?
The main reason was an invitation to play a gig at the renowned Dutch Doom Days in my hometown Rotterdam, at first I said no but the more I thought about it the more my opinion changed. The gig went well despite some technical problems (like blowing up my brand-new expensive tube amp) and the rest as they say is history. I really, really enjoy playing live with this band, and although I’m much more nervous than when I’m behind the kit it’s going better every time and I’m more comfortable on stage now.

And can you tell us about the line-up during these live gigs?
I ran into guitarist Petra Guijt at a Hail Of Bullets gig and she said half-jokingly that if I ever needed band members she’d be there, so she was the first one I contacted when the DDD gig became a serious option. I was sure I wanted/needed a 3 guitar line-up and through her I met Bram Bijlhout of Officium Triste. At first I toyed with the idea of flying Rogga in but the cost would be too high and we wouldn’t be able to rehearse properly so Bram recommended Officium Triste growler Pim to me and he gladly accepted. The drumthrone was taken by the only guy I considered for this job, my good friend Dirk Bruinenberg who already replaced me when I left Elegy in 1992, and the line-up was completed with Dirk’s friend Kris Gildenlöw (ex-Pain Of Salvation) on bass. After the first gig Kris was replaced by Cirrha Niva’s Daniël Huijben and a few shows later Petra made way for my old Gorefest buddy Frank Harthoorn.

What happened to Rogga, since he was too ill to contribute to ‘Lacrima Mortis’? Is he getting better now? Will you cooperate with him again in future?
Rogga was incapacitated by a flue from hell, and it got to the point where I just couldn’t wait anymore so he gave me his blessing to find a replacement. I think he’s fine now, he’s churning out old school death metal albums again like there’s no tomorrow! I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future, there’s a lot of common musical ground and he’s insanely creative.

Fortunately we can enjoy the marvellous growls from Pim (Blankenstein, Vocalist Officium Triste – Vera) now… I guess that is a musician/vocalist you know for quite some time, isn’t it?
Although he’s from the same town as me I only knew Pim by name, and I saw Officium Triste just once not too long before he joined The 11th Hour. But he’s been with the band for over two years now, so I’m making up for it.

‘Burden Of Grief’ deals with the subject of a dying soul. In other words, about death and dying. There should be personal issues and fantasy issues in the lyrics. Can you illustrate that with any examples?
The storyline of ‘Burden Of Grief’ is fictional, I don’t have children and I’m not suffering from a lung disease, but I lost both my parents to lung emphysema and my sister almost died from the same affliction. A lot of details in the songs are extremely personal, such as the funeral I describe in ‘Origins Of Mourning’, or the death in the final song. Some of the songs are very painful for me to perform sometimes, especially at the first show with my sister in the audience. The same thing goes for ‘Lacrima Mortis’, songs like ‘The Death Of Life’ contain a lot of personal hurt but the framework is fictional.

Did The 11th Hour ever do a real tour or only festival gigs? Are there plans to go on the road, supporting the new material? Any shows booked already?
Touring is nearly impossible these days unless you’re a big established band with lots of promotional power and money behind you, so we have to make do with what we can get. Luckily the doom scene is very lively so we’ve been able to do some really cool festivals in Germany, Ireland and Spain. This year we’re doing some club shows in The Netherlands, starting with a CD release show next month together with death/doom legends Asphyx, and later on we’ll be going to Finland as well. There’s some more shows in the pipeline but we’re still working on those.

Playing live has had its influence on the material of the new record. In what respect can we see that?
I think it shows mainly in my greater confidence as a singer/guitarist, hearing your voice coming from all directions on stage makes you sing a different way and after shedding the first nerves you realise you’ll be ok and it’s easier to let go and just enjoy singing. Guitar-wise I’ve also improved by being on stage with a powerful amp blasting behind me, it’s a very different experience from playing in the studio with headphones on and it’s a huge confidence boost. The guitar solo’s in particular are much better this time.

Never thought about recording ‘Lacrima Mortis’ with your live line-up? Why not? Is there a chance this will happen in future?
Not this time, no. I know how critical and obsessive I can be and I really put myself through hell to get what I want, so I didn’t want to subject my friends to that. But I did decide that this was the last time I did an album on my own, so the next album is going to be a full band effort. Working with Pim was already a big step in that direction, and I’m sure the other guys will rise to the occasion as well as he did. It’ll be weird for me to leave the drumming to someone else though, but I’ll get over it, haha!

How did you experience the evolution from being a drummer (quite safe outside the spotlights) into a front man? Wasn’t it strange to be the pivotal man in a band suddenly?
Strange is a huge understatement, I literally died a thousand deaths the first time. Taking the 11th Hour to the stage was already a nerve-wracking concept for numerous reasons, but there’s the additional stress-factor of being “the front man” for someone who’s used to sitting safely behind a large drum kit. I’m getting better at it with each show, but I’ve given up trying to entertain the audience in between songs. Pim’s much better at that, so I leave the talking to him now.

I think your clean vocals have improved in comparison with the ones on the debut? Do you agree on that? Did you take lessons or is it due to having more experience?
Absolutely, I’ve accepted the fact that my voice is not to everyone’s liking but I really pushed myself to give the best possible performance on this album. The vocal lines are more expressive, and I’m using more of my range and volume. I chalk it up to experience, in my opinion you can’t “learn” to sing so I never considered lessons. The best lesson is going out there and doing it I suppose.

I agree on that. One of the fine topics on the album is the graceful sound of violin and some tasteful orchestral arrangements. Did you do this too?
Yes, I painstakingly created each and every note you hear on the album. Working out the orchestral arrangements is actually the part I enjoy the most, I really love adorning a song with little touches like a dash of piano or a huge string section. The best reward after working on a song for a few days/weeks is turning on all tracks and hearing all the pieces of the puzzle coming together.

What about the recording process? Was someone else involved in the end or did you do the mix and mastering as well?
I did all recording, editing and engineering but the mix was done by Ronnie Björnström who also did ‘Burden Of Grief’. It’s great to have a pair of fresh ears at this stage, I usually lose all perspective when I’m several months into a production, going from “this is terrible” to “best thing I’ve ever done” sometimes even in the same day. He’s good at making things sound heavy as hell but still clear and transparent, and I think this album has more room for all the different instruments as well as my vocals.
What are the plans for the near future, with The 11th Hour, but with your other musical bands/projects as well?
The most important thing on this year’s agenda is writing the next Hail Of Bullets album and promoting ‘Lacrima Mortis’ as much as possible. I’ve done so much these past years that I really need a break from the constant rhythm of recording and playing live, so a less intense year is certainly welcome.

I surely respect that, Ed. To occlude: what are your favourite doom metal bands at the moment?
I absolutely adore While Heaven Wept, their last two albums are simply divine. Other favourites are Isole, 40 Watt Sun, Griftegard, Procession, Helevorn, Krux, etc. And I’m still a huge Paradise Lost fan, glad to see they found their way again and I’m really looking forward to the new album.

I have just heard it and I can assure you a marvellous listening experience…back to more doom/death-like stuff!

Geplaatst door Vera op woensdag 15 februari 2012 - 11:57:07
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