Draconian Times, regardless of what many critics might say, is a natural progression given their previous two releases, Shades of God and Icon. Right from the first album, Lost Paradise, the direction has moved from a straight-forward Doom/Death Metal style to a more symphonic, technical, and, dare I say, mainstream style. I spoke to Lee Morris, their drummer, about the change in style and future plans with regards to touring and recording.
Draconian Times represents a marked change for the band, comparing it to, say, an album like Lost Paradise. Lee said the change was inevitable: "Every album you record captures that moment in time. Paradise Lost's first album was recorded when the band was 17 or 18 years of age. Over time you pick up a lot more influences and grow musically. This album is a lot more accessible, but we didn't make this album thinking about how many copies we would sell. We wanted to make this the most complete album that has lots of variety and captures a lot of moods."
The general perception of the public with regards to this change has been positive: "On tour it is incredible. This [album/tour] definitely has been the most successful for us, based on the number of people who have bought it and based on the number of people who come to our shows."
Paradise Lost has not only changed its style since the last album, it has also changed drummers. For Draconian Times, Matt Archer was replaced by Lee Morris. Lee cites Matt's lack of interest in the band as reason for leaving Paradise Lost: "Matt was getting despondent with the band and he wasn't into touring and wasn't practicing and lost interest."
Lee denies having made a major contribution to the change in sound: "Most of the album was written before I joined. The only track that was written after I joined was Yearn for Change." Perhaps there's some symbolism associated with that. Lee apparently has played "a lot of sessions with lots of different people," but has "never done any Death Metal; not my kind of music." He, however, thinks his interests are colinear with the band's in terms of the musical direction.
Lee had kinds words to say about Simon Efemey, the producer for all their albums since Shades of God. "He has become the sixth member, and has grown with the band." Brian New, who has produced for the Cure, Dub War, produced the Forever Failure single which features "a full string section that adds a lot of the track," according to Lee. Lee said that the band was interested in a "film-soundtrack" feel for the single, Brian provided "a slightly different interepretation on the track and there's a possibility that we will be working with him some more in the future."
Lee said that the band wasn't sure what they were going to do next, especially with regards to a new album. Some of the options tossed around included coming to the States to record the next album, turn some of the tracks that didn't make it on Draconian Times into B-Sides, and a young boy singing (instead of female vocals) on the next album. Speaking of their next album, it should hopefully be out early 1997, and it will mark the last album that they have do under the current contract with Music for Nations. He said that the band was pleased with label's promotional push, but that they're keeping their options open.
Apparently there has "been a lot of talk" about touring the U.S. and the band "really want to come over as soon as possible." They are presently looking at getting a support tour with Type O Negative, but everything is apparently up in the air. Lee assured me that they will definitely be in the U.S. this year: "if we we don't get a support tour, we'll definitely do a small club tour." He said that "the live show adds an extra dimension to the tracks" and the band feels that "the visual part of the show is an important part of the music."
He said the shows in Australia and Japan were brilliant. In Australia, they played 7 shows in 7 days and the band was surprised that people came: "We expected to play to around 20-30 people and we ended up playing to a thousand. We didn't know that many people heard us and it was a pleasant surprise." He said that metal, especially the classic style, is live and vibrant Japan, where "even bands like Praying Mantis are doing really well unlike anywhere else in the world."
Lee said the metal scene is getting healthier and heavier: "I think we're coming to the end of this post-punk movement and the trend is going to change very soon. Maybe this is the right time and right place for the kind of music we're making. No one knows what's going to happen next, but I think the trend is definitely going to be towards heavier music."
In response to why they no longer write/play long songs, Lee said that they "get tired after a while." He said "people get bored if the songs are longer than four minutes" and the band is "not into instrument masturbation. We want to be the best musicians we can be, but there's always a danger that we can go over the top and lose the complete message of the song. It's not what you put in a song that matters but what you leave out." (There, that's a thought to ponder.)
Lee mentioned that the live show is a mix of the last three albums. However, for those interested in them doing pre-Shades of God material, Lee had this enticing bit to offer: "If we get more time, we will record some of the very old stuff---a more mature version of the original." While this is not that old, True Belief (from Icon) will be re-recorded and released as a single in France.
Lee is a very jovial guy to talk to, and he said that band is "looking forward to coming out there, since it has been long time." He hopes that "people will come and check them out live---it'll be good."