Interview with Solitude Aeturnus guitarist John Perez
Questions by Arto Lehtinen
Solitude Aeturnus is definitely one of the longest running heavy doom
metal outfits still existing nowadays. The bandís emotional and above all
traditional doom metal stuff with vocalist R. Loweís unique and excellent
voice belongs to the same doom elite along with other classic doom names
like Candlemass and Trouble. Unfortunately, Solitude Aeturnus have never
gotten the same respect even though they definitely deserve it. Even
though the whole band has been pretty much on hiatus during the last few
years and kept a low profile, the next Solitude Aeturnus album can be
expected to see the light of day in the fall of 2002. I was lucky enough
to have a chance to talk with the bandís guitarist John Perez about the
mighty Solitude Aeturnus.
Good day John. Whatís up there in Texas at the moment?!?
Great weather for a change, nice and cool (79 degrees!). Getting ready to
go drink some ale and listen to metal all night with the Texas Doom
Solitude Aeturnus, hmmÖ I have been under the impression the whole band
has been put on hold in order to have more time to concentrate on running
all your label business and of course normal day jobs and some of SA guys
have some project bands going on. But it is definitely obvious you are not
broken up, so could you politely shed some light on the current situation
Youíve pretty much summed it up in your question. Weíve done so much with
this band over the years and I personally just needed to concentrate full
time on my label job, as well as the others on their work and outside
projects. When I take something on, I like to give it 200% and if I canít
do that then I donít like doing it (whatever it is). So since I couldnít
do Solitude A. 200%, I just decided that a little break was needed. Well
after a little too long of a break weíre getting it back together to write
some music, record an album and hopefully do a little more touring this
According to you, the band would have gathered together and started
composing and writing the new material for the sixth opus of SA, so are
you going to share the typical and traditional music approach of which
Solitude Aeturnus is known for (doomy and heavy elements and of course
Robertís excellent voice crowns the whole ďepicus doomicus and metallicusĒ
of Solitude Aeturnus) or will you try out something else for the next
A little of both actually. We are very aware of our sound and our goal has
always been from the start to create quality heavy music with melody. If
you check back on some interviews that I had done way back in í87 or í88,
Iím sure youíll find that Iíve stated that to be our continuing mission. I
think metal music is an excellent avenue for intelligent and though
provoking music and lyrics and thatís what weíve done over the years. On
this album I think we will attempt to stretch our boundaries on some of
the songs even further than what weíve ever done so some of the material
will be quite a bit different and yet some of is going to be more straight
ahead and more metal than ever. Quality control is our goal and in quality
comes variety and attention to detail. We will accomplish this for better
of worse to everyone elseís ears!
I went through some older interviews of yours and I came across the one
which we did a few years ago where you mentioned about doing a song or
songs featuring the typical European power metal elements tied up, the
double bass and so on, but the general atmosphere would be definitely
heavy indeed, have you suspended those power metal elements from the new
material now or will you carry them out anyway ?!?
Iím a fan of solid power metal so Iím always trying to
bring a certain amount of that element into our sound. Problem is that
itís hard to do something unique with this particular genre so we somewhat
limit our use of it in Solitudeís sound these days. Our main focus is
always trying to be as heavy as possible for the most part - no weak shit.
But we can accomplish that in many ways. It doesnít have to be slow or
brutal to be heavy in my opinion. Iím straying away from the original
question - so lets just say that we will always have a certain amount of
power metal in our sound as thatís what we all grew up listening to in the
early to mid eighties.
The former bassist, Count Lyle, used to write a lot, well in fact
majority of the Solitude Aeturnus stuff in the past albums and had still
written for Adagio although had pulled out. Does his departure in a way or
another effect the writing process of the sixth album or do you all have
clear ideas how the next SA will sound?!?
Actually I am the member that is responsible for most of the music in
Solitude Aeturnus although I think you are referring to the lyrics with
this question. Of course it changed our approach somewhat when he left the
band but I look at it in a positive way. Robert now writes most of the
lyrics and his style is completely different than Lyles but no less
effective. So itís more or less like a fresh approach for the band in
general. Robertís lyrics are a bit more direct and focused so the
reader/listener is more aware of what heís singing about where as Lyleís
lyrics were a little more vague and used more metaphors. Both are great
lyricists in my opinion - just different.
You once told me Adagio was the hardest album to write, is the writing
process for the upcoming getting more harder for you to get the better
result and the better tracks? I mean there is always risk for every band
of getting the same ideas and they start repeating them on newer albums.
Do you avoid repeating the already used elements and ideas and just try to
focus on fresh and new ideas?!?
Yeah, I canít lie to you, it gets more difficult with each album because
weíre very aware of falling into the trap of sounding too much the same on
each album, so we become more critical with each album. I donít know how
we do it, other than the fact that we take our time and are very realistic
when it comes to our songs.
Could you unveil the name of the sixth album and some titles too ?!?
We havenít decided on either, although musically speaking we are about 75%
done with it.
And have you decided the official release date of the next album ?!?
Massacre wants it out by Summer of 2002.
Hmm the first two albums have been carried out from the beginning to
the end in your home state whereas the rest of the albums have been done
in England. Have you been thinking of recording the sixth doom opus in
Texas and will you leave the dustbowl for England once again and has a
possible record label already expressed an opinion of their own about a
We like the atmosphere of recording at Rythym Studios in England. Itís out
in the country with no one to disturb you. Lots of rainy, cloudy, doomy
days, great ale at the local pubs and just overall isolation that enables
us to focus our energies 100% on the album. Thatís really the main reason
we leave Texas to record. Weíre pretty sure thatís what weíre going to do
for the next album. Our two best albums have come out it (Through the
Darkest Hour and Adagio). And actually the Downfall album was recorded
here in Dallas Texas.
Doesnít it cost a shit load to travel all the way from Texas to England?!? Who actually finances the
traveling costs - the Record Label or is everything
from your own pockets?!?
Yes it does and itís included in the recording budget that Massacre gives
us. We could save a lot of money or just put it in our pockets if we
stayed home, but we feel that we get the best results by recording over in
the U.K. and that is the priority for us when it comes to SA. Ultimately
though, we have to pay back what they give us through our royalties.
You did at least two albums for the Pavement Records. How come you
decided to leave them?! Did you face these normal business problems or did
they want you to change the musical approach of SA or something else?!?
It was really more or less the fact that we couldnít do
any more U.S. tours and that we had a chance to do better in the European
market especially Germany so we felt that we needed to work with a label
that was either based out of Europe or had a strong presence in Europe.
Pavement had neither. They were cool enough to let us go, Iíll give them
that, but theyíve been pretty bad about giving us statements on our album
sales and weíve seen no money at all from them. I know theyíve recouped
what they spent on us so....
The creation process of the debut album ďInto the Depths of SorrowĒ has
a very colorful history behind it before it ended up to be licensed by
Roadrunner, there used to be floating around some adv. tape versions among
tape traders of the debut album before it saw the light of day, could you
tell a little bit more about the history of one of the greatest doom metal
albums, what went wrong in the early stage until it got out?!?
Well firstly thanks for the compliments on the album! We had originally
signed a deal with King Klassic Records out of Illinois and we agreed to
pay for the recording of the album if they would manufacture and
distribute it. So we went into the studio in January of 1990 to record it.
After it was done, we decided that the mix sucked and so we saved some
money up and remixed it at a different studio in May of 1990. Then we gave
the finished master to King Klassic and they decided to shop it around
instead of putting it out. I was a bit shocked and pissed off about this.
And even more so when RoadRunner liked it and gave us an advance of $8000
which we had to split with King Klassic. They did nothing and got $4000.
Hell, I could have shopped it around! We spent $2500 on a lawyer and the
album cost us $2500 so we effectively lost $1000 on it - but we didnít
care too much, we just wanted it out. The album finally came out in
June/July of 1991 a year and half after it was recorded!
After getting dropped, you were allowed to leave Roadrunner/Roadracer.
I came across some pieces of news at that time the legendary doom metal
label Hellhound had expressed some interest in picking SA up, but their
offer was turned down instead by you?!?
We were glad to get off of Roadrunner as they really werenít behind the
band at all. I first heard the news from Lee Dorian - he knew we were
dropped before I did! Thank god that happened though. Hellhound was sorta
interested but they didnít like Roberts vocals, so they decided not to
pick us up. Pavement was very enthusiastic so we went with them.
The last SA album titled Adagio was released by the Massacre Rec. Do
you still have a valid deal with them or was the whole deal with basically
based on the one off and you are now allowed to team up with any label
which you want?!?
We are signed to Massacre for 4 more records.
Hmm as stated above about your label Brain Ticket, because now I am
unfamiliar with the current deal situation with Massacre so if you are
without any deal, so is it now possible to release the new upcoming
Solitude Aeturnus album on your own label and then agree to have a license
deal with bigger labels, I mean it would be easier to control all the
sales and distribution and look after everything goes in the expected and
Yes, but Brainticket is a small label and I donít have as
much money as some of these other labels can offer Solitude Aeturnus so
rather than be greedy and try to get SA on my label I would rather deal
with a label that can give us more support than what Brainticket is able
Stupid question, but letís ask it anyway ! It seems like your albums
have been released everywhere throughout all kinds of various license
deals, do you as a matter of fact have any idea of how many times your
albums have been licensed by all kinds of weird and obviously not so
reliable labels ?!?
I donít really have any idea just how many labels have licensed our
product. I mean, I know of a few but canít really keep up with all of
them. It doesnít matter to me anyway - we never make money from this band
so I just donít care.
Well speaking of Brainticket Rec, what sort of bands does the record
label have, could you tell a little bit more about your record label
business and secondly are you looking for some certain type of bands for
the bill of the label ?!?
I started the label in 1994 because I was sick of seeing so many good
bands not having the opportunity to present their music to the world. I
really did start the label out of sheer passion to release quality heavy
music. Of course itís much more difficult than anyone would ever know, and
it becomes quite a strain after a while but Iím still committed to it to
this day. It takes an enormous amount of money to run a label and even
more time to do it. As for the types of bands I look for, I really just
look for bands that are heavy and quality. No mediocre stuff, only bands
that have something different about them. It doesnít have to be doom metal
either. I love all kinds of heavy music so Iím very much into doing all
kinds of stuff. Just as long as itís good, heavy music.
Could you recommend some bands for readers from Brain Ticket and give a
reason why they should picked up from stores ?!?
Sure, Iím still a huge fan of metal and heavy music in general! Some of my
current favorites would be Thunderstorm - Sad Symphony, Pentagram - Sub
Basement, Penance - Alpha and Omega, Jag Panzer - Mechanized Warfare and
Gorilla - S/T. I recommend them all for the same reason; they are all
classy, powerful, heavy and write good songs! Also a German psych band
called Weltraumstaunen is amazing!
When I interviewed you last time a year ago or something ago like
mentioned about having reached a point that you are unable to travel and
tour anymore because of the family commitments to take care of bills and
getting the food and roof over the head. Is it so now Solitude Aeturnus
will never hit the road again and instead mainly focus on doing one gig
here and there like, especially in the area of Texas and the upcoming
Stoner Hands Of Doom festival gig there in Texas?!?
Yeah, Iím afraid thatís mostly the case, although we are able to do some
short tours in Europe. You know, two weeks or something like that. Itís
easier to tour Europe, because everything is paid for and we donít lose
any money (we donít make any either). The states are much harder to tour
because itís so big and our style just doesnít draw enough people to make
I noticed you doing a lot of gigs in the local bar called ďTattoo BarĒ,
does the whole bands always gather there to take some beer and play a gig
at the same time and have some fun or Ö.?!?
Itís a really small bar close to where we live and a pretty cool place to
play and drink some beer. Quite a few touring bands will play there
(Crowbar, Soilent Green, Spirit Caravan etc...). We donít hang out there
all the time but it is a fun place to meet with people.
Oh yeah I canít help what kind of following Solitude Aeturnus actually
have in the home state, I mean you have gigs there quite often for example
you played in the Houston Bang Your Head fest, do you pull the audience to
your shows enough ?!?
We draw a pretty decent size amount of people anytime we play in Texas,
simply because we donít play that often!
Letís change the topic a little bitÖBefore Solitude Aeturnus was formed
you used to thrash in the local thrash band Rotting Corpse, could you tell
a little bit more about your early thrash/death metal days?!?
Thatís a long time ago! Iíve always been into extreme metal since 1980! I
remember buying the first Venom album, Witchfynde, Witchfinder General,
Motorhead, Holocaust etc.. all when they came out! Thatís how old I am (36
this year - 2002!). So, naturally I started getting into the very early
death metal scene with bands like Slayer, Bathory, Hellhammer, Venom. I
wanted to form a band much in the vein of Celtic Frost as I really loved
the combination of super heavy Sabbath riffs mixed with evil thrashing
death speed! Rotting Corpse was formed for this reason. However, I didnít
do much of the song writing at the time and most of the music came out
sounding like early Exodus or Metallica - which was ok with me as both
those bands were some of the greatest at the time. The scene back then was
exciting and fresh! Rotting Corpse was one of the first thrash bands from
our area as we formed in late 1985 and underground metal was still very
much underground (in fact no-one around here even knew who Slayer even
was!). After a few years of that, I realized that my true calling in the
metal world was to write heavier, slower music with more melody. Something
that stood the test of time. So , Solitude was born.
When Rotting Corpse was founded in the early 80ís there wasnít that
much of those kinds of bands until 85-87 when the whole thrash thing came
out in the wake of the immense success of Slayerís Reign In Blood and a
few other great great classic death/thrash metal bands and the Texas
thrash metal scene got an entire new expression as a lot of bands popped
up like Morbid Scream, Gammacide, Rigor Mortis, Devastation and so on. The
local scene was flourishing indeed, what made you pull out of the thrash
I think this was answered above - but once again, I didnít want to be part
of a trend and I found thrash/death metal to be very limiting with what it
had to offer.
Could you ever think of reforming Rotting Corpse or is the relationship
between other guys kinda inflamed so badly that you canít even communicate
to each other and if you happen to see each other on the street someone
gotta switch to another side of the pavement ?!?
Nah - I still see a few of the guys. Dave Gryder, the drummer, is still
around doing a progressive hard rock band, Mo Queen is a roadie for
Pantera, Walt runs a bus company. Speaking of Rotting Corpse, I will be
releasing the 3 song demo as part of a Texas retrospective Metal
compilation Iím putting out in a few months on Brainticket Records. It
will also feature Milita, Death Tripper, Watchtower, Warlock, Valkyrie,
Wyzard and more!
By the way I canít help asking this one. You have been involved in the
underground metal scene for about 20 years and seen the glorious years of
thrash metal, so what do you actually think of all these reunion things in
general?! Ok Thrash of the Titans was a triumphal benefit gig consisting
of old Bay Area thrashers, but seems like some of them will carry on, but
several old German thrash bands have returned from ashes and a lot of
small bands are back as well, to be honest the list could be massive if
all of them was named here?!?
Yeah, itís ok by me - as long as the music is worthy. But even if itís not
- it would still be cool to see some of the old bands again playing some
of the old songs. Nothing wrong with some nostalgia! By the way the new
Kreator album is fucking great - like their old days!
Do you long for the good old doom metal genre of the 80ís when for
example the Swedish Candlemass used to be the most leading band in the
genre and they were great, or do you prefer the current flourishing more
stoner oriented style?!?
Actually I could care less one way or the other. Good
music is good music to me, no matter what the style. If you think about
it, when Candlemass were really big, there were only a few other doom
bands around. Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram and maybe Dream Death. So,
actually the doom scene is even better now than ever with quite a few
bands doing the pure doom style. I like quite a bit of the so called
stoner bands as well. It just depends on if they write good songs or not.
You can tell by listening if theyíve taken their time or not. I will admit
that the stoner scene is way overcrowded right now with lots of mediocre
bands - but that will work it self out.
When being a tour manager for Electric Wizard and Warhorse in the early
of this year (2001), what kind of response did you get from the people on
the tour and how did you view and feel about the US doom or should I say
the current state of the stoner/doom genre ?!?
Both bands did a great job on tour and I was amazed at how many people
showed up at the shows!! It was incredible. Renewed my faith that people
want to hear heavy as fuck music. I guess itís a lot more popular than I
What about the side project band called Concept of God run by vocalist
Robert Lowe, why this project was founded by the way and what kind of
stuff they play?!?
Well that was just a project only. They did a few shows and recorded some
material in the studio that is still not finished (need mixing and a few
more parts recorded). I donít know when it will come out though. Concept
of God was mostly our bass players music and Roberts lyrics. Itís similar
in style to solitude although with a bit more traditional feel and some
ďyngwieĒ inspired guitar playing as Steve is one hell of a guitar player.
They started it really just because Steve had some ideas that werenít
really suited for Solitude and we werenít doing anything at the time so...
All right John Perez, before putting the period to this interview I
gotta inquire your music faves and book faves too. What inspire you to
write the music?!?
For books, I usually only read non-fiction books. Culture books on the
60ís and drug study books are currently on my bedside table. I listen to a
lot of psychedelic music - mostly to obscure, new underground bands like
The Pillbugs, the Virgineers, Dipsomaniacs, Dead Flowers, Rockfour, On
Trial, Ozric Tentacles and the like. Inspiration really comes from within
these days. I donít really know - just fooling around with my guitar until
I hit on some riffs and song ideas that sound good and then go from there.
I for one thank you from the button of my heart for this chance to have
this long interview with you. All the best for Solitude Aeturnus and your
record label BrainTicket. And of course you now have an opportunity to
express the final words !
Thanks for the interview and sorry it took so long to get back to you. Be
on the lookout for the release of my second solo album, The Liquid Sound
Company - Inside the Acid Temple due out in April of 2002. Take acid,
drink ale, collect records, be true to yourself, deny the Christian hypocrites and follow your own path. Stay heavy.
1988: 'And Justice For All...' (Demo)
1990: 'Into the Depths of Sorrow' (CD)
1992: 'Beyond The Crimson Horizon' (CD)
1994: 'Through The Darkest Hour' (CD)
1996: 'Downfall' (CD)
199?: 'Through The Darkest Hour/Downfall' (2CD)
1998: 'Adagio' (CD)
199?: 'And Justice For All...' (Re-release on Vinyl)