Interview with Ade Mulgrew
and Sarah Wieghell of Darkest Era
Interview by Rowena Lamb
Formed in 2005, the Celtic metal band from Northern Ireland supported Gloryhammer on their recent UK tour. Ahead of their London show at The Garage, Metal Rules spoke to Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Wieghell who both play guitars in the band to have a chat about how their music has progressed over the years, the dangers of playing on stage and what super power they would choose.
So how are you feeling about the gig today?
Ade: Really good actually yeah. The last time we played London it was a good show, there was a good reaction so hoping to see some of the same fans out again and win some new fans as well. The tour in general has been going really well, we’ve had some great shows so far.
Sarah: Glasgow and Manchester in particularly were really, really good. I’m really looking forward to today but I am quite nervous. It’s quite a big stage and quite a bit of pressure but I’m really looking forward to it.
Ade: It’s a relatively short tour so we’re not burnt out or anything, so we’re actually still pretty fresh and looking forward to the gig.
You started the band you were quite young, and over those years things will change for you anyway, but how have things changed musically as well.
Ade: Well we’ve sort of developed our music just naturally as we’ve broadened our spheres and I guess become better players and become interested in different, not just music but different art an whatever and so that’s had an effect on the actual music writing but I think that everybody who starts a band or every artist should always be on a constant path of progression and try to develop themselves and reach new creative areas. So that’s what we try to do. In another way we I suppose have a new line up. Obviously when you start a band when you’re still in school people’s interests change and everything.
Sarah: Yeah, whenever you have new musicians come in and you do get new influences and well and that can change the dynamic which is quite cool; letting someone else into that and letting them drag you as well, which is cool.
Ade: I think it’s unusual as well for a band like us to still be going. I mean, we have just one record out and we only really started to pick up pace and get serious maybe 2 or 3 years ago. But when you consider we were 16/17 when we started the band it’s probably a fair indication of how much this all means to us and how serious we are about being in a band and writing music. It’s been cool because we have that history so it just gives another level of meaning to everything that there’s 3 of us in the band for example just have come through right from the very start. Like when you’re 16 and you have that spark of first excitement.
Sarah: Yeah it’s definitely different from being 16 and playing a gig and how it is now. You look back now and it’s like ‘oh my god’ I remember the feeling it’s like 10 times more nervous than I am now. The first ever gig and stuff, but it’s still the same feeling though it’s more of a heartfelt thing now more than anything like general excitement.
Ade: We have a direction and goals to achieve now and everything so things are more kind of focussed on a particular path.
In a previous interview you said that you don’t want to stay still with your music, but you want to move on so have you started thinking about the next album and how that’s going to change?
Ade: We’re working on it at the moment. Basically after the first cycle of the first album and we finished our UK tour we had a sit down and a talk and a think about what we really wanted to do with the next album and it became apparent that we were really on the same page, and we all had a similar kind of goal in mind. So the year that followed that then we just spent it working on songs and trying to move towards that so the main goal was to broaden our sound and to try to come out with something that was a lot more of a pure translation of what we were trying to achieve creatively.
Sarah: More to the point as well.
Ade: Yeah a little bit more hooky and a little bit less fat in the arrangements and different things. So we’re working on that album at the minute and we can’t say too much about it but we’re hoping to make an announcement on it in the next few weeks and push forward on it but yeah, we’re pleased with the point we’ve arrived to.
Have you thought about a video?
Ade: Well we have a video actually we have ‘An Ancient Fire Burns’ which is the second single off our first album and that got a great reception actually. It got a tonne of views and YouTube various websites and everything. We shot that at an old Viking ruin site which was a lot of fun. Video is very important for promoting your music nowadays so we’ll be obviously putting up a video for the tract we release off our next album.
If you had a million pounds to make a video what would you make?
Ade: I’d make a video for £100 and retire off the rest.
Sarah: I’d have to do something fairly epic.
Ade: I’d like to play a guitar solo off the top of Everest perhaps.
Sarah: Maybe, maybe yeah. Somewhere like that. Somewhere where you can only be flown into.
Ade: The world will literally be our oyster.
Sarah: Well that’s just two guitarists speaking . You should never take advice from two guitarists. I mean one of our favourite things to do is just play harmonies all day so…
If you could create your own festival what 5 bands would you ask to play?
Ade: I would have Iron Maiden headlining, just so we could hang out with them. We would open the bill obviously.
Sarah: You can’t put us on our own festival.
Ade: Yeah you can, that’s the whole point.
Sarah: I would probably put Primordial on there and Insolitude.
Sarah: That would be an awesome line up; Iron Maiden, Winterson, Insolitude, Primordial and us maybe. Just for our own egos.
How would you describe your band in 3 words?
Sarah: Epic, Celtic heavy metal. I know it’s it’s 4 but…
Ade: We only need 2; heavy metal!
How would you describe each other in 3 words?
Ade: Can any of these words be profanities? [Laughs] I don’t know. Blood brothers, sisters.
Sarah: Ahh that’s really sweet. I was going to say big fucking twats. [Laughs]
Ade: But that’s implied though.
Sarah: No we’ll go with his instead.
Ade: Blood brothers and sisters, big fucking twats.
Sarah: You’re so nice, I’m so mean.
Ade: We’re a pretty close band actually. As much as we slag each other off and have a bit of banter, but like I said earlier on, we’ve spent so much time together really other over the past 5 or 6 years that it is like a little family which is cool, and even the 2 new guys have just felt right at home straight away.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment on stage so far?
Sarah: On the Alestorm tour on 2 consecutive gigs I tripped up over the same monitor on stage that was on stage for the second keyboard player. This tour I’ve head butted numerous mics. I almost pushed a monitor off stage last night. I sang in numbers earlier on because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. So much stuff! We all keep tripping and falling. Or just playing the wrong note by accident. That’s probably the worst thing you can do.
Ade: It goes with the territory but yeah if we don’t fall on our asses it’s going to be a good gig.
Sarah: But even if we do it’s usually is anyway.
Ade: We’re pretty animated on stage. Even on the smaller stages we try to put on the same show if possible. We get weird looks from the local crew sometimes when we’re on a stage no bigger than the size of this table and we’re plugging into wirelesses and they’re like ‘bloody rock stars’. But it’s not really the point, we try to move around as much as possible and even if that’s in a really confined space it’s what we try to do. But inevitably, you can fall on your arse.
It’s how you handle it, that’s what people want to see.
Sarah: You just have to keep on playing and try to like try to get up and try to play the right notes while you do I suppose.
Ade: Yeah, and try not to bust a spine or anything like that.
Sarah: And even if you do just carry on.
I have seen someone fall off stage into the crowd and just keep on playing while everyone else was going ’oh my god’.
Sarah: It’s actually really easy to do though cause when you’re on stage and the lights and stuff, especially when you’re hairs in your face you don’t really know where you’re putting your feet. The amount of times I’ve nearly fallen off stage and you’re like teetering on the edge.
Ade: Nobody’s dead so far to its all fine.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s pretty good going.
Bit of a random question – if you could be a superhero what would you be and why?
Ade: I’m not a superhero?
Sarah: No you’re not. If I have super power I think I would just fly, definitely fly. Flying would be the best thing ever.
Ade: I’d be Batman because he gets the job done; he’s cool. And that would mean that I’d actually do death metal vocals in a band. .you know, Christian Bale style. In fact if there’s anything I have learned with touring with Alestorm and Gloryhammer its if I can form a band around superheros then it’ll probably sell really well. The sillier the better. Not enough costumes, that’s the problem with Darkest Era.
Sarah: That’s a good idea.
Maybe for the next album?
Ade: Yeah, the last caress of bananaman before we depart.
I think playing guitar in a bananaman outfit would go down very well.
Ade: Well we’ve still got a bit of time before we go on stage, so leave it with me.