Singer Lawrence Mackrory – Darkane
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for getting this interview done.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing the promo pics.
Here comes an update on what’s going on in the Darkane camp. The band recently released the album THE SINISTER SUPREMACY which took five years to get out to the masses. A lot has happened in the band during these years and the original singer Lawrence Mackrory (F.K.U.) has joined forces with the band again. I had the opportunity to have a really nice chat with Mackrory. The band is considered as one of the leading acts within the Swedish thrash metal scene.
Hello Lawrence how are you today? Ready to kick off the interview?
Great, thanks! Having an “office day” mailing labels, video directors and booking agency people. Also gearing up to do a European tour in March. Lots to do at the moment. Shoot!
First off all I have to congratulate you to being back with the band again, how does it feel to be back with the guys?
If feels great and we’re having lots of fun. It’s funny, really, how it didn’t feel weird at all. We get along great and are more focused than ever. Good times ahead!
Did you ever hesitate to join the band again?
No. I was actually interested in coming back when Andreas left but they had already got Jens by then. So I’ve been wanting to come back for a long while. Finally the planets aligned.
The brand new Darkane album is titled THE SINISTER SUPREMACY and was released in July last year. How long did it take to write and record the album?
We took our time, we didn’t want to rush it. We wrote the album during the course of a year and recorded off and on throughout 2012. We wanted to make sure the songs were the best they could be.
Had you a big part in the writing process? Did you ever feel any pressure when you were working on the material?
I wrote all the vocal parts and most of the lyrics and also had a hand in arranging the songs. Of course I felt pressure, this was my return and I wanted it to be the best Darkane album it could possibly be. I also had a lot to prove with my vocals. I worked hard on my aggressive vocal style and improved a lot during the writing and rehearsing process.
Who is the main songwriter in the band?
Klas and Christofer are the ones who write the initial ideas. Sometimes they write full songs, sometimes it’s only a few riffs that go together and then the rest of us help make them complete songs. Peter is also a very important part in structuring the songs. Especially with Christofers songs.
Where does the title THE SINISTER SUPREMACY come from? Does the title mean anything special to you and the band?
It was an idea I had about the evil in our minds taking control. I think everyone has good and bad thoughts and with some people the bad part dominates. It is an interesting subject and as I was writing the lyrics I saw that theme evolving. That’s when I came up with the title. It’s a metaphor for the evil that controls us.
When I listened to the album I could hear a more darker, heavier, faster and meaner sound of Darkane that feels a bit different from your previous albums. What do you think? Has the band developed music-wise since the last album you appeared on?
I think this album is a step towards the darker side, for sure, but it wasn’t something deliberate. Naturally the band has evolved through the years but they, I say “they” since there were 4 albums I wasn’t involved in, have always stuck true to their original sound. Many bands change radically a few albums into their career but I just think we’re comfortable with the style we do and don’t really feel a need to stray too far from it. We write the music we do because that’s the music we want to play. Simple as that.
The band put out a documentary about the making of the album on Youtube what did the fans think of the documentary?
They seem to like it a lot. It’s always fun to see how bands work and it also gives people the opportunity to see a more personal side of the band, the not always so serious side. We like to goof around a lot.
What do you think of the cover art-work? Do you think it reflects the music on the album?
I think it does, yeah. It’s just as dark as the music and very twisted. The fun thing is that everybody asks what the image is and everybody sees different things. That’s actually the whole point behind it. It’s designed to stimulate the imagination.
The song “Mechanically Divine” was also featured on Youtube what respond did you get on the song there?
A lot of people have said that it’s the best song on the album. We’ve actually just come out with a promo video for that song as well and the response has been great. It’s fairly simple, but very stylish. It’s just us performing but a lot of our fans are really interested in the playing so it’s a chance for them to see us actually perform the song, instead of making a video with some sort of storyline.
(Link to video: http://youtu.be/Zrz5Z-lq7ng)
A release party was held for the album in Helsingborg, Sweden. How was that? Did the band perform live?
Yeah we performed the whole album start to finish in front of about 250 people in a club that only holds 150, so it was a really fun night. Jam packed and sweaty. We sold our beer Darkale at the bar and everybody had a really good time. It’s great to perform the whole album at least once because you get a chance to play all the songs. Usually there’s always a few songs from an album that you never perform live because you have to throw some old songs in there as well.
Do you think that fans of Darkane are going to like and recognize THE SINISTER SUPREMACY if you compare it to your previous albums?
Yes, absolutely. We have our style and sound and from what I’ve heard from fans and read in reviews we’ve followed the path we set out from the beginning but also kept it fresh and interesting. So I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do.
Have you read reviews of the album in media? Do you and the band care about what the press and critics thinks about your work?
Of course we care. Anyone who says they don’t is a liar. We’ve read many reviews and luckily they are all positive and most of them really positive and saying it’s our best album yet. That’s always something you like to hear.
There are two bonus songs on the limited version of the album but are there any more bonus stuff featured besides that?
We released demo versions of “In the absence of pain” and “the decline” on the Japanese version of the album. Other than that there’s nothing more. We had a couple more half-finished songs but we never recorded them. They just didn’t feel good enough. At least not by the time we started recording. Maybe they’ll become something in the future.
Are there any plans on releasing the album on vinyl?
I wish! I love vinyl. But so far the labels haven’t expressed any desire to do that, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the future.
The album clocks in on 50 minutes which makes it a pretty long album. Was it the bands intention to make a long album or it was just a coincidence?
Just a coincidence. Most albums nowadays are around 45 minutes so 50 is not too far off. There were just too many good songs and we didn’t want to leave any out. For once we were 100% percent satisfied with every song so why not put them all on there? We had to put a stop somewhere so 2 became bonus tracks.
The following statement can be find in the bio “Ever experimental yet staying true to their roots. The 2013 version of the band is a brand new beast, ready to be unleashed”. What do you think of those words, do you feel they describe the band well?
Yeah, I touched on that earlier. It’s very true. We still play fast, we still play heavy and technical, we still combine aggression with melody but now we’ve also added some more elements in the mix and as long as we feel it works within the concept of the band we will continue to do so.
Many bands and artists thinks that their latest album are their best ones yet, do you and the band also feels that towards THE SINISTER SUPREMACY?
Yes. I mean, you can never be objective about and album until a few years have passed. But we all truly feel it’s our best yet.
I have to say to you do a brilliant job behind the mic but also drummer Peter Wildoer does an amazing job. Are you happy with the band members efforts on the disc?
Thank you! That really means a lot since I had some doubts about my ability when re-joining the band. Everybody worked really hard on this album. Everyone takes it very seriously and practices hard and I’m very proud of everybody’s performances.
Do you know when the previous singer Jens Broman decided to leave the band?
It was around the same time I was asked to sing with Darkane on a European tour. Jens didn’t want to do the tour so they asked me instead. I of course wanted to do it but I also told them I would really like to come back full time if they wanted me to. What eventually happened is that Jens decided to leave.
What do you think of the last Darkane album you sang on, RUSTED ANGEL from 2009 today?
I still think it’s a very strong album, it still holds up today. I was very young when we did it and looking back at it I’m very proud. Some of that stuff is hard to sing today since my voice has changed a lot with age but I always try my very best.
You did the Demonic Allegiance Tour in 2011 how was that?
A lot of fun. It’s was great to get to know the other guys all over again since we hadn’t met for a long time and luckily we all got along really well. We’re all very good friends that help each other out and I’m really proud to have such great friends and bandmates. Every tour has its ups and downs but it worked out really well. For me it felt like I had lever left the band.
Have you followed what the band have been up to through the years?
Yeah, I’ve had my eye on them and I always listened to the albums when they came out. I remember especially liking Layers of lies when it came out. I listened to that one a lot.
You are also a part of the band F.K.Ü and do you see any problems in the fact that you’re involved in two bands at the same time?
No, not at the moment. None of the band work full time yet so we’re not always on the road. So far there have been no problems but eventually it might. With some planning it’s never really a big problem.
Do you still live in Uppsala or have you joined forces with the rest of Darkane in Helsingborg?
No, I have my whole life back in Uppsala. Girlfriend, dogs, friends, family and my studio where I produce music. I have no plans on moving and these days there really is no need to. I come down to Helsingborg when it’s needed.
What’s the status on the band Scarve? You’re part of that band right?
Yeah, at least I think so hahah! Dirk sometimes tell me they’re going to write some new songs soon and I always say I’m ready, but nothing has really happened so far. But I think Scarve will more or less become a project band that mostly do albums and not touring so much. Both Dirk and Sylvain are full time musicians with Soilwork so they don’t have enough time to spend on Scarve.
Are you happy with what you have achieved as a musician so far?
I am, but I know I have a lot more left to achieve. I’ve opted to combine a career as a producer, mixing and mastering engineer with playing in bands and I’m hoping that works out as long as possible. I’m hoping to be able to continue doing music for the rest of my life.
What’s your opinion on the illegal downloading of albums today and what do you think of the music industry of today compared when you first started out?
There’s a lot more bands today and less people who buy albums. It seems like the “market”, if you will, is a bit saturated. I personally don’t support illegal downloading, but I grew up in a time where you bought LP’s and CD’s. If I could buy an album a month when I was young I was very happy. But I understand that kids today are used to being able to get anything anytime. The industry has finally caught up and are offering low cost streaming services now, but one has to wonder if it’s not too little too late.
Studio and production
Darkane has built a studio, where is it located and what’s its name?
It’s in Helsingborg and has the very creative name of Darkane Studio, just because we couldn’t figure out a cool name. It’s an old warehouse that we renovated and there’s plenty of space. Also, I have my studio called Maskinrummet (Swedish for The Machine Room) in Uppsala and that’s were I did all my vocal recordings.
How was it to record an album in your own studio? Was it any difference from previous recordings?
The great thing is that you can spend as much time as you want, but the drawback is of course that you can spend as much time as you want, if you understand? A drum recording in a rented studio that takes 3-7 days could easily take 3-7 weeks in your own studio if you’re not disciplined enough. But overall it was great not to have the feeling of stress because of a studio costing money.
Who produced the new album?
We produced the album as a band like Darkane has done for the last 2 albums. We had Daniel Bergstrand come down to Helsingborg and help set up the drum tones because he’s just a wizard with that. He really knows how to get the best acoustic tones.
The legendary producer Daniel Bergstrand was in charge of the mixing. Where was that done and were any of the band members part of that process?
The mixing was done at Daniels studio Dugout Productions in Uppsala. He’s mixed many great albums there like Meshuggah’s Koloss and the last Decapitated. I assisted Daniel with the mixing, mostly helping out with extra editing and time saving work while he was completely in charge of getting all the tones right. Me and Daniel have a long history of working together. My first internship as an engineer was with Daniel back in 1998.
The recording of the album began in the summer of 2012 is that correct? Why took it so long to get it finished and ready to release?
Yeah, Peter started tracking during the summer. The reason it took so long finish the album, and we haven’t spoken about this before, but our record deal with Nuclear Blast had expired so we were actually negotiating new deals while we were recording. The deals weren’t final until late 2012 and we couldn’t actually book the mixing until we knew what budget we had to work with. So, when the deals were finally done we booked the mix and had to wait an additional couple of months before Daniel had time in his schedule for the mixing. We were initially aiming for the album to come out in 2012 but this stuff that happens sometimes.
Past present and future
The band has got a really good and informative website, who runs it? Does the band think it’s important to be active on the social forums on the net?
We run the website ourselves. I designed it and Jörgen coded it. A good website is very important I think, these social sites come and go (remember MySpace?) so it’s good to have your own site that will always be there no matter what. We’re used to doing everything ourselves which is important for a smaller band. We try to be active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as much as possible and always answer fan questions. I think it’s really important because looking back at when I was a kid I could never have dreamt to be able to send a question to a band and get an answer.
What’s the most common question the band get from fans?
A lot of it is gear and technique related, Peter especially gets a lot of these questions since he’s a high profile drummer doing clinics and drum festivals. On Twitter I get all kinds of questions regarding songwriting, specific songs etc. It’s fun and I try to always answer the best I can.
You also got your own beerbrand called Darkale which is brewed by a local brewery. How did the band come up with the idea of having a own beer?
Helsingborg Brewery wanted to do metal related beer and the owner of the brewery knows Peter. They wanted to use Darkane since we represent the metal scene in Helsingborg and the name Darkale was just too good to pass up ha ha! It’s only a limited edition beer so unfortunately it won’t be around forever, and due to Swedish laws we’re not allowed to sell it ourselves at shows or online. But it tastes so good, it’s actually one of my favorite ales ever.
The band was out on a shorter tour together with Dark Tranquillity how was that?
It was good to be able to do some Swedish shows again. We’ve done a lot of European and US tours but haven’t actually played at home that much, so that was cool. And Dark Tranquillity and their crew are all super nice and helpful people so we had a blast. Too bad it was so short.
Is the band anxious to get out on tour now that the new album is out?
YES! We’re doing a European tour in March with Soilwork which will be absolutely brilliant since they’re good friends of ours. Then hopefully some festivals and some more touring in the fall. We haven’t even warmed up yet. We’re really hungry to get out there some more.
How come the band has done so few shows and tours through Scandinavia for the past years?
I can’t speak for the band when I wasn’t in it, but when I joined again they didn’t have a booking agent to get us shows in Scandinavia. Now that we’ve done the bigger Swedish cities we really want to play more in the other Scandinavian cities as well.
Are there any interest shown for the band in America and Asia?
Yes, especially in the US. We’re been trying hard to find a tour in the US and we’re currently talking to some agents. The market for tours is hard. So many bands want to get out there and we’re just one among a thousand. It’s tough having been out of the touring business for so long, it’s hard to get back in and on peoples radar, even with a new album out. We really want to go to Asia and especially back to Japan again. I’ve never been to Asia myself so that’s very appealing to me.
Prior to the new album the band hadn’t released an album for 5 years. Do you think that have had any negative effect amongst the fans? I mean it’s quite a long time.
It has, and yes, it really is a long time. Too long! What happens is people forget about you since there is so much quality metal being made nowadays. It seems like our true fans have forgiven us for the long wait and for that we’re very thankful, but for someone that started listening to metal just 5 years ago, we’re a brand new band to them. There are many reasons it took so long to get back on the horse. A lot of things happened at once and once we finally got our act together and solved all the issues we realized quite a long time had passed.
Are the fans going to have to wait 5 years for the next Darkane album?
No, absolutely not! Now we’re back and fully functioning. We’re already writing new stuff so it won’t be as long between albums. We’ve also started working with booking agents so there will be more touring in the future.
Darkane is called Swedish thrash metal leaders. How does that feel?
Feels good. Anything being said positively about us is great. I don’t care if someone says we’re the best polka band in the world. As long as it’s positive we’re happy. It feels great to just keep doing what we do and just get better at doing it.
I know that the band is heading out with Soilwork on tour in Europe soon. Are you exited and where will that tour take you?
It will be a great tour. As I said, they’re our friends and Darkane has toured with them before. Peter and Dirk share drum equipment and there’s no way this will be a bad tour for either band. We also share a lot of the same fans so it’s the perfect tour actually. We’ll cover Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and the UK. Many cities and venues we’ve never played before. We’re looking forward to this very much.
You’re also booked for Hammerfest VI om England, are you exited? The last time the band performed in England was 2002.
This is probably what excites us the most. Just going to the north of Wales is awesome, let alone be on a bill with Overkill and Kreator, some of my childhood heroes. I was born in England, just south west of London in a small town called Chertsey. I love England and go there every summer. So just being in the UK for me is awesome. Love it!
Are there any other shows or tour booked for the summer so far?
There will be some festival dates but nothing is 100% yet. We’ll have to wait and see. We’re going to try to tour as much as anyone will let us.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy THE SINISTER SUPREMACY?
1.If your like a broad spectrum of metal you’ll like this album.
2.It’s the best songs we’ve written so far.
3.It’s sounds absolutely amazing and organic. Example: Not many bands use 100% acoustic drums tones but we’re one of them.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered the music of Darkane yet?
I would give them those 3 reasons I just mentioned. Also there’s passion in what we do. It’s not just metal by numbers. We want to give people neck-breaking energy but also classy melodies. We’ve had melody in both the music and vocals since our debut album in 1998 and we were one of the first aggressive metal bands to do that. I think we incorporate that aspect really well, with not making it sound poppy. As you see I could go on and on, I’m just really proud of what we’ve achieved and I know even better things are yet to come. Being excited for the future is an understatement.
That was all for me and metal-rules.com for now. Thanks for taking the time making the interview. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Be brave and strong and try to push the boundaries in whatever it is you do. Try to be inspired by things around you. Stop to have a look and a listen. Your world is only as good as you make it. And with those cheesy (yet important) words out of the way… STAY METAL!
Thanks for the great questions and not just the boring usual ones. GOOD JOB!
Darkane Mechanically Divine New Promo Video here: http://youtu.be/Zrz5Z-lq7ng
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