Interview with Dominik and Mike from Downfall of Gaia

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Downfall of Gaia Interview

Interview by InfamousButcher
Photos by SheWolf

Interviewed on January 24, 2015 at the Downfall of Gaia show in Delaware

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German atmospheric sludge / doom metallers Downfall of Gaia have recently released their third album AEON UNVEILS IN THE THRONES OF DECAY and are in the midst of an extensive U.S. tour. I was able to meet up with guitarist / vocalist Dominik Goncalves dos Reis and drummer Michael Kadnar at their gig at Mojo 13 to ask them a few questions about their band and their new album.


 

Downfall of Gaia has been around since 2008. What were you setting out to do when you formed the band?

Dominik Goncalves dos Reis: We just started the band in 2008 out of the ashes of our old band. So the bass player and me, we had a band before. It was some shitty crust punk band and we just did it for the fun. We were coming from a pretty small town so we started the band to kill the time. And from there things just grew, organic, so we just wanted to tour. And then the next step was to release a record. Things just came step by step. There wasn’t really a goal that we had or something that we wanted to achieve. It was just to kill the time and now it’s what it became.

Germany has a rich metal history. What is your impression of the German metal scene?

Dominik: The German metal scene is pretty active and big. So there are a lot of great festivals, and a lot of great bands are brewing, and getting bigger and bigger. There’s so much going on. How is it compared to the States?

Michael Kadnar: I did my first European tour with the band last June, and it’s totally different. The venues are larger, more supportive. The bands are more established. Especially the festivals are gigantic compared to the U.S. I’d heard stories and then when I was actually there I was blown away by the amount of support and the amount of people that were actually there for the music.

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Your band has a cool name. What does Downfall of Gaia mean?

Dominik: In Greek Mythology, Gaia is Mother Earth. So we want to have a name that fits our band and the topics we are dealing with. We write about the negative sides of life. It’s a pretty good name for all of this. It fits pretty well. Plus it sounds pretty nice. There’s nothing worse than finding the right band name. It’s the most annoying thing.

How would you describe your style of metal?

Mike: It’s a mix of a lot of things. I mean all four of us come from completely different backgrounds, music, sub-genres, upbringing. I went to school for jazz percussion so I always had that element in my back pocket, but I’m also a huge fan of metal. Most of the people who review the record say it’s a mix of sludge, doom and black metal. It just kind of came naturally on this new record. I think some of the older stuff is a little bit more d-beat, a little bit more post-metal. Now this recent record is a little bit more aggressive, black metal-ish.

Dominik: The rest of us, the three other guys, we are coming from the punk rock scene, so that is where we all started. Over the years we’ve moved way more into metal and it’s been pretty organic. A progression. More and more influence came together. As you said we’re all listening to totally different music, so there are a lot of things that come together when we write songs.

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What bands would you consider your main influences?

Mike: Any of the local bands in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of great black metal and post metal there.

Dominik: Neurosis of course. Neurosis is one of the main reasons the band became like it’s sounding today. We played a show with them. We opened for them once in Germany last summer.

Mike: A big one is Amon Amarth. Another huge influence on all of us.

You started as more of a crust punk band with your first album EPOS. What brought about your change in style that was shown on SUFFOCATING IN THE SWARM OF CRANES?

Dominik: We always tried to sound like what we sounded like on the SUFFOCATING album, but we had an old drummer and it just wasn’t possible for us to play some blast beat stuff and whatever. Around that time we were also more into crust and d-beat and all that stuff and of course we would have loved to have some blast beats but that wasn’t possible. When we added a new drummer for the SUFFOCATING LP that brought a lot of influence. He was a pretty technique player and we didn’t have that before so it was pretty new for us and we had so much more possibilities.

How long have you been in the band, Mike?

Mike: I joined between SUFFOCATING and the new record. And I’m also the next new drummer. I’m from New York.

Dominik: It just became that way. Each record had a new drummer.

Being that it is a German band, how did you come about getting the gig, Mike?

Mike: Two summers ago in August, they were looking to tour the U.S. They contacted my band from New York and said, oh do you want to do this tour with these guys? Yeah sure. So we did this tour and we became good friends and we had a good time. They went back to Europe. I think they did a European tour and then their drummer quit. Long story short we’re e-mailing and I was kind of joking, hey I could be your drummer. They said we have some big festivals, why don’t you just do that, so I said yes. And that’s it. Here we are.

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Tell me about the new album. What is the concept behind AEON?

Dominik: It’s a story about time and all of its relentless sides, and stories and things each and every one has to deal with while growing and getting older. People pass away and all of that stuff and change, places change, places that you’ve called home and so many things. So each song deals with a different topic about time and change and the negative.

Are you playing a lot of material off your new album for this tour?

Dominik: Most of it is the new stuff, because we just can’t hear the old stuff anymore. It’s just a little annoying to play it.

Mike: For me it’s still exciting to play some of the old stuff because for me it’s only been one tour, but for the rest of the guys it’s been like four or five tours. It’s pretty much the whole new record minus one song and then a couple from the SUFFOCATING album. It’s a long set. It should be like an hour, a little less than an hour is the full set. If we are allowed. Last night we had a curfew. We only got to do like a 30-35 minute set. There was another show after us so we had to leave by 10:30.

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You’ve done several U.S. tours. How is the current tour going?

Mike: It’s only been two shows, so it’s very early but both shows were better than expected. The last couple of U.S. tours had some low points and bad shows, but again this is still early. We are going to be playing with a lot of great bands in a lot of great venues, so we are very optimistic about this tour. I think it will be a better one. We’ll get back to you on that one.

It’s all local support on the bills?

Mike: Yeah we tried to do a co-headline but it didn’t work out. We’ve got a few bands that are doing 2-3 shows in a row with us at certain times. It’s like little mini tours for those bands while they are on tour with us, so it all works out.

Thanks very much for the interview guys. It was great to meet you.

Dominik: Great to meet you too, thanks for setting this up.

Mike: Good to meet you and thanks for the support.