Interview by Cristóbal Torres
Doomsday is a total cult Mexican band. It was born in the mid-nineties in León, Guanajuato and made its debut until 2003 with its first full-length titled: LA MUERTE DEL REY ARTURO.
That album was followed by two other releases: ANTE LAS RUINAS DE LA UTOPÍA (2007) and Superstition (2010), as well as a re-release of ANTE LAS RUINAS DE LA UTOPÍA 2.0 in 2019.
This discography shines with a very special light because it was a handicraft, trial and error, forged in a self-taught way in night sessions.
Last year the group set off the alarms with the release of their single: “El Cantil de las Águilas”, which led us to suppose that a new album was coming and fortunately this happened.
At the beginning of July, Doomsday presented its fourth full-length titled LEYENDAS (2021), an opus with eight themes based on different folk tales both from Mexico and from other parts of the world.
We decided to contact Omar Jacobo, Doomsday’s mastermind and living soul, as well as one of the most interesting characters on the Mexican scene.
With a pleasant, festive and simple character, he answered the following questions not only about LEYENDAS, but the whole history of Doomsday.
Cristóbal Torres (CT): How do you remember the scene at that time when LA MUERTE DEL REY ARTURO came out, when the internet was a fiction, does it generate nostalgia or do you prefer current times?
Omar Jacobo (OJ): Well, there was already the Internet, although records were still being sold and that’s what my pocketbook misses the most. Other than that, I prefer the way things are now — you can reach more people very quickly, without intermediaries or other people who are robbing you.
CT: Do you remember the moment when the first spark of creating Doomsday emerged, what was it like?
OJ: I had a bit of experience because I had recorded some things with other people, and my friends were always fucking with me that I should record something, so I did. We were just an interface, a guitar, a keyboard, a singer and me.
The spark that ended up cheering me on was when I wrote to Warlord guitarist William Tsamis, whom I greatly admired, who had just recorded a project with Vidonne Sayre-Riemenschneider. We had communication for a while and he told me how he recorded his entire project as well as how I ended up doing it. It was a great inspiration musically as well.
CT: When and how did you make the decision to carry out the project by yourself, without looking for other full-time members?
OJ: I’ve never wanted it to be like this. If it were up to me, I would do as little as possible because being a jerk is my nature; but, for some reason, the people who are with me cannot or do not want to record. I don’t blame them, it’s not for everyone. It’s like when you’re in school and you’re doing very well, but when it’s time to take an exam, you screw it up and fail.
CT: How did you learn to play so many instruments; was it more out of necessity?
OJ: Exactly, out of necessity. For example, I was obsessed for a while with the sound of the duduk (a wind instrument from Armenia), it has a magical, melancholic, ancient, sad and mysterious sound and I would never find someone in my neighborhood that knew how to play it, so I bought one on Amazon and played it for a while until I could hit some decent notes. I ended up using it in the “Gracias por los juguetes” song and I was very happy with the result. I will use it for something in the future for sure.
CT: In 2019 you released a remastered version of ANTE LAS RUINAS DE LA UTOPÍA, what motivated you to take that step?
OJ: In the case of ANTE LAS RUINAS DE LA UTOPÍA 2.0 it was because I always thought that the takes I had recorded with the singer at home were better than the ones we recorded in a studio shortly after to replace them. One day I found the original recordings, listened to them and decided to mix and master them to upload them to digital platforms.
That recording session at my house was a great experience; lasted all night; 12 hours uninterrupted recording the voice.
There are some variations on some instruments. It seems to me that there is only one that was not in “La Ira de Ra” and several details. I think that version is a better album than the one that was released physically.
CT: Why didn’t you do the same with LA MUERTE DEL REY ARTURO?
OJ: I would like nothing more, but unfortunately the original files were lost. What I did do was remaster it and add a song that I worked on shortly after recording that album and then stored and forLgot. It’s called “Sombras” and it’s a bonus track in the version that’s on digital platforms.
CT: Your third album SUPERSTITION came out in English, what motivated you to make that language change and why haven’t you written in English since then?
OJ: It was an experiment. There is a track called “The spirit and soul are confused” which is a composition by Johann Sebastian Bach and it is the hardest thing I have done. It was recorded on a church pipe organ that didn’t have all the keys working, so I had to play the notes in another key and then modify those notes in post-production. By the way, that’s the least listened to Doomsday song …
I did not write in English again because I did not work. You see: now, thanks to the statistics of digital platforms, we can know what people listen to the most and that album has always been at the bottom. It’s a shame because I don’t think it’s bad.
CT: How much has your way of working (recording, mixing, mastering) changed from LA MUERTE DEL REY ARTURO to nowadays?
OJ: Pretty much, I’ve learned a lot from so much screw up. Besides, now the one who does not learn to do something is because he does not want to. There are thousands of free teachers of whatever you want on the internet.
When I think about how I recorded LA MUERTE DEL REY ARTURO I get nostalgic because I had absolutely nothing. Maybe I wouldn’t dare to record something with so few resources if I had to do it now.
It takes me much less time in the process of capturing the instruments, but in post-production it does take me months with each song. I change everything, effects, EQs … until I’m 100% happy.
Before, I stopped working on something when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, not so much because I was ready. Now it is different.
CT: In what ways do you think LEYENDAS shows the evolution in the sound of Doomsday?
OJ: I hadn’t thought about it, but I think now I’m more focused on the song as a whole; in the song as a vehicle to tell something without much detour.
CT: When did you start working on LEYENDAS? Did you use your free time or did you open a space to dedicate yourself fully to the album?
OJ: I always work on music at night. Unfortunately it is not possible for me during the day, I just do not concentrate.
Whenever I record an album I end up older, fatter and sicker because these are long periods of time; up to 6 months or more where I only sleep 2 or 3 hours. It is difficult and tiring, a real torture and I love it.
CT: I read that the “La Condesa” song dates from your student days. Was the same for the rest of the pieces that make up LEYENDAS or were they recently conceived?
OJ: All the other songs are new, only a part of “Gracias por los juguetes” is from a demo from 2008, I think.
CT: Is LEYENDAS only available in digital format or will it have a physical version?
OJ: Digital only. There is someone out there who is proposing something to me regarding getting it physical. But if I have to put my own money in, I will not enter. I see no case.
CT: I am amazed that Doomsday has been making music for over 25 years, what is the main motivation for continuing to do so?
OJ: We have been in rock here since 1994. I cannot express what my motivation is, everything related to music is always a burden for me because I have to stop doing the things that I like and for what I was really born, which is to play XBOX and watch movies.
I will always look for excuses not to play, we have really gone to CDMX and other cities because others want to. Whenever I finish an album I say that it will be the last and you see…
CT: Are there any plans to tour or perform live or how do you plan to spread the album?
OJ: Yes. These days we are going to meet to rehearse and plan that. If all goes well, we’re going to add another guitarist so we can play the harmonies of LEYENDAS properly.
CT: Thank you very much for the time and congratulations on LEYENDAS, I hope it reaches many listeners. Any final words for readers?
OJ: Just thank you for making it this far and remind you that you can listen to all the Doomsday music at www.doomsday.com.mx.
I send you a big greeting and I hope that soon we can meet without masks.