Interview with Dan Mitchell
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: November 2, 2013
Connecticut's Horror Metal Band Autumns Eyes are always hard at work creating more creepy and atmospheric music to haunt those dark and stormy nights. The band's latest release is the instrumental Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets and I asked the man behind the band, Dan Mitchell, writer, musician, webmaster and lover of all things Halloween, to share a bit about the album and his plans for Autumns Eyes. Along the way, he shares his thoughts on songwriting and some of his plans outside of Autumns Eyes.
MetalMike: Hey Dan, how are things in the Autumns Eyes camp? How has the reception been for your seventh full-length, Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets?
Dan: Unfortunately, things have actually been quite shitty as of late, and Autumns Eyes has been on hold for quite some time now. I recently found out a close family member has cancer, and I myself caught a bad case of Lyme disease. As for the new album, the majority of feedback has been positive.
MetalMike: Wow, sorry to hear about all the sad news. Hopefully we can take your mind off your troubles for a bit. I'm sure the title of the new album was designed to fit with the band's "Horror Metal" image, but is there a more specific meaning?
Dan: The title is influenced from where I grew up in Connecticut. One of the strongest memories I have from October is walking around the neighborhood with leaves crunching under my feet while being surrounded by houses that were completely decked out in Halloween attire.
MetalMike: The songs on Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets were originally composed back when you started the band several years ago. As you state on your website, they haven't seen the light of day since then. What prompted you to bring them back to life at this time?
Dan: The original recordings were on tape, which is a format that does not lend itself well to longevity. I wanted to preserve these songs, and give them a proper recording so they could stand the test of time.
MetalMike: How much work did it take to bring them to the point where you were satisfied enough to unleash them on the world? I'm sure both your songwriting and playing skills have improved over the years.
Dan: It was difficult to maintain the same sonic characteristics that I love about the originals while also injecting new life into the recordings. There are a few areas that feature new parts, but everything else is exactly how it was played over a decade ago.
MetalMike: Your recent releases have featured vocals (Death growls on Surrender the Fire, clear singing on Please Deceive Me) but Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets is all instrumental. No operatic vocals this time? : ) Seriously, why no vocals this time around?
Dan: The originals never had vocals on them and were always meant to be instrumentals.
MetalMike: Even without lyrics, I found Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets to be very atmospheric and creepy, which I'm sure, was at least part of your overall intention. How do you craft a song to have that type of feel? Where should the Autumns Eyes fan be when listening for the optimal experience?
Dan: I record a lot of the outdoor atmosphere around where I live such as crickets, frogs, birds, lightning, and other spooky sounds courtesy of Mother Nature. I'm very much aware of every little element in the songs, and make it a point to mix elements that people won't hear on their first listen. I like to give listeners a reason to keep coming back for more, so they can hear something new each time.
MetalMike: Do you think the physical location of where a song is written can have an impact on the song? Led Zeppelin famously created "Stairway to Heaven" while Jimmy Page was living in Aleister Crowley's former home. Are there places you like to visit to see if the spirit moves you?
Dan: Environments can have an immense impact on what you create. Even little things like a candle or a stick of incense can completely alter the mood of what you create. I spend a lot of time outdoors exploring the woods and absorbing as much as possible. When it comes time to create I can tap into those memories like a creative database for inspiration.
MetalMike: You self-produce your albums and I believe that to be true for your current album as well. How have things changes since you first put these songs on tape/computer?
Dan: There is an overwhelming amount of options today in digital recording. You can tweak things an infinite number of times, and it's getting harder to know when to stop. I always imagined audio engineering and production would be easier in the future, but it has become so much more of a challenge to make decisions.
MetalMike: What is next for Autumns Eyes? Last time we talked the possibility of live performances was on the table. Is that getting any closer to reality?
Dan: I'm currently working on vocals for an upcoming German metal bands' debut album. The band name is Child of Caesar and the project is absolutely incredible. I'm very excited to be working on it, and can't wait for its release in 2014. It has a very heavy goth-rock, Moonspell type of vibe to it. That's all I can reveal for now, but more details will be released soon.
MetalMike: Halloween is drawing close (at the time of this interview). How do you prepare for that night and what are some of your traditions? What movies do you watch each season? (I, for one, watch Young Frankenstein every year)
Dan: Trick R' Treat is a new one I've added to the "must-watch" tradition list. Other than that, I always watch The Crow on October 30th (Devil's Night). I also watch the original Halloween on Halloween night.
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to answer these questions, Dan. Is there anything else about the album or Autumns Eyes you'd like the readers to know?
Dan: I suppose I should mention that the next Autumns Eyes album will be a full length, and will actually feature guest musicians from a few bands that were huge influences on me over the years.
MetalMike: Congratulations again on the new album, Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets!
Dan: Thanks Mike, I appreciate the kind words.
|Other information about Autumns Eyes on this site|
|Review: Surrender the Fire|
|Review: Please Deceive Me|
|Review: Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on July 25, 2012 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on November 28, 2015 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Video: Please Deceive Me|
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