Interview with Dan Mitchell
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: November 28, 2015
Connecticut's one-man "Horror" Metal band Autumns Eyes is back with a new album and video for the fall of 2015, Ending Life Slowly and "Internal Arson." The Metal Crypt caught up with Dan Mitchell, the driving force behind all things Autumns Eyes, to find out what's been happening since we last spoke in 2013 and to find out more about this new album and video.
MetalMike: Hey Dan, how are you? We last spoke in November 2013 after the release of Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets and things were a little rough personally but you had some musical "irons in the fire". How are things in 2015? Did you have a "haunted" Halloween?
Dan: Thanks for your time Mike, I appreciate it! One thing I've learned over the years is to be prepared for the unexpected. It seems like every time I schedule a release, something bad happens to get in the way. This year, I wanted to shoot a new music video, and had everything planned out for a Halloween release. What I didn't plan on was getting deathly ill immediately after the video shoot, setting me back an entire week with a nasty case of bronchitis and a gross eye infection. Once everything cleared up, I really had to step on the gas in order to finish everything in time for Halloween. Thankfully it all came together in the end!
MetalMike: Last time we spoke you mentioned working with a Black Metal project called Child of Caesar. What is the status with that project? Any other projects besides Autumns Eyes in the works?
Dan: Child of Caesar was a fun project to be a part of and turned out to be more of a straightforward goth-rock album that I lent my vocals to. It was the first time I recorded music which I had no control over, and it became quite the learning experience. I made a great friend in Andre, the guy who runs Child of Caesar, who also helped me strip away the insecurities I had surrounding my vocal capabilities. Typically, I am used to drowning my voice in reverb and harmonies so as to hide what I consider a hideous sounding voice, but Child of Caesar required a much more vulnerable vocal sound. It was uncomfortable at first but Andre kept reminding me to just follow the feel this music gives you, rather than nitpicking the frivolous details of my voice. Overall it gave me more confidence as a singer, which has since been applicable towards this new release I'm working on.
MetalMike: Let's get right to that important piece of Autumns Eyes news; you have a new album out called Ending Life Slowly. What can you tell us about it? How does it fit in with band's past works and how does it move the sound forward?
Dan: The album was actually kind of an offshoot idea and came about as the baby of a much larger project I've been working on. I wanted to approach songwriting in a different way this time around so instead of writing material for an album on the spot, I recorded songs over the span of about six months. I kept these song ideas in a folder titled "Do Not Enter!" and once I finished recording a song, I dragged it into the folder and never listened to it. After six months went by, I opened the folder and listened to each song one by one. The purpose of this exercise was to give a fresh perspective on the songs rather than constantly listening to them day after day trying to work on them individually. It gave me a fresh set of ears to identify which songs worked and which songs fell flat. I ended up with just over two hundred and while listening I noticed there was this small group that just seemed to gel together well. Ideally these were meant for the larger project I mentioned earlier but this small group of songs was so unique, they deserved their own album. So that's when Ending Life Slowly was born.
MetalMike: You have a video for the song "Internal Arson" from Ending Life Slowly available on your website, YouTube, etc. Why did you choose this song to be the first "single"?
Dan: I wanted to release something that was heavier and more "head-bang-able", if that makes any sense. The last few Autumns Eyes releases were a bit tame on the heavy scale, so a song like this was long overdue. Not to mention I haven't growled or screamed in a very long time, so it was exciting to finally get back to my usual throat abuse in the studio.
MetalMike: Did you film the video yourself (besides the three actresses, of course) or did you have help? Who came up with the concept for the video? You certainly seemed to be indulging your love of horror films.
Dan: It was my good friends (including the actresses) and I who got together to film this. Of course its low budget, and, of course, it's not the best piece of video ever shot, but it wasn't about that. It was about celebrating our love of horror, Halloween, and just collaborating together on these themes we all love so much. The concept came from just floating short story ideas around with a buddy of mine. We actually came up with a few ideas, some of which you will see later this year when we shoot more video shenanigans.
MetalMike: What are some of the other lyrical topics on Ending Life Slowly that fans will be hearing when listening to the album?
Dan: Typical tales of love and loss I suppose. It's easy to churn out lyrics when you dig deep enough and really go for the guts. I prefer looking within for inspiration as there never seems to be a limit to how much self-loathing I can express.
MetalMike: After appearing on the cover of several of your earlier albums, you left yourself off of Broken Leaves...and Please Deceive Me but you are back on the cover of Ending Life Slowly. Any particular reason for the change?
Dan: Honestly, I just got sick of pumpkins being on everything. I saw an album cover from the 70s that seemed really cool so I stole the idea and stuck my ugly mug inside a pentagram. Not an inverted pentagram, that would have been too cliché, just a regular old pagan pentagram.
MetalMike: Where will fans be able to get Ending Life Slowly? Will it be available in any physical format or just digitally?
Dan: I'll be sticking with tradition and going all-digital once again. I do have plans for a physical release in the future, but since it's so rare on my end of the spectrum, I'm going to make it much more special than just a single album.
MetalMike: Your love of Type O Negative is well documented and you recorded a cover of "Love You to Death" for the All For None, None For All tribute album recorded after the untimely death of Type O Negative leader Peter Steele. What is it about Steele's music that resonates so strongly with you?
Dan: It's probably the honesty that resonates so well with me. I respect a band that doesn't cater to trends and plays in their own sandbox so to speak.
MetalMike: "Internal Arson" reminds me of Type O Negative. Was this a conscious decision and is the rest of the album in a similar vein or am I hearing something that isn't there?
Dan: It certainly wasn't a conscious decision. I've tried to get away from writing songs with the intent of styling it like a certain band. I did that when I first started recording music and it quickly turned me into a copycat. The bands I love will always come through here and there when I write, but it's never intentional and always subconscious. If anything, the lower tuned guitars might be reminding you of Type O Negative. This album is tuned much lower than anything else I've done.
MetalMike: Autumns Eyes remains an unsigned/independent band. Is that by design or has the right record deal simply not come your way? Is there a "right" deal and what would that be or would you prefer to be "your own boss" for the foreseeable future?
Dan: I continue to receive offers every year and continue to turn them down. I enjoy doing what I do and having my own tiny little niche carved out of the metal world. If money were at the forefront of this project, I'd have to force myself to be someone I'm not capable of being. If one day a record label wants to pay me for doing exactly what I do now and not bend me over a desk with the intent of defiling me, I might be interested. There's a better chance of me appearing on American Idol though, so I try not to concern myself with getting a record deal any time soon.
MetalMike: Do you feel that being a "studio only" band limits you because you aren't playing for people who might never hear your music otherwise or do the possibilities of the studio make up for that?
Dan: It all depends on what your goals are as an artist. Some bands want to take over the world and break down barriers, which is totally fine if that's their thing. I'm more humble and content in my own little bubble. I do what I do and put it out there for whoever wants to enjoy it. I could totally live out the rest of my days in a tiny cabin somewhere in Montana, lost in the hills, recording music on my own. It's very therapeutic for me and while I love sharing it with the world, the personal connection I have to music is what drives me the most.
MetalMike: How do you stay busy when you aren't making new Autumns Eyes music? Will you expand work with your Beneath the Woods studio?
Dan: Beneath the Woods has a few projects here and there but I'm never able to put all of my effort into it because I'm always so busy with Autumns Eyes. Photography has been a new passion of mine and I've thought about putting more time and effort into that. Perhaps as a service offered via Beneath the Woods.
MetalMike: I've asked this in the past, because I hope some day the answer will be "yes" but are there any plans to take Autumns Eyes on the road in the future? If you could pick any musicians playing today to fill out a live Autumns Eyes lineup who would they be and why?
Dan: You didn't see the massive show we did last year? We had everyone from Slash, Lemmy, a few guys from Metallica were there....I'm kidding. Of course one day I'd want to do a live thing. If we are talking dream musicians who would never happen, I would love to get Dani Filth and Shagrath on stage together for a duet. I'd have rotating lineups within one huge concert played on a stage deep in the woods with musicians from all the bands who inspired Autumns Eyes over the years. That would be a dream come true, so if you have any connections, and a couple million to fund it, please let me know.
MetalMike: I haven't heard the new album yet but am looking forward to hearing what you've come up with. Any last things the fans should know when they grab a copy?
Dan: Yes, I want fans to let loose, put their feet up, and enjoy the groove of the album. There are no complex math metal rhythms, no odd time signatures or guitar fret wankery trying to show off how fast I can play. It's just some good ol' spooky metal music that you can bang your head to, without sounding like everything else that's out there right now.
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to answer these questions, Dan! Here's hoping Ending Life Slowly brings Autumns Eyes a lot of new fans and success. Any last thoughts for The Metal Crypt readers?
Dan: Thanks again, Mike! I really appreciate you taking the time out to help support what I love doing. Thoughts for your readers? At the moment I'm drawing a blank only because my washing machine just started making a very loud banging noise as if a dead body was slamming around inside. So I should probably go check into that before he crawls out, I mean in case the...I've already said too much. Thanks Mike!
|Other information about Autumns Eyes on this site|
|Review: Surrender the Fire|
|Review: Please Deceive Me|
|Review: Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets|
|Review: Ending Life Slowly|
|Review: Ending Life Slowly|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on July 25, 2012 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on November 2, 2013 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Video: Please Deceive Me|
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