Interview with guitarist/vocalist Michael Berger
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: December 15, 2018
Ashes of My Memory is a band from the South Tyrol region of northern Italy and they've just released their debut EP, Raptures /// Disillusions, independently via Bandcamp. Melodic death metal is the genre that best describes their music but there's more to the songs on the EP than initially meets the ear. The Metal Crypt reached out to the band and guitarist/vocalist Michael Berger took the opportunity to give some insight into the band's music, the challenges of playing metal in his region of Europe and give some hints as to when new music from the band might be coming. Check out Michael's responses below...
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions about Ashes of My Memory. Why don't we start with a little bit of the band's history. How did Ashes of My Memory come together? Where did the name come from and does it have special meaning?
Michael: Hi there, thank you for the opportunity! The band was founded by our drummer Luki in 2009; the final line-up was established in early 2010, when we all still went to high school. After releasing a demo in 2011, we were on a hiatus for some years after and came together again about two years ago. The band's name doesn't have a special meaning, to be honest—we just looked for a name that seemed to fit our music. And even though our style has changed a lot since the beginnings, we never wanted to change the name; we have had no line-up changes since 2010 and we've been close friends since our foundation, so we're happy that we can still identify with "Ashes of my Memory."
MetalMike: The band is from the South Tyrol region in the north of Italy. I'm sure it is a beautiful area (I've only been as far north as Venice) but how is it for a working metal band? What, if any, are the challenges for a metal band from this area?
Michael: Yes, it's a nice and quiet area with an interesting mix of cultures. We sure have some quality metal and core bands here (you may check out Dead Like Juliet, KI Project or Organic's new record, for instance), but the scene itself is rather small. In the last few years, there haven't been many options to play live for underground bands. Thus, the audience became smaller and smaller and consequently, promoters slowly started booking only bigger bands for shows in our area. But we have experienced a positive trend lately; more and more pubs and youth centers are trying to promote local music. We're very happy to see that the scene is about to recover.
MetalMike: What inspired you to pick up an instrument in the first place? What led your musical journey to metal?
Michael: I can only speak for myself here. I was introduced to classic bands such as Slayer, Metallica, Iron Maiden and the like when I was around ten years old. Then, I discovered death metal, black metal and metalcore; at this time, I also started to play guitar. The next step was to open up to other musical influences and to appreciate quality music without focusing on a specific genre. It's quite a stereotypical development, I guess.
MetalMike: Raptures /// Disillusions is your first "official" EP (after a demo back in 2011). How would you describe your music to our readers?
Michael: It's always hard to classify your own music. I'd describe it as a musical style which is rooted in Scandinavian melodic death metal—I'm thinking of bands such as Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, early In Flames and even Be'lakor—but with a progressive twist in songwriting. Opeth, The Ocean and Mastodon are some other influences of ours.
MetalMike: Raptures /// Disillusions contains two songs, "The Cycle" and "The Decline". Do you write songs together or is there one or two members of the band that do the writing? Were the songs recorded with the band altogether or did you take advantage of home studios, the internet, etc. to put the songs together?
Michael: Usually, our guitarist Feli writes the guitars and the rhythmic framework of the songs; the other members mostly write or adjust their own parts. The lyrics are written by our bassist/vocalist Sebi and myself but we always try to thoroughly discuss the tracks to get the best outcome possible. We recorded the EP in May 2018 at Sound Revolt Studio (Terlan, South Tyrol) with Martin Mayr, guitarist of Dead Like Juliet and a very talented producer! We chose to record everything instead of programming drums or the like, and we did not regret that decision as I think that you can hear the difference, and it's also an important experience for the band. It's a very exciting process to see your tracks come "alive."
MetalMike: "The Decline" seems to be about the loss of a loved one, maybe as a result of a painful or chronic condition while "The Cycle" can be taken as either a personal struggle or from a world view. Where did the inspirations come from for these songs and do they have specific meanings the listeners should take away or do prefer to let them interpret the lyrics in their own individual way?
Michael: I see the tracks as a kind of duality; "The Cycle" expresses the longing for an unreachable state of rapture while "The Decline" negates this quest by the loss of the self in the senselessness of modern life. But we do not want to be an interpretative authority. Hence, thanks for your interpretation, it's very interesting to see how other people view our music and lyrics. A work of art is always dependent on the personal interpretation of the recipient.
MetalMike: The artwork for Raptures /// Disillusions is not what you might call "typical" for melodic death metal but presents more of a contrast between the modern and traditional worlds, the simple and the complex. Who designed and created the artwork and is there another meaning that fans should see in it?
Michael: Yeah, this idea of duality is a constant in the whole release. You can see the two images as illustrations for each side of the EP. We had the idea for the artwork while recording the tracks; it was designed as a DIY project that cost me some days of work but we're happy with the outcome!
MetalMike: I see the band has played live just recently at Burning Down II on November 30, 2018. How did the show go? Your Instagram post says it is the first show in your home area since 2015. Are there a lot of opportunities to play live in the South Tyrol area? If not, where do you have to go to play and are you able to do that often?
Michael: Yeah, the show was pretty cool! I think that underground shows like these are extremely important for the local scene. There aren't too many possibilities to play live, thus many bands try to play gigs in Northern Italy or abroad. As I said, we're very happy that the scene seems to be recovering.
MetalMike: What else do you play live, besides the two tracks from Raptures /// Disillusions? Do you only play originals, or do you have some favorite covers you like to play?
Michael: Yeah, we only play originals. The rest of our set are tracks that can be seen as the missing stylistic link between our old stuff and our new music. But we're already working on new songs!
MetalMike: You've been around for quite a while but have just a small body of recorded work. Do you consider Ashes of My Memory as something that has to take a backseat to work, family, school, etc. or is it a full-time gig? If not, how do the band members keep busy when Ashes of My Memory is not active?
Michael: The four of us are university students in different Austrian cities, some of us also have jobs. We're pretty busy with our "regular" lives, and even if it was possible, Ashes of my Memory is not really planned to be a full-time job. We just love to make music without obligations, which would ultimately affect the quality of our work.
MetalMike: With 2018 drawing to a close, what are your plans for Ashes of My Memory in 2019? Where should fans go to pick up the EP and find out what's next for the band?
Michael: We'd definitely like to play more gigs in 2019 in order to promote our EP! You can download Raptures /// Disillusions as a name-your-price download or get a physical copy on Bandcamp; otherwise, you can stream the EP on whatever streaming service you prefer. If you'd like to stay up to date, head over to our Facebook or Instagram and hit the like/follow button. We're happy about every person we reach with our music!
MetalMike: Thanks again for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk to our readers. Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like them to know before we wrap up?
Michael: Support your local bands and venues, keep this scene alive all over the world!
MetalMike: All the best with Ashes of My Memory and your other endeavors! Let us know when new music is coming.
Michael: Sure! Thank you very much for the interview, keep up the great work!
|Other information about Ashes of My Memory on this site|
|Review: Raptures /// Disillusions|
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