Interview with drummer Dan Prestup
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: March 20, 2021
Everdawn is a symphonic metal band based out of New Jersey in the United States. The band consists of Canadian singer Alina Gavrilenko, keyboardist Boris Zaks, guitarist Richard Fischer, bassist Mike LePond and drummer Dan Prestup. Dan kindly took some time to give The Metal Crypt some insight into the band's history (they used to be called Midnight Eternal, but I'll let Dan explain the reasons behind the name change) and their debut album, Cleopatra, which was released by Sensory Records on February 5, 2021.
Congratulations on the release of your album, Cleopatra, on Sensory Records! For most of the band members, this isn't their first album, but does it still feel special with a new band to get that first album in fans' hands? How has the response been? It appears to have received quite a few positive reviews thus far. :)
Dan: Thanks so much Mike. Yes, it feels very special with a new band and the response has been really great! We are so honored to have all these great reviews coming in for our album!
Not to rehash old news but just to be clear, the band used to be called Midnight Eternal. After splitting with a former member, rather than wrestle over that name, you went with a new one, Everdawn. Apart from signifying a change from nighttime to daytime, is there another meaning behind the new name? Who gets credit for coming up with it?
Dan: Great question Mike! Yes so, we used to be called Midnight Eternal so after splitting with our previous singer and bass player unfortunately our former singer hijacked our social media pages and we tried to get them back but unfortunately we couldn't, so instead of focusing on that stuff we decided the best thing to do is focus on the album and making it great and came up with a great new name! We all were thinking of new names for the band while keeping it similar to Midnight Eternal and that same type of vibe. We tried not to stray too far from that meaning and name so fans could still connect and be aware that it was us! As far as credit for the name we all kept going back and forth with different names and Boris mentioned Everdawn and we all liked it and went with it.
I see on your website (www.everdawnofficial.com) that Cleopatra was recorded in 2019, which is obviously pre-Covid and all the restrictions on travel, gathering, etc. Because you don't all live in the same place, was the recording done over the Internet with everyone sharing files or did you get together in the studio for a more "traditional" recording experience? Which do you prefer, assuming both methods are options?
Dan: So great question, yeah. Alina drove from Canada and recorded her vocals at Soundmine Recording Studio in Stroudsburg, PA. We all got together with her in the studio when she came down to record with producer Daniel Malsch and we recorded in our own studios, as well. When we were done with everything, we sent all the files to Dan Swanö at his Unisound Studio for mixing and mastering, which was really cool. I really don't have a preference; I like both options. It's great to be able to work by sending files back and forth in case people are too far away to get together.
Talk to us about the new album. I don't have the lyrics, so I need ask if it is a true concept album or perhaps the songs are more thematically linked? Who is responsible for writing the music and lyrics?
Dan: Sure, we came up with the imagery to support our title track "Cleopatra" and felt that it would represent and reflect the spirit and overall vibe of the album. The writing starts with keys and with sequential layers and arrangements of the other instrument, and the lyrics are split between Alina and Boris.
Dan Swanö, who has worked on so many albums, mixed and mastered Cleopatra at his Unisound Studio. How did it come about that Dan took care of these duties for you? Were you able to travel to Sweden to work with him directly or did you send him the songs and wait for him to "work his magic"?
Dan: Yes, I did prior recordings with Dan Swanö previously and I remembered being very impressed with what a great sound he got, and I mentioned to the rest of the guys that we should get our album mixed and mastered by Dan because he will get a great product and sound. We all decided to go with him and sent him all the files to work on and we are very happy with the product!
If you did not meet face-to-face, how did you communicate your wishes to him or did you trust that with his long experience in the metal world, he'd know what would work best? If you did meet him, what was that experience like?
Dan: We communicated through email. We were all on a thread along with our manager Lars, which made it very easy to discuss ideas and make little changes here and there if needed with each song and we trusted with all he's done and his experience he would know what to go for with our album sonically. He was extremely easy to work with. He would email us right away with different mixes of each song one by one and we would go back and forth if we wanted adjustments in different parts of songs and before you knew it, we had the whole album completed and were thrilled with how it sounded!
It is probably unfair to ask if you have a favorite song from the album since you created them all so let me ask which one(s) you find the most fun to play and which one(s) you think will go over best when you are able to play live for your fans in the (hopefully) not too distant future?
Dan: I would say for me my favorite is "Cleopatra" the title track because it's so epic sounding, and "Lucid Dream" from a drum aspect. I can't wait to play that live as well but I really like all the songs on the album. Tough decision, haha!
Why Cleopatra? Obviously, she is a famous historical figure and well known by many, but was there something about her story that was inspiring to the band or are there some history buffs in the band that felt there was an interesting story to be told? Might Everdawn explore other famous historical female figures on future albums?
Dan: I think a bit of both. We are into a lot of history, but we also thought it would be really epic to write about Cleopatra and tell her story because it's very mysterious and mystical, but you never know, we might explore and write about other historical figures down the road.
How did your deal with Sensory Records come about? I realize the label is based in New Jersey, as are several members of the band. Was it as simple as you knew each other and that was sufficient or were there other labels in the mix to release Cleopatra and Sensory gave you the best deal? How have they been to work with?
Dan: Our manager Lars started shopping our album to different labels as soon as it was complete and Sensory Records was interested right away and we thought it would be perfect to work with them because they happen to be close to us and our album would be out quickly. We decided to sign with them, and they are really great to work with!
How did Alina come to join Everdawn? Symphonic metal tends to have quite high standards for female singers, but she is more than up to the task. She is a trained opera singer but has metal always been a goal? Does she also still sing more "traditional" opera? What is her favorite opera?
Dan: Great question. Mike LePond had worked with her previously and he recommended her. He got us in contact with her and everything went really well after we spoke with her on the phone. She flew down to New Jersey to audition and we were blown away by her voice and the rest is history. Now she is our singer, and we are so happy to have her! Yes, she is a trained opera singer and she also sings traditional opera. She's very versed in different styles of music! Here is Alina's answer to your question and her influences:
Alina: Metal music has always been intriguing to me in terms of raw, unapologetic drama and emotion. I find that opera shares those characteristics. Hence why I never stop practicing both. One day I can be humming some Verdi and another, I sing Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark". There are too many of my favorite operas/ arias and romances, so I'll mention composers that I love to sing the most instead. My top three would be Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert.
You, Richard (guitar) and Boris (keyboards) have other bands, as most metal musicians these days seem to, but how the heck were you able to pin down Mike (LePond, bass)?? The guy is involved with so many other projects! I'm sure he brings a wealth of knowledge with all his experience in the metal scene, right?
Dan: Mike is awesome, and we are so happy to have him as our bass player. We all knew him and were friends and worked with him before and he was also the original bass player for Midnight Eternal from the beginning so we asked him if he would join, and he said yes! We were thrilled and he definitely brings so much knowledge and experience to the band. We learn a lot from him!
Therion's Thomas Vikström is a guest vocalist on the track "Your Majesty Sadness." Was this song always intended to be a duet and was Thomas the first person you had in mind if that was the case? If not, how did his participation come about and what does he bring to the song? Is there anyone else you'd like to bring in on a future Everdawn release?
Dan: We had the honor of touring Europe supporting Therion in 2018 and we became friendly with them and all the bands on the tour. We always had in mind that "Your Majesty Sadness" would be great with male and female vocals together as a duet but didn't have anyone in particular in mind, so after hearing Thomas sing we were like, 'ow he's great and would fit perfectly with Alina." We said, "let's see if he would be interested in singing on it" and I asked him shortly after we got back from tour and he said yes! He brings a lot to the song and between him and Alina they make it so epic with all the harmonies and everything going on in it we couldn't be happier with how that song turned out! As far as someone else, there's no one else we have in mind for a collaboration as of now for the next album.
Let's hope things change for the better as this year progresses and people can resume some of the activities, such as concerts, they did before. If goes as planned, what are the next steps for Everdawn in 2021?
Dan: We hope to play live as soon as possible but we will keep busy practicing and writing and we want to shoot a full music video for "Cleopatra" as soon as possible too!
What did you all do during 2020 to keep busy? What are some activities that you were able to do during the pandemic that kept you sane and what things do you really miss?
Dan: Luckily, we kept busy writing more material future albums. For me some activities include running and working out, so I kept up with that which helped. Luckily, we were still able to get together and practice and still write from our studios so that definitely kept us all sane for sure! I would say we really miss playing live and touring. We all cannot wait till that's back!
Have you started composing material for the next Everdawn release? If not, has any sort of timetable been discussed within the band? With all the other projects the band members are involved with, how hard is it schedule time to focus on Everdawn?
Dan: Yes, we have other projects but always find the time and luckily we don't have any trouble and are able to make Everdawn a priority. Right now, we have another full album worth of new material written. We are all fine tuning the new songs right now and Alina is working on lyrics and all the vocals, so we are really looking forward to getting that ready to go for the next album!
Let me wrap up by congratulating you again on Cleopatra! It is an excellent album that I'm sure fans of symphonic metal are going to love. Thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions about the album and Everdawn. Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like readers of The Metal Crypt to know about? Don't forget to let us know where to look for the most up to date info on the band and good luck with all your endeavors in the future!
Dan: Thanks so much it was great talking with you, Mike! Yep, we covered everything I believe. Fans can check us out on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/EverdawnOfficial, our Instagram www.instagram.com/everdawnofficial and our website www.everdawnofficial.com.
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