Female fronted stoner/doom metal is few and few between these days. But few bands within that specific demographic meet the same amount of finesse as Castle does. With unique and catchy riffs and captivating vocals, they obtain a awesome and unique sound that is underrated in today’s metal world. Read on to learn more of this amazing band on their influences, background, and what recording their new album Blacklands, out now on Prosthetic Records.
So tell us a little bit about Castle’s past. Were any of you in bands prior to Castle? How did you guys meet and what made you all want to make doom metal?
Mat: Yes, Al and I were in a bunch of bands over the years, going back to the late 80’s. Castle is really a culmination of all that experience. When I started Castle in 2006 it was just me writing. I had a couple early incarnations of the band but nothing took off. I met Liz about four years ago and shortly after that we were working together. Al and I have known each other going way back so when Liz and I had the lyrics and melodies down I called him up and asked him to play drums on what became the first album. This was in 2010.
One thing that immediately sets you apart from the rest is that you have a female singer. Elizabeth, do you feel any sort of pressure fronting this band? How have folks received your music so far?
Liz: Only in a good way…yeah, pressure to deliver performances worthy of the music. Other than that not really. We’re pretty focused on what we do and I myself don’t hold us up to a different light and compare us to what other bands are doing. The response has been great.
I also sense elements of stoner metal in a High On Fire vein in your music. What is your guys’ primary influences?
Mat: Sure there’s some of that. I really like High On Fire, Kyuss and some other stoner rock. Those two bands did that really well in the early days and more than anything it had a vibe that I can see pop up in our music here and there. There’s a lot of influences I hear in our music, some is deliberately there and some just gets in, maybe subconsciously, I don’t know! Everything from prog to krautrock to doom, it’s heavily filtered but it’s in there. Mostly though it all comes from the riffs and I build the songs up from that.
You’ve busted out the albums In Witch Order and Blacklands not far apart from each other. Do you feel that it’s easy to write new material or was this material already sort of built up and worked on by the time you went into the studio and recorded it?
Mat: It’s never easy to get to the point of a finished song for me, that’s where the work lies…I do a lot of demoing and experimenting with arrangements, there’s entirely different versions of pretty much every song on the new album sitting on my hard drive, most are nothing you’d want to hear though! Little Frankensteins that never made it off the table. But, like I mentioned earlier the original ideas always start from riffs and I’m constantly playing and coming up with riffs, the good ones I save. With Blacklands I had a head start on a good three or four songs with riffs and parts I had written from the tail end of the In Witch Order period.
Where did the name Castle come from?
Mat: I had it in my mind since I was a kid. I never thought of using it until I started writing the first few songs from In Witch Order back in 2006 or 2007. Out of all the different projects I had been in, here was finally the sound, so it just sort of clicked and then it became something for me as I was writing to actually shape the sound around, the idea of Castle.
So what does Blacklands mean from a lyrical perspective and does In Witch Order and Blacklands correlate in a similar sort of standpoint?
Mat: I don’t like to dissect what our lyrics mean. In a way they’re written in a manner that allows the listener to project their own meaning onto them. As for what inspired them, that’s a different matter. Usually the idea comes from the music. If you stay true to the song, the lyric finds a way out and then, you know it’s just a matter of constructing the words, meter etc…
People say that Blacklands is surrounded in arcane mysticism. Would you care to explain on what this means for those who would be unfamiliar with that.
Mat: I don’t know myself! I never bothered to look that up.
Who did you record Blacklands with and what was the overall recording process like for you all?
Mat: We recorded Blacklands with Billy Anderson, who has a fantastic resume but more importantly really knows how to get great sounds and is an awesome guy to work with. We did the basic tracks in a few days, over dubbed for a couple and then mixed for a good four or five days. We had a distinct sound in mind and the end result is very close to what we envisioned.
So tell us about the upcoming tour with Witch Mountain, who are also a female fronted doom metal band. What places are you most excited to play in? What influence does Witch Mountain have on Castle, if any?
Mat: It’s going to be great. We’re looking forward to playing every night. Some of the bills are shaping up to be amazing, Chicago, which has Mares of Thrace on the bill, Vancouver will be great. Also really looking forward to the south, we’ve never been to New Orleans so I got to say I’m looking forward to that.
What are your plans after that tour is over?
Mat: We have a few months set aside for writing and we plan on recording an EP in late February to be released for our European tour in April. We are also planning on hitting the road in March in the States before that.
Tell us a bit about the cover art. Who painted it and what significance does it have to Castle?
Mat: Denis Forkas is the artist. We approached Denis after we saw some of his art and we were lucky to get him. We worked together on the idea and essentially for him, it was the visual equivalent of the music and lyrics he was hearing on the album.
Thank you for doing this interview. It was a pleasure interviewing a very talented and unique band like yourselves. Any last words for the fans and what people can expect from your live set?
Mat: Thanks, I appreciate that. We look forward to seeing everyone out on the road; check our website for the dates.