When I first read that Yorkshire doom titans My Dying Bride were celebrating their twentieth anniversary by releasing an album called Evita I was confused to say the least. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina? Oh What a Circus? Had the usually dour Northerners gone mad and entered the world of the show tune? Wiping the kebab grease from my glasses, I re-read the sentence. Evinta, it said. Thank fuck for that I said, out loud, causing looks of consternation from those around me on the bus. Evinta. Thank fuck for that indeed.
So what is Evinta then? I’d gleaned enough from early reports to suspect that it ain’t yer usual MDB opus, so when the chance to grill the Bride’s vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe about it came up I made like a Salmon and leapt at the chance. So, Mr Stainthorpe, Evinta – twenty years in the making? Or did you decide to put it together as a bit of a treat for the fans on the occasion of the band’s twentieth anniversary?
“Neither really. We first talked about it when Martin Powell was in the band in the mid nineties (Powell, you’ll remember also featured in acts such as Anathema and Cradle of Filth after parting ways with MDB). He played violin on some tracks, and at the time we really thought, ‘this is great! What if we put another violin here, a couple of cellos there?’, although I guess it was just pipedreams. When Martin left we just kind of shelved the idea and got on with other stuff.”
Okay, so how and why did it come about now then?
“Well, myself and Andrew (Craighan, along with Stainthorpe the only member of the band to have been there since it's inception in 1990) spent a very drunken weekend listening to everything we’ve ever recorded. It took four days actually. It wasn’t just listening for the sake of it though. We both sat there with notebooks; every time something good came on – even if it was just one riff or the like, we’d write down in the notebook the time it came up in the song, and what it was we particularly liked”.
And the purpose of this was?
“We did want to do something orchestral, we had in mind maybe more of a Vangelis, Bladerunner kind of thing.”
No S&M for MDB then?
“No, it’s been done. But whilst we were listening and noting stuff down, we started thinking ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could use, say, the first riff from Turn Loose the Swans together with the second riff from The Dreadful Hours’. At the end of the four days we had reams of notes… we weren’t sure how to progress. We took everything we had over to Jonny Maudling (the former Bal Sagoth man has appeared on several MDB releases in a session capacity on Keyboards), all the notes, and told him what we wanted. I’m sure he didn’t know whether we were geniuses or mad!”
They say there’s a fine line between the two. Maudling has done a fine job with the epicly cinematic brief the two madmen/savants handed him. The result, Evinta, is unique though isn’t it? I certainly can't think of any artist with your background that's pulled something like this off so spectacularly well.
“It is unique. It retains the melancholy which is at the heart of My Dying Bride, but it’s also incredibly powerful. Listening to it can bring a tear to the eye.”
I find parts of it strangely uplifting. At this point I think i detect a snort of derision make its way down the phone line. Til now the interview has been going well. That last comment throws a spanner in the proverbial works.
“Are you listening to it at the right speed?”
Okay, maybe uplifting is the wrong word. But there’s a moving quality to the music in this form that reminds me of listening to (classical composers) Bruckner or Mahler. You mentioned bringing a tear to the eye. It certainly has that quality.
“I think its music you’d listen to on your own. It’s not music you’ll hear being played in a club, and definitely not something you should drive a car to!”
So we’ll not see Evinta performed live then?
“I’d love to, but as always the thing it comes down to is money. I’d love to see the band up there with violins, cellos and the like. But we are a cult band; something like this would have to be performed in concert halls. Most of those are large places. Who would come? Classical music fans would probably think it too ‘Vangelissy’ a lot of rock fans would find it too much… We will do it, but we have ‘real’ MDB stuff to do too, so I don’t know when it will happen.
It’s great that after twenty years you’re still up for the challenge of creating new music.
“Why not? Me and Andrew are a pair of old doomsters! Tomorrow night me, Andrew and Hamish (Glencross, the band’s other lead guitarist) will be meeting up and going through the material we have for a new album. We’ve got loads of material, very cool riffs. The art is being able to put it all together. Great riffs on their own are not worth very much. Luckily we have a great record label (Peaceville) who allow us to do all this. I’m sure they’d love a hit single to sell, but they know they won’t be getting that from MDB yet still they support us. It’s why we are so strong with them I guess.”
And this new material will surface when?
“Peaceville are hoping for a late (Northern) Summer, Autumn release. We’ll see. We don’t have any studio time booked yet. We’ll know better after tomorrow night but it’s definitely possible.”