Doors to Chaotic - 2009


Album: "Doors to Chaotic" ©
Release Date: August 10th, 2009
Singles: "Skull-crushing rain", "Doors to Chaotic"
Label: "Renderman Records"
Recorded: Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom

Track listing:

1. "Intro"
2. "Skull-crushing rain"
3. "Feed myself to someone else"
4. "Moment of regret"
5. "Emotionally ill"
6. "Drained as I am"
7. "Doors to Chaotic"
8. "Bottom of our guilt"
9. "Solution we have forgotten"

Val Monroe,
vocalist and band leader

Ц Good day, Val. How are you?

Ц Good, thanks. Thanks for having me. Yourself?

Ц Thank you, good. Val, weТre aware youТre a busy person now Ц now that youТve been signed and all Ц so the interview wonТt take too long.

Ц ThatТs okay. DonТt worry about it.

Ц Thanks. WeТve outlined a few questions we wanted to ask to sort of follow-up the release of your bandТs debut album.

Ц Right.

Ц So the first one that needs clarifying, I guess, is the title. The title of your debut is "Doors to Chaotic".

Ц Yes.

Ц What are these and where do we find them?

Ц Well, this question isn't exactly easy, I guess, because "Doors to Chaotic" is more of an abstract idea: it's more of a concept Ц not a particular location.

Ц Sure.

Ц So the closest explanation that I can possibly come up with here is this album has been mostly written during a monthЦlong period of my kind of isolation. If you can put it this way. Isolation not from society but from my family and my band mates. Before the music career I had a regular job. I was also studying and at some point I found myself in Canterbury, Kent. All by myself. It so happened that I had to live in a new to me town. Previously unknown as well as unvisted. Never been there. Didn't know anybody there. It's a small town in the south of England and it has a large university and it pretty much is empty during summer because all the students are away, you know.

Ц Sure.

Ц And I had to live all by myself there because... well, because I literally did not know anyone in Canterbury and so I had to rent a room at a local hotel for a period of four weeks before my band mates could join me for the recording of our first ever album. And so to keep myself busy and preoccupied I decided to work on the 8 tracks that we had in production at that time. Demoing them here and there. Listening over and over again. Scrutinizing. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't wasting my time there Ц sitting in Kent, doing nothing Ц it was like a longЦterm business trip, you know. Like an outsourced project that I had to do. I worked with the Kent University's SMSAS during the day but then Ц after work Ц I'd be free, going insane from the loneliness. So in the evenings I had nothing better to do, so I worked creatively.

Ц Sure.

Ц So, yeah, with the music Ц lyrics for the music that I had on my hands at that moment Ц it was like... with Jim Morrison from "The Doors". The legendary "The Doors", you know! No pun intended, mind. Like in that documentary... remember? They said when he dropped out of college Ц I believe it was him dropping out at some point Ц they found him in some town doing literally nothing. Wasting time, I guess. So they asked: "Jim, what are you up to these days?" And he replied with something like: "IТm writing lyrics to a concert thatТs going on in my head."

(He laughs)

Ц Yeah.

Ц Yeah, yeah. It was kind of like that. I had nothing better to do with my time but to write the remaining lyrics to whatever the material I had left on me... at my disposal.

Ц Right.

Ц So, yes, I can't say that living by myself in an unknown town for a month-long period was much of a torture but at the same time I felt very lonely there. Extremely lonely actually. Almost anxious. And, as I said before, sort of isolated. And then on one particular day I went out for a lunch at a local cafe; and as I was sitting there thinking Сbout things that were happening to me lately I came to a sudden realization that the anxiety and nervousness I felt was no one elseТs fault but my own, you know. It originally was my decision to spend a month away from the rest of my loved ones, my friends and band mates. It was my own decision. And then it suddenly hit me that, you know, metaphorically speaking, I have just walked into the "Doors" of "Chaotic". The realm, the dimension where things aren't exactly what we want them to be. "Chaotic" is the place of turbulence, discomfort.

Ц Sure.

Ц Because, you know, I am not an orphan. I have relatives, I have family; and I have just left them all behind to do some spiritual and professional searching, and what was happening to me was purely my own decision. You know, when everything is OK and fine, and then suddenly you decide to walk away from all that Ц how do you do it? Ц you simply open the "Doors" and step into the "Chaotic". ThatТs pretty much it. That's how I saw it at that time. Nothing more complicated than that. So "Doors" are available to all and may be opened by anyone at any time.

Ц Yes. Cool, cool.

Ц Although! Although it is generally not a very good idea to open any doors if you arenТt sure whatТs behind them.

Ц Yes, yes, I suppose.

(The interviewer and the interviewee both laugh)

Ц ThatТs sounds very philosophical, I guess.

Ц Yeah, you are right. And it is. It is philosophical. That's what it meant to be. That's what I wanted it to be.

Ц Sure, sure. Now, Val, is it safe to say that it is a concept album then?

Ц No. Not at all. I donТt believe in concept albums.

Ц DonТt believe?!

Ц Yes. I donТt think any one musician is capable of projecting a full-on story or what-not onto a bunch of music tracks. I donТt think it is at all possible. Purely because of the way a musician works when composing music. Music is not something that may be conceived and carried in your belly for a long time. Maturing. Growing. Getting better. Music, in my opinion, is purely incidental and is born at the very second of a muse Ц again metaphorically speaking Ц coming down upon one's mind. Music is not a product of ripening, it is created right then and there. On the spot. It does not follow the paths which, like, a film producer or a writer walks. And even lyrically it is extremely difficult to write out a lot of one's story over and within a framework of a single song. Or even a number of songs for that matter. You know, music is spontaneous, almost accidental. In a way it is more of an emotion rather than a film reel or a book.

Ц I see.

Ц Though, I really do not want to offend anyone. There are some great concept albums out there, but to me Ц when I listen to those albums Ц I dig into them as a collection of separate songs rather than a tale in shape of musical entity.

Ц Have you got any examples for us? I mean, the concept albums you might enjoy.

Ц Oh, sure. Like, say, InsomniumТs "WinterТs Gate". It is intended as a concept album that consists of a single 40-minute-long epic track that tells a Viking story. I praised the record. I love that band. And I listened to that album from beginning till the end. And, although it was made to be as a single track with changing tempos, melodies, occasional solos, Middle 8Тs, I didnТt take it in like that. To me, it still sounded like an album formed by 7 or 8 Ц I donТt remember the exact number of parts Ц completely different songs. Besides, I didnТt listen into the lyrics that much. I didnТt try to follow the storyline. I sat there, listening and enjoying the lyrics of each part as a separate fraction of the Viking journey: the Viking saga the albums tells us about.

Ц I understand. I could certainly relate to that. Although IТm sure you understand how misleading it may be Ц with track names and all. Album starting with "Drained as I am", "Emotionally ill", "Feed myself to some else" - titles seem to suggest certain emotional stress, perhaps even struggles - and it ends with things like "Bottom of our guilt" and "Solution we have forgotten". It almost seems like the band has gone through the five stages of grief, if you know what I mean. From, like, serious problems to their resolutions.

(Val Monroe nods in agreement; frowns)

Ц I can see that, yes, but rest assured we havenТt gone through any grief. Thank God!

(He laughs)

Ц Not at all. Nor did we have to overcome any serious problems. Maybe small ones, yes. Sure. Who doesnТt go through them? And although the songs we wrote do play around with what it is we Ц as a band Ц felt at the time of writing and recording, the songs do not stand for any overcoming of grief or anything like that. I can see what you are driving at and it actually makes sense, I suppose. But it is purely accidental. If anything!

Ц Right, I see.

Ц Yes. It must have been coincidental Ц is what I want to say. People love to hear bands going through their rough patches and difficult times but perhaps the closure we felt towards the end of the recording is as close as it gets. The closure and finiteness of our music album is as close as it gets to traditional understanding of concept records.

Ц I see. Now, the artwork. To all Ц or to me at least Ц it looks rather generic. Does it symbolize anything in particular or is it there just to go along with the record?

Ц Well, no, itТs not just a go-along kind of thing. And at the same time it also does not symbolize anything in particular. After I have completed working on the album lyrically I went on a small business trip to the city of York up north. And I have taken a bunch of photos at the YorkТs cathedral. ItТs in the center. It's gothic style. I donТt remember the name of that place to be honest. So the photo of its ceiling was amongst the few things I liked in there. So I took a photo of it and when my band mates and I were picking ideas for the albumТs artwork we simply decided to use that since the album deals mostly with the kind of soul-searching and overcoming small yet personal struggles. It is just that. It does not stand for anything other than that. I am also very much aware of the fact that the ripple effects we laid onto the picture gave it kind of acidic/psychedelic look, but that was, too, unintentional. We are not an acid band and we do not write psychedelic rock.

(The both laugh once more)

Ц Right, sure. Well, I guess it fits the purpose. What about criticism? Now that the album has seen the light of day you have probably by now received the general feedback from the fans. What can you say about that? Are you happy?

Ц Well, the critics are always out there, you know. Some love it and there is always a decent chance that someoneТs going to hate it. No matter what you do. And thatТs okay, I guess. I mean, I do not necessarily like what others put out there. However, this is our debut and we were ready for the fact that some of its aspects may turn out to be raw, if you know what I mean. We see ourselves as an uncut diamond at this stage, however Ц what the hell! Ц we are only at the beginning of our careers and any feedback is good feedback I think. And so far I can say that we are pretty damn happy with how weТre doing. And at the same time, you know, Ц I'm speaking for myself here only Ц but I am a true believer in what I call "spontaneous criticism".

Ц Spontaneous criticism? WhatТs that?

Ц Well, I donТt much care for the kind of longЦbrewing mature criticism laid out in a form of a bloody magazine article by some longЦtime bigЦshot hot critic. I believe the true criticism Ц just like art! Ц may only be achieved at the very moment of doing something Ц that sort of emotional highpoint of what it is you are experiencing at that very moment. Do you understand what I mean? Does that make sense? To me the very important bit of fan reception is what they feel the very first time they get to listen to the "Doors to Chaotic" record as well as that general emotional spectre one feels in the process of listening to this record. ThatТs what matters to me the most, I think. And so far, as I said, in that aspect we are, I believe, are doing very well, because the initial response and reactions have all been great. We are discovering ourselves and listeners are discovering us. Bit by bit; a little bit more each day. And thatТs very satisfying.

Ц Thanks for talking to us, Val.

Ц Thanks for having me.