Interview: Charles Elliott of Abysmal Dawn

The same evening that I conducted an interview with Origin frontman Jason Keyser I was also fortunate enough to speak with Abysmal Dawn mastermind Charles Elliott. Here you have official interview #2 here at MetalNerd.

MetalNerd: I noticed that for Obsolescence, this is the first album with guitarist Andy Nelson and bassist Eliseo Garcia. Did they have a lot of input into this record? How did that go?

Charles Elliott: I guess, Eliseo contributed a couple of riffs and Andy basically wrote a song. I just arranged it and added my lyrics to it basically.

MN: For the most part you’re still the mastermind.

CE: I’m still the main songwriter and it’s my band (laughs) you know what I mean? You know, it’s the first album we all wrote together so we’re kinda like growing as a unit you know? Seeing how people work together and how the song-writing process will work the second time around.

MN: You’re kinda getting comfortable with each other and everything.

CE: Yea, you know, just seeing what people’s tastes are and seeing how we work together, you know? I don’t rule out them contributing more in the future.

MN: I read about the title coming from the term “planned obsolescence”, I believe it’s a business term that means that a product is meant to break down after a certain amount of time. How does that concept play out throughout the record?

CE: I just kind of basically applied it to humanity in the sense that we’re kind of looked at as disposable products, in a way. You know, like as if humanity is meant to break down and be replaced and that’s sort of the meaning behind it. I don’t know if that’s like an underlining theme so much as that was what inspired the title and the title track, “Human Obsolescence”. Not necessarily a title track since it’s not the same exact title (laughs) but um, that’s where it stems from.

MN: So, I’ve also noticed that each album has a black circle in it. How does that tie into the band or the album?

CE: Uh, I don’t know if it has any specific, you know… I don’t know, meaning behind it other than Pär Olofsson, our artist, that did all our covers, initially put that in there and he incorporated it in the second album. It wasn’t like, sort of meant to be a reoccurring thing, but he did it in the second album and it’s kind of become a thing with us. We’ve held on to it, and uh, it fits the apocalyptic vibe when you look at it.

MN: Like a black hole kinda thing.

CE: Yea, you know, so it fits sorta the theme that seems to be reoccurring within the band where it’s apocalyptic and just pessimistic in general on humanity.

MN: So it just sorta happened

CE: Sorta happened and we just kind of went with it from there because it just seemed to fit the band.

MN: Where do you find the most inspiration? I mean, I know, it’s like well, with titles like “Programmed To Consume” and everything, it’s a lot of like you said, about humanity. So, is that where you draw your inspiration?

CE: Just personal life experiences and um, just I guess sorta how I see humanity sometimes, you know? The world’s a fucked up place and you can find a lot of inspiration in that. It’s not always something, not always the path you wanna focus on, but it seems to be something… I don’t know, I’m a pessimistic person, it’s hard for me to break away from that and it’s sort of a reoccurring thing in our lyrical content where I do focus sorta on the negative side of life and humanity and um, yea (laughs). It’ not necessarily healthy for me but uh, I guess I like exorcising the demons whenever it comes up, down to writing a record.

MN: It’s definitely a way to get those negative feeling rather than just bottling them up.

CE: Exactly.

MN: So, as far as in the studio, what’s your secret weapon in the studio?

CE: Secret weapon?

MN: Yea, like, gear wise or like a pedal, like any kind of gear.

CE: Uh, I mean, right now I’m endorsed by ESP. I switched to their company recently and their guitars are fuckin’ amazing. I’ve used Mesa Boogie for a long time. I have Dunlop guitar products, I mean, I’ve been using their OD pedal and like an ISP Decimator pedal in front of my Mark IV Mesa. So um, yea, I mean (laughs) as far as my secret weapon it’s the same basic rig I’ve been running for a couple years now.

MN: Cool. What are your biggest influences in music and guitar?

CE: I don’t know man. It’s hard to tell, I grew up listening to guys like James Murphy, Bill Steer, even like Buckethead. Maybe, Buckethead doesn’t like (laughs) come through in my playing as much but I remember he was a big guitar hero of mine when I was younger. Allan Holdsworth or Scott Henderson. Um, Shawn Lane… I don’t know, just uh, Michael Amott… Stuff like that, more melodic guitar playing but I also like outside the box sort of, um, playing where they kind of have a sort of jazz fusion sort of thing, you know? I like that but I like it to a subtle degree. Marty Friedman too, I like him a lot. I try to incorporate sort of odd time feels and solos and stuff like that.

MN: While I was researching, trying to figure out what to ask I learned that you’re in a band called Bereft. Are there any plans to get together with them and do another record after you’re done touring in support of Obsolescence.

CE: You know what, Bereft is sort of on hold right now. Sacha (Dunable) is really busy with Intronaut, I’m really busy with Abysmal Dawn right now. We don’t really have any plans for another record at the moment. I’ve gotten together with the drummer Derek (Donley, Gravitation/National Sunday Law) a couple times to jam out some stuff. Whether it actualy turns into a Bereft album, I don’t know. It’s tough man, we’re just really busy. That record was honestly a long time coming because Sacha had demos for a long time and then it was sort of like I came. We were talking about doing the doom thing again and he asked if I still had the demos and I sent him the demos and I told him, you know, “You better let me fuckin’ be a part of this motherfucker” (laughs) and when I came back from tour, one of those tours on the Leveling (the Plane of Existence) album we just showed up and we put out a fuckin’ record pretty much, just recorded an album. It just got picked up pretty quickly after that, you know? But uh, I mean I’m really proud of it, I mean, it’d be cool to do another doom album. I like doom a lot and um, it’s definitely a different I feel like, fan base for us. I don’t know if every Abysmal Dawn fan necessarily gets what we’re doing with Bereft and the same with Intronaut. You know, Intronaut fans, if they necessarily get… and you know, The Faceless fans too. I’m sure The Faceless fans hate it more than anything ‘cause it’s like, “What the fuck is this? This is fuckin’ slow.” (laughs) But, it’s totally different. But yea, we’ll see, you know?

MN: It’s kind of, if it happens it happens, or when it happens.

CE: If it happens it happens, you know, it’s not our main focus, obviously. We’ve all devoted so much time to other projects, mainly Sacha and I. And uh, Derek (Rydquist, bass) I think has other stuff going on and Derek Donley has his other projects you should check it out definitely too.

MN: Lastly, what are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry. Like with um, streaming and people not buying records as much and just all of that.

CE: It’s tough. It’s a changing industry, it’s always changing, you know? Right now it’s hard because at one end of the spectrum you’ve made it easy for a band to fuckin’ put out a record and get it to people quickly and all that but you’re also flooding the market so it’s so hard for people to, you know, find quality bands or find bands that, I don’t know, they really like or, you know what I mean? So, in that sense, it kinda sucks, you know? Just ‘cause there’s so much competition right now. But I don’t know, it’s a changing thing so… record companies…I don’t know. Maybe the record company role changes as time goes on but whatever’s going on right now kinda needs to change too, because bands aren’t really making money like they used to. You’re hurting an entire industry, it’s like I have to record an album for shit money because the record companies don’t give as much money as they used to. So in turn I get less money to record an album and in turn that means the engineers get less money, so studios shut down, you know? That’s why everyone records this fuckin’, fake ass, fuckin’ sound replaced bullshit because no one can afford to record a real album anymore. It’s all like electronic, sound replaced drums and all that. So, that’s really frustrating and in a way that’s kind of killing natural sounding music played by real musicians, you know? I don’t know man (laughs), it sucks but uh, it’ll work itself out I’m sure, you know? Sooner or later.

MN: Kinda gotta stick to your guns and hope for the best.

CE: We’re trying man, we do this because we love it, you know? It’s not like we’re doing it because we’re out to make a killing with money. But, as you get older and you’ve been doing this for a long time, you always have to reassess where you’re at in you life every time and uh, we’ve all been through that and luckily we’re still here. We still have the same lineup and we’re still going strong. But, it affects bands so, I mean, the best thing you can do is buy merch from bands and support them as much as you can. Buy the fuckin’ album if you can.

MN: Definitely. That’s pretty much it, thank you for your time.

CE: Cool, thank you man, appreciate it.