1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
Since Penance was completed we played some live gigs and we recently started recording our third album. We are currently working on promotion for Penance and completing the album to follow it.
2.Recently you have released a new album, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Penance is our rawest release so far. Our first album, Sanctum in the Light, was produced and precise in comparison. We wanted to react to that and create something that had a live, first take kind of feel, and we wanted to incorporate improvisations within the main song structures. There’s a running contrast of chaos and clarity throughout, and songs shift from riffs and melody into noise and drone. This was our first main recording with our bass player Joe who uses a lot of electronics and effects, while we included some cleaner vocal styles. The vocals were all mostly taken from demo takes because we liked the rawness. A big part of the album’s sound is the mix and ideas incorporated by Andrew Oswald at Secret Bathroom studio. Andrew did a lot of creative things with the vocals and balance to bring out different tones and atmospheres.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new music?
Penance is about failure, regret, atonement, and our relationship to time. It’s a reckoning and a coming to terms. What’s done, what’s to come, and what’s happening now. The lyrics explore themes of shame, guilt, and fear, and they ask questions about vision, fate, the self, and our ability to effect change. Everything I’ve ever written about in Of Spire & Throne has been very personal, but with Penance I really tried to get to the true heart of what I was feeling and thinking, and I tried to remove some of my usual veils and barriers. It’s the first time my lyrics have made me feel so exposed and uncomfortable, and that was very much the intention.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Of Spire & Throne'?
The name is meant to harness its associations with the personal while also presenting an opposition. My feeling has always been that the name conjures the idea of our personal beliefs and goals, vision and opposition, struggle and conflict, a dedication to something greater than the self – whatever it may be, and the sense of constant striving to reach or serve it.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
The artwork was painted by a friend of ours, Sarah Green. Sarah is an amazing artist who captures a special human vulnerability in her work. I see a delicate beauty among chaos in what she produces, and I’m very grateful that she agreed to let us use her work and that she created some original pieces for us. The theme of eyes and the suggestion of wounds in the images along with her unique style really matches with Penance: beauty and clarity among chaos and pain.
6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
I’d say our best shows have been more recent: supporting Godflesh in Edinburgh, playing Byker Grave in Newcastle, and playing with King Witch in Aberdeen, but we’ve had lots of great gigs across the UK, often in smaller venues and places that don’t get so many live gigs.
Our stage performance is brooding and brutal, but not aggressive or confrontational. It’s changed over the years. Since Joe joined we started to make specific decisions around lighting and stage set up, and we started to put on a more physical show and get more into it, but I think we tend to back off and put the music forward. We don’t want it to be about us on stage, we want the music to envelop the room.
7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
Not right now. I recently moved to Canada to be with my wife, so live activities are on hold. We’re currently focusing on our next album, working long distance, but we will return to playing live in the future.
8.In 2017 you had also done a 'My Dying Bride' cover, what was the decision behind doing your own version of one of their songs?
We were approached by Doom-metal.com to take part in a tribute to My Dying Bride, A Lake of Ghosts. They wanted the tribute to have an unconventional approach, and they purposefully asked bands who didn’t necessarily match up with My Dying Bride’s style. I’d always felt that I didn’t want to do covers in Of Spire & Throne, but I was open to the idea because My Dying Bride aren’t a major influence on us or our sound, but they’re a band I respect, and I really like their Songs Of Darkness, Words of Light album. It gave us a chance to try some new territory, and it was our first time recording with Joe. I chose My Wine In Silence because I love the song, but I asked to change the lyrics because I felt I needed to find my own expression to do it justice.
9.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of sludge and doom metal?
We’ve found our own small following within that fanbase across the world, but we’ve never really fit either grouping very comfortably. A lot of fans want things to be more conventional, which is fine of course, but we’re often a bit too much outside of expected styles and people don’t take to what we do. We have a lot of fans from outside of recognizable doom, sludge, or metal communities, and that’s always been surprising but very welcome.
10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
We’re getting more progressive, although not what I would call “prog”. It feels like unchartered territory to me, although I’m sure someone somewhere has done something like it before. We’ve already recorded most of our new album, and I would describe it as us trying to do an album in the style of King Crimson’s Discipline in one take. That’s a very loose interpretation.
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Thou’s Heathen was a big influence on Penance and I still find myself writing parts which remind me of its atmosphere. There’s also some obvious Bohren & Der Club of Gore in there, as well as some ideas taken from listening to Deicide and Ahab. I tend to be influenced by whole albums, so King Crimson’s Discipline has been a big influence on what we’ve been writing recently, so has Magazine’s Secondhand Daylight, while I’ve been finding more of my death metal tastes creeping into things.
I’ve been listening to a lot of death metal recently: Disma, Dead Congregation, Morbid Angel, while I’m a sucker for all of the synthwave stuff that’s all the rage right now. Also a lot of Sumerlands, Speedwolf, Weedeater, and Scott Walker. I always listen to a lot of Judas Priest.
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Music takes up most of my spare time, but I also like film (especially horror) and reading, while I keep meaning to start making board games and writing. I end up with long lists of creative projects that I don’t get round to starting or finishing.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
I’d just like to say thanks for the interview and for the thoughtful questions, and we’d just like to say a sincere thanks to everyone who has been listening and supporting us.