Interview with: Rob Leydon and Panos Theodoropoulos
Interview by: Journalist Alfredo Villaescusa
Any similarity with Fields of the Nephilim is coincidental
With a line-up made up by members with very long careers in the most traditional British Goth Rock scene, if any band could carry the flame of the spiritual side of the movement, it would be undoubtedly this project with the knowledge of the classics and the current edge of modern times. The same alma mater ROB LEYDON and his fellowman, the bass player PANOS THEODOROPOULOS, answer ALFREDO VILLAESCUSA a few days before their first time in Spain as guest artists of the SGM Fest 2014.
I think you have just released an EP called “Embers”, could you tell me something about it?
Rob: Yes, the EP is released through Echozone and Resurrection Records. “Embers” is the last song on this 4-track EP, and concludes a story involving four songs. I think that it will appeal to those who enjoyed our debut album, and perhaps also to a new audience.
Panos: Our new EP is a release that I am personally really proud of. Each song of the EP has a very strong and distinctive sound and character, and yet all four songs complement each other in an extraordinary way. “Embers” is the title of a song that me and Rob wrote together, and we felt that this title is perfectly appropriate to describe the whole EP and its sound.
Why do you release an EP instead of a full album?
Rob: We’re doing both. The EP is a self-contained project neatly defined by the circumstances of a particular time in my life. It makes sense to present that material as one discrete piece, rather than as a part of a larger collection of songs, where the significance of these songs may be lost in context. However, I’m pleased to report that we are in the process of composing a second album, which we’re about half-way through writing. We’re hoping to release album number-two next spring, and the material is shaping up very nicely.
Panos: This EP for us is a release between our full-length albums. As we constantly try to write new material, those songs just came in the right timing to form an EP. Instead of keeping the band in silence for a longer period while writing material for our second LP, we decided that those four songs can form a perfectly balanced and autonomous release to fill the in-between gap. We like being productive and keep a momentum in terms of creating new music.
What differences can you see between the EP and your debut “Running From The Dawn”, anyway?
Rob: The EP is a step forward for us, and we have developed our compositional style and performances. Nevertheless, the material remains faithful to our distinctive style. The EP is perhaps more personal and intimate than the last album, and somewhat more honest and melancholy in places. Musically, and lyrically, I think we have developed and matured.
The EP was also produced by Steve Carey, was that the natural thing to do?
Rob: Yes, it was a natural choice. I can’t think of anyone else who I’d be as happy to produce our music, Steve completely understands what we are trying to accomplish, and has the ability to realise the sound that we are aiming for.
Do you feel connected, at least in spirit, with bands like The Eden House or This Burning Effigy?
Rob: Apart from being a big fan of The Eden House, I also now play guitar with them, so in that respect I do of course feel connected. I’m less familiar with This Burning Effigy, other than the odd song Steve’s played me. I like what I’ve heard though. We’ve also played two gigs supporting The Eden House, and I think there’s a fair bit of cross-over between our respective audiences. We’re different bands, with quite different music, but I recognise that there are perceived similarities, particular as far as guitar is concerned. I think Steve and I have a few influences in common.
I think you have also changed your record label, why?
Rob: That’s a long story, and whilst I’m tempted to divulge the details, I think I’ll just say that we saw a better opportunity working with Echozone. I very much appreciate their professional attitude toward marketing and distribution. I think that we’re much better placed now.
In a few weeks you’re playing in Spain for the first time, are you looking forward to it?
Rob: Yes, we’re delighted to be playing in Spain. I’ve been twice, once on a work conference, and a second time as a musician, with Voices of Masada. I remember fondly my last visit, and the fantastic time we all had. The promoter, Rhaul took us out after the gig to several excellent places that we’d have never discovered as tourists. I can’t wait to come back to Spain, I really loved your country.
Panos: I am really excited to be playing in Spain. It is the first time for Red Sun Revival to play there and it is also the first time for me to be visiting your country. Coming from a Mediterranean country myself, I can imagine how friendly and warm people will be. I can’t wait to perform at SGM Fest, meet lots of people and have a great time! And of course I look forward to trying some authentic, delicious Spanish cuisine!.
And are you going to play some new songs from the EP?
Rob: Yes, we’ll definitely be playing songs from the new EP at the show; we look forward to showcasing the new songs in Madrid. We’ll be putting on an intense and inimitable show for you, packed with our very best material.
I think in the beginning this band was a kind of personal project, right?
Rob: Yes, it started as a personal project of mine at a time in which I was starting to question the future of Voices of Masada. I wanted to write in a different way and to the best of my ability. I wanted the songs I wrote to sound as good in real life as they did in my head, which they never did before. After composing a fair bit of the material for “Running from the Dawn” I started to look around for interested musicians. I’d known Christina from various goth nights in London for a while and when she told me she was a violinist, I suggested we might start a band, particularly as the new material involved a lot of orchestral elements. Tim Chandler of Pretentious, Moi? was kind enough to recommend his own guitarist Matt and we met in Whitby shortly after and agreed to meet up at mine for an audition. I placed an advert on the net for a bassist and Panos got in touch for an audition also. In 2011 the band was formed with these talented and dedicated musicians.
There are not many bands with that kind of dreamy gothic rock sound, did you know from the beginnings what you wanted to do?
Rob: Thank you for the compliment! Yes, I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish, even if at the start I didn’t have all of the skills and expertise to realise those ambitions. It’s a constantly changing thing though, we develop as musicians and song-writers and the songs we want to write change also. I think we’re headed in a great direction.
As in The Mission, I can sense a kind of spiritual feeling in your music, are you a believer or a spiritual person?
Rob: Personally, I’m not. I was raised in a Christian background but eventually rejected that particular philosophy. I spend a lot of time resenting that part of my history, but I’ve begun to recognise some value in those years, even if I have no faith in the doctrine itself.
Your image is a bit similar to Fields of the Nephilim, are they one of your influences musically or visually?
Rob: No particular bands have consciously influenced our choice of image. In our first photo-shoot with Taya Uddin, we went for a shabby Dickensian theme, so I see how the hats might suggest Fields of the Nephilim, but this is coincidental. Our latest photo-shoot is a little different; we’ve opted for more of a 1930s look. Musically, I can’t deny that Fields of the Nephilim are something of an influence, but mainly as far as clean guitar is concerned.
By the way, is your logo also inspired in Fields of the Nephilim?
Rob: No, our logo is based upon an orery, a model of the planetary motions. I should take this opportunity to thank Sarah Channing-Wright for designing it for us. I quite like the Fields of the Nephilim logo though, and again any similarity is coincidental.
How do you see the goth scene nowadays? What have you been listening lately?
Rob: I think that it’s getting smaller, certainly in terms of what you might call trad-goth. That’s only natural though, we’re all getting a bit older, and the scene is developing an evolving in it’s own way. Some new bands I’ve been very impressed with lately have been The Editors and O Children.
Where did you get the name Red Sun Revival? Is there any meaning?
Rob: We had a lot of discussion at the beginning around finding a band name. It was a very difficult process, as wanted a name that was unique, but also reflected our musical style. “Red Sun Revival” came out of one of many brain-storming sessions. We thought that the name painted the kind of strong imagery that suited the music.
Matt Helm also plays the guitar in Pretentious Moi?, is it difficult to combine both duties?
Panos: All of us have always been involved in different projects and different bands. Me personally, I have been playing with several different rock bands throughout the last years and at the moment I am involved in three other projects apart from Red Sun Revival. At the same time though, all of us are really committed to Red Sun Revival.
Rob Leydon has a long career in the goth scene, has this helped you in any way?
Rob: Having played in various bands in the scene for about ten years has helped, particularly in terms of having contacts, but also in experience of how bands work, get gigs, and having a knowledge of the processes involved in recording and releasing material. Having done it all the wrong way in other band I think we’ve managed to get most things right this time.