Here we are, boys and girls, into the catacomb abyss! But fear not! Our guest is just the lord of the abyss: the Earthed Elf. He will guide us to a tour into his mind and to his enlighted solo project. Here we go into the deep of good music!
MA – I had an experience just like yours and I can tell somewhat what you felt. I had a bike accident, broke the femur, and because of that couldn’t walk for 9 months. I remember my father telling me that the worst part would be my mind. I was only 21, just bought a bike and could go everywhere by myself! I had a beautiful girlfriend who supported me, but we broke up few months after my complete recovery. I guess songs like “Never see the Sun again” and “Eternal Night” express the feelings you had during your recovery, isn’t that right?
UE – Maybe they do! Not on purpose though. Usually when I write lyrics, I won’t even know what they are about until later on. I just look deep inside, which is not always pleasant for me, and I write about the images I see in my mind. Even some of the songs with weirder lyrics, I will find them having hidden meaning later on that even I was unaware of. Maybe “Lighting The Mummy On Fire” is just a metaphor for all the hospital bills I pay or some shit, who knows. But for the most part, I created this entire world and characters in my imagination. Those songs are early on in the album, so they are setting you up for the journey into the Catacomb Abyss.
MA – But in my opinion you made a good use of the time you spent at home without walking. How was the songwriting process? Were you on your own and the songs came to your mind, or you just had the epiphany “Oh, I can write something about all this”?
UE – The songwriting process for this project was very fun. I had a good time putting these songs together with all the spare time on my hands, and it gave me something fun and positive to focus on while I was injured. There’s always music going on in my head, 24 hours a day. But I have an incredibly short attention span so I have to get my ideas recorded to harness them or I will forget them two minutes later. Usually I will have a catchy melody pop into my mind and then I’ll build off of it from there.
MA – I could notice lots of old school metal in the musical guideline you chose. Black Sabbath, early Ozzy solo career, and of course, Dio. The modern touch is about mixing all those influences with power metal like Hammerfall and Rhapsody, is that right? Tell me about the influences that were part of that album.
UE – Yes, that is exactly what I was going for! I have to admit I am a total “80’s child,” so I definitely wanted to give a salute to the old-school 80’s metal that captured my imagination when I was younger, but then add a modern twist and some production elements of epic power metal as well. To me, that’s a recipe for fun and entertainment right there. And that’s what this project is supposed to be. I’m not making any important statements or anything… it’s just supposed to be fun to listen to, bang your head and sing along.
MA – Man! You played all instruments, produced, recorded, and wrote all songs! How could you! Do you have a music degree or you are just that talented?
UE – Well, I like to joke that instead of being really good at one instrument, I am mediocre at a bunch of them! I started playing cello in third grade and continued from there. I’ve been making little solo recordings ever since I was 13, back when I would use the very primitive method of two tape recorders set in front of each other for doing overdubs. Before I had any drums I would hit a bucket with a pen or whatever. I’d make these awful tapes of really weird & stupid songs, along with handmade inserts for the cassettes and everything, and try to sell them at school. Being classically trained on cello gave me a good foundation to figure out almost any other stringed instrument without much trouble, and I eventually started up on drums as well. I’ve taken private lessons at some time or another for almost every instrument I play. I think it’s important to always be learning, and trying to improve. I’m no virtuoso, but I try to be as good as I can be. I’ve been taking voice lessons for the last couple of years, because I consider singing to be the most challenging thing of all. So I like to stay on top of it and keep improving. I really don’t understand why a lot of players out there don’t bother taking lessons and stick with it.
MA – Like you I live in a small city. And life in small places makes a big difference in our lives. How does that work with you? How does that take part in your work?
UE – I would think of Milwaukee as more of a medium-sized city, really. I did incorporate my hometown into my project though… All the photography for the album was done at Calvary Cemetery And Mausoleum, which is this really cool historical place here in Milwaukee. There’s a lot of big old graves and crypts, and it’s a very scenic and peaceful place. It made for an awesome place to shoot the photos, perfect for the atmosphere of the project. I really like old, historical places, especially big graveyards. And there’s a few really cool ones here.
MA – This was your solo project while you were recovering from a surgery. And how about your band, Artic Sleep? How did the guys from the band handle with all that, I mean gigs cancelled, the impossibility of going on, the unexpected stop? How do you feel? Do you think you can go on with this solo project or it is over? Do you think it’s possible to carry both on?
UE – I never heard much from any of them about it, really. They were all in other bands and had a lot of personal stuff going on in their lives I guess, and they were cancelling rehearsals a lot, so I was starting to get the impression that they weren’t interested in being serious with the band, rehearsals, and the tour. I had high hopes for the new lineup and really wanted it to work, but maybe I expected too much. I think they understand though. They are good people. But all of that, and then the knee blowout, and having to cancel the tour I worked so hard setting up, I know it affected me a lot. I was really fucking depressed about the whole situation for a very long time. I’m still upset about all that shit when I think about it. Right now, however, the future is uncertain. There might be more Unearthed Elf, there might be more Arctic Sleep one way or another, there might be something else, there might be nothing.
MA – Thanks, bro!
Hope you are fully recovered and my best wishes to you, to your project, and to your band!