With their new album ‘The Liquid Sky’ set for release in just a couple of weeks, Deadspace are ready to unveil their latest opus without hesitation. We spoke to vocalist Chris Gebauer, who took the time to explain the origins of the album, how they made it so expansive, and why they will always be true to themselves as a band.
“We try and do something different every time we write a record. That’s the problem with this style of music in general, obviously we come across as this DSBM kind of band which is very limited with subject matter, and a lot of the time it comes across as an excuse for whingey teenagers to complain about how depressed they are” says Gebauer, when asked how the band came up with the themes present on the new album.
He continues, reflecting on past releases. “Promise of Oblivion was very introspective and truer to the DSBM genre, but the idea of Gravity was to be more outgoing and generalized. The story is basically a life cycle of what we’re put here to do and talks about any noticed or perceived unease. With this record I was sitting down thinking okay we’re gonna spend X amount on the production and promotion of this album, how are we going to make this more encompassing? We’d been listening to a lot of stuff like rock operas and lots of Queen and Pain of Salvation influence was picked up in this release”.
Stating that real life experiences helped shape the foundations of the story, Gebauer says “When we started writing we were drinking excessive amounts of piss. One of the weeks we were doing pre-production, 4 of us polished off about $4000 worth of alcohol. Basically it got to this point where the lyrical concept kind of came down and I thought I wanted to write a story where I could take an autobiographic approach but still have the creative license so I could shape the lyrics and music as the story progressed. We came up with this story while we were drinking a lot and thought let’s put ourselves in the position of someone who this becomes a disease for, say we took it too far, what are the consequences, what has happened and how has this shaped the story?”.
Concept albums often come with a kind of message, a precautionary tale the artist has planned for the listener to take away from it. This is not the case with Deadspace, who encourage their listeners to make their own meaning out of the music.
“We’ve been going on with this thing as a band for a while where it’s like a ‘choose your own adventure’ and deliberately left it very open to interpretation. The art that I appreciate the most is quite open ended and you can make your own assumptions. It’s really a story for anybody because it’s a realistic situation that could happen to anyone. You can even go back and say maybe it’s not drinking, maybe someone has terminal cancer and this is their way of grieving with that.” Says Gebauer, emphasising the expansiveness of the record. “There’s no indication or implication of the gender of the person whatsoever and that’s something we try to carry along with the image of the band. We owe it to our fans to present the highest quality music that we can, but we also owe it to our fans to look good and present ourselves artistically in a physical way especially being a live band. We feel like our basic image and essence as a band is just this big artistic expression and invitation to be able to connect to the music in your own way”.
Every Deadspace release is a product of its time says Gebauer, explaining how the band stayed true to themselves when writing this record.
“For us life is a really transient thing. It’s not always deliberate, it’s not always predictable. Making plans can help with some things, but sometimes making a plan and burning it to the ground is the best thing you can do. All of us are at that point where we’d all get up and make huge, random impulse changes for the fun of it. That’s the kind of people we are and our art is always going to be like that as well. The next record might be completely different but it still sound like it’s made by us. How many times have you heard a record when it first came out and gone ‘I prefer the older stuff’ and then listened to it at another point of time and thought ‘Oh fuck now I get it. I understand this record and why they changed their sound to this point’. You can show me something that I really wouldn’t be into, but if it’s the right time and the right feeling is there it’ll stick. And we feel that music is like that and it’s our job to be true to ourselves, honest and transparent. You don’t want to put out a brand that’s not ethical to the business code of conduct. There’s a lot of clean vocals on this that when I was demoing I was thinking ‘Fuck, I don’t know how this is going to go down in the studio. Is it too bare?’ but we bit our tongues and went ‘You know what, this is what we’ve created and this is what we’re recording’.
There’s a noticeable change in direction on ‘The Liquid Sky’ that incorporates many more elements than the band’s previous releases. When asked if this was a conscious decision, Gebauer replied, “I wouldn’t say it was a deliberate step but I feel like with this record the most important thing was to be more honest with ourselves in a way where we could get into character knowing how we were going to present this record. I actively wanted to put a few more doomy sort of elements in there which was very deliberate. The first song that I started writing was ‘The Liquid Sky’ which is the last track, and I wanted to make certain parts really doomy because we don’t really have a lot of doom. When it comes in the second time round the light needs to match the dark. The members that are writing more actively now have shaped the change the change. Oliver Royer (Guitar/Vocals) didn’t really write much on the last record but this time we were half and half on this album when it came to initial ideas. With the other members we went through everything with a wide toothed comb. Our new guitarist Thomas Major brings a real Pink Floyd/David Gilmour kind of feel to the leads as well.
Continuing on how the band shaped their influences and pushed their sound to the next level with this release, Gebauer stated “We’ve got this idea as a band where we have these black metal influences, but we’re also very influenced by blues and post rock. The only conscious thing was wanting to push the balance in a weird way. With the heavier stuff, we wanted it to be heavier. But we don’t want to be a heavier band, in all we want to be a very well balanced band that is happy with what they’re doing. In relation to the doom, we thought ‘We’ve had a couple of things that eluded to doom in the past, let’s push that 50% harder. Let’s push the clean vocals 50% harder and test how well we can do it’. With the bass we wanted more movement going on and not having it just follow the guitar. We wanted the bass to have its own presence, especially with all the killer tones we’ve had on most of our records”.
When the album was complete though, Gebauer thought it was missing one of the band’s flagship traits, the black metal sound. “We got the whole album finished and when we were listening back it, I thought it was missing a song. The guys asked what was missing and I said there was no black metal on it at all. It needed a song that was gritty, evil and torturous sounding. So I wrote ‘The Worms Must Feed’ in about 2 hours and that ended up being bang in the middle”.
“The other weird one was ‘Kidney Bleach’” said Gebauer, referring to the 4 minute acoustic duet on the album. “We were initially nervous about it, but now we don’t a fuck. Oli has the tendency to write a bit of the folky kind of stuff, so we had this song written and ready to go. Originally it was electric guitar but in the studio we decided it had to be acoustic. The night that we filmed the ‘Reflux’ video, Oli’s girlfriend picked him up and they broke up. Obviously it hit him pretty hard, but we were in the middle of this drinking/pre-production thing and I was like ‘Man we’ve gotta write these vocals’, so we wrote those vocals at my house while he was drinking a bottle of wine and crying on the floor”.
‘The Liquid Sky’ also features a couple of guest performances from close friends of the band, with Gebauer reflecting on why they picked who they did. “I actually got my sister to come in and sing on ‘Kidney Bleach’ because we needed someone with an amazing female voice. We also had our friend Drew Griffiths who was our old bassist come and contribute guest vocals. The reason we picked them was because those 2 guys are the reason I started clean singing. Watching Portia and Drew sing and having those guys teach me how to sing was the reason I’d been able to push myself to the level I’d got to, so it felt right to have them on this release”.