Interview: Aleksey Evdokimov
Also, don’t forget that none of the doom legends even knew that they played “doom” until some journalists told them they did.
Cult Never Dies and Crypt Productions are soon releasing a book that has been rightly called a behemoth: The Doom Metal Lexicanum. This is the work of endless lost hours in late evenings and forgotten nooks and crannies in the life of Aleksey Evdokimov.
The impossible undertaking slowly took shape and Aleksey found the right people to collaborate with to get this passion project out there. Dayal Patterson, known for the fantastic series of books on black metal, is releasing this under the banner of Cult Never Dies Productions. There have been books on death metal and black metal, but doom metal seems to have been overlooked… until now.
I got in touch with Saint Petersburg inhabitant Aleksey to ask some questions about this massive undertaking, which he was kind enough to answer. If you are already keen to get your hands on the book, make sure you order it now!
E&D: Hey Aleksey, how have you been?
Aleksey: Hi Guido! Much better now, because we’ve finished with this. Now only this interview and two more for Esquire and Men’s Health stand between me and long-awaited relax time.
E&D: Can you tell a little bit about yourself?
Aleksey: I live and work in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I listened to metal since my school days, and back in the late 90s, I was a real fanatic, reading every magazine I could find here, translating songs’ lyrics and etc. I work in the field of electrical engineering, but I write for different e-zines, blogs and sometimes magazines since 2006. I have few interviews dated 2004 and 2005, but it wasn’t serious. In around 2010 I’ve joined the doommantia.com crew, then was TempleOfPerdition, few interviews for Doom Metal Front magazine, SludgeLord and PsychedelicBaby e-zines. Nowadays I write for doom-metal.com, nocleansinging.com, Outlaws Of The Sun and bi-monthly magazines InRock (Russia) and Fire (Italy).
E&D: So, what got you attracted to doom metal in the first place, what was its appeal to you?
Aleksey: Originally it was death doom metal: Tiamat with Clouds, Paradise Lost album Icon, a few videos from the “Beauty In Darkness” compilation like Celestial Season and Substance For God… Some bands who played doom in their early years like Anathema, Cemetery Of Scream, The Equinox Ov The Gods, Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy and so on. From some point onward I was satiated with this aesthetic and here Reverend Bizarre and Abysmal Grief appeared! I already knew Cathedral, but Reverend Bizarre is a turning point. II: Crush The Insects appeals me both with its instrumental and lyrical components. I guess that I always give my attention to songs with good lyrics. In a case of Abysmal Grief its grim sepulchral atmosphere, it’s impossible to resist.
E&D: You’ve mentioned that your motivation for starting this project, was mainly that there was simply no book about the genre. Is there really nothing?
Aleksey: As far as I know there was only A-Z of Doom, Goth & Stoner Metal by Garry Sharpe-Young in 2003. The scene has changed a lot over these last 14 years, and its name speaks for itself, right? Two years ago when I started working on the Lexicanum, it seemed to be right time for another one. I really don’t know why no one has written it before me, I don’t pretend to be the mister Know-It-All. I just knew how to do it, I wanted to pay some respect to the bands I like, and I wanted to finish with my time-consuming and free hobby of doing reviews and interviews with one final work.
E&D: When you started out, how did you imagine the end result would look. What was your initial approach to this daunting task?
Aleksey: In 2015 my friend had shown me Bible Of The Devil, a self-released encyclopedia written by Italian enthusiast Alberto Bia. I even wanted to write it together with Alberto, but we have different methods of work, so that wasn’t good idea. I’ve written down the list of bands I suppose to fit in the book, and I’ve checked how many interviews I already had with these artists. There were about 550-600 names in this list, and I interviewed less than 200 bands from this list.
I decided to limit myself to the traditional doom scene and sub-genres related to it because it would be impossible to include also death doom and funeral bands in one book. Big bands deserve more space, and when you have Candlemass, My Dying Bride and Pentagram in one book, you barely find space for new outfits with shorter discographies. For the same reason, I tried to avoid pure stoner bands, though if you’ll take a look at bills of doom festivals, then this genre is a big part of the scene. Nevertheless, purists probably will be disappointed. Well, they’re free to write a better thing. I did talk with Sami Hynninen, the General Doom Puritan, and he points that if he ever managed to write a book about doom scene, then he would include their 5 or so bands. Also, don’t forget that none of the doom legends even knew that they played “doom” until some journalists told them they did.
My vision was to have a book built up out of articles which combines reviews and interviews; I prefer interviews because they allow artists themselves to express what they really mean, the reviews are subjective thing… And speaking about discographies: I tried to mention in the articles every release bands have, but I only mentioned LPs in the discographies section. If I started to list all smaller records of Reverend Bizarre or Pentagram, that would be a nightmare.
E&D: Most of the project you did by yourself, how did you manage to keep yourself motivated and did you experience any noteworthy things with the bands you were writing about?
Aleksey: At some point, I just know that there’s no turning back. Also, I worked together with Mike Liassides (editor of doom-metal.com) and Tana Haugo Kawahara (Eternal Elysium’s bass player), I couldn’t tell them: “Thank you for your job! I prefer to stop!” My English is far from perfect, and they both edited all my bad grammar, scanning the texts I send them. It would be impossible if Mike and Tana didn’t lend me helping hand back then.
Also, I had the plan, I knew how to fulfill it. The only thing that I usually didn’t have was enough of time. But strict planning and love of the doom genre motivated me enough.As for noteworthy things… Communications with some bands are an interesting thing in itself most of the time.
E&D: Did you experience any setback during the writing?
Aleksey: One of my goals was to have an interview’s quote in each article, a direct speech from each band I write about. I have interviews done for one big part of my list, and I intended to interview others bands as well. That means I did send requests for interviews to each band you find in the book. And if you don’t see the direct speech in the article about some band, that just means that interview never happened. Few bands didn’t reply, few promised but didn’t answer in the end, with few big bands I almost organized interviews through their managers but it didn’t happen too. People are people… Anyway, I had a chance to interview a lot of excellent bands, which really counts.
Another problem I had is reviewing the albums. We cut some albums’ descriptions during the final proof of the whole text, yet anyway, you know – doom metal has its own rules, doom rock or stoner doom have their own as well. So when you write about 360 bands, you’re doomed (pun unintended, ed.) to repeat yourself when you describe their music. It’s not prog rock.
The problem to get proper photos with credits from the bands is another story… It seems that a damn lot of bands don’t care about it. Or in some cases, it was difficult to learn the name of the photographer from some band, from their label or even from their PR-crew. We couldn’t use photos without credits, we try to do it legally.
The big deal was to find a publisher. Really I was thinking naively that this part is easy (the doom community is a large family and so on). I wasted a lot of time since January 2017 until February to reach an agreement or even just understanding with few persons. So I was happy when I got in contact with Dayal Patterson of Cult Never Dies in March. And the last painful thing was the necessity to stop. Until very last moment I did want to add one more band, to write more about this or that album and so on. It’s good that Dayal stopped me.
E&D: Which parts are your favorites, or which bands did you enjoy writing about most?
Aleksey: Hard to tell… I would tell that I like how articles about Cathedral and Pentagram look. I re-listened to their whole discographies in writing these parts. For example with Cathedral it was good to get comments from Adam Lehan and Mark Griffiths; it was the case when I wrote for every band’s members whom I could find including Dave Patchett and exclude Scott Carlson and few members who were there for one year or about that. But I’m disappointed that Dave Patchett didn’t reply, for me his artwork is one of most important Cathedral features. In the case of Pentagram I did interview Joe Hasselvander, originally I did it for Russian magazine InRock, and he’s right person to ask some tough questions.
But my favorite thing in this book, in general, is the fact that there are such bands like Barabbas, Bevar Sea, Dreaming, The Hazytones or L’Impero delle Ombre amongst big names like Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre or Trouble. It was one of three main points for me – to spread the word about such bands that deserve more exposure and more attention from doom fans.
E&D: Then at some point, you must have realized that this is really was happening? How did you get the right people to team up with?
Aleksey: When I started writing Lexicanum (autumn 2015), I regularly contributed interviews for doom-metal.com. So, I’ve just asked Mike Liassides if he can proofread my English, and he said “ok”. I guess that Tana Haugo Kawahara joined in June 2016. It was obvious that I had too many texts to put it all on one person (who did this entire job for free), and it was a miracle as Tana suddenly did agree to take part into this mournful labor. I’m endlessly grateful to them.Also, I should mention Mila Kiseleva, she did the original artwork for the book in a period when I had no publisher yet. You can see it on the back page of the book, she caught my idea well.
E&D: You work together with Dayal Patterson and his Cult Never Dies company. How did you get in touch with him and were you familiar with his work on beforehand?
Aleksey: One gentleman from the band which story you can find in the book advised me to ask Dayal. It was March 2017, about 85% of the book was written. So, it was the right man. I see that I couldn’t find better publisher indeed. He got my idea, he did accept it wholly, he knew how to run the project (I already had the Facebook profile for Lexicanum, but he knows few more things how to promote such things more effectively). He was the bridge which leads to this brilliant artwork done by David Thierree, who not only caught my idea well but also perfectly fulfilled it in his painting. But no, I didn’t read Dayal’s books before.
E&D: Now, the pre-sale has started. Why should everyone get their hands on this book? What can they expect?
Aleksey: It’s a good Christmas present for doom fans. For people who’re totally into this, for those who collect vinyl. Those who still know how to deal with audio tapes… Like in Cathedral’s song ‘Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine’, you know? It’s a detailed and honest guide through the doom scene, it’s the right choice for those who want to learn more about doom genre. Also, I heard that it help to build relationships with fair ladies and to gain respect in high society.
E&D: What is the next project you’re ready to sink your teeth into?
Aleksey: As people ask, and the monkey on my back demands… It would be right to turn on more extreme doom territories. But it depends on few factors, and I suppose that in a month or two I’ll put my foot down.