ARTIST: Station Dysthymia
WEB: Station Dysthymia Myspace.
LASTFM: Station Dysthymia LastFm.
REVIEW IN GDZ: Station Dysthymia – Only Gray Days Review in Spanish.
READ IN SPANISH: Station Dysthymia Interview in Spanish.
HEAR STATION DYSTHYMIA CD: Hear Station Dysthymia CD.
GDZ: Why did you choose “Station Dysthymia” as the name of the band?
SD: One of the early name suggestions was “Oblivion Station”, which was discarded as being too cheesy. “Station Dysthymia” came up rather spontaneously, as a play on that. It goes well with our dystopian, hyper-realistic urban mood and doesn’t sound typical for a metal band. And well, for most of the members, the aforementioned station was a familiar place for a long time before the band was even conceived.
GDZ: Could you describe the band’s music in a few words? Which influences would you mention?
SD: I’d rather say not influences, but inspirations. In terms of music, stuff that we’ve all tapped into is certainly Esoteric, Tyranny, Skepticism, Dolorian, Shape of Despair, Wraith Of The Ropes, and the background noise from an immense lot of other drab music, and you can easily note that influence in distinct parts of the songs. A great part of the inspiration was the unique vibe of nighttime cities and the flow of life they dictate. Eerie crimson streetlights, moonlit snow, rooms filled with muffled talk and stale cigarette smoke. Walking home on winter evenings, entranced by the oppressive buzz of thoughts and feelings in your head. Only Gray Days is the anthem to those evenings.
Oddly enough, I have heard people comparing us to a shitload of bands, besides the mentioned, in reviews and comments, starting with Comatose Vigil (I’ve found a hilarious comment, where the poster speculated, that we might be a secret side-project of theirs), through Ixion and Funeralium, and up to fucking My Dying Bride. I would disagree with most comparisons (especially the latter one), but art is subjective, I suppose.
GDZ: The use of just an initial in order to identify the band’s members seems curious to me. Is there any special reason for doing this?
SD: Since our early daze (see what I’ve done here?) we had the notion that it’s not only the music itself that conjures the mystic, bleak mood of the funeral doom bands we were crazy about, but all the paraphernalia, including the obscured way band members are often portrayed, and we tried to maintain that in our band’s mood as well, hence the masked names and little to none faces. Actually, the only photos of the band are several blurred cutouts from a film roll shot at one of our rehearsals, using an old camera. But don’t take this wrong – we do not hide, anyone can easily find and contact us, granted that he has Internet access; nor is it undergroung kvlt fetish wankery, as we chased these values not only for the aesthetics.
To put it in a nutshell, what we want is to separate our music from personalities. When you read a band lineup with actual names, you already come with the impression, that it is certain people playing certain instruments. Taking an abstract-sounding alias shifts the attention from your personality, it states, that it could be anyone playing, and that the mood the music creates is what really matters. Furthermore, I would even go as far as to say, that most of our comments on this interview could come from any underground funeral doom band recording an album.
GDZ: I love how B’s voice sounds in the final recording. Which effects does he use when singing?
SD: Recording the vocals was one of the most tiring parts of the process, as you can strain your throat only so long, before your voice requires rest. B. does not have any vocal education, so his technique is pretty crude. The vocals rely on sheer passion, more than anything. As for effects, I’m pretty sure O, being in charge of production, may not be telling us everything, as there is some echoing on the high-pitched shrieks, reverb on growls and some clever ad hoc multitracking for the haunting whispering, but he insists, that the main effects were put there by ice-cold beer and cigarettes. One can only imagine what manipulative wonders they do to a voice, especially when used in copious quantities.
GDZ: In my opinion, Station Dysthimia’s compositions are based on guitars. Am I right?
SD: Spot on, pretty much. We’re fine adepts of the guitar-based funeral doom school, and even while there are generous amounts of synth sound in “Snow Cold Visions”, the song is driven by guitars. From a songwriting perspective, the first idea is typically some really awesome guitar riff, usually penned by S., which gets chewed on by all the bandmembers on rehearsals and at home, coming up with arrangements, drum patterns and bass lines, as well as other riffs, that fit in well. Then, we play the results ad nauseam, until both S. and B. connect through mentally to some doom deity above (or below), and come up with hypnotic guitar solos and crushing vocal lines accordingly. Then, we play it some more, until we are sure the song plucks the right emotional strings. B. sings gibberish, until we have a rough outline of the vocal lines, which is when O. and B. figure out the lyrics.
Careful listeners will definitely notice how important the bass is, there’s barely a riff where it just follows the guitar pattern without its own stuff going on, sometimes joining in on the lead, sometimes even being a lead itself. It’s just that we find, that funeral doom gives a lot of audial space for the bass to fill in, which would go to a waste, if it would just be humming the main note of whatever chord is sounding at the moment.
GDZ: Regarding the other instruments, i have found the sound of metals in percussion for “Only Gray Days” a bit dissappointing. Did you have any problem with this during the recording?
SD: Our main problem was the absence of any reasonable way to record a live drumkit, so we had to rely on a very good drum synth, which sounds perfectly real in a normal recording environment, but gets a bit out of place in a hellish whirlwind of mangled sound that any decent funeral doom record must be. This even forced us to alter the drone middle section on “Rehabilitation” pretty drastically during recording, to rely a lot more on guitar feedback, as live it has O. and B. engaging in some twisted form of Khanate worship. Problem is, you just can’t make the intended dynamic percussion sound right on a sampled drum kit, and you can’t make the vocals sound without the abovementioned percussion, so our only choice was letting S. have a field day on this fragment.
GDZ: Samplers, phasers, flangers and other effects are, in fact, used as another instrument in the songs. What did you look for with this?
SD: For going further down the path of sonic unearthiness. We just happen to love guitar effects, since they add so much to the tried-and-true over-the-top distortion. Just listen to Dolorian’s 2006 album, it has the perfect murky sonic depth, with the thick reverberation and slowly oscillating flangers on the guitars, punctuated by stern and clear drums. It would’ve sounded flat without the effects. There’s a little-known fact that in the beginning of things, “Rehabilitation” was supposed to have a deep, thick flanger on all the rhythm guitars, for the whole song. That was the attitude. We ultimately toned it down for more coherence, but if you listen closely to the song’s slow-dive solo part, near the end, there’s a sweet flanger going on the rhythm chords there.
GDZ: Currently, Station Dysmithia has neither a drummer nor a sampler since O. is living now in Moscow. How has this fact affected to the band’s members and, maybe, its music?
SD: It’s kind of a tough call, as we are currently stuck to guitar-based ideas, and are not able to rehearse properly. It seems, that searching for a funeral doom drummer is bordering on ridiculous these days (in Siberia, at least), but one of our mates, hereby known as M., has agreed picking up on drum-smashing duties, and we’ll be jamming as intended shortly. New members bring fresh ideas, and who knows what turn it may bring to the sound. One thing you can be sure about: it’ll remain to be the doomiest of doom. We’ll post on how this goes on our MySpace.
Oh, right, synths? We used them on rehearsals just a few times, when experimenting with “Snow Cold Visions”, and it was played by B., as the author of the synth lines was too busy on percussion duty. As for O., we still regard him as part of the band. Although he does not play with us anymore, we are still in touch with him. He is our main contact with the Moscow scene, as well as he is in charge of the visuals of Station Dysthymia and still contributing to our music (and interviews). He currently plays with the Moscow funeral doom act Who Dies In Siberian Slush, which is keen on releasing a very great album in 2010, so keep an eye out for them!
GDZ: Could you tell us about the experience of self-releasing an album, jammin`… production… mixing…
SD: That was a long, strange trip. We have been recording this album for more than a year, pretty slowly. Then we had to scrape everything once or twice, and most of the real recording work you see on the album was done in July-August 2009. Getting the tracks down was hindered by available time issues, technical complications, too much booze, too little booze, having to move to a different apartment just before we finally got everything done… For all the brave souls about to embark on the rocky path of home recording, I have these advices: get as much RAM as possible, get a decent mic preamp, don’t use FL Studio if possible. All in all, an immense lot of birth pains before we finally finished the monstrosity Only Gray Days is. The recording sessions involved pretty heavy discussion and even improvisation.
For instance, the growl-scream vocal duo you can hear on Rehabilitation (“I wait for the night to fade…”) was ad-libbed, it was supposed to be just one mid-range growl line. I guess, we’ll have to come up with a way of pulling this one off live. Also, S. is such a prefectionist, that watching him and O. screaming at each other, arguing if they should or not re-record that 4 minute take, was truly demonic. It was also pretty thrilling watching S. summon a guitar lead from fucking hell in the middle of recording, so we have to rearrange the song to fit it in. I mean, we just HAD to tape that kind of stuff, like the culmination on “Down Through Earth” at the end of the prolonged vocal lead (“Into vast depths of searing introspection…”). I guess, the only one not engaging too much in these recording session shennanigans was A., since he’s the most quiet guy in the band, and the most disciplined, in terms of musicianship. Only he knows what exactly is played on rhythm, and can pull it off perfectly, even with his eyes bound. He just came, nailed the rhythm guitar tracks in one or two takes, sat back and enjoyed a few laughs at the expenses of the freak show the rest of the band was staging.
GDZ: Hasn’t Station Dysmithia got an offer from a record label yet? Have you got in contact with someone in order to produce or distribute your future work?
SD: There are talks going on with Endless Winter, a small, but sturdy russian doom metal label, it will be a special edition of Only Gray Days containing an entirely new bonus track, and as soon as we actually get off our asses and make that bonus track, there’ll be more details. Stay tuned (to B or C# at least).
GDZ: Russian extreme metal scene is growing fastly. Could you recommend bands from your country?
SD: Possibly, you can say that about Moscow, but not about Novosibirsk. There are some pretty solid death metal bands in town, like Morior and Defect Designer, that keep up with the good stuff, but the local scene as a whole is still awaiting its messiah. Speaking about doom, there is no scene at all in this city, period. It’s only Evoke Thy Lords and us, and we don’t even know each other. We really hope that this changes in a close future.
As for Russian doom and gloom (and anything inbetween), I would recommend checking out Инталия, or Intaglio, which is funeral doom of quite a different breed than Station Dysthymia. It’s very minimalistic, quiet, melodic and sombre, but is built on a very strong and unique mood, and won’t leave you untouched. Abstract Spirit is immensely great funeral doom, Black Art nicely tap into the oldschool doom/death aesthetics. If you like pounding industrial-sounding funeral, you could do much worse, than listening to Comatose Vigil. Во Скорбях, or Vo Skorbyakh, i.e. In Grieves, is a pretty bold attempt to fuse funeral doom with Slavic folk music. Oh, and if you haven’t already, I urge you to listen to Kauan – not directly doom related, but this is the best Russian band in a while, even after changing direction on their sophomore record.
GDZ: What’s your opinion about music business? Do illegal downloads benefit the artists (because much people have access to our music) or they simply rip your work?
SD: The music business is in a crisis, as many people prefer downloading music instead of buying it, and don’t even go to gigs, cutting down two of the biggest avenues of income. Do I think this is bad? Not really, at least for the underground. Without any doubt, free downloads do benefit the artists, because torrents, forums and music download blogs are, like it or not, the main way to discover new stuff for strapping young lads and girls who are fond of a particular non-mainstream music scene. And since those bands aren’t there to earn money in the first place, I really don’t see anything but mutual benefit. Of course, if you’re an ass who condemns piracy in underground scenes, and you complain that vile freeloaders stole your cult release, you obviously should be put to death. Record labels? They carry an important logistical role these days, and there’ll always be people who like collecting CDs, so let things stay the way they are now. Gig organizers? Underground music listeners are a lot more engaged, and are more likely to attend gigs, than your average Coldplay hipster.
GDZ: Finally, Could you tell us something in advance regarding the band’s future?
SD: Life is neverending magic, and a neverending source for inspiration too, and so Station Dysthymia still has a lot in store for the aching souls, so be on the lookout. We are about to finish gearing up our new rehearsal spot, so we will be resuming rehearsals soon. Music-wise, we have enough material for two or three new songs, and we are very eager to work them out. The new stuff is more in the vein of Down Through Earth, but who knows how it will all play out, so be ready for a few surprises.