Interview with Candlemass: Grey Islands In The New World

CandlemassIt may have been 17 years since Swedish doom metal legends Candlemass’ last US tour, but ask vocalist Robert Lowe about it and it’s mostly just another day in the office. Lowe, the Texas-based signer for Solitude Aeturnus (also legends, but much less Swedish), joined Candlemass in the nick of time for the recording of 2007’s King Of The Grey Islands, following the departure of fabled frontman and alleged crybaby Messiah Marcolin. The success of the album, creatively and commercially, speaks for itself. It was enough for Nuclear Blast to fly the band over for their first tour since Bush I was President. So there’s that.

With King, a new era dawned for Candlemass. Not only in terms of the new vocalist, but the record saw the band transform from yet another underground comeback act (2005’s self-titled effort was their first since 1999), but in prestige. By adding a known figure like Lowe, they became almost statesmen-esque; bassist and principal songwriter Leif Edling’s pedigree was never in doubt—his past work sets a legacy across the band’s classic late-‘80s catalog—but in combination with Lowe’s powerful, even Dio-like, voice, Candlemass became everything for which a traditional doom fan could ask. Now they’re taking it on the road, hitting Starland Ballroom on May 22.

You being situated in Texas and the rest of the band in Sweden, have you gotten to rehearse at all for the tour?

Robert Lowe: As far as rehearsals go, I can say that we really haven’t had typical band rehearsals. I was in Sweden just last week recording the new EP. After we were done recording the EP, we had one night of rehearsals going over the set for the States. But basically everybody is professional and on their game, takes care of what they need to on their own time, so when we get together, it just kind of works.

What’s on the new EP?

We’re doing a remake of an old song and we wrote two new ones. The old one is going to be “Demon’s Gate,” and the new ones are “The White God” and “Lucifer Rising.” I have to say, I’m pretty stoked about “Lucifer Rising.” It’s pretty kickass.

Are you going to play either of the new songs at the US shows?

I don’t know what we have in mind for the shows. We’ve got a tentative setlist for now, but that might change. I think we might be doing “Crystal Ball” instead of “Demon’s Gate” for the tour.

It’s the band’s first US tour in 17 years, but it’s not like you haven’t been in the States in the meantime since you live here. Also, being the new guy in the band, do you feel any of the gravity or the pressure for the tour?

No, I really don’t feel one way or the other. I’m just looking forward to doing it. I’ve been out with them already overseas, done a couple festivals, and everybody’s pretty stoked about doing this. Like I said, everybody’s professional, we just get up there, do our job and enjoy it.

Thinking of the set and the older material, were there songs you specifically had to learn for this tour, or did you know it all from doing Europe?

There wasn’t anything in particular that I had to work at or go over. The only one would probably be “Crystal Ball,” but other than that, the set’s pretty much the same as the European set. We’ve taken some out and added some other, but growing up and listening to Candlemass forever, I knew all the songs anyway.