Lycanthia interview


Oct 11, 2002
Sydney, Australia

Lycanthia first grew to popularity after the release of their first full length album 'Myriad' and continued this success with the momentous 'Within The Walls', which saw them peak at #11 on Australian radio station Triple j's Australian Metal Chart within the first week of release. Their success continued to grow with regular radio airplay and live performances alongside national and international acts. Having just listened to their latest album ‘Oligarchy’, and not prepared to sit back and just review the album, I decided to interview Lee and Megan from the band, so here goes!

Hi Lee and Megan and many thanks for the interview. You are from down under :), so can you tell us first what the Metal music scene is like in Australia?
Lee: Thanks for taking the time to interview us.

Megan: There has long been a lot of Metal bands that have had great popularity in Australia, but it is hard getting recognition overseas. Bands like Alchemist, were quite successful back in the day. I think there is a renewed interest in Australian Metal happening at the moment though, Psycroptic are signed to Nuclear Blast and NeObliviscaris recently signed with Season Of Mist, also The Amenta are with Listenable Records and are quite popular abroad.

Lee: The nische genre that we play in is a lot smaller, probably best known band for our style of music would be Virgin Black and Mournful Congregation from Adelaide. There are a number of bands that do play in more of the doomier styles, but a lot of them don't play live and are just more recording projects. I would like to see morebands like that in the future in Australia.

And can we be introduced to members of the band?
Lee Tassaker - Vocals and Bass
Vanessa Black - Vocals and Violin
Megan Tassaker - Vocals and Keyboard
Mathew Newton - Guitar
Stephen Mikulic - Guitar
Lachlan Donaldson - Drums

I don't myself immediately associate Australia with the Doom/Gothic Metal scene, so how does your style of Death-Doom/Gothic Metal go down in your homeland?
Lee: It is definitely not the most popular genre of metal in this country, by any means, but still there are a lot of fans and we can bring in decent numbers to shows when we play them. Basically if you're in a band like this in Australia, you're best off doing more sporatic, well planned shows rather than playing every Saturday night somewhere. Death/Thrash/Black Metal are definitely the more popular styles in Australia.

Can you inform us more about any of your previous releases prior to your latest cd 'Oligarchy'?
Lee: Previous to Oligarchy, we released a CD called "Within The Walls", previous to that we did a couple of singles for various compilations and in the later part of the 90s we released a 40min demo tape and shortly after our debut album Myriad. Myriad could be looked at as a blue-print to Lycanthia, where we started to work out how we wanted the layers of sound to work and moods, styles of music we were trying to fuse together. It wasn't until Within The Walls and our latest Oligarchy, that we really came into defining our sound.

And now can you tell us all about your latest album?
Lee: The majority of songs on Oligarchy started out as a raw Guitar or Bass structure, upon which we add the layers and built the moods. Sometimes there were preconceived parts of songs that we knew straight away we wanted some screaming only, or some female vocals and violin only, other times we worked with what felt right for the music. We went through a few line up changes after the recording process had initially begun, so the process was drawn out longer than we had hoped for, as we wanted to take the time to find the right people to join us in Lycanthia and add their own flavour to the tracks, and that worked out to our absolute advantage, pushing the songs into new directions, parts that were lacking were brought to life because of this. We mastered with Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, he has also worked with Katatonia Opeth and Draconian, to name a few.

Can you tell us the meaning of the title 'Oligarchy'?
Megan: We found that a theme connected a lot of the tracks on the album, and that is our reaction to the world as a society and the powers that be.

Lee: Oligarchy by definition means - "A system of government in which power is held by a small group." I guess we think of it as homage to all corrupt powers

How do you feel the band has progressed musically since your debut 'Within The Walls'?
Lee: Well, just to correct that, Within The Walls was actually our second album. Myriad being the first, as we stated in a previous question, Myriad was way more pof a blue-print of what we wanted to do. We see it as a very primitive version of Lycanthia. Comparing Within The Walls to Oligarchy, a lot of the elements that we have in Oligarchy are a lot more richer and dynamic than found in Within The Walls. Not to mention there is a far better quality of production on Oligarchy as well, but I personally don't like to focus on production too much. I think a well written song can stand on it's own.

Megan: I find that the structures of songs on Oligarchy are a lot more refined and less 'free-form' so to speak, than Within the Walls, making it a much more pleasant listening experience. The violin and vocal harmonies are a lot more versatile and creative as well.

And how was that debut album received by the media?
Megan: Myriad was actually picked up by an underground record label (I won't name and shame) but they kept putting off the release, to put out other albums first - as Lycanthia was virtually an unknown band at the time, and we went through various attempts to get the album back so that we could release it on our own, and a few years later managed to release it independently..

Lee: We gained lots of praise in the media for this release and went on to sell two pressings of it. As far as Within The Walls, and more so Oligarchy, we have had some fantastic responses to these and a lot more opportunities have been opening up for us over the past few years. I do find it frustrating when you get negative reviewers that by their own confession say "I'm not a fan of this genre". We believe that if you don't like a particular style of music, then you shouldn't be reviewing it as you already have a negative outlook on it. We also find it very frustrating when a review may say "there is nothing ground breaking and it's clearly a clone of ................ and ................." when sometimes we have never heard of these bands before, let alone be influenced by them. I guess the other thing that really bugs us is that Lycanthia has been around since the mid-to-late 90s and we have continued to write and record the music that we love and enjoy, and we have never claimed to be forging a new genre. Sometimes we get comparisons to our peer groups, when truth be told, although we have existed at more of an underground level, we have been around a lot longer than *some* of these peer bands.

Have you had any media response yet to the latest record?
Lee: Hahaha I think of I kind of answered that above in my rant. I realise that it's come accross that I'm focusing on the negative here (that's doom for you) when truly it's not the case. We have had a great deal of positive reviews, and have done way more interviews recently than we have ever done previously.

By and large, what is the main theme behind the lyrics of your music?
Lee: The sadness and the repression that the powers that be can inflict upon the masses. Also an outlook on personal internal conflicts.

What was the recording process like and how long did it take to record the new album?
Lee: Oligarchy had its difficulties and took a lot longer than we initially planned. As before, we said we had some line up changes during the process. We also suffered some great technical difficulties, which ended up with us having to put our initial recording of Oligarchy in the trash, and start again in a different environment. Once we had gone into the new environment, everything started flowing and went seemlessly.

Megan: I gave myself the tedious task of trying to make "ghost tracks" out of the first failed recording of Oligarchy, which was quite difficult and is a very boring story, so I wont go into that haha. Andy, Lee and myself hiked down to Wollongong to track the Drums with Lord Tim (of Sydney band, Lord) at his studio (SLS Studios). We then recorded the guitars raw with Simon Gruer (from Avrigus) and later with Douglass Skene (of Hemina), then we re-amped the guitar tracks in the studio with Greg Stace, who also tracked all vocals and violin. I tracked the keys at home and we added them to the mix, which Greg also did.

Being in Australia, and with this style of music more of an 'in thing' across mainland Europe, do you feel that being based in Australia may perhaps be holding the band back and delaying their musical progress?

Lee: In a lot of ways yes, simply because we can't expose ourselves live to a larger fan base of this style of music and have the opportunities to tour with greater known artists. Although we will be supporting Eluveitie in 3 weeks time, and we are doing our first overseas shows in USA this October.

And out of curiosity, how did you hook up with a small Canadian label?
Lee: We sent out a few hundred submissions to labels world wide and we received a great deal of positive responses to it, and this time around we were able to be picky and chosey, and select who we went with.

Megan: We found Hypnotic Dirge to be best suited to our band, and a bonus really easy to work with.

Changing the subject matter slightly, what made you get into the music business in the first place?
Lee: From going to the mall with mum as a little kid, and although they scared me, it also fascinated me looking at album covers of bands like Iron Maiden for insance. As soon as I heard heavy Metal, it instantly made me want to learn how to play an instrument, and write music, and be a aprt of it.

Megan: Overwhelming love of music, I got the bug at a young age. I was taught piano lessons and attended performace school, but it wasn't until I was actually on stage that I realised, that was what I wanted to do. As a child I just wanted to sing, it wasn't until I became a teenager that I discovered a love of writing music, and gained inspiration from some of the darker sounding classical Piano pieces I was learning. When I discovered a genre of music that combined those classical elements with heavy guitars, I fell in love instantly

And who are your fave bands/artists?
Lee: Draconian, Swallow The Sun, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Iron Maiden

Megan: Saturnus, Primordial, Evoken

And what music do any of you listen too when you are relaxing or chilling out?
Lee: The Gathering, Arcana

Megan: Tori Amos, Apocalyptica, Enigma

And if any of you were not musicians, what would you want to do most?
Megan: Learn an instrument.

Lee: Animal Welfare

Megan: Yeah, I guess I should be less predictable haha... Before I grew a passion for music, I was constantly drawing. So I guess if the music obsession never developed I would be more focussed on other forms of art.

Many thanks for the interview. Before we part, is there anything you would like to say to readers of the Ravenheart Music website?
Megan: Thanks for the support

Lee: Thanks again guys for the interview. Another great thanks to Nick Skog from Hypnotic Dirge Records for giving us this opportunity.

Dave Smith (Apr 30, 2013)