Interviewer: Jeffrey D. Adkins
Hailing from Ireland, Graveyard Dirt was
formed many years ago in 1994. After releasing a demo and signing
to the German record label Ars Metalli they had a hiatus for several
years. In 2005, Graveyard Dirt reformed and re-released their demo
in May of 2007. This started the wheels going and in later 2007 they
released a new disc...
"The Shadows of Old Ghosts" EP is their most recent release,
and it is filled with what they have dubbed Irish doom metal. They
have been influences by bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema, and
Paradise Lost and you definitely hear these legendary sounds within
their compositions. "The Shadows of Old Ghosts" is filled
with passionate riffs, somber keyboard tones, and drumming with perfect
Guitarist David Reilly has been with Graveyard Dirt almost since the
band was born. He joined shortly after Kieran O'Toole (Guitar) and
Paul Leyden (Vocals) founded the band. Dave chats with me about their
EP "The Shadows of Old Ghosts," the bands history including
their disbanding, future music in the works and much more.
Read on now before this "Gathering Storm" washes away "The
Serenity Of Night"...
Metal Fanatix: Hi Dave! How are you
doing? What’s going on in Ireland ?
David Reilly: Hi Jeff. Things are going
great. We’ve just been added to the bill at ‘Day Of Darkness
Festival 2008’ in Ireland , which is the biggest extreme metal
festival of its kind over here, so we’re really excited about
Metal Fanatix: I would like to start
with a little bit of Graveyard Dirt’s history. How did the band
form? When you formed what were the original ideals of the band?
David Reilly: The band was formed by
Kieran and Paul, after Paul and I had been in a different band, The
Ghost Of Genevieve, but Paul left TGOG and we carried on with a different
singer for a while. Paul and Kieran had also been in a band together
before TGOG, Lucifyre, but…. Paul left and they carried on with
a different singer for a while! I joined GD shortly after the two
guys had decided to hook up again, and we quickly began knocking a
few songs into shape. We then used the bass player from TGOG and finally
recruited drummer, Ade Alkin, to complete the line-up. This was around
1994. The original ideals at the time were just to keep it slow and
heavy, yet melodic at the same time. We were influenced by My Dying
Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost, so you get the picture.
Metal Fanatix: After signing to the
French label Ars Metalli you guys disbanded shortly after. What was
the reason for the disbanding from the late 90’s to 2005?
David Reilly: It was actually a German
label. Sorry Jeff! There were a couple of reasons for the split. Firstly,
Ade the drummer decided to go off traveling so we had to replace him.
We tried a couple of drummers, but neither was particularly suited
to the style of music we were doing. Another reason was that I had
began having tendonitis problems with my left arm and it was becoming
increasingly difficult to play the guitar at that time, and in the
end up, I had to stop playing completely for a while. There were also
problems with the label which I think, all these years later, resulted
in our decision to put out the ‘Shadows Of Old Ghosts’
EP ourselves. Next release though, we’d probably be looking
for someone to help out a bit. We never officially split up by the
way, just ended up having a break. For 12 years!!
Metal Fanatix: A few years ago Graveyard
Dirt reunited and picked up where you left off. What sparked the interest
to get back together?
David Reilly: I had been working in
a recording studio for a couple of years in Dublin, and having learned
a bit about modern recording techniques, thought it would be interesting
to record some old Graveyard Dirt tunes that never got to see the
light of day from all those years back. At the same time Paul and
Kieran had been jamming a little so we decided to give it a go and
see what happened. We finally found a drummer in Gary Sweeney who
recorded his drums after guitars and vocals were already done. This
ended up being the EP ‘Shadows Of Old Ghosts’
Metal Fanatix: You re-released your
demo “Of Romance And Fire” after you the reformation.
Did you guys re-record the songs or remix anything? If so, did it
improve on the original?
David Reilly: We re-released it on CD
to try and generate a bit of interest in the forthcoming CD, which
would have been ‘Shadows…’, and as there was only
a cassette version from 10 years earlier, we wanted to have it out
on CD. We didn’t remix anything, just re-mastered it. This only
made it louder as far as I can tell!
Metal Fanatix: I’ve really been
digging your latest release “Shadows Of Old Ghosts”. How
have people’s reactions been to it?
David Reilly: Glad to hear it Jeff.
Peoples’ reactions have been great. We didn’t want to
let anyone down who had liked ‘Of Romance And Fire’ and
was looking forward to something new from the band, and I think we
succeeded on that front. In fact, I think it’s fair to say most
people prefer ‘Shadows of Old Ghosts’. Also, a lot of
new people have gotten to hear us through ‘Shadows…’.
Some even think we’re a new band!
Metal Fanatix: Does the music differ
much from what you wrote in the mid-90s?
David Reilly: Not too much. Two tracks
from ‘Shadows..’ were written in the mid-90s, we just
reworked them. ‘Rise..Fallen Skies’ was new and it fitted
in perfectly with the two older songs.
Metal Fanatix: The 3 tracks on “Shadows
Of Old Ghosts” are lengthy compositions, and that’s not
a bad thing. Even though the songs are longer then most bands, they
keep the listeners entertained throughout the songs. What approach
do you take to make your songs lengthy yet appealing?
David Reilly: If we could sit down and
listen to any one minute of music from the whole 34 minute CD, and
find something in that minute to make you want to keep listening,
then we figured it wouldn’t get too boring.
Metal Fanatix: I see your music as passionate
and melancholic. Are these two goals you strive for when writing songs?
David Reilly: When writing slower music,
I think both those things are fairly important. But, once again, these
things alone wouldn’t work I don’t think, if it wasn’t
kept interesting in some way also.
Metal Fanatix: What underlying themes
do you write about in your music?
David Reilly: No underlying themes Jeff.
They’re all right there. Doom, Death, Despair, etc.
Metal Fanatix: “A Tearless Lament”
is my favorite song off of “Shadows Of Old Ghosts” because
of how pleasing it is to my ears and how it sticks in my head. When
I hear it once I want to play it over and over. Do you have a favorite
Graveyard Dirt song? Which one? Why?
David Reilly: ‘Gathering Storm’,
and if you need to ask why……..
Metal Fanatix: Graveyard Dirt is working
on new material from what I understand? Is there any idea when it
will be finished? What can you tell us about it?
David Reilly: Yes, we are working on
new material. Hopefully they should be close to completion by the
end of the year and we can start recording. The songs so far are in
a heavier direction, almost Morbid Angel at times, dare I say, but
without abandoning our Doom roots.
Metal Fanatix: Your MySpace page has
a few upcoming dates where you guys are playing. Will anything new
be played at these shows? What should people expect from Graveyard
Dirt when going to see you live?
David Reilly: Yes, we played two new
songs at those shows. (Sorry I didn’t get this interview finished
before May). We will be hoping to get a third ready for ‘Day
Of Darkness’ in July.
Metal Fanatix: I’d love to see
you guys play! Are there any future plans to do an extensive European
or North American tour?
David Reilly: I don’t know about
extensive tour, but we would definitely like to play Europe for a
few dates. North America I can’t see happening in the immediate
Metal Fanatix: If you could play anywhere
in the world where would it be? Why?
David Reilly: We’d like to play
one of the European Metal festivals like Wacken in Germany , or Hellfest
in France , maybe. To play to a larger audience yes, but also because
we’d get a free pass for the weekend and get to see all the
Metal Fanatix: Lots of musicians like
to have a beer or stiff drink when playing. I myself prefer to have
a tall glass of Guinness when I see a show. Some say that a few drinks
loosen them up when they play or it helps them focus on the music.
Do you have a favorite drink when playing a show or jamming?
David Reilly: I personally play better
when sober as I tend to forget things when I’m drinking. My
name? What key the song I’m trying to play is in? Drinking is
definitely a bad idea when playing a Graveyard Dirt show though, because
for one thing, as the songs are so long, the head on the Guinness
would be crusty after every tune.
Metal Fanatix: Tell me about your equipment.
Do you have a favorite brand of guitar or amp?
David Reilly: At the minute I have a
’83 Gibson flying V and am in the process of getting the pick-ups
replaced. I’m not sure whether to stick with the same type that
they originally had, dirty fingers I believe, or go for something
different. As for amps, I play through a Crate head at the minute
but my favorite would probably be Peaveys. They’re perfect for
the type of sound Graveyard Dirt go for.
Metal Fanatix: Who or what bands have
influenced you on how you play guitar? Any favorites?
David Reilly: I have played most styles
of music on guitar since I have started, from Rock, Metal, Classical,
Jazz, Folk, and I’m sure they have all influenced my playing
to some extent. My favorite guitar players would be Jan Akkerman from
Focus, Brian May from Queen, Dave Gilmour, Slash, Steve Vai, to name
Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band
together of any musicians from the past or present, who would be in
that band? What would you name this creation? What type of music would
David Reilly: Guitars – Jan Akkerman,
Tony Iommi and err….Me, Drums – Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing
Pumpkins), Bass – John Deacon (Queen), Keyboards/Orchestrations
– Danny Elfman, Vocals – Maynard James Keenan (Tool).
We’d play some form of prog. manifestation with that line-up
I suppose. As for a name, I’d leave that to John Deacon to come
up with something.
Metal Fanatix: Where do you see Graveyard
Dirt in 10 years from now?
David Reilly: I’d be surprised
if we are still together in 10 years from now, but who knows? Hopefully,
we’ll have a few more releases under our belts by then. We’ll
keep it going for a good while yet though I reckon.
Metal Fanatix: In closing, I’d
like to thank you for your time so we all could learn a little more
about you and Graveyard Dirt. Are there any final words you’d
like to say to the Metal Fanatix of the world?
David Reilly: Just that if anyone wants
to get in contact with us, they can do so via the myspace page. Look
forward to adding a few more friends. Also for anyone looking to buy
'Shadows of Old Ghosts' they can get it directly from us through myspace,
or they can buy it online in the US from CDBaby
Metal Fanatix: Have a good one Dave!
To keep up with all the latest news & much
more on Graveyard Dirt check out the following websites:
- Graveyard Dirt MySpace Site
- Lugga Music Productions Site
© Jeffrey D. Adkins May, June 2008 Not to be re-printed in any
form without written permission.