Emerging from the creative invention and imagination of Novembers Doom guitarist Vito Marchese, The Kahless Clone and debut EP An Endless Loop has been one of the most sonically cathartic and emotionally imposing debuts to hit 2015 so far. Exploring a new realm of sound and textures in the instrumental soundscapes making up the release, Vito simply takes ears and imaginations on flights through seductively oppressive soundscapes of encroaching shadows and sombre beauty. It is very different creative exploration to that of his ‘day job’ so we thought we would dig deeper into the man and project. With thanks to Vito who was very accommodating of our questions we looked into the origins of the band, the decision to venture into a new musical direction, his dark music and much more…
Hi Vito, many thanks for sharing time to talk with us.
You are obviously more renowned for your music with Novembers Doom to most at the moment, so when did the idea and seeds to the emergence of The Kahless Clone start to blossom within you?
I had the idea of starting The Kahless Clone at the start of 2013. Another band I was in at the time was dissolving, and I wanted to make sure I had something else going on to fill up that space. Progress was slow at the beginning since Novembers Doom was working on writing our Bled White album, so I was focusing on that.
The accompanying press sheet to the band’s debut EP, An Endless Loop, said the band was formed to be an outlet for your instrumental music. Was that the only reason; was there a need to explore new areas too for you and your songwriting?
Having that extra creative outlet was a main reason, but other reasons included having a project that would be more active with performing live and doing long tours. I also wanted to do a project that was different than what I had done in the past. I wanted to explore some of my influences that I couldn’t really bring to the table in Novembers Doom. In The Kahless Clone I’m able to do some electronic and experimental types of ideas and songs.
I am assuming you have been writing instrumental tracks for a while? Where does this stretch you in different ways to your work with Novembers Doom?
I hadn’t really written instrumental music specifically before this project. I always pictured my ideas having vocals over them, and structuring songs in a way that would complement vocal melodies. With The Kahless Clone I can be a little bit more experimental with structures, and not have to worry about how vocals are going to fit over something.
Have you discovered new ideas and adventures in your writing for The Kahless Clone and the EP which surprised you?
Before writing music for The Kahless Clone I would always focus on creating solid and hooky riff based ideas that would later turn into song structures. The riff was the most important part of the song to me. I have a much different view point on songwriting now. I’m much more interested in creating a mood and atmosphere within the song, instead of writing cool riffs that get your attention.
How did you link up with the rest of the band?
Zach Libbe who did the electronic drum programming was the only person that I hadn’t worked with previously. We have mutual friends, and I had heard his electronic stuff before. I figured I’d shoot him a message and see if he would be down for working together. Luckily he turned out to be a really awesome dude, who knew exactly what I was looking for and was able to create it. I was in a band called Divinity Compromised with Andy Bunk and Ben Johnson. I knew they would be able to add a lot to the songs so I asked them if they would want to work on the EP. I play with Garry Naples in Novembers Doom, and knew he would be a great fit for this project as well. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the ability to work with really great musicians over the years.
Is this a fixed line-up or just for An Endless Loop and musicians will be a fluid line-up for future releases?
I really love working with the line-up that I had for An Endless Loop. I would love to use this line-up for the next release as well. I think it will come down to everyone’s schedules. When I started this project, I knew that I would want to be able to control when the band could go do things like record and tour. I didn’t want to get into a situation where things were ready to go, but some people didn’t have a free schedule. I like to keep things open where if need be, I can find session members for tours or studio recordings.
Your sound is described as dark music. Can you expand on that for newcomers?
When I say dark music, I mean that these songs are based on themes and moods that can evoke dark and somber feelings instead of your typical fist pumping, head banging reaction that most metal brings on. I wanted the listener to be able to get lost in the music and have it wash over them. Also calling it “dark instrumental music” is easier than saying “ambient progressive instrumental post-rock/metal with electronic elements”. It’s also a lot less confusing.
Are there any specific inspirations to your own musical tastes and invention which you would say have spiced your sounds with The Kahless Clone?
A major influence on me for creating The Kahless Clone was the band This Will Destroy You. I first heard them a few years ago, and was just blown away by their sound. I wanted to do something similar to that style, but mixed with my heavier influences, as well as electronic sounds. My goal was to create music that fans of atmospheric post rock, and metal could both enjoy and get something out of.
In regard to An Endless Loop, were the first tracks upon it already set in tone in sound and direction before the other guys were involved in its recording or was there further evolution through their contributions?
I had made demos of the songs with drum parts and keyboard ideas on them. I knew what I wanted, but needed extra help in getting those ideas to actually sound good. I knew the guys would be able to take the ideas and really turn them into something great. I didn’t have any ideas for the bass, because I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I wanted it to go. Should it be a prominent part of the song, or more laid back and holding down the bottom end? Luckily Andy created some amazing bass lines that combined both of those things. Chris Wisco, who is my producer and engineer, then added his creative ideas and input on top of all of that.
Give us some insight into the recording of the EP.
This entire EP was self-financed by me, so it took a while for me to gather the funds and get open studio time booked. It was done in three separate sessions. Zach did the programming at his studio and sent me the finished tracks. After that Garry went in and recorded his drum tracks at Belle City Sound in Racine, WI. A couple of months after that Andy, Ben, and I went in and recording our tracks at Belle City Sound as well. We took another couple of months off, and then Chris mixed and mastered the EP.
How long was it in the making, from seeds to final day in the studio then?
The idea of the band started in early 2013, and the EP finally came out March 17th 2015. It’s been a long time in the making, but I think it was worth the wait. I’m really proud of how this EP came out, and it looks like a lot of people are digging it.
In our review we said the EP “lures ears and imagination into a soundscape of intimidating possibilities and melancholic beauty.” Did you have any specific intent with the release and music or is it a wholly organic exploration for yourself and indeed us?
I knew I wanted to make songs that were able to capture your attention and put you into a dark mind set. It’s easy to dictate how you should feel by the use of lyrics, so I wanted to try to challenge myself by creating feelings by only using the music and song titles. I think the artwork that Heather Lovett did for the EP helps enhance those feelings as well.
Did new ideas and thoughts of experimentation emerge whilst creating An Endless Loop which you are excited to explore further next time around?
I’ve never been into using effect pedals as a main songwriting tool. In the studio, Chris brought out some pedals that I had never used before, and I really liked how they sounded. I’m sure I’m going to explore some new ideas with different effects and tones. I think it’ll help me break out of the same routine you go through when trying to write music.
Have you found fans of your other work are taking to these new adventures and fascinating journeys with keen interest and anticipation?
It seems that fans of Novembers Doom and my other projects are liking what they are hearing from The Kahless Clone. That’s really great news, since I didn’t know how people would react to this EP. I think these songs came out great, and it’s a nice bonus that other people think so also.
What comes next for The Kahless Clone, we can assume it is an on-going project for you?
The Kahless Clone is going to be working on our live show, and focusing on touring and performing live often. A follow up recording is being planned for later this year as well. There is definitely more to come.
…And in other news from other band/projects ahead?
Novembers Doom just released our newest album last summer called Bled White. If you haven’t checked that out yet you can get it anywhere you buy digital music, or from The End Records.
Once again big thanks for talking with us Vito. Are there any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?
Thank you Pete for your support, this awesome interview, and the great review of An Endless Loop! You put a lot of work and thought into your reviews and interview questions. It’s much appreciated. Thank you to your readers as well. You can buy our music at all digital music stores, and you can get our physical cd at www.thekahlessclone.bandcamp.com
Check us out on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
The RingMaster Review 14/04/2015
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