The Shadow Theory  12/11/2010

You might know Devon Graves from the Alt-Metal band Deadsoul Tribe - or you might be more familiar with his real name, Buddy Lackey. He spent 11 years working as front man and singer-flute player for one of the original Prog-Metal bands, Psychotic Waltz. After leaving Psychotic Waltz in 1997 he began to compose in solitude. Basically he shut himself in a room for months with a multi track recorder and a lot of instruments. The music he created and the subsequent record release from InsideOut spawned the need for a live band, which he formed with local friends who had the right hair. They began to tour and support the albums of Deadsoul Tribe which he continued to compose and record alone. Throughout the journeys of touring Devon met many musicians who really stood above the crowd. One day he began to wonder: “What would it be like to play in a band made of the very finest players I have met along the way?”

 

So like Dr. Frankenstein did, by sewing together the greatest, strongest pieces of the greatest, strongest men and then adding a sick and demented brain, Devon created his monster THE SHADOW THEORY who are featuring some of the finest musicians that Devon could possibly gather.

 

 

Four years in the making, THE SHADOW THEORY will be releasing their first studio album through Devon’s long time home InsideOut Music. “Behind the Black Veil” is a sinister roller-coaster ride of sound and lyrical imagery combining elements of Thrash, Psychedelic and Symphonic Metal fused with Folk and Prog-Rock undertones. Devon’s first “concept album” ever, tells a horror story of a man who wakes from one nightmare into another, into another until he can no longer tell where the dream ends and reality begins… Or if he was ever dreaming at all.

 

THE SHADOW THEORY’s “Behind the Black Veil”, both frightening and compelling is sure to be a standout amongst the vast myriad of music releases this year. So to get to know this band a little better we contacted vocalist and leader of the band, Devon Graves. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

First of all, how are you doing? Congratulations with your new album ‘Behind The Black Veil’ which will be out soon, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!

 

Could you start this interview off with an introduction of the band, how did you get this band together and where does the name came from?

 

Devon: I met most of the guys while on tour with DeadsoulTribe. Arne (the guitarist) was the first. He supported DST on our “Murder of Crows” tour with his band Complex 7. I was really blown away by him because he played amazingly but also had passion in his performance. I met Johanne James when DST co-headlined with Threshold. I was really knocked out by his live presence and vibe. I met Kris Gildenlöw when I produced an album for his band Dial. I loved his playing and his friendly personality. I met Demi Scott through email. He sent a letter introducing himself as a professional musician who was about to quit the business and asked for my advice since he admired my work. I asked to hear his music so he sent me a CD. I loved his compositions so my advice to him was to make a band with me! I introduced him to Arne and they both collaborated on compositions via email and file sharing. Meanwhile I kept making Deadsoul Tribe albums and slowly collected a body of material which would comprise the first album for The Shadow Theory. The name, by the way, just came to me one day. I don’t know why or from where. It just popped into my head and I really liked it. I sent an sms to Arne and Demi and they also thought it was perfect. There is no reason or meaning behind it. It just seemed to fit.

 

Which approach did you choose to create this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. Or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?

 

Devon: There was no conscious method. The only objective was to make it kick ass. I wanted to just make a huge impression with this band and the efforts went in accordingly.

 

Was your experience with you previous band Deadsoul Tribe helpful in creating this album? 

 

Devon: It was in that I met all the guys either directly in touring with DST or as an indirect result, such as meeting Liselotte Hegt, who asked me to help with the Dial album.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘Behind The Black Veil’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

 

Devon: It took a bit of time for me to get my head into what I wanted to do as a singer. Once I made the leap and found how I wanted to sound in this music, it all came pretty quickly. I spent about a year writing my parts from the first song to the last. Some of the songs I wrote three or four times and completely started over melodically and lyrically again and again.

 

How can we imagine you worked on these songs, what's the typical writing process like for The Shadow Theory? For example, did you write all of the material by yourself or was it more of a group process?

 

Devon: Demi and Arne basically wrote the musical compositions. I would choose the material I liked the best. These 11 songs are the chosen few among about 200 that are still on the shelf. Then I take the raw compositions and arrange them in a way that makes sense to me. The songs are often completely re-arranged by me in the process of writing my vocals. For example the intro may be turned into a verse. A middle section might become the choruses. Some parts might be thrown away altogether. The first track on the album “I Open up my Eyes” was actually comprised of the best riffs of two separate songs, formed into one new song. Occasionally I might pick up a guitar and create a section or add some keyboard textures of my own. Then I would write my vocals in solitude. In the end, the guys were very happy with the end result, even if the songs were unrecognizable from the original versions!

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

 

Devon: Musically the work comes effortlessly from Demi. It is amazing what that guy can do and how fast he can do it. I just say “I want a song like this, or like that…” a few hours later comes an email with something just incredible. Arne is the same. He and Demi really complement each other stylistically. They have a perfect chemistry. My parts are quite a bit more agonizing.Basically I push myself until I have something that takes their great work to a higher place.That is not easy to do, and I throw away my ideas and erase and replace my melodies and lyrics until I feel I have accomplished that. Writing, recording, listening, erasing, re-writing and recording again. Going back to the drawing board until I feel I did something really special. It is safe to say this is my most ambitious effort of my whole career so far.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Behind The Black Veil’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?

 

Devon: As I said, I just wanted it to be kick ass. My goal was to raise the bar for myself artistically and bring something really grand.

 

Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

 

Devon: Yes it was.

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?

 

Devon: Inspiration and emotion

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Behind The Black Veil’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

 

Devon: It is a ghost story. The black veil is in reference to what one may wear at a funeral

 

How did the recording process proceed, I can imagine that it wasn’t easy as you all live in different countries. Did you work differently than on previous albums?

 

Devon: We all came to my studio here in my home individually to lay down our tracks. The only exception was Kris, who did his bass tracks in his own studio and sent me the files, which worked perfectly. It was different than my previous albums in that I didn’t have to play all the instruments. This allowed me to enjoy the production process more and let me focus on the engineering side of things most of the time.

 

One of the most typical songs from the new album I think is “A Symphony of Shadows”, a diverse, powerful and bombastic song with a lot of changes, some parts even remind me of the “Nightmare Before Christmas” movie. Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the future, or do you prefer the uptempo, thrash orientated songs on the album like “Snakeskin”?

 

Devon: I like to think of our style as “cinematic” I would like to explore music more in the epic direction such as “Symphony of Shadows”, but I feel that contrast is very important to keep things exiting, so songs like “Snake Skin” have an important place, as do more episodic pieces like “Selebrate”.

 

What are the main differences between Dead Soul Tribe and The Shadow Theory in your opinion?

 

Devon: The caliber of musicianship is much higher in The Shadow Theory. Also, the fact that Deadsoul Tribe is really my solo project where I write and perform pretty much everything. The Shadow Theory is a collaboration.

 

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

 

Devon: Only a little bit since the album is not yet released. We are very pleased and encouraged by the little bit of feedback so far which has been very flattering.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

 

Devon: First, we have to be happy with it or else we can’t expect anyone else to like it. But we certainly rely on our audience to like it. Otherwise it would all be for nothing. Naturally we would like as big an audience as possible. That is what making records and playing concerts are all about. It’s about making that special connection where the band and the audience experience that indescribable magic together.

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Which element of the CD are you most proud of?

 

Devon: I must say I am really really happy with it. I can’t think of anything off-hand that I would change. I worked on it until all those moments were gone. That is the job and the art of a producer and I take that job very seriously.

 

Do you have any favourites on the album?

 

Devon: “Selebrate” “A Symphony of Shadows”, “Ghostride” come first to mind.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?

 

Devon: I want to be the Edgar Allen Poe of Rock and Roll. I want the words to fit gracefully into the music, yet also stand on their own, poetically.

 

Which song is your favourite one to play live? Which song do you find is the most challenging one to play live?

 

Devon: We have never played live yet so I don’t have an answer.”Symphony of Shadows” should be a challenge since there are about 24 voices singing different parts at once!

 

What were the highlights and low points throughout your career?

 

Devon: I consider right now to be a high point since I have this new album with such an amazing group of players, plus I have rejoined with my original band Psychotic Waltz. The lowest point was the four years between quitting Psychotic Waltz and forming Deadsoul Tribe, where I basically had no career at all happening. Still, at the time I was full of hope and ambition and I didn’t see it as a low point. Looking back though, I went through some of the hardest times I ever had to face.

 

What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment? Is there anything missing in the scene?

 

Devon: I don’t relate with most of the metal scene. Most of the metal out today is about pure aggression and little else. I come from an age where melody and variety was part of the equation and now metal is really categorized and sub-categorized where bands and musical style is defined by a single drum beat. I would like to bring back variety to metal where you can play an album and have many different emotions other than simple aggression. Whether or not that is what the world wants is another issue, but I guess we will find out soon enough.

 

What can we expect from The Shadow Theory in the near future, any touring plans?

 

Devon: We are beginning to write material for the next album and we certainly hope to tour and play all over the world. There are no tour plans as of yet, but it is still too early for that until the album comes out and we see what kind of demand arises.

 

Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

 

Devon: We want to explore the outer realms of what we call “Cinematic Metal” or “Rock Cinema” We want to stay in the metal vein but introduce more and more colors to the palette. We would like to extend that into stage performances which also involve cinematic nuances and just really bring something new to metal music, without losing the metal essence.

 

Any last statement?

 

Devon: If you love your music, support it. Metal music is only surviving by the love and support of the fans, not by corporate hype. Whether or not metal survives is all up to you. Music is silence without ears to listen.

 

Thanks for your time and see you in March with Psychotic Waltz.

 

You are very welcome. See you then!

D.

 

 

Members:

Devon Graves - Vocals, Flute

Demi Scott - Keyboards

Arne Schuppner - Guitar

Kristoffer Gildenlöw - Bass

Johanne James – Drums

 

Albums:

2010 - Behind the Black Veil