SUZAKU AVENUE (Dublin)
Stephen Moody – Lead vocals, Fionn Murray – Guitar, backing vocals, Andrew Shovlin – Bass, Jack Doyle – Drums.
The Guardian God of the South appeared as a bird and stormed the palace gates with progressive/experimental metal from Gothic Species newcomers Suzaku Avenue , the Dublin based band with Stephen Moody on lead vocals, Fionn Murray on guitar, Jack Doyle on drums. And Andrew Shovlin on bass.
The band has recently released their new EP entitled “Interiors” in the key of progressive/experimental metal with influences from hardcore punk and indie rock, inspired by bands such as CAVE IN, ALTAR OF PLAGUES, GORGOROTH, SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE, RADIOHEAD, ARCTIC MONKEYS, CAINA and MY BLOODY VALENTINE.
Species 2017, Gothic & Industrial Arts and Culture Gathering witnessed the wonder that is SUZUKU AVENUE synchronized to nourish our dark metal yearnings!
MetalIreland: “Sometimes Irish bands come out of the blue to just floor you like this, and it’s incredibly refreshing when they do. Suzaku Avenue have daring musical style that at times sounds like a completely free form, train of troubled consciousness confessional; except you know they’ve worked very hard at crafting it all… It’s not noisecore: it’s noir-core.”
A recording of Suzaku Avenue’s full performance at the 2017 Species festival:
An Interview about the band with Suzaku Avenue’s guitarist Fionn Murray
- Tell us a little about yourselves as a musical artists living in Dublin.
Dublin’s a great city to live in as a musician, because not only is there so much music happening but there’s such musical diversity. You can be at a black metal gig one night and a techno gig the next, and being exposed to so many different kinds of music inevitably feeds into your own creative process.
We’re actually rather geographically spread out. Andrew lives in London and Jack lives in Berlin, so organizing rehearsals can be quite a chore!
- How long have you been all been making music? How did you get into it? And what drives you to do it?
I started playing music when I was four. My first instrument was the violin, then I took up the piano when I was about ten, and finally the guitar when I was fifteen. I’ve loved making music as long as I can remember, I’ve been starting bands since I was a little kid. It’s actually kind of difficult to switch off that part of my brain that interprets things musically – I’ll be sitting on the train and I’ll just hear the wheels squeak on the rails as the train turns a corner, and I’ll think “Oh, that’s a minor third”. One day I was sitting in my kitchen and I heard my cat drinking water, and the rhythm of him lapping the water became one of the riffs in our song “Enabler”. Music is just part of how I think, I can’t turn it off.
As far as I know, Stephen, Jack and Andrew got into music in their teens. Andrew also makes techno music with a project called Konehead.
- How did your project ‘Suzaku Avenue’ come into existence?
Stephen and I were in school together and had been in a couple of bands in our teens that didn’t really go anywhere. When we were maybe 17 we thought we’d try our hand at a metal band. Initially, I played guitar, Jack played drums and Stephen sang and played bass, but we later invited Ross Byrne to play bass so Stephen could focus on vocals. I don’t think we really started taking the band really seriously until Andrew took over bass duties, which was probably in 2012.
- Is there a story behind the name ‘Suzaku Avenue’?
I was reading a book of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and the name caught my eye. It’s from a short story about natural disasters and devastation which has a very gloomy, oppressive mood to it, which I quite liked.
- Tell us a little about your recent EP ‘Interiors; such as concept, themes, narrative etc, who is the mysterious girl on the cover?
In our previous EP (which we’ve since disowned because the recording quality and production were absolute muck) we felt like we had a good balance of rhythm and melody, so for Interiors I made a conscious decision that I wanted to place less emphasis on melody and instead write songs which were more disjointed and abrasive, with less use of clean vocals and a lot more use of electronics and samples. We didn’t really have a single lyrical or thematic concept in mind. “Diegesis” is about religion, “I Think I Know…” is about mental illness and depression.
A few years ago I read about this case in an American town called Steubenville, in which two teenagers raped an unconscious girl at a party but the town tried to cover it up because the teenagers were on the high school football team. Stephen and I were both really horrified by this and decided to write the lyrics for “Enabler” about the case, but I think some people got the impression that we were actually condoning their behavior, which we definitely weren’t.
One of my favorite comic writers is Adrian Tomine, and he has this story called “Hazel Eyes” which really resonated with me, about this girl who’s really unhappy with her life and her social circle. For “Second-Order”, I sort of imagined what it would be like if the girl from that story got into drugs and developed an eating disorder. A close friend of mine struggled with anorexia for years so I’ve seen up close what a horrible condition it is, and I hate when people say it’s caused by fashion magazines and Instagram models, because anyone who knows the first thing about the condition will tell you that people become anorexic because they want some kind of control over their life, not because they want to look like Kendall Jenner or someone. So the girl on the cover is meant to represent the viewpoint character of “Second-Order”.
- Do you compose all of your own music? If so tell us a little about the steps you make within a group dynamic to bring a new track into existence?
We compose all our own music. Typically I’ll come up with the structure of the song, the guitar riffs and chord progressions, and I’ll have a general idea of what kind of drumbeats and baselines I’ll want for each section. Then I’ll show the song to Jack and Andrew and we’ll jam it out, and they’ll pitch in with their own ideas. Finally, we’ll add vocals. Stephen and I usually collaborate on lyrics, although sometimes he’ll write all the lyrics for a particular song himself.
- If you could bring any other elements to your music and/or performance through collaboration across the arts, what would these be?
I’d love to do some more audiovisual stuff, creating music videos or what have you to go with our songs. Occasionally I’ve thought about bringing in guest musicians to record with us, but I’m undecided. I kind of like the idea that Suzaku Avenue is just the four of us and no one else.
- Your music had a Post-hardcore/metal presence. Which artists have been influential to the development of your sound and what aspects of these inspire you most?
Hmm, I’d say our single biggest influence would likely be Cave In. We’re big fans of all those 90s bands from New England who started combining hardcore and metal in really unusual ways, like Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan and so on. I’ve bee a huge black metal fan since I was a teenager, I’m crazy about bands like Mayhem, Burzum and Gorgoroth. We’re not a black metal band, but it’s hard to stop that sound sort of creeping in to our writing process. And then on top of all that there’s all the alternative rock stuff like Radiohead or My Bloody Valentine. I was classically trained when I started playing music, so I think I tend to think of things from the perspective of music theory rather than just thinking in terms of riffs and fills.
- You work collaboratively as a four piece band; do you ever have creative differences? If so how do you work through them?
We try to be democratic insofar as possible. If there’s a dispute about what to do with a song, we put it to a vote and that decides it. Sometimes I’ll tell Jack “I want this kind of beat” and he’ll be like “that beat is physically impossible to play”, or one of the guys will say “I think we should play at this tempo” and I’ll say “yeah, but I literally can’t play guitar that fast”. But for the most part we don’t have many creative differences, I think we all generally know where we want a song to go and we’re on the same page.
- Is there any new projects, recordings, events etc coming up or you have recently been involved with that you would like to share with us? Tell us the news!
Our drummer Jack is living in Berlin, so in January I popped over for a weekend to record the drum tracks for our next EP. We worked with Antonio in Wolves in Sound studio who was absolute joy to have in the studio. In a couple of weeks we’re heading up to Belfast to record bass and guitar in JSR Audio with Josh. Hopefully the next EP will be out in May 2018.
I’ve also been working on a music video for one of the songs from Interiors, but I can’t say when that will be finished, unfortunately!
- What advice would you give to new artists who would like to pursue a career in creating music?
Start practising to a click track as soon as possible. If you can’t record to a click track, you’re never going to sound professional. Don’t bother posting on social media about how you play in a band until you’ve got something to show for it, that you can stand over. Don’t just record any old rubbish and put it up on Bandcamp or SoundCloud, just so you can say you have a Bandcamp account – you shouldn’t make a recording public unless it’s something you’ve put a lot of time and effort into. Don’t chase trends – you might think to yourself “deathcore is really big right now, I should start a deathcore band”, but by the time you’ve got your musicians lined up and written some songs, the trend will have passed you by. You’d be better off just making the kind of music you want to make to start with. Don’t use drum sample replacement or amp sims or Axe-FX, they sound awful. When you’re recording, there’s no substitute for a good performance.
- What is your views Gothic & Industrial culture and the metal scene in Ireland today?
I honestly don’t really know much about the Gothic/industrial scene, but the metal scene in Ireland has never been in better health. There are bands forming every other weekend and loads of them are actually trying to do something new and different, not just chase whatever the trend of the minute is. When I was in secondary school, it seemed like you couldn’t move for the amount of “thrash revival” bands going, but nowadays we’re absolutely spoilt for choice for Irish metal bands taking creative risks and experimenting.
- What parts of Species did you enjoy most?
The whole festival just had a really charming atmosphere. I’ve been to big festivals like Body&Soul, which are so huge and busy that they feel sort of anonymous and impersonal, but Species is so small and intimate that it felt very special and inviting. It’s amazing how you guys are able to take a big green shed, call it the “Great Hall” and after an hour or two it really starts to feel like somewhere sort of otherworldly.
- Would you like to be involved musically in Species in the future?
We won’t be able to make it down this summer just because of our other commitments, but you haven’t seen the last of us yet!