About Me

Interview with Shores Of Null

Italian Blackened Gothic Doom unit Shores Of Null have recently released "Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying)” which features high class guest musicians (Mikko Kotamäki / Swallow The Sunand Thomas A.G. Jensen / Saturnus) and takes the listener on a journey through the process of grieving, which is inspired by the five stages of grief formulated by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. 
Released on November 27th on Spikerot Records, Davide Straccione (vocals) chatted with Metal Imperium about this album that only has one song which spans over 38 minutes. Keep on reading…

M.I. - What’s the origin of the name Shores of Null? What does it mean to you?

Davide: When you pick up a name for your band you just want to make sure it’s unique, something that will give you no other results on search engines for example, Shores Of Null sounded perfect for this purpose. Beside that, I was looking for something evocative, connected to our music, and my fascination for water streams came to help. I remember I was in Budapest, on the shores of the Danube, when the inspiration came to me; the rest of the guys all seemed to love the name. What does it mean to me? For me the shores of null represent some place where to start anew, a bit like we used to do when we started the band, but the good things, about music and art in general, is that you can find your own meaning within things. 

M.I. - Shores of Null contains members from bands like Zippo, The Orange Man Theory, Noumeno, Il Grande Scisma d’Oriente, Mens Phrenetica. Why did you decide to form a new band then?

D: Our previous bands are all disbanded or on hold right now, even when we started Shores Of Null everyone was pretty much looking for something new and The Orange Man Theory, Mens Phrenetica and Il Grande Scisma D’Oriente weren’t active anymore. I was still very involved with Zippo and Emiliano was very active with Noumeno and other bands, being a drummer he’s always been a much sought after guy. Zippo and The Orange Man Theory - my former band and Gabriele’s former band - shared the same label Subsound Records for a few years and that’s how we met, we also shared shows and did a bunch of tours together which strengthened our friendship in the first place. During those tours, we found a common passion in gothic/doom music and fantasized about forming a band of that kind one day. That remained just an idea until something really unexpected happened a few years later, around 2012 I guess: Raffaele had riffs that he couldn’t use for Mens Phrenetica, too sad and gloomy I guess, so he met with Gabriele and started working on those riffs while also writing new material. When the demo recordings were ready, Gabriele remembered about our old fantasies and suddenly contacted me. I’m glad he did.

M.I. - Shores of Null is a band whose members have been in the metal scene for a long time, so has experience taught how to do things better with this band? 

D: Sure. With this band we wanted to take advantage of our experience and work better on every aspect. That’s why we focused on playing live before even releasing an album, because you don’t just simply put an album out and that’s it, an album should be your starting point, not your final goal, you need to make a name for yourself and test people’s reactions. Before starting looking for a label I remember we released our first video for the song ‘Kings Of Null’ and organized a mini-tour with Negura Bunget, it was 2013. With this presentation we started pitching to labels and that’s how we got a reply from Candlelight Records.

M.I. - The sound is quite different from your past bands, what was the motivation to switch into a darker sound? What can you tell us about Shores of Null’s influences? How would you describe your music?

D: As I told you before, me and Gabriele used to tour together with our former bands that played prog stoner rock (Zippo) and Hardcore/Death’n’roll (TOMT) so as you said, backgrounds were totally different from Shores Of Null. But, of course, you don’t listen to just one kind of music, and I’ve always been a fan of the melancholic side of metal, and so did Gabriele. Type 0 Negative, Sentenced, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Anathema, Amorphis, were all big influences to me while growing up and this is my comfort music still today. Some of these influences can be traced within the Shores Of Null sound, as well as come blackened vibes borrowed from the late Enslaved or Primordial, but in general we try to make our own thing. Many journalists and also fans have noticed an Alice In Chains vibe to our music, which is probably due to my vocal approach, marked by a strong use of harmonizations. We tend to describe our music as Blackened Gothic Doom.

M.I. - In 2014 you released the debut album under the name of ”Quiescence”. Then in 2017 “Black Drapes for Tomorrow” came out. Now in 2020 it’s time for “Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying)”. What are the main differences between them? How much have you evolved?

D: In the first two albums the influences are more varied, like a multi-layered pot of different genres, you got doom, gothic, melodic death and black, some songs are slower, some are faster, but I think we’ve given a hard time to journalist, you could totally tell where our inspirations came from, but probably there aren’t too many bands that blend them the same way we do. I’m just telling you what I was told, I don’t like to talk about music in an analytic way to be honest. ‘Black Drapes For Tomorrow’ has some more progressive elements compared to the straightforwardness of ‘Quiescence’, but overall are two records that I still like very much. What we did with ‘Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying)’ was taking our slower, heavier and most dramatic edge and pushing these aspects to the extreme, there are still all the elements of Shores Of Null, but definitely seen with a gothic/doom metal eye, even funereal at times. The addition of classical instruments like violins or piano, surely pays a tribute to the 90s Gods of the genre, but it’s not something we did on purpose, the influence has always been lying there, it just needed the right moment to come out in the open. We have already a fourth album recorded and it represents a sort of continuation of the previous two, so let’s consider ‘Beyond The Shores’ a pleasant detour. 

M.I. - Your first two albums “Quiescence” and “Black Drapes for Tomorrow” were released through Candlelight records, then you signed to Spinefarm but didn’t release anything (I think) and the new album will be released by Spikerot Records. What happened with Spinefarm? Why have you changed to Spikerot Records?

D: Some time after the release of ‘Quiescence’, Candlelight was bought by Spinefarm, which took over Candlelight’s back catalog as well as the new releases. We still had a contract with Candlelight so ‘Black Drapes For Tomorrow’ came out in 2017 under the Candlelight/Spinefarm banner, so that’s the explanation to your question. During this transition we suffered a lot, communication wasn’t smooth, promotion wasn’t as expected, we felt left behind and we were losing control of our own music, that’s why a drastic change was necessary. Spikerot Records is my label, which I run with two of my closest friends, and all we wanted for this album was to create a good synergy between label, band members, PR agencies and so on, and so far the reactions have been unbelievably good. 

M.I. - How does Shores of Null represent the Italian metal scene? Do the Italian folklore and tradition influence your music? How does your music reflect your inner feelings?

D: I don’t know if I can properly answer your first question, we’ve personally worked a lot within the music scene as promoters as well as band members, so we know the struggle. There are many great bands in our country, just sometimes you have to dig deep to find some hidden gems. Italian folklore and traditions are interesting topics but I can’t say they’re part of our musical or lyrical background, instead our music reflects pretty much our inner feelings, even when we take inspiration from something else, a book or someone else’s experience, I always filter it through my own eyes and try to make it my own. 

M.I. - Your riffs, tempos and melodies create something very strong and make your songs very memorable. How is this process done in the band? Do you write collectively?

D: We’re not the kind of band that jam in the rehearsal room, we don’t even have a rehearsal room anymore due to Covid-19, the absence of live shows and us living far from each other. Luckily our way of composing hasn’t changed through the years. We usually start with a song draft by one of the two guitarists, Gabriele or Raffaele, or both of them. That draft is sent to the rest of us and we make some adjustments together, especially while I work on the vocals, I may need to stretch some parts or assemble something differently, we all give suggestions on how to improve the song and I think that’s a key element in the band’s democracy. After adding the vocals, we record some more serious pre-productions at home so, when we get to the studio, we know exactly what to do.

M.I. - The new album features only one song that lasts over 38 minutes. Why have you opted to only include one long song? 

D: Actually, as I mentioned earlier, we also have another album in store. Long story short, in summer 2019 we entered Kick Recording Studio to record a regular album with different tracks, we tracked drums and bass and then took a break because that’s how we usually do things. We usually record over a long period of time because of our jobs but also because we don’t want to rush anything. During this period Gabriele and Raffaele came up with this new song, and in just 4 or 5 sessions it was nailed. We were experiencing a very negative moment in our life as a band and didn’t know what the future held for us, the relationship with our previous label was kinda uncertain and frustrating so the only thing we were able to do was translating these feelings into music, it turned out to be this long suite and we decided to take the chance while the studio was still booked, to record this one as well. To do so we had to track drums and bass again before recording guitars and vocals for both albums. So actually ‘Beyond The Shores’ was meant to be the 4th record but it has been released as the 3rd, the reason behind that is simple: in a moment when it’s not sure when we’ll be able to perform live again, a 38-minute long one track album surely feels more fitting. Of course, we’d love to play this one live as well.

M.I. - For the new album you inspired yourselves in the 5 stages of grief formulated by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Which are the 5 stages after all? Tell us more about this please.

D: When the instrumental track was almost complete, we had to think about the lyrical theme, I was pretty drained at that time because I had just finished writing the lyrics for the other album and I had no topics in my mind. Then Gabriele suggested to base the lyrics on the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and especially her 1969’s book ‘On Death And Dying’. So I did my research and honestly I couldn’t find a more fitting topic for this album, the narrative flow of the composition perfectly matched the concept, so to speak. There’s no other reason behind that, we don’t have studies on psychiatry in our education, but we felt an inner, uncanny connection between such a long song and the 5 stages of grief. As the song progressed, we intentionally connected one stage to a particular riff for example, and this helped me a lot in writing the lyrics. The stages are never consecutive but they rather chase each other, ‘cause every person is different, just like every grief is different. You must see this as the personal story of a human being diagnosed with a terminal disease, from denial to acceptance.

M.I. - Marco “Cinghio” has been the man behind the desk for every Shores Of Null release so far. Beside being a top-notch producer at Kick Recording Studio, he is also known for his role of bassist/guitarist in Hour Of Penance, Inno, Coffin Birth, Buffalo Grillz and The Orange Man Theory. Does it complicate or make things easier working with such a close friend? 

D: I mentioned earlier The Orange Man Theory, right? Well, Marco used to be the bass player of that band, so that’s how I met him. When he opened the Kick Recording Studio, we had no doubt about where to go, and we tried to keep the same team because we prefer to grow together with the same people rather than changing team every time. Working with a close friend who is also a real pro actually makes things way easier, we have more flexibility and most importantly he knows our sound, the way we play, the way I sing, so he always tries to get the best out of us, that’s what a good producer does. 

M.I. - Martina L. McLean is the woman responsible for your videos and she has been working on the new massive video for ‘Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying)’, a short film of nearly 40 minutes that recently came out. How did the idea of making a short film come up? How complicated is it doing something like this?

D: We still prefer to simply call it video because film could scare people away, :) Jokes aside, the length plays an important role on this one, we long debated whether doing a video or not, if for the entire song or just an excerpt. You know, the visual aspect has always been crucial for Shores Of Null over the years but at first we were almost giving up due to the financial aspect but not only that, making a video for almost 40 minutes of music it’s something crazy in every way. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a go and we literally filmed everything in 3 full days from the early morning lights to the last rays of sunset, we filmed everything between the mountains of Abruzzo and a castle and a small cemetery in Tuscany, all this during a pandemic, dealing with red zones, car breakdowns, a tight budget and strict deadlines. It was shot in November and released early December, kudos to Martina and Sanda Movies for believing in us and creating such a massive work. Listening to the song while watching the video and reading the lyrics gives you a better experience on the whole theme. 

M.I. - "Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying)” features high class guest musicians (Mikko Kotamäki / Swallow The Sun and Thomas A.G. Jensen / Saturnus). How did the idea of inviting them come up? What other surprises can fans expect from the new album?

D: the narrative nature of the work demanded some special effects. After listening to the first riffs something became pretty clear to me: this album was special and we needed some guests to give the record a greater depth. The idea of “hiring” Mikko and Thomas came pretty naturally, the respective parts on which they sing are totally fit for them and the more I listened to those parts the more I convinced myself I had to invite them. Luckily the invitation was successful and we managed to fly them both to Rome for the recordings, that was a really important aspect for us, having them in the studio with us, not just some far away guests. You know what I mean, Mikko and Thomas are really part of the album, this record wouldn’t be the same without them, same goes for Elisabetta Marchetti, singer of Inno, in which our producer (and her husband) Marco also plays. I really wanted some female vocals on this album and the results are simply stunning. Another vocal guest is Martina L. McLean, who contributed with her high pitched scream in a small but very significant part of the song. And then you have violin and double bass played by Valentina and Fabio Gabbianelli and grand piano played by Paolo Campitalli. As you see, it’s been a chorale work, and couldn’t be otherwise. 

M.I. - How are Shores of Null coping with this pandemic situation that we’re all going through?

D: We go on being responsible human beings, we can’t blame anyone for all that’s happening. We tried to make the best out of this unprecedented situation, first of all we really wanted the album to come out this year, we really felt the need of releasing new music and this album especially in such a weird time for humanity, we couldn’t wait one more year in the hope that live shows would come back. As for the rest, we still manage to survive with our jobs, so we’re kinda lucky. Hopefully this will be over soon. 

M.I. - What are the band’s short-term goals? A tour? Live streaming concerts?

D: Surely keep on promoting the new album and playing some summer shows if the situation improves. Live streaming concerts? Never say never. 

M.I. - Please leave a message to the Portuguese fans and readers of Metal Imperium Webzine.

D: Thank you so much for reading this interview, I really hope we can play Portugal in the near future, we’ve never had the chance yet but I’m sure we’ll be able to find dark kindred souls over there as well!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca