Basically it’s a “do or die.” You’re fucked if you do, you’re fucked if you don’t. - Robert Lowe
Lone Star Metal had the recent fortune of catching up with Gathered in Darkness creative duo, Michael Millsap and Robert Lowe to get to the heart of their newly announced collaboration. LSM scribe, Scott Fisher sat with them to find out exactly what is gathering in the darkness of their creation.
Lone Star Metal: Gathered In Darkness is a brand new project for the both of you. Michael, every time I see you, you’re writing something different for some new project. What prompted this? What made you want to start this project?
Michael Millsap: Well, it’s one of many projects. For me, it’s a “brand” thing. I don’t want to change things that Six Minute [Century] does or change things that Well Of Souls do, or change things that I’m doing on my solo project. If I want to try something a little different, I want to give it a different name so that people that like one thing won’t be force-fed something different I’m trying. And, I had met Robert [Lowe] and I thought it’d be a cool thing to do together and do a concept record and do a story with a bunch of my friends and a bunch of people from around the world. I thought this would be a good vehicle for that.
LSM: Now, this is a concept album, something that is unheard of in this day and age.
MM: Oh, no. You still see them a lot.
LSM: Well, they’re not as mainstream as they used to be.
MM: No, because they’re really easy to fuck up. <all laugh> So, in this case I started with the story first.
LSM: Tell me a little bit about the story. Can you do that?
MM: Yeah. <a little hesitant>
Robert Lowe: I’m sure he can.
LSM: Well, I didn’t know if you were wanting to “keep it under wraps” or anything…
RL: Nah, it’s a good story.
MM: Well, the story… the “gist” of it… I won’t tell you how it ends or anything, But basically the guy finds himself in a position where he makes a decision, not realizing the consequences of the decision, and then they end up having drastic consequences on him in The Abyss.
RL: Basically it’s a “do or die.” You’re fucked if you do, you’re fucked if you don’t.
MM: Yeah, Homenuts makes a choice and a pregnant lady and the fetus bites it. And… It wasn’t directly his fault, but it was indirectly his fault. But they’re trying to roast him eternally for the death of the fetus.
LSM: Rob, tell me a little bit about how you came to be a part of this project.
RL: Um… <ponders> I don’t even know how to fucking answer that.
MM: I just asked him. He didn’t have anything to do.
LSM: Didn’t have anything better to do? Just kinda “Yeah, that sounds cool?”
RL: Nonono… Now you say better to do… which is hearing Mr Froth here… great musician, talented fucking musician, period. End of conversation. That’s all there is to that. And, I did some vocals for the new Well Of Souls project and he was there when I ended up being there. And so we ended up kinda like “Hey! Ya wanna dance? Let’s dance!” Ya know, and then there ya go.
LSM: Now is a little bit of a departure from what you’re used to doing, or what you have done in the past?
RL: I would not say it’s a departure at all. Like I said, again, and you can quote me on this, <points at Millsap> amazing musician. I love what he plays. I love what he does. I love what I do. So that’s why this whole thing is kind of what we call a prog/doom mixture. Because it’s got the incredible talents of Mr. Michael here, and then it has, you know, my sub-par ability to do stuff…
MM: It’s good.
LSM: <laughing> Humble till the end…
RL: Well, I’ve seen a guitar. I think I know how to play it… And then we do what we have to do and it comes down to what it is. And I think it’s gonna blow people’s fucking minds.
MM: It’s interesting to mix the doom and the prog. Because going [with] the really slow doom stuff just made the prog shit sound even more fucked up than it already was. So, having that kind of contrast and then going from the crazy shit to something slower and traditional just felt like it was falling even further.
RL: You already have this crazy guy on the Stick and guitar… phenomenal again…<turns to Millsap> Am I walking the red carpet for ya too much right now?
MM: Uh, yeeeaaah…<all laugh> He’s being nice.
RL: Nice? Really? I’m serious. But then you bring in the doom stuff… and I’m writing the guitar stuff for the doom stuff, which is just as fucked up anyway. So this whole project is a melding of things that people of either genre can latch onto.
MM: And maybe some people that don’t like either one might be able to find something to like about [it].
RL: Because it has the elements of both, but yet it has the groove and the drive, and it’s heavier than fuck. The shit we’ve already got laid down.
LSM: What percentage complete are you on this project?
MM: Well, that depends on what portion you want to ask. The compositions, at this point, written-wise, music-wise, is probably about 90% [from] wrapping up. Demo, to where I can send it to other musicians, we’re about half. But we’re going into the studio, he’s [Rob] going to start singing this coming week, and I’m sending Pro Tools files to the drummer in England this week so he can start drumming.
RL: So, it’s a big collaboration.
LSM: Now, for those that don’t know, give me the lineup again of musicians for this project.
MM: The core musicians are, me on bass, Rob as the main vocal…
LSM: Is he playing at all, or just writing?
MM: No, he’s just helping me compose.
MM: Joel Gregoire is going to play all the guitar, and Kevin Bartlett from overseas is going to be handling the drums. And, if you don’t know who he is, he did the drums in the Eumeria project for Bobby [Williamson]. And then we have a lot of guests. Since this is a story, there’s a lot of parts – kinda like a movie, so we’ve cast Chuck Williams from Six Minute Century; James Rivera, our buddy from Helstar; Lance King, Sloan [Robley], well not as a vocalist; David Gonzales. Yeah, Sloan has a part and so does Austin Funderburk, my brother.
RL: It’s kind of a big piece that we are doing. The music alone stands by itself but we’re putting vocals to add the extra bit. That make sense?
RL: So, I’m super excited about this. And if…. I know it was gay to say that, but yeah, I’m super excited… doo di doo, I’m gonna do my little dance!
LSM: No, not gay at all. I’ve heard some of the instrumental tracks already…
RL: Have you?
LSM: Yeah, every time I see Mike, he drags me out to his vehicle, ‘Hey, ya gotta listen to this!’ and I’m like, ‘Wow, this stuff is awesome.’
RL: We’re both super stoked. This thing is going to be “pro project” stuff, man.
LSM: Well, what are your plans for this? Do you have a label interested already? Or are you gonna shop around?
MM: We have some contacts that are interested in it so far. So, we’ll start there. I don’t think we’ll have to shop it very far.
LSM: Any intentions on taking it further than just a record label?
MM: It would be very difficult to do something like this live…
RL: That’s a dinner table conversation that we’ve had, and…
MM: It’s possible. It would take a backer, or somebody who would want to put up the money to get this cast together to do it. We would love to think about, perhaps, getting an anime done of this.
LSM: Oh, that would be cool.
RL: Take each piece, an operatic type of thing where every… just have each one come in and give their own piece on how they feel about that point of the music at that time, and put it together… cuz we’re working on a lot of stuff together…
LSM: Kinda make it like a heavy metal movie?
MM: Exactly, yeah. Because the whole album is just one story, it goes through one thing, so it would work. And we’re both interested in maybe seeing something like that happen.
RL: So, as you hear that… <to me> …talk to us, man. Throw your anime up there, throw us your drawings, whatever the fuck.
LSM: <laughs> Alright, okay…
MM: It was either that or porn.
RL: Yeah, you know it’s always that hard line, I should’ve…
MM: You could almost call it “Gathered In Poontang,” but it wasn’t doomy enough. It was too happy.
LSM: Yeah, well. Porn makes me happy.
RL: Yeah, you could watch the porn afterwards, because you’re already gonna be pumped up anyway, right?
LSM: Now, as far as composition, writing this stuff, composing this stuff, Michael, do you find it different than some of the other stuff you’ve written? Is there a different challenge involved?
MM: I took a different approach to this. I wanted to not compromise the story. So I started with the story. So I wrote lyrics first. And, then for me, it was like scoring a film. So, instead of writing a riff to write a riff, I would write the effect that I wanted that moment to have. So, it was different. It feels a lot like I’m working on a movie and not an album. And, I’ve enjoyed it.
RL: It is kind of scored that way.
MM: It is, yeah. Exactly.
LSM: Rob, I know you haven’t laid any vocal tracks down, but I assume you’ve still been working on them. Do you find yourself wanting to sing a certain line or a certain song differently than what you normally would?
RL: Actually, no. With the thing that him and I have been doing, it still fits the mold. Well, I don’t even wanna use ‘the mold,’ because it’s not a mold. But the passion and the feeling is there in the same way with what he’s written, what he’s given me, and what we’ve worked on together. So, it’s gonna be just as heavy. It’s going to blow you’re fucking mind. It’s one of those kinds of albums you can put in your car, drive two hours to work, and not realize you’ve listened to a fucking ninety-minute CD. It just flows and goes. It’s the way it’s always been.
[At print, Gathered In Darkness has begun recording vocals. You can find a first glimpse below – Editor]
LSM: Alright, anything else you guys want to add?
MM: You know, we’ve enjoyed doing this so much, we’ll probably be doing other stuff together in the future.
LSM: Another Gathered In Darkness? Or a different project?
MM: No, just different stuff. I’m sure me and Mr. Lowe will do some work again in the future.
RL: Yeah, agreed.
LSM: Well, I look forward to hearing more tracks, and hearing vocals put to those tracks as well.
RL: All I’ve got to say is you won’t be disappointed. It’s not gonna happen. You’re gonna fucking… what’ll happen is, you’ll put porn on afterwards, and… you’ll cum and feel good!