The German atmospheric sludge/post black/crust band Downfall Of Gaia return with Ethic OF Radical Finitude, their fifth full-length. Vocalist/guitarist Dominik Goncalves dos Reis fills us in on the new record, guest appearances by a couple of former members, touring and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Ethic Of Radical Finitude compared to earlier albums?
Dominik Goncalves dos Reis: I guess one of the main differences compared to our previous releases is the fact that for this one we simply wanted to give ourselves the time it needed and not to rush anything. Of course you can’t force your creativity and it’s definitely not getting easier with every album you write. An important thing for us is not to get stuck, not to repeat ourselves too often. Of course we wanted to keep a classic Downfall sound but also wanted to add new nuances to our music, experiment a bit more to keep all of this interesting, at least for us.
What led you to work with producer Jan Oberg again, and how did you come to work with Kevin Antreassian?
Jan is a totally nice guy to work with. The studio sessions are completely relaxed and we already knew the studio. Besides that it’s around the corner of Marcos and my home so in the end it just made sense to work with him again and keep things easy and relaxed for us. Working together with Kevin Antreassian is something our drummer Mike came up with. The studio is in New Jersey, which is close to Mike’s home, which also made it a lot easier for him to record. Besides that, all of us are big fans of Backroom Studios so it was the perfect match. Luckily due to the internet, recording in different parts of the world isn’t a big problem. We were always connected, exchanging ideas/parts and kept us updated.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I wish I could tell big stories or any dramas, but overall it was a completely smooth and relaxed process since everyone was really well prepared. Maybe this will be my strongest memory. I guess we never had such a smooth and easy studio time before.
Did you struggle with song order at all?
Not really. As I said before all of this was a pretty drama free process.
How was it working with a couple of your former members (guitarist Peter Wolff and drummer Johannes Stoltenburg) who made guest appearances?
Even if our ways had to split at some point it was a completely relaxed and enjoyable experience working together again! All of us are still in contact and there is absolutely no bad blood. Sometimes it’s funny and interesting to see where everyone is right now in life and how much things changed. So because of that I also think that the most exciting thing about this is the fact that they brought in their new influences. Not simply playing their old instruments, more bringing in their new path, the more electronic/synthy path they took after they left the band. This really made the songs even brighter, it gave them a very special touch!
How did Nikita Kamprad’s guest appearance come about, and what did it add to the album?
Adding some guests to the record was something we figured out after all of the songs were written. It just felt right to add these kind of “specials” to certain parts, it was pretty intuitive. Besides being friends with Nikita and Der Weg einer Freiheit, I’m also a huge fan of the way how he is using his voice and how it’s sounding. He came directly to my mind while we were searching for guests and I think his voice was the perfect fit for the melodies. We are really glad he was directly into it! I think he delivers a completely new dynamic to those parts.
How has your sound evolved from Atrophy?
I would say that this record has a lot of elements of our previous releases to offer combined with the path we took on Atrophy. I would definitely say it’s the next step. Overall it was really important for us to give all of these songs the time they need, to let them grow and unfold but without losing the path of harsh aggression. On Ethic OF Radical Finitude we used a lot of elements we never used before. Stuff like clean vocals, spoken words, carillon; definitely more experiments happening as on our previous releases.
What inspired the album title?
I was talking to our bass player Toni about the lyrics I wrote for the new record. Usually he always delivers the names for our records. A few days later after we talked about all of this he called me and came up with the idea of naming the record Ethic Of Radical Finitude. Basically these four words are the perfect plot for what’s happening on the album.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
In the end we won’t do anything different as we did for our previous releases. We will drive around and play a lot of shows. The rest is not in our hands and that’s totally fine. In the end the most important fact is that we are satísfied with what we did and we are glad to be able to release this record.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
Definitely always pretty interesting to read the first reviews when you are about to release a new album and it’s kind of exciting to read how the author experienced the record. Usually the label is sending them around before the record is released and I’m always excited when there is a new one in our mail account.
You’ve released a couple of videos for this album. How important are videos these days?
I don’t know. We are living in such fast moving times that sometimes I really got the feeling that it’s getting harder and harder for people to pay attention to art, to not skip to the next song within three minutes. But in the end a well done video might bring a bit more of attention than just a WAV file on Bandcamp. Especially nowadays where a lot of people are discovering music on YouTube which became something like the new MTV.
You have some European tour dates coming up. Any plans for a North American tour this album cycle?
Nothing confirmed so far but we are trying to make it over with our new release! Unfortunately North America became a pretty difficult ground for a band of our size due to expensive working visas besides the flights and everything else. Fingers crossed!
What’s your favorite way to kill time on the road?
It depends on the tour. When you are around with a van there is not much you can do. Most of the time you are driving all day, arriving, soundcheck, food, doors.
In this case I really enjoy the rides just watching out of the window, listening to good music and discover the environment passing by. Just some daydreaming or however you want to call it. I find this really relaxing. When you are around with a nightliner it makes things a bit easier and usually when you wake up you are already in front of the venue with still some time left to discover the city.
What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
It’s definitely my dog, best case escaping the city. I’m also into jogging and sports here and there. Besides that most of my interests have something in common with music.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Lately I’ve been listening a lot to new releases by Antlers, Uada, Karg, Soft Kill, Behemoth.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I guess everything is said already, so thanks a lot for having us! It was a real pleasure!
(interview published February 8, 2019)
Listen To Downfall Of Gaia – “Withering Violet Leaves”