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Eden's Curse: The Power Of The Internet And 'Symphony Of Sin'

Monday, 30 September 2013 Written by Simon Ramsay

Depending on your worldview the internet has either been a plague for music, or a gateway into a world of unlimited sonic possibilities. Multinational melodic metal outfit Eden's Curse make a sterling case for the latter. Formed through an internet noticeboard in 2006 and with band members scattered around the globe, their existence and ability to make powerhouse rock records wouldn't be possible without the good old world wide web.

But, it's been a difficult period for the band following the release of their excellent third album, 'Trinity'. Shortly after that effort, US-based vocalist Michael Eden quit the group in acrimonious circumstances. His replacement - Italian Marco Sandron - only lasted six months. To outsiders, it seemed they were imploding.

Thankfully, a revamped and revitalised Eden's Curse are set to return in style on October 7 with new vocalist Nikola Mijic and their strongest album to date - 'Symphony Of Sin'. Stereoboard spoke to founding member Paul Logue about the turmoil of the last two years, their new record and how they actually make music without being in the same country.

Can you tell us about your change of vocalist since the last album?

Since 'Trinity' we've parted company with our original singer Michael. It was his decision to leave and it was down to money. We'd just come off the two biggest shows of our career supporting Dream Theater and he came forward and made a financial request of the band. We're all weekend warriors, and all have full time jobs except for him.

It had taken six years to get to the point where we were breaking even, which shouldn't be underestimated given our transatlantic set up as it literally costs thousands of pounds to put Eden's Curse together in one room. It didn't matter what he requested as we didn't have the money to give him. But he insisted and was unable to back down. We didn't want him to leave, but it was basically the meeting of two immovable objects. We then found Marco Sandron, who is an amazing singer, but his personality wasn't in keeping with the rest of the band and there was also a language problem. We were all really unhappy so we decided to cut our losses.

Was there any thought when Michael left of saying 'let's call it a day', or even continuing under a new name given his adopted surname?

No, and I think that was the key point. Michael's real name isn't Eden, it's a stage name he gave himself after we named the group. It's not a solo band, Eden's Curse has always been about the collective. Michael never submitted a single original song idea in the six years he was in the band, so it wasn't like we were losing the main writer. Sure, his voice was a big part of the sound, but so is Thorsten's guitar playing. With all that in mind, it was clear we had to continue.

How did you find your new singer, Nikola, and what made him the right guy?

We found Nikola through a website called Lion Music, singing for a Hungarian band called Dreyelands. He also sings for Alogia in his native Serbia, where they're probably one of, if not the, biggest rock band in the country. He's only 33, but has already played hundreds of shows and even opened for Whitesnake in his national football stadium in front of 15,000 people.

We reached out to him on Facebook, encouraged him to audition and it was great. He recorded three Eden's Curse songs and we also gave him a new song to record, which turned out to be Evil & Divine. When we sent it to him it was three minutes long and by the time it came back it was five minutes. He'd added in a whole section after the guitar solo to highlight his vocal, which was great as it showed he was a good arranger and producer too.

You've pulled off one of the most difficult things in music by surviving the departure of a singer to make an even better album. What's the secret?

The obvious difference is a major upgrade in the vocal department. The songwriting for this record was slightly different too. We knew Trinity was a strong record and felt we had to better that in every possible way. Whenever a song came forward if myself (Glasgow based), Thorsten (guitarist, based in Germany) and Pete Newdeck (English-based drummer) weren't jumping up and down about the idea we'd be very honest with each other. There are no egos involved and nobody gets defensive about songs.

For example, Break The Silence was a song Pete and I were working on and he said 'I really don't like the opening guitar riff, it's not strong enough'. So we farmed the idea out to Thorsten and he came back with what became Break The Silence. That's how we worked, as a team.

Is the orchestral intro to 'Symphony Of Sin' an original piece of music, because it almost sounds like a Morricone score?

I wrote it myself and that's high praise indeed! I play a limited amount of piano but I have a good setup at home where I programmed the whole orchestral piece, with all the cellos and violins etc, into the midi. We found this chap - Frank Van Essen - on the internet who wrote and arranged it for an orchestra to perform. When we got it back it was this 46 piece orchestral part and it blew me away. I can't wait to use it to open shows as that's what it was written for.

'Symphony Of Sin' is undoubtedly an Eden's Curse record but there are some new twists along the way. For example, Unbreakable adds a more commercial edge to your sound. Was that a conscious decision or something that developed during the writing process?

I think it just developed naturally. With this record we maintained the strong melodies but pushed things a little further on Unbreakable which, although different, is still very Eden's Curse as it's got huge melodies, great lyrics and big hooks. I don't mind admitting that when I heard the final mix I wept with joy, because it's the culmination of two difficult years and a lot of hard work. It's the audio equivalent of everything I wanted Eden's Curse to become.

Let's go back to the beginning. How did the band initially form?

I saw an advert by Mike on the Melodicrock.com musicians message board that said 'singer who can actually sing'. I contacted him and he wanted to hear what songs I had. We decided to make a go of it and tried to pull a band and album together. Using Melodicrock.com we advertised for a guitar player and found Thorsten. I then got talking to Pete as we used to be labelmates, asked if he was interested and he jumped at it. Ferdy Doernberg later joined on keys via a friend of Thorsten's.

How do you record your albums given the geographical difficulties?

We do it digitally, and a lot of ideas start with me putting together a demo that's got a mix down of the drums, bass, guitars, guide vocals and lyrics. Once that gets to a completed stage the files are sent to everyone over the internet. The guide drums and music will go to Pete as he's the first person to record. He mutes the drum track we created as a guide and writes his own parts. The tempos and arrangements remain the same and that comes back to myself. I'll do the bass, then Thorsten will record guitars and Steve Williams' (UK based) keyboards go last before the vocals.

All of the guys – and this is the key to making Eden's Curse work – have the ability to record at home and are proficient in audio recording software. When the guys complete their recordings I'll get an upload or download link of the actual take and upload it into a master system. That will become the album file. So on 'Symphony Of Sin', for example, it may be 24 tracks of drums, with every tom, snare, kick, cymbal and room mic. Then, another 16 tracks of guitars, two of bass, six-eight of keyboards, at least two-four of lead vocals and 16-24 of backing vocals. So it's a huge project and each song is probably three-four gigabytes in terms of file size. When we complete the recordings those raw files are sent to Germany to Dennis Ward (producer and mixing engineer), who imports them into his system and mixes it.

I'm curious as to how you get your albums to sound like such powerful and cohesive band efforts. Is there a trick to achieving that?

The trick is being a good musician. When I get a song back from Pete it's not just a case of slapping a bass down on it. I study the drum track and listen to where it's going. Is he hitting on the beat, ahead of the beat or behind it? I'll build my bass track around that and accentuate all the accents Pete's done. It's also down to having a tasteful ear and knowing what works for the song. The actual sonic power is without a doubt Dennis. He takes those raw individual files and EQs the bass drum, the kick drum, the bass guitar and everything else so when they're played together it's almost like a Mike Tyson punch to the jaw.

How common is this recording approach nowadays and why?

Budgets aren't what they used to be and having our own studios saves a lot of money. We want the highest quality output possible and can achieve that at home because we're all expert engineers. Thorsten has made recording guitars an artform. In his studio he's got his own telephone booth with Marshall stacks in and it's as pro as anything. The result is superbly recorded, clean guitars. When I say clean, I mean there's no noise or buzz coming from a dodgy amp in his room. I've been in a studio with Dennis when he's uploaded them and his first thought is, 'I don't need to do much with these as they're great'. That allows us not to blow our budget on ridiculous expenses as there's no need for Thorsten to go to the south of Germany and spend £2,000 recording guitars with Dennis when he can do it at home.

So now it's done, what's the gameplan to make sure 'Symphony Of Sin' reaches the largest possible audience?

To go out and play as many shows as possible. The fact that we're all based in Europe means the chances of us doing that have been massively increased. I've now got £500 worth of flights to pay for instead of £2000! So we're talking to various people about a headline tour of the UK next year, doing some shows in Europe and hopefully some festivals too.

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