On the occasion of the most recent release of LAKE OF TEARS, entitled “Ominous”, we had a very interesting conversation with the mainman (and the only original member left at this moment) of LAKE OF TEARS, Daniel Brennare. Daniel opens his soul to us, referring to a very personal and experiential tone about his state of health and how it affected the concept of the album. Later on, he takes a look back at the rich past of the band. Keep in mind that this is not an ordinary interview. It is recommended to read it while listening to “Ominous”.
– Hello Daniel, first of all, congratulations for your new album. Many of us, supporters of the band, were very pleased to read the news that LAKE OF TEARS is back, after a decade of silence. Could you please share with us your main inspiration and your feelings during the process of creating your new album?
Daniel: Hello Kostas, thank you very much. This record is written from inside, from very hard times. I don’t know whether you have heard it or not, many years ago I got a diagnosis of a chronical form of leuchemia, after that everything started to get worse. I got into a big depression and this album is actually a symbol of illness and depression. That’s how I see it, that’s the base of this record and that’s a reason why it took such a long time to get finalized.
– “Ominous” sounds a lot different than “Illwill”. Do you believe that being completely on your own and “isolating” musically yourself helps you even more to transmit your message and a certain atmosphere to it?
Daniel: Yes, actually I think this has been the case for this album. I spent so many years reflecting. It is not even only about a connection, these songs have been a part of my life for long time. They have been one of the bright sides of my life and the misery of the last years. So, from that perspective, it becomes certainly even more personal. I lost my band and I had to do everything by myself. In the end it is about mixed emotions, however I need to admit that I am very much connected to this album, beginning to end.
– Listening to the entire album I can strongly feel that your purpose is to create and present an album as a whole, as a complete story, rather than building around individual songs. For example I can listen to various themes that are gradually building up from track to track and from a point and on I am being a receiver of one message. What is the process of creating such an album? Where do you start from and how do you continue, and what comes first, music or lyrics?
Daniel: It has been so many years since I started composing this album. My illness and depression are the base of it. I decided to write about it, and then the process continued in different moments and stages. Few melodies came up, some words followed and trying myself to be more concrete on that, these two elements that appear on the front cover of the album, the “ominous brothers”, came to my mind early in the process. They are the base of this adventure. The left one represents illness, the right one represents depression. When looking back, they were the main theme and then the rest started to came in different times.
– “The cosmonaut and the ominous brothers, at the end of the world”. I could figure out that this meeting is an enlightenment. Could you please describe what is the main idea behind this magnificent cover of the album and the artwork? I am sure there are deeper meanings you want to share.
Daniel: I remember that I had created some sketches around my main idea and after a talk I had with a Russian friend of mine, we decided to get in contact with Vladimir, a professional artist that my friend was collaborating with. We discussed it then with Vladimir, we showed and explained the ideas and he started to work on it. The first sample we got was spot on and it was exactly what I was looking for. So, it went really well. Then Vladimir, created one picture for each song for the booklet. Considering the fact that the artwork was made only in the last two years before the release of the album, I really took some good inspiration from his approach and his concept, even during the last stages of the process.
– I was wondering what are your expectations out of “Ominous”, since it is such a “heavy” and “personal” album – statement. Is the release of it on its own a form of relief?
Daniel: Of course it is. It is a signal for this being an end of a certain period in my life. At least, I hope so, because this is not a bright moment in my life. There are some good moments at the end, when there are some colors that are coming back and that’s also a reason why it took so long time. I felt I couldn’t finish it before I come to a certain point within this depression. I am now thinking about my expectations… I don’t know… I knew from the beginning of his record that it would probably be not a “hits” album, because I wanted to approach it in its totality, rather than sticking to individual songs… In that sense, it means so much to me, I would be glad if it would mean something other people as well. In general, I hope it goes well, but I know that it is a tricky album. I am already hearing from few people that it is difficult for them to connect to it. Because of its dark vibe, it seems even hard to listen to it, because they get a bit depressed.
– Reading through and listening to your lyrics, in combination to few musical elements here and there, I could figure out that science has a special place in the story you share with us. It is obvious for me since I am very much into philosophy and psychology from an academic point of view. Could you please elaborate more on that?
Daniel: The scientific part in the music is indeed present. I need to admit that when I started playing music, I didn’t do it for any kind of special people, for example journalists or musicians. I was thinking about myself and ordinary people. However I must admit, I was looking from time to time for interesting things in my life, especially during these last ten years. I felt that it was not so interesting to live anymore when everything is so sad and bad around. Therefore, I have been looking into several aspects of science and I went back to my early days when I was really much into mathematics and history for example. Especially nowadays, interesting things can be found via internet. Few people might say that these are “alternative things”, but many of them make complete sense to me. I went even back reading Pythagoras and the circle of fifths, his theories that established the base of the modern musical system, I was busy going deeper into philosophical matters and the more you listen to the album you will start finding small details around these topics, both music and lyrics wise. All these elements are here because of my own curiosity, in order to make it a little more meaningful for me.
– Such story albums, revealing a heavy atmosphere and state of mind could – under specific circumstances – constitute to inspirational live performances. Of course, I am not talking now about typical gigs, but about something that could potentially add value to the atmosphere of the album, using video effects, light programming, images and different kind of sceneries. Is this an idea that you have thought about?
Daniel: It’s very nice that you draw this conclusion. Of course I have thought about it. There are not any concrete plans though at the moment and I am happy to say that I don’t have to think about it, because of the pandemic and the limitations around concerts. Live shows won’t be easy to be performed for the next 1-2 years. However, I must say that I really follow you and your logic. I got much inspiration from live acts, theatrical ones, and I thought that if one day I am back on stage, especially with this record that looks like a story, it will be nice to find a good setting for it. I am not very much enjoying the typical rock and metal festival concept anymore. I mean, it’s not terrible, but it doesn’t seem so interesting for me. So, I have some ideas and it would be interesting to put them in action to see how it could look like…
– Daniel, I perceive that we live today a “silent war”. Depression – especially nowadays with the implications of the pandemic – is rarely mentioned as a part of any statistics, but it is here and comes dominant, more than ever. What’s your standpoint on it?
Daniel: There is so much to discuss given this question! One thing I certainly think about is that if this continues for long time, the world will be more suitable for introverts than extroverts, since today we live in an extrovert world. Some of my friends who are extrovert, have a hard time dealing with all this. For me it is really not a problem. I was isolated because of my illness for a long time but I realize that for many other people this would be a real challenge. You know, I am not happy with all this situation, it’s really bad for humanity, however on the other hand, I very much like autumn and I feel it has been autumn for one year now… There is a little bit of something that makes me happy there. When I discuss with people, I realize that everyone feels a little bit down and shares deeper emotions. I sincerely hope that some positive things will come soon out of this…
– Okay Daniel, let’s go back to the early years for a while. LAKE OF TEARS had few remarkable releases that formed a big fan base, like for example the albums “Headstones”, “A Crimson Cosmos”, and “Forever Autumn”, each one of them adding value through its uniqueness. What do you remember from these days? And what are the elements that connect your music back then with the sound of today?
Daniel: It has been so many years with so many good things and fun times… In the beginning we didn’t even know how to play our instruments… From “Headstones” to “Forever Autumn” it was a really good period, we had great energy and vibe. We were touring and playing a lot in the ‘90s. We found out new stuff, we were hanging out, overall it was a good time. Of course, in the period of “Forever Autumn” we were dealing with some difficult situations with break ups with girlfriends and so on, but these are lessons in life… As for your question about the connection to today, I guess I am the connector between these days and the now situation, since I was the one that always wrote the music. Of course, I am not the same person as I was back then, but I keep the memories inside me. My songs come from my heart so there is certainly a connection and continuity…
– I was wondering what prompted you to split for four years back in 2000?
Daniel: We lost the energy in the band, it was a tough period for us. The problems started when we were getting some really good offers to go out touring, being the support band to bigger names. At this stage our record company rejected it and after the fourth or fifth time of them saying “no”, we didn’t know what to do. We felt it was maybe time to try something else in our lives instead.
– The second phase of the band was characterized by the reunion and albums that were marked once again by diversity. I am wondering after listening to so many different versions of LAKE OF TEARS, if a LAKE OF TEARS genre or direction really exists, because I feel that it is evolving directly release by release. What’s your point of view on that?
Daniel: I agree with you. I have already left the genres’ discussion on the side, many years ago. After “A Crimson Cosmos” I started receiving multiple questions about how our style has been evolved, even using comments that in certain albums we didn’t sound like LAKE OF TEARS, but I actually never cared about that. It has never been interesting for us and for me to write the same thing over and over again… There are many bands that can do it, take for example THE RAMONES, they are experts in that, it’s just that it’s not my thing. I have the need to explore, to build something new, to experiment. Sometimes the experiment is good and other times less good.
– In case someone would today ask you to indicate 2-3 LAKE OF TEARS as a “startup” package to get familiar with the music of the band, what would you recommend to him/her?
Daniel: That’s an interesting question… It depends who he is of course. Certainly the new one, I find it representative enough and I am most proud of it. Then “Forever Autumn”. Many people like it. And maybe “A Crimson Cosmos” and “Headstones”. I would say not the first one and not “The Neonai”, these ones could have been better. From that point and on I could indicate some songs here and there from the rest of the albums that I could proudly present to someone in case interested for LAKE OF TEARS.
– Daniel, my last question has to do with the next steps of LAKE OF TEARS. How do you plan to promote the album during the pandemic? Anything special we should expect for?
Daniel: I don’t think that there are special things at the moment. I am doing interviews, I am not sure if after that I want to put so much energy on LAKE OF TEARS. In general, I am curious to find out what is going to happen with the cosmic sailor, the journey to the universe and where this story can lead to… Other than that, I will put some effort on orchestra stuff, because this is a new area for me to explore and I find it inspiring to be busy with.
– I would like to thank you for the talk we had and I wish you all the best with the promotion of your new album. Last words are yours.
Daniel: Thank you for the interesting conversation Kostas, I was happy to go through your questions, I would very much enjoyed to have more interviews with people like you, sharing common interests like psychology and philosophy. Thank you so much!
Interview: Kostas Kafritsas
Cover Artwork: Michalis Dimitropoulos
Design & Editing: Alexandros Soultatos
Date: February 20th, 2021
External Link: LAKE OF TEARS- Official Page
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