Earlier this week, I had the chance to listen to Doors To No Where upcoming album ‘Darkness Falls‘ which set to be released on May 21 via Desert Records. I had the chance to talk to Marc Lewis (Guitars/Vocals) to know more about the album process and songwriting. Let’s find out!
First, I’d like to congrats you guys on such a stunning album. You recorded it during 2020, tell me how it was especially that it was a tough year already, and still!
Marc – Thank you. 2020 was a very strange year for sure. We lucked out and got the drums tracked early on before things really got locked down. Pete Testorff (drums) just crushed it and his performance shows it. Even though it was early on, we set up distanced and masked up. It took a minute to get used to. We went into recording after having some shows canceled and not really jamming for a bit. We really wanted that live feel and Pete nailed it despite everything. Then Marc Prefontaine (bass) and I tracked guitars from home. Working with our amazing engineer and producer Aaron Cooper we got home set up dialed in with great tones and clean signals. It was different from the way we are used to doing things but it worked out. I have to give Aaron a ton of credit for engineering and mixing remotely.
Stoner, doom, punk, and old-school heavy, how did you guys think of such an impressive combination?
Marc – I just play and write what I enjoy and feel. The only rule I have is that I have fun playing it. As a kid, I was so moved by bands like Sabbath, Kyuss, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Megadeth, and Nirvana. Even though it would not really be that weird to see all those bands share a stage they are vastly different. All those styles really made an impression on me and my playing style.
You mentioned it also has a classic grunge flavor, weren’t you afraid that many style influences would affect the album’s musical identity?
Marc – I can’t deny my love for grunge or that early nineties rock. I was the kid who always had MTV on or music playing. My dad was really into music and took my sister and me to all kinds of shows. I went to the early Lollapaloozas and they changed my life. Bands like Mudhoney, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana were always on. I also loved Helmet, COC, Tool, Beastie Boys, Jane’s Addiction, and Faith No More. As a listener of music, I’m all over the place, it definitely influences my writing style. I focused more on the lyrics to tie different styles together instead of the riffs. But, the early impressions of that time in music are how and why I even wanted to play music.
It’s rare these days when stoner/punk bands focus on soloing, still, I was really amazed by the soloing, is it one of your main factors in songwriting?
I wouldn’t say it’s the main factor but I’m not scared to solo. I love the improv of soloing and getting lost in the music. It can add so much to a song and it’s a push or pull. When I was younger I was away more confident guitar player than a vocalist. I wrote everything around riffs that put focus on the guitar with the vocals being an afterthought. I was fearless as a guitar player so it made me sound better than I really was. I would tweak rhythms and tempos and jam a million riffs in one song and solo all over the place. Now I’m actually more comfortable as a vocalist and strip down some riffs to interact with the vocals more. Don’t get me wrong, I still love going for it on guitar but I’ve been enjoying the challenge of building a song off the vocals.
The title track ‘Darkness Falls’ had an impressive impact on me really, I noticed the great influence of Bob Balch and Aaron Cooper. Tell me more about the theme and recording process.
This one was the very last song written and recorded for the record. I really wanted it to build with layers of percussion and guitars to create more and more tension until the full band kicks in. Aaron was great at taking this concept and making it a reality by adding different percussive instruments and patterns that played off each other. I started off with a simple pattern that actually revolved around a heartbeat. Aaron took that foundation and evolved it to what you hear on the record.
Having Bob Balch (Fu Manchu, Big Scenic Nowhere) on the track was an honor for me. He is an amazing musician and a great dude. Obviously, I love Fu Manchu and his work with Big Scenic Nowhere is amazing. I’ve played with Fu Manchu over the years and they are all great guys. When I was writing Darkness Falls I knew I wanted Balch on it. I sent him the rough demo and he was into it. The first things he sent back blew me away. First off his tone is a glorious beast and unmistakable. Secondly, he shreds with taste and adds great elements and vibes to the song. I wanted him to just lay down what he felt or wanted to, with zero restrictions. I wouldn’t tell Picasso how to paint so there was no way I was gonna give Balch much direction. He is in my opinion, one of the greats.
I noticed there was an oriental flavor in the guitar solo of the track, do you think that fusion these days can be an add for the international music taste?
The internet is making the world smaller every single day. Music from different cultures or parts of the world is traveling further and further from its place of origin. It’s a trip how easy it can be to collaborate with other artists or share music. I have discovered all kinds of bands or performances from all over the world that is incredible. Music truly is a universal language. The solo you are referring to in this case was Balch just shredding and playing off the vibe of the song. He lives and breathes guitar and knows his stuff. I really wanted the track to have a certain feel to it and Bob nailed it.
I noticed that you collaborated with Desert Records for the album release. What’s the difference between releasing independently or with a label, especially that everything became easily digitized nowadays.
Marc – We had multiple offers on Darkness Falls and I was leaning towards doing this one independently like we did our last couple records. We had good offers but I felt like we would just be a name on a roster. I had a good friend and a fellow musician that I really respect who suggested Desert Records as a fit for us. I reached out to Brad Frye who runs the label and sent him the record. He was into it and we started talking. We hit it off right away and I liked what he had going with the label. I like being part of the team and contributing to the overall scene. I got the vibe that Desert Records really wanted to put our record out and was a fan of the music. It was that family-like connection that made it click. I think Brad and Desert Records have something special going on.
Vocals were a bit fit for the music indeed. Was it intentionally planned to be raw vintage style, or it just came spontaneously while songwriting?
Marc – It was very intentional. I really wanted stripped-down vocals that sat back in the mix. I get a little bummed when effects or reverb/delays bury the voice. I like being able to hear the imperfections and raw emotions in someone’s voice. I feel like it can add to the vibe of a song. I started off being way more comfortable as a guitar player so my writing was around that sort of structure. Vocals were an afterthought in a way. With Darkness Falls I found myself writing around vocal melodies and lyrics more.
Finally, I was really happy to add your album to my library. Let’s tell your fans more about your 2021 plans.
Thank you so much for the kind words and support. We are hoping to be playing live at some point once more things get opened up. In the meantime, I’m writing new songs and hope to have a couple of tracks out sometime this year. I’m working on both Doors To No Where and some solo stuff with collaborations that I’m excited about. We are really proud of Darkness Falls and think it captures a very challenging time for the whole world. It will be a trip to listen back on it years from now and reflect just how crazy 2020 was.