By: Song River
SR: Through the process between “Love Is Gone” and “Rise” what all transpired?
KD: Oh wow…enough to write a novel about, seriously. But the abridged version is when we commenced recording, after a year of delays sorting through producers, mixers, demos, and bureaucracy, our former label went through a corporate restructuring that saw the departure of our A&R and the label President. The absence of our two biggest supporters left us with a label that didn’t want to continue investing in the band. So we were left with no label, an incomplete album, a lot of legal things to figure out, loss of our momentum, lots of self-doubt, changes in the band members’ personal lives and career changes among other things I’m probably forgetting. It was enough to make everything feel like it was shambles.
SR: Life happens. Some quit, not you. Why?
KD: I love music and making music far too much to stop. Music is a big part of who I am and to quit would be to bury dead a huge part of myself.
SR: What is it for you Kristofer that you took away from this journey to “Rise?”
KD: I think that failure can be a good thing. It’s a great learning experience and forger of one’s resolve. But I think I realized some basic truths. You may hit a lull or a low point in your life, but you haven’t truly failed until you quit. If you don’t give up, it’s not over. And I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I certainly wasn’t going to allow any person, company or set of circumstances be the decider in my life. I get to decide what I want to do.
SR: Any advice or pearls of wisdom you’d care to pass on to others who may relate?
KD: If you truly love something or someone, if your passion is honest, never…ever give up. That doesn’t mean that you don’t take a step back, take some time off, get some perspective, regroup, change your approach or whatever. But never let anyone or anything in this life take away what makes you passionate and feel alive. Whether it’s music, your work, your family, your kids, your friends or your hobby, never let your passion be stolen away from you.
SR: Moving forward what is it you would like to put forth at this point? Not just musically, but as a person in day to day involvement?
KD: I am going to continue to live, create and sing honestly and passionately. I hope that my actions resonate with people through my music and that those I come into contact in my personal life sense that I live to love, inspire and encourage the very best parts of everyone.
SR: The determination was set, the pledge campaign put into motion. Whose idea was doing the pledge campaign?
KD: I know that Konstantine, Dommin’s keyboardist, had mentioned crowd-funding a couple of times along with a subscription model idea. We had also watched a few other bands do it. But it was really Frank McDonough, the manager of Joe Barresi who mixed our album, who really sold me on it during a phone conversation.
SR: Evidently it was received very well! How did you go about choosing the three songs you would cover?
KD: We only chose one of the three cover songs. We offered three cover songs as part of our pledge campaign. The pledger chose the first one, which was Save A Prayer by Duran Duran, the second one was given to us to choose and I left that choice to the band pretty much. Konstantine championed Cola by Lana Del Rey. The third cover was put up to our fans to vote for in a poll. The winner ended up being Love You To Death by Type O Negative. You can read much more about that here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/blog/dommin-pledgemusic-fan-covers
SR: There are some early influences you’ve embraced musically. Who are they, and what is it about them that still today bring you back to incorporating them into your sound?
KD: My influences range from AC/DC, KISS, Type O Negative, Danzig, Nirvana, Rammstein, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Metallica, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and Sinatra. I don’t think it’s a cognizant thing when I write songs or make music. It’s a lot like someone’s viewpoint being affected by how they were raised or where they were born. Those bands each represent different things I love about music and there is something about all those bands that may find their way into a single song. I think some influences may shine through more depending on the type of song it is or what it’s about.
SR: Your bio Kristofer states that you’re an, “Enigmatic front man,” are you? And how so? Is that to be taken as a front description of what you portray or are you by nature mysteriously puzzling? (I think they call that dark and moody)
KD: I think that may sort of depend on who you are or what the environment is. I’ve been told I’m mysterious. I’ve been told I’m intense. But I’ve also been told I’m a corny goofball. I’ve heard some say I’m quiet and others say I talk a lot. I find that I tend to balance the energy in the room. Put me in a room of introverts and my extroverted part shines. Put me in a room of extroverts and you won’t find me competing for the air in the room or shouting to make myself heard. It’s not anything I try to be or try not to be. I’m just me.
SR: Creativity by definition must not repeat itself, I noticed that you don’t enjoy that repetitiveness either. Can a band survive if they sound the same recording after recording?
KD: I think they can absolutely survive. And I think more often than not, especially if a band is financially successful, the goal is to repeat themselves. It takes some guts to risk losing or disappointing fans in order to stay true to your creative desires. I just recently read an article touting AC/DC’s success to their willingness to be consistent with their style. They know what they do well and they stick with it and fans know what they are gonna get. And I’d easily put a couple of their albums in my top 20 albums of all time. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they are being true to themselves. If I make 5 more Love Is Gone albums, there is nothing wrong with it if it’s what I want to do. It’s only if someone feels trapped by what they make. It’s a bit like building your own creative prison cell. So I think I’ll continue to switch things up. I admire artists like David Bowie for the courage to try new things. But I’m probably just exposing my stubbornness in resisting expectations and being branded one thing.
SR: You have toured with some pretty big names in the world of music, even the nomination for Best New Band and Best International Newcomer at the UK’s Metal Hammer Awards and Kerrang! Awards. Thinking back then, as to now. There must be a change in how you now perceive yourself, your music and what this is really all about. Do those ‘things’ of before matter as much now?
KD: No, not nearly as much. It’s always nice to be admired, appreciated and validated by your peers. But more and more you realize that a lot of it is motivated by corporate interests or politics. I always find it funny when there is some amazing show on TV that never gets recognized and then in their last season they win a series of awards. That should tell you something. Even the process of being nominated is a bit convoluted. So I just find myself not really paying much attention any more. I just focus on making songs regardless of their reach, outcome or reward.
SR: The quip, “Music Saves” is seen often here and there in print. Wouldn’t you agree that it is indeed therapy? Thinking that if we are going to espouse something… then we best live up to it, walk it and develop it or what is the point?
KD: I definitely think it’s a certain type of therapy. Sometimes it’s just a momentary escape or provides a sense of motivation and sometimes it just helps you to feel when you might otherwise feel numb or exhausted. In the last year, I have thought a lot about what I sing and espouse and finishing and putting out this album has been an exercise in practicing what I preach, so to speak. I think those that are paying attention will see that continue through the next year.
SR: How did the writing and developing of “Rise” become your drive to live up to what and who you really are Kristofer?
KD: It’s one thing to sing about not giving up or rising above your circumstances, because it makes for a good song. It’s another to live it and do it and be the person you’re portraying. So the very process of finding the strength to get back on my feet, believing in myself, untangling our legal issues, having patience to persist, creating the Pledge campaign, finishing the record, putting everything together, reconnecting with our supporters and finding the courage to put myself out there to the world’s acceptance, rejection or criticism is an illustration of what “Rise” has been all about.
SR: You’ve met the challenges and there may be more to come still. But each wave that we ride, prepares us for the next. Pull one line from one track off of “Rise” and enlighten me as to where it came from and what it meant to you.
KD: “Here I am and here I stand. This is the end of the quiet man” (taken from The Quiet Man). I think this is just emblematic of not relegating myself to my circumstances but saying “enough.” Here I am to do what I do and to stand up for what I believe in.
SR: There is always hope and a heart that is full of what it loves will always overcome. You woke up this morning Kristofer… that right there is a good start. Moving forward, “Rise” is released, video’s coming, how about a tour?
KD: You’re right! We’re working hard on finding tours that we can get on. Hopefully with our continued effort, the band will find the right opportunity. I’m ready for whatever the future holds.
Photojournalist Song River can be reached at: cowgirlzenphoto at g mail dot com