Who of us all wouldn’t be amazed by a brand new band which plays old-school style gothic electro while evoking both classical darkness and mysticism? With no evil permeating the soul, but with an authentic taste of medievalism, Dispel from Cleveland have recently released the first taste of their debut album with “Modal Consequence”—the first single off their forthcoming debut album Lore. Everything here speaks perfection and commitment, so I spoke with Scott Doland to answer all my queries on this great new record!
Mike D – Hello Scott, tell us please who are you and from which era of the Middle Ages your music comes from?
Scott Doland – Hey, so just a hardworking Drummer & Producer in Cleveland who’s been spending the last few years re-learning piano chords and writing this album. The underground scene here is declining, so my goal was to add a few sparks to the scene and finally complete this vision I’ve had for an album with Medieval theatrics and imagery. As for the era of the Middle ages, I’m a big fan of the SCA, which aims to study and recreate Medieval European cultures before the 17th century. In particular, I’m drawn to the earlier 1000AD-1200AD styles of armor and weaponry. Yes, I’m a history nerd.
MD – You are the founding member of the band, but you were also the drummer of the 90s hardcore punk band Face Value. Through that noisy sonic thrust, I would like to ask what has occurred since then and what led you to the Medieval narration and to the gothic embrace?
SD – Great questions, after touring for 7 years in the underground punk scene, it was an amazing experience, but unfortunately I couldn’t even cover the cost of my rent. So I knew I needed to find a way to play the music that was sustainable, but I would need to educate myself properly to do that. So over a few years, I studied Music at Cleveland State University and completed a recording studio internship at Lava room recording studios. To make ends meet, I, fortunately, got a bartending job at Cleveland’s only Goth bar in the ’90s, so that exposed me to the Goth and Industrial underground, which we briefly experienced while touring Germany with Face Value. That culture resonated with me immediately. I can still remember hearing The Sisters of Mercy for the first time in Berlin, little did I know how strong of an impression it truly made on me.
MD – Dispel’s debut track (the single ‘Modal Consequence’) is a stunning offering of dark art in all that blends witch house with gothic electro, and is accompanied by a gorgeous official video. Tell us all about it, please, tell us about the myth of the song and its purpose!
SD – Thank you. The basis behind the album ‘Lore’ is the Hero’s Journey, a term which was made mainstream by author and lecturer Joseph Campbell in his book and series ‘The power of myth.’ The song and Video represent ‘The Threshold’ stage of the hero’s/heroine’s journey, that moment when you decide to finally take that first step into the unknown, to challenge yourself, to seek the knowledge you are lacking. In the video, our singer Ravensea presents ‘The sword of knowledge’ to our knight McKenzie at the end of the video. In life, you have to strive for something, and you can surely expect to meet challenges and obstacles. But you must have the courage and determination to the perceiver.
MD – Is Dispel’s destiny to produce similar ‘chants’? What should we expect in your first album ‘Lore’?
SD – Yes, you are spot on. Creating ‘Lore’ was honestly a journey in itself. When the ideas started coming to me, I didn’t have the skill set musically or the supporting musicians I needed. And I literally took me a few years to get all that situated. So while playing drums on tour for Textbeak, the vision and imagery really started to come together, I decided it would be a conceptual album with the songs telling the different stages of the ‘Hero’s Journey’. You mentioned ‘Chants’ and indeed there are two tracks on ‘Lore’ influenced by the Sacred choral polyphony style, specifically inspired by Girolamo Savonarola’s ‘Inflex ego’ before he was burned at the stake. As for expectations, we wanted to give the ‘Hero’s Journey’ a much-needed soundtrack and through it, we hope to inspire others to take their own Heros’/Heroine’s journey.
MD – And on December 16, you also unveiled the official video of ‘Temptation’…
SD – This is the 7th song on the ‘Lore’ Album and represents the ‘Last Trial’ stage of the Hero’s Journey. The video features a return of our Crusading Knight ‘Levie.’ He has quested and gained the ‘Sword of Knowledge’ in the ‘Modal Consequence’ Music Video and he must now be tested, to prove worthy of this new power and strength. Is he a true Hero? Or will his newfound power corrupt and tempt him to become a tyrant? Too many leaders throughout history have succumbed to the temptation to abuse their power, often to the detriment of their subjects. In fact, the 20th century was rife with despots. However, collectively we continue to endure and strive for far better…
MD – I read in the press release that Dispel worked with two significant figures from the scene, Mike Textbeak who has worked with an impressive line-up including legendary producer John Fryer, Mark Stewart, Bestial Mouths, Searmanas, etc. The album was mastered at The Cage Studios (Coventry, UK) by Attrition’s Martin Bowes and that is another important cachet. How was that experience? How has it been working with these two well-regarded music-men?
SD – It was such an honor in both cases. Textbeak and I go way back, he’s the real deal. I’ve never met anyone with a knowledge of underground music like his. He has an ear that’s literally dialed into the creative ether of the Universe and having him in the studio, as producer; was an amazing experience. Martin Bowes is a legend, so when he agreed to do the Mastering I literally couldn’t believe my good fortune. Even beyond that, working with him was effortless, because he’s so Pro. Things went so well, in fact I was given the honor of doing a remix for his new single ‘The Great Derailer.’
MD – Who is Ravensea? Who is that glorious front-and-center mezzo-soprano who offered these great vocals in ‘Modal Consequence’?
SD – I know right?! She is unbelievable. Oddly enough, we met at a drum circle in a Cathedral. I mentioned I needed some vocals and we started songwriting almost immediately. In our 1st studio session, we co-wrote lyrics and cut vocal tracks without missing a beat. It’s been that way on every track since. I later find out she has a double major from Berklee School of Music in vocal performance and she’s an accomplished Clinical Music Therapist! Then it all made sense why things ran so smoothly in the studio. We really enjoy working together on music and the imagery for the band, we gel very well creatively…
MD – Who is Sean Gallows, and what did he bring in Dispel?
SD – Sean is awesome. He is actually a Hexx9 records recording artist. He brought that Coldwave/Batcave darker tonality we were looking for, to contrast Ravensea’s vocal style. We really wanted to make sure we had that Darkwave vocal element on the album. In a greater theatrical sense, he represents the voice of the Hero, who’s on the journey the songs on the album ‘Lore’ represent.
MD – What is has inspired the band? What is really inspiring you in making that kind of music, and what is the inspiration for your lyrics? What is the soul of the band?
SD – Creating and performing music is 1#. It’s hard to describe but all of us in the band agree, when we’re creating and performing music, it’s like soul food. The themes and imagery behind Dispel is definitely the love of Medieval Fantasy and Gothic lore and culture. Somehow that age has this mystical energy about it, it’s inspiring to think about. We want to promote the enduring drive to achieve, that hero/heroine inside, that has been lost in today’s grind. Is escapism the only path for the heroic spirit? Our lyrics and songs praise the archetype of the Hero’s Journey. To hopefully help others to reconnect to their hero within, and to then embark on their journey.
MD – Can you give us a few details about the video of ‘Modal Consequence’? Where was it filmed? What lies behind the scenario? Also, are we expecting from you another similar video?
SD – We filmed at a few different locations with our Director and editor Rafeeq Roberts, he’s brilliant. We really aimed to shoot at the hidden, less-traveled gems in the area. We shot the vocal scenes at the Italian and Greek Cultural gardens of Cleveland and the Knight scenes at the Virginia Kendal Ledges and Overlook, a great hike and must-see if you’re in the area, it’s like going back in time. The scenario is about the eternal hero, that Questing Knight who must go through unknown trials and challenges, who is helped along the way by mysterious and unexpected helpers, as he seeks the Sword of Knowledge.
MD – What other new bands or artists are you currently fond of?
SD – I’m a metalhead at heart. I believe Black Sabbath is arguably the most influential band of the 20th century. Also, a fan of goth & dark electro bands that have good hooks, The Sisters of Mercy, Blutengel, and She Passed Away has definitely nailed it. VNV Nation has that great lush keyboard sound. The Birthday Massacre has great vocals. I have an addiction to heavy riff guitar bands Like Austin’s The Sword and power metal like Spain’s Dark Moor. Type-0 Negative was a big influence and even horror punk and psychobilly bands, like The Misfits, The Cramps and San Diego’s Deadbolt. I’m a fan of witch house artist Plvgues outta Milwaukee too. If it’s dark or medieval in some way, I’ll probably resonate with it.
MD –Are you going to make live shows to promote the album ‘Lore’? Will you put on stage what we see in ‘Modal Consequence’?
SD – So next we’ll release our second single ‘Temptation’. We’ll be working with the same cast and crew for that video as well. The full album ‘Lore’ will be released on January 10th, 2020. We’re taking pre-orders now through our website https://www.dispelmusic.com/Album/ The live show will be theatrical, and we’re currently working on the production for that. Our goal is to tour in the Fall of 2020, with our hearts and minds set on Europe.
MD – Thank you very much, Scott, last words on you!
SD – I want to thank you and your readers for taking the time to support underground music. It’s through avenues like this that our voices are heard and likeminded people can share art. Thank you so much for your time, ‘Attack your Destiny.’