Portuguese metal bands aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, nor does the Mediterranean country’s fertile local scene receives much international attention compared to its Scandinavian counterparts. Painted Black are out to change this fact with their impressive debut, Cold Comfort. Partaking from the same inspirational well waters as Swallow the Sun and My Dying Bride, the Lisbon sextet elicit a genuine emotional response from their dire dirges of rock-influenced doom, while possessing enough of a softer melodic side to lend the songwriting a strong sense of dynamic. MAA got in touch with the band’s guitarist Luis to find out more about Painted Black. \m/G.
Hey guys! Thanks for talking to us. I LOVED Cold Comfort, and was actually quite surprised by how mature sounding this record is for a debut! How would you describe the creative process as far as length, pre-production and arrangements went?
Hi George! Well, after we recorded our second demo “Verbo” in 2007, we spent from 2 to 3 years writing and pre-producing what would become Cold Comfort. I did homemade demos for all the songs and Daniel wrote the lyrics before we hit the rehearsal room with the rest of the band. We spent some months playing the songs with the click track, just to get prepared for the studio and we did a few extra-arrangements for the songs during that time. As you can see, a lot of work was done even before we got to UltraSound Studios, where the producers, Daniel Cardoso and Pedro Mendes, also helped us shaping what would become the final product.
For those who don’t know Painted Black, would you actually mind giving us some background information as to how you formed, and what were the goals with your early demos as far as musical inspiration and direction?
I wouldn’t mind at all. I formed the band with Daniel (vocals) in 2001, but we only released our first demo “The Neverlight” in 2005, just after we found a stable line up and (finally!) got our own rehearsal space. All of us are from a very small Portuguese town, away from all the big cities, so the early years were quite rough for us. As every band, we recorded our demos to showcase our music to people and hopefully start some hype around us in the underground scene. As for our musical inspiration, we use our music to purge all our feelings, so in a way, it’s a very intimate and personal thing. Everything that affects our lives ends up fueling our music, even movies, books and of course human relationships. Usually we say that our songs are our “emotional storms” and that’s not that far from the truth at all.
My Dying Bride and Swallow the Sun serve as some reference points to your sound, but there’s also a quieter, more melancholic side to Painted Black which reminds me of Depeche Mode at times. What elements do you feel go into the Painted Black sound; do you all come from different backgrounds in terms of the diverse influences you bring to the table?
Well, all of us in the band listen to different stuff, but we also share some similar tastes in music as well. But I guess, since I’m the main songwriter I end up influencing the music we make more than the other guys. And yes, we have those references but we also like atmospheric and more acoustic music such as Sigur Ros, Antimatter , Ashram, even some movie scores and some classical music. All the music we hear ends up influencing us in some way!
How do those influences permeate and affect the songwriting, do you think? Is there a general way by which Painted Black songs come together, and how challenging was the songwriting process of Cold Comfort?
My main goal is to always be honest with the music I make. My music must always come from the heart and I must believe in what I’m doing. The songs and the lyrics come from emotions and we have no rules while writing songs. We don’t like to have constraints and we like to experiment with music. More than just metal fans, we are music lovers. Like I said before, I record some demo songs at home and then Daniel writes the lyrics and sometimes we also work together on the vocal melodies. After that process is done we show the songs to the other guys and if they like them we begin to rehearse all together as a full band, working on all the arrangements. For Cold Comfort we did about 17 to 18 demo songs in about 2 and half years, and we picked eight for the album. After all choices were done it was a long year rehearsing those songs and working on all the small details!
What steps do you feel the band made from the demos on through the full length, and what sort of direction do you see the band going in these days with new material?
I feel we took a huge step from the demos with Cold Comfort. Back in the day it was common to people associate us with the Doom Metal genre but I think that with the album we revealed that we were much more than just Doom. We have expanded our sound and we don’t like to make the same kind of song over and over again. We like to diversify and I think the album is a faithful representation of our creative state at that time. We are still a long way from doing a second album, but the new songs are a little different from what we have done so far. We don’t have many releases; only 3 if you count our demos, but we’ve been making music for 10 years now. I think it’s normal for us to try new things and experiment with our sound. The new songs are more atmospheric, we’re using more keyboards, but we still maintain our “metal heaviness” in there, but maybe not in the same way… ahah, it’s really too soon to tell!
When most fans think of Portuguese metal, Moonspell inevitably comes to mind, which isn’t really fair, given the wealth of bands Portugal has to offer, from We Are the Damned to Icon and the Black Roses. Then again, the groundwork laid by them for that early scene should also be remembered, at the time same….how do you feel about the Portuguese scene, and how it’s responded to Painted Black? Has it been positive, and do you get to play out live often?
Yes, Moonspell is the biggest Portuguese metal band and we like them a lot and respect them for everything they’ve accomplished. You’re also right about the Portuguese scene. There are a lot of great Portuguese bands like Before The Rain, Crushing Sun, Kandia, Oblique Rain, just to name a few. We have talented people in all metal and rock genres! Regarding to the response to our music I can say it has been very positive so far. The readers of LOUD! , the only Portuguese magazine focused in metal and rock, have elected Cold Comfort as the Best Portuguese Metal Album in 2010 (the album was released in May on that same year) so we couldn’t be more happy. We started doing more gigs thanks to the positive feedback we’ve been having and we did some shows in some Portuguese metal festivals which went really good but of course there’s still a lot of people who have never heard about us so we’re always thankful to people like you who help us spread the word!