|Vicky Johnson - Winter In Eden - Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Thursday, 17 May 2012 05:00|
Hailing from the North East of England, symphonic metallers Winter In Eden have just released their second full-length album, 'Echoes Of Betrayal'. To mark the release, I caught up with vocalist Vicky Johnson to discuss said release, lyrical influences and what have you...
Winter In Eden's line up is completed by Samuel Cull (guitar), Ian Heddle (bass), Steve Johnson (keyboards) and new drummer Steve Hauxwell, who replaced Wayne McAloon after the recording sessions for the album were complete.
Thanks Vicky for taking the time to talk to Uber Rock.
No problem! My pleasure.
First of all, can you introduce us to the band, and give us a wee bit of background on the Winter In Eden story to date?
We formed around the end of 2008, out of the ashes of a former band that all of us were involved with at the time. Before we did any gigs, we went to the studio (at the beginning of 2009), to record our first EP, 'At The Edge Of The World'. We then started to gig as much as we could to find our feet and build up our repertoire, before, the following year recording our debut full-length album ('Awakening' - released in 2010). Since then, we have performed at a number of festivals, supported some top European acts and have now just finished recording our second album, 'Echoes Of Betrayal'.
What is the significance of the band's name?
It is something that reflects the idea of contrasts, such as the masculine and feminine in the band and the light and dark elements in the music.
How would you describe your sound?
Overall, we are a rock band but beyond this it is very difficult to pigeonhole us. I guess all I can say is that we sound like 'Winter In Eden'!
Tell us a little bit about your lyrical influences...
Well, I'm basically influenced by life. It could be something I have experienced or something I have watched others experience. I often try to put myself in other people's shoes generally anyway, because one of the things I strongly believe in is that you treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Some of my other lyrics describe a fantasyland rather than real life, as sometimes you just need to escape..."
In line with the album title, there seems to be a theme of betrayal running through the album, especially on the likes of 'Stone Cold'...
Yes, however, I think, if you analyse most of the lyrics there is a theme of betrayal. I wanted the album title to reflect the different types of betrayal that feature in the lyrics of each track. There are lyrics about being betrayed, betraying others; how people react to it, how others are affected by it and just generally, the ripples that can be created by betrayal as well. Also there are "echoes", as the title of some tracks does not appear in the lyrics of that track, but may feature in others... this is to reflect the ripples. 'Stone Cold' is about the mythological story of Medusa; well, at least one of the versions.
A lot of your lyrics appear very melancholic: would that be a fair assessment?
I guess so! I suppose it's easier for me to write them that way and it fits with the music. If they were joyful, it probably wouldn't sit right with the feel of the tracks.
What is the story behind 'The Awakening', the next three chapters of which unfold on 'Echoes Of Betrayal'?
'The Awakening' is basically about a woman that has been abused. In Chapter 1, initially, you feel that she is, at that moment, being abused emotionally but you realize, as the track progresses, that she was abused in the past and is still living with the scars of that. The second half of the chapter shows how she copes with this; namely by escaping to a daydream. I wanted to create the feeling that the woman was being almost hugged by her daydream, if that makes sense; the imagery making life a little more bearable?
Chapter 2 describes the start of a new relationship and the initial difficulty she experiences, as she has had a troubled past, and on the other hand has really strong feelings that she can't ignore now. The end of Chapter 2 is then hopeful that she will have found true love and peace in her life.
Chapter 3 is a bit of a jump ahead. Something has happened but it is not clear what. And I like to keep that open. Essentially, she has done something to her new love, which she deeply regrets.... The problem is, she wants to put it right but can't; her hands are tied, and she has no way of contacting him.
Chapter 4 is the realisation that she was abused but has now become the abuser. It completely consumes her every thought and she cannot live with the guilt. She commits suicide. Whilst Chapter 5 is a short instrumental, which hopefully gives a feeling of sadness that the woman has died but hope that she is finally at peace. It is called "Descension" as effectively, it is not clear if she is going to heaven or hell. ...... Yes, going back to your last point, you could say my lyrics are melancholic!
Tell us a bit about the artwork: it's very striking, with its contrast of fire and ice... how important is it for the artwork to reflect the music?
Very important!! We gave the artist a brief including the idea of the band, the old album, the lyrics and the name of the album... And we asked him to come up with something that reflected the ideas. We really wanted to make people think as well. Like the lyrics, people can interpret things in different ways and I like that. I want people to revisit the lyrics and see something that they didn't on the first occasion.... The artwork had to be the same.
What was it like working with (former Tygers Of Pan Tang guitarist and now highly respected producer) Fred Purser and what did he bring to the recording process?
Working with Fred (or should I say Frank!) was an absolute joy. He is such a lovely down to earth guy and has the same outlook we do. He has a great way of making you feel comfortable and at home, which obviously helped us perform at our best. We had a great laugh really....., and that's where Frank comes in! He kept calling me Jackie, as he knew someone called Jackie and thought I looked like her? After apologising, he said I should call him Frank to even it up. So, any problems recording the album, they were caused by Jackie and Frank! Seriously though, Fred really listened to what we wanted and came up with suggestions to help us achieve this, so it was a really positive time!
You've had a change in line up since the album was recorded, with former Marshall Law drummer Steve Hauxwell replacing Wayne McAloon. Can you share the story behind this move?
Yes. Sadly, Wayne has cystic fibrosis. It is amazing, actually, that he has managed to drum with us for as long as he has; but, he has never let his illness put any obstacles in his way and should be admired for that. His illness is now such however, that although he finished the second album, he is simply not well enough to tour with us. As we had gigs planned, we needed to move quickly and are overjoyed to find such a talented and committed drummer in Steve. He really has given 100 per cent to getting up to speed and helping the band move forward.
As a female fronting a heavy band, you're obviously very much the focus of attention: what other front-women do you admire and do they in any way influence you, both as a singer and as a performer?
I really admire Marie Fredriksson from Roxette. I grew up listening to her voice and always wanted to be able to sing like her. I wouldn't say she has affected how I sing or perform, but she certainly inspired me to want to be in the music industry.
For those who haven't seen the band live, what is a Winter In Eden stage show like?
We just get out there and give it 100 per cent. I can't really say any more than that. I guess, only the audience can tell you what it's like!
Thanks for your time and good luck with the album...
Thanks very much!
To find out more about Winter In Eden log on to their official website: http://www.winterineden.com/
A clip for 'The Awakening Chapter III - Torment' can be viewed at www.winterineden.com/media.php
The band promotes the album's release with shows in 19th May - Bristol, Sea Mills Community Centre (with Crimson Sky), 20th May - Grimsby, Yardbirds (with Sarah Jezebel Deva), 28th July - Leeds, Chebfest@Empire, 27th October - Whitby, Bram Stoker Vampire Ball, 28th October - Birmingham, The Roadhouse
Profile pics courtesy of Steven Christie Photography