Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interview with Dharok of Sympathy (11/11/08)

Alex: First off, if you could introduce yourselves (or self), and tell us your significance in the Christian metal scene. (or metal scene in general)

Dharok: My name is Derek, I started Sympathy back a long time ago, and have been doing it on and off for quite a few years.

Alex: You guys just released your new CD "Anagogic Tyranny". There seems to have been nothing but good feedback on the quality of the music. How do you guys feel about the release overall? Any changes you wish you made?

Dharok: Well, I think that I am pretty satisfied, but mistakes and compromises were made since we were not working with huge budgets and we had a lot of limitations put on the project. I am very happy with what Jeff and Jim both brought to the album, but I still hear my own screw-ups when I listen.

Alex: The lyrical content of this album has been discussed, and many are finding it quite controversial. Some have made up their own ideas, of what to get out of it. When writing them, what were your intentions lyrically?

Dharok: Well, I am not going to talk about my lyrical intentions because they shouldn't matter. What matters for the art is what the listener finds in the lyrics: that's where the "art" in lyrics lay. Lyrics are a mirror of the listener's soul: they reflect back to you what you want them to mean. I will say that the lyrics are based upon a series of character studies and have nothing directly to do with Christianity. I use a lot of religious imagery because that is the metaphorical language of our culture, but that's as deep as any religious meaning goes for this album. Arcane Path and Invocation had a lot of religious content, but I wanted to do something different this time around. If people find the lyrics controversial, it only tells me that they are looking for controversy.

Alex: Now that Sympathy has a lineup, does this make things a lot easier?

Dharok: Yes and no. It does make it much easier for me since I don't have to struggle to play leads or worry about coming up with drum beats any more; but on the other hand, it is hard for all of us to work together since we live hundreds of miles apart from each other.

Alex: Do you think fans liked it better with just one man, or with the three of you?

Dharok: I am not sure. I know that Jim and Jeff both added a lot to this album. And what they added sounds a lot better than what I could have done on my own. And the addition of an actual drummer makes a huge difference. We'll see what the people who are familiar with the other albums think.

Alex: How long have you been playing instruments?

Dharok: I have been playing guitar for about 15 years, but before that I did take a lot of piano lessons.

Alex: What would you consider your main instruments?

Dharok: I actually consider piano my main instrument, although I haven't played or practiced seriously for years. I know that I am most proficient as a keyboard/piano player, and with a little time invested, the skills would come back to me quickly.

Alex: Do you think Sympathy has made its mark in the metal scene?

Dharok: Not really. You really can't make a mark without touring full time and making a career out of it.

Alex: What are some things you enjoy doing outside of playing music?

Dharok: Because of what I do, I have to read a lot. Apart from that, I spend a lot of time weightlifting at my local gym.

Alex: Does touring for Sympathy look like a possibility in the future?

Dharok: Not likely, but I would not be opposed to it. The financial costs are huge for doing even a small tour.

Alex: If Sympathy were to set up a tour, with 5 bands, Christian or secular, together or broken up, who would they be?

Dharok: I would say Suffocation, Carcass, Bloodbath, Dio, and Into Eternity

Alex: Best metal artist? Christian and secular

Dharok: Suffocation

Alex: What would you consider the best metal album? Christian and secular

Dharok: Suffocation – Pierced from Within

Alex: Best song?

Dharok: Suffocation – The Invoking

Alex: What has been the best experience you have had with Sympathy?

Dharok: Probably getting the very first contract in the mail from Fear Dark. It was a very affirming moment.

Alex: The worst?

Dharok: Really haven't been any bad times. If times were bad, I wouldn't do this.

Alex: As a Christian, what are your views on cussing?

Dharok: I really don't have anything as serious as a "view". I just think it's obnoxious, like it would be if someone were yelling all the time. Why would anyone do that? It would make you sound and look like a fool. I think that cussing it pretty much in that same category.

Alex: Being one of the few "Christian" bands from Canada, how would you say the metal scene is over there?

Dharok: There is almost no metal scene . . . let alone a Christian scene. BTW, I am not sure that I would want to be a part of a Christian scene anyway.

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