Let's begin by you explaining Autumn Tears and what it means to you.
ERIKA: Autumn Tears is the realization of a long -standing dream of both Ted's and mine to create music that illustrates what we feel inside our hearts. The concept that flows through Acts I through III was created from an allegorical story Ted wrote that was inspired by events in his life. The music is a direct reflection of our emotions, therefore it is very personal to us. The band is a great benchmark to what can be accomplished when you feel very strongly about something and need to express it.
You are preparing to release "Act III: Winter and the Broken Angel." What can we expect from this release, and what makes this different than the previous works?
ERIKA: "Winter and the Broken Angel" is a showcase for our vast improvements both musically and vocally since Act II. The musical structure of the songs is much more highly developed, with the music hearkening more towards symphonic classical compositions and soundtrack work, rather than repetitive themes. Vocally, both Jen and I challenged ourselves to create the most complex work we've done to date. There are more harmonies on this CD than the others. We're all very proud of how it's turning out. We hope others will feel the same!
Your previous MCD, Absolution, was incredibly short, just over 12 minutes. Explain the reasoning behind this? Don't you think that's a bit short for even a MCD?
ERIKA: No, I don't think it's that short. I own my share of short MCD's. We've heard nothing negative about the length. In this day when there are CDs marketed as full lengths that barely break 30 minutes, 'Absolution' doesn't seem too short to us. Anyway, to lengthen it would have been to add filler. We had those songs completed at the time and wanted to get a release out so that people would know we were still around! The time was right to release the material. It's a quality over quantity issue.
Autumn Tears is composed of three members, yourself, Ted and Jennifer. Enlighten us on the personality of your two band mates and your perceptions of them please.
ERIKA: Ted's a great friend - I've known him for 11 years and his personality is as bizarre as mine. Jen is super - she fits right in. We all get along because we have similar outlooks on life. We want to be our own people, not who society wants us to be. That's a bond between us.
I understand that the lyrics of the new release shall carry on the ongoing concept story of the previous. Could you summarize this story for us? I also have read that the upcoming CD shall end the story...
TED: The story actually reflects parallels of my own personal life. The tale of the Dark Goddess Autumn and her desire to escape all the torment and hatred she has endured comes to a close with Act 3. The story itself is written in a very ambiguous manner and rather than summarize I prefer each individual get from it what they may as each interpretation will be different.
Tell us about your proposed collaboration with Peter and Ida from Arcana, I understand you plan to form a project with them under the name "Pandora?" It sounds like this could have great possibilities...
TED: At this point that project is on hold until after the completion of act 3, but we do plan on working with Peter for this new Project hopefully later this year. No further details are available at this point.
Have you ever played live? Does this lie in the future? Can your sound be faithfully reproduced live?
ERIKA: Well … we almost played live, at the coming Milwaukee Metalfest. It would have been our first show. Jen and I were completely for it, but Ted, being the music guy, had misgivings about how to reproduce the music faithfully in a live setting. We have songs with upwards of 15-20 tracks of music. Between the three of us we only have three keyboards and six hands, and Ted and Jen are much more accomplished pianists than I'll ever be. We would have ended up playing the music off a CD and singing to it - fucking karaoke. I don't think so. It's better we remain in the good company of bands like Bathory, who had successful careers without live shows.
To the philosophical point of our interview... What do you find worthwhile, inspiring perhaps, in this world. And in contrast, the most negative aspects?
ERIKA: Creating something lasting and beautiful, which touches people -- that's worth more than any paycheck derived from day-to-day grunt work. And the creation doesn't necessarily have to be a song or music - it could be art, or a story or poem. To know that something you've done that's come from your heart has touched another person the same way that thing touched you as you were making it - that's sublime. Not a lot of people can say they've brought joy to someone halfway across the world through their music.
On the negative aspect, I'm continuously amazed by the new lows people around me are capable of sinking to each day. I have a regular day job in a place which is supposed to be dedicated to philanthropical interests - the people who work there are, by and large, some of the most selfish, petty, thieving individuals I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. Watching these losers stab each other in the back in secret and then smile and kiss ass in the hallways is ultimately disgusting. They're all so weak and cowardly. Mankind's immaturity depresses me.
The laments of humankind are many. Life is suffering, if it were not, it would be dull and not worthwhile. What elements of life to you make life worth living? Do you believe that the things worth living for are also worth dying for?
ERIKA: Conquering obstacles to reach a goal is infinitely satisfying to me. And this world seems expressly designed to create obstacles to defy us in reaching our dreams. Standing up for what you believe in - being brave enough to look the ignorance of the masses in the face and say, "I know I'm doing the right thing," is a very important quality I try to cultivate in my life. Strength. Honor. Good friends are essential - and so is your loyalty to them. An honorable friend is worth everything - there are a few people in my life I would defend to the death, were it necessary.
How do perceive death? Do you fathom oblivion or does some part live on?
ERIKA: Death is life's last great adventure. I don't fear death at all. I don't think we end when we die. We become something else - what, I don't try to presume, but it has to fit our inner beings better than these fleshly mortal bodies we've been given. I think it's arrogant to try to understand the incomprehensible. I'll just live my life and look forward to whatever surprise awaits me in death.
Sooner than later, our time here on earth shall expire, envision what your last words might be if your day came tomorrow. What might they be?
ERIKA: "I tried my best to be worthy of the people who loved me." Or maybe - "Dammit, Ted, I TOLD you not to push that red button!"
If you could go back in time, to any age of your choosing, for one day, where and when would you go? And what would you do for that brief visit?
ERIKA: I would travel back to the time of the dinosaurs, just to find out how right or wrong we all are in our studies and assumptions about fossils. I love the past and the mysteries it contains. I suppose I would spend my day gawking and trying not to get eaten, so that I might be able to return and report what I saw!
Hypothetically, if you could know the answer to any one question, what would the question be?
ERIKA: Will Act III ever be finished?
Your thoughts on the world and its future? Do you foresee things getting better before worse? What is in store for the future of mankind?
ERIKA: I'd love to say that we're all eventually going to go extinct, but unless we manage to suddenly blow up the entire planet on accident, with no forewarning, man is going to stick around for a long time. We'll continue with our wars and our bickering, we'll develop just as many new diseases as cures, and we'll moan "Why is this happening?" because we're all too damn preoccupied with money, commercialism, and power to really sit down and think about it. Most people are so incredibly self-absorbed they can't see the forest for the trees. They see their own little microcosm of a world and never look beyond it, because that would take strength and courage. I have my doubts as to whether society will ever wake up and realize that money is NOT the be all and end all in this world. There will never be a utopian society like some writers like to idealize, I'll assure you of that.
And back to the band... if you had to change the name of Autumn Tears within the next minute or so, what would be its new calling?
ERIKA: "Extreme Gratitude" - because the fans haven't given up on us even though it's been nearly 4 years between full-length CDs!
The last words are yours...
ERIKA: Thanks for the interview! Look for Act III this summer (I absolutely PROMISE!). You won't be disappointed! Good things come to those who wait in silence…
Autumn Tears Website