Ewigkeit is the long-running experimental solo project of James Fogarty (In The Woods…, Jaldaboath, Old Forest), aka Mr. Fog. Fogarty fills us in on the new Ewigkeit album DISClose, his other projects, running a record label and other topics.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for DISClose compared to previous Ewigkeit albums?
James Fogarty: DISClose is the first Ewigkeit album that I have recorded in a different tuning. Everything before was recorded tuned down two tones, but for this new album I decided that I wanted to record much lower. For this I bought a baritone guitar, which has a longer neck and allows you to keep perfect tuning but be much lower pitch. There were two reasons for this; after recording with In The Woods, I realized that my voice was far more suited to their lower tuning, and also I wanted to record something much heavier than I had done before. A baritone is halfway between a standard guitar and a bass guitar, so it sounds heavier than the transatlantic fleet.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Recording the same three songs four times, and thinking I was losing my hearing as the keyboards weren’t in tune! I had booked an appointment with a hearing specialist at the hospital and everything – then a guy at a guitar shop explained the issue to me (I basically needed a new guitar).
What’s the lyrical concept?
The lyrics are written after I spent about a year listening daily to interviews, radio shows, presentations and documentaries on UFOs, so there is a good coverage of all theories, myths and beliefs of that whole subject (Roswell, Alien intervention in the Atomic Age, the Holloman Airforce Base landing, interdimensional travel etc..). When I have a concept for a project or an album, I tend to totally immerse myself into it so I can fully understand what it is all about and see it as an insider (a bit like Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends). In 2005 I did an album about conspiracy theories (the album Conspiritus, released on Earache Records). Similar to conspiracy theories, this has been a real eye-opening and informative study of UFOs. I’m still listening to YouTube videos daily, and I finished the album six months ago!
How has your sound evolved from Cosmic Man?
Thematically, Cosmic Man was on consciousness/death/reality. Musically, it was very much inspired by equal parts of ’70s rock, NWOBHM and extreme metal. Of course, I recorded it in my own way, so those elements may not be 100 percent immediately obvious. One thing is for sure, Ewigkeit changes with each album I have done, but it always retains my “sound.” You may be surprised to know that I had started writing the material for DISClose before Cosmic Man was actually released. I have had a manic burst of energy of the last 2-3 years that shows no signs of stopping (I already am planning another four release for various projects).
What musical itch does Ewigkeit scratch that your other bands don’t?
Being able to write and record a song in an afternoon. Once the creative juices start to flow, I can stay awake until the early morning hours until I start to fall asleep in front of the computer. When I am working with other people (like with In The Woods for example), it is less intense as I am sharing responsibility for creating a final product. So I guess that Ewigkeit allows me to be creative for as long as I need to be to get whatever it is that drives me out of my system. It’s a form of therapy.
What led you to form your own label, Death To Music Productions, several years back?
I actually started releasing music with Death To Music Productions in 2007. The reason for this is that I was absolutely sick of working with labels who couldn’t really understand what it was that I was doing, and were only interested in the bottom line($$$). With DTM, I can write, record and release music without giving a shit about any commercial considerations. Jaldaboath, for example (my medieval-themed parody of parody metal project) – who the fuck would release that? I released the debut album, and it was then actually re-issued by Napalm Records. But nobody would have taken a chance on something so bizarre.
How active is the label these days as far as signing new artists?
We will be releasing albums by two bands in the coming year: Mental Desaster (Norway), which is a brutal but fun death metal band featuring Bernt Sorensen (my band-mate of In The Woods) and also Desolate Fields (Netherlands) who are a progressive dark metal band (the guitarist was playing live bass for In The Woods). I’m basically interested in helping friends get their music heard – there is no commercial ambition for what I do with Death To Music. If people like the release, then that’s a bonus.
How is the shift away from buying music (CDs/MP3s) to renting it (Spotify, Apple Music) affecting labels and artists?
Nobody buys CDs anymore. But I can’t complain, because I haven’t bought one since 2003. Streaming services are pretty much the only way to go. You can do vinyl these days too, but it’s an impractical and very expensive format, and I’m not really up for getting involved in that.
Do metal fans tend to buy more physical product than fans of other genres?
I’m not sure. Vinyl has been very trendy for the last 10 years, but I think that is a general trend – a reaction against the digitization of music. Vinyl is massive with dance music fans, jazz fans, reggae fans, indie fans. Personally, I listen to music on my phone. The only time I buy products is when I occasionally buy a band t-shirt or something.
Were you satisfied with the response to last year’s In The Woods… album Cease The Day?
Oh yes, very much so. Cease the Day was written at the same time as DISClose, but I had to wait for the In The Woods album to be released first, so DISClose was actually sitting around waiting to be released for six months. A bit frustrating in a way, but the priority had to be given to In The Woods because there is money and commercial considerations involved (though not a great deal).
Will there be another Jaldaboath album?
Honestly, I don’t know. I have a full album of songs, but I pretty much lost interest in it. It was always supposed to be a parody of these bands who think they are being funny, and it unfortunately started to become one of those bands. I think it will take some time before I have an interest in that project again, because I have so much else that I want to do. And, honestly, I’d rather not be primarily known for doing that stuff.
Are you currently involved in any other bands/projects?
Many. (laughs) I have my cult black metal band Old Forest with Anders (from In The Woods). There is a new album completed and awaiting release right now. There is a really low-fi raw fantasy-gaming themed black metal band called Orcrypt which we are recording new songs for. There is The Bombs of Enduring Freedom which is a mix of electronic music, drum & bass and metal (which I will be working on new material for soon). There is an occasional electronic music project called Con.Dev.Ex (I just recently did an old skool breakbeat hardcore track – a’la early Prodigy). There will be live shows for In The Woods during 2019 and probably the start of writing a new album. There is also some other stuff I want to do (some acoustic music, some ambient experimental music, some film score projects). There basically is not enough time in the day to get it all done. One thing is for sure, I’m not content working full-time in an office…
What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
In terms of hobbies, I like doing a bit of graphic art, sometimes paintings. I have a keen interest in cutting edge science, philosophy and generally anything strange. I gave up reading books, as it’s so less time consuming to listen to and watch stuff on YouTube. Other than that I am really into high quality films and sci-fi. Oh, and drinking beer and spending time with good people.
With your bands being of such varied genres, what styles of music do you listen to most for pleasure?
I go through intense periods of finding a new band/artist and totally absorbing myself in their work. Over the last few years that has been Katatonia and Boards of Canada. I think my all-time favorites though are The Doors, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, ’70s rock, ’80s metal, and a large dose of early ’90s extreme metal.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
If I haven’t bored you enough already, make sure to check out DISCLose on YouTube and then come and introduce yourself on Facebook (it’s that place where everyone over the age of 30 lives).
(interview published February 28, 2019)
Watch Ewigkeit – “Guardians Of The High Frontier”