Seven Spires Interview

Frontiers Music

The Boston symphonic metal band Seven Spires‘ latest album is A Fortress Called Home. We caught up with vocalist Adrienne Cowan, who fills us in on the new album, touring, some of her non-musical interests and other topics.

Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for A Fortress Called Home compared to your first three albums?
Adrienne Cowan: Not exactly. I mean we are all a bit older, a bit more weathered, a bit wiser than the last time, so that was new when we started the writing process. I guess maybe after a few years of working with Sascha Paeth, I stopped agonizing so much over whether ideas were good enough or not. I learned to just run with ideas and trust that they were already great, and brought that home to Spires. In that regard I guess the initial writing process might have become a bit more streamlined.

Did you write or record any songs that didn’t appear on the record?
We didn’t record anything final that didn’t appear on the record. We are always writing stuff though, maybe there was something that didn’t make it onto A Fortress Called Home that will appear later. I can’t even remember at this point. (laughs) AFCH feels so strong and complete in its identity now.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The vocal recording portion of this production was two weeks of emotional rollercoasters. Some important things went to shit in my personal life within the first couple of days. I was already deep in a depressive dark and was forcing myself to eat through constant stress-induced nausea. I felt like my organs were rotting inside of me and sloshing out of my ribcage, and the grief of everything was so firmly lodged in my throat; I think you can even hear it in some of the vocal tones on the record. But it was also the weeks where we got the Kamelot tour offers, and that Sonic Symphony first contacted me.

Jack and Pete really took care of me during those two weeks and I was able to give my all during the recordings. On the last day we went for breakfast at Waffle House (if you know, you know) and watched “The Boy and the Heron” together in the evening. So I guess my strongest memory will be the love between us, and making something out of the pain. Like always.

How did Chris Dovas come to play the drums on this record?
The songs were written with Dovas in mind before we all knew how things would unfold, so when he said he would like to still do the album of course everyone was super happy.

Jack has produced all your albums. Are there any disadvantages to self producing?
If there are, I think he and we have outgrown them. Jack has always had a knack for identifying the best ideas in our creative chaos and helping them develop into whatever they want to become.

What led to Jack also mixing and mastering the album this time around?
To be honest, the biggest reason was that he really wanted to do it this time. I know he was pretty particular about how he wanted things to sound for this album, and it made a lot of sense timing wise as well. Seems like it worked out well and people are enjoying the sound and the songs.

How has your sound evolved from Gods Of Debauchery?
Having Jack mixing and mastering is probably one of the biggest evolutions from Gods to A Fortress, at least in my opinion. In terms of writing, I don’t think we did things that much differently than we normally do, but we had a few years more experience of living, touring, and working between then and now. It’s my impression that some people think we took bigger risks and branched out stylistically even more, especially into more mainstream realms or otherwise (“Love’s Souvenir” comes to mind), but if I’m honest none of it was a consciously unnatural choice.

What lyrical topics do you cover on this one?
As the album title implies, A Fortress Called Home deals with the walls we build around ourselves out of fear, out of safety, out of hurt or heartfelt wishes. And the things buried deep inside, which bind the stones in the walls together.

You filmed a few videos for the album. Which was your favorite shoot?
Oh it’s such a tough choice — also because most of them happened within a few days of each other, so in some ways it feels like one big shoot. Filming outside in zero degree snowing conditions for some scenes of “Architect” was quite a challenge and I have to say I rather enjoyed the meditative aspects of the suffering. But I also enjoyed the slick and polished nature of “Portrait of Us.” It felt like something very Spires, yet somehow something different for us.

We were really lucky to continue our collaborative work with Jonas’ team at EmVision Productions for “Almosttown,” which began with “The Cabaret of Dreams” way back on our first album. But circumstances also opened the door to working with Chris Kells’ team for our other music videos, and we loved the experience.

What is the most important component of promoting an album in 2024? Videos, getting on streaming playlists, appearing on podcasts/interviews, something else?
It’s hard to say what is the most important component of album promotion this year. I think trends come and go, social media and marketing techniques are always evolving, but for me the absolute most important — and timeless! — things are word of mouth, and making great music. And maybe being sincere. Songs from decades ago are going viral on social media platforms with new demographics and I think that speaks volumes for the longevity of great art.

What were some of the highlights of your recent tour with Kamelot?
Well, it’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Kamelot for many years. They were one of the most important metal bands that I first fell in love with, and listened to endlessly while learning to sing and write this style of music. So the tour itself was already a huge highlight! But it was cool to have drinks at the end of the night with them and remember we are all just humans, after watching their show. I have to say the biggest pleasure was actually getting some quality time in with Melissa Bonny — we have been friends for years but barely ever got to meet in person. She even joined us onstage for “Lightbringer!”

What other tour plans do you have coming up?
We have a headline performance at Mile High Power Fest in August, and are co-headlining a tour in Japan in December with Lords of the Trident. Really looking forward to both.

Where haven’t you played live that you’d still like to get to?
Japan and Australia are pretty high on the Seven Spires list I think! But I also know Mexico and South America would be a blast. And will be, when the time eventually comes!

What is the coolest site/attraction you’ve been able to visit while on tour?
One standout from recent memory was the Berlin Dome. We love beautiful architecture and art, and plus the 360 degree view of the city was very cool. I also quite enjoyed a solo walk through the Glasgow Necropolis a few years ago.

Are there plans for another Masters Of Ceremony album?
Absolutely! We aren’t sure about a release date or strategy yet, but the song are written and like 98 percent done recording. I’m super proud of everything we worked on for this one. The videos too.

Are you currently involved in any other bands/projects?
At the moment the active bands I work with are: Seven Spires, Masters of Ceremony, Avantasia, and Sonic Symphony. Here and there I do some guest vocal sessions, mostly for video games. I am also still in Winds of Plague although it has been a few years since we did something together.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I like hiking and being outside if it isn’t too hot and humid! Nothing is better than hiking up to a beautiful view, seeing the ocean, and getting some fresh air. I’m also trying to improve my cooking skills a bit when there is time, and of course I’ve been pretty much a lifelong gamer. Overall I just like quiet hermit life.

What’s the best thing you binge watched recently?
I recently started re-watching Arcane, that’s a good one. I also quite enjoyed Katla on Netflix. But I pretty much enjoy anything that’s sci-fi/fantasy and emotionally devastating. (laughs)

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just want to say a special thank you to my Coffee Kvlt and everyone who is a member of the Spires Patreon! We love sharing updates and sneak peeks there and we are super grateful for the support.

(interview published June 20, 2024)

Watch Seven Spires – “The Old Hurt Of Being Left Behind” Video


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