Chain D.L.K.: Since the opening of “Razor Burn”, your last album, how has your new album “Tales of Absolution and Obsoletion” transpired? What new path have you chosen for your new road?”
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I think it has been a conscious decision to reign in the aggression that “Razor Burns” seemed to be developing and to concentrate on something that’s more theatrical and romantic again. We’ve been saying we’re headed back more to “The Seal of Zeen” era, sort of early 2,000 era of The Awakening. That’s pretty much how it started.
Chain D.L.K.: What do you feel makes it stand out from the rest, it’s traits?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I think it’s probably more cohesive in terms of it’s threads. The melancholy is quite present, it’s not the happiest album that we have ever released, but I think it’s cohesive in it’s theatrical and melancholy sort of undercurrent. If that makes any sense at all.
Chain D.L.K.: Yes it does. Do you feel that there’s a continuing thread, some kind of story that ties in with all these albums? Some kind of recurring theme or something of the like?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I think with any artist you’re gonna have recurring themes. I think it’s whatever your standpoint is, whatever your viewpoint is, is obviously gonna be reflected in your work. So hopefully there’s growth and progress, but progress can also be going back and rediscovering things that excited you many years ago, just in a new way you know? And I think that’s kind of been the direction I took with this new album is not to be afraid to go back basically. I think, from the early 2,000 era I was determined to make each album so different from the last that, in my opinion, I started losing a little bit of focus, or maybe a lot of focus, depending on who you’re speaking to, with just what The Awakening was kind of representing emotionally and musically, and I think this has been kind of embracing the body of work and been comfortable in effectively making a nice, gloomy, Gothic record again.
Chain D.L.K.: Well we’re happy to have that! (laughs). Do you feel that you’re branching out now in America now that you have a taste of more Americanized ways and so forth and with Rose, the lovely Rose, you know getting more dates and so forth and pushing the band even higher to whatever standards she sees fit?
The Awakening: Well I think…
Chain D.L.K.: Cause she’s the boss! (chuckles)
The Awakening: (Speaking to Rose) Am I answering this or are you?
Chain D.L.K.: Both of you actually cause she’s the boss and she does wanna answer that!
The Awakening: Rose Mortem: I think Aston’s always had a good idea of where The Awakening’s going even when he was visiting here as a South African and now as a resident of the country, he’s still…
Aston Nyte: African American!Rose Mortem: Yes African American! (Chuckles). Now that he’s residing here, I just think that his vision has only enhanced but it’s always been a strong one. I don’t really think that I’ve developed it so much as I’ve become a partner.
Aston Nyte: Good answer! (Chuckles)
Chain D.L.K.: Anything more to add to that?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: No
Chain D.L.K.: Okay. So, orchestration and the sound and so forth, do you feel that it’s more melodic, more darker cause you’re going back to that root? It’s harder sounding, “Razor Burn” was a little… I saw some antics of Manson in there and such so…
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I think “Razor Burn” was about as “Rock” as I wanted to go. I think with “Roadside Heretics” there was a very definite break in “The Awakening” pre-“Roadside Heretics” and post-“Roadside Heretics” and I think “Heretics” was my first experimentation with a harder sound and more, kind of, direct form of songwriting and I tried variations of that in “Darker Than Silence” and then really pushed the whole live, kind of Rock element in “Razor Burn” and I think by the end of “Razor Burn” I was kind of done with that and I really wanted to make something that very clearly was not going to be mistaken for a Rock band because I was becoming disheartened by people thinking we were a Rock band with eyeliner. I’m being partially flippant but, yes. I think especially in a generation where everything is incredibly boring it’s motivation enough to try to make something that isn’t necessarily going to appeal to the mainstream, as it were, without trying to be obscure and trying to find the blend there, you know, trying to find the common ground where you can make something that actually poetic, and meaningful, and emotionally true to who we are without worrying really about who you’re gonna sell it to, because marketing is from the devil and I’m really proud of it.
Chain D.L.K.: (Chuckles)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Feel free to chuckle a lot, you know, chuckling in the background is great. It adds to the ambience.
Chain D.L.K.: (Chuckling) It does actually! Going to South Africa and such, I get this impression that The Awakening there is very mainstream. Is that true? Like 69 Eyes are very mainstream in their hometown of Finland.
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well we’re mainstream in the extent that we’ve headlined festivals to 30,000 people, so I guess we’ve reached mainstream success in that our songs get played on Rock radio and children wear our t-shirts and that kind of thing, and that’s great it’s really nothing to be embarrassed about. You can turn to the fact that not just morbid, depressed people like what we do and it’s been a growing point. We obviously have more mainstream appeal over there because for whatever reason we just have a lot of radio hits and the presence in television, because contrary to popular belief South Africa does actually have television and running water! So we’re considered an established Rock Band there and it’s a Gothic Icon and all that kind of stuff. And again, it’s something that I’m pretty proud of. We were the forerunners of the Gothic resurgence in South Africa way back in the 90s, even though I don’t look a day over 17! (Chuckles)….27…
Chain D.L.K.: Oh! We know his age now, I was right, I was off by one! (Laughs) We were guessing yesterday!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: We’re probably more mainstream than we are, you know currently in Romania but such is luck.
Chain D.L.K.: That’s awesome. I just watched the show, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it just happened to be on yesterday. Andrew Zimmerman, the guy that eats the crazy food, was is Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Was he wearing a bullet proof vest?
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) Yeah! And he talked about it being the murder capital and I wanted to ask you, how do you go to a Goth Club there then?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well just very well dressed.
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: And there’s a whole new to Gothic movement there that is just using military attire and it’s not really styled as a necessity.
Chain D.L.K.: Really?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: No, but it’s a violent country. It’s ridiculous. Johannesburg is a ridiculous place to live, I don’t wish it on anybody.
Chain D.L.K.: Oh wow, so the show was correct because I was like, “Doesn’t Ashton play in Johannesburg?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: (Chuckles) Yeah we do.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you duck or something as you’re playing? (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yeah we just drop behind screens and stuff (Chuckles)
Chain D.L.K.: Wow. Do you feel that expression, and daringness, and sensuality is portrayed and how important is it to you in your lyrics and such?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I think it’s just important to be honest. I think whatever shade you need to paint to portray what it is that you’re trying to express, you need to do and be true to yourself and hopefully other people enjoy it too. I think that’s a basic truth in art.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you feel that you are exercising your own personal demons with your music, reflecting?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yes, yes.
Chain D.L.K.: In what sort of fashion would you say?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: A painful fashion.
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) So instead of painting it black, you’re painting it blood red and shedding the blood.
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yeah it’s not something I sort of seek to do. I think, again if you’re just being honest and you’re writing from the heart and from the soul then things are gonna come out and sometimes it’s a painful experience and sometimes a joyful experience. It just depends on what needs to come out at that time and to try to adjust and to help you move on. You don’t want to belay it to the same point, so you hope you exercise your necessary demon and move on to better days.
Chain D.L.K.: Since the loss, I remember, of the band member, not a loss but the fact that he’s moved on, do you feel that you’ve gone through a spiritual rebirth due to so many different changes through the years with all these band members and so forth.
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I do feel that I’ve gone through a spiritual rebirth, I don’t know if it’s necessarily tied in with band members leaving, or moving, or changing countries or anything. I just think that the music is more spiritually charged now than it has been in a while. A lot of the septics of the new album has been kind of responding to the call of ministry. It’s kind of obscure maybe, on the record. And the ministry can literally just be how you are called to speak to people, to relate to people and to live a life that you feel would be worthy of our Lord and Saviour. So, I’m going off the point I think. But yes, there has been a spiritual rebirth in myself lyrically and definitely in the band as it is now I think we’re probably more spiritually focused than the band has been in a long time.
Chain D.L.K.: I see. Do you have any vocal training?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well apart from screaming at criminals, “No please, let me be!
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) And Mall Goths right? Hottopiccers (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: No, no, just back in Africa just pleading for my life, I’ve used a range of different voices to try and scare them off. Apart from that there’s been no formal training no.
Chain D.L.K.: Wow that’s a gift!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yeah I believe so.
Chain D.L.K.: That’s my compliment. And obviously it’s a beautiful thing and stuff because some people have to develop their voice and such. So, I really do consider that a gift. I think that’s an awesome thing and the fact that you now have, which we learned, nine albums I would think that by now you’ve gotten it right! And you’re very comfortable with your voice. You don’t have to go through a vocal processor. Your voice can carry with your solo work as well.
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well, yeah. I agree that it must be a blessing because there’s definitely nothing that I’m doing.
Chain D.L.K.: Kind of weird question, I only have a couple more. You see these shows and you see these teachers and they’re always like, “I knew this person when they were like a little kid.” Did your teachers ever doubt you in school or did they see you as an artist and say, “He’s gonna be a rock star someday. He’s gonna tour the world or something”? Did you ever go back to them and say, “Haha look where I am now”? Because I got to do that!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: No I didn’t really have intimate relationships with any of my teachers so I’m not sure what they were expecting of me.”
Rose Mortem: (Chuckles)
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) You were a bad kid!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I had my moments and there were a few issues. I’ve bumped into a teacher or two over the years, obviously not now because it would be quite a swim for them to be here, but at the time I bumped into them and they were impressed that I was still alive and that I’d overcome whatever drug problem they’d assumed I had. Obviously not sleeping with boys anymore, all that kind of stuff.
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) Well Peter Murphy’s not doing that either anymore. He used to (Laughs).
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well apparently we’ve all done a lot of things and that’s just what’s so amazing about having any kind of persona that precedes you, is that you keep learning things that you never did. But it’s entertaining. No, I gotta say, I think the teachers were just happy I was still alive because they read the stuff I was writing and I think most of them just thought that I was gonna live a relatively short life.
Chain D.L.K.: (Chuckling) They actually thought you were gonna kill yourself one day!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Nah, they just thought I was gonna live a short life. Like someone was gonna take me away.
Chain D.L.K.: Oh karma I see! (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: No I haven’t done that whole laugh thing that you did. I wasn’t able to do that.
Chain D.L.K.: It’s quite an experience. It’s really nice to go back to school and say, “You didn’t believe in me and now I have songs written about me!” Another interesting aspect of that is, with The Awakening, obviously we know which direction you’re going to, but would you take it further and possibly do some, for the love of the theatre like we’ve talked about before, some acting, some film, or something?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I’ve done a bit of acting and I’ve done a bit of work.
Chain D.L.K.: Really? Where do we see that?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well you don’t. It was live in the theatre at the time, in my wild youth. But, I’d like to incorporate more of a theatrical element in The Awakening, definitely. I’d like the albums to be less traditional I suppose. I’d like everything to be more unpredictable. At the moment we’re kind of doing our thing and playing our songs and a lot of people have heard them to death and are wishing we would do something else but other people have been still introducing them and reintroducing them to the songs we’ve been singing for the last hundred years.
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughs) Well you know you’re a vampire so, you know (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: There you go! So, it would be great to actually just release a new album, come out and just play all new songs. And I think that is possible in the context of The Awakening because I think what the Gothic subculture stood for in the beginning was a sort of boundless existence, withdrawing from all these different things and pushing and expanding and I think that bands don’t do that anymore. They get a kick drum going and some guy’s barking about something and that’s about it. So I think it’s our job to try and raise the bar again and hopefully get music going again with bands like Leper, who are also doing a wonderful job!
Chain D.L.K.: Yes definitely (Laughs)
The Awakening: Rose Mortem: I think it’s important, just on that theatrical note, to recognize the fact that we have chosen two new band members that have such a background in theatre and in incorporating such an incredible theatrical element into their lives shows which The Awakening saw when they were touring here. It obviously had an impact and it’s an exciting thing to have people involved that really get that vision.”
Aston Nyte: And I think this current album is actually a transition album because half of it was written almost immediately after “Razor Burn” and the other half was written in the last six months. Half of it was also recorded in South Africa so it’s been an album to seal things up so we can move on because, some of those demons you were talking about were demons I was writing about three years ago, four years ago and now I live in demon free America! (Chuckles) There’s nothing to bother me here now!
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughing) Except for me because I was quoted by Jyrki 69, I was told I was a messenger from the underworld!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Well, that may be so!
Chain D.L.K.: So you may have met one! (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yeah all things are possible. I guess the point is just that we are excited about where it’s going to go and it’s not to dismiss the album which is, the album’s missed promoting a lot now! Quite a whopper too! (Laughs)
Chain D.L.K.: Slackers, slackers, slackers! (Laughs) You’re allowed!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: (Laughing) Yeah, I think, again, any artist can appreciate that constant move forward.
Chain D.L.K.: Well then again you’ve always have people like big Justin in Aesthetic always saying, “Come on Ashton! You’re not fast enough! We need a new album, what’s up? You’re slacking off!” (Laughs)
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Exactly! That’s why I started using solo albums, is for those sorts of people. “You really got that one! Did that in six months!
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughing) They’re really dedicated! They’re on to you!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: I guess they are because I mean who else would buy that stuff?
Chain D.L.K.: (Laughing) Well, that’s quite a perspective on things! Well my last question, in conclusion is basically because I did my Gothic Trivia and nobody could answer this right!
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Uh oh.
Chain D.L.K.: It’s from the man himself, what makes a true Dark Romantic since you wrote the song?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: What makes a true Dark Romantic?
Chain D.L.K.: Don’t you love my questions?
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: Yes
Chain D.L.K.: Thank you
The Awakening: Aston Nyte: You know, it’s quite a simple story in fact. We always have a scene, like everyone has a scene back in Johannesburg, the land of death and doom. And yeah, one of our friends was a little more eccentric than others and had certain black cultist types of ideas and was interviewed, as we all were and he was explaining to this idiot that to be Goth is to be Dark Romantic, and he actually used the word Dark Romantic. Unfortunately for him, he lost his will to live a few months later. It was really out of response to his words and his inability to deal with life. He understood the music and he understood the darkness, I don’t think he understood the other side. I kind of wanted to take what he had said and put it in a perspectivethat I believe Goths should be viewed in. So that was originally my response to that experience and that’s kind of the message I’ve been encouraging. We are the Dark Romantics. So yes it’s the Gothic Romantic Heart, that’s what it is.
(Ashton ends the interview in song, singing “Dark Romantics”)
Visit The Awakening on the web at:
[interviewed by Michelle Russo] [proofreading by Frost Oktober – photos by Frost Oktober]