All Interviews conducted by Kevin
reprinted with permission
Recently I was able to conduct an interview with Rhiannon of Somnus.
can you tell me about the origins of the name “Somnus?”
was the Roman God of Sleep and the father of Morpheus, God of Dreams.
It was believed that Somnus would put people into their slumber each
night and determine whether or not they should have a pleasant dream or a
disturbing one. Then he would send
his son Morpheus the Shape-Shifter to appear in different forms in people’s
dreams depending on what was decided. Some
people may have heard of Hypnos, who is simply the Greek name for Somnus.
For our band, the name was chosen to portray the somber, dark, and
dreamlike feel we try to convey through our music and lyrics.
You worked on the Avernus album “Of the Fallen.”
What brought that about? Are
you friends with the band? Any
future (or past) guest vocal/keys spots (for any band)?
became a fan of Avernus upon hearing the “Sadness” demo, and I ended up
becoming friends with them. When
their original female singer left, they searched in Chicago but had trouble
finding a suitable replacement. I
was half-kidding around with them when I offered to do vocals, but that’s how
it ended up! I was pretty excited
so I didn’t have a problem driving 6-7 hours to rehearse with them a few times
and then record. I performed with
them at Milwaukee Metalfests 1996 and 1997, and sang on their demo “East of
Eden” and then on their full-length “Of the Fallen”.
I had a good time, and I also thought that the experience might help get
Somnus’ name out there too. Last
I saw, Avernus is playing gigs without any female vocals.
also did some vocals on a Celtic Frost tribute called “Nordic Mist” which
has never been released but I hope it sees the light of day sometime (bug Jim
Konya of Nunslaughter about that). I
also played keyboards for a band called Noctuary from Cleveland, then some of
its members formed Sanctorum, and I played bass with them for awhile until they
could find a permanent member. Since
then I have done keyboard intros for a female death metal project out of
Pittsburgh called Derketa (for a 7” record), and in the near future I will be
doing studio vocals for an amazing dark gothic metal project called Ater
Draconis. I’m pretty excited
about that since the songwriter is quite talented.
are some of your (personal) influences?
Looking up Somnus on UBL (Ultimate Band List) turns up another band, now
Did you know of their existence?
Was there any discussion on who got to use the name Somnus?
you did your homework! Yeah, we
became aware of that Somnus I think in early 1998, but I don’t remember
exactly when. Anyway, the band now
known as Insomnis is a monotonous ambient project formed by Eric Lyman. According to what I can gather from his web site, we used the
name Somnus first (our printed use of the name on copyrighted material dates
back to early 1994). We never
actually contacted him about a name change though because we weren’t
experiencing many problems over the situation.
For one, that Somnus wasn’t a metal band, and two, it’s pretty much a
one-man band so no shows or tours either.
But after releasing our CD in 2000, we thought that potential fans and
‘zines just might mistake the two Somnus’, so we were preparing to contact
him, but by then the name was changed to Insomnis.
So thanks, Eric, for changing your project’s name with no arguments or
are some CD’s that you are currently listening to?
Sagoth—Atlantis Ascendant, The Sins of Thy Beloved’s latest CD, Soilwork—A
Predator’s Portrait (which is AMAZING, buy it!), and Richthofen (German
industrial death). Last year’s
Crest of Darkness and Crematory CD’s are also awesome.
I also have been listening to Iron Maiden, Helloween and Testament just
to change things up.
can we expect from the new material? Any
can expect the best Somnus material to date, and no less!
The newer stuff tends to be a bit heavier with more technical playing.
Since the CD, we acquired a new lead guitarist and new bassist, both of
whom are more aggressive players. This
puts a new and more “metal” twist on our material, with the introduction of
more complex riffs, harmonies, and guitar solos.
But it’s unmistakably Somnus, there’s still the dark atmosphere and
doom influence found in our older music.
hear exactly what I’m talking about very soon since we’re recording in early
August! At that time, we’ll also
get new band photos, and have new art created by the same fantasy artist who
painted the “Awakening the Crown” cover.
It’s going to be a 6-track EP to be entitled “Through Creation’s
End”, featuring all new tunes. That
will be released sometime this fall, so be on the lookout! The new recording is
going quite well, as of now we are just about 3 weeks into the process. We look
to be done by the end of this month, with mixdown to follow. Artwork and pix
still need to be done though...since our artist was booked solid. But not
to worry it will all come together in due time, we do not want to cut any
corners. Updates on our progress will be regularly put in the news section of
it’s ok to ask, what prompted the departure of bassist Lou Spencer?
there’s no juicy argument to speak of! Mainly,
Lou left Somnus because he wasn’t really into our music enough to keep him
fulfilled and dedicated to the project. Before
he left, he formed a band called Manticore, and he really seemed to be into
that, so we weren’t surprised by his departure.
He’s always been more into simplistic, raw, blasphemous stuff (which is
what Manticore is like) and less into melodic metal, so it was only a matter of
time until he either grew to like melodic stuff or decided to quit Somnus.
If he stuck with us despite being unhappy, the band would have suffered
from the resulting negative energy, so it ended for the best. Don’t get me wrong though, it was not easy to see a
founding member depart, he was actually in the band before I was!
But now we have Steve Rolf, a very dedicated musician and person, and
it’s kickass to have someone whose heart is completely into our dark and
comments on the “Great Napster Controversy?”
I’ve never used Napster and I’m not totally against it, but I have a bit of
proof that it has hurt our CD sales. I’ve
had people come RIGHT UP TO ME and say, “Somnus kicks ass, but I don’t have
the CD because I got all your songs off Napster”.
That’s depressing, I mean I appreciate that new people are hearing us,
but I really dislike the attitude of “I already got all your songs for free so
screw your merchandise”. We all
put tons of money into this band, most of which we haven’t seen in return.
Local bands never become national acts unless they can sell, so Napster
has the power to really hurt up-and-coming acts.
But if you did download Somnus and eventually got the CD, that kicks ass!
I’ve discovered a lot of bands by checking out 1 or 2 songs online and
then buying their CDs (like Soilwork, one of my new favorites).
I’ve never downloaded a whole album, if a song or two really impresses
me, I break down and buy it. If
everyone did that, then stuff like Napster and MP3.com would be the best
promotion around. This is just a
dream I’m sure, but if Napster were somehow able to prevent people from
getting an entire CD of any one band, then it would be great for musicians and
handles the lyrics, or is it a group effort?
one thing about Lou was that he wrote some very good lyrics!
He and Scott used to collaborate and pretty much compose them all.
Now it is a group effort, with all five of us contributing.
I even wrote lyrics for one of our new songs, and I never wrote lyrics
before. On the new EP, we are
recording songs with lyrics by all 5 members, which I believe is rather unique
for a band a good way to avoid redundancy.
noticed some Nordic mythology influences lyrics (Lair of the Wendol
specifically). What are some other
sources of inspiration are there for the lyrics?
blend all types of mythologies and have even adopted their symbols, animals,
colors, peoples, deities, and legends into our own sort of “Somnus”
Theology. We’ve sat down and
exchanged ideas that we thought were cool, and then we base our lyrical ideas on
this fictional theology. We’ve
used everything from Celtic, Roman, and Greek mythology to South American and
Far Eastern civilizations and ideals, all in efforts to create our own type of
fantastical world, to which we hope to transport our listeners, whether it be
through dreams or nightmares!
Thank you for the great interview!
It was my pleasure! In closing, I would like to tell people to check out our website at http://somnus.cjb.net for news, pictures, and show dates or email me at LadySomnus@aol.com for more information, or write:
P.O. Box 81379
Cleveland, OH 44181 USA.
All photos are property of Somnus
Used by permission
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