Interview with Mark Norgate – Vocals & guitar
Interview by Kayleigh McKenzie
Hi, thank you for your time. What is your name and position in the band?
M – Hi Kayleigh, thanks for inviting us to do this. I’m Mark, I play guitar and do vocals.
1. How did you all meet to become Dawnwalker?
M – It’s been a bit of a storied history so far and we’ve gone through a lot of changes as the band has evolved from a predominantly studio project into more of a live outfit. Myself and bass player Dane met when we worked together years ago and have played in a few bands together since. Otherwise it’s just been a case of putting out ads and trying to find the right people to join us along the way.
2. How would you describe the sound of the band?
M – With great difficulty! We’re never exactly sure where we fit in, but broadly I’d say we’re a post-metal band with some folk and progressive influences. We’ve had everything from shoegaze and post-rock to death metal, so you can pretty much take your pick.
3. Is there a concept behind ‘Ages’?
M – There is, indeed. All of our albums have a concept in some way or another and they’re an important part of the writing process. ‘Ages’ tells the story of a mythical world, from its origins and its creation myths right through to its unfortunate end, and the grave errors that brought it about. There are a number of allegories in it for things we see happening in our own world.
4. How would you say ‘Ages’ is different from music you have created in the past?
M – I guess the immediately obvious thing is that we made a conscious decision to write longer songs, but we actually approached this album a number of different ways that wont be so obvious to the listener. I’d also say that we indulged a lot more metal influences on this album too, certainly more than any of our other records.
5. In my opinion the new album has quite a mythical feel to it, was this done on purpose?
M – Absolutely, myth and magic play a huge part in what we try to create. It’s not usually a case of writing about existing mythologies but rather trying to create our own worlds within the music. In this way we hope it gives the listener a place that they can visit and lose themselves in for a while, and dream about these worlds with us.
6. How did you come up with the name for the album?
M – ‘Ages’ was the original title for the track ‘Ancient Sands’ and fairly late in the process it just occurred to us that it summed up the album very well and so it felt like a natural fit. The longer tracks on the album can be read as depicting the different ‘Ages’ of the world in which the story takes place, and each one of those focuses on a different theme.
7. What was the recording process like for ‘Ages’?
M – We decamped to Manchester and recorded with Joe Clayton at No Studio so it was very different to how we’ve previously done things in London. We used a lot of different equipment, brought in new people to work with us and just generally found other ways of working. Joe created a relaxed, creative environment for us and we found the whole process went quite smoothly.
8. Who would you say are the main influences for Dawnwalker?
M – That’s a big question. On this album especially there was a definite nod to prog rock and concept albums of the 60s and 70s – Yes ‘Relayer’, King Crimson’s ‘In the Court…’ and the Moody Blues ‘Days of Future Past’ come to mind, but also more modern metal influences like Opeth, Maudlin of the Well, Mastodon, Tool and Wolves in the Throne Room to name just a few!
9. There are quite a few 10+ minute songs on the album. Do you feel like you can express yourself better through longer tracks?
M- On this album, yes. We were trying to tell these sprawling stories that would be able to encapsulate whole eras and have different movements within them, so it felt appropriate to spread the ideas out into longer pieces. The songs cover topics like the shifting of tectonic plates, and nomadic peoples wandering endlessly across the landscape, so everything just felt a bit more expansive. It was also an experiment in songwriting for us, so who knows, maybe the next album will be made up of songs all under one minute.
10. How are you feeling not being able to get out and play live music? Especially with new songs to play.
M – It’s really gutting, honestly. There’s nothing more we’d love to do right now than to go and play shows and debut some of these songs for people, but we’re trying to be patient and wait until it’s safe to do so. We have a show booked in London on February 20th but it remains to be seen whether it will go ahead or not. Whatever happens, we’re still thinking about setlists and how we’ll do things so we’re ready when we get the chance to play again.
11. What’s it like releasing music in 2020?
M – It’s certainly unusual. We were in two minds about whether to wait until things were more back to normal (whatever that means!) but in the end decided we didn’t want to wait and I’m glad. We’ve had a great response so far and I think music fans are keenly aware of how hard this year has been on the arts, so to see an outpouring of support to people all across the industry has been really encouraging. I know that for me, the music I loved this year helped me through a lot.
12. If you could tour with any musician, who would you choose?
M – That’s a tough one. I think sometimes it’s better not to meet your heroes. I’d love to go on a sort of magical mystery tour type of thing with a roster of really different and unusual bands across the musical spectrum, sort of like a prog circus. In reality, I think we’d fit with bands that mix melodic songwriting with metal riffage. A lot of us really connected with the Emma Ruth Rundle + Thou record, just in case they’re hard up for support acts!
13. What is your favourite thing about being on stage?
M – There’s no better feeling than when things really come together and the whole band feels locked in and you’re all on the same page just nailing it. Those moments are pretty rare though, at least for me. Usually it’s a lot more anxiety and worrying about switching the right pedals and hitting all my cues. So I’d happily settle for no major errors and being able to hear myself in the monitors.
14. What do you like to do outside of music?
M – I love walking and find there’s a really special mood you can get into when you walk for a long time and your conscious mind starts to quiet down and you can almost get into a trance-like state. It’s a very good place for dreaming. Otherwise, I’ve been watching a lot of films, catching up on reading I’ve neglected and playing video games to relax.
15. Do you have a favourite song on ‘Ages’?
M – It’s always tough to choose between your children but at the moment I’d go with ‘Burning World’. I think we brought together different sounds and influences quite successfully and so for me it’s one of the songs that turned out the best. I also think it’s a song where we married the fantastic and mythological ideas closely with their real world counterparts, so maybe it’s the one where the allegories present in ‘Ages’ are best explored. I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow though!
16. Thank you for your time. Do you have anything that you would like to say to our readers?
M – Thank you for the interest in what we’re doing. We look forward to getting back out and playing shows and bringing these new songs to life for people as soon as we can. Beyond that we just hope that everyone is staying safe and looking after themselves in these strange and trying times.