Ides Of Gemini Mk II finds the great Californian doom metal band with a fresh and recovered lineup, on a new label and in great shape. The band now consists of original members, J. Bennett and Sera Timms, Scott Batiste (of Saviours) on drums and Adam Murray on bass. After two full lengths on Neurot Recordings, Ides Of Gemini have now moved to Rise Above Records and have Women, the unearthly heavy rocker that is their latest album, ready to be released on April 28th.
Vocalist Sera Timms whom you may also know from her solo project, Black Mare, the heavy rock supergroup, Zun, and formerly of Black Math Horseman, answers our questions about the band's new shape and their upcoming album.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our few questions and congratulations on the wonderful new album, which we love from start to finish!
How different was the creative process for the new album compared to your previous work?
On previous albums I was definitely more involved in shaping the music as I was playing bass so the rhythm section was very much shaped by me in part. I gave Scott Batiste (drummer) some suggestions on the first song he wrote with us, but after that he really just ran with it and we loved everything he wrote, and the same goes for Adam (bass).
I enjoyed the creative process a lot as I was able to just focus on vocals, and we were also able to focus on making more musical parts that stand alone which I've been wanting to incorporate for a while.
How hard was it losing a drummer and bouncing back with a new lineup?
The hardest part was the waiting. Kelly was uncertain of what her recovery time would be, and we of course did not want to move on without her if she wanted to try and continue. She'd moved a couple hours away around the same time she injured herself, so J and I were just hanging out in limbo for almost a year.
When she finally decided we should move on without her, and we got Scott and Adam involved, the writing of the new album went very quick.
Why did you decide to do an entire album themed on women now? Especially at a time when the women in the band are less than before? Have today's society and politics played any major roles in sparkling the idea for the album's concept or was it completely instinctive?
J actually decided that. He comes up with all of the titles and I write the lyrics. He's always been very comfortable working with and relating to women. There is a chivalrous aspect of him that seems to always try to exalt women in a society that still largely demeans and judges them. There was a title he'd had planned for the third album, but when Kelly left, it no longer fit. He'd named the first few songs after historical women, and he saw the theme emerging and told me one day he knew what the next album was going to be called. I was a little surprised when he said with a clever grin, "WOMEN...", and very slightly hesitant as I never seek to be exclude anyone, or claim superiority as a woman... and I could see how it might come off that way with a woman singer. Ultimately the purity of the music is far more important than anything to me, so I put my intellect in the back seat, so the muses could continue to run the show, and I believe that they made an excellent choice.
How do you think feminism holds up today?
I think Feminism is a word which has been loaded, manipulated, abused, and corrupted.
I've always been for equal treatment of all people, places, and things. Treat things with respect. To experience life is a sacred gift, and we should treat all life as exactly that. I don't believe that problems get solved by waging war which is what much of the feminist movement has historically done. I seek unity above all and that comes through evolving our conscious state, and transcending duality. We are all both men and woman at our core.
How did the guest appearances from Tara Connelly (Clay Rendering) and Emma Ruth Rundle come about?
They are wonderful and talented friends of ours, and Emma and I, and Tara and I separately have both wanted to collaborate for quite a while, so this was a good opportunity to do that.
Who else do you think would be an ideal collaborator for Ides Of Gemini?
I would say Linnéa Olsson (Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures), Henke Palm (in Solitude), Anna Von Hausswolff, and since I'm on a roll with Sweden I mustn't forget Jonathan Hultén or Adam Zaars of Tribulation.
All of those musicians/singers do exceptional things with layering heavy sounds, and creating a real apocalyptic resonance which would be fun to experiment within Ides since we are usually fairly minimalistic musically.
What made you relate to the art of Nicola Samori, so much that you decided to use it for the album's cover?
That unknowable thing inside that tells you another thing is also you.
As a fan of the genre, I think Rise Above seems like a most appropriate home for you. Which would be some of your favorite releases from the Rise Above catalog?
The Oath record is one of my favorite heavy music records of all time. Uncle Acid is great, Lucifer, Purson, we of course love Ghost... there are so many!
How do you see contemporary metal standing in 2017?
Maybe a question for J. I really am not even sure what contemporary metal is... I don't think we are that (?).
What are you currently listening to mostly? From any genre or style.
I've definitely been listening to a lot of contemporary eighties inspired goth bands, and actual eighties goth, as well as minimalist electronic. Ritual Howls and Chasms are two of my favorites at the moment.
Would you say that Women is your heaviest album so far?
Do you plan to release any videos for any of the new songs? Judging from what you did with Martyrium Of The Hippolyt or Seer Of Circassia, I very much hope so.
Yes! I directed a video for Heroine's Descent which will be out soon.
What comes after the album's release?
Touring and more writing!
Women, the third album by Ides Of Gemini comes out April 28th from Rise Above, and you don't want to miss it.