Progressive death metal enthusiasts White Stones have their sophomore longplayer ‘Dancing Into Oblivion’ in the starting box, ready to be shipped to the record stores. Reason enough for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog to reach out to White Stones mainman Martín Méndez for getting extra insights about the album and how the pandemic affected the release of the debut and working on the second album.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Martín, great that you could make a bit time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog. Let’s talk about White Stones and the new album, but before we do that, let’s look a back in time and to the ‘Kuarahy’ album. You guys released the debut right in the beginning of the pandemic last year. How was that to release an album in such a crazy period?
Martín Méndez: Well, it was not the best period for sure, but it was planned to do at that time and the album had to be released in those days. It was the first week of the lockdown and at first, I thought, maybe it will be alright or good because I thought maybe people will be at home and listened to music. That wasn’t the case because streaming music went down by, I think, 70% or something like that. When the pandemic started, everybody was looking at the news. I mean, it was not the best period but all in all I think it was OK, consider we didn’t have the chance to present these songs live which always helps the album reach more people. Overall, it has been a very tough period for the album, but I think it was OK at the end.
MHMB: ‘Kaurahy’ is a strong debut, and I was happy to hear that there is a second album coming. ‘Dancing Into Oblivion’ is the title and will be released in a few days. Was it planned from the beginning that you guys would work on a second record?
Martín: I didn’t have any plans to be honest. Even when I start writing the music for the first album, I didn’t have any idea of what to do with these songs. I got the contract with Nuclear Blast when I had already six songs done, I mean mix and mastered. I was doing it for myself. I always do music and this time I wanted to do it properly. When it was finished, I didn’t have any idea what to do with it. My intention was to do a vinyl or something like that and I thought about maybe releasing 1000 copies so. When that was done, I think I started writing the music for the second album a week after the first one was released, and I didn’t have any plans either. I didn’t get the question for the label either and everybody was shocked when I told them that I have a new album. I just felt inspired by the time. For me it’s good to have a project in mind as well and I understood that I will be at home for a while. So, I kind of start right away to write this album and yeah that was very good for me, I mean to make this album during the pandemic.
MHMB: How was working on the album in such a time because I could imagine you guys could not go all to the studio at the same time?
Martín: Actually, it was really easy and fine. The studio is pretty close from where I live. It is Eloi’s studio, the same that we used for the first album. I was working myself pretty much all the time. I mean Eloi did help me with the drums which were recorded in two days but then when I was recording the guitars and bass, it was only me in the studio recording. Then, when it was time for the vocals, I record Eloi, so it was only three people around in these two weeks. They only restriction we had was that we had to stop before 10:00 o’clock in the evening but that was pretty much it.
“I tried to live my feelings when I write the music.”Martín Méndez
MHMB: How did you approach writing these new songs? There is a lot of atmosphere and feeling included in each of these songs and on the other hand the songs are rather complex. How do you bring these two elements, emotions and complexity, together during the songwriting?
Martín: I tried to live my feelings when I write the music. At this time the only thing I had in mind is that I wanted to make the music a little more complex, a little bit more technical, compared to the first album. Other than that, I just felt inspired, and I just did what I like to do. I introduced a lot calmer parts on the album, like this small interludes in between the heavy songs. I really like this sound as well. It’s something that I really enjoyed playing and writing. So, I thought it was a good combination for the dynamic of the whole album to have one of these interludes in between all the songs. So, I guess the answer will be that I just followed my feelings.
MHMB: The album starts with an intro. ‘La Menace’ is built around a slowly rising tone. Listening to it gives you a feeling of emotional discomfort. It’s getting louder and louder and it feels like how the pandemic started. It began slow and slowly got ‘louder’ and ‘louder’. Is that something that you had in mind when you looked into ‘La Menace’?
Martín: This intro was actually made for the live show. I made this intro before we released the first album and when we were rehearsing for making a show for the first album. The pandemic began and I was inspired of that actually. I guess the feelings of that came that way as you say. I feel the same way, kind of the start giving you like some kind of warning, then starts growing up and it ends up with these voices. ‘La Menace’ wasn’t planned for the album but when I was thinking about what intro to have on the album, it was perfect. I think it fits good.
MHMB: I think, it also sets a little bit the scene for the album because the album is dark and melancholic. Heavy loaded and not lighthearted for sure. You said earlier you expressed your feeling. Is that what you felt when you wrote the album?
Martín: I like dark music in general. I used to listen a lot to folk music from South America like Tango. It’s very melancholic. I like these feelings in the music, so I think all these feelings I had from the pandemic, it really helped me to find out this sounds which I like a lot. The album is not about the pandemic, but it helped me a lot to find these feelings.
MHMB: If I understood correctly Eloi wrote the lyrics this time while you wrote them for the debut. How was that experience and how did you guys bring the lyrics together with the music that you wrote. Was that an easy process?
Martín: It was easy because I sent him the songs when I had them ready. I asked him to write the lyrics. He started writing and when he had two songs ready, I thought it was great. He put him his input to the album, and I like the way he writes the lyrics and the topics he chose as well. Everything is influenced by this period and we kind of share the same kind of ideas. It’s great that the other guys had more inputs for the album. I love it.
MHMB: First live shows are possible. There are even some first festivals happening again. At this stage, are there any plans for White Stones when it comes to live shows or is that something that’s still a little bit more in the future?
Martín: I don’t know to be honest. I think we are still in the lineup for the festival that we were supposed to debut two years ago. It’s Prognosis festival in Holland but I think once the album this album is out, which is in two weeks, maybe it is going to be easier to start getting some gigs. I mean it’s a question that I don’t know but I would love to for sure debuted 1st and then do a few festivals or something It all depends of course on the period and for me also of course of what I’m doing with Opeth where we are planning to start touring as soon as we can.
MHMB: Let’s keep the fingers crossed that the Prognosis festival works out for you guys.
Martín: Yeah, yeah hopefully.
MHMB: Martin is there anything from your side that you think I want to share with fans and readers?
Martín: I’m excited about the album being released soon. I really hope it reaches as much people as possible and they give a try to the album and see what they think. I think it’s an interesting album and hopefully people will think the same and yes, I’m looking forward to obviously playing live with the band and play these songs.
Photo credit: Sandra Artigas