Tony Longworth

dark alternative music composer

The Cryptorium fanzine interview…now in English

So here’s the original Cryptorium interview in English. It’s a good interview with some great questions from Chris so I hope you all enjoy reading it. Take it away Chris…

Since the days with Morbid Symphony, you once again joined forces with Keith by forming the dark ambient rock band Flesh-Resonance in 2002. So how did you come together again and what where your ambitions and goals & direction of music by forming Flesh-Resonance?
Well even when I was part of Morbid Symphony, me & Keith would always say that if the band ever split up for any reason we should write music together in the future under a different name because we made a good writing partnership. Years after Morbid Symphony ending, me & Keith finally got together to form Flesh-Resonance. We wanted to create something different & something that was not restricted by music genres like Morbid Symphony was. Our main goal was to create a band that had no boundaries & no genre, I wanted to be able to get up in the morning & think “I want to write a heavy song” or “I want to write a dance song” or “I want to write a classical song” you know what I mean, we just wanted the freedom.

Who are the other members? Where did you find them and what musical background do they have concerning previous bands and so on?
We formed Flesh-Resonance & began writing the album as a two piece. We weren’t really looking round for other band members at the time, it was just simply a two person project. But as the songs developed we realised that it was growing into something much bigger & more important than we could have ever imagine. I think we were about 50% into writing & recording the debut album when we decided to get more band members in. I knew Andy Morris from his solo work, I really liked his electronic music, so we got him to join the band as keyboard player. At this point me & Keith were talking about how cool it would be to have a female classical vocalist on some of the tracks we had already written but we didn’t know anyone or where to look for one. A few weeks after this conversation, I had a chance meeting with Melanie Webb. I didn’t know she was a classical vocalist & I just happened to tell her about the band & she told me she was a singer. I was thinking maybe she was a pop singer or something but when I asked what style of vocals she sang, she told me I probably wouldn’t like it because it was classical. I really couldn’t believe how lucky we were, she literally just turned up out of nowhere & she was such a good singer, it was like it was meant to be, it was fate. Neither Andy nor Melanie were in a band at the time of joining Flesh-Resonance. Andy had been in a few rock bands years back but at the time he was concentrating on his solo music which was predominantly electronic synth music. Melanie sang with choirs & classical orchestras so she had some good experience behind her.

If one considers the last material from Morbid Symphony, it kind of feels like the band wanted to become what Flesh-Resonance is today but it was restrained by the backbone of Death Metal. Therefore it could never progress, but instead Flesh-Resonance has become the pitch black spawn of darkness and anxiety in the form of music that you needed to get out of your minds. And as Flesh-Resonance does not have the boundaries that Morbid Symphony had, it turns out in its full extent of the perfect music of darkness. Are my theories even close to this fact or would you say the Flesh-Resonance sound today is linked to the past with Morbid Symphony?
Yeah I know exactly what you’re getting at here & you’re absolutely correct in your assumptions. I think that later on with Morbid Symphony things did start to get much more experimental when we were pulling away from the death metal label a little & maybe if Morbid Symphony continued to this day with its experimental direction it would be very similar to what Flesh-Resonance is. I think both me & Keith both had the same vision in our heads back then, a vision of a dark & brooding band with the music having no boundaries or restrictions. We loved death metal but we realised that other forms of music could be just as dark & heavy. I think we both thought that Morbid Symphony would naturally grow into what Flesh-Resonance is today but once Morbid Symphony ended & we had several years doing other projects, we realised we had a need to continue what we had started & so Flesh-Resonance was born.

To me the music of Flesh-Resonance is kind of a soundtrack to a cold hopeless future world of despair just waiting to die. So first off, what is the name “Flesh-Resonance” supposed to mean and what does it stand for and what sort of psychological travels or feelings do you want to express and bring to the listener with Flesh-Resonance?
That’s such a great description of our music, yeah a cold hopeless future world, I really like that, we’ll probably use that on flyers & stuff, ha ha. I guess that is kind of what we’re trying to convey with our music, a bleak future full of darkness. I guess that feeling comes from a lot of movies we watch, you know like horror & sci-fi movies, but a lot of the feeling also comes from turning the TV on & seeing all the pain & suffering in the world. So our inspiration really comes from the darkness that both the fantasy world & the real world shows us. The name Flesh-Resonance, well we wanted a band name that would sound scary, dark & intriguing all at the same time. We wanted people to hear the name & think “that sounds pretty weird & disturbing, I gotta check out their music” & I think that works quite well. It’s difficult to explain to people what the name really means, but once you’ve heard our music then the name makes complete sense.

How would you like to describe your music with Flesh-Resonance to someone that has never heard of you?
Hmm, difficult question. How to describe our music is such a hard thing to do. You know you could simply say it’s dark & it’s all these different genres, but that’s really missing the point of what we’re trying to do. I’ve heard it been described as dark futuristic music, dark ambient electro rock & a dark soundtrack for a bleak world…all of these descriptions are good I think because there’s not one simple answer to the question. You could also add your great description to them as well; a cold hopeless future world of despair. Sometimes we’ve just told people that our music is very different & they’ve got to listen to the songs to understand what we are all about.

You’ve so far released two full length albums and one EP and a third full length is to be released any day now or is it released already? So what differs from the first two albums and the EP in progress of development?
Yes we are currently working on the 3rd full length album at the moment. We haven’t set a release date just yet as we want to take our time & make it our best album yet. We’ve wrote a lot of different songs for it & we’re just picking & recording the best. This next album is much more of a follow up to The Feast Of Shadows, it feels like the next logical step from that album, it sits comfortably somewhere between Feast & Aeon in that it’s got both an electronic feel & a live feel in different places & in different ways. It’s also a much more mature album but it’s still very experimental in a Flesh-Resonance way. I really think we’ve discovered our true sound with this release, the song writing, recording & everything is just the best we’ve had so far. And because we’re taking our time we can fine tune everything from the sound of the album right through to the look of it.

The EP “Aeon” was been recorded and put on your website for people to download for free. Are those tracks featured on the new album as well? And how come you’ve made it available for people to download the whole thing?
Aeon is the stepping stone between The Feast Of Shadows & our next new album. It’s something we wanted to record & release as a free download to enable people to listen to our music without having to part with any money. I think it’s a good introduction to the music of Flesh-Resonance & I hope it makes people search out our other releases. The tracks from Aeon won’t be appearing on the new album, the new album will contain all new material.

What’s the name of the new album? Does it take off where “The Feast of Shadows” ended or have you gone even further in any direction? How many songs does it include etc.?
We haven’t decided on a final title for the new album yet, we’ve got a few ideas but we’re waiting until we get a few more songs recorded & we get a better feel for the album as a whole. As I’ve already mentioned the new album sits somewhere between the Feast album & the Aeon EP in that we will be mixing live sounding tracks with more computer based electronic ones. It’s difficult to say if we’ve gone further in any particular direction at this moment in time because we’re still experimenting with the new songs. We haven’t decided on how many songs the album will feature but we have got a lot of new music & the running time will definitely be over the one hour mark.

As I understood it, you, Keith and Melanie shared the vocal duties on “The Feast Of Shadows”. Is it the same shared vocal duties this time and have you been experimenting more with including other instruments or technologies in the compositions? Also have you any thought of using other unconventional instruments in the future?
It will still be me, Keith & Melanie doing the main vocals for the new album but we’re possibly bringing in a second female vocalist on a couple of tracks as well. It’s only at an early stage at the moment but the next song we record for the album will feature this new vocalist & if that works out then we’ll be featuring her on more songs. We have been experimenting with a lot of new sounds for this album both synthesised & real instruments. There’s a particular song that we’re working on that contains a lot of synthesised tabla & bongo type drums so we came up with this idea of all the band members sitting round in the studio with a different drum & rerecording real drums instead – it would have this ancient tribal feeling to the track, like we were sitting round a fire thousands of years ago. We’ve also been bringing in weird & unconventional sounds as well, anything that enhances the otherworldly feel to our music is good, it’s all about experimenting & coming up with different sounds.

If I’m not completely out of my mind, you’re now using a real drummer apart from the previous releases. What has that brought to the sound of the band and will that be more practical when you’re going to play the songs live?
Yes you’re right, we’ve now got a full time drummer in the band in the form of Al McDougall, we got him in after The Feast Of Shadows album initially for gigs which then naturally developed into studio work as well. We decided pretty early on that we needed a drummer for live work because there’s only so much you can do with a drum machine but saying that our gigs tend to feature both live drumming & electronic drumming, sometimes at the same time to create layers of percussion, it all adds to the overall Flesh-Resonance sound. And now we’ve got a drummer we have the option of making a song sound more natural or more electronic in a live or studio environment depending on what sound we are looking for, we just have more flexibility when it comes to drums & percussion.

Flesh-Resonance seems to be a band that apart from putting out records and playing live are doing a lot of remixes of different sorts and making a lot of videos for the songs. How come you’re doing so much of that and will any of the videos be available as bonus on any release as CDR-tracks or DVD or something like that? I saw the “Illuminance” video which I thought was awesome. It was light years better and more professional than most other videos bands are putting up, which I think shows that you’re taking it very seriously about the whole video making thing. Please tell a little of the production and work behind a video like the “Illuminance” video?
Yes we like to do as many different things as possible with Flesh-Resonance. The remixes & videos are all part of getting the Flesh-Resonance message out there to people & I’m sure we’ll be doing lots of other things in the future. We’ve got a few ideas for new videos for songs from the new album, they’ll all be different & quite exciting. I don’t think we’ll release any videos on our CDs because we’d rather fill that space up with new music but we probably will release a DVD containing all of our videos in the future once we’ve released some more music videos. We’ve spoken in the past about packing a DVD with lots of extras, interviews, behind the scenes, etc. so it will be a complete Flesh-Resonance experience, not just a DVD containing music videos. We are very proud of the Illuminance video, I think it turned out really well. We were lucky enough to meet filmmaker Hannah Dornford-May who shot all this amazing film footage which I then edited into the Illuminance music video. We’re hoping to do some more music videos with her in the future because her work is just so amazing. We’re also looking round at the moment for other filmmakers who’d be interested is creating music videos for us so expect to see more Flesh-Resonance videos by different directors.

One song on “The Feast of Shadows” reminded me of a late Tiamat song. Are you familiar with bands such as Tiamat (previous, the older stuff is pure Death / Black Metal), Puissance, Raison d’etre and other such bands that I think Flesh-Resonance could be compared to at times? If so, what do you think about them and what other sort of music would you say influence you and the other guys while composing songs. Maybe it’s not music at all but a cheese, rusty tools, phonebook, movies, books or other stuff ?
Yes I am familiar with those bands & maybe they have subconsciously inspired us, I don’t think we consciously tried to copy any of those band’s sounds, instead I believe we’ve taken the feeling & darkness of these bands & incorporated them into Flesh-Resonance using a different approach to the music. We’re influenced by a lot of other bands including Celtic Frost, Hawkwind, Prodigy, Pink Floyd & lots of movie soundtracks as well. But it’s not just music that has inspired us in the past, we’re also inspired by sound in general, you know things like the crashing of waves, howling winds, driving rain, noise from industrial plants, etc. You know these are things that we hear a lot in the UK where we live, we get bad weather here & we live close to a lot of industrial areas so all that has helped to shape our sound. Other things inspire us as well from the daily news with all the pain going on in the world to literature like the amazing stories of HP Lovecraft & Edgar Allan Poe.

While playing live, do you use some sort of extra stage performance such as weird lights or something to reflect and support the music, I’m thinking of something like Pink Floyd inspired stuff ?
In the past we’ve just used standard lights, strobes & smoke machines but we’re planning on expanding the live shows to incorporate back projections synchronised to the music. There’s still a lot of work to do on this but we’re thinking of shooting a lot of weird & disturbing film footage & editing it all together to form our stage show. I mean we could actually play Illuminance live & have the video on a massive screen behind us complete with lights, strobes & smoke on the stage, it would be a great experience.

Some guy named Dave Carson made what I think is the new, cover for the album. Compared with previous album covers this one looks more “brutal” or “terrifying”, is that representative for the new songs? And is that a hint for a new even darker approach for the band?
We haven’t finalised the cover for the new album yet, the artwork you’ve seen on our website is by Dave Carson but is only temporary at the moment. We’re hoping to use something by Dave for the final album cover, It will definitely be dark & disturbing which is a good indication of what the new album will sound like. For those who don’t know Dave, he’s the best Lovecraftian artist around – he’s created art for many HP Lovecraft books & related merchandise. This guy is such a good artist & his vision sits perfectly with our music. He actually drew the inside cover of The Feast of Shadows, all the skulls & weirdness was down to him.

How often do you play live and will you be doing any specific shows to support the new album?
We haven’t played live for quite a while now because the new album has really taken over all of our time. In the past we’ve tended to play in different places every month or so. Once the new album is released we’ll be rehearsing again & booking live shows as soon as we can to get the new music out there.

I must say I’m not very familiar with the kind of shows and live performances with bands such as Flesh-Resonance, what kind of people do generally show up to your gigs and what is the worst or weirdest thing that ever happened to one of your gigs?
We get quite a mixed bunch of people at our gigs, young & old, all into different types of music. It’s difficult to say what type of person is going to appear at any one gig because we’ve played so many different types of venue with so many different types of bands. We’ve had a couple of weird gigs. We turned up at one venue & the place was being refurbished, there was paint & furniture all over the place, but the venue was still open. We had to squeeze all the equipment into a small corner of the room right by some stairs & play the gig from there. There was also another gig where we turned up to find the venue was a small village hall complete with flower patterned curtains, it was a really weird place in the middle of nowhere. We just got on with it & when it was our turn to play we just turned the volume right up & went for it. When things like that happen I just tend to think of the movie This Is Spinal Tap & it makes me laugh.

Are you using a private studio with all the equipment and time you could possibly need for the development of Flesh-Resonance?
Yes we’re using our own home studios for recording all of our music. What we tend to do is develop ideas independently & bring those ideas to Andy’s studio for final recording & mixing basically because Andy’s got more room in his studio & we’ve got all our good equipment set-up there. The ideal thing with home studios is that we can experiment & not worry about the money, we can try new things out & if they don’t work then that’s fine, at least we don’t have to pay some big studio a lot of money for nothing.

So will there be any special surprises on the new album and when is it expected to be released? Is there anything else to add for the coming future of Flesh-Resonance?
Well I think this release will have the usual Flesh-Resonance surprise of every track being different & new with the listener not quite knowing what is coming next. That’s how we like to approach our releases; we see them as a kind of journey where the listener is travelling through our music, round every corner there’s another dark secret waiting to be discovered. As I’ve already mentioned the new release will be the next logical step in the Flesh-Resonance progression but you must understand that we’re not forgetting our roots & so there will be a lot of links back to our original releases with the soundscapes & drum machines & so forth. The future of Flesh-Resonance is looking good & we’ve got so many more things planned for the future. There’s just so much we want to do with the band which will all come to fruition with time. We’re going to continue to keep writing good & different music, all the while experimenting with sounds & styles.

Not only do you play with Flesh-Resonance and eat fish & chips all the time every day as all British people do (no, I’m not prejudice at all!) but you’re also making film music for various movies and other projects. How come you got into that business and got the interest to do stuff like that?
Ha ha, yeah fish & chips each & every day, that’s an important part of British life 🙂 I’ve always had an interest in movies, I’m a big movie geek to be honest. I got into film composing after several Flesh-Resonance songs were used in a movie & I was then asked to write some solo music for that filmmaker’s next project. It was a natural progression for me & I really enjoyed writing music specifically for a certain scene of a movie. Other people seemed to like what I did & so word got round & more people started asking me to write for their movies. I think the reason film makers like me is because I do something quite different from most composers. My music is quite dark & quite experimental & I try to steer clear of all those soundtrack clichés that are used so often.

I saw the trailer for the American movie “Wolf at the Door” and you wrote the music for that one right? Did you do any more music than is featured in the movie?
Yes I wrote a lot of music for that movie, I think everything I wrote ended up in the movie which doesn’t usually happen. You tend to write a lot of tracks & maybe a quarter of them won’t be used, that’s just the way it usually happens, but it didn’t happen this way for Wolf. There is actually another composer’s work in the movie, he wrote most of the mellower string music, but I was brought in at the last moment to write the grittier music, the more edgy stuff that the director was looking for, so I wrote music for the more emotional & disturbing scenes.

From what I understood by the trailer it’s about crime and gangsters in New York and your music was a little bit unorthodox compared to other trailers as it featured electric guitars which really work for this trailer and gave it a stronger feeling as it went on with faster cuts just to end abruptly in an crescendo. So how much directions or free hands do you get when making film music etc. And to what extent are you willing to use different instruments to give the scenes a suitable feeling?
It’s about crime & gangsters but this movie gets really personal as the story unfolds, it’s a great movie. Yes the trailer music is different, I think it’s important to experiment all the time, that’s the only way you’re going to discover what works & what doesn’t. I’m always willing to try different sounds & instruments in my music, you know things that you think might not work sometimes do work so it’s always worth giving it a go. But saying that I always end up with songs or different versions of released songs that I’m never going to use because I’ve tried different ideas or sounds & it just doesn’t work with that particular track so I’ve just carried on & done something else. That’s the whole thing about music, it’s all about change, things keep changing, the notes, the sounds, everything changes, it’s just a matter of knowing when something sounds right & to stop experimenting & freeze the track at that precise point. Different directors approach music in different ways, some directors I’ve worked with are quite open to what type of music they want & will just give me a brief description of what they’re looking for & let me get on with it, while other directors are more precise in what they want so when I deliver an early version of music to them they will come back telling me what part or instrument in the song needs changing, you know they will say things like “2:35 in, can you get rid of that instrument & change it to another one?” it’s really that exact. Both these approaches have their own pros & cons but it’s important for me to be flexible & be able to work any way the director wants. I don’t really prefer one approach over the other, sometimes it’s nice to be told exactly what music to write & other times it’s good just to experiment & see where that leads you.

Could you please tell what other films and other projects you’ve done music for? And are you also willing to write music for art exhibitions and other things that doesn’t have anything to do with movies?
The majority of movies I’ve written for are either horror or science fiction films, I think that’s where my dark music fits best. But saying that I’m currently working on the soundtrack for Chris Watsons’ movie Dead In Love which is a drama / comedy & the music I’m writing sits somewhere between acoustic & jazz. I’m working on this weird offbeat track for it at the moment, it contains banjos, acoustic bass, handclaps. I’m just about to record the lead which is actually me whistling so that’s pretty different & it’s an instrument I’ve never used before. Yes I’d be willing to write music for any form of media, an art exhibition would be great, I’d really like to do that or anything else really. If someone approached me to write music for any form of media, then as long as that particular project is exciting to me then I’d say yes.

Do you have any favourite film music composers and what type of film composers do you prefer, the common composers like for example John Williams (typical Steven Spielberg music) or someone more like Ennio Morricone that has a wide spectrum in using all sorts of instruments to cowbells, shoes, coffee machines or whatever is available?
There are a few composers out there that I really admire, Morricone being one of them. His work is truly phenomenal & I vividly remember hearing his work in Westerns when I was a kid & thinking they were wonderful & so different. I guess his work taught me that anything could be used as an instrument & that has given me the desire to experiment with sound. Another composer that really inspires me is Hans Zimmer, he’s written a lot of standard soundtracks but he’s also created some amazing music for movies like The Last Samurai, Gladiator & one of my favourite soundtracks Black Hawk Down, I absolutely love the music from that movie, it’s just so different & raw at times, then other times it’s so emotional & touching. That’s exactly what music should be, unpredictable. I remember hearing the Black Hawk Down soundtrack for the very first time & thinking it was recorded by all these different unheard of foreign bands but then I found out it was all written by Zimmer himself. I listen to that CD on a regular basis because I love it so much.

Is there already an existing movie that you would like to be given the opportunity to create new music for and what would your priority change be?
That’s a good question & quite difficult to answer. There have been movies I’ve watched in the past where I’ve thought the original soundtrack was quite poor & that I could have done a much better job. Then there are other movies where I’d wished I would have written something as good & original as a particular soundtrack. I think if I had the opportunity to re-score an existing movie I’d probably like to do it for either a David Lynch film like Mulholland Drive or maybe Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead, I think my music would really suit those type of movies, I’d bring a lot of darkness & weirdness to them.

So if anyone wants to get some help with music for films, etc. they’re free to contact you? And what are you working on at the moment?
Yes definitely, anyone with any interesting projects should get in touch with me to discuss (music@tonylongworth.com), I’m always on the lookout for something new & exciting to work on, not just in the film media, I’m interested in working in any form of media. As I mentioned before I’m currently working on Chris Watsons’ movie Dead In Love, it’s all going well & I’ve written so much music for it that I’m considering releasing a CD just for that movie. I’ve also got a few other projects planned as well, I’ll be writing music for a Myst-like video game which is going to have a scary horror spin to it & I’ve just started work on a non-verbal zombie movie where the music is going to play such an important part – it’s going to be a collection of bleak scenes featuring a world inhabited just by zombies, the whole thing will be linked & driven purely by the music, I’m really excited about this project.

It could not go unnoticed that you ended up in a car crash awhile ago, you got hit from behind or something like that. And I read a statement from you saying that you didn’t get as angry as you would have if it was a Volvo or a white van hitting you. So now I have to ask you what you got against those particular vehicles? Is there a horrific or action filled childhood story behind all of it or something like that? What would you do if you won a white van on lottery?
Ha, ha, funny question. Well in this country people who drive Volvos or white vans have been given the title of being bad drivers. I’m not sure why this is but there’s a general hatred in this country of those kind of vehicles. I suppose the Volvo is seen as a big type of car with irresponsible drivers & the white van is seen as a delivery vehicle rushing to make a delivery & ignoring how dangerously they’re driving. Saying all that I’m sure most drivers of these vehicles are really responsible but that’s just the image a lot of people have of them. The car crash I was involved in was pretty bad but you know it could have been a lot worse so I’ve got to be thankful for that. The stupid thing is that the whole thing took 8 months to solve all the legal side of it, it’s just ridiculous. Ok I got paid compensation for the accident because I was injured & it wasn’t my fault but I was paid only a small amount when compared to how much the solicitors got paid – I’m sure it’s the same the world over, only the legal system truly profits from incidents like this, greed & stupidity prevails over everything.

Well Tony, I guess that’s all for now, hope there were no trouble answering these questions, they’d definitely give at least me a little more knowledge about Flesh-Resonance. If there’s anything crucial that I might have forgotten, please feel free to fill it in.
Well thanks for the interview, both the band & myself really do appreciate your support. For those reading, if you haven’t already checked out the band or my solo work, then please do so because we’ve got lots of free music & videos online for you to check out without spending a penny. The websites are www.fleshresonance.com & www.tonylongworth.com – enjoy.

So to update the situation about Morbid Symphony a little bit, I did see that you’re now working on some new songs. What can you tell me about them? Any titles for them yet? In what direction are they going? Are you going to release them on a mcd, 7″, album or anything like that?
Work is ongoing with the Morbid Symphony project, we’re currently getting lots of ideas together & there’s a few complete songs now although we haven’t finalised any of the song titles just yet. I can tell you that these tracks are heavy in the traditional Morbid Symphony way & we’ve managed to retain that classic death metal feel while at the same time bringing better quality recording techniques to the proceedings. I think it sounds just like how Morbid Symphony should sound now if they’d never split up & continued down the death metal route – cutting edge & heavy as fuck !!! We’re not sure how we’re going to be releasing the music yet. I think we’ll initially put some new free tracks on our myspace page & see how popular they are then we’ll decide what to do with the other tracks after that. I think a full Morbid Symphony album is a definite possibility, I can’t see any reason not to release one once we’ve got enough good material recorded.

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