“We can’t wait to perform it live for the world.”

The year has just begun and we are already hearing some great music. EVERDAWN are Symphonic Metal icons in the making and their latest release Cleopatra is solid proof of this. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to drummer Dan Prestup about this latest release, what has helped him cope with the pandemic and what period he would like to travel back to. Here’s what happened.

Hello Dan, thanks for joining us today. So, your album Cleopatra. I have got to say it’s amazing, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We appreciate that greatly, we are happy to see that people are responding so positively to it. We have been working on this record for a while now and we were happy to finish it and get it out this year. 

As we were just discussing lockdown and covid before recording the interview, did you manage to get everything recorded before you went into lockdown?

Yes, luckily we got everything recorded before we went into lockdown. We recorded at different studios as luckily everything was still open and we were able to travel to record. Our singer, Alina [Gavrilenko] drove from Canada to the recording studio so we recorded the vocals at Sound Mind Record Studios in Pennsylvania with the producer Daniel Mulch, great guy. Our album was mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö. We were really honoured to work with both of them and they were very easy to work with so luckily we were all able to get together before COVID shut everything down. We can’t wait to perform live for the world.

Speaking of live performances, is there any tracks on Cleopatra you are looking forward to playing live the most?

That’s a tough question, the title track Cleopatra is going to be epic to perform live. Also, Infinity Divine, that’s another one I really like. I mean rhythmically, certain aspects of the track are fun to play as a drummer. We’re pretty sure when we can all get together again, we will do a full music video for the song Cleopatra. We want to make that extremely epic for everyone. We want to make a killer production for that one.

What made you guys decide to choose Cleopatra for the album concept?

I think lyrically, we think of the terms epic and mystical. We thought it would be cool to have a concept about Cleopatra, the pyramids, Egyptian. Boris [Zaks] and Alina have incredible ideas about how they tell the stories through the lyrics on the album. It’s pretty wild, I’m not a lyricist myself so I am blown away by the lyrics and how they come up with this stuff. It was just thinking of the word epic.

Who are you guys personally influenced by? Within the album I got hints of Nightwish, Visions Of Atlantis.

In terms of the band definitely Nightwish, I have seen them live a few times and they are amazing. Therion are another influence, we got to tour with them in 2018. I knew of them before but became a huge fan after touring with them. On our song Your Majesty Sadness, we have Thomas Vickström on the track. We were honoured to have him do a duet with Alina. For me personally, any kind of metal. I love Metallica, Pantera, Nightwish, Symphony X and Dream Theatre, those bands are incredible. 

I was going to touch upon Thomas Vickström appearing on Your Majesty Sadness, did you already have in mind you were going to include a guest musician or was that something that came up later?

We had ideas along the way but we weren’t a hundred percent what we were thinking of at the time. After we got off tour with Therion and hearing how incredible he is as a singer, we thought stylistically a duet between Alina and Thomas would blend amazingly. 

So I texted Thomas and asked if he would be interested in singing on one of our upcoming tracks and he said yes right away. So we sent him the lyrics and the song, he listened to it then recorded it at his place. He sent back the track and we were blown away. It’s personally one of my favourite tracks on the record.

So 2020, a year I think we’d all like to forget. What ways did you cope with lockdown?

We had just started writing for the album, working on pre-production and busy with the recording aspect of things since we can’t play live. We were also thinking about doing a virtual concert in the near future, I know a lot of bands are doing that since you can’t perform at venues. We are hoping by the end of this year, we will be able to get back on the road again. I think people will be anxious at first and the demand for live shows is going to be huge. It’s coming up to year since concerts had to come to a halt.

We have mainly been writing. We are even doing pre-production for a following album. We already material written for that. Boris and Rich [Fischer] are writing tracks, Elina is coming up with vocal melodies and lyrics. So we’re trying to keep as busy as possible until we can play live.

The situation has been detrimental to mental health as well. What is mental health awareness like in the USA?

Where lots of places have shut down, it’s a case of keeping everybody’s spirits up. A lot of people have lost their jobs and just sitting at home, so mentally it’s tough on a lot of people. It was very dramatic how everything just shut down so I think it’s effecting a lot of people in the US. I know in New York, the streets are really empty at the moment. Pre-covid, you would see thousands of people. I drove through a few months ago and saw there was about fifty people on the streets. It’s really strange to see. A lot of stuff is still shut down.

I suppose it’s also tough on those who already struggle with mental illness such as anxiety and depression. 

It’s been tough on a lot of people, there are a lot of mental health organisations luckily. So there are numbers to call if people need help.

Do you think there is anything that can be done to help people feel more comfortable when talking about their mental health?

Personally for me, I would say there’s nothing embarrassing about being open about your mental health. Anybody can be open, everyone is going through the same thing at the moment. The whole world is pretty much in the same boat so whether it’s music, acting, restaurants, suddenly we go from being really busy to thinking of other things to do in the meantime. There’s definitely ways to be open about it, it’s challenging times.

If you have a bad time with your mental health, is there anything you do to help ground yourself? Maybe a hobby or a band.

For me, the gyms have just opened up in New Jersey not that long ago. Exercise is one of the things for me so I will try to have a jog around the neighbourhood if I can. Not right now as it’s too cold. Listening to music helps too so I am always in my car listening to music all the time. Music number one and exercising helps get my mind off things.

The year has just begun, there are albums that I have highly enjoyed already. Is there any that you have come across?

I can’t remember what date it was released but I really enjoyed the latest Fleshgod Apocalypse record. I heard it not that long ago and I really loved it. Also, there’s so many albums to keep up with. Therion’s Leviathan is on my list to listen to, I love the singles they released with it. 

The creation of the album Cleopatra made me think of this question, if you could travel back in time where would you go?

I would say the eighties. I was too young to remember the eighties as I was born in the mid eighties. A lot of the bands I listen to are from the eighties, I enjoy a lot of horror movies from the eighties. I think it was a different era for music and it seemed like clubs and venues were all about a big party.

Do you have a message for our readers?

Our album Cleopatra is out now. Be sure to check out our latest track Your Majesty Sadness and we will see you on the road when we can back out.

Thank you for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the release.

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