Interview with Dan Mitchell
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: July 25, 2012
MetalMike: Hey Dan, how are things going these days? How is the new album, Please Deceive Me, being received in your home state of Connecticut and elsewhere?
Dan: The reception for Please Deceive Me has been overall a quite positive response, and has opened up doors for fans both old and new. I wanted to provide an album that was different from what people have been hearing today in the metal community, and judging by the responses it's gotten I'd say mission accomplished.
MetalMike: Speaking of Please Deceive Me, it is a real stylistic departure from your previous releases. Can you explain what was behind the decision to move away from the Death Metal of, say, Surrender the Fire, and go in a more Epic/Gothic direction? Was it an easy decision to make or did you worry about alienating your existing core of fans?
Dan: I knew what the songs were about from the beginning, and crafted music around the mood each song represented. Today's metal music is completely oversaturated with copycats and shortcuts, so it was very important to go in the opposite direction of what is out there right now. When you start catering to an audience, you limit yourself heavily on boundaries created by what's popular at that moment in time. I've always looked up to people who push boundaries and make their own rules. They are the ones who change history and stick in our memory, while the copycats are always easily forgotten.
MetalMike: You state your music is for fans of Halloween and Horror and both Death Metal and Gothic (if you like that classification/name) lend themselves to those themes, but I noticed the lyrics of Please Deceive Me feel more "personal" whereas on past releases they told more "stories." I hope that statement makes sense! Where do your lyrical inspirations come from and was there anything different that influenced your writing on this album?
Dan: Stories have always been used as somewhat of a disguise to hide what I was truly feeling at the time, and this time around I felt the need to just expose the words for what they were. Saying goodbye to your twenties was a very pivotal moment where life shifted into a different direction, so I made it a point to capture that on paper.
MetalMike: In your opinion, does being the lone member of Autumns Eyes help or hinder your creativity? Do you ever wish you had someone to bounce ideas off of? Or maybe there's someone outside the band proper that is your sounding board?
Dan: The longer this project has endured over time I've noticed many challenges coming into play that stem from being run by me. I handle not just the music, but marketing, web design, merchandise design, and so many other aspects behind the scenes. It's gotten to the point now where I need to enlist some assistance in order to take this to the next level. I'd like to pursue professional management, distribution, merchandising, and promotion. This will loosen the chokehold a bit and allow me to work on other areas such as a live show.
MetalMike: How did Autumns Eyes come about? Was it always a one-man deal? Did you play in bands with other musicians when you were starting out?
Dan: I played in a lot of bands here and there, but Autumns Eyes was always my project that I could put one hundred percent of myself into it. When you're in a band there has to be compromise in order to maintain any sort of longevity. I don't have a problem with compromise by any means, and I love to play with other musicians. I just always came back to Autumns Eyes as an outlet for all my unfiltered ideas. Over time it just gained momentum and became what it is today.
MetalMike: What were your musical influences early on? How about now? Based on what I've read on your website, you are a fan of Type O Negative, but are there any other bands out now that you listen to?
Dan: Early on when I was a kid bands like Van Halen and AC/DC were all I listened to. There's a running joke in my family about how when I was a baby my brother would put on the album 1984 by Van Halen, and I would smile while bouncing around the house in my diaper. Entering my teenage years is when I found Dream Theater and Black Metal. Those were the years I spent soaking in as much as possible, and starting to learn how to do what they were doing both live and in the studio. Now I'm 30 years old, and the playlist has changed a bit over the years. I can't say there are many modern bands I listen to on a daily basis. The majority is from years prior to 1995 with bands like Pink Floyd and Faith No More dominating my ears.
MetalMike: You play all the instruments for Autumns Eyes as well as write the music and sing. Did you take lessons at any point or are you one of those people who are just musically inclined (unlike, say, some reviewers who can't play guitar very well even after 30 years of trying!)?
Dan: I never took any lessons for the instruments I play, I just was lucky enough to know how to hold them and get what sounds I wanted to out of them. I'm nowhere near as studious as most musicians out there who devote huge amounts of time to studying their craft. I truly envy what some of them do, and how deeply devoted they become to their instruments. Unfortunately I have a short attention span and always get distracted when I attempt to dive in headfirst like that. I tend to just play what's in my head rather than learn to play faster or more complex notes.
MetalMike: Has Autumns Eyes ever performed live? If not, do you see that happening at some point or will the band remain a studio project?
Dan: Besides the occasional basement jam session in my studio there has never been a live show. It will happen in the future, but only when all the pieces are in place to do so. It won't be just a couple shows in some small clubs or anything like that. It will be outdoors and in the woods where Autumns Eyes music belongs. I want to create an atmosphere that will give people something to remember the experience.
MetalMike: You shot the video for "Please Deceive Me" in Salem, Massachusetts, a town well known for its "haunted" history, what with the Salem Witch Trials and all. Having been there myself, I know the commercial aspects of the Witch Trials can sometimes overshadow the actual history. Did that commercialism cause you any problems or were you able to get past it? How did being in that place impact the filming and vibe of the video shoot?
Dan: It was more or less just like walking through my back yard. However, when you add the level of history that comes with a place like Salem, it evokes a new level of emotion that captures your attention better than any ordinary location would.
MetalMike: The song and video seem to tell the story of a lost battle with addiction. Is there a personal aspect to the song?
Dan: The song "Please Deceive Me" was written in response to all the friends I was losing to substance abuse. Getting older I noticed how friends tend to split into different groups, the ones who want to move forward and have a productive life, and the ones who want to hold on to their youth. Unfortunately the ones who hold on to their youth are always the ones who suffer the most. What was once a fun way to party and let go for a night or two has transformed into a debilitating addiction that becomes toxic to everyone around. I lost a lot of friends who decided to let that get the best of them, and thus burned all their bridges with the rest of the world.
MetalMike: What is next for Autumns Eyes? Another stylistic change? Building on the foundation started by Please Deceive Me?
Dan: Right now I'm recording five instrumental songs that will be released this fall hopefully. They are the first songs I ever wrote under the Autumns Eyes mantle, but never received a proper recording treatment. It's actually quite a trip to be playing these parts again. I got very excited and plagued with goose bumps when I first heard these riffs sound so huge through this newer equipment. I also have a music video for the track "Haunting Your Daughter" that will be filmed later this summer for a Halloween release. The video will encompass my horror movie roots more than anything you have seen from Autumns Eyes to date.
MetalMike: You seem to be very active on your website, www.autumnseyes.com, and very connected to your fans. How has the Internet shaped the type of musician you are and the type of band Autumns Eyes is?
Dan: Since I don't have the whole live show thing to use for promotion, the Internet has become somewhat of a saving grace for Autumns Eyes. It's allowed a fan base to grow and interact with me personally. I put a lot of care and attention into the website by keeping it updated with fresh content. You get to a point with a band website where it gets sickening having to only post stuff about yourself and your music, so I started featuring articles on horror, metal, and other aspects that influence myself and my fans. Not only does it keep people coming back, but also it adds a personal element that they can relate to rather than just "check out this new song" or "click here to like us on Facebook" type of thing that becomes stale after a while.
MetalMike: What are your top 3 horror films and, if different, which films would you recommend to someone who was new to the genre and wanted a good starting place?
Dan: It seems like the list is always changing, but definitely Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, and Candyman. Chainsaw most notably because of its reputation that people more often depict it as an extremely gory movie, when there is almost no gore in the film. They want to label it as such because the movie has such a psychological impact on its audience, and is somewhat gory on a metaphorical level. If someone is new to the horror genre and wants I good first film to watch, I would suggest something like Alien. It's a blend of both horror and sci-fi that would act as a nice introduction into the genre for people not used to it, rather than push them in head first to a splatter fest.
MetalMike: Well, good luck with Please Deceive Me; it is an excellent album, as I said in my review. Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about Autumns Eyes or Please Deceive Me?
Dan: Thanks Mike! I really appreciate you taking the time out to chat for a bit. I would just tell the readers that if you want to hear something that doesn't sound like everything else out there today, give it a shot. There was a lot of care put into the album, and there are many elements you won't hear upon first listen. I set out to create something that would stand the test of time, and hopefully that's the case!
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to talk to The Metal Crypt!
|Other information about Autumns Eyes on this site|
|Review: Surrender the Fire|
|Review: Please Deceive Me|
|Review: Broken Leaves and Haunted Streets|
|Review: Ending Life Slowly|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on November 2, 2013 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Interview with Dan Mitchell on November 28, 2015 (Interviewed by MetalMike)|
|Video: Please Deceive Me|
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