Interview: DOWNFALL OF GAIA – Strength in ‘Atrophy’

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The poison of darkness can craft the best medicine.

True, this could possibly be said for many Extreme-atmospheric, or even younger Black Metal artists. But, it is one thing to merely express oneself and another to knead the notes for transformation; a rather shamanic approach to an electric medium.

Since founded in 2008, Downfall of Gaia‘s focus may have always been about the music, but the intra-ethereal affects of their product is indicative of a much deeper agenda, conscious or not, executed through instinct and passion. 

Dominik Goncalves dos Reis (guitar and vocals) and Anton Lisovoj (bass and vocals) are the only founding members active in Downfall today, but rookie Marco Mazzola (guitar) and Michael Kadnar (drums) have found a good formula with them, nonetheless, sharing the inspiring and exhausting dedication the band is known for.

Atrophy, their brand new concept album release, is their fourth full-length project since Epos in 2010 and 2014’s Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay and it has proven that the deeper Downfall plunges, the higher they rise.

Vocalist and composer Dominik Goncalves dos Reis shares a spoonful of sugar to show how Downfall of Gaia‘s medicine goes down…

downfall-of-gaia_photo04TBS – It has been less than a year since Peter Wolff (co-founder/guitarist) left and Marco [Mazzola] took his place. How has this change influenced the work? How is he adjusting to his role and what do you think he brings to the table?

Dominik Goncalves dos Reis – Peter left the band directly before we started with the songwriting for the new record. Usually the both of us prepared demos/songs at home, worked on new riffs etc.

So, this time was a bit different because there was no Peter or even a second guitar player. I worked pretty close with our drummer for this one.

I wrote and prepared the songs at home and afterwards we exchanged ideas about the drumming and rhythm. So in the end this change didn’t really influence the album work that much. When Marco joined the band the record was already written.

But, it is great to have him on board. The connection between the four of us fits and that is the most important thing! You don’t wanna hang around in a van with a guy you can’t stand.

TBS – One of the benefits of technology is that a band has the ability to connect and create as a unit without having to share the same space, or even the same country. However, many bands who enjoy this benefit also state that it’s very difficult to tour, rehearse, or even bond when they’re “geographically challenged.” With part of the band based in Europe and another part in the U.S., do you find you have this difficulty?

DGdR – The internet is definitely making things like this super easy.

You are always connected, you are able to exchange ideas without any bigger problems. But of course there is still the distance. We also don’t rehearse or see each other that often when we are not on the road. Single shows on the weekend are tricky but touring is no big thing at all. The same like for every other band — you just have to be organized.

On the other hand, the distance keeps things fresh because we don’t see each other that often which is a big plus when you are touring a lot.

We know each other for so many years now that I really don’t see a problem in this at all. Of course this might be a bit more tricky for someone who joined a band or whatever. To become part of it without seeing each other that often. But, I don’t see any of these problems in our case.

TBS – I found it very fascinating when Atrophy was described as a “constant dialogue between life and death in which each and everyone is caught day by day” From what perspective did you dramatize the concept? Are you using characterization, personification…? Please explain how the music will illustrate this abstract.

DGdR – Usually before i start writing lyrics I always think about a concept and a direction for an album. I prefer records with a red thread where the songs are connected and everything is coming together as one.

I’m definitely a person thinking and questioning way too much which can be pretty annoying from time to time but at least it is helpful for writing lyrics.

As soon as there is a concept, I start writing. Usually I try to write down a story while inside my head it is looking like there is a movie going on and I got some tickets for the first row.

TBS – Downfall is a shadow-based construct. What benefits do you see in the dystopic arts? How do you feel they affect the audience? Do you believe they can have a positive aspect on a community?

DGdR – In my opinion this kind of music is supposed to deal with the more dark aspects of living. Singing about sunshine and lollipops just wouldn’t feel right.

Music always have been some kind of ‘therapy’ for a lot of people, delivering useful energy and emotions.
There is definitely a positive aspect on this. Music gives you the chance to break free from your daily routine and escape into your own world. Music has a lot of power and is definitely able to have an impact on a lot of things!

TBS – There have been some changes since 2008. What was the initial vision of the band? Has that vision changed in any way since?

downfall21DGdR – Not really. The vision was always to create that kind of music and art that makes us feel comfortable; release records and hit the road.

Of course our music did change in all of these years and we don’t sound nowadays like we did eight years ago. But, that’s a pretty natural progress as musicians and as people.

There is nothing worse than getting stuck.

6 – What do you hope Atrophy will inspire?

DGdR – I don’t know…as long as people can read something into the lines of Atrophy, I’m satisfied.



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