Woccon is a band I stumbled upon a few months ago and were immediately etched in my memory. I grew up listening to tons of melodic death metal, but I haven't heard many news bands in that "sub genre" that have made such a huge impact as Woccon. Woccon just put out a new album called Solace in Decay (which I'll be posting a review of very soon!), but I wanted to get to know the man behind the music. Frontman Tim Rowland had a lot to say, about his writing approaches and musical even the video games he seems to really enjoy spending his time playing.  Check out my conversation with Rowland below.

Kareem CHey Tim! How’s it going?

Tim Rowland: Extremely awful, and by that I mean very well.

Solace in Decay is out, and it sounds massive. How has the album been received so far?

The fans seem to have nothing but overwhelmingly positive words about it, as well as the publications so far. Sometimes, I wonder if people are exaggerating. All in all, I'm content with the response.

What were the song-writing and recording processes like for the album? How did it differ from previous releases?

Well, it didn't differ from the previous releases in recording terms because again, we did it independently and by our own resources. I've just developed a better instinct for it. I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy being in control of engineering and producing myself. The songwriting process was more a mixed bag in comparison to The Wither Fields. Some tracks like Behind the Clouds and And The World Wept were written almost entirely in Guitar Pro before being recorded; sitting at a computer, staring at tabs and sheet music with a guitar in hand. There were also a few tracks written in that way that weren't used because sometimes it's hard to judge how it will really sound when recorded. But mostly I write as I record. That's what works best for me.

Also being a fan of Daylight Dies and noticing similar sonic resemblances in Woccon’s music, I noticed that their guitarist Barre Gambling was also involved in Solace in Decay. Tell us more about that and how that collaboration went.

After the album was completely finished, I felt like there needed to be an intro track and I wasn't sure how to go about it. By that point, we had no guest spots fulfilled as we initially wanted, so I came up with the idea of having something different than just featuring a guest vocalist on a track. So I contacted Barre, which I've had a developing friendship with, and asked him if he was interested in composing a piece to introduce the album. So he agreed and sat with the album for a while to receive the right vibe from it. He had the idea of doing something almost symphonic and keyboard heavy and sent several ideas with just the keys and a lead guitar until we decided on which way to take it. Then I had the challenge of trying to transition it into a full band effort which took a few failed attempts until we got it right. We traded ideas back and forth and gave opinions until it was finished, basically. It took many forms before it reached the finished product. I'm very happy with how the intro turned out. It's nice and epic. I would've never taken it there if it weren't for Barre.

Being a multi-instrumentalist, where do you usually start when you write music? Is it a particular guitar riff or lick, or a drum beat?

I usually start with a guitar, coming up with a simple lead idea or rhythm, but it feels more like two guitar parts in unison. It's almost a push and pull from lead to rhythm. Let's say I scratch record a rhythm idea I like, then I'll come up with a lead that begs the rhythm to change a certain way to give the piece a snug fit. It can go back and forth for a while until I have a section I feel content with, all the while I have drums in my head as this process builds. That's why I'll record rhythmic fills on a guitar before we ever actually get to drums. I know what I want the drums to do at a certain spot. It's usually piece by piece until a song is about finished, then I go back and work on better ways to transition from one part to the next. Oh, and most importantly, a metronome is always used in this process. I'm never without a click track from beginning to end.

Having listened through Solace in Decay, would it be safe to say that you’re into Daylight Dies and Insomnium? What other bands would you say influence Woccon’s material?

Well, let's be honest here. I'll credit Daylight Dies as one of the initial sparks that motivated me to write in this way at the beginning, but I'd like to think I've evolved more out of that with Solace In Decay. Of course that artistic influence will always be there in some fashion, so I'm entirely ok with getting that comparison, but I feel like emotions of despair and melancholy can be attributed to more than just a band comparison. When I reflect a certain way, this is just how my brain produces it. As for Insomnium, they've never been a big influence on me personally, though I like them and respect what they've achieved. We've just gotten lumped in with them so I ran with it. I'm not gonna tell you what other bands influence me, because I don't consciously know. It just seeps out into the music I guess. I'll tell you what bands I DO like to listen to the most and people can be the judge. I have listened and still listen to a lot of KatatoniaOpeth, Daylight Dies, Anathema, ShiningAlcestDeftones, Misery Signals, Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, and more under the radar bands like Acacia, The Fall of Every SeasonAtten Ash, and Vali. I've just listed the bands that could be deemed similar. I listen to much more outside of this realm.

What are some of the lyrical themes in Solace in Decay?

Some of it could be considered a continuation of The Wither Fields, while others are inspired by completely non-doom subjects. There are lyrics about personal struggles and how helpless we can sometimes feel in certain negative situations. There are also lyrics more story based; inspired by an lesser known animated show I like. There's even a song throwing back to the anti-civilization roots of our first demo. It's really all over the place. Instead of forcing cliche themes, I chose to do whatever truly inspired me at the time, but it's still on the darker side of things. 

Are there any shows or tours lined up to promote the album?

Nothing is lined up at the moment. We've gotten a few offers, but had to turn em down due to personal reasons or it just wouldn't work. We're still trying to figure out how we should develop that side of things in the correct way, especially now that something new is brewing. We will always do what's best for us in the end.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not busy with Woccon or with your day job?

I spend most of my free time writing and recording music actually. It's important to me to work harder these days at honing in my skills with writing, recording and mixing. I have a few new things in development, alongside new Woccon music. Other than that, I do a lot of graphic design, both freelance or for my own projects and I enjoy my fair share of video games. Drinking and watching sports is also fun to do with friends. I played a lot of tennis and disc golf back when it wasn't so damn cold. Every now and then I'll get obsessed with reading or studying something. It comes and goes. The more recent obsession for me was WWII history. Oh, and I watch a lot of stand up comedy too. Louis CK, Bill Burr and Norm Macdonald are my favorites.

What bands/songs have been on your playlist lately? Also, what kind of music do you enjoy listening to when you take a break from metal?

The last thing I listened to before this interview was the new Bloodbath album. Before that was probably At The Gates' new album. Both were great, but not ones I will constantly spin most likely. When I'm not listening to metal, which is becoming more common these days, I listen to all kinds of stuff. Whatever suits the mood. Anything by Akira Yamaoka, who did all of the Silent Hill music, is always perfect for any mood, because he'll drag me to that place of despondency in an instant. I listen to neo-folk stuff like Vali and Wood Ox when I'm working on graphic art usually. I need something calm to keep my sanity in check when I'm doing tedious stuff like that. I have developed a weird enjoyment of smooth jazz recently, which is kinda embarrassing. It started long ago as a joke, but then I find myself coming back to it for some reason. Maybe one day Woccon will have the funds to get a guest spot from Kenny G. HAHA Cinematic music is good stuff too. My favorite soundtrack of all time is for the movie, Glory, compose by James Horner.  I enjoy the occasional outlaw country by Johnny Cash or Hank III as well. And let's not forget Rush.

You must have been asked this many times, but with the owl in your logo and the band’s name stemming from a Native American tribe, how do they shape the band’s identity and lyrical themes (assuming that they do)?

They don't. The owl was shaped by what the music represents and the name was just carried over from the demo era into the doom era. We were gonna change the name because it didn't make sense with what we're doing now, but just never did and I'm perfectly fine with that outcome. No disrespect to the once Native tribe.

If you could tour with any band which one would it be and why?

Wow. This is hard. If it had to be someone we would be comfortable knowing we could fit with, it would probably be Opeth. I'd think of that as more strategic. If it didn't matter whether we fit or not, probably something absurdly out of left field and legendary like Prince.

Videogames? What have you been playing?

Where do I begin? For the past couple of years, I've almost switched all of my gaming exclusively to the PC. I keep tabs on Steam sales constantly. For my mmorpg fix I play a lot of Wildstar. I'm usually not the type to get obsessed with mmos, but that game did it for me. I never got into World of Warcraft or anything like that. The mmo I played before Wildstar was Lord of the Rings Online. I enjoyed exploring Middle-Earth. Minecraft is another one I've played off and on for a few years now. That game continues to surprise me. For my competitive shooter fix, I play Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2. Perfect game with the right amount of realism and scale for me. I'm getting tired of the whole twitch Call of Duty/Halo thing, but I will be psyched when they bring back this new Unreal Tournament in the works. Of course any and all Silent Hill games. I could go on forever if I wanted to, but I'll just make a list of my favorites. Final Fantasy 7Shenmue 1 & 2MorrowindSyberia 1 & 2,  Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, etc, etc, etc. For the record, Sam, our bassist, would probably like me to add that he devotes most of his time to Elder Scrolls Online.

Have you ever checked out a metal band from the Middle East? If so, which ones have you heard?

Can't say I've discovered any that I regularly listen to, but I'm aware there's a passionate metal scene in the Middle East. I remember that whole controversy surrounding that band, Seeds of Iblis. I know of Orphaned Land too. I can't think of any more right now that stand out for me. Maybe you can make a list of essential albums and I'll check em out. I'm always excited to discover new bands.

Any final words for and its readers?

Well I assume that if you got this far in the interview, you either know us already or I'm just slightly interesting enough that you want to know what Woccon is about. Any and all support for us in this massively over saturated music age is appreciated. Thanks for reading and don't let my liking to smooth jazz facts get out too far. HAHA 

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Tim! All the best!

Thank you! And thanks for the question about video games. About damn time someone asked.

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