SIGHT OF EMPTINESS from Costa Rica Interview
Do you know any metal band from Costa Rica? The Latin American country is very well-known to the world for the brilliant tropical rain forests but how about its metal scene? SIGHT OF EMPTINESS is the very first band from the country for me and they made me curious to know about it because they are ready to take over the world with their absolutely excellent third full-length Instincts. I had an interview with Eduardo Chacón (singer), Rodrigo Chaverri (drums) and Gabriel Arias (electronics & percussion) from the band.
This is my very first interview with SIGHT OF EMPTINESS, even with a band from Costa Rica. How is the weather treating you?
I’m glad to hear that Kumi, first of all, thanks a lot for having us and support a band like Sight of Emptiness, who comes from a tropical country well known in the world for his nature, instead for his music industry. Weather in December is probably the best in the whole year for us; sunny days and fresh windy nights to enjoy the holidays with some good hot coffee & a “tamal”.
What does your band name “Sight of Emptiness” mean for you?
Eduardo (singer) & Rod (drummer) wanted a name that sounded poetic and powerful at the same time and we also wanted a name that was a question mark to new listeners but made sense after you heard the music and read the lyrics. Since we had no other band-mates yet, we toyed around with a couple of options and landed on Sight of Emptiness which was the one that stuck and we couldn’t be more happy with how good this name fits the music and identity of the band. We have this sight of the emptiness as an opportunity to fill, to create, to experiment from scratch, to learn and together make a new perspective of where we are living with all this different situations that affect us every day as living forms connected to this environment called nature.
Could you tell us about the history of SIGHT OF EMPTINESS and about the current band members?
Initially it was Eduardo (vocals) and Rod (drums), starting the band; a clear mission, strong vision and goals were definitely a must before choosing the name of the band or even thinking about moving forward with the search of the remaining members. Sight of Emptiness was born in 2005, in San José, Costa Rica and quickly became the first melodic death metal act in our country. We were able to self-release our debut album: “Trust is a Disease” (2007). Few lineup changes happened and Rafael (guitar) and Esteban (Bass) joined the band to help finish the writing and recording of our second self-release album: “Absolution of Humanity” (2009). Finally Gabriel (electronics & percussion) and Andrés (guitar) joined the band. Our current lineup is definitely the strongest one and the great chemistry between all six, reflects purely in our first collective effort: “Instincts”, the upcoming S.O.E’s third album.
Well, your third full-length “Instincts” is already out in your country, right? Do you have any plan for the worldwide release?
Absolutely Kumi, we released the album just a few weeks ago here in our country and the response has been nothing but amazing. Overseas, “Instincts” will be available through our official store (www.sightofemptiness.com), also on well-known music platforms such as iTunes, Cd Baby, Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp, etc on January 21st, 2014.
Actually, I’m into the album already. It’s absolutely first-class in every way! So, I am going to ask you a lot about the album. Are you ready? First of all, I would love to hear about the recording and mix/master process because the album has an amazing sound! I guess you guys put huge energies for that, right?
Well, there’s one very special person/friend who took this album and band to a new level. His name is Thomas “Plec” Johansson. The genius, the producer, the down to earth guy who made us believe even more in ourselves and pushed us to the limit every day, in order to extract the essence and only the best of each one of us. Obviously is a collective effort;, we spent practically a year and a half writing this album, and almost 4 months before “Plec” flew all the way from Sweden to Costa Rica, we sent him the demos of every song to star with the pre-production of “Instincst”. This helped us a lot in order to implement the changes and suggestions he made after reviewing all the material.
We also sent him a list with the best music studios in Costa Rica as he requested and he suggested us to book “Solo Hits Studios” for about 3 weeks on a 24/7 plan. Long days full of stories, great chemistry and unforgettable sessions filled our life’s with joy and excitement. Plec’s charisma, knowledge of the genre and his unique touch did make a huge difference. He then exported all the material to his own studio in Sweden: “The Panic Room” to mix, master and add his magic to our third journey: “Instincts”.
About the album title “Instincts”, together with the cover art, it seems the album has a vivid concept. Does it represent the overview of the whole album?
INSTINCTS tells stories based on the region´s flora and fauna; the richest wildlife imaginable. The album focuses on nature, and its gravest threat: mankind. Songs are based on animals, insects and natives. Lyrics explore two different perspectives: animals´ lifestyle in their environment, and humans not being able to respect it and co-exist with them.
I found out each of the track titles are written in one word. Is there any obvious point why you did it so?
Why one-word song titles? Well, since the beginning we were looking for a strong and different concept for the album, something simple but catchy at the same time. Sometimes you can tell more with less, and produce a bigger impact. Even the song titles are not that evident regarding the animal the song is about; you need to explore and do your homework to find out what’s actually happening and who the main character is, and obviously, we would love if people take a little time to go deeper into the lyrics and just come up with their own conclusions. What’s right or wrong? Is up to you.
The opening track “Essence” which is also the first music video from the album is one of my favorite songs in the album and the video has an amazing quality as well as the sound of the album. How did you involve Whitfield Crane of UGLY KID JOE in the song/video?
Essence was suggested by Thomas as the first single of the album because of the power, attitude and “in your face” production. We believe so as well and feel it was the right way to go in order to start promoting the album.
We were fortunate enough to open for Megadeth the first time they played in Costa Rica for a 15000 crowd. Mr. Crane is a personal friend of the Megadeth guys and he was backstage, he is extremely nice and down to Earth. Guess what? He did the unthinkable, he checked out the opening band which he never heard before, then he congratulated us for our performance and we exchange contacts and ended up having him as a guest, during a Ronnie James Dio tribute we did.
Last year when we were on the studio he was vacationing in Costa Rica and he agreed to contribute with amazing vocals on “Essence” and this year he helped yet again by showing up to the set when we were filming the video.
Sight of Emptiness - ESSENCE - feat. Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe [Official Music Video]
In the album, I can feel some traditional Latin American sounds like the percussion in “Obsession”. Do you think the culture of your country and your living environment has much effect on your music in the album or did you put the part in it intentionally?
Yes, we included that section intentionally. The whole album has a concept as well as the sound. As you already know the album talks about animals and nature; so the sound also had to speak; all this little elements has a powerful meaning, for example the Djembe drum at the end of this song has an unexpected beat related to the other instruments, we try to link this with the animal it represents.
Some tracks in the album contents extremely melodic chorus like pop-rock, “Fearless” for example, and the vivid contrast with the brutality made the album more impressive in my opinion, even I’m into Eduardo’s overwhelming kick-ass screams. What do you think about it?
We decided to forget about genres or tags and just focus on the music and write the best album we could and start the path to discover our own sound and identity. From the early days we still keep the goal to be as professional as we can on everything we do, totally a 100% DIY band. The key is to work harder every day to keep improving and evolving as musicians and persons.
Actually, I would like you to explain the details of the album. Could you tell us the track by track story?
This is a good one actually, it would take hours to explain the details of every song and how they came together since it was a looooonnng process hahaha, we can tell you the working titles for every song were really weird and nonsense sometimes, but like we mentioned before; we would love if people take a little time to go deeper into the lyrics and music, and just come up with their own conclusions. We fully recommend turning off the lights and listen to the album with headphones, so you can transport yourself to the country we live in, such a small beauty in the middle of North & South America, full of the craziest and richest wildlife imaginable in the world and experiment an unique and interesting journey from two different perspectives: animals’ lifestyle in their environment, and humans not being able to respect it and co-exist with them.
Anyways, we can actually describe why we decided to include the last track of the album, that actually consist of 2 different songs: Departure: Once finished the process of composition, we felt something was missing, That’s why we decide to include at the end, this electronic track as a representation of the modern behavior of humanity. How we (humans) think this is our time, our triumph, and how we have all we want, we do all what we want, we say all we want, inside digital platforms, artificial sensations, where you can be anyone you want, but within an unreal world; forgetting that we are losing the connection to the earth, to the ground, water, nature... life.
Regarding guest appearances, here’s the list and tracks where they shine:
- Glen Drover (King Diamond, Megadeth) - Guitar solo on "Fearless".
- Ralph Santolla (Deicide, Iced Earth) - Guitar solo on "Obsession".
- Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) - Clean vocals on "Essence".
- Christian Älvestam (Scar Symmetry, Solution .45) - Clean vocals on "Fearless", "Deception" & "Hostility".
- Ole Halvard Sveen (Extol, Mantric) - Clean vocals on "Instincts".
- Manuel Obregón (Costa Rican Minister of Culture) - Piano & Marimba on "Paradox".
Well, you have played a lot of gigs with famous metal bands over years, right? How did you get those fabulous opportunities?
Obviously the music speaks for us better than words, but the hard work and consistency in what we do and how we do it, helps a lot to be recognized as a professional band, surrounded by a great and faithful staff and easy to work with as well. We don’t wait for opportunities to fall from the sky or wait for people to do what we supposed to be doing 24/7. That is and means, taking care of the music and business the right way.
As you know, I knew SIGHT OF EMPTINESS via Josh from BLOODSHOT DAWN right after you shared the stage with them at Bloodstock Open Air in 2012. How was the show? What do you think about them?
The show was awesome, the crew and Bloodstock staff are unbelievable nice people, we enjoyed every second of it, can’t wait to come back to the UK. Sadly we missed Bloodshot Dawn show since they played on the same day we were playing somewhere else in the UK with our good friends of Reign of Fury.
Many of us know Brazil has one of the biggest metal fan bases in the world. How is the metal scene in Costa Rica?
The metal scene in Costa Rica was very small, but it has been steadily growing and the number of young fans is at an all-time high. It exploded when Iron Maiden came to play for the first time and the great atmosphere we experienced as fans was later featured as an entire episode on their Flight 666 movie that definitively made a lot of metal bands to ask their tour managers to include a date in our country.
We have been exposed to a lot of that new young audience thanks to opening slots for Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Amon Amarth, At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Obituary, Living Sacrifice and we have also seen the growth of the scene in the number and quality of many new bands.
Do you have any impression about Japan?
The impression we have is that Japanese metal heads are the most passionate fans in the world, they support the bands they love like no one else and pay attention to all the small details.
Could you tell us what you are planning in 2014?
Release the album overseas and a new video we filmed in Iceland a few months ago. Put together some dates overseas to support the album and obviously play some good local gigs here in Costa Rica.
Please leave some messages to Japanese metal heads and to your fans in the world.
To our Japanese fans, a BIG Thank You and a warm hug all the way from sunny Costa Rica. You guys ready for us? Dreams do come true and we might have a surprise for you all in 2014. We are ready to tour our asses off, promote Instincts 24/7 and conquer the world. ¡Pura Vida amig@s!
Thank you so much for the interview and the great new album “Instincts”.
SIGHT OF EMPTINESS Official links: