Ephel Duath’s Davide Tiso probably doesn’t intend to write such outwardly difficult music to grasp; it just comes naturally for him. He’s one of our scene’s boundary-pushers, someone with little regard for the rulebooks that at times, bog the metal scene down and threaten to send it hurdling back to the Stone Age. A cursory glance at ED’s previous output reveals a loose, avant-garde current that worked like a charm on Pain Necessary to Know, but was dull and uninspiring on 2009’s Through My Dog’s Eyes.
Looking to at least gain some semblance of balance, Tiso relocated from his native Italy to San Francisco, loading up with Crisis vocalist Karyn Crisis (who also happens to be his wife), bass behemoth Steve DiGiorigo (Death, Sadus), and drum champ Marco Minneman (Necrophagist). The result is the year’s 3-song EP On Death and Cosmos (Agonia Records), a body of work that leans more to the black metal side while retaining the elusive, yet alluring feel that has come to embody Ephel Duath’s sound. And as we learned via our correspondence with Tiso, the road getting to On Death and Cosmos was a bumpy one…
Blistering.com: You’re now based on the west coast of the United States. In what ways has your new locale shaped the way you approach writing?
Davide Tiso: I think my writing comes from such a deep and personal part of me that the result would probably be the same regardless where I am, but I have to say that living in San Francisco is giving me the chance to be in contact with such a big source of daily inspiring inputs…it is extremely liberating. It feels to me that you can be whatever you want to be in SF, without being judged that much, or not judged at all. It's a good sensation. I think you can easily re-invent yourself in SF, or even discover sides of yourself you didn't know.
I come from a pretty bigot and conservative part of Italy, the northeast. I literally ran away from there and it feels like I came out of a very thick and sticky fog. Now I see colors, much more than the one I was used to see and they are very, very bright. I see my future with a pleasant sense of uncertainty and it feels damn good to realize that I'm not following the steps of anyone before me, like, unfortunately, most guys I grow up with are kind of forced to deal with. I love my family, I love my country but I'm more than fine to have both of them of the other side of the planet.
Blistering.com: Ultimately, what made you move to California? It’s quite the different world from Italy, I would imagine.
Tiso: Just before starting the promotion for 2009 Through my Dog's Eyes, Ephel Duath's singer Lucio Lorusso had to leave the band for economic problems. After putting so much effort in that album, after having arranged that album again and again for a dozen times, after having recorded it spending all the last cent left in our pockets, I suddenly remained the only member in the band. In the meantime Earache was putting some pressure to find new band members and after trying to play with other musicians for a while, I decided to do the promotion for the album by myself and take a break from Ephel Duath.
In the meantime, I got invited by an Italian producer I knew to play the guitars on the Karyn Crisis solo album that was in the works, I accepted. We recorded 17 songs in five-to-six months, and when Karyn came to Italy to record the vocals, there was a fallout between her and the producer and the whole album got into a hold. I didn't have any more ties with Italy anymore, Karyn didn't need to be there anymore either, so we both decided to move to California, where she was living at the time, to find new musicians and start a life together.
Blistering.com: Your split from Earache was rather well-publicized and you didn’t hide your feelings about the label. Now that we’re a few years removed from it, do you have different sentiments regarding the label?
Tiso: I still think Earache was not the right label for Ephel Duath and Ephel Duath was not the right band for Earache, especially in that timeframe, we were right in the middle of that trash metal revival they were investing so much money into. When we got signed with Earache we were under the sub-label Elitist records run by Lee Barrett, who strongly believed in the band. When Elitist closed, all the band got dropped except for us and Biomechanical, and from that moment on I felt there was no one at the label that know what to do with a band like ED. I think it was a relief for both sides to part ways.
Blistering.com: How are things with Agonia? They seem to pretty willing to let you do as you please, which in your case, has to help.
Tiso: To be the top priority of a small but dedicated label run by a fine, supportive and enthusiastic gentleman, is probably the best situation a band like ours could wish to deal with. Now ED has more support from the label, more promotion done by the label, more and better communication with the label, more interviews found by the label, more control and freedom regarding everything about the band granted by the label, music available in gorgeous vinyl and digipack versions thanks to the label, shall I go on? Let me just add that the contract I signed with Agonia is one of the fairest deals I have ever read in my music career so far.
Blistering.com: Having Karyn in the band must be an ideal situation for you. What’s it been like working with someone you’re in a relationship with?
Tiso: Having Karyn in the band is something I'm extremely grateful for, she is the best bandmate I have ever had. I would say that it is not ideal for most couple out there to start an artistic partnership or business together, but I'm so proud the way me and Karyn are handling Ephel Duath. We are very capable to divide the band business from our daily life together, and once we get into the "talking band mode" we share the 100% of decisions, without having any drama or ego involved. Dedication to the band, a lot of work and a clear vision: this is what is getting Ephel Duath better and better every day, and without Karyn onboard I would probably not be able to reach these new goals.