2016 Brimstone Coven interview with Andrew D’Cagna
Brimstone Coven is the brainchild of guitarist and principal songwriter, Corey Roth. Hailing from Wheeling, West Virginia, Roth gathered together a group of friends and fellow musicians that had played together in different iterations on different projects over the years. His goal–to create a band grown from the roots of classic 60s and 70s occult artists and proto-metal forefathers.
“When the idea for this band crept into my thoughts,” offered Roth, “I knew that it needed to have that late ’60s/early ’70s, sound mixed with a creepy/witchy vibe that those years had going on. The brimstone, sulfur or ‘leviathan cross’ was a symbol that had always stood out to me and I knew that at some point, I wanted to use it for a band or project. With all of those ingredients stirring around my mind, Brimstone Coven was born.”
Joining Roth in the cause is bassist and producer Andrew D’Cagna, drummer Justin Wood, and vocalist John Williams. The band began its journey in 2011, self-releasing two albums in 2013 before Metal Blade Records caught wind of the band. The label re-released the first two records on one album in 2014, and on January 29, Brimstone Coven will release Black Magic–the band’s darkest effort to date. This week, Metalholic caught up with D’Cagna to chat about the back story on the band, the new record, as well as his thoughts on our recent fallen rock and roll legends; Scott Weiland, Lemmy Kilmister, and David Bowie.
Each member of Brimstone Coven is a multi-instrumentalist, and each member could rotate into any position in the band with ease, but as D’Cagna shared, sometimes you have to play with the parts to achieve the sound you want. Roth had originally tapped Andrew to front the band, with John on bass, but in the end they switched positions and the pieces fell into place.
“When Corey first came to us with the idea, he said ‘Hey, I’ve got this project, and I think you’d be the right guy to do vocals for it.’ He gave me a song that ended up being ‘The Ancients’ off the first record. I demo’d vocals for it and I handed it to him and I said I gotta be honest, I don’t I’m the guy for you. I have more of a traditional heavy metal voice like a Maiden/Dio type deal. It technically worked but it didn’t sound right. He said, ‘Okay, well I have John trying out for bass, why don’t you play bass and we’ll try John out.’ I said that’s a great idea because I’d heard John sing before and I knew he had pipes. We tried that and it immediately clicked.”
One of the elements that sets Brimstone Coven apart from its contemporaries is the use of three-part harmonies. Roth, Williams and D’Cagna combine to add depth to many of the band’s songs with their combined vocals, though this happened more by happenstance than intent.
“There were definitely two-part harmonies peppered throughout the songs,” D’Cagna shares of the band’s early demos. “We were just playing those songs as is with the two-part harmonies, and another friend/musician cohort of mine was enlightening me to the world of three-part harmonies. So I was kind of in the mind state of it to whenever I heard a two-part harmony, I automatically started thinking about a third one. So when we started jamming these songs I said hey, I hear this, can I throw this in? Everybody agreed. We tried it, and it worked. It was just one of those things–we didn’t know what we had until we had it.”
“It is a darker sounding record,” concurs D’Cagna. “I think the production of it sounds darker, and I think that was a little deliberate. I think the bulk of the songs on the Metal Blade debut were a little too polished sounding, and after we got done and listened to it, I think we wanted it to be a little more classic sounding. Those quintessential, classic, creepy sounding recordings don’t sound bright at all. They sound dark and murky and gritty and dirty. So we did intentionally want to get a little bit darker in the production value. The songs themselves, I think, have a more morose and somber feel to them compared to the other recordings. That wasn’t necessarily intentional, but we’re totally cool with it.”
You can listen to the full interview with D’Cagna below as he talks about the new album in greater detail and also shares some of the albums that informed his musical path. You can also check out the video for the title track, “Black Magic”.