Interview with Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus
Solitude Aeturnus have been one of the few metal bands that have made it in my top ten list of being able to handle what I like to call; "pretty male vocalist bands", with no disrespect towards Robert, or any other male vocalist that can sing with such clean power. I have always been picky about clean male vocals in metal; if it wasnít brutal death or thrash metal vocals, or high pitched black metal vocals, I wouldnít even bother. But Robert Lowe has been my favorite clean metal vocalist since the beginning, next to King Diamond, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford; respectively.
When my friend Mike told me about Atheist playing in Chicago on April 21st at this yearís Powerfest, I knew I was going to go. And when I found out Solitude was playing on the 20th, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to go. I was even telling Mike that I would quit my job if they wouldnít give me that weekend off. Getting the time off from managing at a restaurant can be rather difficult at times, but I was willing to quit! Thankfully I didnít have to quit my job and I was finally given the pleasure of checking out two of the most underrated bands that have ever existed. Thank you Powerfest for bringing them to Illinois, even if it was a 6 hour a drive for us (Although Iím sure others traveled from further away!).
Interview and live pictures by Michael F. Coles
The Outcast: You mentioned something about the Texas scene suckiní while on stage. Growing up 6 years of my life in Houston, all of the shows I attended were always packed and pretty killer. Is it really that bad now?
Robert: Well, it depends on when you were there.
The Outcast: Late 80ís.
Robert: Um, late 80ís? Up to about 95 the scene was good. The scene was good for metal, there were a lot of good clubs, and just about any band could play. Solitude was playing weekly and making good at it, but um, I donít know what the fuck happened. Grundge came in, clubs started closing down, and then it all went to.... How can I say this correctly (looking towards and asking Heather, his other half)? Hip-hop. So basically thatís what happened. Actually, these past few months there has been a turn around. There are a couple of clubs that are opening up that are featuring metal acts, so maybe Dallas will be good again. But Dallas is pretty much owned by Clear Channel, which owns pretty much every other mother fucking radio station and advertising agency out there. They pretty much dictate whatís on the Dallas market, so you donít get a variety of music that people should be able to have to listen to.
The Outcast: That sucks. Before I forget, I heard you were singing for Candlemass now?
Robert: We recently did the 20 year reunion about a couple of weeks ago and that went pretty well. Packed house, sold out.
The Outcast: Will you be able to do both bands?
Robert: Oh easy. Weíve already pretty much worked out the rest of the schedule for the rest of the year between the two bands.
The Outcast: Does Solitude have any other tours here in the U.S., or is Powerfest it?
Robert: No, we just did this for shits and grins. In late June Iíll be starting stuff with Candlemass. So Iíll be out of the States for a few months.
The Outcast: Do you think Solitude and Candlemass will ever tour together, or will that be too much on your vocal chords?
Robert: Possibly no. Thereís no way I could go 4 hours of hollering, you know?
The Outcast: King Diamond also went out with Mercyful Fate and the King said it was the biggest mistake.
Robert: You just canít do that man. You just canít ask a person to go up there and sing for 4 hours, especially the way King Diamond sings. You just canít do 4 hours every night. The tours Solitude have done have been 28 days with one day off. Itís an ass beating!!
The Outcast: Itís going to be a pretty busy year for you.
Robert: Not as busy as I thought it was going to be, but it will still be back and forth, back and forth from Sweden to America, so..... Which is fine with me, it beats the hell out of sitting in a cubicle.
The Outcast: I bet it does. I heard that you toured with Saviour Machine a while ago?
Robert: Yeah, it was like 97. We went out for like 3 weeks or so.
The Outcast: I interviewed them a while ago and they mentioned they toured with Solitude and even mentioned you did an awesome cover of Heaven and Hell.
Robert: That song is on the "Adagio" album. Yeah, they were good guys. It was a really laid back tour.
The Outcast: Did you know that they were a Christian band before hand?
Robert: Actually in Amsterdam they paid us, but they wouldnít allow us to play in Amsterdam because they said we were too satanic. So we sat on the bus all night and drank.
The Outcast: Thatís really retarded. Amsterdam said that or Saviour Machine?
Robert: Amsterdam said that. The club owner..... It was a Christian night or something like that and we were too satanic, so we didnít play that night.
The Outcast: You guys arenít even close to being satanic, or even close to having satanic lyrics.
Robert: The guy didnít have a fucking clue what he was talking about. So we just got our drinks, got paid, got back on the bus, and just said; "Whatever."
The Outcast: Thatís really odd. So tell me about your image? How important is it for you to have the image that you do?
Robert: I think as far as image goes, as a band, as our genre, I think itís an entertainment package. When you go to see King Diamond for example, you go to see the band and I think the image should fit the package. You go there for the music. The music takes you away from whatever youíre doing day to day. So when you go and see the band, there should be something besides guys that just got up from the couch and play an instrument. Itís entertainment, thatís what it is. You should be able to sit back and go; "WOW, thatís fuckiní cool", whether itís simple things, or extravagant stuff. In the days of Kiss, that was extravagant. To go and see Kiss was to get something to take back from the show as apposed to your buddy over there playing his guitar and wearing a t-shirt and in shorts, you know? So I actually came up with the whole kind of Bishop priest robe thing simply as kind of a sarcastic approach to just the whole ideology behind "Alone" (new album); and thatís what we are.
The Outcast: Thatís cool. Now Iím going to ask a question that goes more along the theme of the magazine. Do you believe in God and Satan as actual beings? What are your views on these two individuals?
Robert: I am definitely not a Satanist. The Christianity and the whole devil Satan thing with Solitude has been going on back and forth forever and ever. I have my own personal beliefs, and I have questions. Those questions are represented in my music and in the ways I carry my self in. (Long pause) Pretty much just leave it at that.
The Outcast: Did your parents ever force religion down your throat or anything of the sort?
Robert: No, no, never forced. It was there. It was something I also explored on my own to.
The Outcast: What denomination?
Robert: Um, no (hesitant)....... Weíll leave that one alone.
The Outcast: Okay, weíll leave that one alone. I was raised Catholic. And when my dad remarried, he married a Pentecostal woman and then he also became a Pentecost. So growing up I had two extremes coming at me on both ends and that kind of sucked when you are a kid trying to figure things out on your own, you know?
Robert: Did you have to go to Catholic school?
The Outcast: Well, Iím from Mexico City, so yeah, I actually did. Down there you have no choice really. Everyone is pretty much Catholic. Not so much now, but back when I was young, Catholicism was dominant.
Robert: I have quite a few friends that were raised Catholic and that were raised in a Catholic school, and you hear the stories first hand, so.... Right now, here at this point in time neither bash, or abstain from any religion. Itís just a matter of finding yourself.
The Outcast: So if you wanted to boil it down, what would be your number one philosophy in life?
Robert: If you want to really boil it down to the meat and bone and get rid of all the crap, I mean...... (Long pause) Well fuck me with a stick. Thatís hard to answer without getting into even Christian politics, so to speak. Letís just say.... Iíll leave it at this; itís like talking religion and politics. Everybody has their beliefs and everyone knows what they know, or their perception of what they know from what they are given. I believe in a higher power, and I just work it that way.
The Outcast: What do you think of bands who use satanic imagery, and who use it in their lyrics, but really have no clue what they are talking about? They just use it as a gimmick. Or even if they do, what is your opinion of bands, who preach evil, hatred, and death?
Robert: As far as that goes..... Its one thing to have a gimmick...... It is a shock value, well, it was 10 years ago, but it aint now. If youíre going to have shock value, thatís fine, but if youíre also maybe twisting minds of....... There was a 15 year old out here tonight and this was his first concert. Do you really want a 15 year old, or a 12 year old coming to a show and being presented with stuff where he still hasnít even formed his own mind eye of opinion yet? Thatís the imagery he got and thatís what he takes away from it, you know?
The Outcast: Do you think that a lot of young kids who get into metal who havenít really developed their minds yet, or ideas, are easily influenced and are more than willing to accept the lyrics of bands like say Slayer or Mercyful Fate? Do you think it influences them in a negative way if say these kids do not have a stable home, or upbringing?
Robert: If they donít have a good baseline. I wouldnít say so much as Slayer. When you really look at what Slayer is writing about, itís hatred more so than it is Satanic. Lyrically though they present it satanically. I mean Kerry King, in an interview he did back in 81 or 82, I donít know, he wrote a lot of the music simply because of his existence living across the street from an abattoir, is what I understand. It formed opinions and things in his brain just from seeing slaughter. I donít know if thatís true, but thatís what I heard.
The Outcast: Well Robert, thatís all I have right now man. I didnít think I was going to get to interview you, so Iíll leave it at that and hopefully I can e-mail you the rest of the questions and the pictures I took of you guys tonight later on this week.
Robert: Yeah, yeah, you can contact Heather on My Space and we can finish it up.
Although I have e-mailed all of those questions to Heather on My Space, I was told that he hates to write and that he would call me later to do the follow up. I waited and waited and got tired of waiting, so this is what we have............. - Mike