More often than not, the best way to achieve success is to do it your own way. Artistic integrity is a commodity an aspiring musician may trade to take their music to a bigger audience but sometimes a group breaks that mold, a pioneer who utilizes both ingenuity and creativity.
Black Crown Initiate is a band on the rise. The success of the self-released EP has become a part of metal lore. The group’s signing to Entertainment One Music resulted in their highly acclaimed full-length debut The Wreckage of Stars. A follow up is scheduled to drop July 22nd and the buzz around the band is growing. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Black Crown vocalist, James Dorton, during this year’s Metal Alliance.
David Halbe: You’ve played Metal Alliance a couple of times now, how’s the band matured since your initial stint?
James Dorton: Well, we’ve been touring a lot so we’ve become much better players. We are much more comfortable on stage. We are very committed to this lifestyle which has taken its toll on each of us or changed us in its own way but we are totally dedicated to it so I think that’s affected all aspects which has allowed us to continue to grow, especially with the new material we’ve written.
Dave: Is there a special meaning behind the new album’s title Selves We Cannot Forgive?
James: Yes, Andy Thomas writes most of the lyrics and he would be able to comment on that better.
Dave: Guitarist, clean vocalist of the band?
James: Oh yeah, you know the dude, he’s got a big old beard.
Dave: (Laughs) Yes he does!
James: I could give you a vague description of what the lyrics are about but I think you better ask Andy.
Dave: Ok, I’ll see if I can find him. The new album cover reminds me of Slayer’s Reign in Blood or something, is that what were you guys going for?
James: Yeah! For that one Travis Smith did the artwork. We gave him the lyrics for the album and let him do his own interpretation.
Dave: It seems very primal, gloom, and evil.
James: We were originally going to call the album something else but it was still based on the same lyrical content.
Dave: That’s cool. Has any video support for the new album been planned?
James: Yes, as soon as we get home from this tour we are going to be filming. There may be a couple of music videos.
Dave: Will one of them be for the song you did tonight, “For Red Cloud”?
James: We’ll see, we’ll see. I don’t know right now.
Dave: What’s up next after this current tour?
James: More touring, we’re on tour now and we’re going to be touring again.
Dave: Anything coming up you can tell me about?
James: Ah, there’s nothing announced so I can’t really say anything yet, but I can say that we’ve got a lot on our plate this year for sure. We’re going to be very busy, finding ourselves in places we’ve never been. Hopefully it will give more people the opportunity to get out there and see us.
Dave: For sure. The Song of the Crippled Bull EP – is becoming a sought-after commodity, any chance of a re-release?
James: Yes! We’re going to re-release it ourselves. The original album was done with a drum machine. We had no drummer at the time. We just re-recorded the drums for that EP with Jesse [Beahler] and we’re going to get it re-mastered and re-release it. It’s not going to be terribly soon but we are going to do that, we also plan on having it available on vinyl.
Dave: Man that would be great!
Dave: What are the origins of the Black Crown Initiate name?
James: Black Crown Initiate is based on a theme found in Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Buddha that wears the black crown is said to be the one that brings light into the world. The way in which it does that, is the ushering in of a new age. The cycle is to show the world how depraved it’s become.
Dave: So it’s self-reflection in a way?
James: Well, it’s just basically our view point of this age. We kind of live in an age of chaos and perpetual war due to conflicting interests around the world. Everyone seems to be at odds with each other. We believe things are moving in cycles and we are all actually moving from a state of order to a state of chaos. We are now on the fringes of that.
Dave: Oh fuck.
James: The Song of the Crippled Bull is based on that idea. It’s based on a kind of metaphor, that there’s four stages going from the golden age to the silver age to the bronze age to the iron age, the iron age being the age of discord and that’s where we are now.
Dave: I get it.
James: Yeah, so that’s kind of the basic idea, with each age the bull, even though it’s a strong creature, losses a leg so the crippled bull moving into the final is a bull with only one leg.
Dave: Wow! A philosophy representing the end but also a rebirth, right?
James: Yeah, the whole idea is that things break on through to the other side, everything eventually comes full circle and hopefully things get better if we don’t wipe each other out!
Dave: For sure. How was the tour you did in March with Black Fast the ‘Blacker than All’ Tour?
James: It was good. We love those guys. Those dudes are fucking awesome, they are great label mates. They killed it every night on tour, they’re really professional guys. The shows all had a great turnout.
Dave: That tour ended with a Saint Patrick’s Day performance at the South by Southwest Music festival, how was that?
James: That’s basically what we did; we did a short tour with Black Fast to get that festival. We shared the stage with them and Tooth Grinder. It was a good time, a good show. We ended up doing another short tour on the way back.
Dave: Thanks for your time tonight James, anything you want to add?
James: Yeah for sure, don’t forget we’ve got a new album dropping July 22nd, it’s called Selves We Cannot Forgive, check it out and see us on tour! And this Thursday (May 5th) we’ve got a new song coming out, it’s called “For Red Cloud“
Dave: Is that the new song you played tonight?
Dave: Kick ass track, thanks again!
James: No problem! Great to see you!