Fifteen years ago, bandmates Evan Nave and Susan contemplated the end of their industrial/goth band, Lestat. The Goth scene was changing and they were getting older. They were the only two members left in the band. Time was running out. But how could they walk away from the music, something they had believed in for so long? Disbanding was not a choice either artist wanted to make, but it was the situation they found themselves in. Both were unwilling to give up completely on their music, and not knowing what the future would bring, the band sat down one last time and created ten new tracks. But it was over, time to move on with their lives. The last tapes were put aside and forgotten.
You cannot stop the music. In 2000, Nave formed Planet Killswitch (PKS), which fit somewhere in the metalcore genre. He continued to write and create, even perform and tour, but he was not where he belonged. Lestat may have ceased to exist as a group, but the music was still there. The hopes and dreams for Lestat did not die when the band fell apart, they remained simmering within Nave like a witch’s cauldron, stopping just short of boiling over. PKS rocked for ten years, released two full length albums, and went their separate ways.
But Nave was determined to finish what he started. He arranged a reunion show to launch Lestat back into the scene. The music, which began in 1998, was designed to be Goth music with harmony. Nave accomplishes this in his individual writing process. Each song is built in layers, usually beginning with the keyboard, adding single instrumental elements until the music is finished. The lyrics are added last, along with unique sound effects, including spoken words to create haunting melodies and the dark industrial sound that Lestat is known for. Nave describes the evolution of their music through the discography by saying, “Theatre of Vampires was so very experimental, because that’s where we were. Trying to find our voices and throwing everything at the wall, so to speak.” The next release, Grave Desires showed a more ‘aggressive and industrial’ sound, but the last release in 1994, Vision of Sorrows, was where Lestat finally found their voice.
In music, sometimes too much is just enough. Lestat was reborn with Nave, Susan, War (former bassist for PKS) and Scott (previous drummer for Disown) to play a 2010 reunion show. Nave explains, “Adding organic bass and drums have really helped to mix things up as well. They add a lot of personality to the songs with fills and ever changing patterns.” With the new members on board, previous collections were re-mastered and remixed to re-release at the same time as the first concert. The once-more inspired Lestat announced they would also write, record and perform an all-new track to coincide with the reunion show. It was quite a bit to accomplish with a tight deadline, but the reunion was met with positive fan reactions and relative commercial success. The renewed interest brought touring opportunities and a new album in 2012 titled Arisen was released under the Niliaihah Record label.
Momentum goes both ways. Nave is all too aware that forward motion is only as good as the force behind it. He began writing and composing while still on tour, preparing the second release for Lestat. Industrial/goth music is complicated in its simplicity. Nave sings in one key, creating a monotone effect or dark vocal element, which sounds easy, but is extremely demanding. He spends untold hours in the studio during recording and mixdown to produce a single track, but the effort is worth it. Nave says, “Even if the material is the darkest or most melancholic, there is always a contentment that comes with being able to give it life.” It was difficult, the pressure was on to exceed expectations, and the progress was agonizingly slow.
The most extraordinary events happen on ordinary days. On a routine drive to Florida, Nave and Susan sought to distract themselves from the building anxiety over the new album. Susan brought the last recordings made when Lestat was still together. They were instantly entranced with the music, drawn to the fresh sound and the exciting mood it created. Imagine their surprise as the lost tracks from fifteen years ago filled the car with music that they could hardly remember making! In a moment of clarity, Nave and Susan knew that this was their album. Nave states, “Our last album was named Arisen but really it should be the title of this one, because the songs are coming back from the past.” A little updating, with a tweak here and there, would bring the past to the present in an extraordinary twist of fate.
At a recent live performance in Cleveland, I was captivated by how the intricate industrial sounds combined with charismatic vocals to set the tone for the entire set. I could not stop listening and each song brought completely different feelings and moods to light. Currently, Lestat will continue to work on the present album, featuring the lost songs from the past, which is due out late this Fall.