Interview with Emily Ovenden of Pythia

Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel

I was very intrigued with the album cover of The Serpent’s Curse. Who came up with it?

This cover was designed for us by Brian Froud the world famous fantasy artist. Brain also designed for the original Star Wars films, Dark Crystal and Labyrinth One of the main themes on the album is the concept of religion and so there’s the obvious reference to the snake in the Garden of Eden and it’s also an obvious reference to the name Pythia.

About how long were you guys in the studio and did you face any problems?

There weren’t any huge problems in terms of the recording – though you’d have thought there had been, considering how long it took to get the album out! I think it took the better part of 6 months from start to finish, though it’s difficult to say exactly how long as our recording process means we don’t all get together in a single studio, so to speak. We generally record via our own home studios and then pass on the recorded tracks to the next person when they’re ready. Marc (Dyos) was the only one who actually went to a studio to put his drums down and then we each added our bits on top. Last of all, Are our sound man mixed it all into the wonderful finished product.

How will this album be compared to the previous?

Hopefully as a step forward! After the first album and the touring and generally playing together more, we’ve solidified our sound and approach somewhat, so hopefully the more mature and developed sound will come across in this album. Musically it’s faster and heavier, taking more queues from some of the guy’s backgrounds in more extreme music, so if anything it’s even more of a metal album than Beneath the Veiled Embrace. I’m very pleased with the lyrics as I think they tell a consistent story throughout the album and I really hope people take time to listen and interpret them.

Will there be any guests featured or any other surprises?

We didn’t go for any guests this time on the album (how can you top Brian Blessed!), though I hope anyone who’s now checking out the band and had thought of us as ‘just another female-fronted metal band’ are pleasantly surprised by the depth and diversity of the music.

Where did the photoshoot for the promotionals take place?

Out on the plains of battle, of course! Seriously, we used St John at Hackney church up in East London for most of the shots, sadly not on location – that’s added by the magic of computer editing!

Who was the photographer?

We used a couple of different photographers, Clive Arrowsmith, Scott Clambers and Hayley Madden. They were all really keen to photograph Pythia specifically. I’m really pleased with all the shots have turned out – I think they all did a cracking job!

Who came up with the look of the band?

They boys outfits have gradually evolved as time has gone by. Tim’s quite into his Fantasy gaming and found a great company for the armour they wear. Each of them chose their own style and it’s gradually been customized. The robes/tabards were designed by Tim and his partner Lorna and again customized for each band member. My outfits I choose myself and I’ve been very lucky to get some great exclusives from different designers. I think we’re generally going for a medieval theme, but with a more generic fantasy feel, to avoid placing the look in any particular historical period or context.

Where did the video shooting take place?

We did the video at St John’s again. The setting worked out really well in terms of the lighting and the aesthetic. We were all really pleased with how it turned out. We’re working on a new video at the moment which was shot on location mostly down on the coast near Yeovil.

What was the inspiration behind each track of the album?

Each track had a different inspiration, both musically and lyrically. The boys generally come up with the riffs then send them to me for lyrics and melodies and of course the song can change further if I need to move things around to allow for a particular melodic or lyrical idea to work. The opening track, Cry of our Nation, for example, Tim came up with pretty much the whole song structure and then I felt it was a real call to arms kind of song, so I wrote the lyrics about reclaiming metal for Britain. This country was the birthplace of metal and yet it seems to have moved out to Europe so I really wanted the first track to be a rousing anthem, calling metalheads across the country to stand up and be proud of home-grown metal. There’re all sorts of different inspirations and ideas in there – I think the album as a whole is a great melting-pot of all our different and varied influences.

Who wrote the lyrics?

Me, of course! But Ross loves singing along to ‘Dark Lord, hold me.’ in Tristan ha ha ha .

Which track(s) hold the most meaning to you and why?

All the lyrics on the album are very personal to me and that’s partly why I’m so proud of how all the songs came out. I think we’re all big fans of Heartless and the lyrics for that song are really all about my questioning and analyzing of me and my experiences with life and love. It’s not to say I am a heartless person, but I think that’s just an extreme comment on how I and in fact a lot of people can end up being selfish in relationships and other aspects of life.

In regards to touring, where will you be playing?

At the moment we’ve got some UK shows booked, but we should hopefully be traveling further afield later in the year. We’re hoping to get out to Europe and play in as many countries as will have us!

Any North American shows?

We’ve nothing planned, as it’s a real big step both financially and logistically to tour in the US and Canada, but it’s something we’re hoping to get the opportunity to do.

How was the show with Dragonforce and how did getting invited come about?

The Dragonforce show was great! We were all really chuffed with how it went down and I think we got a great response from the crowd. At first there were only a couple of people head-banging and rocking-out to us, but by the end there seemed to be a lot of people getting into it, so hopefully we won some fans over. As to how it came about, I’ve known Herman for a while and he asked me to do some backing vocals on their latest album, which was a lot of fun. Herman came to see one of shows at the end of last year and I think he was suitably impressed as he asked us personally to be their support at that show.

What are some other bands you would love to perform with?

Oh there are loads! Obviously the holy grail would be someone like Iron Maiden, but there a plenty of great bands out there at the moment that we’d love to share a bill with. We’re doing some shows with Serenity at the end of the month, they’re a great bunch of guys so we’re really looking forward to that. Also Saxon would be great as I don’t think anyone exemplifies British metal quite like they do. I think Blind Guardian are amazing and a tour with them would be a dream come true.

Any last words for your fans out there?

Thanks so much for your support – we couldn’t do it without you! And if you haven’t checked-out The Serpents Curse yet, then what are you waiting for! See you out on the road…

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