QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Ambra von Bernstein and Phil Lee Fall (Cathedral In Flames)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Ambra, hey Phil. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys of Cathedral In Flames?

Phil: Hi Pix666, we are fine. Thank you. Just finished and released our second album, so we are all both pretty tired and pretty happy.

Pix666: Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. How did you meet and what was your inspiration to become a musician? What kind of music does Cathedral In Flames make?

Ambra: Once upon a time in Eastern Europe… Dark times before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Two friends, Phil Lee Fall and Gatsby, influenced by bands like The Sisters of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, came together and formed a gothic rock band in the purest form of this style. The two lovers of gothic fiction drew their inspiration from books and the western movies of Sergio Leone.

Pix666: You’ve been on the road with Cathedral In Flames for a few years now. What have been the best experiences and milestones so far?

Phil: The band’s first incarnation’s life was wild and short: after just three years everything was gone with the wind and covered by dust. No recordings survived. Until 2019 when we came back as a band. So the biggest milestone is the ressurrection and new albums we made.

Pix666: You have released the songs ‘Providence’ and ‘BLACKTRAIN’ in the last few weeks. Especially ‘BLACKTRAIN’ is a great goth rock anthem. How were the fans’ reactions to your new songs so far?

Phil: So far, so good. Just after two weeks after release of the videos on Youtube and are already spreading like dark oil slicks on the Internet. Blacktrain video has now most than 15 .000 spins and all the reactions are more than positive. Even the first reviews for the album are really great.

Pix666: How do you generally create your songs? Is there a certain plan? Who in the band is responsible for what?

Ambra: Mainmen are Phil and Gatsby: Gatsby is responsible for all the music and Phil is the lyricist. They are making songs together. Me and Phil Lee Fall have layered dozens of vocal tracks, making the choirs anthemically monumental and the choruses appropriately vaulted.

The musical arrangements used a combination of analogue techniques and state-of-the-art technology with multi-layered sound, including samples and guitar parts by Billac DeVille, Mr Theorodick and Gatsby, who – in addition to the obligatory bass guitar – also recorded a substantial part of the guitars and keyboards. The piano virtuoso Antonio Koczwara was also invited to record the demanding keyboard parts. And finishing production and mixing work were done by Gatsby and Eike Freese in Hamburg.

Pix666: On May 15th your new album ‘Hang Me High & Bury Me Deep’ finally was released. What can the fans expect on the album? In which versions can the fans buy your album, and above all, where?

Phil: Finally! After a several month’s delay caused by the pandemic, the second record of the Prague-based gothic rock desperados was just released. It is available worldwide on CDs and all digital platforms, a special vinyl version in a 3D gatefold package will be released a month later. Nine songs are in the spirit of pure gothic rock. All of them are weaned by the breast milk of Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim and goth-rock traditions, which still stand firm in the 21st century, both in terms of sound and musical ideas.

Pix666: When you release an album, you certainly want to present the new songs to your fans live. Unfortunately, the pandemic still has us in its grip, in Germany we are even still in lockdown. Nevertheless, do you already have plans for live concerts or festival appearances in 2021?

Ambra: Fuck pandemic! Even the release of the album was planned for January. Unfortunately, the works were suspended in December as Gatsby and Mr. Theorodick tested positive for coronavirus and Antonio started to undergo arduous gender reassignment therapies. So at the moment no concerts are planned for 2021. Hope it will change in 2022.

Pix666: How important are live performances for Cathedral In Flames in general and how big are the financial losses for your band due to the Corona Pandemic?

Phil: We’ve been famous for our gigs in churches, ruined castles and other extraordinary places. But due to the pandemic we spent last 18 months in the studio making the album with no live performance. But we felt more focused and it suited the album production.

Pix666: How big is the gothic scene in your country? Are there regular events – I think Prague is a mystical and dark city?

Phil: Prague is mystical and inspirational town. Kafka, Golem, cathedrals.  But musicwise? The gothic scene is really small. We even sell more records in America or Italy than in Czech republic. But even the scene is small it’s pretty hardcore and wild!

Pix666: As a musician, you certainly spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to get your mind off things – are there any interesting hobbies that you pursue? 

Ambra: I‘m the opera singer. Gatsby is into philoshopy books and Phil is doing nothing, just writing lyrics and poems an collecting old vinyls.

Pix666: Do you have any other news, that you would like to share with the fans?   

Phil: Just check out our new album ‚Hang Me High And Bury Me Deep‘. If you love pure gothic rock you will love it to!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with the new album and stay healthy!!!




photos © Cathedral In Flames