Interview with Weeping Silence (Posted November 12th 2008)

Interview  -  WEEPING SILENCE  -  Sept. 2008  -  Chris Galea 


Despite being in existence for over a decade, it’s only now that Weeping Silence are coming out of their shell. The band was born in Malta, the country whose most celebrated Metal exports are probably Forsaken, Beheaded, Abysmal Torment, Martyrium and, more recently, Loathe and Nomad Son. 

In this interview, introducing the band and its music are the 2 married couples that are part of the band’s line-up: Mario Ellul and Alison Camilleri, respectively being the band’s guitarist and keyboardist, are on the line with the band’s 2 vocalists, Joseph and Rachel Grech. Technical difficulties dogged our telephone conversation but this didn’t hinder our determination to get it done. The ‘new’ recording is the first thing that I’m eager to know more about…..

Chris:            So what’s the situation on the new recording of WS?

Joe:              Well, we currently have the “End Of An Era” album out on Sleaszy Rider Records. Meanwhile we’ve already done another recording although we haven’t decided on which label it will come out.

Chris:            WS have been together for nearly 11 years now. To what do you credit the band’s longevity, despite having a limited discography?

Mario:           Although we’ve been through a number of line-up changes, the core members are still the same. [Mario alludes to himself and drummer/co-founder Angelo Zammit.] However, right now we’ve got quite a steady line-up. We all love music and that is really what’s keeping us together. The fact that we have a limited number of releases is mostly down to bad luck.

Chris:            You said you all love music – could you be more specific?

Mario:           Music is something that deeply empowers all our lives. This music could be Classical, Metal, Jazz, Blues or anything at all. In fact, the members of WS collectively listen to a very wide range of music genres. So although Metal is often a converging point, all music is important in the individual lives of the band members.

Chris:            In fact it is clear to me that the band’s influences transcend not only Gothic or Doom but Metal itself. For example (bassist) Sean Pollacco is often heard using chords and techniques that have a distinctly Jazz flavour.

Mario:           In my opinion the style of WS was never limited to just Doom or just Gothic. WS was always experimental. If you take each period of the band’s history, from the first songs we wrote to the ones we’ve just recorded, you’ll notice something very different each time. This is a very important for us. I think that the more eclectic the range of influences on our music, the better it reflects on our level of professionalism. Besides, it would also be an achievement to successfully merge other genres with Metal.

When the band started out we certainly weren’t technically very proficient despite our ambition. However our philosophy was always that we keep on improving – something that we thought could only be achieved through hard work, practice and determination. That the band’s sound kept evolving could of course also be credited to the line-up changes. Each new band member added a new dimension to the band’s sound and fortunately these were always very positive.

Chris:            Don’t you think that the ambiguity in defining the music of WS makes it difficult to market the band’s music?

Mario:           I’ll answer by giving you an example – one successful band on the current scene is Arcturus. Try defining Arcturus if you can!

Opeth is another example. Of course we’re not comparing ourselves to these bands but my point is that if you succeed in being original in your music, you can earn the band some added attention.

Chris:            Why did the band decide to involve Joseph more directly in the band’s creative process?

Rachel:         We had felt that the songs needed some male vocals. So Joseph tried a bit of singing at rehearsals. It turned out he was a pretty good growler. So we ‘kept’ him.  [laughs]

[Before he started singing with the band, Joe had already been very active with WS, serving as a manager, roadie as well as webmaster of the band’s official website.]

Chris: Another relatively new band member is (keyboardist) Alison. How did she come to form part of the band?

Rachel:         We started auditioning keyboardists when it became clear that Mario Cilia [the band’s previous keyboardist] wouldn’t be part of the band anymore. Being the wife of Mario [Ellul], we knew Alison, that she could play and was into the music. So we suggested she gives it a try. She did and we were all happy with how the audition went.

Chris: Alison, what are the challenges of writing songs with Weeping Silence?

Alison:          I obviously like the band’s music but I’m not really a composer.

Rachel:         We always write songs together so actually each band member gives his or her input to the songwriting process. For example if I’m stuck for inspiration for a vocal melody, Mario might give me some ideas by playing a few guitar tunes. It’s all a group effort.

Chris:            Rachel, I find your singing very intriguing – it was probably due to your singing that the editor of Power Of Metal.DK compared WS with The Gathering. Could you tell me more about yourself and on how you became involved in Metal?

Rachel:         Well, it was kind of late when I started singing with bands because I was very shy about singing in front of anybody. My first big performance was with the Voices choir. This is a big charity event held every 3 years in Malta and around 1,000 people usually turn up for 10 consecutive nights. So that was my trial by fire, you could say.

I always listened to Metal. My [late] brother was always a strong influence on the music I was listening to. He used to play guitar with Forsaken.

[Rachel refers to Daniel Magri, who played with legendary Doom band Forsaken until his untimely demise due to cancer, in 2001. The line-up of Forsaken at Daniel’s death also featured WS’s own Mario Ellul who actually played keyboards with Forsaken.]

It was through him that I was introduced to Weeping Silence. I was recording some backing vocals for Forsaken’s “Via Crucis” EP where I met Mario and accepted an offer to join WS. That was about 8 years ago.

Chris:            Before WS started working with Sleaszy Rider, the band had already signed another deal which, however, seemed to have gone terribly wrong. What happened exactly?

Rachel:         We had initially signed with Divenia Music, of Mexico. After waiting nearly 2 years for them to release the album [“End Of An Era”] , there was still no sign of it.

Mario:           We couldn’t keep on waiting any longer so eventually we just cancelled that deal and moved on.

Chris:            What is your relationship with Sleaszy Rider Records?

Mario:           Although Sleaszy isn’t a huge label, I consider it one that is growing very rapidly. This can also be seen from the quality of bands that are being signed by it. Limitations due to the label’s modest size are inevitable but it’s usually due to third parties. Apart such issues, we’re very happy with how things are going on between band and label.

Chris:            Is coming from a small archipelago that is Malta an advantage or disadvantage?

Rachel:         It can be an advantage because, being small, it’s easier to meet people and distances to travel for rehearsals are never a problem. However it is a bit more difficult when you come to promote your music internationally.

Chris:            Well there are several bands from ‘isolated’ places who are being very successful. An example is Tyr, from the Faroe Islands…..

Rachel:         Yeah. Nowadays of course, with the Internet, it has become much easier to promote your band and get in contact with magazines and labels.

Chris:            The members of WS, in particular Joe and guitarist Toni Farrugia, seem to have been involved in the Metal scene of Malta for quite a long time. What do you think are the most significant changes to have affected the local scene during these last 15 years or so?

Joe:              I think [in Malta] there are now more bands, more opportunities and more instruments available. About 10 years ago there was basically 1 music shop selling 1 type of guitar. Today so many music shops have opened.

With the existence of more bands covering more styles of Metal, as is the case today, the scene has become weaker. The few hundred people that go to gigs have thinned out and some only go to this or that gig. Around 10 years ago the scene was slightly stronger in the sense that a lot of people would go to every gig. Nowadays you have youngsters who like what has become known as the New Wave Of American Metal and will go to just those type of gigs and another audience might come to just our gigs. So I’m not too sure there has been an improvement in that sense.

Chris:            Besides life in WS, some band members have to cope with a full-time profession, married life, or both - basically you seem to have lives quite distinct from the band. Is it therefore correct to state that WS represents a vehicle on which to escape from the mundane routines you may encounter in your everyday lives?

Joe:              It’s true that we all have full-time jobs. However, coming down to rehearsals, meeting your band-mates, which have all become part of your family and expressing yourself through music – these are things you cannot really do at work. They are also things we really enjoy doing. If this band becomes more of a job, then we’ll be finished. We started WS as a hobby and still retain the ‘fun’ element and this is basically what keeps us going.

Maybe, yes, we do use WS to escape from our everyday rigmarole. However we also have higher aspirations than that. We know we haven’t reached our full potential and in fact we’ve been improving with every recording we make. This regards also our live performances. We had some very positive comments on our most recent gig from people such as Albert [Bell] of Forsaken – all this make us think that we must be doing something right.

Chris:            You’re mentioning gigs…..WS have never, as yet, performed beyond Maltese shores. Are there any plans to export the band’s gigs?

Joe:              Yes. We’re trying to work something out on this with our label. Maybe it’ll be Greece or central Europe, although Greece seems to be the more realistic option – there’s a chance we’ll be playing there next summer.

Chris:            To conclude, here’s a straightforward question…..the music of which bands is currently in your iPods/car stereos/home stereos?

Joe               -                     [sighs and laughs] In my case it’s the new Candlemass album, Arch Enemy of course – I’m a big fan of Arch Enemy. Dark Tranquillity – as always. There’s also “Turning Seasons” of Draconian, an amazing band. Septic Flesh – “Communion” and Opeth – “Watershed”.

Rachel:         I’m a big Epica fan and I’ve also just bought the new DVD from Therion – “Gothic Live”.

Chris:            I’ve heard it’s quite good…..

Rachel:         It’s fantastic. Today I was also listening to a band called Whizdom – they’re a female fronted band.

Mario:           [The music of] My Dying Bride is always there. I like listening to many bands…..Within Temptation, After Forever, Symphony X, Draconian, Orphaned Land…..I always tell my band-mates that “Mabool” is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

Alison:          Myself I’m listening to Within Temptation, Epica and After Forever but my favourite are still Silentium.

[I offer the band to conclude the interview in their own way and it’s Mario who speaks up.]

Mario:           I’d like to thank you, Chris, and hope you’ll come and see us again in Malta. Thanks and Metal On!

© Chris Galea 2008( luciferlament[at]yahoo[dot]com )

Current line-up:

Rachel Grech – vocals
Joseph Grech – vocals
Toni Farrugia – guitars
Mario Ellul – guitars
Sean Pollacco – bass
Angelo Zammit – drums
Alison Camilleri - keyboards


“End Of An Era” (Sleaszy Rider Records – 2008)
“Deprived From Romance” (EP – Self-release – 2000)
‘Your Silence Still Echoes’ (Track in “Arch Music Compilation” – Arch Music Records - 1999)

Related websites:


Weeping Silence - End of an Era

Album available through Sleaze Rider Records.