Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
Fateless Tears is not completely unknown to Femme Metal readers. They were featured on the “Ferocity & Femininity” compilation and there is an interview of their album “My Doom Box”
For starters: What is the idea behind the name Fateless Tears and, speaking of names, what is your full name? Just ‘S’ is so impersonal.
The origins of the name Fateless Tears reside in one of Richard’s dreams. In the dream, he saw a little girl sitting on the steps to a destroyed home. She was crying and her eyes conveyed a sense of loss for a life swept away by powers beyond her control. The destiny that she had believed would be hers had been swept away and it was for the loss of knowing her life path that she wept. This dream remains a driving vision for the band. As to my name, many people hold the misconception that Lee is my last name; however, Lee is my middle name. I have long gone by S. Lee (pronounced ‘Eslee‘) in my public life. Few people remember or call me by my Christian name save for those I have known all my life. S. Lee is merely a personal preference rather than something intended to be impersonal.
To what kind of music do you listen to yourself? And who are your favourite bands and musicians?
Richard and I often listen to many different genres of metal for which many of the bands have female vocalists or musicians. I very much enjoy bands like Lacuna Coil, Dream Theater, Disturbed, Temujin, After Forever, Tool, System of a Down, and Within Temptation. Richard is into heavier artists like Arch Enemy, In Flames, In This Moment, Mercenary, Epica, Tristania, and Sirenia. Paul listens to more power and progressive metal like Pagan’s Mind, Evergrey, Circus Maximus, To-Mera, Autumn, and Ayreon. Richard and Paul also share a fondness for instrumental metal artists like Vinnie Moore, Liquid Tension Expiriment, Rusty Cooley, and Jennifer Batten. In general, we all enjoy orchestra and symphonic music.
You work together with Richard. Who is he and what is his part in Fateless Tears?
Richard and my relationship is more than a musical partnership. We have been married for nearly twelve years. Richard composes all of the music for Fateless Tears and plays nearly all of the instruments. In addition, Richard is the primary recording, mixing, and mastering engineer. Richard supplies all of the male vocals, both clean and death. I contribute the lyrics, vocal melodies, and all female vocals. Paul Evans shares guitar solos with Richard as well as serves as a secondary recording, mixing, and mastering engineer. Rather than continue as a guest artist and production consultant, Paul Evans will be joining us as a full member of Fateless Tears on the next album.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music and lyrics?
The inspiration for the music and lyrics for Fateless Tears come from a variety of places, some personal and some originating in the constant media barrage of the inhumanity of contemporary life. Both of us tap into emotionally laden memories of our lives as well as the stories of others that touch us in a transformative way. We attempt to strike a balance, both musically and lyrically, between the remaining sands of hope and the waves of despair that attempt to wash all trace of humanity from modern existence. The song writing process begins with the composition of the music. Oftentimes, the lyrics come to me as Richard is composing the music as we go about our daily lives.
And what would you describe as a typical Fateless Tears song?
The typical Fateless Tears song is probably like “Cages'”on “My Doom Box”. Musically, our typical song tends to incorporate soft, heavy, and progressive textures. We often include tempo, meter, and key changes as well as interludes wherein we mix up the instrumentation. Vocally, we incorporate a beauty and the beast element that often suits my tendency to write lyrics around evocative narrative themes. Our song writing strives to allow listeners to sample a wide sonic palate and experience a broad sound-scape.
Metal in the USA seems to exist in an entirely different universe than Europe and the rest of the world. There are good bands from the USA, like Walls of Jericho or Kamelot to name two very different bands with a lot of fans in Europe but it is clear that people in the USA have different ideas about Metal. To quote Melissa Ferlaak (ex Visions of Atlantis): “ The US (for Mexico, South America and Canada are more in line with European tastes) is interested in US metal, mainly metal core and nu metal. Radio metal. Europe and the other parts of the Americas are more interested in symphonic, black, interesting metal and music. In the other countries, you actually get a large audience for metal shows, but when European bands come to the US, they get a very small audience in comparison. But we are trying to change that!” Do you agree? And do you have any idea why there are so many differences between your country and the rest of the world?
The quote, in general, seems accurate. However, I believe that the distinction goes beyond the national or continental boundaries. Unless the metal band is very well known with an extensive existing fan base, I believe that filling venues is difficult anywhere in the US regardless of whether the artists are from the US or Europe.
Do you have any projects and/or bands beside Fateless Tears?
I do not have any other projects or bands; however, I have done a few guest vocals and backing tracks on occasion. Richard is involved in two other projects/bands. Richard has released several albums with RJB Project and Sandstone Ridge. Paul has his solo project released under the title Paul Evans.
Your latest album is “My Doom Box” what are the differences between this album and your older work?
This album feels a bit heavier and more progressive. In addition, “My Doom Box” includes our two longest epics. This album follows its own narrative focusing on a young girl trapped in a cycle of abuse. Moreover, this is the first time that we have collaborated with individuals other than band members on the artwork.
Can you tell us what the songs of this album are about?
“Cages” is a song about the repetition of a family pattern of abandonment. The original captor is the parent who turned her back on her child and the original captive is that child left adrift in an uncertain world. Years later, the roles become reversed as the mother from her deathbed seeks reconciliation and the child rejects the mother in turn. In the end, the mother becomes the captive to her own actions and the child the captor of her unrequited attention. “Cages” represents the repetition of the cycle of neglect come full circle. “Mercury Dreams” is a song about a young person caught in inner turmoil and tempted by escapism to the brink of oblivion. Her world is shattered and she seeks a way to form a new reality even at the risk of her sanity. On the knife-edge in the choice of life and death, she is uncertain which path she has selected. Only upon her waking or unending dreaming will she know which is actuality. In “My Endarkened Self” the girl is weighing the path of letting go of the soul bond to her corporal body as an abuser takes her for his own. Everything she encounters in her life appears to her to be a sign that an end is coming, either of her own choosing or at the hands of those who should shelter her from the evil of the world. She believes that she can either end the life she has known or end up a warped shadow of her potential self, a mere reflection of the torture she has endured. “Mind Box” is the narrative of ongoing abuse wherein the girl can find no way out other than to allow part of her mind to slip away into repression. The knowledge of how her innocence was striped from her returns in fleeting glimpses. Those resurfacing memories threaten the fragile shell of normalcy that she has painstakingly built to hide the truth from both herself and the outside world. As the truth becomes too vivid to discount, she must abandon her protections and all hope. “Since Nascence” is a musical suite encompassing the history of a family bound together by the ties of dark, unspoken secrets. Each song tells the story from a different perspective, in either words or instrumental passages. “Daughter of Silence” is the story from the perspective of a younger daughter being abused by her father as she remains in harm’s way. “Daughter of Denial” is the story from the perspective of an older daughter caught in a twisted web of perverted sibling rivalry who denies the truth of her own abuse and strives to break away at the expense of her more vulnerable sibling still in harm’s way. “Mother of Deception” is the story from the perspective of a self-centred mother who does the unthinkable by turning a blind eye when she knows full well that her husband has made his own flesh and blood his brides in all but name. “Father of Condemnation” is the story of retribution against the father as his own transgressions of the flesh are made manifest and the depths of his evil are revealed. “Mesmerized” is the awakening of the older daughter to the repetition of her mother’s neglect in her own inaction toward her sister. She realizes that she knew what was happening to the child, a younger image of her once helpless self, because a repetition of her own unspeakable past was unfolding before her eyes. The spell of normalcy that held her enthralled snaps in the wake of tragedy. “Annwyn” is a lament of the older sister to the silent beauty that she let pass from the bounds of the world of what is known for fear of her own shame being unmasked.
The track “Mesmerized” was included on the “Ferocity & Femininity” album. Why was this song chosen for the album?
We selected “Mesmerized” for the compilation for a very simple reason: it was the most complete track for “My Doom Box” at the time the opportunity arose. We also knew that we wanted it to be one of the singles for the upcoming album release.
Fateless Tears is basically a studio project. Have you ever considered doing live gigs? Personally I think (and a lot of musicians will agree) doing live shows will only let you grow as musician. And there is a lot you can learn from the interaction with the fans.
Richard spent many years playing live gigs in other bands. While we would dearly love to perform live, that option is not an availability for us at present. I have several chronic health conditions that prevent us from travelling or touring. In addition, Richard and I both have outside careers that keep us place bound. Unfortunately, there is little or no live music scene in our genre where we presently reside. In addition, Paul lives and works in a different part of the country and we are separated by several states and a time zone.
What are your plans with Fateless Tears for the future?
We intend to keep writing, singing, and producing thought provoking music to share with listeners. With the inclusion of Paul, we feel that the future horizons of Fateless Tears will continue to broaden. We will start the composition and writing process for the next Fateless Tears album after the start of the new year. So far, we have all enjoyed the journey and intend to continue in a similar vein.
And the last question: is there anything the reader should know that I haven’t asked?.
I am very fond of reading, particularly fantasy and science fiction novels. I enjoy writing poetry and short stories in addition to lyrics. I am a bit more introverted than my better half. We both spend a great deal of time with our pets of which we are very fond. Richard enjoys strategic games, listening to music, and reading. We both enjoy creating graphic arts as attested by our album art. Living in the Southwestern United States, we are surrounded by the indigenous and regional cultures that we find fascinating.