Exorcising BEDEMON with Geof O’Keefe

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Bedemon is the great proto-doom band that never really was, until now… and I mean that in every way possible. Yeah, we joke about the name, exposit the history, discuss legacy. But Symphony of Shadows is perhaps the best cobbled collection of posthumous pieces since the salvage of Voivod (who happens to get brought up, along with Woods of Ypres).

After a long, convoluted question with the second or third reference to “tuning down”, Geof sets the record straight on that, and even more than I expected!

“I want to point out one quick thing:  Bedemon never tuned down, which is something I’m kinda proud about.  Pentagram did tune down, I think a full…I can’t remember because I was playing drums [laughs] but I think they tuned down a full step to D, or at least a half-step to Eb.  But Bedemon was in normal tuning, and my proud proclamation is that we’re heavy because we write heavy songs, not because we’re mechanically making the sound heavy.  And I like that bravado, for lack of a better word.  If you write a really heavy chord progression with cool, ugly riffs, you don’t have to tune down.”

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On the process:

“It was a very painstaking process to put Symphony of Shadows together.  I’m not sure how much time you have!  The problem with Symphony of Shadows that we were faced with after Randy’s passing was we had that instrumental backing track with most of the guitar solos done over a period of six-day period in April 2002…in my garage—it was literally a “garage recording” in the purest sense.
08 Geof Craig Mike in studioIt was recorded on ADAT, so it does have better quality than the rehearsal microphone in the old days.  But all we had after his passing were nine instrumental songs and some lyrics, with no idea what he wanted us to do with them.  We didn’t know what the melodies were.  His demos to us over the year in prep for recording were recorded in his kitchen with a regular little cassette player and a microphone and he was playing his electric guitar …no drum tracks, no overdubbing, no guitar solos, no vocals… he wouldn’t even sing in front of me!  He was so uptight about his singing—he’d only sing to the singer, just to show them how the song went. 07 Geof and Shawn in studio So I had to take these barebones instrumental backing tracks and typewritten lyrics, come up with the melodies to these songs, and work with Craig on how to sing it.  So it was really constructing, one step at a time, and no one would have any idea—except me and Shawn [Hafley] the engineer—how much work went into what we started with versus what we ended up with.”


[Note: If you listen to the interview, I mistakenly identify the engineer as Sean Pelletier, who manages Pentagram.  ~Ed.]

That above transcription is a mere movement; for the full symphony, click below. And hear this superb release behind our nearly hour-long conversation, but like Geof explains, this is  a fully-stocked total package, prime for physical purchase.



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