Interview: My Dying Bride’s Return of the Robertshaw

Yesterday U.K. death/doom progenitors My Dying Bride announced the departure of longtime guitarist (and current Vallenfyre axeman) Hamish Glencross due to “irreconcilable differences.” Replacing Glencross is the man he originally supplanted back in 1999—founding guitarist Calvin Robertshaw. In his first interview since rejoining band, the author of rifftastic MDB classics like “Your River” and “The Cry of Mankind” explains his decision to rejoin the band after 15 years, and what the near-future holds for doomiest of the original “Peaceville Three.”
What was your main reason for leaving MDB in 1999?

There was a lot of changes after [the band’s tour in] America in ’97, not just within the band but personally as well. To get myself through this I threw myself into the writing and recording of 34[.788%… Complete] with all that I had. I came out the other side a little jaded from the experience and realized that the desire to pursue My Dying Bride had left me. No fallout or arguments just arguably the hardest two years of my life led me to walk away from what had been the most important thing in my life. My Dying Bride is still the only band I’ve ever been in and would want to be in.

You’ve lived a fairly-regular “civilian life” since exiting My Dying Bride. Though you’ve remained friends with them in the years you’ve not been an active member, even tour-managing the band on occasion. Any plans to pull double-duty on MDB’s next set of live dates?

I did the tour manager job for a couple of years, around the time my son was born. But working full time and spending the summer weekends on long round trips to the festivals meant I was missing out. There are only so many days here with fine weather and I missed my boy, so I ended that part of my connection with the band. Double duty on future tour dates? I don’t think so. We have a brilliant tour manager in Debora who does an outstanding job, even in difficult circumstances. She knows the business takes no shit and gets the job done.

You began writing and recording a solo metal project called Many Suffer a couple years ago. What’s the current status of that?

It’s damn hard writing on your own. But with no deadlines or label involved I’ve taken my time writing the Many Suffer material. The first six months was a steep learning curve on using the software and getting to grips with the recording process. Then I began in earnest. A total mixture of styles, no one train of thought on choosing what it should sound like. I ditched a lot of material along the way only keeping what I was happy with. Which has got me to this point where I have nine songs complete, and about another four that will need a lot of work for me to even consider them as finished. I play and record it all including the vocals.

[My Dying Bride guitarist] Andy [Craighan] has heard some, as have you, and he says some of it sounds like My Dying Bride. Well, it’s going to, I suppose.

How and when did Andy and Aaron approach you about rejoining MDB?

About 12 months ago I got a call out of the blue from Andy asking me if I would consider stepping in and possibly helping out on some festival dates they had booked last summer. I said yes. He e-mailed me a set list but I never heard another word about it. Fast forward a year same question but this time it would be on a more permanent basis. I got to say I wasn’t expecting it, but the opportunity to be back in My Dying Bride, to write the most sorrow filled music out there, to be back in the bosom of the best bunch of people I know — it’s an honor to be given a second chance to call myself a member of My Dying Bride and to revive a truly great writing partnership.

There are seven songs already complete for the next MDB record. What—besides pinch-harmonic Incantation-styled guitar squealizes—can we expect you to contribute to this recording?

You’ll have to wait and see. The band have three festivals left this summer, which they are playing with the guitar tech. After that we will be getting together to work on the new material. Myself and Andy both have distinctive styles, which complement each other. This led to some of the greatest material I have ever been a part of. And with a new beginning comes a new exuberance to push the boundaries of the My Dying Bride sound.

Are you growing your hair back or what?

What hair? It’s beyond help now. I still have some but not in the condition it once was. This ain’t no pretty boy band, you know?