Interview with Kristofer DOMMIN: “Rise comes from the place of strength”

Photo by Filip Milicevic

While the four guys from Dommin are getting ready to release their new album, titled Rise, we sat down to talk with the frontman, Kristofer Dommin, about what the band was doing in between the releases, what kind of vibe the upcoming album has and how Kristofer has changed on a personal level over the past few years. And it all comes down to “the place of strength”…

May 8, 2015

What has the band been doing since the release of the first album? Did all of you have to do some work outside the band?
It’s actually been quite hectic, with some big highs and lows. The album came out in 2010 but we toured through the beginning of 2011, so we when we got off the tour, we were ready to go do the next record and then, from there there were a lot of label delays, people taking their sweet time. I was hoping to get the new record out in summer of 2011, I was ready to go: I thought we were going to get it, record it and put it out. And that wasn’t the case. There were months and months of writing, sending demos to the label, listening, liking some, not liking others. It was like: “Go work with this producer, go work with that producer”. And that took almost a whole year.

And then you parted ways with the label?
By the time we actually started recording the new album, in April 2012, there was the whole fiasco: on the first day of the recording Roadrunner had all its international offices closed, half of the people got fired here in the U.S. We soon learned that there were new people in charge who had to approve it, and new people didn’t know the band and weren’t the fans of the band, we had people looking at our songs again, judging whether they were good enough. Then two years in the aftermath of that we were trying to get agreements made about what we could do with the songs and when. A lot of legal stuff, a lot of financial stuff. Everybody in the band was like: “We can’t wait around any longer, we’ve gotta go find another work”. So everybody had to do their own thing, while this was being sorted out.

So after all, how did you manage to get this album recorded?
The last year, 2014, things were finally getting done. We were figuring out what songs we wanted on the album, who we wanted to mix it. It was already recorded but there were two songs that I didn’t like how they were recorded at all, so I redid those from scratch. It was just a real test of perseverance this whole time.

Have you been making music on your own in between the albums?
I never stopped writing. It’s so funny, we’re just getting ready to put this album out, and everybody in the band is like: “We’re ready to put out another record already”. We have so much stuff recorded that we just want to put out there.

Chris1You had thought many times about giving up on the band. How strong do you feel about the band’s future, now that you’ve got a new album coming out soon?
It’s a weird thing because everybody in the band are friends, and I cannot ever imagine a break-up of the band. It’s just a matter of asking ourselves: does it make sense for us to do it? We devote our time, effort, energy and money to it. It was never a question of whether I wanted to make music any more. If it wasn’t for Dommin, I would just call it something else and maybe play in a slightly different style. It’s hard to know, it’s up in the air. We take it as it comes.

I read you saying “I hate creative boundaries”. Do you think you’re breaking any boundaries and rules on the upcoming album?
With this album it’s an evolution for sure but we’re trying not to do anything that would really shock anybody in terms of evolution and breaking creative boundaries. ‘Cause there are songs that I was like: “I can’t even imagine a Dommin fan liking this”, so we didn’t include those. We said: “Let’s make a record that has some of the taste of the last album in terms of epic and heartfelt songs. But let’s evolve it to the point where we’re not just making depressing, heartbreaking, melancholic dark stuff. Let’s make this a step forward, maybe the most aggressive album that we would make as Dommin.” For us it’s maybe the heaviest and the most raw record.

What is the date of the release of the new album?
It’s June 21. We’re trying to do the PledgeMusic campaign, and everybody who does this campaign gets to download it on June 1. And then on June 21 it will go live on all other digital sites: Spotify, iTunes and so on.

You used to put out your new songs for streaming and upload them on Youtube. Will it change with the release of the new album?
By putting some of the new music on Youtube we let our fans know that we are still here, that we are still creating stuff. For example, we put out this song, titled ‘So Alone’, that’s a little bit of a downer kind of tune, because we thought: “Well, this song doesn’t really fit the vibe of the new record.” It’s not really coming from the place of strength and that’s what we really wanted this album to be.

The new track ‘Rise’ sounds optimistic and tells about overcoming obstacles in life. Is the mood on the whole upcoming album generally so vital and optimistic?
Pretty much, with maybe an exception of two songs. It’s about strength and not defeat. Some of it is desperate but not defeated. There’s no sense of defeat on this album.

The change of the message in your music must be a reflection of what has happened in your life over the past 5 years. Have you changed as a person since the first album came out?
I think so. I think I’ve gotten a bit more macro-perspective on my life. I lost some things throughout the last couple of years and basically just gained a bigger appreciation for life itself and for the struggle. It’s a wiser album. When you cut up the things that seem overwhelming and step back, you think: you’re all ok, you’ll live another day. It comes from knowing that things are going to be alright.

You wrote in your blog that you create music in the first place for yourself and then, for those who will be touched by it. Besides your own opinion about the new song you’ve written, whose feedback is the most important for you? Is there someone you can’t wait to play your new tune for?
Let me see. Lucas Banker, who is one of my best friends and who was a producer on “Love Is Gone”. He’s also like a songwriting partner, he helped me co-write ‘Rise’. He’s probably the person I communicate with the most. Every demo I made I just sent to him to see his immediate reaction.

Metal Hammer calls you “a mysterious frontman”. Why is that? Do people consider you mysterious?
I don’t know… I think sometimes it’s just people’s first impression. Some people told me that I’m intense, and some people tell me I talk too much – that seems to be the opposite of mysterious. It’s hard to see yourself through other people’s eyes.

In the song ‘Rise’ there are lines: “I”ve so many places I have to go”. Even though it’s not about a particular country or city, could you name some places you’ve never been to but would really like to visit?
Well, I know we have many fans in Poland and the U.K. We’ve been to Scandinavia but we’ve never been to Eastern Europe, so I’d like to go there and see how we’re received. I’d also like to go to South America, I heard there are many rock fans there, too.

A couple of years ago you wrote “The purpose of life is to do good. Not feel good.” What did you mean?
It’s a response to people who are always after doing what feels good, not thinking about the consequences of their actions. And the way I see it is, what you do for other people in your life, for the fans, and for the world at large is more important than how good you feel. People should really base their life on doing good things and not just feeling good, ’cause feeling good is a sort of a selfish thing.

To round off our chat, do you have a favorite famous quote that always comes to your mind when thing aren’t going well and you’re thinking of giving the band or music up?
I have a slight obsession with time so I always say: “Time takes care of everything”. It’s true: whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, or whether it’s getting to a place you want to go or ending a troublesome length of time, time does take care of everything in our lives. Even us (laughs). Don’t get too excited over great things but also don’t get too down over bad things, ’cause it’s all temporary.

Tatiana Vinichenko

Photo by Filip Milicevic