Saturday, November 6, 2010

WOVENHAND - an interview with David Eugene Edwards

deep asleep as wolves
who rise to worship their dreams
under the mountain
thin as thieves
armed to the teeth
we have the same hands

not one stone atop another will stand

On the road with Wovenhand

           When I’m on stage I want to rip your throat off with the music, I want to beat you into a pulp with the law. I bring the law, I bring it! So you wanted to live by it? You wanna know what’s good and evil? OK, let’s talk about it, if you wanna live by your expectations or someone else’s. But I know that you can’t do it, and I wanna help you get there real quick, to the point where you realize that you’re completely hopeless without the mercy of God. 

David Eugene Edwards is one of the most intriguing and fascinating characters I’ve ever come across. And above all, what he does with his life is completely admirable, because it is so brave.
One look at the world we live in and it’s obvious the wheels of time have completely turned around. The church no longer drowns women to see if they’re witches, and while most people just want nothing to do with religion anymore, many have developed a taste of laughing at the Christian faith, at mocking it. It’s finally payback time, everywhere you look people attack the church like packs of hungry wolves, taking bigger and bigger bites out of an institution that once ruled nations and now is bleeding profusely.

In a burst of anger, in Norway very old churches been burnt to the ground and today extreme bands are tearing up pages out of the Bible and throwing them at ferocious crowds, there’s even a music market for this. Just released, Stephen Hawking’s latest book The Grand Design has pretty much put the last nail in the church’s coffin. We’re finally free, we no longer need God for anything, the Universe and everything around us can now be explained without the need to invoke his presence. It took a while, but we’ve finally figured it all out.

In these circumstances, in a world where technology reigns supreme and religion is becoming a thing of the past, it takes a lot of courage to stand proud against it all and not be afraid to look pathetic. David Eugene Edwards does just that, he reminds people that God exists. And he does it in such a convincing manner that his voice has reached the one category you’d least expect of all this to have an effect on: the underground metal scene. It’s gotten so far that extreme acts like Marduk or Primordial are openly paying him tribute. What is going on here?

While Wovenhand was in Oslo last year, my friends from Imhotep approached David with an interesting question regarding his rising popularity within the metal scene, which at first sight could come across as a curious thing, given the fact that most metal fans are against the idea of an omnipotent God, and are totally anti-religion.

I couldn’t be happier he answers. For one, I listen to a lot of heavy music myself. When it first came to my attention that people in these scenes - whether it’s heavy metal, black metal or death metal - were starting to pay attention to my music, I was so happy that they would even consider what I do. But that wasn’t a surprise. I think that people in the metal world think about things that a lot of other people don’t, like spiritual things. Whether they believe as I believe is beside the point, but they’re searching, they’re searching for something beyond what is here or what you can see with your eyes, and I think they know that there’s more, you know? And so in that sense I am like them because I also think there is more.

new york city


washington dc

Born in the late 60’s in Colorado as the grandson of a genuine fire and brimstone preacher of the Nazarene Church on his mother’s side, and a wanderer Native American bear trainer on his father’s, David grew up between two completely different worlds: one that incorporated extremely conservative Christian views and one that allowed him to travel through Indian reservation land and join tribe members in their rituals.

Besides the absurd laws that forbade him of the most basic freedoms, he would often follow his grandfather on the road and witness really intense Old Testament sermons or be present at funerals on a weekly basis, so death became a normal aspect of his life at a very young age. His own father (who in quite a twist, was a member of the Warlords brotherhood) died when he was still a child.  All these things would reflect themselves in his approach to music years later.  

When I was younger I was not allowed to listen to the radio, I didn’t have any records of music like rock music or anything like that, the only music I knew was Christian music he confesses in an old 16 Horsepower interview. I never liked Christian music outside of the church, like Christian rock music or contemporary music, like Amy Grant. I mean, I agree to what they’re singing about, but I don’t care if they sing about it or not. It doesn’t do anything to me, it doesn’t make me want to worship God or follow God. I think God used other music, more aggressive, darker music, to storm up my soul. I guess I grew up around a lot of sad things so it was really easy and comfortable for me listen to bands like Joy Division or Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. What I found beautiful in the music that I listened to was that people were being honest. I felt that Ian Curtis was being very honest to me when he was singing to me. I felt that Bon Scott of AC/DC was very honest with me when he was singing to me, and even though it was stuff I didn’t agree with, I thought he was very sincere.

In 1992 David starts 16 Horsepower. Paying tribute to an old American folk song about a man who carries his wife’s casket to the grave in a carriage pulled by sixteen horses, the band’s name stands for dignity, for undying love and devotion. Performing an authentic mixture of classic Americana and dark folk with a rebellious punk rock edge, the music was undeniably spiritual, dealing with the darker, sadder aspects of life. It lasted four albums and 13 years, and by the end they had become quite popular in Europe (not here of course), playing large crowds and selling out venues.       

Started as a solo project in the last years of 16 Horsepower, Wovenhand is a far more personal and intense experience. And I have to jump off track here for a minute, because of one particular flyer in Philly that really stuck with me. It read  “Imagine the Swans playing country ballads or a born again Nick Cave with a bayou pick up band forced to pay the Devil for their souls”. Boy, whoever wrote that hit the nail right in its head! A born again Nick Cave? Oh yeah, definitely. But the Michael Gira mention makes so much more sense, I’m glad I’m not the only one who can make a parallel between the two.

Knowing I was going to see both Swans (what a spectacular return, surely one of the best performances I’ve ever seen!) and Wovenhand one night apart, the more I sunk into their records the more I found similarities. If you look closer, albums like Consider The Birds or Mosaic, while fundamentally opposed have so much in common with let’s say…White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity.

With both Gira and Edwards, their dark, skin crawling lyrics feel more like chilling confessions than anything…both brilliant artists, their songs have a high degree of madness, acting as overcharged defibrillators. If you’re dead inside, they bring you back to life. If you’re alive and totally content, they destroy you just to make you realize you were only fooling yourself. Their art induces more or less the same array of dark emotions: misfortune, anger, misery, fear of failure, gripping on to faith, love, hatred, death and destruction, inner struggle, doubt, absolution, the coming rapture. There is a fundamental difference though.    

Michael Gira (the artist) is always a convinced nihilist. On a struggling and arduous road to redemption, his search always reaches the same dead end because he’s in love with his own misery. He enjoys cutting himself and then showing you his wounds.  I don't deserve to be down here/But I'll never leave/And I've learned one thing/You can't escape the beast. Michael Gira is completely happy with carrying the loneliness of this world on his shoulders, passing a little bit of that burden onto everyone who’s willing to carry some. He is truly content with tasting only the poison in things, and is more than glad to offer us all a taste too. And we embrace it, don’t we? I mean, don’t we all feel completely alive whether totally joyous or completely down? Does it really matter, as long as we feel alive? As long we they feel something, anything? Isn’t it all the same whether we achieve something or not, have faith or not, just as it is the same if we cry or remain silent? Isn’t everything both real and unreal, normal and absurd, splendid and insipid? Isn’t nothing worth more than anything else, and any idea no better than any other? Why grow sad from one's sadness and delight in one's joy? That’s Gira for you. Why does it matter whether our tears come from pleasure or pain? Be a snowflake dancing in the air or a flower floating downstream, have courage when you don't need to and be a coward when you must be brave! Who knows, you may still be a winner - and if you loose, does it really matter? Spout fire in response to all questions ever asked by man! But none of this is new, Cioran was asking these questions in his early twenties...  

I can't help the fact that I’m absolutely in love with a band like Swans, that I can identify with that degree of madness, drawn to anything from Devil Doll to Peste Noire. I think that songs like In The Eye Of Nature (and so many more) are really powerful in content. And there’s nothing I can change about that, and to be quite honest I don’t know if I want to change that.

But while in his drunken madness Michael Gira constantly envenoms himself with his own cynical thoughts, always a tormented soul, always accusing, opposing, doubting everything and all, David Eugene Edwards holds the key to end all of this. His paralyzing honesty has that potential, whether he’s on stage or you’re just talking to him. The beast/He plays his harp/He does deceive the hearts/False fires in the minds of men. The only reason he plays music is because he feels his purpose in this world is to help you get rid of burden, of all burden. His dark music is a testimony that he’s been there; he knows where that road can only take you. He tells me, I have literally reached the limit of myself, of my own being, and I know now how thankful I am for what God has done for me, because I know, or I have a shadow of an idea of how wicked I really am.  So I’ve got nothing to lose here, I’ve got nothing to lose.  

Even if musically speaking Edwards is no where near close to the complexity and craftsmanship that Gira has achieved over the course of almost three decades, he brings something else to the table: depth through simplicity and candor, all in the humbleness of an old wooden banjo. He’s powered up by the conviction that he holds the ultimate truth – that God is. That he’s invisible to those who don’t want to see him and whether you choose to or not it doesn’t change anything, He’s in you, in everything you see and don’t see, in everything you touch, feel or have the audacity to doubt. And he loves you just the way you are, he always has. Forget about the filthiness, corruption and lies of the organized church, that is all man’s work and not God’s. And every man is evil, every man is a liar.

That’s what Edwards is saying with his art. If you enjoy his modest and unpretentious music, you will hear that message. Live, if you know why you're there you’ll feel it straight in your gut and then feel it grabbing you by the throat. He pulls your heart out with his bare hand and shows it to you. And if you’re there by accident you will be blown away.              

Go see them reader, and take whatever you want from it. Veritatis simplex oratio est.   

Wovenhand Live is something hard to put into words, completely hypnotizing. It’s not just a show or a performance, it’s not meant to entertain you, it’s really an extremely powerful emotional roller coaster that drains you out and leaves you in awe . I only felt that a few times before in my life, Emperor and Dead Can Dance immediately coming to mind. Edwards’s voice is the only thing that can come close to Brendan Perry’s depth and profundity, in my opinion. But in the aforementioned cases I knew to expect, as I had been waiting to see them for over a decade, I was ready for it.

In their case it came completely out of the blue and boy, did it knock me out senseless. I’ll always remember it like yesterday, because I had never been so dismayed and stupefied by one man and his music. It was simply electrifying and I didn’t know how to react at first or what to react to – I felt like struck by lightning. When it was all over I bought all their albums and only when I got home I found out it was Christian music, but I didn’t care - I was already sold.

I agree, Wovenhand is very different on stage compared to the studio David opens up when I ask about how much his songs evolve on stage, how they’re light-years away from their original form. There’s so many things that I want to do when I’m recording, that I don’t care if I can do it live or not. When I’m in the studio I have the opportunity to do things in a certain way, and I try to make records more pleasant sounding, records that you can listen to while you’re sitting in your room. But live, I want to rip your throat off with the music, I want to beat you into a pulp with the law. I bring the law, I bring it! So you wanted to live by it? You want to know what’s good and evil? OK, let’s talk about it, if you wanna live by your expectations or someone else’s. But I know that you can’t do it, and I wanna help you get there real quick, to the point where you realize that you’re hopeless without the mercy of God. And then you’re in a place where he wants you, where you’re no longer afraid to say that you need him, and he’s gonna be there sayin I’ve loved you all along, I never held any of your sins against you in the first place. And then you just rest, you enter his rest. And you’ll sit there finally at peace with yourself and with this world..

For the unprepared eye, David Eugene Edwards can be a very bizarre and quite a creepy experience. He is undoubtedly a marvelous spectacle to watch though. He’ll roll his eyes out, hit the microphone with an iron fist, he’ll stomp his feet, twist and turn, warp his body like possessed. In between songs he’ll whisper phrases that make no sense (to you at least, not just yet or maybe never), he’ll chant in a shamanic dialect and imitate an Indian-like dance, you’ll see his hands in the air, invoking spirits.

He’s in a trance and there are times when you see a volcanic eruption in his enraged eyes. The music itself is as powerful and emotionally heavy as something like this could ever get. It’s deeply personal and honest to the bone’s marrow, floating between uplifting and plain heart braking. At times you think he doesn’t sing to you or for you, he’s just in his own world. I mean you can see him, you can hear him, but he’s just not there...  

Then he picks up his wooden 1887 banjo and starts playing Kingdom Of Ice or Whistling Girl. It feels more like a harpoon aimed straight at your heart, from the first sound you’re struck and he starts pulling you in closer and closer…you can’t resist it. There is an omnipresent, unearthly aura around this man. Something there is unexplainable, fascinating. One discreet look at everyone around you and it’s obvious it’s for real, he has the same effect on everyone. Extremely sad but liberating, at times joyous, between hard rock and dismal ballads David’s voice is an overbearing experience in itself, capable of moving mountains.

I'm gonna dance this town to ruins
Stood close hell fire barbed wire
Come on boy
Come up with somethin'
Or go home go home with nothin'

the interview

I’m in Phillly at Johnny Brenda’s, it's raining again and I'm late an hour  due to traffic. Quite a cozy, welcoming little place, doors aren't open yet so I chug a pint and a shot as soon as I walk in, just to get warmed up and build some confidence. I’m a bit nervous, and the booze definitely hits the spot. I make my way towards the back as the band is about to sit down ready to order some food. We thought you were gonna bail out smiles Stephen, the tallest band manager I’ve ever seen (same guy whom I bough all their CDs from two years before). Seriously, this guy is tall. I tell him I can wait, that I don’t want to impose, etc. David shows up; not at all an intimidating figure (trying to avoid the word skinny but compared to me he is, heh). With a warm smile and a firm handshake, he introduces himself. His presence is candid but his piercing eyes really strike you. Why did I ever think this would just be a simple chat?     

David, your show in New York City two nights ago was spectacular. It’s my third time seeing you and it felt more wonderful than ever, a lot of new faces, there was a great energy. I saw many people dancing...
Yes it really was, we enjoyed it a lot. Actually I think it was one of the best shows we’ve ever had here in the states.

I get the feeling that you don’t get that kind of reaction every night, you play in front of much smaller crowds here at home.
No we don’t, you’re right.

Having been on the road for so many years since 16HP days, doesn’t that hurt you, even a little bit, that across an ocean so many people come to see you, and here you’re lucky to play in front of 100? When you’re on stage, do you feel like home more in Europe than here?
Well home is where the truth is…The only thing that it hurts is the travel, and being away from my family life. It doesn’t bother me that we play in front of 50 people in Kansas and in front of thousands in France. It doesn’t bother me that they don’t wanna hear it here as much as they wanna hear it over there, I wanna go where people wanna hear it, period. That’s where I wanna be. I want to communicate with other people, I want to help people set themselves free from the burden of the law. I want people to know the gospel; I want people to know that God does not hold their sins against them anymore, while everyone tells you that he does. Your own mind tells you that he does. Your own mind works against you.

Wovenhand is extremely personal and I feel that it works better in more intimate, smaller setting. Do you look for a closer connection with the audience, do you feel more at ease playing in smaller venues than larger ones?
I look at it in different ways. There’s the fact that I’m a musician or some sort of an artist, I’m making abstract art. And I like that aspect, of the abstract music. I find it interesting, it’s who I am and yes, it brings me joy that people like it. But at the same time I don’t have any desires from the crowd, I don’t have any expectations. I’m happy if just one person shows up. I don’t have a desire from people to listen to me, or understand me, because I can’t force anything on anyone anyway. And I’m not even trying to. I just do what I do and that’s all…

When you’re on stage it looks like you’re in a complete trance…Your moves, your twists, the phrases you say randomly, the shamanic chants. First timers are mesmerized and clearly love the music, but the immediate reaction is to think that you’re…well, crazy? What do you feel when you’re performing?
Well, the songs themselves tell me everything. I live them, they transcend me. When I’m on stage of course I know what I’m supposed to do with my hands, what buttons to push at the right time all that nonsense, but it’s really about the message. I just do it in the way that I do it, I don’t know if it’s a good way or not, but it’s just the way they come out. I don’t think we’re a good band, I don’t. And I know for a fact that I’m not a good musician, I barely know how to play these things but I just pretend that I do. I don’t care though…I mean, I like what I do and the songs that I write, but it’s not about me, it’s not about being a musician, about being famous or popular, it’s not about me at all. I just try to show up and share what I’ve been given in the way that I know how. I don’t think I do it very well but it doesn’t matter.  

Earlier this year Wovenhand opened for Tool on 7 dates. How did that happen?
They contacted us. They’re big fans of the band, they wanted to do a full tour, 30 shows or something. We would have done it but we had a tour coming up in Europe, going through Jerusalem, and we couldn’t cancel that tour so we ended up doing seven shows only.

What was it like to play in all those huge arenas, in front of over ten thousand people, most of whom don’t know Wovenhand? Were you somewhat nervous, to go from your usual US crowd to such a vast ocean of people?
Didn’t bother me at all. We just went out as a three piece, threw our Indian rug on the floor and ripped through it. I’m not afraid to play with these people. I’ve got nothing lose and I’ve got nothing to gain from them either, they can’t give me anything. God gives me everything I need. I’m not looking for a hand out from a big band, I’m not looking for a big break. I don’t care. If God wants to take it away, that’s fine by me, I’ll do something else. I’ll go back to washing dishes, or whatever…I’ll talk to people in any environment, about what I believe. And I’ll be at peace there too. Yes, I am a human being, I have an ego, I have pride, I have all this bullshit that I have to deal with constantly, but the Lord transcends all these things and he allows me to do these sins by his grace.

You’re now a four piece live, until now there’s only been three of you. Will the troubadours grow in number?
Well, there’s a lot of great musicians that I’m friends with and they can add a lot of great texture, a lot of great sound to what I do…but there’s so many thing involved. I mean I have to be able to pay the people that tour with me, we gotta be able to cover our expenses, you have to think about all these mundane aspects…

Night after night there is a phenomenal chemistry on stage between David, Pascal Humbert and drummer Ordy Garisson. It's wonderful to see that magnetism between the three, that confidence someone has in the people they play with. They barely speak to each other, they're so in it even between songs. Jeff Linsenmeir has been joining them on stage lately, and he definitely adds a lot more to the sound with extra percussion and keyboard.
During all three nights my camera was constantly being drawn towards Pascal Humbert, who’s been on David’s side since they started 16 Horsepower in 1992. While Edwards acts practically like an electromagnet for any lens, the peacefulness on Pascal’s face does not leave people indifferent. He plays with his eyes closed most of the time and  it's a wonderful thing to see him so much into the music, every night.  Pascal was also a member of Passion Fodder (1988 – 1991). Today he is playing with his other band Lilium, which I strongly recommend you check out.

David I’m curious about your upbringing, I'd like to hear it from you what it was like to be raised in such a conservative protestant church.
We grew up under the law, we grew up in the Nazarene Church. It was a part of the holiness movement, which started out in Texas in the 20’s I think. It was all about your behavior. You didn’t play cards, you didn’t go to movies, you didn’t drink, you didn’t smoke, you didn’t dance, women didn’t wear makeup, women didn’t wear the color red, and so on. From one Sunday to the next Sunday, if you did any of these things you were constantly told you’d go to straight to hell. And so you had every Sunday to re-give your life to Christ. But if you died in the middle of the week, you were going to hell. That’s what I was being thought as a child.

You abandoned this church at one point…what happened?
My mother had a nervous breakdown, she just lost it…and that was it for me.

That’s not a way to live a life...
No it’s not. It’s no way for anyone…no one can measure up to it. And the people who think they are measuring up to it are lying to themselves. Or maybe they deceive themselves to the point that they actually think they are better than others. But they’re not, and I think most of the times they know they are not, and they’re just playing a role because people will think of them as sinners if they didn’t. That’s why you see when a TV preacher or a public person makes a mistake and is being caught with another woman, the world just jumps on that like a lion.

Right, because they’re hypocrites...
But that’s the whole point you see, every man is a hypocrite! Every man! The man pointing at the hypocrite is himself a hypocrite. We are all liars, whether we preach to large crowds or friends. Every one tells other people what they should and should not do, what’s good and bad, as their own set of laws. And then every person in its turn does the same. I’m telling you, there is no end to the laws; you have to drop’em all, you have to drop’em. You have to say to yourself I can not keep the law, I can not do it. The only way to stop sinning is to realize that you’ve already been forgiven. The only way to stop doing evil is to realize that God does not longer hold your sins against you, because of what Christ has done for you. There is no tally up in Heaven as in Oh, look what he did now – that is what the Devil does, and he brings it to God’s attention every time. He is the one who keeps a track of that and brings it up to God every time, Look! And God says I already paid for that with my own blood, thank you very much. It’s a finished deal. This was taken care of on the cross. But we’re still living this creation out, until it’s the time to be done. His kingdom is not of this world, it doesn’t belong to the Catholic Church, it’s not in Rome, it’s not in a building, it’s not in a box hidden in somebody’s crypt. There’s no magic in anybody’s bones, there is no magic in any of this stuff.  There is only you, the complete sinner - and God has completely forgiven you for what you’ve done. And you still have the free will to receive what he is offering to you, which is complete absolution. If you choose not to, then this is the only thing that you will be condemned for, because it is your choice. Everybody’s sins, everything evil anyone has ever done, has already been forgiven. And you can take this to Hitler, or to the best person you know. 

The Threshingfloor

Much like on Ten Stones, some of the new songs on The Threshingfloor carry a lot of weight, they’re very sad..
Yes, I agree..

In between them there’s songs that are either mellower or very jumpy. You seem to be aware of the emotional baggage you bring to the table; it’s almost as if you intentionally want to give the listener a chance to breathe, to recover?
Well, I try to write about all sides of the story. There is a certain artistic intention there. You know, like a painter’s album, even if the paintings may vary, it’s all one big picture and it tells a story. Everything is connected. Every song can’t be that heavy, it’s just the way it is. And I don’t want that anyway. And I don’t intend to make it heavy in the first place, it’s just the way it turns out.

Behind Your Breath is one of these songs. It seems to reflect a reality that we as humans tend to look at the sky for an answer of any kind, whether we’re extremely joyous or angry. We all do it, we all have that impulse. What is this song about?
Well, that’s what the song is exactly about. That’s what we’ve been created for, to communicate with the one who created us. To have a loving, caring personal relationship just like the one you have or you’re supposed to have with your earthly father. This is a shadow of what it is like in the spiritual world. This is why all through the Bible they’re always talking about when a child asks his father for a piece of bread, the father is not going to give him a stone, but a piece of bread, because he loves his son, cares for him and gives him what he needs. This is the same in the spiritual sense, that God is our Father and wants to give us what he has. But we want stuff now. We want things of this world, we want material things and we want them now, and he says this world is not gonna last, all this is gonna burn. His kingdom is not of this world. The same is with religion, they want things to happen now, they want people to behave themselves now, they want to eradicate all evil, and that’s not gonna happen, not on this planet.

The Threshing Floor continues where Ten Stones left off, and I feel that it goes even deeper. These last two albums are much heavier in content than the rest. It feels that as time goes by, your albums are more powerful, more spiritual, more visceral. Is that something conscious, or just a natural progression?
Well I think as time goes on, the more I discover God the more I understand how much I need him. Because I have literally reached the limit of myself, of my own being, and I know now how thankful I am for what he has done for me, because I know, or I have a shadow of an idea of how wicked I really am.  So I’ve got nothing to lose here, I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m completely holy; I’m a perfect person because of what Christ has done for me. I’m completely accepted in God’s eyes. Completely. I could walk right into the throne room right now and sit by him.

You have that kind of peace with yourself?
Absolutely, he has given it to me, yes. Because he’s merciful to me, he wants a relationship with me. And this was the only way to make it happen. This is not some big drama he’s played out, there is no trick here. He created us with the opportunity to chose him or not, he gave us the option to turn our backs on him and say No. That is a real relationship. He wanted a companion, not a slave. He wanted an honest connection with a man who equally desired to be by his side, not with a man who was forced into it. True love cannot be imposed on a person. It has to be a conscious choice, and God gave man that choice from the very beginning. I’m married to my wife not because I forced her at gunpoint to come into my life and have my children, but because she loves me, yeah? That’s why she’s there.

When you hear the peacocks talk, do you still hear Leah’s name?
Oh yeah. Definitely.

That’s really cool. How is your son doing today?
[his face expression changes, his eyes instantly lighten up]
My son is doing great, thank you, he’s thirteen now.

I don’t want to get too personal, but I imagine it’s not easy raising a child in a circumstance like that…Is it a struggle?
[David’s son has Down syndrome].
No, it’s not a struggle at all. It’s only a struggle in the sense that the world does not offer him very much. But he’s completely happy, he’s joyful, he’s a music fanatic, he loves my music and knows it in the smallest detail, backwards and forwards. He’s just a wonderful, wonderful creation.

on Marduk's tribute…

You are a fine noise
I must take care for you
My heart my head to the ground
To speak of such things
As the sound of your wings
I have not the breath
In my brides eye
And by her side
And by her side

You are the noise
The elktooth chain
Lovely in the rivers mirror
You stand in my circle
The circle of my center here

It will take some time
To get to this point
Remember you are spinning
Around the room
I dare not rest
My hands on my chest
Vashene osh miashte means yes
Means yes

The branches all creek together
All out in the open
Inside a roaring figure on the wall
The streets are cobbled just for you
The silver sun in my cellar well too
I hear a mocking voice

Marduk recorded a cover of Deerskin Doll (Mosaic). I don’t know if it will ever be released but let that sink in for a moment. One of the most blasphemic, longest running Christ-bashing black metal acts has covered a song by a Christian band out of pure admiration for what they do. I remember talking to Morgan last year when they first played in New York City, it was the first question I asked him, he immediately confirmed. And not only that, but he said Wovenhand’s been his favorite band for many years. Beat that! This is the same man who’s been barking at God for almost two decades, just think of the name and cover of their first Ep. And Marduk are not alone. Irish pagan legends Primordial are using David’s lyrics in one of their songs, Faliures Burden

What does that tell you, when a bands like these are paying you tribute? Have you ever listened to Marduk?
Yes I have. I’m very happy that the song means something to them, it’s a song that means a lot to me personally. I’m extremely flattered…

Maybe they’re not that evil?
Look, I know for a fact that everyone is evil. I know that they are. And I also know that people cannot un-become evil by doing rituals, by doing penitence, by doing confession or good deeds, by being generous. I know that none of that, will ever make someone not an evil person. Only what God has done for me, makes me a holy person. Not what I do, but what He has done. As far as these bands are concerned, I know where they’re coming from. I know that rage. They hate religion and I hate religion too. But the church’s deeds are not God’s deeds. 

The pope is also a rapist, a murderer, a liar.

By playing live so intensely, do you try to convince yourself of your own beliefs? Do you maybe struggle with doubt and use music as a tool to fight it?
No, I am not trying to convince myself, or anyone of anything. I am coming to realizations about myself. I’ve never doubted that God IS. I’ve never doubted that He is Holy, that He is loving. I’ve never doubted that, never! Have I doubted my own beliefs about him? Have I doubted my own faith? Yes. Definitely. And I come to a better understanding of him by his grace, through the struggles that I go through everyday like every other man, through the joy that my family gives me, through the good and the bad, through everything. He draws me ever closer to him and I realize how far I was, and how impossible it was for me to even be near him without him making the effort on my behalf. I can’t judge another person, I can’t do it because I am a sinner myself and he’s completely forgiven me. So I have that. I have that experience to give, to share with everybody around me.  I am a fallen being, I fail all the time but he doesn’t hold it against me. Because, I truly believe that he has taken care of his problems, of my sins and your sins. People often say That’s too easy! What do you mean, so you just say that oh, I believe that Jesus forgave my sins and now everything is ok? Yeah. It’s that simple. And if you try to make it any harder, you try to live up to something that is not there. If you think you have to measure up to make God pleased with you, you’re calling him a liar because he’s already told you that all is already settled.

We have nothing to measure up to? The burden is not really there, but just in our minds?
Exactly. Like I said earlier, your own mind works against you. We don’t have to measure up to no one’s expectations; and especially, we don’t have to measure up to any church’s expectations. The church is the people, that’s it. Wherever the spirit is, that’s the church. The church is not a building, it’s not a religion, it’s not of this planet, it’s not of this flesh. It’s a spiritual thing, and it’s invisible to those who don’t care about it. It all comes down to…the people who truly know within themselves that they need mercy, they will receive mercy. If you don’t think you need it, if you think you can go your own way, go for it, you’re free to choose your own path. And this was the purpose that God had when he gave Moses the law, the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not…Man had chosen to live by the law when he ate from the knowledge of good and evil. He believed what the Devil said: God is hiding things from you, he’s hiding knowledge. If you eat from this tree you’re gonna live forever, you will know the difference between good and evil and you can make the decision to do the good, so you will be like God. This was the great deception, right?

And for whatever reason, I don’t know…they chose that. And God said OK. You wanna know what is good and evil? Fine, then here is the law. Now you know what’s good and evil. So measure up to it if you can. You break one thing, you’re damned. So you have to live it perfectly. But that’s impossible.

It’s very hard for the church to sell the idea of love in our times, after all the damage it’s done throughout history. How can one fall for it when every big religion has spilled so much blood in the name of this so called love? This very country has been founded with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. Great civilizations have completely been wiped out in the name of this love, people were tortured..
God didn’t do that, man did. And man is evil.

How can you love everyone, without exception? I find the very thought to be exhausting.  How can a murderer or a rapist be forgiven, let alone be loved? Doesn’t that make something very cheap out of love?
No it doesn’t, because you yourself are the rapist, you are the murderer, the liar; you yourself are all these things. The pope himself is a rapist, a murderer, a liar. We all are. We are all made of the same flesh and blood, we are all a reflection of each other. We are all sinners, the lot of us. There’s no such thing as a smaller sin or greater sin, God doesn’t compromise, you broke one rule you broke them all. I’m gonna say it again, man made that choice, to live by the law. Man keeps making that choice every day. People feel better about themselves when they compare who they are with the rest…Yeah I cheated on my wife but at least I’m not a rapist or Yeah I stole something but I’m not a murderer. There’s no such thing, you’re only fooling yourself.   

The bar is getting too noisy and we’re going outside for a smoke. David is still sipping his first glass of whiskey insisting he won’t have another one, I’m on my third. I can't remember the last time I had such a pleasant conversation with someone. I offer him one of my Kents I brought from home earlier this year and he gives me one of his American Spirits. Classic. By now I’m just firing up questions now, I love to hear him speak..

So you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
Yes I do.

Many argue that the Bible takes a lot of its stories from earlier pagan tales. Furthermore, it’s a known fact that Christ wasn’t the only prophet to be crucified, and the story of his life is similar to other prophets’ stories. There are claims that the reason Christianity has attracted people’s attention more than any other religion is because of a mistranslation from Hebrew of ”young” Mary, which became “virgin” Mary, and it’s this mistake that got to people…the fact that a virgin gave birth. Your thoughts?
[takes a big breath]
Well, I know that God, the Almighty God who created the Universe and everything around us, is not bound by some man and his pencil. [knocks on the table]

Wasn’t the Bible written by man’s hand, the same hand that translated it in all the languages?
No. The spirit of God wrote the Bible. The spirit of God dwells within man, every man. The Spirit, only speaks of Himself, God. People say “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s been translated from all these languages and this that and the other”. OK. Fine. So? What does that do for you then, if you want to believe that? So nothing is true, it’s all lies - and a lot of people think that, right?

Right, they’re free to think that now…
OK. So if nothing is true, then you can you can do whatever the hell you want, right? Because there is no law, none of this is real, it’s all just a book filled with lies that some guy wrote in order to control some other people, or to get whatever. So if that is what it is then…if it just written by man, if it’s flawed and no one can trust it, of course. OK. So what then? I kill you before you kill me? I take what you have, because it doesn’t matter anyway? But we have consciences. God gave us a conscience..

Do you think conscience is a blessing or a curse?
Conscience is not a curse. Maybe sometimes it’s hard to differentiate. I mean you can abuse your conscience…

One could argue that having a conscience can sometimes slow you down in life…
Slow you down from what?

Well, moving up, maybe reaching a goal, or just being honest as opposed to being dishonest in certain situations…
Reaching what kind of goal?

I don't know...suppose you take a test for a promotion, or new, better job or whatever. To have a better life maybe, bring more money to the wife, etc. Someone who cheats gets a higher score and takes it away from you.
Have a better life for what? Why? What about all the people in this world who have absolutely nothing? What about them? We’re only supposed to take care of ourselves? What about everybody else that is starving, dying, people that have no freedom? Listen to me, we are all responsible for what goes on down here.

True. One look around and that is more than obvious, man really is at the root of all evil..
And so now, man, believes that he has enlightened himself to the point where he will get rid of all these things. We don’t need God anymore, we don’t need faith...

Are you talking about Stephen Hawking’s book?
I’m talking about everyone, the leaders of this world, Obama. I’m talking about the men who are making changes for the better. We’re gonna get rid of poverty, right? We’re gonna eradicate crime, we’re gonna tolerate things that we don’t like, we’re gonna make the world a better place, period. We won’t, it’s never gonna happen.

We’ve become our own gods in a way?
Exactly! We’re gonna change the course of life itself!

That is kind of pretentious…
We want to live forever, right? Independently of any God, we want to live forever. And it ain’t gonna happen. Never. Not here, not on this earth.

 on Roadburn 2011 

The day I found out that Wovenhand was added to next year’s Roadburn Festival I wanted to do back flips. Seriously, the line up for next year is ridiculous…Swans will be there, Voivod, Yob, Year Of No Light, Wardruna, Sunn O))), Godflesh, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Ghost, Candlemass, Alcest, Acid King, and so many more amazing artists. This festival has become a staple for bringing together the bands that really push the boundaries of music, of sound, and with every year the lineup gets more and more interesting. But Wovenhand’s addition seems the most brilliant and esoteric move yet. Just the other day I was talking with Walter (who’s a big 16HP fan) and we both agreed that Wovenhand would steal the fest.

You’re playing Roadburn next year. Congratulations!
Thank you. We’re really looking forward to playing there.

You’ll be in front of people who are completely against religion…besides this extreme music, it’s the one thing that unites them all...
Well I’m against religion too, so I’ll be in good company then.

How did that even happen? How does Wovenhand end up on a festival like this?
My wife knows that I am a huge fan of Om and High On Fire. She saw that Om played Roadburn a few years back and one day she just decided to contact the festival’s organizers and see if they’re be interested in having us there. They got back to her and they said they loved Wovenhand’s music but it would not go well with the festival’s program, it’s not gonna fit and the audience wouldn’t go for it. So we said allright, thank you anyway. And that was that. And then just a few months ago they called us and said they wanted us to play.

Roadburn is an insanely heavy, drone infused experience…do you intend to put together perhaps a special set list, something to stand out and make an impression?
No, why?  We don’t feel that we have to measure up to anyone’s expectations. Maybe I’ll go on stage by myself and just play my banjo. Or I’ll just stay up there and sing for an hour, I don’t care. I’m not afraid of those people…We’re very grateful for the invitation, but we do what we do and that’s it

Kasia jeżeli zaszłaś już tak daleko....moje oczy już są w tej chwili otwarte

David Eugene Edwards: Vocals, banjo, concertina and guitar
Pascal Humbert: Bass
Ordy Garrison: Drums
Live session: Jeff Linsenmeir: piano/keyboards

all content, photos and videos are copyright Stefan Raduta
photos were taken on October 4th, 6th and 7th in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC
videos were filmed on commission by Torsten Meyer
special thanks to Jocelynn, Stephen and of course David Eugene Edwards for making this possible.
immense gratitude goes to Walter @ Roadburn Festival for exceeding expectations.

if you enjoyed this read please leave a comment and spread the word about this blog. 
if you want to add something, stefancraduta at

thanks for your time


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  2. hey stefan, pascal here, good work, thank you for putting it out there.


  3. just wonderful.maybe you could convince dave to come to Romania.there would at least one person eager to see them :)

  4. Wonderful post, photos and video! You captured everything I love about this band. Mr. Edwards' words encouraged me. I hope the European tour is good to you guys and I hope to see you in OKC again soon.

  5. Thanks for taking the time for this great interview, pics, and videos!

  6. Thank you, great interview and photos, and such an inspiring man


  7. Really loved your article! I`m a big fan of DEE`s music.. took a tattoo of the mosaic cover couple of years ago..

    check out my band ( Callisto ) you seem to be a man with good music taste :)

  8. Amazing interview. Only more encouragement for me to dig deep into the Wovenhand and 16 HP discographies. I only wish I could see Wovenhand live. When it's meant to happen, it will.

  9. great site ♪ are there anymore awesome videos ?

  10. Amazing work!

    If someone interested:
    I did an interview with David in November 2009 for the independent Austrian radio statino B138. You can stream/download it here:



  11. worship for woven hand.
    Greek fan of band!!!

  12. wow, i needed to hear those reminders about God.
    awesome, awesome man of God.
    real passion.

  13. Recently discovered Wovenhand.. and it somehow seems to me that they were the band I was – unconsciously – looking for for such a long time now. Left me without words.. DEE kinda reminds of Klaus Kinski.
    All my respect to them. Hope to see them in Romania sometime..

    (loved your article.. read it from top to bottom)

  14. This article was wonderful. Thank you.

    A few weeks ago, I saw David Eugene Edwards (as Wovenhand) play unaccompanied as an opener for Swans at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It was one of the most potent experiences I've ever had.

  15. Thank you for the great interview and excellent photos!! I have posted a link to you.

    Many Thanks

  16. Great interview. What an incredible band led by an incredibly enlightened and passionate man.
    Im awestruck with the conviction he portrays and am myself eternally grateful for my eyes and heart being opened so that I was led to this amazing music. God truly rules.
    I pray I get to see him and the band in London soon. Serioulsy considering flying to Madrid at the moment to see them there in October!

  17. It is really a great article. I fully enjoyed it. Your lovely photos, videos, ideas in this article clearly signify towards your passion and your true strong spirit to christian bands.I love all that.