MARK DEEKS (ARÐ): “It’s An Album That Will Reward Patience: Immerse Yourself And Let It Soak In”


English doom metal outfit Arð are set to release their debut album Take Up My Bones on February 18th via Prophecy Productions. Mark Deeks, the mastermind behind Arð took the time to talk with Metal Express Radio about the upcoming album, the concept behind the title, the unique story behind the band’s name, and more. Check out the chat below!

Metal Express Radio: The band’s debut album Take Up My Bones is set to be released February 18th via Prophecy Productions, what can you tell fans about the upcoming release?

Deeks: This is atmospheric doom that is soaked in the history of the old kingdom of Northumbria in north east England. Mournful hymns from a doomed age!

MER: How was the writing and recording process having this being the band’s debut full length?

Deeks: I almost always start writing by recording improvisations, always on the piano not guitar. Usually I deliberately don’t sit for long each time; it could be as little as 1-2 minutes, but rarely more than 10-20. I usually hit record before I even hit a key and whatever comes out, comes out. It might sound pretentious maybe, but I want to try and capture the ideas in their most pure form as they arrive without too much thought. When a few notes, a melody or a chord sequence catches my ear, I improvise around that until I think I’ve got enough ideas to be going on with, and then usually I’ll just walk away, although occasionally I’ll do 2 or 3 improvisations in the same sitting. Over a period of more than a year, I ended up with more than 50 of these sketches. Then when I came to actually starting to piece songs together, I would start flicking through these rough recordings (all literally made with nothing more than my phone next to the piano) seeing what stood out, and then beginning to develop ideas, and seeing if sketch 6 might fit with number 20 or whatever, even if they had originally happened months apart. Eventually songs began to take shape. As always lyrics were the last thing I added, despite having the concept for the album some months earlier in the writing process.

MER: What was the concept behind the album’s title? 

Deeks: I’ve always had an interest in music that represents the lands it comes from, and as a proud Northumbrian I wanted to tell a tale steeped in this historical region. The story of St Cuthbert is hugely significant in Northumbrian history. Cuthbert was a hermit, a monk and a healer in the late 7th Century who lived on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne just off the north east coast of England. The story goes that he had a premonition of his death and told his followers “I would rather you took up my bones from this place” than let what happened to his body after death become the subject of argument and division. Normally this story is presented from quite a religious perspective for obvious reasons. I wanted to create a version of the story from an alternative outlook: what if Cuthbert’s followers, by being asked to protect his body after his death, were in fact having a huge curse being bestowed upon them? What if rather than being an act of spiritual devotion, the cult of Saint Cuthbert has been based on a curse? ‘Take Up My Bones’ is the story of the 200 year journey of the coffin of Cuthbert to its alleged final resting place in the modern day Durham Cathedral.

MER: Do you feel like the band will continue to use concepts for future lyrical content? If so, do you have anything in mind for future writing?

Deeks: As the meaning of the word Arð is “native land” in the old dialect of Northumbria, the lyrical content of the band will always revolve around some aspect of the history, folklore or identity of the region I call home, for sure.

MER: The band has released three songs from the album, what kind of feedback have you received from the fans?

Deeks: As a new project you never know how the music is going to go down, especially when releasing slow music that takes time to reveal all of its elements, but I’ve been really heartened by the response. There have even been people already calling it one of their most anticipated releases of the year, which when they have only heard comparatively little of your music is really pleasing.

MER: Do you feel like those three songs will give fans a good idea on what to expect from the album?

Deeks: Yes, I think they represent the album well, although for me this is music that is very much meant to be experienced as a full album. Plus it’s worth pointing out that the two longest tracks on the album weren’t among the preview tracks. It’s an album that will reward patience: immerse yourself and let it soak in. This is the opposite of today’s short attention span culture.

MER: How did the formation of the band come about?

Deeks: There wasn’t a band to form as Arð is very much my solo project at its soul. I’ve spent a lot of my professional career creating music to others’ specifications and I felt it was time to be musically selfish and craft a project that was exactly as I wanted. I knew I would play and sing the vast majority of the material, but wanted to bring in some carefully chosen guests where I knew I either couldn’t do what was needed at all, or that they would do a much better job. Callum from Atavist did a great job on drums, Dan Capp from Wolcensmen (and my ex-bandmate in Winterfylleth) played the majority of the lead guitars and contributed to the choral vocals, and the inimitable Jo Quail added her unique skills in the multiple layers of mournful cello.

MER: What were some of your influences to play music?

Deeks: I’ve played music all my life having started to play piano at the age of 5. Metal became my central musical focus when I was around 14 or 15 like many teenagers, although it was some years later when the slower, doom influenced sub-genres started to dominate my listening. The bands who have influenced Arð specifically (whether they are all immediately apparent or not) would include Mourning Beloveth, Tenhi, Funeral, Kauan, Skepticism and many more.

MER: How is the music scene in England?

Deeks: I’m not sure I feel like part of a “music scene” to be honest. The last couple of years have, of course, been hard on the music industry, and as Arð is a new name that has never played live, it’s difficult to feel part of something in that sense. Obviously, I feel an affinity with other English musicians such as my brothers in Winterfylleth in terms of wanting to tell the stories of those who came before us, but we’re musically on a different page.

MER: How would you describe the band’s sound to a new fan?

Deeks: Mournful doom. This is music that requires patience, that has its fullest impact if experienced in its entirety. Take Up My Bones is an atmospheric, lyrical and musical journey that has its fullest impact if listened to in one sitting.


  • Matt Zaniboni

    Matthew is an interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He started his passion for music journalism back in his college radio days serving as the Heavy Metal Director at WKKL out of Hyannis Massachusetts. During Matt’s tenure in radio, he has had time working for commercial stations in Boston Massachusetts such as WAAF, WZLX AND 98.5 The Sports Hub before landing with Metal Express Radio. Anytime you want to talk heavy Metal, hockey, Guiness, and dad life, Matt is your guy m/

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