• The Sirens of Titan / Dark Heart Beating

    In conversation with John-Paul Pryor about the release of the new single Dark Heart Beating.

The Sirens of Titan are a conceptual rock band helmed by John-Paul Pryor. Here, the freewheeling creative spirit and frontman tells us about the release of Dark Heart Beating – the  first single from their upcoming album Age of Treason.

In the notes of your latest track ‘Dark Heart Beating’, a blues with nostalgic and melancholic tones resounds. Listening to the song, you seem to retrace the tracks of an extremely intimate and introspective journey. Can you tell us a little more about it? What is the meaning behind the title?

I guess, overall, the song is kind of a metaphor for the darkness that can exist in all of us. I think we all contain all kinds of potentialities, and many of the darker things that drive us are born from an ignorance of ourselves, or the lacking of an ability to transcend our ego-form identities into something approaching grace. That all might sound quite far out, but in my kind of internal image-scape of the song Dark Heart Beating, there is a character or entity who is stuck residing in their worst self, unable to ascend to the next level of being, and doomed to repeat certain actions that mean they are kind of looping forever in eternal misery. I was writing it around the beginning of lockdown, and I was also thinking of all those people trapped in situations with partners who were abusive or unkind, on any level. So, it’s kind of a question to those kinds of people. The opening lines: ‘won’t you tell me how you feel / when your ass is never real / wage a war upon your soul / these blue roses never grow…’ That is about the fact that unless you can get in touch with your inner being, and a pure channel of energy, your soul, or your blue rose, will never evolve, because that relentless voice of negative reinforcement will just keep you in a downward soul spiral that hurts both you, and others.

I had the opportunity to preview the music video for ‘Dark Heart Beating’ and what arises instinctively to me is to open a reflection with you on the relationship that seems to create a strong connection between death and rebirth. With this in mind, I would like to ask you to tell me more about this connection and all the other symbols that appear in the video.

It’s super interesting that you say that because death and rebirth is core not only to the single but also to the whole of the forthcoming album Age of Treason. Katja Mayer who made the film was super interested in exploring a ritualistic act of repetition, where you are never quite sure what the protagonist is doing, and whether she is digging a grave for herself, or someone else. To me, the film is about letting go of darkness, or negative energy in order to be reborn anew, but the fact it has such ambiguity, means it can mean different things to different people, and that is very much what Katja is about as a visual artist – all of her imagery is imbued with a sense of the uncanny. As a songwriter, I suppose I am a little obsessed with the journey of the soul, and reaching for, and perhaps never achieving grace, and I guess that is in there lyrically.

Still talking about the video, I would like to ask you about the creative process that allowed you to transform these emotions into such strong images. How did the collaboration with director Katja Mayer come about?

I’ve known Katja a long time, and I knew if I sent her the song that she would come up with something powerful in response. I left it completely open to her for interpretation – in part, because I wanted the song to be reinterpreted via a powerful feminine sensibility, which Katja has in spades.

We did have a conversation about that notion of a person out of place, like the brilliant Harry Dean Stanton walking around the desert at the beginning of Paris, Texas, but apart from that I was just excited to see what she would create. Katja is a very awake and intuitive artist, so I knew it would be something special.

It is clear to me that there is a strong creative bond between you and Jez Leather. How would you describe your collaboration?

We are definitely like brothers from another mother, as they say, although there is enough difference between our musical tastes that there is also a very cool kind of easy-going tension in our sonic relationship. There is a track on the forthcoming album called ‘Leviathan’ that has this amazing coda that Jez wrote, which really just totally blew my head. It took the song into Piper At The Gates of Dawn territory, and while being related, it is also utterly alien, and quite overwhelming. I absolutely love that. I love knowing that he has an imagination that totally complements, and often elevates my own. It’s always free reign for all of us musically in the studio. I’ll come with the song, sure, but then we take a leap of faith in the collective imagination, and trust in the belief that all of us working together are greater than any one working alone. The rest of the band are excellent musicians also, Marco, Dan and Simon all bring their unique talents to the songs, and The Sirens of Titan is a whole different beast live now, which is exciting to unveil.

Your new single ‘Dark Heart Beating’ represents a new era for The Sirens of Titan. It is the first track on an album that draws on the vast heritage of rock and explodes into a Dionysian story of arcana, melancholy and transgression. Can you tell us more about your upcoming album ‘Age of Treason’?

Well I can only thank the music writer Jeremy Allen for talking about it in terms of arcana, melancholy and transgression – he’s such a great writer, every one should get his book on Serge Gainsbourg. I think the most important thing people can expect from Age of Treason is a journey – an album, for me, should be a journey that rises and falls, and ebbs and flows. It is a journey of the soul for me, personally, of course, but it’s also been a very long time coming, with false starts, the pandemic, and so on. At times, for all of us, it was a little like pushing the rock up the hill but never seeing the peak. Now, it’s finally here, and coming into the world. It will have its very own life, and perhaps touch a few people, or alleviate some blues for some people. Maybe. I think, at the end of the day, all we can try to do as writers and musicians in this life is connect. We can’t control the narrative of how something connects, we can only hope that it does connect, and that act of connection in-and-of-itself is why we create, right? I mean, too much commercial dross is made, in my opinion, and what we are is a million miles from that. I believe we stand for something. It’s up to the audience if they want to find out what that is, and if they want to come with us.

The Sirens of Titan / Dark Heart Beating

Credits:

Artist: The Sirens of Titan / @thesirensoftitan  John-Paul Pryor / @johnpaulpryor  Jez Leather / @jezleather 
Film Director: Katja Mayer / @mayerkatja
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Interview: Alisia Marcacci / @miabrowe

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