The Dual Lives of Robert Lowe

Story by Sean PalmerstonThere are few clean-throated metal vocalists as naturally talented as Robert Lowe. Through six albums with Solitude Aeturnus, plus the highly underrated Last Chapter record on Brainticket, Lowe’s soaring, clean vocal style have made every album he has participated in magical. And now, thanks to his new additional undertaking as lead vocalist in Candlemass, there is even more cause for celebration. His approach on their King of The Grey Islands differs from his work with Solitude and shows the versatility his voice is capable of. Not bad for someone who never even wanted to be a singer.

Years ago – I guess I was about 12 – I decided I wanted to be a guitarist,” says Lowe. “I started a band when I was 15 called The Holy and it was more or less punk meets Iron Maiden riffs. It just sort of evolved from there.”

“I thought I was gonna be the next Yngwie,” he jokes. “I always wanted to be the lead guitarist, that was my main goal. In 1986 or 87 I started another band called Graven Image with the old Solitude Aeturnus bass player Lyle Steadham: it was a little three- piece heavy metal doom thing. At that point in time I took on the role of playing guitar and singing. Well, you know how garage bands come and go – Lyle ended up leaving, met John (Perez) in college, he found out they needed a drummer (Lyle also played drums) and he joined his band. A year went by and I called Lyle and he told me about this band and that they needed a singer. I was like ‘I dunno if I just want to sing, I play guitar’ but he convinced me to come do it and the rest is history. I didn’t even really audition, I just went down there and did my thing and they told me I got it.”

On his earliest recordings with Solitude Aeturnus, Lowe sang in a higher range than today. When questioned what were the original influences on his singing style, Robert says it was what he was cranking out for pleasure that had the most impact.

“I don’t think I had any forethought about trying to sound like anyone,” explains the vocalist “because as far as I was concerned that was not what I was going to be doing. Maiden, early Scorpions, obviously Sabbath, early Judas Priest all influenced me: just basically the stuff I was listening to in my room as a teenager. I guess that’s how it evolved.”

“Especially on the first two SA [Solitude Aeturnus] albums, I’m in a lot higher pitch range simply because that’s how Klaus Meine sings, Rob Halford sings in that stratosphere, Bruce Dickinson used to, so it was just a natural thing for me to pull out of my ass. It wasn’t until Through The Darkest Hour that I found my own level.”

The story of how Lowe came to join Candlemass is an interesting one. When looking for a new singer, he was one of the few name vocalists they considered asking, but decided against it due to their respect for Solitude Aeturnus’ own musical vision.

“After I got the gig, I found out Candlemass had discussed asking me, but Leif is buddies with John and he didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. He knew that our new album had just come out and didn’t know if Solitude were going to be touring or if I was even going to be around. So they just sort of let that idea drop to the wayside.”

“Initially, my girlfriend was online – she’s a Candlemass fan too – she went to their website and saw they were auditioning new singers,” says Lowe of how he came in contact with Candlemass. “She called me and told me I had to go for it. I thought it was just crazy, because I was in Solitude. I said I didn’t know but told her to do whatever. When we got off the phone, she emails Leif, explains who she is and asks if they had ever considered using me. Within 20 minutes of her sending the email, Leif responded and says ‘holy shit, I just got back from the store an hour ago and I just bought Alone.’ He was listening to it for the first time when the email arrived and he said yeah.”

“Leif called me that same night here at home and we talked about a few things – logistics, where, when, how and flying and me being in Texas and them in Sweden. It’s painfully obvious that Solitude doesn’t do a lot of touring outside of festivals and local shows, so I was like fuck it, I will do it. We will just have to schedule for SA here when I am home and it seems to have worked out really well.”

“The next week, Leif sent a disc with the new song Demonia plus Gallows End, Solitude, and Black Dwarf and said ‘go book studio time, put some vocals on these tracks and we’ll see how it fits.’ I did them, sent it back a few days later and I got a call the next day saying they got it and I was in and bang, the next week I was in the studio recording the album properly.”

Robert recorded his vocals for the album almost immediately, and before he had ever even met any of the other Candlemass members in person. While the two bands did play a few shows together in the early nineties, Lowe merely soaked in Candlemass’ live show as a fan.

“We did two shows with them – I think it was in 1992 – we played Fort Worth and Austin and I didn’t bother talking to anybody. I just knew who they were because I was a Candlemass fan.”

Robert is well aware that he’s got some big shoes to fill as the new vocalist in Candlemass, but so far so good. He’s got the total approval of his Solitude Aeturnus band mates. He is fitting in beautifully with his new pals in Candlemass and really, this can only been seen as a win-win situation for both bands to be able to share one of the most dynamic doom metal throats ever born.

“I got the opportunity to quit my job and play music full time as of February. From my end, I am extremely grateful because now I get to do fulltime what I have always wanted to do. And come on, I have two really cool bands to do it with. There’s still going to be Solitude Aeturnus gigs, we’re still going to be doing them and going for mini-tours, but that is all we will be able to do.”

“I’m looking forward to getting up and onto those big festival stages to show the metal fans this summer that they all aren’t missing anything with the new Candlemass.”

Robert’s Favorite Solitude Aeturnus album – Alone
Robert’s Favorite Solitude Aeturnus song – Scent of Death
Robert’s Favorite Candlemass album – Nightfall
Robert’s Favorite Candlemass song – Samarithan

Robert’s Favorite albums of all time:
Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast
Scorpions – Blackout
Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality
Dio – Holy Diver
Funeral – From These Wounds
Nevermore – everything they’ve done
Amorphis – Elegy
Catherine Wheel – Chrome

PLEASE NOTE: This story CANNOT be reprinted in any means without written consent from both Sean Palmerston and METAL MANIACS.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.

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