Morgan Rider, the mastermind behind Deep Dark River and as the bassist of Toronto melodeath outfit Vesperia, recently uploaded his take on Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. The reggae classic, always a staple in the collective mind, is given a dark makeover in this version. Check it out here:
Haunting as this cover is, it could spell bigger things for Rider himself. As Deep Dark River’s debut album’s release date draws near, and with a North American tour already in the works, it has forced him to ask questions about both his musical future and that of his other band Vesperia. Indy Metal Vault caught up with Rider for the first installment of Great Dark North, a column that focuses on all things Canadian in the vibrant metal scene.
GDN: Thanks for talking to us Morgan!
MR: No problem, man. Glad to do it.
GDN: So, first thing I’d like to ask, what can you tell us about this new project you’re working on, Deep Dark River? What makes it different from the other stuff you’ve been doing lately?
MR: Well, Deep Dark River is a folk and blues soul project I started doing last year. It’s acoustic solo work; mostly done in my own studio and that I’ve been performing live as well.
GDN: You got your own studio? Sweet!
MR: Yeah, I do all of the Deep Dark River stuff, as well as the Woechanter stuff in there as well. Deep Dark River is basically a musical outlet for me, because I haven’t really had the opportunity to explore this kind of music in the past. Never had the time, or the capacity to do it. But I feel like I’m at a level as a musician where I can play a variety of instruments and can create this kind of music. I have the time to do it, make all the decisions myself, formulate tours, and strategize albums, all of it.
It’s been an interesting and rewarding bit of work so far. I’m also beginning to incorporate other musicians into it and create a band component. So I’ll have my solo stuff and the band stuff. I hope to be releasing albums as both. The band stuff will be “Morgan River and the Deep Dark River,” and it’ll be more swampy rock, doomy sort of thing.
GDN: So cool! I was gonna ask, will Deep Dark River be all acoustic on the new album, or will it sound like the stuff you’ve done before?
MR: The new album is out next month, and it’s all acoustic music. Mostly soul and blues and folk. There’s some electric guitars, but they’re mostly for effect.
GDN: Nice. So, about this cover. Have you always wanted to do a ghost country take on Bob Marley? Or did that weird idea just come to you one day?
MR: (laughs) Well, my band Vesperia were on tour a few years ago. We were in the Rocky Mountains, listening to Bob Marley, and we decided that when we got home we’d record some Bob Marley death metal. We obviously forgot to do that, and thank hell we didn’t. But that was the idea. We were just goofing off in the tour van.
But when I got home I thought hey, why don’t I make this happy thing sort of sad and melancholic. It just kinda happened this way. I play it pretty frequently and people seem to like it.
GDN: Yeah man, I know I did. So, you were talking about Vesperia there. When I was looking online I saw you guys billed a show as ‘The Return of Vesperia.’ Anything you can tell me about that?
MR: Oh damn, that’s about our return to London! It’s actually gonna be our final show for a foreseeable amount of time.
MR: It’s the return of Vesperia, but it’s also gonna be the end for a while.
GDN: Is this to focus more on Deep Dark River?
MR: Yep. I have some tours planned and more records written already.
GDN: So this is a more long-term thing, not a one-off?
MR: It’s gonna be a longer term thing. I have four separate mini albums planned, two of which are written. It’s gonna be a ‘quadrilogy.’ I thought about a trilogy, but my ideas kept taking off. It’s gonna be the Deep Dark Quadrilogy. It’s all about the Canadian landscapes and notable creatures that live in Canada. It’s gonna bridge a variety of styles, from orchestral folk to swampy southern blues to ethereal music to straight-up doomy rock. With violins.
GDN: Wow. Throwing around a lot of words there. Orchestral, swampy, ethereal. It’s a lot to take in. Have you found there to be a lot of similarity between these styles?
MR: There’s a lot going on between this and the metal world. There’s a lot of grassroots communities around them, and you have to work and work to see any return on what you’re doing. But I’ve found that doing the folk stuff is a lot more accepted by the public. I’ve been doing gigs at breweries and stuff, and it’s always so accepted by the patrons. Where as if I took my metal band…
I’m still pretty niche for this style, but I’ve found that even the metalheads love it. Most of them listen to a lot of other stuff besides metal. It’s just been a lot easier to get gigs as a result.
GDN: Must be a relief after slugging it out in the melodeath scene for years
MR: Totally. First off, there’s no one in Canada compared to other places, and second, it’s gigantic. It’s so hard to tour our country. And this has been totally relieving.
GDN: But you’re not totally done with metal, right? Tell me about Iomair.
MR: It’s actually Dylan Gowan, Vesperia’s drummer’s project entirely. I know over the years he’s been bringing songs to Vesperia, but they didn’t mesh with what we were doing. So he ended up writing a whole album of these pieces (laughs). The guy’s brilliant. He hired musicians, scheduled the studio time, commissioned the artwork. I just did some bass.
GDN: Can we look forward to Iomair live? Will you be there?
MR: Nah, I’ll be with Deep Dark River. It is coming live though, with Sam (vocalist of Astaroth Incarnate) on vocals. It’s recorded and it sounds awesome. So eclectic. Totally different on then anything in our scene now, and we need that so bad. There’s really nothing like what Dylan’s doing with his Iomair project, in the GTA at least. So I think it’ll be a welcome addition.
I don’t know if he’s announced this date yet, but he told me that it’ll be released within the first two weeks of August.
GDN: Coming up soon then?
GDN: This is so great. Anyway, one last thing. Can you tell me, does Deep Dark River mean the end of Vesperia?
MR: I can tell you it’s a new era for me. I won’t be walking away from my other band though, at all. It’ll just add to the diversity of what I’m doing in life. I’ve got plans for quite a few years to come. A lot of music I need to get out of me. It could turn into a lifelong thing, easily.
GDN: Wow. Awesome that you’ve found focus like that. Unfortunately, our time is up. Thanks so much for joining us here on Great Dark North!
MR: No problem man.
Deep Dark North’s tour dates have been posted online. Look for our interview with Iomair, coming soon to Indy Metal Vault!