Dark Castle Still Tower Over Doom Pretenders
Florida's Dark Castle were literally everywhere for a little bit. Touring the U.S. several times on the strength of a pair of releases via At a Loss and Profound Lore, the duo of Rob Shaffer (drums) and Stevie Floyd (guitars, vocals) were as apt to play your backyard as they were a festival stage. The band's unique doom-influenced compositions made them a coveted live entity; but then, as quickly as their T-shirts spread across the land, Dark Castle were gone, quietly going into hiatus in the early '10s. Floyd went on to concentrate on Taurus, while Shaffer joined France's Monarch for some dates, then went on to stints in Lord Dying and more.
Then, in 2017, in much the same manner as they disappeared, Dark Castle returned. The duo — both living in Portland, Ore., now — scheduled an appearance at Stumpfest and another as part of the massive Psycho Las Vegas. But what has the band been up to lately? Can we expect them to do more material? And how does Leviathan fit into all of this? The answers can be found in our recent interview with Floyd, available below.
So, where did the idea of getting the band back together come from?
[Shaffer] moved here with his girlfriend a few years ago, and I actually I think I saw him in the airport. He was going on tour with Monarch. He told me he was moving to Portland and I was like, “Are you fucking serious?” And so then I suggest that maybe we could play again, because it’s really hard to meet up when you are on opposite sides of the country. Then he moved here a few years ago, and I was really busy with my new band Taurus. He joined a couple bands in Portland, like Lord Dying and Norska. Anyway, we were just so busy, and we finally recently just started jamming all the time. It’s been cool. Rob recently said that it was "necessary that we do this again," and I wholly agree.
This was a long time coming, though. I know that you had a baby [with Jef Whitehead of Leviathan].
Yeah, that was big. [Rob and I] finally settled our collective schedules and got together and wrote some new songs for a new record. We weren’t even going to play live, but we got offers for a gig in Portland and another at Psycho Las Vegas, so we started relearning our old songs.
I would imagine that people are probably excited to hear that you guys have written new stuff.
Yeah, it’s really cool. We wrote like three or four songs so far for a new record.
So, you have a box set or something that compiles all of the previous material? That is coming?
Yeah. Of course, I am hand-doing everything, and it’s just a lot of work. The art, the layout ... I don’t know, I take on every little piece of it.
We’re working on that new record, and when we decided to play a show, I was like, “We need merch, and all of our records have been out of press forever.” So, we were going to put out our first two EPs that never really came out. I hand-made some of one, and the other never saw the light of day. So, I was going to do a record with those two EPs, and then I got permission from the other labels to put out the LPs. Then we have a crusty half-demo that never came out that I hand-made, so it just turned into the whole thing. I was like, “Well, maybe I could do a really badass package with black vinyl, screen-pressing one color, make a box out of wood.” Then we can also sell them singular if people want them that way.
For the EP we did called Flight of Pegasus, it’s like our very first EP, and we just recorded it in two days. I hated it for years, but it’s actually still pretty cool. We had this other EP that we did as a project. It was recorded really weird, and then I had Sanford Parker remaster, and [James] Plotkin master it. Now it sounds pretty cool, and you know it's the beginnings of the band.
You have Psycho coming and you just played in Portland. Any other gigs on the docket?
We got asked to play a couple of shows, but I don’t know — I think we’re kind of going to keep it pretty minimal in the beginning. I want to do everything, but it’s just different now that I have a mortgage and a kid and a billion responsibilities.
You’re married to Jef Whitehead, also of Leviathan / Lurker of Chalice fame. Do you ever play together?
Yeah, we do! We used to jam a lot more before I got pregnant, but we do. I’ve been so busy with my bands and he’s busy with his stuff, but we do. It's super fun because, for the longest time, we didn’t really have the proper equipment or place to do it. Now I have a house that has a gigantic basement, and so it’s like our lair. We have a killer practice set up down there and a little recording studio. It's super fun. Jef and I have a little band — or a project — called Devout. We have a whole bunch of demos and shit — been doing that for a long time, but I’m hoping to have it come out pretty soon.