Prior to 2007, Robert Lowe was just another local working stiff. After a day in his cubicle working for an insurance company in Addison, Lowe would sometimes go practice with one of the metal bands he fronts around the region.
For over a decade, Lowe has wallowed in relative anonymity as singer for Solitude Aeturnus, one of Dallas’ best purveyors of doom metal. Predictably, the band has been a major draw across Europe, but has never made inroads in its hometown or country. Concept of God, Lowe’s more experimental outfit hasn’t fared much better.
So each Monday through Friday, Lowe returned to his dreaded cubicle. Until last year, when a fateful call came from Sweden. One of doom metal’s most celebrated groups, Candlemass, was in need of a replacement vocalist. Seems the leader of Candlemass, Leif Edling was a big fan of Solitude Aeturnus and wanted to know if Lowe would mind the cooler temperatures across the Atlantic.
Needless to say, Lowe was on the next plane to Scandinavia. And after a year spent playing to crowds of thousands instead of hundreds, Lowe returns to Dallas for the first time this weekend with a show at Lola's in Fort Worth.
Speaking from a tour stop in Portland, Lowe told us of his remarkable good fortune...
Is Solitude Aeturnus still a working band?
Yes, we’re working on setting up a European tour. The Solitude tour has to happen between August and November cause that’s when I have to be back in Sweden to work on the next Candlemass record.
How did some guy from Dallas end up as the singer for Candlemass?
I was at work at this fucking insurance company, pure cubicle hell and my girlfriend, Heather, calls me on my lunch break and tells me that Candlemass is looking for a new singer. She asked me if I was interested and I said there was no fucking way. I was working on the next Solitude record and I was supposed to fly out to Poland to do a Solitude DVD. Heather told me to fuck off and that she was going to send an email to Leif saying that I was interested. She called me back 20 minutes later and said he had responded to her email and wanted me to book a studio and send him a demo. Leif was a friend with one of the other guys in Solitude and he had actually bought our last CD that same day.
Did you have to fly over to Sweden right away?
I have like eight hundred million sky miles. I did the most recent Candlemass album in January of 2007 then came back to Dallas for a while and then back to Sweden to do the festival tour, then came back for a couple of weeks and then back to Sweden to do the Candlemass 20th Anniversary show.
You must be sick of flying.
You go into autopilot and you shut down. I just got back from Sweden a month ago. We were recording a new EP.
What’s the biggest difference in singing for Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass?
Solitude flies over to Europe and plays the festivals and that’s about it. With Candlemass, it’s a major step up. Nice tour buses, I never have to pay for anything, nice hotels. Crowds are really good for us over there--but I knew that would be the case. America just doesn’t pay attention to most metal. Dallas and Arlington are at least a bit metal-friendly, but for the most part, it’s fucked here in the states. I am so glad my girlfriend sent that email. I am just so happy to be where I am now. It’s been a good ride so far. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m like a kid in the candy store--I am kind of an old hat at this--[but] it’s so much smoother with Candlemass. I’m probably not going to have to work for the rest of this year. The call to join Candlemass came at just the right time. I was really at a point where I was telling myself that I couldn’t stay in a fucking cubicle for another god damn day before I lost my mind and started shooting people.
Have the European crowds been receptive to you as the new front man?
I was concerned at first. You know how it is when a band replaces a vocalist and there is always that worry that the new guy won’t be accepted. After the album came out and after a year of touring, there’s no doubt who the man is. It’s been good. It’s been really impressive.
You’re the third lead singer for the band and Leif Edling has that reputation as being a guy who doesn’t mind changing band members. Does that worry you?
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The hit list is quite long...Yes, I might be thinking about when do I get the axe! As long as I can get a good couple of years out of it, I’m happy.
How many bands are you a part of now, anyway?
Of course, Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass, but I also have Concept of God who has released a new CD and I am also playing bass in a cover band called Motherlode. We’ve already had a couple of gigs. I even play drums for a belly-dancing outfit. Hell, I was in The Holy when I was 15. Solitude Aeturnus has made eight records and that band has gotten me all around the world. What has remained constant is that I’m still drinking way too much!
Candlemass performs Saturday, June 7, at Lola’s in Ft. Worth. --Darryl Smyers