interview. Deaf Whale present ‘Trails of Gold’ – A symphony of Heavy Rock and Metal

"I’m an optimistic person and will always look for that light, but there’s a whole lot of obstacles thrown your way and you try to overcome them as well as you can"
22 January 2024

Alt Rock and Metal band Deaf Whale’s album trilogy is culminating in a grand finale with their latest work, Trails of Gold. Fans who have immersed themselves in all three albums will witness a remarkable evolution in sound and themes. The symbolism of this artistic journey is portrayed as a progression from the depths of a cave to its illuminating exit.

Starting in 2019 and overcoming several delays, the Madrid-based duo meticulously crafted this project in their studio. Trails of Gold is rich in layered guitars, soaring vocals, and powerful drumming, taking listeners on a euphoric ride. From the opening track Deliverance to the Metal-infused Eternal State of Change, and the acoustic nuances of Out For The Rain, this album is a testament to the greatness of heavy rock.

Formed in Madrid in 2014, Deaf Whale, with Gabriel Font and Jose Roa at the helm, has evolved from their musical beginnings in 2003. Their sound, a blend of classic 60s and 70s rock with modern rock and metal influences, showcases their ability to straddle intense, hard-hitting sounds and softer, melodic tones. Their name, inspired by the solitary 52 Hz whale, mirrors their unique musical identity, setting them apart in the Rock scene. Deaf Whale’s journey includes two critically acclaimed albums, From Wood & Stone and Lessened Shadows, lauded by outlets like Metal Hammer.

In 2019, Deaf Whale welcomed Adrián Balanza into their fold, marking the year with an unforgettable U.S. tour. The tour, supporting their second album, spanned cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, and Phoenix, highlighting Deaf Whale’s dynamic stage presence and bolstering their international acclaim.

We had an insightful conversation with the captivating duo about their latest release and their steadfast dedication to their contribution to the world of Rock and Metal genres, delivering a transcendent musical experience.

We have a huge influence from the 60’s and 70’s, but we are a band from our time and always try to look for new sounds and approaches to the rock and roll we love

As Trails of Gold brings your trilogy to a close, could you shed light on the central theme that binds these albums together and how this latest release culminates the series?

Jose: The struggle of searching for light through the darkness. It’s not a theme we have planned, but rather encountered it naturally looking back at all the albums. It’s a concept we’ve experienced as a band and as people; you try to belong in a difficult musical scene, screw up along the way, find yourself fighting things you wouldn’t imagine happening to you… I’m an optimistic person and will always look for that light, but there’s a whole lot of obstacles thrown your way and you try to overcome them as well as you can.

Gabriel: In itself it is a metaphor for the emergence from darkness and from the first album we have followed that path, which we have even reflected in their titles.

You’ve described the trilogy’s progression using cave imagery. Can you explain how this symbolizes Deaf Whale’s evolution both in your music and as a band?

Gabriel: As the years have progressed, we have grown as musicians and as people, this latest release reflects personal growth at all levels. Some we share as a band, others as friends and others are already personal, with which each one reflects and projects themselves on the music and the band.

Jose: Being a bit different, or at least we think so, we felt kind of isolated. This search for our sound and our place gave us a lot of confidence and even the album covers show that: from the gloominess of the skulls on black to the portal in a bright yellow.

The creation of Trails of Gold began in 2019 but encountered several postponements. How did these interruptions shape the album’s evolution and what obstacles did you confront during this time?

Gabriel: I would say that they have influenced us to continue working and delving deeper into the album and its creation. We have encountered the incorporation and departure of musicians, who have contributed to us at all levels. We have also been in a period of waiting for health reasons, but for better or worse, these are situations that we also leave reflected on the album, either musically speaking or in the lyrics of the songs themselves.

Jose: Yeah, it’s been a weird time. The obvious would be the pandemic, that put a stop on the momentum we had from the US and Spain tour, and writing the album. I also had some personal issues that had me dealing with a fucked up time with an anxiety that pushed me to the absolute bottom. All that kept us from moving forward at times, but in retrospect it has also been a motivation and has shaped the themes we touch on this new album in a far more profound way. 

Deaf Whale is celebrated for its intricate mix of guitars, vocals, and robust drums. What is your strategy for crafting such layered compositions, especially in Trails of Gold?

Gabriel: We are children of many musical styles, and in one way or another we try above all to capture what we like. We can’t make someone like something if we don’t enjoy it ourselves in the first place.

For this album we had the idea of simplifying things a little, with sounds that were a little more direct and perhaps a little less intricate, but we can’t help it. We always have one last little detail to add to the painting.

But above all I think that we have been very happy with the result obtained, because we believe that it closely shows our sound and how we have it in mind, with a forceful rhythmic base, melodic guitars where you can get lost, and a labyrinth of voices that provide the necessary texture at every moment.

Bringing Adrián Balanza on board in 2019 was a pivotal moment for Deaf Whale. How has his addition transformed the group’s chemistry and influenced the sound of Trails of Gold?

Gabriel: Adri has been a fundamental piece in this album, as a musician and as a colleague, we have shared with him experiences that have been engraved in the band forever, the tours of the United States and Spain brought us together a lot and the first sketches of what the album would be. With him we were also pushed to look for new facets as musicians that we had not explored before, at least this deeply.

Jose: Absolutely. He is primarily a guitar player and that made him a unique fit for us in the way with plays and writes. He also pushed us forward in the promotional side of things, making us pay more attention to social media, and he could tell you he had a hard time convincing us but we’re glad he did.

The name Deaf Whale, inspired by the unique 52 Hz whale, hints at themes of uniqueness and being misunderstood. How are these concepts reflected in your music, especially in your latest album?

Gabriel: I think they have been reflected in some way without meaning to, as a therapy where we have left an impression. They are values that in the end not only reflect the music you make but the people we are. We are not extravagant by any means, but in the end each one has their peculiarities and we have not kept them to ourselves, but rather we have put all those cards on the table so that, in the end, anyone who wants can discover them.

Jose: I think now it is an armor we wear. We always trusted in our music, but now we carry it as our banner and it has been refined throughout the albums.

Deaf Whale uniquely merges classic and modern rock influences. How do you strike a balance between these elements to maintain a sound that feels both timeless and contemporary in Trails of Gold?

Gabriel: At the end of the day we are nothing more than a filter of all the music we listen to and have heard throughout our lives. For us, the formula of trying not to repeat ourselves and anyone else takes us down a winding path in which we end up finding ourselves in different alleys and corners that we call ‘musical limbo’. In short, I think it is the great job we ended up doing; finding our place musically and in the world of music as such.

Jose: I agree. It may seem cliche, but we don’t necessarily seek one sound or another, it’s our personality and we merely polish it. We have a huge influence from the 60’s and 70’s, but we are a band from our time and always try to look for new sounds and approaches to the rock and roll we love.

If you were to encapsulate the essence of Deaf Whale’s sound in just three words, what would they be?

Gabriel: powerful, eclectic and original.

Jose: Yeah, nothing to add there. 

When listeners experience your music, what kind of impact or message do you hope they take away from it?

Gabriel: I would love for people to enjoy it as much as we do and let themselves be carried away by the music and let themselves be understood by the lyrics, in the end we are also part of what we create and it would lose its meaning if we didn’t do it for others and to let ourselves be heard.

Jose: For me, I would say that music is much more than ephemeral entertainment and there is still room for intricate concepts and long complex albums that still has its catchy moments. In regards of the lyrics and themes: that you always have to push through, no matter how impossible it seems to emerge from the dark.

Looking ahead, what can fans expect from Deaf Whale this year?

Jose: A lot of shows, as many as we can. We would love to return to the US and tour Europe, but we will start with Spain and go step by step. We are thinking on a few interesting projects, but the near future is Trails of Gold for now.