Dreadnought Brings Flutes and Flowers to Doom Metal

Kelly Schilling of Dreadnought makes playing flute in a metal band cool again.
Kelly Schilling of Dreadnought makes playing flute in a metal band cool again. Photo courtesy of Dreadnought
In five short years, Kelly Schilling and Lauren Vieira have helped turn Denver's Dreadnought into a behemoth band powered by a mixture of folk, jazz, black metal and classical elements, among others. Flute-wielding Jethro Tull main man Ian Anderson would be proud of the doom-laden epics that Schilling and Vieira are composing with bandmates Kevin Handlon and Jordan Clancy. The secret? A heavy rotation of Claude Debussy, Ulver, Radiohead and Opeth; an original recipe from one of the city's most original (and self-proclaimed geekiest) bands. Below, Schilling and Vieira profess their love for Brazilian power-metal players Angra, and recall their least-favorite road trip to Texas.

Westword: First off, can you please provide a brief update on the current happenings of the band?

Schilling: We have been fairly quiet since returning home from the studio in Salt Lake City, but are working hard with a lot in store for this year. We are currently finishing up the final touches of the mixes for our soon-to-be-released third album. Cover art is complete and promos are complete, so once the masters are in our hands, we'll be one step closer to releasing. We are also working on a couple of early summer tours and have begun writing for the fourth album.

Since inception, Dreadnought has gained quite the momentum and notoriety. Can you put into words what the success has meant to you personally and what it's meant to the band? Did you expect it?

Vieira: It's still an honor every time we hear someone call us “successful.” All of us have been dedicated to our instruments since childhood, but know better than to bank on that. So we feel lucky, and it's all due to our incredible support system, especially here in Denver.

Schilling: I have not expected the success, though I have always hoped for the band to be successful, and as Lauren said, it is an honor to be considered successful. We work extremely hard to improve and grow. We put every inch of our soul into our music, and to see others captivated by what we are expressing is amazing to me. There is something incredible about expressing your emotions through the language of sound and having those emotions connect with other people, whether it be five or 500.

It's hard to really pigeonhole Dreadnought into a particular genre. Kevin explained in a previous interview that influences include the likes of Pink Floyd, Mastodon, Moonsorrow, etc. Are there any other offbeat influences like folk, classical, jazz artists that are intertwined? What are your personal musical tastes? Was it always in the plans to start a doom version of Jethro Tull?

Vieira: It's funny you say that, because “heavier Jethro Tull” is usually my go-to descriptor. We all come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. I tend to channel my teenage power-metal roots when I write — hey, Angra! — and it's visible in my leads and sense of space. As for Jordan and Kevin, they keep us guessing. I've never heard Christmas carols, Yob and samba beats on the same album.

Schilling: I don’t believe we ever sat down and decided to start a doom/prog mashup, but over the years that is partly what it has come to. Classical and jazz are absolutely influential for us. My band-geek days stayed with me throughout college, and it was there that I really began to appreciate and find influence in composers such as Claude Debussy. As for my current musical tastes, it has been a year or two of playing Radiohead and Ulver on repeat.

What's the craziest thing a fan of the band has said to you? Any funny road stories to share?

Vieira: I have a least-funny memory: when we passed a trooper going under the speed limit and subsequently got pulled over, questioned and illegally searched in rural Texas. Be safe out there, Colorado-plate bands! A favorite memory for me was when we played around the block from the Origin/Abigail Williams package in Montana and got to see each other's sets...while killing each other's draws. Reuniting with close friends like that is always the high point of touring.

Schilling: The first thing that comes to mind (probably because it was one of the happiest moments ever) is when a fan in Philadelphia introduced himself to me after our set and called me “Kelly Åkerfeldt.” My mind was absolutely blown at that compliment, considering Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) has been an influence of ours since we were sixteen. We’re not worthy!

Last thing: What does the future hold for Dreadnought?

Schilling: The future holds more music and more tours. We are working harder than ever to write new material and will not be slowing down any time soon. As for our forthcoming album, a release date is still in the works, but our Denver fans can hear us debut one of the songs live at the hi-dive on February 9. We will have many more updates for the year on our Facebook and website. Thank you for your support.

Dreadnought will play the hi-dive at 9 p.m. Thursday, February 7; tickets are $10. For more information, go to the hi-dive website.

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