Dallas, TX hard hitting, hard rocking, energy driven sensation EMPIIRES is coming in strong with the bands latest single and video for THROUGH THE FLAMES. Fire riffs, hooks that pull you in with ease and the catchy melodic nature that slides in and out of the track just confirms these guys are going to be excelling in the music community in no time. They are putting excitement back into the game of music bringing a unique approach of blending modern metal and hard rock soundscapes with groovy melody and ear catching choruses with dynamic and killer guitars that will pull you in and you will be content to stay and enjoy. I had a chance to ask the guys about how the band became, what the process is for songwriting and found out some fun facts about the members. Enjoy!
Q: I’m so excited to have you guys a part of the East Coast Romper, I pride myself in helping people get to know up n coming bands and you guys have such catchy, high energy and relatable sound that I can’t wait to promote the hell out of you. So on that note tell me How EMPIIRES became a band and what each member brings into the overall sound of the band?
A: We all knew each other and have worked together in some capacity prior to this band. We started talking about writing and that led to working on some ideas. The next thing you know, we’re making demos. Each member of the band has their own strengths but I think it’s the chemistry of the four of us together that makes it work.
Q: Being from Dallas, TX how has that inspired you guys as musicians and just your look into the world of art in general?
A: There are lots of rock and metal bands from Texas so it’s an inspiring environment to be in as a band.
Q: You have a special spelling for your band name; can you tell me the reasoning and what the band name means to you?
A: We were looking for something to make the name stand out. Our graphic artist friend showed us a couple of logos with this spelling and thought that looked cool.
Q: Your newest single THROUGH THE FLAMES is addicting. I have had it on repeat since I got introduced to it. How was the writing process for it? And was it a fun song to write because the sound makes me feel like it was a hi-energy and a lot of positivity when it was all coming together?
A: Thanks for checking it out, it’s always great to hear someone tell you that they connected with our song. We did have a good time writing it! The riff and the lyrics worked well together live and we were hoping that would translate in the recording process.
Q: Along with the track being just badass, the lyrical content shines with overcoming obstacles in life. How do you guys pick subject matter to write about and with a song like this does it feel cathartic when it's written and you listen to what you came up with?
A: The lyrics and the story just kind of wrote itself about fighting through adversity. We were thinking most people could identify with the feeling of going through tough situations.
Q: If you could look back on any song the band has written and take a lyrical line you're proudest of that you wrote; what song would it be from and what is the line?
A: I think we’re really proud of the chorus in "Through the Flames." It tells the story of why we can’t walk away from situations even when they are really tough.
Q: Another single you guys released prior to this new one is a song called LOVE OR HATE a darker side of the band, do you guys pride yourself on being diverse in your sound and if so how do you know when to pump the brakes about being overly diverse you should be in that aspect or does it not matter?
A: We’re always trying to write the best song that we can and not repeat ourselves. We write a lot of different songs and see which ones make it through the process that a band goes through with new material. It’s kind of like a dating show, the ones that stick around make it!
Q: In your opinion what makes you really go insane? Love OR hate?
A: I think they both come with their own level of insanity, just depends on what part of the process they’re in!
Q: With the singles doing well have you guys thought about releasing a full album or EP or do you feel that singles are the way to go in this day and age of rock music?
A: We’re thinking about creating some type of package once we have enough singles to put that together. Whatever format that’s on, we just want to make our music available to the listener.
Q: Mentally how did you guys deal with the chaos we all endured the last year and half and how does it feel that Life for the music world is slowly coming back to normal?
A: We dealt with it by focusing on writing and recording. We knew things would get back to normal at some point and wanted to be prepared as a band to go out there and kick some ass when it did.
Q: Have you spoken about touring and if so any hints or info you can share with the public?
A: We’ve been playing shows and talking about doing some touring. We’re just looking for the right situation and will probably have something put together for this fall. Looking forward to getting back out there on that level!
Q: What is one thing about live shows you feel will be the hardest to get the rust off personally for you?
A: Pacing ourselves and not getting too excited from the beginning of the show. That was the hardest thing about our first few shows. We’re ready to go out there and slay it because we’re excited about what we have to deliver.
Q:Three fun facts that people may not know about the band or band members you would love to share?
A: We worked on a TV show together. Toured in other bands together. Have written and recorded together for film and television.
Q: What inspires you guys when you think about the fans of EMPIIRES and has there been one highlight from a fan interaction that stands out for you?
A: When anyone tells you they identify or connect with your music, that’s really cool. Probably the best ones are when people tell you that they put on your music for workout motivation or deal with a tough day.
Q: Anything I missed touching upon you guys are working on you want to share before we end this? (Plus I just want to wish you all the best of luck, you have something really motivating and powerful in these tracks I heard?
A: We’re working on a video for our next single release, looking forward to that and playing more shows! We want to thank everyone who helped us put out our music and the people listening. Thank you all!
Welcome to the world of S.A.M. (SAVAGE AFTER MIDNIGHT), a band that came storming into 2019 with a ton of fire and intention. 11:59 was the EP that drove the band into the ears, hearts and mouths of the rock world. With singles like 10 FEET TALL and UNLEASH songs that penetrated with so much melody, elaborate groove and vocals that made you understand what diversity is! It wass no wonder this band was gaining a fanbase at a powerful rate! Just about the time that a explosion for the band was on the edge of hitting, a pandemic of the world hit and everything came to a standstill. The members of S.A.M. didnt let this hinder or hault them from continuing to interact with fans and growing the bands fanbase more! They also worked n created and when I say creating they did a outstanding and over the top job as they worked with friends Jack Fowler of Sleeping With Sirens and the one and only Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria to put together a new single that not only blows away their older work but showcases the strength in songwriting and growth this new band is achieving on a daily basis. REMEDY fires on all cylinders; intricate, ballsy, energy packed and melodically inticing. Its a track thats addicting. This Memphis quintet is ready to hit it even harder in 2021 and I am absolutely stoked to be part of the mix of supporting them for their future. I had a chance to chat with band member JT about future tour plans, the new Ep they have in the works, how REMEDY took shape and the fun they had making the action packed video for the single.
Q: Welcome new fans of your band into the world that is S.A.M.! How did you guys form and what makes your band members stellar people to work with?
A: What’s up everyone, we always love adding new members to the S.A.M Fam! We formed a number of years ago and have evolved through a few different name changes through the years before settling on S.A.M. This current line up of the band is pretty awesome! Most of us have a long history with each other from playing in various bands around Memphis - so it’s been pretty smooth to transition into this latest version of the project.
Q: You had some massive momentum going before Covid hit with your amazing EP 11:59. With all the hype with the release did that keep you guys energized and positive during quarantine or was it a emotional time for you all?
A: Thank You for the kind words on “11:59”! Yeah we kept positive through the pandemic, despite the pause in touring. We took the time to take stock and write a ton of new material with a killer group of collaborators! I think it was emotional in the sense that no musicians had the chance for over a year to connect with their live audience. That part was certainly challenging.
Q: During 2020 did you stay active on social media to stay close with fans? Or did you take the downtime to focus on making new music?
A: A little of both, the entire world had plenty of time to sit at home and do nothing, and we tried to stay as active on social media as we could. I think the hard part was we had nothing to promote – so at times it can be difficult to stay connected.
Q: The new single “Remedy” is brilliant! How did the song take shape in your mind and how did both Jack Fowler of Sleeping With Sirens and Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria come into the fold?
A: Thank You!!! We’ve been blown away at the response “Remedy” has gotten and we’re truly grateful. Both those guys are family to the band, so putting those collaborations together was actually sooth despite the pandemic. They both did such a killer job making the song what it came to be.
Q: With having both Jack & Danny work with you on the song - how did that change the creative process for S.A.M. and what was the biggest thing you learned from working with them?
A: Our process is a bit different and really works for us in the sense that none of the band ever gets too personal or territorial with the writing process, in fact we ADORE having other people come in and contribute to our music. We think that it adds to the diversity and growth of the band’s sound. As far as what we learned, we learned Danny can sing his ASS off!!! And Jack absolutely rips when push comes to shove. It was crazy how naturally that song came together!
Q: Most people ask band members what motivated them to be in a band. I want to know what motivated you or inspired you to compose and write songs? And do you feel you grow in knowledge with every song you create?
A: We’ve always been inspired by the song writing process in general. I think in the beginning stages for any songwriter, you call upon personal experience to create the song. Many years ago we changed our approach to songwriting, and started writing based on characters of a story rather than what’s happening in our own lives. We found that approach has opened up a whole universe of concepts we can touch on now. Of course, you’ll always derive material from personal experiences, but we don’t feel as tied up with that as we used to.
Q: Lyrically with “Remedy” what do you hope people take away after hearing this track?
A: To cut out those toxic people in your life that bring no joy, and serve no purpose other than to hinder your personal growth.
Q: Another cool aspect of your band is the amazing videos you put out. Do you feel making videos is as important as songwriting?
A: It’s certainly a different art form, it’s strange because you never want to assume that your version of the song means the same thing to every type of person, you always want to leave the door open for fans to create their own experiences and interpretations of your music…. I think that’s part of the magic in art. With the video to “Remedy”, we swear Shi & Danny just wanted an excuse to make a 4 minute action film!! 😉
Q: How did making the “Remedy” video test your creativity? How fun was it having Danny onboard for it?
A: Wayyy too much fun! The making of “Remedy” didn’t necessarily test our creativity like a normal video concept would, I think it was more that we wanted to capture the essence of the moment. Danny and Shi were in the moment and doing things on the fly. I think that’s why the video came out so well, it was natural and just flowed.
Q: You have an EP in the works for later this year - how would you compare the vibe of it to 11:59?
A: The vibe is different because we’ve grown as a band and as songwriters. We think we’ve also taken the production to another level. We’re excited to share more as the year goes on – because it shows the natural growth of the band.
Q: Being in Memphis/Nashville - have you been able to play locally yet? I’m sure you’re excited to get back to playing live!
A: Other than a live stream show we did for Amazon Music on Twitch a couple of weeks ago, we haven’t yet. But we hope to soon.
Q: Will you be touring in 2021? Any hints on who you may tour with?
A: There’s a lot of discussions in the works - but we can’t make any announcements just yet. Follow us on our Socials so you can see when we’ll be coming to your town! I think it’s safe to say that in 2022 we should be back in full swing again on the touring front.
Q: Any special words to your fans and the new people who will be hearing “Remedy” for the first time and becoming fans?
Check out our stuff, and connect with us everywhere – we always love hearing from the fans. Be sure to go listen to “Remedy” on Spotify and all the other streaming platforms. Most importantly - Keep your heads up, we’re almost past this Pandemic mess. Thanks everyone!!
Connect with the band Https://linktr.ee/S.A.M.Remedy Instagram: @savageaftermidnight Facebook: @SavageAfterMidnight Twitter: @__savageam http://savageaftermidnight.com
LeNNe A project meant for stardom! By: Stephanie Stevens
LeNNe is a band that has vulnerabilities in lyrical format, diversity in musical soundscapes and just really speaks to the music community with intensity and straight raw emotion. Lenny Cerzosie Jr and Jim Taylor is the duo that cemented this amazing new band and the story about there music career is such a humbling and powerful inspiration that they should be proud of. This project which they call LeNNe just released a sensational single, LETTING YOU DOWN which has Morgan and Corey of Sevendust fame on it. A song that voyages through dark driving elements, powerful impactful lyrical vision and just a pure and strong inciteful look into what is to come from this breathtaking force! I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Lenny and Jim about there start in music, the ability to work with notable and exceptional musicians so far in their career, what they hope music fans will walk away with after a taste of the new single LETTING YOU DOWN and what they hope the future is with more music out and touring beginning to see the light of day.
Q: To Leonard and Jim, tell us a little bit about your music journey and how it led to the forming of LENNE?
A: Leonard: This particular project was kind of a chance meeting. Morgan and I already had a history together. At the time, he was doing something in the Baltimore area at the same time Jimmy and I were. We got together but Mo suggested we go to Atlanta and utilize Corey Lowery and his studio. After a few years of writing and recording, we made “LeNNe” official and are thrilled to be working with Imagen Records!!
Q: Jim, it says you play mandolin, which I love. How do you think it enhances a rock n roll sound and will we see a lot in other Lenne songs? A: Jimmy: Most definitely! We are excited to release the rest of our songs in which most have electric mandolin on them. I have for years tried to create textures with the electric mandolin that explore the space BETWEEN what my guys are doing without intruding. It is such a unique instrument, from Led Zeppelin to Rod Stewart, Steve Earle and REM it has provided a distinctive tone in rock…We’d like to take it to another level.
Q: Your first single just came out in May entitled “LETTING YOU DOWN”. A collaboration with Corey and Morgan of Sevendust happened for the track, what insite and factor did they help you guys with on getting this song to its full potential?
A: Leonard: We wrote it together. Actually, I was sitting in the airport terminal with a delayed flight to Atlanta. Morgan and Corey both started sending me riff and hook ideas. By the time I made it to the studio, we already had an idea of what we were gonna do, musically. I went back to Morgan’s place that night and finalized the lyrics. Next day, we banged the song out! I have a history with Morgan. This was my first experience with Corey Lowery. He has since become one of my favorite people on the planet.
Jimmy: These dudes, all of em, Im just honored to know them and have something that combines all of our sensibilities into one BIG sound…Its awesome!
Q: Lenny you have worked with Morgan in the past on a very personal Ep entitled NO AMENDS. For people who love hearing music, could you give us a look into how emotional something like this is to write and how it helps you grow as a musician with being more vulnerable and raw?
A: Leonard: There was a pivotal moment between me and Morgan back in 2010. It was after I lost a dear person to a pill overdose. He locked me in this small room in the studio where we could barely fit an acoustic guitar beside a flat back piano. Mo locked the door and looked me in the eyes. He simply said, “I get it. We’re doing this”. That’s when we wrote “No Amends”. I think the one thing we bring to the table with “LeNNe” is the raw emotion. Much of the material was inspired by my mother’s struggle with ALS.
Q: With the single out now I am assuming a record is on the verge of release. What could you say about the rest of the songs vs. this new single?
A: Leonard: I feel that on one hand, we found our niche. But on the other hand, not one song sounds like the other. We played around with tunings typically associated with real heavy stuff but maintained a pop aspect. You can sing the hooks even though we’re playing drop C!! lol
Q: Dd Morgan and Corey have a hand in all tracks on the release or did you collaborate with other musicians?
A: Leonard: Morgan is definitely behind this entire project. Corey was integral to how we started but he literally got called to Seether mid recording! God bless that dude!! We definitely have other musicians involved. Members of Alborn, Elysium, and even Chris Caffery of TSO/Savatage!!
Q: Who did the cover art for the single and in your opinion what does the art say to you and ties into the song?
A: Leonard: Steven Nathan is our artistic pioneer. Much of the visuals are from his noggin. I think a fan described the single cover best as, “The lights are on but no one’s home.”.
Q: Did you guys go to school for music or did you learn on your own? Either or how has working with talents like sevendust, zakk wylde, earl slick and candlebox help your growth as writers and composers?
A: Leonard: I was fortunate to have a brilliant guitar teacher guide me a bit when I was 12 or so. However, I learned the most from working with icons like Earl Slick and Zakk Wylde. Candlebox had a big part in our early development. All of these artists have helped us, not just grow as musicians and performers, but as real people in the spotlight.
Jimmy: I took piano from a very early age, then in my teens got a guitar. I actually auditioned for music programs at James Madison, George Mason and Penn State but I took composition courses at Hampden-Sydney. I am a composer for independent films and for me thats a huge impact on what I try to form with our sound…EVERY song to me is an album with a big sound, not unlike a soundtrack
Q: What do you feel is the most important factor when selecting songs for a Ep or full length? And can you say you accomplished that on this future release?
A: Leonard: Sincerity. I think the best thing you can do for yourself as a composer and for listeners is to be real.
Q: After a listen to LETTING YOU DOWN what do you hope people get out of the song?
A: Leonard: I have always been the guy that shuts the world out when I put on my head phones and get lost in the emotions of a song. If even one person has that experience via LeNNe, then it’s a success.
Q: Imagen records have you on their roster. A place I feel that helps a lot of up n coming bands. What was it about them that made you feel like this was home?
A: Leonard: There was a night we were driving somewhere in Atlanta. Morgan was on the phone with someone and they were talking about the company and everything. When he hung up, I literally asked him when Imagen was gonna sign US.?! lol. He literally picked the phone back up and started talks of what would become, “LeNNe”. We’ve become such a family that the business aspect gets lost sometimes! Ha! Good problems to have.
Q: With touring starting back up is LENNE going to be a full band and if so will those members be a permanent factor in future songs, albums etc?
A: Leonard: We were originally gonna hit the festival circuit with LeNNe but everything shut down. So, we waited about a year and are now trying to plan for the summer and next year. We have some killer line-ups for live shows. Jimmy and I will always be there but we have so many friends on standby once we hit the road.
Sebastian Pastor a Argentinian artist who pursued his dreams of creating his view of music into a solo project he has called PLAGUESTORM Pastor founded the project in 2014 and his first two releases overwhelmed the metal community with praise and dignity. Throughout 2020 the ability to write and create was still full steam ahead, and on June 4th the newest and most anticipated record entitled PURIFYING FIRE will be out on German label Noble Demon. With a sneak peek of two singles, EVOLUTION TOWARDS THE EDGE and the newest lyric video PURIFYING FIRE the maturity is in full swing with a journey through rage, melancholy and the ability to melodically intrigue you then blast you into a new hemisphere with the raw n raging metal force. I am impressed, intrigued and excited to see the success of this talented artist and his cohorts that helped in the making of this powerful album! I had the pleasure of chatting with Sebastian about how he has evolved as a musician. His influences in the community. His workings with other musicians and what he feels he learnt the most about life and himself throughout 2020.
You have been a solo artist for sometime now, going back to the beginning what motivated you to take that step to start PLAGUESTORM and how empowering has it been for you?
Plaguestorm was born after moving away from the old band where I played bass, I didn't have the time to start with a full time band again and I didn't want to deal with some things that usually happen within a band.
At that time I had some musical ideas and I had the intention of translating them into a demo, over time I began to believe that those songs could be better produced ... first those songs were going to be a demo ... Then I got Björn Strid to sing on one of the songs, the result was amazing and my head exploded. From there I was convinced that maybe I could make this project more serious ... Plaguestorm began to grow slowly thanks to that.
PURIFYING FIRE is your newest single/video which talks about fires that have happened in many parts of the world. What was the reason to put this devastation out into the music world, do you feel the media pushed important factors about them under the carpet?
I think some people are addicted to money and power, it doesn't matter if they have to burn thousands of hectares of forest, or if they will have to raze the oceans, or cut down thousands of trees, or displace or kill the people who live in those places... they just want to get more money and more power.
Only here in my country, thousands of hectares of forests have been intentionally burned, few media outlets told the truth of the matter.
The damage caused is irreparable. It seems that many big business people do not care about this.
Another amazing aspect of the song is the musical journey in the song from furious to calm to melody driven. Did lyrics/topic emotional bring out the diversity musiciall
I usually compose all the music and then I write the lyrics. Once I have the music ready, I try to find inspiration to write the lyrics, so each song and lyric depends a lot on my state of mind and my state of inspiration, I don't know very well how to explain it. I think these things flow at certain times of the day.
Being you compose, write and record most everything, how do you pick n choose the people who do appear and help you on songs? And how has these artists enhance songs in the beginning to how they appear on the final product?
For this new album I already had planned who would be the guest musicians, I wanted the album to sound like a real band, with only one singer, I think Mikael Sehlin was the one for this, he had already participated in the previous album (Mother of Plagues) and I proposed him to sing in all new songs. He is one of my favorite singers and has done a great job on this album. He captured the atmosphere of the album very well, and interpreted my lyrics as if he had written them.
Then for the guitar solos I invited Pablo Roman and Diego Martinez again, they are two great guitarists from my country and they had already recorded guitar solos in previous albums. All of them add quality to the music of Plaguestorm. I am very happy with the work that all of them did.
Being you play a lot of instruments, what is your passion and inspiration instrument wise and who has been your biggest influence to grow n evolve in playing?
My first influence was Metallica at 12 years old, I wanted to be James, I wanted to be Lars, I wanted to be Cliff haha, I did not manage to have even 10% of his skills, but that made me play all the instruments, when I had 18 years I started playing drums in a band, it was my instrument for 8 or 9 years, then I played bass in another band for 7 years and now I play mostly guitar in Plaguestorm.
Although I think one of my biggest influences when creating this project was Peter Tagtgren, he is one of my favorite composers / musicians, he is a multi instrumentalist, he has his own studio and all of that is something that I have tried to imitate. His band "Hypocrisy" is a huge influence on me. So maybe I could say that without Peter there would be no Plaguestorm.
The album releases on June 4th. How do you feel your overall musicianship has grown since your prior releases and do you feel it was a natural progression?
I think that the songs or my way of composing has not changed too much, it does not mean that I have done the same album twice, maybe this new album has a more melancholic but also aggressive atmosphere, I think I have been progressing very slowly and many of the things that happen around me and a lot of the music that I listen to in those moments have influenced in my way of playing and composing.
Have you touched on any other newsworthy topics in the year that was for the world and if so were you ever at all afraid to voice your opinion in song since the world is so fragile on people's opinions these days?
I try not to talk in my songs about things that I don't know, I try to talk about things that happen and bother me ... for example the evolution of man and the danger that this generates to the nature. I'm not afraid to talk about something, although I prefer to keep some things or opinions to myself.
In 2020 a lot of people learnt a lot about themselves being in lockdown on a personal level. What did you learn about yourself, and if it was something that could possibly help someone else, what would you tell them on how to embrace it or let it go?
Wow, what a good question, each person is a world, what I could say is that sometimes we do not realize how much we have to enjoy the moments, for example, sometimes people are too busy with "things", sometimes we spend a long time without going to visit our friends or family, or hang out with other people, then things like the pandemic happen and everyone has to be locked up (at least that happened here) and then we realize that those "things" were not so important, and we began to wonder about the time lost, for not having visited a friend, or your parents or relatives ... many people have lost friends or relatives in this pandemic, many could not even say goodbye. .. my message would be, "enjoy spending time with your loved ones, today you have them and tomorrow maybe not. Enjoy the moment."
Touring seems to be going back to normal soon. Have you had thoughts about that and if so who would you love to break the ice with on the road?
I'm waiting for the tours to come back, more as a fan than as a musician, I really enjoy going to concerts. At the moment I have not thought about going on tour with Plaguestorm, because I am only one musician in the band, but who knows, if things start to grow more and more, maybe I should consider calling some friends and going out to do some shows for here or there.
I want to thank you for the interview, I hope that new people can discover Plaguestorm, I have spent a lot of time and effort in creating this new album... some people have told me that some of my songs have helped them in some bad moments, so I consider that if my music helps other people, then I guess I am doing the right thing.
Stay in touch IG: plaguestorm.ar FB: plaguestorm https://plaguestorm1.bandcamp.com/
SEASONS Horror and metal makes a Killer combination!
By Stephanie Stevens
Attention Horror fans and Metal core and heavy metal music fans! As you all know The latest installment, Friday the 13th: Vengence 2, will be released in the fall of 2021! What you may not be familiar with is a band who has been working their asses off and crafting the brutal and metal core sound for the soundtrack! SEASONS is bringing to life the song KILLING SEASON a song created by the band looking into the perspective of the fictional masked murderer Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise. The song is loaded with references to different aspects of Jason and events that happen to the character throughout the movie franchise. The guttural roars and the screeching assaults vocally pummel you. From aggressive fiery musical verse elements to the captivating and searing melody induced chorus makes the song just an adventurous nightmare.
SEASONS formed in 2017 and are from Richmond, VA. Consisting of dedicated musicians that all have a strong passion for performing energetic shows and crafting top-notch influential songs.
I had a chance to speak with the band about working on a classic horror film soundtrack, a new singer and drummer, having a track for the wrestling community and the future of music of this killer band SEASONS.
Q: Give me a little insight on how SEASONS formed and how would you describe the philosophy of the band’s music and the personality of the band?
Nick GK: Seasons formed in 2017 when original guitarists Matt Poe and Matt Gregory decided to form the band. Both musicians had been in and out of bands for years and they decided they wanted to give it a try again.
I think the personality of the band would surprise people. I think we give off a really energetic and intense vibe in our shows and music videos, but behind the scenes I’d say we’re pretty laid back. That intensity is brought out when we play because we’re excited about our own music. But behind the scenes we’re pretty relaxed people.
Q: looking at the background of your band some cool shit has happened to you guys in the past but the most recent and probably most iconic thing is you guys just released a song to be featured on the new Friday the 13thsoundtrack coming out in 2021. How did that fall into place and had you already had part of the song KILLING SEASON written?
Nick GK: The way we got the opportunity with Friday the 13th is that our bassist Matt (Poe) had been chatting with a guy named Peter Anthony, who had starred in another Friday the 13th film. Peter was the one who got us in contact with Jason Brooks, who is the director of the upcoming Friday the 13th movie. Matt reached out to Jason and basically asked if we could write a song for the movie, and Jason essentially told us to submit something and he would think about it. We didn’t have the song written ahead of time. We wrote the song with the intention of submitting in hopes that it could be included in the Friday the 13th franchise in some capacity. And we are so fortunate that it has been.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to write a song about an iconic serial killer and where does your mindset have to be to kind of relive a character everyone knows and put your own twist to it?
Mark: A lot of us are horror fans and Randall loves Jason. I started the music with something that sounded brutal for obvious reasons into a softer clean section to give you that calm before the storm. And then at the end my mindset was in the eye of the killer hence the guitar screeches as in a horror movie.
Q: Another new thing about the band is for KILLING SEASON, you put into place a new singer who use to be a drummer. So how did that all happen and did you realize he had such a diverse vocal ability?
After discussing our options, we proposed to our then drummer, Randall Sykes, that he take over the duties as the front man. Randall has a great screaming voice and a lot of charisma on stage, and I think we all knew he could do it. We were so excited when he said he’d like to be the front man, and we got to work right away writing the songs that would feature Randall as the singer. We then spent a few months trying out different drummers trying to fill Randalls old position. In the last month, Joshua Woolcott came in to try out on drums, and right away we knew it was the right fit.
Q: Going forward with the new singer how do you feel your music is going to evolve and change and what do you hope to experiment most with having this new asset to your brand and band?
Mark: Randall def. has a different type of voice. His singing can get higher and his screams lower. I think our existing material and what’s to come will be more brutal but also more melodic.
Q: Have you guys been in the studio to record for an EP or full length or are you at ease just releasing singles for now since the music world is still up in the air?
Mark: We have recently been releasing singles as they are mastered but we are trying to work towards a more big picture move so to say.
Q: going back to other awesome stuff that has happened for the band you also had a 2019 track VIOLENCE IS A VIRTUE playing in the wrestling world. How did that feel seeing that on TV and how was the song picked for that particular wrestler?
Mark: Matt had a mutual friend who hooked us up with AEW that made it happen but it’s was pretty cool to see your song so pump that a wrestler wants to walk out to it. Took me back to childhood.
Q: you guys really take a solid focus on the technical side for sound when you’re playing as you can see in a lot of your songs. When you are writing for a SEASONS song what is the most important aspect the band agrees on before even getting into songwriting mode and how long does a general song take to complete for you guys?
Mark: Usually it starts with a riff and sometimes a theme. Matt’s strongest quality is being like a metalcore composer. So we come up with the basic structure and he kinda picassos it all together into what your hear as the finished product. As for time we have worked on songs for monthes until completed cause sometimes we are like “squirrel” to another song and killing seasons was basically written in a 3 hour band practice cause it just flowed.
Q: I love knowing also you guys are very diverse where everyone in the band comes to the table with the structure and writing of songs which I think would bring so much more diversity into the band to experiment. How does it impact you guys as creators and bonding with each other as a band?
Mark: We all like rock and metal but the genres the we all like specifically can be very different so a chord or scale progression that I would put in a song is completely different that one of the other guys would come up with. Also it forces us all to listen to other music we otherwise wouldn’t.
Q: Where do you see the band's biggest growth since your inception to the current day?
Mark: I came into this band right before High Fives music video and since that was our first music video I’ve seen a lot of numbers really go up since then.
Q: Have you guys thought about the day you can play a live show again and if so how do you want to represent your band in a live aspect once things get back to normal vs. what you did in prior years?
Nick GK: Seasons takes a lot of pride in how we play live from both a technical standpoint as well as an entertainment standpoint. If you come to see us, we want you to hear the songs played as well as we can possibly play them, and we also want you to walk away thinking you got your money’s worth. If you come see Seasons, you will not see 5 guys looking at the floor strumming their instruments. We jump up and down, run around the stage, head bang, and jump off our amp cabs. We are excited about our music and we are excited to play it live and we want the audience to share in that excitement.
I think when we get to play live again the audience is going to get that energy but to a higher extent. We will be so excited to play live again that the audience will get the energy of Seasons from 2019 but in an even more extreme way.
Q: if you could help inspire one new musician coming into the scene what advice would you give to them and one thing you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Nick GK: The best advice I could give a new musician entering the scene is to just be curious. Learn from the other bands out there and from the other folks in the industry. Knowledge is power in the music business. If a musician comes into the scene hungry to learn and to improve themselves, everything will fall into place for them.
Q: if you could pick the brain of any musician dead or alive today who would it be and what top 3 questions would you ask them?
• what drives you to be so creative and innovative
• What was the most important thing for you when writing the guitar structure or a song
• What was the secret to that awesome 80s hair
Nick: Sammy Hagar
• What was the craziest tour of your career from a partying standpoint?
• How many speeding tickets have you gotten out of from “Can’t drive 55”?
Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein
• Max bench?
• You have an awesome beard.
• Max bench?
Q: How has music influenced and impacted your life and what is one thing you can thank music for giving you this far?
Nick Gober-Keller: To me, music has always been a consistent voice in my life, and I have found comfort in that. If you’re going through a hard time, I think there are always songs out there that can bring you comfort and help a person get through what they are struggling with. Music can be a sort of saving grace to a lot of people in that sense.
Q: Inspire other artists and tell us someone who inspires and motivates you and why?
Mark; trust me I am far from “making it” but I was 28 when I joined this band and was like “it’s too late I’m too old I should hang it up” and this happened. So I’d say never give up, never stop playing, and never ever get rid of your gear. And I’m inspired by Jason Richardson every day because he reminds me no matter how good I am there is someone out there who can shred circles around you so PRACTICE!
Dead Original is from Chicago, IL featuring singer/songwriter Paul Wandtke (ex Trivium, Rock of Ages) drummer Sean McCole, and bassist Mike Petrasek (Bedlem). Fusing together groove, grunge rock vibes in a straight ahead less is more rock destination. Dead Original is on the verge of releasing their debut album on February 26th, & melodic hooks w/ lyrics for the tortured soul. The guys are promoting the release of Bought and Sold with FREE WORLDWIDE shipping, the album features over 13 tracks written and produced by DeadOriginal https://deadoriginal.com/merch/boughtandsold. The guys have given fans and the music world a sneak peek of some of the tracks on the album with solid tracks in Restrained, Let It Burn and the most recent single Blasted.
I had a chance to speak with Paul Wandtke about the new record, leaving Trivium and working with fresh musicians in McCole and Petrasek, what they miss about touring and the most fulfilling part of being a musician
Q: How long did it take you guys to write and record BOUGHT AND SOLD and how would you define the overall sound of this new band to fans and the music world just hearing about you?
A: It took about 6 months. It's pretty straight ahead, you'll know what Dead Original is about after a verse and chorus of one song. I engineered it at our music studio at The Music Garage in Chicago, IL, using Logic Pro and an Apollo interface. It was literally 3 months after I had left Trivium. I simply didn’t know what else to do, either find another gig or make new music on my own. To be honest I didn't even know if it was going to work having been a drummer my whole life. But as Dave Grohl says, do it; even if you suck.
Q: Paul Wandtke had drummed for Trivium and bassist Mike Petrasek is currently from Bedlem. To fans who don’t know the process of a band member leaving one band to start another, what kind of emotional toll if any goes through you as you start to build and begin with a new foundation of a band?
A: Being in a band is frustrating because one person that isn’t on board 110% can negatively impact a band. You’re literally only as strong as your weakest link.
Q: The album comes out Feb 26th, 2021 and you guys have released a few singles. Did you have certain reasoning why you put out each single when you did and does each song do you feel build on each other?
A: The release was simply delayed due to the pandemic so we just kept releasing singles!
Q: I love the harmonies vocally in the newest single BLASTED when you guys sit down to write do you find it easier to write lyrics once you have a melody or vice versa and what do you believe is the most important thing about songwriting?
A: As of now, Dead Original was not a collaborative effort for the first album ‘Bought and Sold’, I literally tracked and wrote it all before finding Mike and Sean. Bedlem however is a collaborative effort, Mike and I exchange vocal melodies and lyrical ideas with Bedlem. That’s more of Mike’s vision lyrically and I support his ideas in Bedlem. Sean is a solo artist he’s a great songwriter on his own too.
Q: LET IT BURN was probably the song that made me a fan of the band I love the grungy gritty aspects with a ton of melody. What for you is the proudest moment of that song and if you could define the meaning of the song in 3 words what would it be?
A: I’m proudest of the fact that it is a slow riff but it’s still kind of energetic. I think we are on the cusp of being a generic band by being so simple but we somehow pull it off, especially live.
Q: If you could pick the brain of any musician that has left us who would you want to sit down and just be blessed with their knowledge of the music world?
A: Ray Manzarek from the DOORS because the guy was a genius.
Q: What is the most fulfilling thing for you on a personal level to be able to do this kind of job for a living?
A: Music is freedom whether you’re a fan or an artist of music or both. So for us, it’s the freedom that we feel we are sharing with people and we love that.
Q: I thought it was sweet your fans were concerned about your video making for some of the singles you did for this album. How did you ease the worries and how did knowing people care that much mean to you?
A: It’s pretty cool. We like being connected like that!
Q: recently a lot of bands and artists are talking about cancel culture and being banned or taken off some media platforms! How do you guys view the likes of some of them taking their career on themselves and your view of the canceling of some people’s freedom of speech?
A: It’s all just freedom of speech, if you believe in yourself keep on the good fight in whatever you are fighting for.
Q: The biggest part of touring you miss and what do you think is going to be the biggest thing to shake the rust off once you start doing it again?
A: We miss the free vodka backstage, we never realized how expensive alcohol is until this pandemic hit. On a more serious note, we love playing shows and we miss that!
Q Empower other artists and give them a piece of advice?
A: We are living in interesting times. There’s so much knowledge out there! Go study/become a musician!
SHEPHERD FIRST HAND....blurring the lines of metal genres! By Stephanie Stevens
Welcome to the world where stoner and Doom soundscapes intertwine with modern metal. Denver, Colorado's SHEPHERD is crossing genres all over the place with the bands latest full EP FIRST HAND. the heaviness is sustainable throughout the record but it weaves in and out with layers of post-metal, rock and even hints of hardcore. From songs like CHARIOT, SEA CAVE and PERSEPHONE you will be guided into the not normal atmosphere of doom metal and its just a really breathtaking freshness. \nI had a chance to speak to the guys about working at Juggernaut Audio, how they fell into the sound of doom metal and what brings them happiness in a live show setting.
Q. Tell us a little bit about the members of SHEPHERD and how long you have been playing music?
A: We're a few blue-collar dudes from the burbs north of Denver who've been fortunate enough to live most of our lives here in Colorado. We've all been in several bands throughout childhood with and without each other and after the last project we were all involved in went belly up we moved forward with the power trio lineup to fully realize our sound and fine-tune our craft.
Q. What instilled your love for the doom/stoner rock vibe that you guys have made and is there a particular band in this genre who influenced you the most?
A: We all listened to a lot of metal and metal sub-genres in high school which I suppose made for a solid foundation. Coming out of high school and gaining new perspectives we all branched out a great deal and gained a lot of new influences. Once we finally came back together we really intersected on Deftones which is kind of outside the stoner sound but I think their fingerprints can be found on this album and will continue to be an influence for us as a group.
Q. In November you released your debut EP, FIRST HAND. What can you tell people about finishing a project you put your heart and soul into and knowing the world will be listening soon. What emotions do you go through during that process?
A: When First Hand finally came out one of the chief emotions was definitely relief followed by a sense of pride for having accomplished the entire process of writing, recording, and releasing an album. Given everything that has transpired this year both during the process and up until the time we released it, we were definitely in need of a win. We're proud of this album as our first entry into our career as a band and we're thrilled with the response we've received so far.
Q. What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself as musicians working with Juggernaut Audio and what would you tell other bands if they are looking for a studio?
A: Ben at Juggernaut has been our biggest supporter and someone who has imparted a lot of lessons upon us throughout this endeavor. This was our first real studio experience since we've all been playing music and while we came well prepared, there's a lot of unexpected things that can come up in the weeks or months that it takes to finish an album and Ben was instrumental in guiding us through the whole enchilada. We would highly recommend him to anyone in the Denver area and abroad who's looking for a professional and seasoned audio engineer, whether the music is metal or otherwise.
Q. “CHARIOT” was your first single. What made that song stick out to be the platform song for the EP and how did you approach the songwriting aspect of that track?
A: Chariot has a really catchy bridge part that we amended somewhat on the fly while we were in the studio and once it all came together in an hour or so we really thought it elevated the song in a lot of ways and gave the clearest impression of our sound and what to expect from the rest of the record.
Q. “PERSEPHONE” is the newest single and it’s a song about a mythic tale. What made you dive in lyrically to a song like this and what was the best thing about writing a story like this?
A: We pulled that one together almost a year ago now in the midst of the doldrums of winter, which I think can be heard in the overall mood or tone of the song. Persephone has some pretty clear surface themes which don't pose too much of an issue to dissect, but it does have some more personal subtext in the lyrics and hopefully, where they're a little bit more peculiar a listener, could take something away of their own. The best thing about writing a song that could be perceived as fiction is that there really aren't any rules or anything grounding you into a preconceived notion or idea, you can be free to create your own little world and populate it with whatever you like.
Q. For people who are new to your style of music, how do you guys get that blizzard of distortion into your songs, and how fun is it to play in a live setting?
A: Our sound comes from adoration for the monster rigs of bands past and present. There's something so powerful about the idea and the image of a wall of amplifiers that has always driven us to pursue some level of that in a live setting. We're also huge gear nerds, we love the wide world of effects pedals and tone-crafting and combining different elements to create your own sonic signature. What you're hearing on the album is a meticulous collection of our own personal taste and what you can expect to hear at a live show. For now at least, until the sound gets bigger.
Q. Speaking of live shows, what is the best thing about playing your music live and how would you describe your fans?
A: The best part about playing live is the feeling you get right below your heart and right above your gut. The feeling of being nervous and excited all at once. You become so unhinged that you forget about any troubles or worries going on in your life. The only thing on your mind is playing as best you can while putting feeling into what you’re playing. It's almost like going on a roller coaster on acid. You don't know where the hell you are or where you’re going but you know it’s fun and best of all it's loud. Our music works for anyone and everyone, young and old. We're often surprised at how diverse our fan base seems. We're truly grateful for everyone who gave us a shot and we've got more to come, this is only the beginning.
Q. Music industry-wise, what are you hoping to see change in 2021 and how can fans help support change in this industry that has been beaten down in 2020?
A: If there is anything we could all obviously agree on is making sure that we can all hopefully enjoy playing and seeing live shows again. It’s what we live for and like a religion to us. there is no honest substitute for the real deal. That being said, it’s very hard for a lot of touring musicians who not only love shows, but also need it to pay the bills. One thing that musicians are staring down right now is the issue with streaming royalties. Bands and musicians are getting the shaft when it comes to fair compensation on almost every platform, and without the income from touring it's nearly impossible for artists to get what they deserve.
Q. Empower another artist by telling us why they inspire you
A: It would a tough ask for us to settle on one band that inspires us all. but if we had to shed a light on anyone it would be all the bands struggling to survive in this very trying time. Live music and the entertainment industry have taken one of the hardest blows we will probably experience in our lifetime. so whomever you enjoy whether it be us, or any other band trying to make it in the midst of all this. Buy merch, Buy an album, give them a couple more likes and follows. Do what you can to keep your favorite acts and artists in a place where they can continue to create.
Connect with the band FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/shepherdband19/
BELLHEAD THE RISING DARK POST PUNK DUO By Stephanie Stevens
The Chicago based band BELLHEAD Consist of High Bass/ Lead Vocalist Ivan Russia, formerly of the infamous Ahab Rex, Mr. Russia, and Sheriff Scabs; partnering with Low Bass/Vocalist Karen Righeimer- who has been a member of bands such as Fashion Bomb, Team Cybergeist, W.O.R.M, Bethany Thomas, and Pigface and are creating a unique, dark and punk quirky ambiance with the music they are making. With the fire of male and female vocals intertwining with industrial esque music it becomes a unity of beauty and the beast. UNICORN BONES, the song on the duos newest EP entitled the same, ultimately drew me into the band. It just had a hard and haunting vibe to it that sucked me into the art that is BELLHEAD. The band just recently did a cover of Bauhaus song SANITY ASSASSIN with a fascinating visual for it also. Ivan and Karen are no strangers to the Chicago music scene but are making magic together as BELLHEAD.
I had a chance to ask them about the newest cover song, remixes and how chicago has molded them as performers/artists.
Q: When and how did BELLHEAD come into existence?
Karen: Ivan and I tossed around the idea of doing a project together for quite a few years - but it never stuck because we were both in pretty successful projects and didn’t have time for something new. In 2018 I left my music projects, and Ivan’s band mate moved to the east coast, so it was time to join forces.
Ivan: We had both played in the same band at separate times and got to know each other at shows and the like. I got the bright idea to propose a brand new project to Karen outside of the bands we were in at the time. Progress was delayed by Karen being in a hit and run.
Q: Being a duo and having worked in other bands, how is it just having two people to throw ideas around versus a full band of different mindsets?
Karen: For me, it’s actually better than being in a multi-person band. When you’re working with up to six different members it can be frustrating coordinating everything from writing a song, scheduling rehearsals, or booking shows. With Ivan, we have similar work ethics and drive so it’s much easier to get things done.
Ivan: it’s a lot like throwing a medicine ball back and forth.
Q: How do you feel Chicago has molded and sculpted your career as an artist and musician?
Ivan: Chicago has been a historically fickle mistress. Every show you go to there’s a handful of people standing arms crossed with a facial expression that reads “You think you’re hot shit? PROVE IT.” The meritocracy of the music scene has made me strive for nothing short of excellence. We have boundless enthusiasm for the music we are making and we engage with our audience and reward their participation. It feels more like a dialog between us and the audience then a monologue of just standing on stage.
Q: What was the biggest thing that engaged you into the genre of music you create and perform?
Karen: When we started the band, we never really had an intention to be in a specific genre, or blend genres - we just wanted to make music that was enjoyable for us, and that we hoped people would also like. Ivan and I both have so many influences and music experiences that it just makes sense. You’ll hear aspects of anything from Nine Inch Nails, to Magazine, to Death from Above, to Johnny Cash. It’s actually pretty freeing not to have to be pigeon holed in one specific genre.
Ivan: If ‘Zooropa’ was a genre we would fit right in. Unfortunately you’d never find us at the end of the search engine, so we pursue whatever excites us on any given song. It all makes sense from the crows nest.
Q: I see BELLHEAD keep a good recording and mastering team behind you and you don’t stray to work with others. What is it about them that makes you always go back? Do you feel they are as much a part of the band as you guys?
Karen: We are really grateful to have people behind the glass that are just as passionate about BELLHEAD as we are. Both our recording / mix engineer Neil Strauch ( Iron and Wine / Counting Crows / Owls / Joan of Arc / Walking Bicycles / Slow Mass ) and mastering engineer Carl Saff ( Acid Mothers Temple / Smoking Popes / Red Fang / Guided by Voices ) have impeccable talent, and what’s best is that they understand what our vision is, so it is not only easy but enjoyable to work with them. I don’t foresee us straying from our recording team anytime soon.
Q: BELLHEAD just released a killer cover of Bauhaus's song “Sanity Assassin”. What lured you to this particular song by them and what has this band meant to you?
Karen: It was actually fan-requested. Last year Bauhaus announced their tour and as a homage, we decided it would be fun to cover a Bauhaus song. We let the masses suggest what they thought we should do via social media and had an overwhelming response for “Sanity Assassin”. Our intention was to really only play the song live once or twice, but due to fan enthusiasm coupled with no shows most of the year, we decided to release it as a single for people to enjoy. We are grateful to our audience. Their likes, comments, shares, messages, enthusiasm at shows, purchases, all the comradery, we are grateful for their feedback.
Q: Was BELLHEAD supposed to tour with Bauhaus also? If so, do you think it will eventually be rescheduled?
A: We were not scheduled to play with Bauhaus (BUT if they are reading this we’re down for 2021). We’ve had a lot of shows canceled in 2020 including playing with Birthday Massacre and Sister Kill Cycle. We hope that next year we’ll be able to hit the road and play in front of people again.
Q: You added a huge element to your team with Scott Fedor (Marvel's Avengers VFX) directing the “Sanity Assassin” video. How did this come about and did you let him have free reign of the video theme for the song?
Scott Fedor: Please tell them you met me at a Hollywood soiree and after you finally pulled me from the middle of an orgy pile you asked if I'd be interested in helming the project.
Q: Tell me about creating a song and then putting a remix flair to it? Does it take about the same time to do both versions or do you feel one is easier than the other?
Ivan: Remixing our own song like we did with “Knife” for the “Knife (Beware the Light)” remix was about giving the song a different feel more of a club track / dance banger. When we remix other artists it’s mostly keeping the original artist's vocals and building a new BELLHEAD song around it. In a sense we ask the question “What music would we write for this vocal performance?” Karen will add some bass, keyboards and vocals after I’ve gotten the beat together and various sounds I’ve found interesting for the song. We like to keep the remixes single length. Short and catchy.
Q: What do you hope the music world takes away from your band and music?
Ivan: I hope people enjoy the music as much as we do and have a good time feeling something. We like to see our shirts and stickers in the wild. It lets us know we are touching peoples lives in a positive light. I’m not here to save the whales or tell you who to vote for. I’m here for the music.
Q: Empower another artist and tell us why they inspire you?
Ivan: I play bass in a band called [ m e l t e r ] and they are a creative lot. It’s great to be “just the bass player”. I really enjoy playing the [ m e l t e r ] songs and contributing as requested. I will generally work on BELLHEAD songs during breaks in rehearsal so there’s probably some direct influence in there somewhere. Also the [ m e l t e r ] remix of the BELLHEAD track “Runway” makes me grin.
Karen: There’s this super talented multi instrumentalist in Chicago (John Syzmanski). The first time I saw him play was at the Davenport where he went from playing the drums, to the bass, to the fucking SAW- like bending a wood saw on his knee and using a bow to make sounds. He’s in a ton of projects but has settled in really well with John Langford these days. Don’t tell him that I said he’s one of my major inspirations.
FACED Coming in strong with II COMING By Stephanie Stevens
A Solid and strong band coming out of NY has just graced my earholes, FACED is turning up the volume with their newest album entitled II COMING.
The band is made up of founding members Jordan Simpson on guitar, Paul Burk on bass, Jay Matthews on drums who came together in 2017 and then quickly made Phil Loupin the energy induced singer of the band. FACED is creating intense and driving elements with their new disc II COMING and were able to work with masterminds Howie Weinberg (mastering) and Sterling Winfield (mixing) who brought the vision of the band alive and that not only know their craft but worked with many heavy hitters like Metallica, Pantera. Damage Plan and King Diamond.
POWER AND STRENGTH is the platform single off the disc and the guys just did a live performance video to display the hard hitting synergy and fire the track has.
I had a chance to chat with Jordan about the bands formation, working with people who have worked with his inspirations and much more.
Q:Tell me how FACED came together back in 2017 and how would you define your sound?
A: Me and Jason the drummer was writing and jamming and recording for years. We needed a front man to hold down vocal duties and thats when we came across Phil. We met him years ago but at that time he was in another band. We crossed paths again and I showed him some stuff we worked on and he put some vocal tracks on some demo and instantly we knew he was the dude. He recruited his friend Steve to play bass on our first cd. On the 2nd one we recruited Paul for bass duties.
Q: From looking at your influences it ranges from hardcore and punk to hard rock and metal. Two different lifestyles but also fits together. What have you learnt from each other musicially when you have a broad sense of music influences in one band?
A: I learned having a frontman allows you to do more. Not just musically but live as well. Stage presence is huge. With Phil he just commands the audience. He entertains the audience which is amazing.We all have so many different types of music that influence us so we just create this melting pot of metal. As long as we all like it we go for it. We dont follow trends or whats popular. We just play music that makes us feel good.
Q: II COMING is your newest release and I see you have posted it in entirety to youtube. Was there a reasoning for this and have you guys made actual discs for purchase or you sticking with the digital age?
A: We just wanted to get it out there. In the middle of the pandemic people are broke and hurting financially wise. Including us. Its a tough time because usually we play out alot and and sell merch.We truly miss it.But if it was about the money we would have hung it up along time ago. Faced is totally about the love of the music. We just want the music to be heard and fly the flag of metal. Carry the torch so to speak. But if someone wants to help out funding the next album they can buy the album on any major streaming services.
Q: How do you feel your band has grown from your first release to this one and what surprised you about the growth when you all began writing?
A: I feel we have some more groove hardcore elements to the band. Also theres a ballad on there as well which is new for us The 2nd album was pretty much allready writing by me and Jason. Just as the first record. So coming into the 3rd album we are getting all the guys to throw it into the mix and really get all 4 cylinders moving and we can allready see the results and we are very excited about that.
Q: A cool thing with this album is for mixing and mastering you work with people who have worked with your metal role models. Was that something that was focused on when looking for people or did it just happen by chance?
A: well I record all our bands music at our studio. I tried to mix and master it but me being the perfectionist I am was never happy with my own mixes. The other guys were like yeah it sounds great but sometimes you have to be the bigger man and admit someone can do better. So I reached out to Sterling Winfield which we have been friends for a few years and he decided to take us on because I knew he was the dude who could make it come to life. Hes one of the best in the business. Hes worked with everyone from Pantera, damageplan, hellyeah to King Diamond. I tried not to fan boy to hard about it and just keep it real ya know. Cause im sure everyone out there drives him nuts with that stuff. So when we got the final mixes in we needed to find someone to master it. I decided to call Howie Weinberg and I thought he would just blow me off because he has worked with some of the greatest artist in the world. But to my surprise he was very down to earth and so cool to me. We had some great conversation and decided to make it happen. Yes this whole experience was a dream come true. But I try to stay humble and not let it get to my head. We are very lucky to have the right people at the right time making us sounds the best we can be.
Q: Every studio time are you a type of band that really looks at it as another way to learn something to increase growth in the band? If so this time around what do you feel you walked away from after II COMING was done?
A: every day we try to grow in the studio and in the jam room. Always trying to push further ahead. This time when II coming mixed and mastered we felt very proud of this album.
Q: I loved the tracks POWER AND STRENGTH and CITIZEN ZERO. Can you give us a small incite on how these songs came to life and what they mean to you?
A: Power and strength is like the anthem song. Kinda like our version of Eye of the Tiger. I could see a boxer or even a wrestler using that song as an entry into the ring. LOL
As for Citizen Zero that was a total experimental song that just grew and grew. Me and jay just jammed the riffs in the studio and phil slapped some lyrics on it and paul added bottom sick low end and boom it was alive.
Q: I heard you guys are dropping a new video. For which song and what kind of video can we look for conceptual, live shots etc and who shot the video for you?
A: The new video being our first one is for the song Power and Strength. Its a live action shot video of us throwing down on the stage. Its a mirror of what you would see at a live show, Is the best description. It will be on our youtube channel and our band facebook page on dec 1st. It was created by our awesome friend and supporter Nick Dicocco. He reached out to use to do a video and we were all onboard. He is very talented and a great guy.
Q: Back in summer you guys did a really cool livestream for CHROME tell us what that is and why it was important to raise money for it?
A: The Chrome is a great venue you here in upstate New York that have treated us like family. So when we heard they were being put up for sale we asked if there was anything we could do to help. So a few bands started live streaming there to help raise money to help save the venue.
Q: Being from NY and seeing what kind of chaos has ensued in 2020 especially with the music industry and the community, where do you see this crucial piece of life that is music headed in your opinion and if fans can do anything what would you tell them to do for the community?
A: The music industry is hurting so bad here right now. If people dont start donating to these venues to keep them open it will head to less places for everyone to play out. I know its a tough time but please donate to you favorite venues. The government isnt doing anything to help them.
Q: What made you decide a life of being a musician was what you wanted to do and has your decision on this changed through the years?
A: We all do this for the Love of the music. No regrets at all. We all eat breathe and sleep music.
Q:When and if live shows come back to play where is the first place you wanna play and what three bands would you want to play with?
A: At this point anywhere. Just to get back out there and do our thing. We really miss it.
Q: What do you hope people walk away with after getting to know your band and your music?
A: We hope that people will enjoy the music and know we work our ass off to bring you fresh new tunes and albums. We hope they will come out and party with us when we come to town and bring their friends to check us out.
Q: Empower another artists and tell us why they inspire you?
A: To many to count. theres so many artist out there that inspire the whole band. The spectrum of music we all listen to is so wide and varies so man genres. I can speakk for myself(JORDAN) My greatest inspiration on guitar was DIMEBAG!!!! he will inspire me forever. (HAIL THE KING)
Connect with the band: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Faced518faced-1887446751284215/
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH Brings you new life with REVOLUTION RISING By Stephanie Stevens
Always seeking to evolve! Always seeking to empower! Always seeking to unite! The amazing force that SILENCE EQUALS DEATH has within the hardcore scene is purely amazing. From powerful lyrics to crushing music, the feelings of raw nature saturates hardcore and makes it one of the best genres of music. SED hails from NJ and brings to you a unique fashion of aggressiveness with melodic undertones and to me has become a notable force to be reckon with. With the release of the bands newest release REVOLUTION RISING you can see the undeniable growth, maturity and excitement they had for writing these songs. Lyrically it bleeds with real talk, the driving hard riffs and that energy induced vibe they capture so well is on a new level. Take a earful of SWITCH or PLAGUE two of my favorites and tell me if you get the same warm feeling! I had a chance to chat with some of the guys and got more detail into the new songs, working with producers, how they liked a livestream and much more
Q: You guys have always had albums n songs that captured reality driven storylines be it personal or life around you. 2020 has had a lot to write about. Did any of the impact of 2020 go into this new Ep REVOLUTION RISING?
A: (scott) The song Revolution Rising was actually written prior to the riots and protests. However, it was clear the country was on the brink so that's what fueled the idea. Traitor is about Trump plain and simple. Switch and No More Ashes deal with life's frustrations, which we can all relate to. Pass The Torch is a nod to the young people coming up in the scene. We feel it's up to them to keep it going and some old dogs tend to look down on the youth. We say, take em by the hand and show them the way so this thing we can Hardcore can live on for generations to come.
(Wade) Most of our music has been written pre 2020. although, I could say most of the material definitely relates to most of what's going on this year. Especially with the injustices of our government and the abuse of authority, our ep seems like it was written just a month prior before release. The only impact 2020 really had was it gave us the chance to really focus on what we put into the ep. We had more time to discuss how we wanted it to sound. So it was more of a blessing in an ironic way more so.
Q: Its been a few years since you released any new stuff do you think taking time you guys came back with a renewed motivation musically and do you see growth in yourselves as musicians?
A: (scott) We've done a few singles for comps here and there but it really felt good for the 5 of us to sit down and hash out some new material
(Ryan) We've been working on material since our last proper release (End Times). We went through a number of lineup changes. "Revolution Rising" is the result of contributions from both past and present members.
(Wade) To say the least, it was a long time coming. The reason we don't push out content as much as we would like to is because we get very picky on how we write our music. Scott and I usually go back and forth on what we want as far as composition but we always manage to get the best results when we do. So for us it takes time. Not necessarily because of the writing as much as how we want the whole picture to be viewed.
Q: SILENCE EQUALS DEATH Is in a genre of music that pretty much is family and brotherhood. Do you feel the scene is even tighter these days or do you see a change in the scene?
A: (scott) Personally I feel like there is a lot of unity within the scene. The majority of people involved in HC really look out for one another which is evident by the way we rally around those in need That's not to say it's perfect, but what family dynamic is? As a band we try to treat everyone we encounter with the same respect we expect in return. Fans of the band are not just fans but also friends. Band members are not above anyone in the crowd in my opinion. I feel like anyone who loses that connection, loses what makes this scene so special, thus losing a bit of that unified feeling.
(Wade) I have only been in the scene since I've started working with SED. I have played in multiple genres all my life. I can say, I've never felt more at home than with the HC scene. I've never been accepted so quick. No one cares about how you dress, what you listen to. This scene has always accepted me for me. I don't need to pretend. So that right there should explain just how amazing and family oriented our scene is.
Q: Lets talk about the song PLAGUE. Probably my favorite track on the disc from the guitar solo, the breakdowns and the signature upbeat high impact sound you guys have. Can you tell the world how the song came to see the light of day?
A: (scott) The song was originally written for the Patient Zero Records split 7" "spreading the infection". We're always looking to expand our creativity and for Plague we wanted to explore the more thrashy side. The song evolved over the past couple years so we decided to update it and include it on the new EP. Lyrically it deals with organized religion. Although we are not a bunch of religious guys, we do respect others freedom of belief. With that said, my personal view of organized religion is basically different sects twisting the words of books to control it's followers. The true Plague on our society is the mind control and manipulation most organized religions impose.
Q: 2020 also put the music world on hold. But you guys just recently did a livestream. How did that go and how did it feel having a show but not having the energy of the crowd?
A: (scott) For me it was the excitement of seeing the hundreds of people signing up to watch it beforehand. Knowing they were out there all around the globe was awesome.
(Ryan) It was fun getting in the room with the guys again and performing. We wanted to make it special so we purposely scheduled it the same day as our ep release. I immediately thought of backroom studios given their rich history and how they've done a number of successful livestreams already. The experience was organic and we had a great time doing it.
(Wade) it was the first time I didn't have to picture the crowd naked in order to get comfortable playing. I usually go through these anxious episodes before playing. So being excluded from a crowd was easier on the anxiety but harder on the heart.
Q: How did you guys go about recording this EP were you able to get together studio wise or was this a home created EP?
(Wade) We tracked all instruments in my studio and Scott tracked vocals at his. I then went in and did the editing and we sent it off to my friend Doug Gallo at AGL sounds and he took over from there. I can't thank him enough for pouring his heart and soul into making sure we got exactly how we wanted it to sound.
(Ryan) Yeah, Wade really stepped up and did a fantastic job tracking and editing. Once Doug Doug put his magic touch on it, it really brought the songs to life.
Q: When it comes to producers do you stick close to home with people you worked with before or do you like to branch out and try new waters?
A: (Ryan) We like to branch out and try something new with every release. When we chose Doug to mix/master we recognized that he hadn't worked with a lot of harcore bands in the past, but we didn't care. The quality and care Doug puts forth with all his projects was enough for us to trust him with our songs. Doug did not disappoint. He brought a fresh ear to the table and we couldn't be more proud of the end result.
(Wade) I have to agree with Ryan on this one
Q: Music in every genre is life for so many people. What do you think it is about music that can be so powerful to people?
A: (scott) For me it's the pouring out of emotions. Topical songs are cool, but when you can really relate to what someone is saying and understand what is often their frustration/pain, that's priceless.
(Wade) I have to agree, it's all about emotion, plain and simple. You want to connect with something. For some, they have family, friends, etc. For most, they only have relations from sound. I have had bands save me through some dark times. You can't get a feeling of emotion stronger than from music.
Q: Empower another artists and tell us someone you look up to and why?
A: (Wade) One person I've always looked up to is Yoni Wolf from "Why?". Although, he is the complete opposite end of the spectrum. He has shown me there is more to just music than just guitar, bass, and drums. He has written music so abstract but befitting to the average listener's ear. Opened a whole new way of thinking. Especially when it comes to producing. Another person would be Alexis S.F. Marshall. Him and his band also have shown me there is more you can do with empty space than just hitting power chords. He also takes risks. He doesn't care what people want. He creates what he wants. I'm all about that. Last but not least, Drew Stone. That man seriously amazes me with how much he dedicates to the scene. He has shown a who world of hardcore to younger crowds. If hardcore is dying, Drew Stone can single handedly save it from failing.
Connect with the band Facebook: @silenceequalsdeath Twitter: @SEDnjhc Instagram: @silenceequalsdeath Www.silenceequalsdeath.net
Waking up the rock world with MONSTERS & MACHINES By Stephanie Stevens
The Tennesse band AWAKEN brings you a solid plethora of rock n roll ambiance with the music they have created since the bands formation. A alternative/hard rock destiny for music fans where powerful melodies intercept with hard hitting moments and emotionally enlightens you with provoking lyrical material. The band Chad Griffin-vocals, Dustin Simpson-guitar, Chase "sludge" Reagan-bass and Jimi Wilkins-drums are gearing to make 2021 there year with the release of the newest album MONSTERS & MACHINES. Joining teams with InGrooves and TLG entertainment the band is focusing on the music diversity and have made a album that is fresh and maneuvering you down different paths of rock n roll throughout the disc. The singles that have been a platform for this album shows the ability the band has to shine with difference but always embracing the signature sound that is AWAKEN. From my favorite BEHEMOTH to STAINED GLASS and THE VEIL the guys engage you with melody driven power and hard hitting jolts of guitar driven atmospheres but also slide in modern hits of synthy dark ambiance and the beautifully electrictryfying vocal moments. AWAKEN is ready to set the rock world on fire with MONSTERS & MACHINES. I had a chance to ask vocalist Chad Griffin a few questions about the new music, self producing, working with Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch and 3 fun facts about the band.
Q: AWAKEN has been around for some time now and has really made a staple in the rock community as ill get into in this interview but when and how did you guys all come together and the biggest asset each member brings to the band? Chad Griffin: Thank you, yes it has been quite a while. Longer for some of us than others. Dustin and I have been writing together for years with different people before running into Jimmy then Chase. Both playing in different bands themselves. We hooked up with Jimmy in 2012 before the recording of our first record and went straight into the studio for “Broken Circle”. The writing for that record was basically a compilation of songs we had written for a previous band. We became Awaken, put out that album, then hit the road. We ended up touring with The Protest many times which Chase was a part of. That’s how we met him. Through a domino effect of things that took place, he ended up parting ways with them to take care of his new baby. We later ended up calling him when we lost our bass player. The connection was instant.
Q: Your new album MONSTERS & MACHINES is coming did you push the release to 2021 because of the chaos of 2020 or was this just a set thing and how was it preparing and finishing a product within a year like this?
Chad Griffin: Yes, the record was pushed back due to our new connection with The Label Group and INgrooves. It was a mutual decision with everyone involved to start fresh in the new year after some chaos clears. It also gave us some time to add in a few tweaks and actually add a new track that wouldn’t have made the record in time. It will be a 12 track record. The whole process was quick and fun. Covid closed down a lot of things so it helped us get in the studio and focus on what we wanted to do.
Q: You released "STAINED GLASS" with this song you found clarity in the band's sound. What was the turning point that you had was it a missing piece in creation?
Chad Griffin: We feel that song is a good reflection of our sound. That is more along the lines of songs that we like to write that we feel is kind of the foundation of our sound... with the calmer verses and heavy driving choruses and hooks. That was actually a remake of a song we had back with our original group so it has a sort of sentimental feel to it that brings us back to our roots.
Q: A newer track you dropped was "THE VEIL" can you tell us your lyrical approach to this song and what inspires you as a lyric writer? Chad Griffin: Honestly, that one is kind of a take on a lot of what is going on today. It’s hard to tell what is real anymore. You can hardly trust anything you hear and people have trouble being real. It seems sometimes like people walk around living a front or a facade instead of being themselves. I actually have had those lyrics for over a decade, ha. I just took it and modernized it, and changed it up a bit. It was one of the newest songs added to the record, music-wise.
Q: One song off the new album that really brought focus to your band was "BEHEMOTH". I really loved how it was a diverse sound other than other tracks you guys released. How much do you strive to have complete diversity when going into writing a full length?
Chad Griffin:That was always the track I wanted to be the first impression of this record. It was one of the first 4 tracks we had in the demo sessions and we knew it was a standout. We do put a lot of focus on the tracks being different than each other. We don’t ever want to put out an album that sounds like one long track. We like to have a little bit of everything. This is actually the most diverse record I think we have done. That’s one reason we are so happy with it. There is a lot of both worlds on this album when it comes to heavy and melodic.
Q: Back in the day with your debut album, you had the ability to work with Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch on the song "FATHOM". How did you get that collab worked out and what was the biggest thing you walked away with after working with him?
Chad Griffin: We were playing a venue near where he lived and he came in to check out the bands and just enjoy his time off. We spotted him in the crowd and he came out back when we were loading. We just let him listen to some of our songs and he loved it. Said he’d love to help us out and collaborate. He was honestly an inspiration. Always full of talent and positive energy. He was honestly one of the coolest people still that we have ever run into since doing this.
Q: You guys seem very at home writing music do you ever get roadblocks and what would be your best advice for when that happens?
Chad Griffin: We are so used to each other from writing together for so long. It honestly just comes naturally. I have to say we are pretty blessed with that end of it and can’t complain. I’m sure the blocks have come a few times just like with anyone, but they really don’t stick around long. We are always able to work through it and make it happen.
Q: Taking songs you have written and bringing them to an acoustic setting is it an easy process or is it like re-writing a song? And how much emotional value changes for you to perform it?
Chad Griffin: I’m a huge fan of the chilled out acoustic stuff. It really lets us play around with different arrangements of the songs. I love getting to go in wondering how it will turn out and hearing some of our heavier music have different versions like that. It does naturally feel more passionate at times. I do love rocking out and singing over the louder music but it is honestly cool to get to sit down and make it something different.
Q: Being from Tennessee I am sure you are always finding people who inspire and help you learn more in the music community. How do you view ur community and what do you believe your band has given to others in the community?
Chad Griffin: We are a split band as far as where we are all from. I love my community and we have a really cool regional radio show and awesome DJ that really helps get exposure for bands around the area. We have festivals and a few good venues. It is cool being so close to Nashville as well. I hope to be an inspiration to younger bands in the area and show them if they can stick it out and just keep writing together some cool things can happen. There are many different styles and forms of rock music played around our town, regardless of it being stereotyped as such a country stronghold.
Q: What is the biggest difference between self-producing your work vs. Finding someone to do it and what do you honestly prefer?
Chad Griffin: We loved our time going to Travis Wyrick for our first record and the experience we had there. We learned a lot and loved how it turned out. We would love to eventually get to work with another producer in the future but honestly, we prefer doing our own thing. We love getting to get together during our own time and have the freedom we’ve been able to have. We learn new things each record on how to perfect certain elements and have fun with it. We don’t really know what we will do or where we will go for the next, but we’ve enjoyed doing these last 3 ourselves.
Q: If you can get out and tour in 2021 is there one band you would be honored to go out with?
Chad Griffin: We would love to reconnect with The Protest. It would be like hanging out with our brothers again and let Chase get to hang with old bandmates. There are several bands we wouldn’t mind playing with, but as far as staying around on the road... they stay at the top of the list for us.
Q: What venue do you miss playing at most and why.
Chad Griffin: To keep it short and sweet... any ha. We aren’t picky at this point. We just miss playing. We miss them all.
Q: 3 facts about your band that has nothing to do with music?
Chad Griffin: -We love God, we are far from perfect, but strive to be better for him and closer to him each day
-We love discussing current events, politics, and sending memes back and forth on a daily in group messages
-We love Mexican food
Connect with the band: https://awaken2.bandzoogle.com/ Instagram: @awakenbandofficial Facebook: @awakenofficial
CRO-MAGS THE STORY OF 2020 Ep STYLE By Stephanie Stevens
The CRO-MAGS a legendary name in hardcore/punk/thrash scene. A band who has had a cult following since early in their career. Gave birth to the tough as nails attitude to the scene in the late 80s and brought to this world music that held no punches and surrounded you with a essence of fight and stand strong.
Its been 20 years since the band dropped a full length album to their fans but earlier this IN THE BEGINNING was born! The album brings you back to the New York hardcore roots and pummels you with that high octane of energy! Throughout this year the guys had to cancel a tour because of the pandemic but rose up and made one of the very first live Quaratine livestreams and then continued writing in which we will not just see a full length released this year but the men of CRO-MAGS are releasing another slew of songs with the EP entitled 2020, which is coming out Dec 11, 2020. To me this EP out weighs the full length. Its got so much power and angst, a masterpiece in its own right. From living in quaratine, to seeing violence, brutality, burning buildings and empty streets of NYC, 2020 is a year we will never forget. The EP 2020 captures the emotion and raw reality in 20 minutes and 20 seconds. The band fully engulfs what we have endured as you listen to the music and words and set your eyes on the artwork. You want real its right here packaged up in a 6 song disc! I had a change to ask the legend himself, Harley Flanagan about the making of the EP, the future of America and who empowers and inspires!
Q: Through 2020 you guys have done a lot of writing. Back in June of 2020 you released IN THE BEGINNING. How was it going back to work with Arthur Rizk and did you re visit him because of a certain thing you brought out in you guys?
Q: We get along really well musically and as people, he is not afraid of taking chances and he encourages me to do the same.
Q: Before the end of the year your also releasing the EP 2020, a telltale story of the life we have seen roll out before our eyes. With so much emotion about the year we have, how easy was it getting it out onto a soundtrack like this?
A: There was no better way to deal with it and to vent. I am blessed to have friends like Steve Zing, Arthur and my guys.
Q: You guys are from NY so you have seen so much through the year our country has gone through. Being we are in probably the most chaotic year we have ever seen how do you envision the new year will plan out if you could voice your opinion?
A: To be honest I have no idea. I hope we start doing shows again soon, but I think things are gonna stay weird for a while.
Q: CHAOS IN THE STREETS was a song that stuck with me off the 2020 EP. What do you hope people walk away with after hearing this track?
A: I'm just reporting it as I see it and giving a little warning.
Q: CROFUSION is an epic ending to the record tell us about the jam session and how did you break it down to a little over 4 min song?
A: We just put on a click track and started jamming. It was almost 20 min long, then me and Arthur just took what we thought were the best parts of it and lined them up so the full record would be 20:20 long. Initially when we did we weren't planning on that, but since it came to 20 min and 16 seconds when we were done, we just added 4 more seconds of sound and made it an even 20:20 like the title.
Q: The EP also has an array of pictures from the album cover to inside and the most eerie look into a deserted NYC. How did you go about choosing pictures and did you go out urself to take these images?
Q: Me and my wife took some of them and my uncle took the back cover. I went out when I had to, but I stayed away from people and crowds to the best of my ability. There were a few covid cases in my building one death and my mother in law was sick but she recovered.
Q: As a band how was the writing process for you guys due to quarantine and how long was it before you could get into an actual studio to lay stuff down and how different was the process? A: I always do most of the writing and I have a backlog of riffs and songs, they add their input after. I have so much material and I'm always writing; once I give them the riffs and arrangements, I encourage them to just go nuts, and we take it from there. It was a difficult time due to the quarantine, and everything was closed but when my longtime friend Steve Zing from Danzig moved into his new house he set up his studio and when things eased up a little we went out there and jammed through the riffs and tracked them there and then we built on it. Rocky was in L.A so he did his tracks there.
Q: This year the touring all stopped and you guys were one of the first to do a livestream. How did you perceive it after the fact was there more positive outcomes of it. Vs. An actual tour?
A: Obviously I would rather have toured, but sometimes life throws curveballs at you and you have to handle it. I took what was a shitty situation and turned it into the best thing I possibly could. Then I got to work on writing this EP and the next album. I wasted no time, i didn't get sucked into bitching on line and conspiracy theories and bullshit i just kept busy. I was out of work so I wrote music and lyrics and worked out.
Q: As a legendary group and having a platform where people look up to you what is one thing you can say to this country that is divided that could maybe open a few peoples eyes to what America is and how we can save this country?
A: I'm not gonna be that guy to try to give anyone a solution or the "Answer" on how to save anything, but I'm hoping that with everything that has happened people start to wake up. Change can be a painful thing, but I am hoping for progress. But just remember things can always be worse and or get worse and It doesn't take much for that to happen. Be grateful for the good things in your life. I honestly don't have much hope for the human race as a whole.
Q: Are you guys doing any pre launch promotions for the EP 2020 and how can fans support you guys with this soon to be released Ep and IN THE BEGINNING?
A: Not that I know of. Just buy it, download it and enjoy it!!! Maybe make a video of you and your friends singing the songs and post it and share it with us!!!
Q: Empower another artist and tell us what inspires you about them?
A: That's a hard one. There are so many- there are so many artists that I love and respect, but I have to say Gman ( I know he's in my band does that count?) Because I get pumped when he plays- I love watching him play- it makes me want to play and if i didn't have an instrument in my hands I'd probably just start flipping out- and I guess that's what HC is supposed to make you feel; like involuntary stomping, swinging, headbanging, running back and forth jumping off shit and smashing shit. Good thing I have an instrument when he plays cause shit would get dangerous.
PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL ONE STEP TO HELL By Stephanie Stevens
Press play to the album ONE STEP TO HELL from Chicago's PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL and you get submersed into the emotional and raw personal stories that have been seen by the eyes and felt by the heart of founder and frontman Drepsea. The loss of a loved one, a tale of drug addiction to the overwhelming effects of Narcissistic souls that creep into our lives sometimes. This band had the sound that captivates me due to the industrial and metal soundscapes but it was how the lyrical content and the way it was delivered pierced my soul and made emotions awake in my heart. That really drove me to fall in love with this album from start to finish.
The band has a way of intertwining chaos and beauty on tracks like ONE STEP TO HELL but then can delicately mesmorize you with a track like the beautiful n dark AS ABOVE,SO BELOW and then firing you up with the sultry yet heavy QUEEN OF FIENDS. Beauty, anger and compassion is what this band is made of and it is truly a epic listening journey.
The past is also something of notability for this band! After getting a taste of this album I went backwards into the discography. One thing to be said the band has stayed true to the "sound" but you can instantly appreciate the growth the developing the band has built as the years progressed and the honesty has stayed intact. Older albums like END OF TAIL and DREPSEA are just as influential as the new one. The way they bend genres to manilupulate it into a sound all there own is tantalizing as they made it into a unique, expressive and relentless journey of madness and beauty.
The storm of truth not only bleeds out of Drepsea on this newest disc ONE STEP TO HELL but made its way into this interview that I had the honor of having with him. I am elated that now I am in the know of PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL and I hope you all enjoy this truly impeccable album and this chat with this amazing artist.
Q:PROGRAMMABLE ANIMAL has been around for a few years now. Can you give us a quick synopse of how this band formed?
Drepsea: The band was started years ago as a solo project. Music gave me a sense of identity, soul, and purpose. Programmable Animal was a creative outlet for me to express my views.
Q: You go by the name DREPSEA which was a album of yours back in 2014. What made you take on that persona and do you feel you are creating another form of yourself when you create for the band?
Drepsea: The album Drepsea was the cultivation of this character. I would say this persona expresses my truth. Within the music and lyrics, I’m telling exactly how I feel. On an everyday basis we portray a version of ourselves that is socially acceptable, and that can be a multitude of different versions given the situation. The idea of Drepsea isn’t that, it’s my truth.
Q: Your music def. Has the mix of industrial, dark aura and at times could sound chaotic and insane (in a good way) especially listening to your last disc END OF THE TAIL.how does the band set the tone when you start writing for new albums etc?
Drepsea: It primarily revolves around the situations I’m dealing with at the time. End of the Tail, was an end of a particular “tale” in my life that was dark, yet a turning point. Due to the circumstances at that time, I started making poor decisions, I was engulfed by bitterness, and delved into chaotic situations. I realized the path I was going down was purely destructive. One Step to Hell, fundamentally acted as a means to pull myself out of my own hell. I wanted to take a more empowering approach that no matter what kind of hell we face, we can break the spell. It can start with incremental steps, whether that be associating with the right people, overcoming our vices, or pursuing our passions, etc.
Q: Making art from pain and heartache usually makes for brilliant work. Your new disc ONE STEP TO HELL, defines that. For you what was the pros and cons of getting your emotion out as lyrics?
Drepsea: I 100% view it as cathartic and therapeutic. Anytime we express our truth, it’s always a pro. Bottling up our feelings inside can make someone go mad. Q: Growing up who were the artists that formed your appreciation for music and what do you believe as a performer, who adapted to your way of making music?
Drepsea: There are so many, but two come to mind. KoRn because of Jonathan Davis’ lyrics. It was clear that he was hurt, the music was just raw and powerful. Also, Nine Inch Nails. The first time I heard “Closer” I was in awe because it had such a unique sound. I was maybe like 5, I didn’t know what the hell the lyrics meant haha, but the sounds were nothing like anything I’ve ever heard before. Q: Had you ever done theater or acting and is it something you might venture into if you havent already?
Drepsea: I honestly haven’t besides for our music videos. I appreciate the art behind it, though who knows what the future holds.
Q: On the new disc ONE STEP TO HELL you talk about almost losing someone to drug addiction and dealing with the passing of a loved one. These topics resonated with me 5 hears ago I lost my mom then 6 months later lost my boyfriend to drugs n alcohol. My question is two parts
1. How do you deal with loss and what would you tell fans who are having hard times with that aspect?
2. Do you feel that people dealing with the disease of drugs n alcohol can eventually become stronger than the demons that are courting them to these deadly substances or its always going to temp them?
Drepsea: I’m sorry to hear. Art and music was a means for me to reflect. Personally, with my recent loss, having spiritual beliefs helped mitigate certain feelings. Dealing with loss will be different for each person though. It does take time to heal. For fans, try to look at the brighter side of the life that the person lived and remember the good they brought into the world. Loss can be a reminder to us to make sure we treat others the best we can. Most importantly, try to enjoy the moments we have with them. \\n
Absolutely, we can overcome our demons. I've been around many people with drug issues. One situation I found myself in was having to perform CPR on someone close to me in order to save them due to a heroin overdose. That person is doing a lot better now, no recent episodes. We are all capable of ridding ourselves of addictions / similar issues. Again it’s forward thinking, start making small changes, eventually it starts to make “hell” less severe. Yes, the voice lingers but only if we allow it. Try to surround yourself in a better environment and reassure yourself you are capable of overcoming it. When in doubt, reach out to someone.\\n
Q: You worked with two producers who have worked with some giants in the industry. How much did you learn from both of them about magnifying your songs and also anything they said to you vocally to expand or focus more on since the album is a more personal storyline for you?
Drepsea: Both definitely guided me into the right direction. There were things that I didn’t think of that they pointed out and through that, it made the songs better. We did some of the recording with Chuck Macak at his studio. After, I took the individual parts and recorded a bit more at mine. Eventually bringing them to Sean Beavan. It was simpatico, he would send me a mix and it was right each time. I wanted to take the listener elsewhere, to create the personification of flesh in battle with the soul. Hence, the industrial sounds contesting against ambience. Sean nailed this approach, he is a sound genius and understood the project fully. Very glad we crossed paths. In terms of lyrics, there was no suggestion on anything. I wanted to stay true to me, that’s important for me as an artist.
Q: Another step for the band is having Negative Gain behind this record. How did that partnership happen and what is the most important thing for you when beginning a relationship like this?
Drepsea: Negative Gain noticed Programmable Animal back in 2018 with our release, “End of the Tail.” At that time I was playing guitar as well for a couple well-known acts in the industrial scene: Hate Dept. & Project 44. I met Micah Skaritka from NGP at Cyberfest in Chicago, my intuition was telling me I will probably be speaking with them again lol. Over time we all chatted and I also worked with Christian Bankes who runs Fade In PR. He’s another person who I respect and really believed in this project. He helped pitch the record to Roger Jarvis and Micah at the label. The rest is history. The most important aspect is trust, I trust them. This goes with everything in life, find people who are good and who you trust.
Q: What advice would you give a new band looking to do something off course of the norm for music but hesitant about not being accepted?
Drepsea: Persistence is key. Doing something different is a good thing, that’s how some of the most prominent musicians came to be. They pioneered a new sound. Of course you want to relate in some regard to the audience, music is communal. If you love and are passionate about what you’re doing though, odds are someone else in the world will be too, you just have to find them.
Q: Where can people support your band and music and do you see any plans in 2021 for a tour?
Drepsea: Our album “One Step to Hell” is on Spotify, Bandcamp, etc. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
https://linktr.ee/programmableanimal - Links to everything Programmable Animal
We are optimistic about 2021 and touring / playing, though we will see what happens with the pandemic. Most important, we want our fans to feel safe.
Q: Empower another artists and tell us why they inspire you?
Drepsea: The artist that inspired me the most would be Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Apart from the unique sound, what intrigued me the most was one person composing each part in a song. It was the same approach Prince had, I fell in love with this idea. It led me into learning multiple instruments, eventually making my own songs.
Connect with the band:\n Facebook: @ProgrammableAnimal \nInstagram: @programmableanimal \nSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5FfGAUIAY5V693KHbUQvho \nYouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfCDfbSKxC5S-mmozUCq9jg
KISSING CANDICE THROWBACK CHAT
Since today I posted a new interview with Kissing Candice. I wanted to take you back 2 years ago when the band played Rhode Island and I got to sit and have a casual yet informative interview with the gang !!
THE NEW CHAPTER OF KISSING CANDICE's WORLD OF METAL N HORROR By Stephanie Stevens
Impacting the music world with there brand of metal/industrial music; the demented, chaotic, abstract horror visuals from the bands look to the videos and live stage presence they have bring to stages, Long Island, Ny's KISSING CANDICE is one band you are very unlikely to ever forget.
The band is opening the real gates of Hell with new single/video TAPEWORM. With a refined sound and musicial growth you can hear on the newest track, I believe its just the tip of the iceburg of what is to come out of the bands 2nd full length album! This is the next chapter into the wonderfully pyscho, creepy aggressive world of KISSING CANDICE. I had a chance to chat with Joey Simpson AKA Aunt Donna, the vocalist and founding member of Kissing Candice. Tom Sciro aka DREAMER, the original guitarist and 2nd vocalist of the band and Mike Grippo aka GRIP the original bassist of the band as we talked more about the evolving growth of the Masks, the growth of the music, the 5 year anniversary of the bands 1st full length album BLIND UNTIL WE BURN and so much more
Q: I love talking to you guys because not only do I love your music I adore the creative side you have for the visual. With that being said I want to jump into the new mask's look. You guys worked with a few different special effects people was this the next level of creating the masks or had you worked with others before to make your older ones?
Grip: Dreamer and myself worked with Jeff Koncor on our masks. He also did Suffront’s, the transition masks, and fan masks! Also, thanks for having us again, it’s always a pleasure!
Joey: I had the honor to work with special effects legend Tom Savini and his partner special effects mastermind Jason Baker they brought the new Aunt Donna look to an entire new level.
Q: How have the masks evolved since last time?
Grip: They’ve only gotten crazier and more intense. But it’s still an evolution. (Shout out to Jeff Koncor who did my mask. Dreamer’s, and the transition masks!) You can still look at us and know who we are.
Joey: With new music comes new masks, new faces , a new sound, a new message . For Aunt Donna, she’s only gotten more weird, more hungry for the bizarre.
Dreamer: The new masks are an evolution of the character we each have built. We just tried to focus on certain aspects that we wanted to showcase in them.
Q: Do you feel the masks are your inner personality to a tee and if so does it change your mindset when they are on and your performing?
Grip: We kind of like to think of it as a reflection of our dark side… Those sides are the ones that are in control during the performances.
Joey: Absolutely.. when the mask goes on the world shuts down and things that matter take a time out ( I like to think of it that way). It’s show time. It’s time to do what Aunt Donna wants, what she desires
Dreamer: For me, it’s definitely some parts of my personality, but not my day to day. It’s super visceral, so it absolutely contributes to when you have it on and how you act.
Q: TAPEWORM your newest single creates that signature sound the band has come to be known for. When you started writing the new songs was there any particular part of songwriting you wanted to redefine or focus on how did that process go?
Grip: We believe that on Safe Word we found “our” sound. On this one we wanted to hone in on it and refine it while also expanding it with some out of the box ideas. Zach Jones has been a game changer for our sound.
Joey: The band flew out to a house in Vegas for 3 weeks along with our producer Zach Jones. In that time frame writing was amazing, It was such a creative experience in so many different ways. Things I can’t even describe unless you were in that room. So different then any other studio time we have had. The only thing I will say is.. it all came together the was it was supposed to!
Dreamer: The recording process was one of my favorite experiences in being in this band. Totally open minds, some ideas ahead time and living in the studio for a month. It was a super creative and fulfilling experience and was able to just go to all the places I’ve heard in my head, whenever I wanted. We wanted to just make a unique, honest and raw record that we loved. We did just that.
Q: Your 2nd full length is on the verge of coming out and with the chaos of 2020, you had some extra time to really perfect everything. Did you change anything drastically or swap out any songs for others when you went back and listened to the album?
Grip: We were really happy with how the album came out. This time has given us the opportunity to seek out some guest vocalists to add (a first for us), have Maor Applebaum master the album, and focus on creating more visuals for the release. It was really just slight refinements that make a huge difference. Nothing was cut or added… just made a little bit better.
Dreamer: No, it was pretty much smooth sailing on that front. We messed with mixes and mastering, but like I said before...we made a record that we love.
Q: I know you guys love pushing the limits and love evoking emotion, especially in a visual way. With the TAPEWORM video did you guys have to pull back the reigns of the horror/gore aspect at any time because of the fear of being censored?
Grip: THERE have been times we’ve stepped back and been like “WHOA, this is too much to put anywhere on the internet without having it pulled down”. But that wasn’t the case with Tapeworm. We knew the song was dark and we needed visuals that represented it. I’m much more worried about our next music video being censored!
Joey: YES!! Some of the original shots I wanted to do would of been censored for sure. It’s very hard to market something over the top gore HAH!
Dreamer: Not at all. We don’t care lol. Just went for it. If we like it, we do it.
Q: How hard was it shooting the video because of all the policies, rules, etc due to covid and if you shot in NY?
Grip: We shot at The Meat Locker in NJ… and hey… we’ve been wearing masks for years!
Joey: lucky for us it was a small closed set with the band crew and some close friends that helped make this video possible
Dreamer: It’s always a hassle for video stuff in general, we just had a few extra steps. But I genuinely thank everyone that was apart of it to allow it to happen!
Q: 2015 was the last time you put out a full album. In between, there have been EPs and single to keep your fans full of your amazing music. What made you feel it was time for another full length?
Grip: It’s been way too long. We’ve wanted to do this for a long time but have been in between record labels. We finally decided we don’t care and we will crowdfund it and pull the rest of the money out of our own pockets to see it happen.
Joey: we just knew it.. it was time to shed the old masks. Shed the old sound and release the beast
Dreamer: We had been wanting to do one for awhile, but things just kept coming up. We were definitely long overdue.
Q: Along with new masks is the storyline for the new album anything conceptual or have a common thread to each of the tracks and does the music incorporate what your masks mean to you?
Grip: There are a lot of different concepts on the album. This is us exploring what we can do with our sound and vision. We just wrote what felt best with Zach and then recorded it.
Joey: I've been saying from the beginning of making this album.. it’s really not an “album“. It’s more like a horror movie. I can’t explain. But when you hear it front to back you will understand !
Dreamer: The new album is just a mouthpiece of things happening today.
Q: 2020 you are celebrating the 5 year anniversary of your 1st full length Blind Until We Burn, is there anything you are doing to commemorate it?
Grip: Yeah! When the album originally released, the samples had to be cut, the artwork changed, and a song removed. So we are doing a super limited 5 year anniversary edition strictly pressed to vinyl and cassette!
Q: Have you guys had any plans on releasing a live stream show for your fans and what is your view on these as we all know touring is off limits at the moment?
Grip: We’ve kicked the idea around but with everyone living in a different state at the moment it’s hard to pull off with all the restrictions.
Joey: the live music world is on a hard pause for how long no one has a real answer. A live stream? Hmmm you’ll have to wait and see
Dreamer: We are still considering that for something in the future.
Q: In the past have you guys auctioned off your older masks or stage clothing for fans? Any funny stories about that?
Grip: Yep, I have sold off all my old stage gear and masks. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me to keep it on a shelf in my bedroom, I would rather use the money from that to move the band forward. Also, there are fans out there who cherish it way more than I do and it means a lot to me they are able to own a piece something they are so passionate about! Funny stories? I sold 20 of my bloody BUWB era V-Necks to one person in bulk for super cheap haha!
Joey: my buddy Austin has bought every Aunt Donna mask I have ever worn. It’s amazing he now owns more OG masks then I currently own haha. Also Gavin & Johnny have this amazing place called the KC Kave. Look it up. I can’t even begin to describe it
Dreamer: Someone owns Grippo’s stockings. Lol.
Q: If you could sum up 2020 in one sentence what would it be?
Grip: Do I really even need to shower?
Joey: “FUCK THIS SHIT” - Super Humman
Q: What is the biggest misconception people have about the band KISSING CANDICE?
Grip: That because we wear masks, we are like every other band with masks. We are different. Or we do it because we think a gimmick will help sell it. It’s a way of conveying emotion.
Dreamer: We aren’t slipknot or mushroomhead.
Q: What is the best way right now fans and music lovers can support your band?
Grip: STREAM TAPEWORM ON SPOTIFY ALL DAY! Also, join us on Community where you can directly text with the band and we do a ton of free giveaways. The first 2 texts are automated sign up texts but from then out it’s all us! You can get in on that by just shooting a text to +1 631-206-5808 or going to https://my.community.com/kissingcandice
Also! You can pick up the limited edition 5 year anniversary of BUWB here!
Joey: kissingcandice.com - music , Merch and more !
Dreamer: Buy merch, buy music, anything that links back to us. Q: Empower another artist and tell us why they inspire you?
Grip: Trent Reznor. I don’t think he needs empowerment because he just got inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, his inspiration on me has been enormous since I was a child. He is so progressive with how the industry works and is insanely creative. Definitely my musical idol… also he brought us Marilyn Manson… and then a feud with Marilyn Manson!
Joey: honestly Post Malone. He started out at the bottom everyone gave him shit, talked shit , looked down on him. You never gave up and didn’t let anything stand in his way. Now he is one of the biggest names in music.
Dreamer: Scythe Gang 666, because zabb is the softest in the game
Connect with the band: Facebook: @Kissingcandice Instagram: @kissing_candice Twitter: @kissing_candice
7 STONE RIOT Enhancing your quality of life with new single MANIPULATION BY STEPHANIE STEVENS
Step into the new era of Birmingham, Alabama's 7 STONE RIOT. A band who is unleashing the darker side of rock on their new single MANIPULATION. a track significantly mesmorizing and melodically haunting with tons of heavier overtones. I was honestly blown away from the growth in sound these guys have creatived vs. Their old EP SCRATCHING THE SURFACE. The band, brothers Whit Millsap-vocals, Tyler Millsap-bass, Todd Mlsap-guitar along with Reid Aldridge-guitar and Skyler McCain - drums started in 2012 has a cover band which helped them find the path to songwriting that they they applied to 7 STONE RIOTs sound. The newest single MANIPULATION is about how we all are manipulated by something whether we believe it or not. The steady flow heavy power and delicate melody is going to unite music fans of all genres. Visually the guys brought even more life to the song as the video is haunting, dark and phantom like as you watch the "demons" seduce and manipulate as the evocative storyline embeds your thoughts. The growth I see in this band already is making me believe that they are one of the bands to keep your eye on as we roll into 2021. I had a chance to speak with vocalist Whit Millsap about creating their sound, the unique recording process for the track MANIPULATION, his biggest role model and what they worked on to get better at as we all went through the chaos of what we called the year 2020.
I love seeing you family as a band. Did you all fall for the music bug around the same time and how did that surface to 7 stone riot?
Whit Millsap: We grew up around music all our lives. Our grandmother was a singer in New Orleans in the 60s. Our mom was a country singer in the late 90s early 2000s where she had a song on the billboard country charts. It took us a little longer to start playing instruments, I was 18 when I got my first guitar and Tyler was 16, but the first day we got them we thought maybe we should do something with this.
You have two other members also in the band when searching for people to round out the band what were you looking for in musicians to come into this brotherhood?
Whit Millsap: I and Reid played high school baseball together so we knew each other but we didn’t know music was a big part of our lives. When I first started playing live music I was doing acoustic covers and Reid saw one of my videos posted on Facebook and sent me a message asking me if I wanted to come and jam sometime. I and Tyler went over there a couple of days later and from that day we decided we should give the band thing a shot.
You guys also worked in an industry where you were around music in a live setting. Tell us how that impacted the business to the artistry of your band?
Whit Millsap: Working for All Events has been one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever worked. It has taught us a lot about running live sound, putting on a lights show, and how to act as a band when you get to those big festival-style shows. We work with a group of amazing sound guys who have helped us understand what each button and knob does on the soundboard so when we get to ours we can set it up just like we want it. This job it’s given us some close friendships with some great sound guys so whenever we have a show and one of them doesn’t have a gig they will go with us to our show and run our sound, which is nice.
What is the hardest thing about creating a signature sound for your band when you are surrounded by so many influential role models that you grew up listening to?
Whit Millsap: We don’t think creating our own sound is hard with all the influences. We think all of our different influences is what gives us our sound. We all like different styles of rock music. I tend to lean towards the 90’s rock with bands like Tool, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple pilots. I love bands with good melodies so I also tend to listen to bands such as 3 doors down and matchbox 20. Reid is a fan of the heavier side of music with bands like Sevendust, Tremonti, and Korn. Tyler is a fan of the progressive style with bands like Tesseract, Monuments, and Karnivool. Todd likes it all anywhere from the Weekend to Meshugga. Skylar is your typical drummer and loves the bands Vinnie Paul, Chris Adler, Shannon Larkin, Jeremy Spencer, and Mike Portnoy are in. I feel like when you mix all of those bands you come up with our sound.
You just released a brand new song called MANIPULATION. An intense word with meaning. What projected the song for you to take this shape lyrically?
Whit Millsap: When you sit back and really think about it everyone is manipulated by something. That’s why everyone has different beliefs. Everyone is pressured into doing things whether you want to do it or not so you’re manipulated into feeling hate for something or love for something. If someone were to live my life and go through all of my manipulations they would have the same views just like if I lived someone else’s life I would probably have totally different views on things. So in the end we’re all the same we just have been through different manipulations that have given us the views that we have.
The new song also takes a darker approach musically for you guys do you feel this is the real sound and feel of 7 stone riot?
Whit Millsap: We feel like this is the start of the real sound of 7 Stone Riot. We did this song differently than anything else we’ve written. Before we would split up and say each person write their part and then we would come back together and make it a song. With "Manipulation", each person gave their opinion on every part of this song. I feel like this is the approach we will be taking for every song we write now because it really helped fine-tune each part of the song. The melody and lyrics were totally different at the start of this song than it is now because once we all got together and put different ideas into the melodies and lyrics it really started taking a different life that we all loved. Once we changed the melody it opened up even more ideas for the instruments which were really cool to do.
Can you talk about the DIY approach you took for recording the new song and after all was said and done turns out it's one of your favorite sounding songs. What do you think it was that made it more sacred to you?
Whit Millsap: With everything getting locked down at the beginning of the year we felt like this would be the perfect opportunity to release something new. None of the studios were open so what we did was turn our guitar player Reid Aldridge’s garage into a studio. We had a ton of moving blankets so we created a vocal booth made out of moving blankets plywood and pipping. After that, we then spent some money on some professional mics so we could still get that studio-quality sound out of our recordings. We were able to record every instrument inside the vocal booth we made and to our surprise sounded just like what it would have sounded like if we went to the studio. When we were done with all of the recordings we sent it to our producer Ken Lanyon who would give us different ideas to do and when that was done he mixed and mastered it. We were really surprised at how it sounded considering we recorded this all in a garage.
How important to you is "performing" the song be it video or live show and do you feel you can get more of the story out in this way more than just having fans sit home and listen?
Whit Millsap: I feel like with a video you get a lot more emotion out of the song. With the video, we kinda left it up to the viewer to make their own assumption about what it means. Everyone in the band has different views on what the video is meaning which is what we were going after.
Some bands feel that singles are the way to go since the music industry has changed a bit. What do you feel about that vs full length and where does your bandstand on this topic?
Whit Millsap: We all kinda feel like releasing singles is the way to go right now. Recording full-length albums with a professional sound to it takes so much money these days that it’s hard to do that without being signed to a label. With all the advantages we have these days with social media you don’t necessarily need a record label to get noticed you just need a song that catches everyone’s attention.
What is the one thing you worked on in 2020 through this chaos be it musically or personal that you have enhanced or have you learned something new?
Whit Millsap: One of the things we did was upgrade our equipment. Our main goal is to give a professional sounding performance and to do that you have to have the right equipment. We also took a few weeks to ourselves and not thought about anything musical for those few weeks. After those few weeks, we got back together and our creative mindsets were a lot better so taking a little bit of time off is always a good thing to do.
Who would you consider your biggest role model that has made you the man/musician you are today and why have they?
Whit Millsap: To me, I’m going to have to with Garth Brooks. When I was 3 years old back when he was taking over the world I was his biggest fan. I use to dress up like him and run around the living room pretending I was him during a concert while a videotape of his concert played on the tv. I knew all his movements on stage and what he was going to say to the crowd. Once I saw him perform and the reaction he would get out of a crowd I always wanted to do what he does.
What do you hope people walk away with after being introduced to 7 stone riot?
Whit Millsap: We hope that people really enjoy the messages we’re are trying to say with our music. Our messages tend to be uplifting by saying we’re all going through things you just have to fight through all the bad and you’ll end up where you want to be.
Connect with the band: Instagram: @7stoneriot Facebook: @7srband Twitter: @7stoneriot https://www.7stoneriot.com
OVTLIER Unleashes new single WHO WE ARE BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
Rochester, NY's OVTLIER shines with brilliance as they keep unleashing music that has a blend of enticing bits of heaviness , dark aura and emotional melody to round out massive powerful pieces of art. The band made a name for themselves with the 7 song disc WHAT DOESNT KILL YOU. With solid tracks like BURIED ME ALIVE, BROKENBONES and BREAK. Inspired by everything 80s/90s. Grunge to numetal band members Joey Arena vocals, guitarists Kane Buckley and Nolan Hayes, bassist Paul Milne and drummer Mike Wilkinson create a alluring hybrid sound.
The bands newest single WHO WE ARE was co written with Ice Nine Kills Justin DeBlieck and is taking the modern rock world by storm as the band delves into the dark and trauma induced story of toxic relationships. With raging tone, impeccable breakdowns and duality of vocal range its a creattion of power, mood and dynamics. OVTLIER is one band who will surprise you with raw songwriting so be on the lookout for more personal and intense work from this stellar band. I had a chance to speak with frontman Joey Arena who gave me some incite on the band, his background in music, the songs and more.
Q: In the beginning was OVTLIER a solo project for you and what made you turn it into a full fledge band?
A: I did not create Ovtlier with the intentions of being a solo project but knew that it be easier to find like minded musicians once I had laid out the foundation.
Q: Your newest single WHO WE ARE do you feel you have honed in on the sound you wanted for the band?
A: Being that I like to incorporate different elements of Rock & Metal, I feel we will forever continue to evolve and put out music that we feel best suits us. "Who We Are" showcases how big we like to go with a chorus and the different styles of vocals I like to work into the mix.
Q: The new stuff you guys are writing is going to be on a more personal level as we saw in WHO WE ARE, what is the pro and cons when reaching into that kind of emotion?
A: The pro's are that I will be using it as therapy. I look forward to no longer carrying the weight. I can only hope that it will inspire those to love, self reflect and work on themselves as they go through life.
Q: With this recent single out does this mean a new EP or maybe full length disc is in the works and if so do you have any ETA on when it will be released? And how can fans support you going forward until you can get out and tour again?
A: For now, we will continue to put out singles. It gives each song the undivided attention it deserves. For support, we strongly push that people follow and subscribe to our streaming platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, etc.
Q: Where do you guys currently reside and how is the atmosphere over there with 2020 impacting so much?
A: We are all spread out amongst Upstate, NY. Buffalo and Rochester. I have been to some of the headlining hot spots for protests and Rochester with some rioting.
Q: Where did you grow up and how much did that atmosphere encourage and support your decision on being a musician?
A: I grew up in Rochester, NY. I was introduced into an amazing local music scene at the age of 13 that unfortunately, many locals today will never experience that type of diversity, support and popular appeal. I'm grateful that I was able to experience it.
Q: It's been a few years since your EP WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU came out, looking back on critic's words, fans words about the music, what is the biggest thing you walked away from and thought about walking into making new music?
A: "What Doesn't Kill You" was written in 2014 and released years later. I'm proud of that EP and all the hard work that producer, Evan McKeever and myself put into it while looking through the flaws. I walked away only looking forward and growing with in my vision of what Ovtlier can and will become.
Q: Is guitar always going to be your first passion when it comes to music?
A: Guitar will be my first love but I enjoy being a vocalist and all the types of character I can tap into with it.
Q: When did you realize you could be a vocalist and did you have any classical training?
A: I dabbled with back up vocals and harmonies in any mid-2000's projects and took my first steps as a vocalist in 2009, completely ignorant and uneducated and learning the hard way of what goes in to being a vocalist. I began taking lessons in the midsts of writing "What Doesn't Kill You" and have taken lessons throughout the past 5 years.
Q: Is there a big difference emotional creating say a riff or melody vs. writing a lyrical story for you? And if so can you sum up each feeling doing both?
A: Sometimes there will be a musical progression that can hit me in that spot just as almost a lyrical concept and when they both work together is where you can find magic. Its not always the case but definitely a goal. I believe both will speak and impact significantly to me.
Q: BURIED ME ALIVE is one song from that older EP that stood out for me. The vocals immediately stuck with me. Can you describe how the vocal diversity came to be on that track?
A: Buried is a very special track for me. Its about the love for music and how I consider her to be "the girlfriend that never loved me back". She will always be there but you are forever constantly having to work for the relationship to progress.
Q: Out of everything you could do in the world what made you want to become a musician/artist?
A: I picked up music at the age of 11 when a friend introduced me to it and its been love since then.
Q: How do you view of the state of Rock N Roll and if could change anything what would you change?
A: I believe Rock is on the rise and will compete at the level Pop and Rap are at. I look forward to more rock artists beating mainstream Pop and Rap artists out of charts.
Q: Other than music what is your other biggest passions?
A: I'm a hairstylist and own a remodeling business, constantly enjoy creating. I do enjoy going to the gym as often as possible as well as hiking.
Q: If you could describe the support you have gotten from music fans in one sentence what would you say?
A: Nothing is more self rewarding than someone who loves and supports what you love.
Q: Empower another artist and tell us who your biggest inspiration is and why?
A: I love any and all artists that go against the grain and not afraid to be themselves.
Connect with the band: Instagram: @ovtlier Facebook: @ovtlier Twitter: @ovtlierband https://www.ovtlier.co/
AVOID RELEASES THE BURNER By: Stephanie Stevens
I remember sitting at home back in 2018 and was handed a new band called AVOID from Seattle, WA. As soon as I heard the bands debut album ALONE I pretty much called that album, album of the year! The band had this way of twisting your head around with heavy riffs but then in the next moment soothing your soul with clear as day melodic tones. Its been a few years and AVOID is back with a release that just hit the world today THEBURNER. 5 songs that run the rampant of heavy induced chaos, hard n aggressive vibes to uplifting fun melodic rock n roll attitude. What I truly respect about this band is the open minded attitude on creating songs. The guys Benny Scholl, Nick Olson, Luke Ryder, Paul Jaton and Chris Echols take a unabashed experimental approach to music and its apparent and fulfulling on this new EP. I had a chance to ask singer Benny Scholl about how he as grown as a musician in 2020, his approach on songwriting, cover tunes and the livestream that they are doing tonight for the release of THEBURNER.
Your music has moved me since I heard your debut album ALONE In 2018, can you talk about the approach AVOID takes to write music? Because it seems you don’t seem to follow trends and that is what makes you guys pretty unique and refreshing!
BENNY: Well first of all thank you so much! Our approach to writing has honestly changed a lot over the years, and with every new song, show, release, etc. I feel like we learn so much and all of that has played into our sound and writing process. The biggest thing is we try not to over think it too much, and if it sounds good then roll with it. We genuinely just love music and playing with each other and the rest kind of just happens haha
In 2020 people have struggled with a lot of confusion, depression and loneliness as a band seeing this in general and probably in some of your fans what was something you guys did social media wise to try to lift spirits or just let people know you guys were there for them?
BENNY: We really tried to keep it light and fun on social media. While we still stated our views on some of the issues in our country and the world, and encouraged your to register and get out and vote, we wanted to bring you music and goofy antics. We have a series called 'The Burn' where I shotgun anything from White Claw to strawberry milk and we hope things like that can put a smile on your face, even for a second. Everyone needs a good laugh this year
You guys seemed to keep busy as slowly you been releasing new singles here and there which is all being put out on your new EP THE BURNER in Nov. what was the process in writing and also recording for you guys going through 2020 like we all have?
BENNY: Well thankfully, we actually wrote and recorded 'The Burner' throughout 2019. We had a whole plan for the release of this EP this year, and when the pandemic hit it definitely put a wrench into the mix haha, but we knew at the end of the day it wouldn't make sense to sit on these songs for a year + and just do nothing, so we started releasing tunes. It's definitely been interesting. We're very grateful we've had some amazing partnerships come out of this year including getting our music in the NASCAR HEAT 5 video game, songs on SiriusXM Octane, and so much more. All we can do is take every day as it comes and hope that people dig it. We can't thank anyone enough who's supported us through this year
Where did you find inspiration for these new songs and one is one solid emotion you hope your fans and just people in general walk away from after listening to it once its released?
BENNY: I'd say the biggest thing we hope people take away is whatever you need at the time in your life you're listening to it. Our music comes from all our emotions in life, happiness, sadness, anger, all of it, so go in with an open mind and hear what speaks to you
HEAT is probably by far my favorite right now because it’s just energized, poppy and heavy in some levels; just a great display of your diversity as a band. As a band are you guys all influenced by close genres of music or is it a spectrum and how does that play into songwriting when you guys do write?
BENNY: We're influenced by everything. From movie soundtracks, to radio jingles, to all spectrums of music, and we really think that comes across in our sound. At the end of the day it's music, genres are dumb, and you should do whatever you want to do :)
FINISH LINE 2—ELECTRIC BOOGALOO was pretty epic being the song title didn’t prepare me for the heaviness but it was a massive happy hour. Do you feel the band as a whole is the type of band that will always surprise and bring out the most off center stuff (in a good way) to keep people on their toes and also to keep you guys being innovative?
BENNY: 100%! As I've talked about, we just love music. We don't really view a genre for our band, and the more music we write and release I think will really show that. There's no "direction" per say, we'll do heavy songs, pop songs, covers, ballads, whatever we're feeling. As long as we're having fun doing it that's what matters
We all have been living quarantine life so to speak for most of 2020 what is one thing you have learnt about yourself in a musical level and personal level that you have been able to work on and improve at?
BENNY: I definitely feel like this has helped my songwriting. I'm able to formulate ideas and put them on paper way quicker, and really direct my way through the bare bones of a song way quicker and better than I ever have before. I'm grateful for that, and as a personal improvement I'm just trying to be more grateful in general. There's a lot of things that suck about 2020 and the pandemic in general (cause this is gonna be here a minute) but there is a lot of be grateful about still, even if it's just the sun came up, or it's raining, whatever you prefer, but find those little things every day to be grateful for.
This past week you guys also released THE SONGS THAT SHAPED US. You took SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE by Audioslave an epic singer and band. What is the emotions and attitude you need to have going into covering such a iconic band and singer and also how did Soundgarden and Chris Cornell shape or inspire you?
BENNY: Yes! We had a blast covering that one, and Chris Cornell as a vocalist has been such a massive inspiration to me, and Soundgarden, Audioslave, and anything those members have had their hands in we're huge fans of
Then another big song and band to cover you guys went full in and did FOO FIGHTERS WEENIE BEENIE. What was one thing you learnt about that song when you guys went in to really dissecting it to cover that you never released about it before that, if any?
BENNY: This is actually a cover we'd played live on and off for about a year before recording it, but I'd say the biggest takeaway, which you will get ANY time you dissect a Foo Fighters song, is the writing is so clever. They are such a diverse band, and covering a heavier 'b-side' if you will was really fun to play with that side of their sound and make it our own
Where is the biggest growth have you seen in AVOID since 2018 band members to 2020 band members and how has that helped with helping the crafting of new songs?
BENNY: We went through a couple member changes from 2018 to now, but Nick and I have been doing this together since 2012, and playing, working and hanging out almost every day with someone for that long builds a chemistry you can't recreate or teach, and as a whole we have a literal dream team. Luke has been playing with us since 2014, Paul since 2018 and Chris since last year, and it honestly it feels like it's been like this the whole time.
Have you guys had any talks about shows or even a tour as of yet and if not how can fans and music lovers in general help promote, support and network the band to get your name even more out there?
BENNY: We are doing a live stream CD release show Nov 6thin support of the release of 'The Burner', and we hope to do more live stream concert events in the future, but other than that we're waiting to hear some promising news from heath officials until we start making plans
Empower another artist and tells us who inspires you and why?
BENNY: Shoutout Not A Toy, shoutout Widmore, shoutout Born A New, shoutout Distinguisher, shoutout Motives, shoutout Feverwar FOREVER, shoutout Castaway, shoutout Nickelback, and shoutout all of our amazing friends and inspirations. You all inspire us in your own ways, and different art is what makes the world beautiful, so just keep creating, that's what inspires us
Connect with the band: Instagram: @avoidkicksass Facebook: @avoid Www.avoidkicksass.org
DISCIPLES OF BABYLON Fighting for LIBERTY!! By Stephanie Stevens
DISCIPLES OF BABYLON came together in Los Angeles, Ca back in 2012 with their hard rock/alternative sound. The guys, Eric Knight-vocals/guitar, Ramon Blanco-guitar, Gui Bodi-bass and Chris Toeller-drums went to work on making music with urgent storylines and promient and moving music scapes that made music fans and critics connect and take a serious interest in the band. Through the years they released the bands introduction EP WELCOME TO BABYLON which showcased elegance in vocal ability with the song ARRIVED. the guitar rock presence of the hard n melody driven salute of KARMA and the soaring and emotionally high energy vibe of THE GREAT PRETEND. In 2017 the guys released a full length disc THE RISE AND FALL OF BABYLON, an album that was filled with lyrical content to try to make America aware that our country was in trouble. The album was driving with hard rock elements, bolstering with huge sound, flawless vocal integrity and just a really impressive creation of songs with a powerful meaning to them all. Its been three years and the band has finally stepped back into the rock scene with a song that is a direct reflection of what is happening in our country today! LIBERTY. The emotional deliverance is profound especially in the essence of the vocal passages. The band hasnt detoured from delivering that hard rock sensibility with melodic tones. DISCIPLES OF BABYLON is one band with the courage and fight in them to help spread awareness and positivity in the most chaotic world most of us have ever lived in. I was honored to speak with the band about current issues, the new single, future music and having one of the members taking the producer hat for the song LIBERTY.
Q: First off are you all still living in Los Angeles, California and for you guys how is the atmosphere and vibe as you see it since the start of 2020?
Chris Toeller: Yes, we are all still in Los Angeles. It’s been a pretty crazy year for everyone, to say the least. The fires in Southern California certainly made it even weirder. All of the craziness can be very distracting, and it affected all of us, individually, in different ways. As a collective, however, I think it has been great to continue working on new music because it distracts us from the distractions (momentarily) but also because the intentions behind our music are even more relevant to the things that are happening in our world around us.
Eric Knight: Well, 2020 started off on the right track, new decade, new outlook, but then we floored it straight to a red light. But as everyone else has been doing, we’ve been trying to navigate around it. It’s going to be an interesting few months into 2021. It’s definitely been a challenge, but I feel now more than ever, we’ve been working as a team to keep moving forward and that has been the most exciting part for me.
Q: A few years back you guys wrote an epic album entitled RISE AND FALL OF BABYLON. 7 songs back then speaking of issues of how America is spinning out of control. How does it feel knowing you pretty much wrote a prequel to the year 2020?
Chris Toeller: To be honest, it’s saddening in some ways. The fact that it has been apparent for such a while now that our world is “spinning out of control,” but as a society, we have just continued to let it happen right before our eyes says a lot about just how much we really care. While we are not fully in control of what happens in our own countries or around our world, together still we have the power and responsibility to produce the change we want to see. TRAFOB was a call to action to everyone around the world to own that power.
Gui Bodi: I’m not particularly a political guy, I find it really hard to keep up with everything politics, it’s a different type of scandal everyday, plus finding a good and trustworthy source of journalism is nearly impossible nowadays, but it wasn’t that hard to see where world politics and their economic roots were taking us back then. In my opinion, impunity and lack of accountability are what brought us to this point in human history, because even when we expose corruption we can’t manage to dismantle the system which allowed it in the first place, nor persecute those involved in it. I feel only small fish get accounted for, never the big ones. It would be naive of us to think there’s one simple solution to all this mess, but definitely more meaningful changes to the core of our political and economic systems are needed.
Eric Knight: The signs were there for a long time coming, only it had been accelerated by the pandemic and the current administration or lack thereof. Our music and songs have always tried to be a mirror and reflect on what is happening in the world around us. We try and have a positive outlook within the framework of our music. Unity over division is our goal.
Q: Your newest single is called LIBERTY, when you sat down to write this song what was the number one thing concerning you at the time and what do you hope people will get and understand from this song?
Eric Knight: Well the concerning thing was where the country was and is currently heading. We are dangerously close into entering a potential civil war. It’s almost as if the planets have aligned themselves for it. I was inspired by the famous speech from Patrick Henry that he gave from Virginia in 1775, in which he declared, “give me liberty, or give me death”. When I had the original melody for this song in my head, that phrase just came into my head and stuck. Once something like that happens for me, and I can’t get it out of my head, is when I know I have something solid to present to the guys, and it just evolved from there. Ultimately, ‘Liberty’ is something that we’re all after, no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall into. The trick is trying to unite people as opposed to dividing them, which unfortunately is what is currently happening now.
Q: Having a platform where you can talk about the issues of the world, how hard is it for you to put a spin of hope and unity into the world when the world is so divided and chaotic?
Chris Toeller: The reality is that there will be a day when most of the issues we’re facing today will no longer exist. Who knows how long it might be until then, but the day will come. As the most powerful species on this planet, it is our responsibility to empathize with and love all so that it becomes our norm to respect ourselves, our planet, and all those who inhabit it. So, while it can be very difficult to have hope in these times, hope and unity are inevitable. We may not be around to enjoy it when it happens, but that should not minimize our responsibility to continue to make progress towards these goals.
Gui Bodi: I believe mentally balanced and healthy people are inherently good, we lose that aspect of our humanity when we are mentally sick or as a response mechanism to an abusive environment. I’m very privileged to have had a good education and a carrying family, so I understand the transformational power education and love put together. That’s our main mission as a band and as people with a platform, to make people realize those things and fight for their rights to have access to both of them.
Eric Knight: It’s a challenge especially when everything looks so bleak, but we always are trying to find that silver lining within our music. There has got to be hope! One of the reasons why I got into this business was because music is the only medium that I am aware of in which you have people that are from every race and religious as well as political background. I find it interesting and ironic that politics and religion divides people, music unites them. That’s why I’m doing this, that is why we’re doing this. We want to try and make that small contribution with our music to help accomplish just that.
Q: If you could fix one injustice in the world what would it be and why?
Gui Bodi: Like I mentioned above, I’d start with education. I mean all levels of education and knowledge, like academic, emotional, spiritual etc. I believe that’s where we should start to have a fighting chance at all other aspects of life in our modern society.
Eric Knight: Poverty and hunger. I know that’s two but there are two that I feel strongly about. There should be no reason in this day and age for anyone to go without food and shelter, not in this interconnected world that we are living in today. This needs to be eradicated.
Q: This is the first time that your drummer Chris Toeller took the producer hat and went with it. How was it working with someone that was also so close to the writing of the song?
Chris Toeller: It was tough to be in the role… I had to take frequent breaks from it to come back with fresh ears. A lot of bias gets introduced when one person is so heavily involved in nearly every step of the process. I needed to frequently ask for feedback from the other band members and close friends.
Gui Bodi: It was great! Chris knows our sound and knows where we want to take it next, so we had an incredible experience with a more modern sound from the get go. Plus, he’s a great friend of ours and was very accessible and accommodating during the process, it was a great experience for me. I’m not sure he had that great of a time with all the work we gave him though! LOL
Eric Knight: I am so proud of Chris. He did a phenomenal job on this song. Early on when Chris offered to do this track, I knew in my heart that it would turn out amazing. I had total faith in him to deliver and he did beyond our wildest dreams. We definitely knew that with ‘Liberty’ we wanted the sound of the band to start going into a different direction. There is different instrumentation and elements that we hadn’t used in our music before and that was exciting for us. We didn’t have any kind of constraints, we tried different ideas and different approaches but ultimately with the goal of making the song great. What I am most proud of was that this was truly a team effort from not only each one of us in the band but everyone else that was involved in the project. Alan Sosa, Rup Chattopadhyay and even our bassist Gui Bodi help to engineer these sessions. Joe Bozzi (U2, Van Halen, Imagine Dragons) who is one of the best mastering engineers in the business did an amazing job on this as well too, making this an amazing experience all the way around.
Q: Is LIBERTY leading us to another full length or EP for the band and if you have written more how does it blend with the song of this first single?
Gui Bodi: We’ve adopted a “singles” approach for the time being, so for now we’ll keep writing “together from afar”, a song at a time. The idea is to write enough material to release a new album later on.
Eric Knight: There is definitely a new release coming, we’re just not sure as to the timing of when that release will happen. With Covid-19 still wreaking havoc around the world we are playing a wait and see kind of game right now. In the meantime there will be more singles coming. In fact we are working on completing the next new track as we speak. So I would expect singles coming out every few months from us into 2021, and it leading us into the next release. We just want to make sure that when it comes out that we will be able to go out and support it.
Q: You guys as band members and musicians are not new to the music industry, going through 2020 and seeing the changes we all had to adapt to, what is your opinion and vision for the future of music and live shows?
Chris Toeller: I don’t think it will ever be QUITE the same. At least for a while. I think we will continue having mandates about audience sizes. I also think it will be a while until more people feel comfortable packing into a room with other people they don’t know. But as we’ve seen, artists and venues will persist and find new, creative ways to perform live and share their music with others. Virtual Reality shows could become a thing. Or more of a thing? Who knows.
Gui Bodi: I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Because of the pandemic things won’t go back to normality so soon, but I’ve been seeing a lot of alternatives popping up around town, like drive-in concerts and bands inside/crowd outside of the venue types of concerts. We will always find a way to adapt and keep music alive until we can enjoy real live music once again.
Eric Knight: Well, I hope that I am completely wrong with what I am about to say, but I don’t think live shows will be coming back in 2021. Yes, you’re seeing drive in shows and “socially-distanced” shows and of course you’re just seeing complete disregard for the virus and people are holding shows that aren’t socially distanced, which is just outrageously misguided. But when it comes to music festivals and concerts in arenas etc. I just don’t see it happening until a safe and reliable vaccine comes into play. We are in the middle of this “second wave” happening and you’re seeing countries that had opened back up in Europe earlier this year going back into a lockdown situation. It’s devastating for our industry. We had a tour that was being planned and booked for Europe and that went straight out the window once the pandemic hit.
Q: For readers just getting informed about the band, can you give us a quick briefing on how the band got together and one highlight of each band member's past accomplishments?
Gui Bodi: Eric met Ramon while attending an alumni event at the Musician’s Institute College of Contemporary Music in Hollywood (where me, Ramon and Eric all graduated from). They started writing together and ended up writing our first song ever, ‘Arrived’, during their first writing session together. Next Ramon recruited me to play bass and help them with the writing process. The Disciples of Babylon was now officially a band.
We ended up releasing our first EP ‘Welcome to Babylon’, which was produced by GRAMMY Award winning producer Andres Torres (La Santa Cecilia, Alejandro Sanz, and co-producing the Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee smash hit 'Despacito’), who also lent a hand playing drums on the EP. Soon after the recording was finished, we agreed that the time had come to add an official drummer to the mix. After working with several drummers and holding numerous auditions, Chris joined the band, and the lineup was now officially complete.
Gui past accomplishment: Played the Warped Tour in 2011, that was a pretty cool experience!
Chris past accomplishment: Producing ‘Liberty’.
Eric past accomplishment: Opening for KISS & Aerosmith.
Ramon past accomplishment: Playing the Aftershock Music Festival
Q: How has music changed your life and have you thought about doing anything different with your life?
Chris Toeller: Music has always allowed me to see well past many complications in life. A lot of the problems we face can seem so big and scary at times. But once you put on a great song, your perspective changes and their significance shrinks because, in the grand scheme of things, a lot of things really don’t matter. In summary, I believe that music can give us the ability to transcend a lot of our own mental limitations.
Gui Bodi: Actually yes, but in my case, it all happened backwards! I have a background in medicine, having graduated from Dentistry school back in my hometown São Paulo - Brazil, and I’ve worked for 1 year as a dentist, then I decided to give music a chance in 2010, attending the Musicians Institute (MI) in Hollywood, and I never went back to Dentistry ever since. I love music and don’t regret my choice (so far! LOL).
Eric Knight: Music is my religion. Music has helped shape the soundtrack of my life and has gotten me passed some incredibly hard times. I don’t know what else to do but music, it’s in my soul and being.
Q: If you could either speak every language in the world or know how to play every instrument made in the world, what would you choose and why would you choose that?
Gui Bodi: I’d love to learn every language, because playing only 1 instrument is already so time consuming, I can’t imagine how my life would be if I could play all other instruments!
Eric Knight: Again I’m going to cheat here and say I’d do both! Ironically we are a multilingual band. We speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and the language of music. So we are already a part of the way there, LOL! I am actually fascinated by language.
Q: As a musician what do you feel has been your biggest growth from the start of your career to this current day?
Chris Toeller: Moving to Los Angeles when I was 18 was the best decision I ever made in my life. I’ve grown so much as a musician and as an individual. I met a lot of amazing people and had amazing experiences. And while you can do these things anywhere, it would have taken me a lot longer to become the person I am today had I not exposed myself to the diversity and energy that you experience while living in Los Angeles. Not to mention, it’s THE place to be if you want to play music or work in the entertainment industry.
Gui Bodi: I learned to prioritize and focus on my role in an ensemble: groove, feel and tone over everything else! Also, I can sing harmonies better now, but I’m still growing as a musician overall, so there’s still a lot to be learned.
Eric Knight: Connecting here with my brothers, Ramon, Gui & Chris on this project. It’s truly been a dream to work with these guys and level up my game. I am truly blessed and honored to call them my friends and family.
Q: If DISCIPLES OF BABYLON ended today would you be proud of the last song you wrote and why?
Gui Bodi: Totally, Liberty showcases our growth as musicians, songwriters and as a band in general, overcoming every obstacle in our way, no matter how big and complicated it seemed at first. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
Q: How can fans support you guys and do you have any last comments to the fans who have supported you from the beginning?
Chris Toeller: Please, continue following what we’re doing and interacting with us! We’re still doing this, Covid or not! We love seeing your faces on social media. Someday soon we’ll be able to see them in person again.
Eric Knight: They can follow us pretty much everywhere on all the usual socials. Our music is streaming everywhere as well too. And to our amazing ‘Disciples’ what can we say, this is the reason why we do this. Their support and amazing passion for us and our music is what keeps us going. We love each and everyone of you! #BabylonArmy
SAUL HARD HITTING AND ELECTRIFYING DEBUT RECORD IN RISE AS EQUALS By: Stephanie Stevens
SAUL is coming out of the midwest with guns blazing and claws out with the bands debut album RISE AS EQUALS. the band formed in 2017 and combines the talent of brothers Blake Bedsaul-voice, Zach Bedsaul-guitar, b.vocals, William Mcllravy- bass/b. Vocals and Myles Clayborne-drums. The debut album lashes out with raw emotion, stories of lose, love and positivity. Writing songs like it could be the last word n music they write compelled them to deliver a very powerful, emotional hard hitting loaded track listing of songs for a debut album. The emotional tale of BROTHER, to the melody driven sounds of KING OF MISERY to the beautiful layering of the song LEVEE this band captures all angles of a timeless rock n roll band. I had the pleasure to chat with Zach Bedsaul about the release of RISE AS EQUALS , having the heavy hitters of the music industry in their corner, the bands fans =EQUALS=, and how they are adapting to the changes of 2020.
Q: Some say you guys are an overnight success but everyone starts somewhere do you remember the first original song you wrote and what about it made you figure out you could make this a career?
A: Oddly enough it does seem overnight because when it hit, it rushed in really fast. Blake and myself have been writing music since high school, and always had that itch to keep writing. We put our first EP out my senior year of high school in 2007, the surprising response and reaction is what fueled us to keep pushing forward.
Q: I always say from pain comes the most beautiful art and you guys did that with the song BROTHER. How can you explain the feelings you got expressing the emotion and how do you feel it has helped your fans and others in general?
A: We always try to make every song, every lyric something personal to help us and others. Brother was interesting because it helped us cope with our loss, and now we hear it helping =Equals= the same way. That’s the best feeling in the world, music is therapeutic and heals all eventually.
Q: I love knowing you have a good bond with the band Seasons After. Can you tell people who may not know how these guys helped SAUL and what have you learnt from the guys themselves in moving forward in the world of rock n roll?
A: Chris Dawson has been one of my best friends and our manager since January of 2019. He has taught us amazing business related assets as well as music knowledge. I think we’ve built a phenomenal team with Dawson managing/producing/engineering and Jimmy Beattie is such a knowledgeable and skilled musician/songwriter. We feel blessed to have these guys on the team.
Q: Spinefarm is releasing your amazing debut album RISE AS EQUALS, not only is it your creativity and talent but can you tell people reading this how having a loyal family driven team around the band help in the positive motivation for any band?
A: It’s the only way we can/would have it. We’re a family business and always have been so that’s really important to us. I think the upside we can be very open and communicate as needed. We love having input from the team on ideas and strategies, it makes it feel real.
Q: Your new single KING OF MISERY was co-written by David Draiman of Disturbed, how did that relationship happen and what was most important to you guys in his helping create this song knowing the back story about what the song is about?
A: Darren our A&R rep was managing Trivium on one of their earlier albums before he got with SF. He reached out to David’s management and he seemed very eager to work on the material. You know, we wrote this song in the midst of the pandemic so it’s really easy to have a negative outlook on the world at the time, but relatable to so many people. David was fantastic to work with, and was such a great asset to have for melodies and certain vocal rhythms. He’s a very humble guy, and was an absolute honor to be in that position.
Q: You guys are very successfully rising to stardom levels but for you how does it feel knowing the guys who have made great successes in this industry are backing and supporting you guys being still a young band on the rise?
A: It’s the reason we picked up instruments in the first place. I want to be like Dan of Disturbed, or I want to play like Adam Jones. It’s hard to explain but feels appropriate seeing and hearing the veterans of the industry gives us the “nod of approval.”
Q: I love seeing you call your fans “equals” and your album title and one of the songs on the album is called RISE AS EQUALS (probably also my fav. Track on the CD. Through 2020 we have seen some splits of supporting each other. For people who are struggling to understand others that aren’t “like them”, what could you try to make them understand?
A: No one is above or below. We are eye to eye. We all rise together. I think it’s our responsibility as creators and entertainers to acknowledge our fan bases and let them know their importance. At the end of the day we all need to realize we’re humans, no one is better than anyone else, and we’re stronger in numbers. Respect, understanding and communication go a long ways.
Q: LEVEE is another track that moved me vocally, being that Blake didn’t start right off the bat as a singer what was the process in learning your vocal range and challenges that you faced when doing this album if there was any?
A: This song is full of raw emotions and leaves Blake’s vocals in a pretty delicate state. Blake has always been a natural vocalist with a fantastic singing voice and a perfect rasp when needed. He’s currently been taking vocal lessons from legendary Melissa Cross to help maintain endurance with control.
Q: What are you most excited for the world to hear when they finally get the chance to listen to the album front to back? What is the most important thing you want people to walk away with after a listen?
A: I just want people to take anything positive they can from it, and hopefully implement that into their lives. It’s been exciting to see and hear =Equals= reactions, and it’s nice to see all the time and hard work getting some attention.
Q: How have you adapted to the changes in the music industry since 2020 impacted it and where do you see the future of the industry?
A: We’ve been doing some live stream events and trying to stay more active on our socials. When things open up I still can see live streams and events being popular. It’s been interesting but fun in a sense to learn new things.
Q: Music is one thing in life I think everyone needs, growing up what was that one song that changed your life drastically and does it still impact you to this day and why?
A: I was twelve years old and my older brother Caleb introduced me to Judith - A Perfect Circle. It was haunting and overwhelmed my senses while flooding my brain with endorphins packed full of fear and excitement. It just seemed so dark and desperate, I think that’s why I loved it. I’ve battled my whole life with anxiety and depression so it seemed like I found myself right then and there.
Q: What do you have in the works once the album is released on Oct 23rd, will you try to do some sort of shows (depending on where you live etc) or live stream or videos etc to connect with fans?
A: We have some stuff in the works right now. Keep your eyes and ears open!
Q: Empower another artists by telling us who inspires you and why?
A: Adam Jones of Tool. He’s such a great artist, guitarist, father and husband. I try to achieve these goals everyday.
Connect with the band: Facebook: @saulbandofficial Twitter: @saulbandofficial Instagram: @saulbandofficial Www.saulofficial.com
PURE Rock N Roll is back! BY STEPHANIE STEVENS
Madisonville, Kentucky has a deep routed, guitar blazing, legit rock n roll band in REVEREND JACK. Not since the days of 1993 when I heard the band Brother Cane have I been this excited about an up and coming artist.
Eric Harmon-vocals and Dustin Back-guitar are bringing back powerful songwriting, authentic attitude of the rock n roll ambiance we seem to be missing.
The guys released the first single GREED as they work on their debut full length album for Resurgence America and it is being produced by music veteran Cris Lepurage. If this single has any say in the rest of the tracks on the debut, the world better get ready for some melodic amped up power with vocal abilities that are insanely ranged with low end depth to high end power. The guys have had the honor of not only playing stages with some known trend setters of the rock industry but also have had the ability to create and learn from them.
I had a chance to talk with Dustin and Eric about working with these greats, about their songwriting, future of the bands music and more.
Q: What does your band name mean and who came up with it?
Dustin Back: The band name came from an old video game character. We ran with it because it had a great ring to it with a slight southern attitude that we thought seemed fitting . Reverend Jack is a made up character. Our song "Bullet (Man of God No More)" tells the story of the character Reverend Jack.
Q: You guys have been working on new music. How did that process go and how do you think the overall growth of the band has shined through in the music?
Eric Harmon: It varies from song to song. Dustin and I have a different writing process from each other. It can make the process more difficult at times but it also allows us to push our boundaries as songwriters. We drive each other to explore areas in music that we might otherwise have shied away from.
Dustin: I feel the new music has certainly opened new avenues for the band sonically. Pushing this and that and seeing how versatile we can really be. In doing so everything came together more as a unified sound in my opinion.
Q: GREED is the newest single out. Tell me about what that song means to you and what do you hope people get from the lyrical content of it?
Dustin: Greed is an issue that I believe we all have in us whether it's a small amount or a large amount. It's there, however in this song it basically says that with more love and care for life we can try to rid the world of the deadly sin.
Eric: Greed of itself, we believe, can be the birth of most of the wrongs that we see in the world. In my individual view "Greed" touches on the darker aspects of what we see in the world that tend to be ignored.
Q: Drummer Mike Sciulara, formerly of Light The Torch play on GREED and your latest recordings. Is he a new member of the band now and what do you like about his drumming and work ethic?
Dustin: Mike is fantastic. Not only is he a monster player but a very nice guy and great to work with. He is very dedicated and has such precision when it comes to writing drum parts and feeling the flow of the song. Although not an official member, we would love to continue to work with Mike in the near future.
Eric: Mike is a tremendous drummer and also a great person as well. His work in the studio was fantastic. Mike was able to bring the vision of the songs together while adding a unique taste to each one. His work ethic was exemplary. The preparation and precision he brought to the studio impressed us undoubtedly.
Q: Speaking of having people contribute to your albums, on your latest EP "NOT PLAYING GAMES" you had a few guys from Whitesnake and Foreigner help out. Are you friends with them and how do you think it enhanced the songs you guys had recorded?
Dustin: Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach are both phenomenal players. As is Bruce Watson. I was incredibly humbled that they took the time out of their busy schedules to play on our EP. Yes, I believe very much that it enhanced the song in a way that was amazing to hear. I actually took guitar lessons from Joel Hoekstra and he is a truly genuine person that really knows his art. I couldn't thank him enough. We have spent many days (and nights) with the members of Foreigner and love those guys immensely for all that they have done for us. Especially Bruce.
Q: What is the hardest thing about songwriting at times?
Dustin: I'd say coming up with a good flow or a good heartbeat. Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut and it's difficult to come out of. Sometimes however non musical diversion helps out a lot.
Eric: There are the more known difficulties of writing lyrics that reflect both personal feelings that also allow a listener to find a piece of themselves and writing a piece of music that is interesting, but the most difficult part to me is creating a piece of music that frame the lyrics the way you envision.
Q: What is one thing you love and hate about the recording studio sessions when getting new material done?
Dustin: I love tracking new songs and hearing them for the first time played back in a professional environment. One thing I don't like is getting stuck on something that seems so simple but for some reason just has you stumped.
Eric: When performing a song on stage it can be difficult to hear its full scope. I love getting to hear those little details that I might miss on stage fully come together in the context of the song. Although as a perfectionist hearing all your mistakes while tracking can be nerve wracking. I would say that would be the most difficult thing for me but I can't say that I hate it. It's one of my greatest motivators.
Q: 2020 has been the year of no shows but I have seen on your social media you guys have been able to play some acoustic sets. How has the atmosphere been and how different would you say a live show is now amidst what the world is going through?
Dustin: It truly has been a blessing that we are still able to go on with the show acoustically during this very confusing and closed off time. I feel the crowds are still having a good time. It is just a different good time. Again we feel extremely blessed that we are still able to perform and travel.
Eric: The acoustic shows are quite different from a full band show. They certainly bring a different energy but are also much more intimate. It's easier for us to interact with our audience. There are some definite struggles not only for us and many other artists but also the venues themselves. They have to balance a fine line between the safety of their patrons while being able to keep themselves from going under due to financial constraints.
Q: Prior to this year when you guys had toured you also were joined onstage with some killer members of bands like Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister, Foreigner and the list goes on. How special is it to have artists like that sharing the stage with you and are these people you had looked up to when you were starting out?
Dustin: That still to this day is unbelievable. In different cities we jammed with Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Blas Elias (Slaughter / TSO), Jared James Nichols, Bruce Watson, Michael Bluestein and Chris Frazier (Foreigner.) When I see videos of us with all those guys it is just surreal. I am not gonna lie. I do get a little starstruck when we are graced on stage by all the special guests. It truly is a wonderful thing. Yes I grew up listening to all of them as a kid and all of them have had a really big influence on me.
Q: What is the biggest misconception of being an artist / musician?
Dustin: People think it's not a "real job." It very much is. Also people think that you make a lot of money which is not the case for new and upcoming bands. We are working hard in the studio and on the road to keep increasing our fanbase.
Eric: That we're cool. We're both regular guys but I think we each have a certain goofy or geeky quality about us.
Q: In your opinion how much talent do you think you have with the instrument you play? And what would you want to work on to get better if anything?
Dustin: I'm very confident in my ability and practice just about everyday. There is always more to learn. As mentioned earlier, I recently studied with Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) to broaden my musical horizons. I am always trying new things and learning new things. Thanks to all the teachers and influences who have shaped me into the player that I am today as I am still evolving.
Eric: I would certainly say that I'm proficient with my instruments. I don't like to make judgements on my ability anymore than that. There's so much that I'm still learning as a guitarist and vocalist. I try to work on as many areas of each that I can to be a well rounded musician.
Q: When will the new record be out and how can people help support, network and promote REVEREND JACK now since it’s hard to get the road support?
Dustin: We are aiming for the first quarter of 2021. That is the current plan for the release of the album. I'm super excited about it and can't wait for the world to hear it. Reverend Jack music can be found on all digital platforms worldwide. Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon and YouTube are some of the main ones. We can also be found on digital jukeboxes in local bars and restaurants on the AMI Network.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you can give your fans and music fans in general about the future of rock n roll?
Dustin: Rock n Roll is still alive and kicking and with the love and passion that our fans, friends, and family have, it won't ever die.
Eric: Rock will live as long as people want it but you have to support the artists that are trying to keep it alive.
Q: Empower another artist and tell us someone who inspires you and why?
Dustin: That truly is a really long list because I look to a lot of artists for inspiration but one that stands out to me and always has is George Lynch (Dokken / Lynch Mob.) He is one of my favorite players not because he can shred, which we all know, but because he has some of the most unique phrasing and patterns. Hearing that opens my mind to always try and think outside of the box.
Eric: This could be a long list. We've gotten to meet so many amazing young artists in our travels it's hard to pick just one. As to who inspires me, that is a much easier answer that most of my friends know probably too well. I love Myles Kennedy. He's an amazing artist and I'm a huge fan but what inspires me is that as talented and respected as he is he's still a genuinely humble person that seems very down to earth. I take that to heart as I very much wish to be the same way regardless of my success.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE BAND:
JANUS MUSIC, SPARKING CHANGE A CHAT WITH Singer/Songwriter David Scotney
BY STEPHANIE STEVENS
In 2009 I was introduced to a Chicago based band called JANUS. The bands album RED RIGHT RETURN was given to me to listen to and the track EYESORE made me an instant fan with its searing rock abilities and mesmerizing hooks and a singer who was a fucking beast with his vocal diversity. In 2019 the re-creation of JANUS started to come together combining both elements that singer/songwriter David Scotney felt very deeply about. One was the music and two was raising money and awareness for causes he was passionate about.
Scotney started the reconnection by covering the song DRIVE by The Cars and from there went on to write an anthem called STOLEN SISTERS about MMIWG. The song bridges the gap of melody induced rock and heavy elements of hard rock. Both fitting spaces in the song at the appropriate time to grab your attention and make the lyrical content so profound that you want to take notice and support the cause.
Every day JANUS and Scotney is giving fans sneak peek of demos and new music and gaining more information on causes they want to put to epic music to open the worlds eyes to issues we may not know about.
To people not schooled in the world of JANUS, here is your open door, RED RIGHT RETURN and the 2012 release NOX AERIS is both diverse and defining! They have a signature sound that is dark n melody driven intertwined with penetrating heavy and hard moments.
I had the privilege and honor to chat with David Scotney about all the music in the last few months he has been doing, the future of JANUS and who inspires him.
Q: You guys came back with a definite goal for your music can you tell us how JANUS reemerged and when and where were you that you made the decision to make your two passions collide?
A: It was about 2 years ago and I was going through a tough time with one of my family members and I had had an itch to start writing again and I stumbled upon the DRIVE song by The Cars and after watching the original music video I quickly realized the song was about mental health "Who's going to hold you when you scream?" was one of the lyrics that made my head turn and realize that there was a much deeper story to that song. I got inspired to build out a recording studio and get back into writing and tackled an updated rock version of the track and from there I got full on back into JANUS 2.0 with a focus on shining lights on causes I'm passionate about.
Q: you spoke about the reason you chose DRIVE, but were you ready to re merge JANUS with a cover song and the intention for it?
A: It's pretty far from the Janus sound and I didn't really care about that since it wasn't so much about Janus and coming back to our metal roots. It really was about showing a different side to our art and passion and introduce the mission side of JANUS 2.0. I knew we were going to get back to heavy music but it felt right to put that tune out first.
Q: The video for DRIVE is about Bipolar Disorder. Was this just another way to raise awareness to a very important and vital disorder or do you have a personal connection to it to make it a conversation piece?
A: My family growing up and to this day has struggled to support a family member with severe bipolar disorder and it's something that can really tear a family apart and something that if you're not aware someone has it you most likely would just write that person off as a human you never want to be part of your life. I wanted to try and do something positive around something that has caused our family so much pain and heartache. It was amazing to talk to people after they watched it and see them pull me aside and whisper in my ear... "Oh hey, my uncle had it... he's not with us anymore and it was tragic...". So many stories like that were shared with me so just seeing the data and info get people talking was very rewarding.
Q: With the song Drive you also have connected with the Jed Foundation and Music Sparks change. Tell us about the merchandise they can buy and how supporting this will help others?
A: On our Janusmusic.com site people can buy drive merchandise that directly supports the cause. We don't make a profit on any shows or songs royalties or merchandise. All proceeds go to charity and we've raised several thousands for non-profit organizations that directly help folks with mental health needs.
Q: Let’s jump into the newest single you just released called STOLEN SISTERS. How do you create a song with a very serious nature like this? Do you work closely with people who are in hopes trying to find these missing woman and girls?
A: A fan/friend reached out when I asked some of our Facebook fans to share causes that I should dig into for our next single and I found this article about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and I was so moved and inspired to try and do something about this injustice I literally sung the chorus almost on the spot. It took about a year to find a Native American organization that got behind what we were doing and wanted to support. Sovereign Bodies Institute is an amazing organization that actually tracks women and girls and fights for justice, spreads awareness and provides support for those touched by this cause. They were amazing and helped us with the data in the video and with the photos used in the video as we wanted to be very careful to do it right and make sure it was honoring the cause.
Q: What is the best way for people to raise awareness on topics like this?
A: I would say get involved by reading more about the subject, pay attention when legislation pops up that could help. Go follow and like Sovereign Bodies online and donate to their cause. Just simply sharing information and talking with friends and others about it helps get it into the conversation of circles that aren't paying attention so even something and simple and small as that can go a long way.
Q: The video for STOLEN SISTERS I feel like the vibe of the red light has a lot to do with what is going on with this tragic happening. What was your vision for how to visually enhance the song?
A: So a powerful image that is tied to the MMIWG cause is a red dress on a hanger or a cut out of a red dress. A red hand print across the face is also a very powerful symbol, wearing red as well you'll see quite a bit in those that protest or march. It's definitely a color we felt needed to be more prominent than our faces or any other color.
Q: I am sure you are working on many more new stuff for the world but is there a few other organizations or causes you are purely passionate about that we will be seeing sooner than later with you guys?
A: We've got a song about Blue Star families that are families with active service members. I grew up in a military family and my mom was deployed in two wars so I wanted to write a song that honors the families that are at home sacrificing in their own way. I don't have a non-profit org for it yet but looking for one.
Q: Do you see a possible collaboration with other artists on a certain cause has that been a thought and if not, would you consider and what would be your dream collaboration?
A: We were thrilled to have Rasheed from Nonpoint guest star guitar on a new track called "HIGH GROUND" about bullying which is another single we're working on. He's just a great artist and human all around so we're excited to have had the chance to collaborate with him. There are so many other artists I'd love to collaborate with. I'd love to work with a female vocalist as I think my tone would sound pretty cool mixed with a female voice. No one in mind though yet.
Q: I have been in love your music since my first listen to EYESORE if I can take you back to that song and the passion you had back then for music vs. how you are looking at it now?
A: It was such a cool moment in time for us and I was discovering things about my voice and what I could do creatively in that moment that all it does is remind me to keep breaking the ceiling and pushing myself. Super proud of the work that the whole band put into that song and that record.
Q: Do you see a full length disc in the future for JANUS?
A: Absolutely! We're working with the old Eyesore line up on some new music, Jake Portenkirchner and I are working on the singles I mentioned above and I have several others in the works. We're finalizing a new home for releasing new music and hopefully start pumping out more songs soon!
Q: As a band did you all come back together when you re started in 2019 and if so how was it re bonding with your band mates? If not, who is officially in the band now?
A: So we didn't all come together. I actually did the Drive single on my own and wasn't sure where it was all going to go but after I took some music theory sessions with a great teacher I discovered how to write and sing in any key which led me to writing pretty much vocals first and then crafting music around that. I started working with Jake Portenkirchner and we ended up producing Stolen Sisters with David Bendeth out in New York which was an amazing experience. It was life changing in that I learned more and grew more as an artist in such a short whirlwind time frame. I then reconnected with the original Eyesore line up and now collaborate with them on tracks and Jake on separate tracks. I kind of like the idea of keeping the form pretty free so that I can collaborate with many of the awesome players that I've been fortunate to work with.
Q: What is the most important thing you want people to walk away with after getting familiar on the new path of JANUS and the music you have put your heart n soul into?
A: Get into the new music if you like it, learn and get involved with the causes if that's your thing. Keep rocking out to the old stuff and get ready to hear a ton of new stuff and I'm working on getting new songs that are louder and heavier than EYESORE!
Q: Empower another artists! Who inspires you and why do they inspire you?
A: Big fan of Bring Me the Horizon. I love how they are really trying to innovate even at the expense of alienating their scream core audience. Follow your bliss and true fans and new fans will follow.
Q: Where can fans keep in contact with the band and where can they buy or listen to new stuff ?
A: facebook: @Janusband Instagram: @janusband Youtube: @Januschicago www.janusmusic.com All our tracks are out on all the digital platforms as well. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share some JANUS!
CRISTIAN MACHADO lays out a truly Epic masterpiece in his solo album HOLLYWOOD Y SYCAMORE By: Stephanie Stevens
When I first got introduced to CRISTIAN MACHADO he was the front man of the up n coming band Ill Nino. A band bringing a fresh assault to the metal world with their Latin Metal sound. Through the years I have watched that band grow, watched countless high energy live shows these guys put forth to their fans and had the honor of many interviews with CRISTIAN throughout the many albums & tours they have been on. And one thing that was always centered and relentless about him was his pure emotion and how real he was. Now we get to hear all of that put to music on his solo album HOLLYWOOD Y SYCAMORE. An album that captures pure elegance from the acoustic display of beauty and the layering of piano, strings and much more to make the album feel as passionate and genuine, just like how he felt writing and recording it. Then we have his voice this man for so many years poured the aggressive side out of him and to hear him stripped down and vulnerable is probably the best thing to come out of 2020. DIE ALONE was the first single he let the world digest and My God it just laid the foundation to a truly epic and stunning 12 songs of timeless beauty. I was captivated by tracks like PASE LO QUE PASE, BRING YOU HOME and WEEDS. I am blown away that an acoustic album can sound so diverse and atmospheric.
I had a chance to catch up with CRISTIAN and chatted about the new album HOLLYWOOD Y SYCAMORE along with him letting me in on a few life stories. I think this album was something that was always meant to be and I am so honored to have had an opportunity to learn more about this truly outstanding artist.
Q: Chatting years ago with you in Ill Nino I remember you saying you wrote on an acoustic for songs you came up with for them. This album seems like home for you in writing + creating. Back in the day did you always have a vision of doing an album like HOLLYWOOD Y SYCAMORE?
A: Woah! Pretty awesome that you remember something like that. I also remember it a bit, I think we had a discussion about writing on acoustic guitar, the simplicity of writing alone on an acoustic guitar, and the ability of making things electric after presenting them to the band. I’ve always been a very simplistic writer at the core but my mind drives those ideas a little further under a more metallic umbrella. On this album you are absolutely 100% right, I was able to write some songs really focused on the intent, the message, and the beauty of the song and itself. It’s not wrapped in any kind of niche or instrumentation approach or audio production trick. I think the older I get the more I appreciate the simpler things in life. It sounds cliché to say but it really is true, especially in a year like 2020. One thing is certain I wouldn’t have been able to make this kind of album back then, it obviously took all the situations and circumstances I have been through in the last 10 years for these words and these feelings to make themselves real. It took the bad and the good and the growth to get to here and I am grateful for this weird ass ride, hahaha. But yes it has absolutely always been in the back of my head.
Q: How were your emotions finishing the album, getting ready to put out the single DIE ALONE being known as the front man for the crossover metal band ILL NINO?
A: Well, I won’t lie, being known as a singer and songwriter of a hard rock and metal band can be a little terrifying when releasing an entire acoustic album. I suppose I justify this under “musical curiosity”, hahahaha. Truth be told I’ve always been a wanderer of thoughts and feelings and conclusions and especially of music. I love all kinds of music. Always a metal head at heart but always curious. But I wasn’t sure how it would be received, at all. It was always a huge what if. I kept bringing myself back to the thing great artists say, if it is profound to me, it might touch other people the same way. Still so it was terrifying to think that all my fans could simply just tell me to go fuck myself. Like literally take this acoustic guitar and shove it right up your ass hahaha. I won’t say none did but the percentage is 97% positive so that’s very eye opening. I’m blessed and very grateful for the open hearts, open ears, and most noticeable, the open minds of all my fans and friends.
Q: DIE ALONE is utterly beautiful and so very vulnerable. When writing songs like this is it a harder element or does it get created easier knowing its true emotion being released?
A: I’m impressed by how much attention to the creative process you’re paying. I dig it! Let’s see, well, DIE ALONE is for sure a special song. Just when I had lost faith in music magic, this song appeared to me. It felt like the song literally fell out of thin air in a moment of expression and seclusion. The chords are not foreign to songs I’ve written in the past, but they come from a different intention, they’re squared differently. In being influenced by broad stroke of music and always looking for the in-betweens, you begin to find where lies the unknown, the place that presents a song completely finished to your mind. From there it took about 3-4hrs to understand it, decode it, and track it. In DIE ALONE I speak these actual personal experiences in order to accept them and to finalize the transition within me. It’s a song that can definitely make some people feel uncomfortable. Like you’re in a room with a person that is telling you how they feel about you breaking their heart. Then they begin to tell you how the pain you put them through is what they needed to live through in order to let go of you. When you let go, that person no longer controls you and the cycle is reversed. Did I mention how weird it is that the song literally fell out of my head. Once I had the chords, the time signature, the voicings, everything else literally came together in a matter of couple hours. It was recorded finalized before I could second guess anything. Safe to say I second-guessed a couple other parts on the album but DIE ALONE we kept it pure to its initial birth. It didn’t need anything else. You can say it’s a sad song that has beauty & hope behind it. That by accepting the things we cannot control, whether they be about love, friendship, loss of a loved one, we let go of resentment and pain that may have been the cause of our suffering.
Q: With the message attached to DIE ALONE. What is the best advice you can give people about personal development and growing? For you what has been the biggest growth within yourself?
A: Sometime around 2018 I started having life affirming realizations, both dealing with my love life, my business life, and myself. It became more and more apparent and inevitable that I would need to go through a challenging phase, both is my separation at home, and also moving past a band that I found, developed, and established. I knew that in accepting a new beginning also came a lot of liberation. I think one of the biggest life experiences that drove me into a world of wonder and confusion, was the death of my grandmother. My grandmother was always the heart of the family. Her love was so sincere and so profound that she changed people with her personality. She had fought long and she knew it was her time. When she passed my mother, my sister, and I were with her. I am so grateful for that. We were able to hold her, hug her, talk to her, tell her how much we loved her, we did that until her very last breath. After she died we thought the hospital would kick us out immediately, but they knew the weeks long struggle my grandmother had gone through, they knew how much it had affected the family. So they let us stay in the room holding her, we prayed, we cried, we were grateful for her life, for having had her in ours. In my mind she was an angel. I can’t really say I’m a big religious person but I am always in search of the guidance of the spirit, whatever that may be. Losing my grandmother began a long path of growth into what you hear on my acoustic album. The road has been a little bumpy and some emotions fly high, but it’s all genuine, there’s no gimmick here.
Q: In the past you have bilingually sang on this album it tends to be more prominent. What is the biggest obstacle writing in this fashion?
A: I can’t really say that there is any obstacle. I think that having grown up in mostly Spanish-speaking countries until the age of 13 helped me dissect words a little bit different by the time I got to the United States and learned how to speak English. This album, I suppose the Spanglish a little bit more prominent, perhaps because there’s a very strong personal and genuine quality about the music and the lyrics on this album. That in itself drove me deeper to the core of what I really am, simply a Latino American. And then the words fell out of my head. Hard to explain but, I came to this country as a young boy who adored what America culture and American beliefs stood for. This country afforded my family everything that we have now. We are not perfect but together we have an amazing Country. My family fled Venezuela right before Hugo Chavez unraveled his communist ideals and later power. My family comes from a long tradition of political involvement. I don’t if out of stupidity or out of necessity. In South America it’s like that. But we were a political family. We were part of the political party that opposed Chavez during his campaigning. It was a conservative movement perhaps but it was for democracy. Venezuela during those times was an amazing prosperous nation. Sadly, little by little with each new politician that made oil money the country’s life blood, ultimately 50% of Venezuelans wound up living in poverty. My mother, my sister, and I were very lucky to get out when we did. They did not allow my stepfather to exit. He still lives there till this day with his wonderful wife. Unfortunately, he struggles to get simple things like clean water, food, and medication. The medication for his diabetes has to be shipped by someone else in our family from Uruguay. It’s safe to say that the circumstances in Venezuela are tragic. Looking back, it was my grandmother who first came to the USA, she fell in love with an American gentleman who eventually sent a letter to the Venezuelan government pleading that they let us go visit her grandmother. Everything after that is history. They gave us visas, we got flights, we came to the USA and we stayed past our visas. Soon as we had a chance we applied for residency, my sister and I enrolled in American schools, became A+ students, and grew into the culture of New York City. The Spanglish and NYC are synonymous.
Q: Recording wise it looks like you took some new approaches as in live recording, single mic style, were these approaches something you needed and wanted for the overall vibe of the album? What was the biggest learning experience in the studio with this disc?
A: After recording 10+ years using multi-tracking recording techniques, it was a little scary. There was not going to be any punching in takes a dozen times, or recording every instrument separately, or copying and pasting performances, or fixing individual performances in the box, none of that, all of that was out the window. I think the scariest was using only four microphones to capture the entire performance. But it all worked. David Chesky, Jeff Lanier, and Nick have a way of doing things and they sound great. We knew the way they make every album nowadays, and we were doing everything that was the opposite of that. As cool as it “felt”, there was a lot of responsibly that came along with accepting that. We knew we wanted to make an acoustic album, acoustic guitars are unrelenting, you hear any subtle mistake. And we knew we wanted the album to be as organic as possible, as genuine as possible. We did about 3-5 takes per song, really kept it simple. Lots of focus and true heart put into every note. The proposition to record how they used to back in the day, felt great and sounded fun. That being said, it was challenging and helped me grow tremendously as a musician.
Q: I love you threw in a new version of HOW CAN I LIVE! one of my all-time favorites, and NUMB What made you want to attach these songs to your solo album? What have these songs meant to you through the years?
A: Well those are two songs that as Nino we could never figure out how to do in an acoustic environment without it feeling over tried or not genuine. I admit I myself struggled with it back in the day, but the bulk of the issues stemmed from the way the band wanted the guitars tuned, and also the voicings of the chords, where the chords are played on the neck, inversion, suspension, blah blah blah!!! Hahahaha! I definitely got to give my homie Conrado Pesinato credit, being the guitar ninja that he is, he worked tirelessly with me in order to get the chords and the voicing to represent this song the right way. NUMB was not as challenging. This one we had to reach and stir and massage. The irony was that it all simply needed to be done on a standard tuned guitar and worked backwards more delicately.
Q: What do you hope fans walk away with after hearing this album and learn about you through these songs?
A: I hope they walk away thinking that this is an album that they will want to keep listening to forever. That this is an album they can adore and keep coming back to listen to for decades. That this album connects with them on a deeper level. That’s why I make music I guess. It’s not for the money, it's not for the glamour. So I guess if they consider my album a "timeless record”, I would consider it a success. Music is mainly made to connect us more to each other, to our own feelings, and I’d love for these songs to last as long as possible and to reach as many people as possible.
Q: 2020 has been a real downside to the music world other than working on this album. I saw you joined up with the guys in Dopesick for a song. How was that and how was it when you get to contribute on tracks with other bands?
A: I love working with other bands and contributing to different approaches in other artist’s music. I do a lot of production with regional acts. The Dopesick track came out of being in Ill Niño. Adam liked the band, Dave was helping him, and he asked me to lend a hand. I did so. Was very grateful to work with him. I’ve also co-produced a Monuments album, a Leeway album, a Voodoo Terror Tribe album, also an Amerakin Overdose album.
Q: What is the most important thing about music/art that can help people in your opinion?
A: Probably one of the most important things would be to help us understand the distances and also fine lines between reality, fantasy, consciousness, and our emotions. Music really is what our feelings sound like. I suppose in a world where there is beauty but still so many people suffer, this is a piece of the ying and yang of it all, music.
Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone you admire and why you admire them?
A: I admire the band called Ours and Jimmy Gnecco. Before I was in Ill Niño I was in a band called Headclamp. We used to play with Ours in the Hoboken NJ music scene. Always truly a unique and genius band. They later went on to sign a record deal and make albums with Rick Rubin. And despite not having reached the true stadium status they deserve, they will inspire artists forever. Thank you Ours.
DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY Michael Vampire gets personal with DOVES IN GLASS HOUSES By Stephanie Stevens
Can I get a AMEN for rock n roll!! In the world right now, a calming sense of reality is music! Rock n roll artists are busting at the seams with emotions, creativity and a thirst to interact again with fans and people. Michael Vampire, a man and artist who has in the last few years came into his own as a musician and individual is ready to bring you into the next chapter of his band, DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY.
On Devils Night (October 30th, 2020) the band is set to release the sophomore album DOVES IN GLASS HOUSES, on Mission Two Entertainment.
To some who may not be familiar with the band, let’s go back for a second. In 2018 the debut album ALCHEMY came out and harnessed chart topping singles in I’LL FIND A WAY and NO WAY OUT. Tons of tours, which lead to exposure like no other put DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY on the map and put a bug in people’s hearts and ears that the future of rock n roll is authentic, real, raw and not dying anytime soon.
I was an instant fan back then and now with DOVES IN GLASS HOUSES they haven’t swayed me at all it just made me appreciate them more. They honed and focused in on the real sound and vibe of the band. From start to finish this album is rich with dark melodic attributes, full of adrenaline and is in your face with hard n heavy affects.
Michaels voice has developed and matured since ALCHEMY in the best way possible. The album storylines and lyrics dig deep into the emotions, traumas and hopes and dreams. Diving into the intimate and real emotions enhances each and every track and just makes for an incredible piece of work from start to finish!
The band’s first single THIS IS WAR was hard n heavy bleeding words of hope and perseverance to fight and win in any war you are fighting! The bands newest single, ADDICTED TO YOURHEART, has a high energy and dark essence, a track that cries out about emotional trauma. It’s a dark haunting love disaster! BLACKOUT, the opening track to the album gives you a small dose of the rest of the disc as it intertwines aggressive power and melodic calmness. BLEEDING FAITH will hype you up with the adrenaline with a good mix of hard and soft musical moments. With the album having so many avenues to go down and engulf your senses into the one that will make you stop and really inhale it all to me was the last track, INSIDE OUT. I don’t know if impeccable is even the word to fully promote this track but it’s the word that kept coming into my thoughts with every listen. If the band doesn’t make this a single and do a video it would be a shame. This song is everything from the clear vocal parts where you can see the elegance and the growth in talent of Michaels voice it just makes the song stand out beyond anything. The strings, the piano the ambiance leading you into a chorus that is one-part alluring one-part beauty, this track to me is a pure masterpiece.
A real rock band is here and is gearing to put out an album they should be so proud of.
I had a chance to speak with singer/front man/songwriter Michael Vampire about the new album, his insight on some songs off the disc, how he views the journey with DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY and what he feels is his biggest growth with his artistry.
Q: What was the mindset going into the musical vision of the sound and textures for this new disc, DOVES IN GLASS HOUSES?
A: In 2019 we were traveling and doing some radio fests. We got to share the stage with some childhood favorites & really got inspired from that. I knew from that point on I wanted to tackle a fresh sound. I came from a harder background! I started off playing bass & eventually added background screaming. When I started Vampires Everywhere in 2010 is when I started adding in melodic vocals to my arsenal. Since then I have been perfecting my singing & becoming very comfortable with my sound. When Ronnie Radke & I recorded "Alchemy" in 2017 I was pushed far behind my vocals limits! I sang a full octave higher than I have ever sung in my life. It was a challenge!! So this time around recording DIGH I wanted to stay in my natural vocal range to give the best performance possible. This turned out to be the key element the band was missing. It was also refreshing sitting down & writing lyrics again! It's one of my favorite things to do! I can confidently say this is my best work yet!
Q: Lyrically you got really raw and vulnerable it seems throughout the album and also just the name of the album tells a tale of someone wanting to be heard. What made you want to sit down and work through personal issues from within you?
A: My biggest pet peeve in life is being fake! I cannot stand fabricating tales about a life I do not live! A lot of people meet me & expect me to be a certain way. Then they find out I'm well above the insanity level they previously thought! I write from personal experiences. It is literally my therapy. I tend to be a cold person. I did not get the warm fuzzy love a lot of people get growing up. My parents loved me but kisses were not on the menu haha. So I started hiding my feelings. So this "life process" gave me the creative juice to just "word vomit" into my notes on my phone! It just pours out of me! I can literally write a full song including melodies in 30 minutes. That being said I would really beat myself up if I wrote about subject matter that didn't have personal meaning to me.
Q: With DOVES IN GLASS HOUSES you also worked with 3 diverse producers, what was the goal in that game plan and did you have certain tracks for each producer?
A: So this is a very complicated question. To not start unwanted controversy between producers, I will just say we needed different ears on different tracks! I think all 3 producers did an outstanding job on their perspective tracks. I will say, never trust anyone & always follow your gut. This way you can make an informed decision based upon your needs. There are a lot of people in your ear telling you what's best. However, if you follow your initial gut feeling you'll never go wrong! I know that's hard in an industry like music.
Q: Back in the day when you were working on the debut album ALCHEMY I had read you said you did a 2-piece recording for that record because you had a EP ready to release and Victory signed you so you finished for a whole album. Was there pressure back in the day with knowing you had a solid EP but now you had to make a full length?
A: Yes! There was a shit ton of pressure going back into the studio to record more songs. This wasn't a pleasant process for me. It was more like a first rate education in pushing my limits! Singing someone else's songs & lyrics is like doing Karaoke in front of 10,000 people & not knowing the words or melodies. It was very hard. I am very proud of the outcome because Ronnie did a fantastic job reimagining my sound / voice. However, I am glad that experience is over & I'm back to writing my own material.
Q: I think ALCHEMY was a massively impressive album honestly, looking back on the success and what you guys were able to do tour wise and just door opening for the band how do you view the debut album and your proudest moment in that chapter?
A: I am extremely proud of the first chapter of DGA! It was a grind & super stressful! However, I live for moments like that & my drive to succeed is insane! We fought for every single inch! I lost tons & tons of money pushing the band. I wouldn't let one opportunity go by... good or bad! I went through countless lineups because touring is not easy & people expect instant success. Music is a passion & a lot of people think they have that passion only to find out they never did. It's a rough road!!
We did accomplish great things tho!! Hitting top 30 on rock radio was definitely one of them!! That was a childhood dream. Also, sharing the mainstage with Rob Zombie was insane for me! These small pieces helped motivate me to push harder & harder! I can say I'm more motivated now then I ever was in my life!!
Q: Getting back to the new album I want to throw up some tracks that impressed me and if you can give me a small detail of emotions you had writing them and what you hope fans get out of each of these particular songs?
1. GHOST OF ME
A: I went through a fucked relationship back in 2014! In fact, I never fully recovered from the abuse & pain of that situation. My father also died during that time & she showed me zero comfort. I even saw her laughing about it. This song is about my inner turmoil dealing with that situation. When shit is toxic it's hard to leave. You think you need that person & get addicted to the feeling. So this song was about my push & pull with that relationship ending.
2. INSIDE OUT
A: This is about my current GF Maxine. I am a very codependent person! I need her around all the time or I tend to get lonely & depressed. We have had a crazy relationship thus far, haha. She lived in Scotland & I only saw her 4-5 times a year. It was insane! Then she ended up moving to LA with me. Now as most of you know... living with a person is quite different from seeing a person from time to time. So it was a whole new learning experience getting to know each other's real personalities. It was a rollercoaster ride of insanity because she is just as crazy as me!! But as time went on she became the most important person in my life, besides my mother of course. So I decided to write a song about it all. Inside Out just poured out of me. It's one of my favorite tracks!!
A: This song is about finding your self-worth in a shitty relationship! Whether it be a friendship or a romantic one! I think finding your own self-worth is one of the most important qualities you can discover about yourself. Once you find your self-worth you can then start judging the other person you are with. You get to separate the lies from the truth. Then make an informed decision based on that.
4. And newest single ADDICTED TO YOUR HEART
A: This song is about being whole heartily addicted to a toxic relationship! It's kind of funny because you know the situation is a terrible one, yet you don't want it to end. You become a terrible masochist & crave more toxicity. I fell out of love with this person well before the relationship ended. However, I was so addicted to her problems that I wanted to stay & try to fix them. The only good thing that came out of this was the pain I harbor to write lyrics, haha!
Q: What inspired you to become a vocalist?
A: I was tired of dealing with the bullshit from other vocalists I was in bands with. It seemed they always had a problem & never dedicated themselves enough to the craft! So I took matters into my own hands & became the singer. This also gave me leverage to be more creative with the entire brand of the band. It was the best decision I ever made!
Q: Being an artist especially being a front man gives you the opportunity to have a platform where people will listen to you if you could tell your fans one thing about 2020 what would you want to let them know and help them if anyone is struggling with life at this moment?
A: This too shall pass! Don't feel like a victim!! Fight with everything you have inside of you. You are stronger than you think & your body is more resilient than you think! Listen to your gut & make informed decisions. 2020 is a scary time! So much uncertainty hovering around us! But these situations make us stronger & push us to succeed.
Q: Where do you see your biggest growth as a musician since the beginning of your music career to the point you are at now?
A: I have to say my singing!! When I started Vampires Everywhere in 2010 I was primarily a screamer! I had this gift to scream & for some reason I was able to scream on key! I was really looking forward to a fun career doing just that! However, on our debut EP the clean singer of the band lied about his talent & was unable to record in the studio. So the clean vocalist job fell on me! Haha. So, yeah that was fun! From 2010 till now I've been killing myself to become the best vocalist I can be! It has been a tough, tough road! However, I am super proud of myself for figuring it out! If you love something enough you will make great things happen!
Q: If you could bring back someone in the music world that has passed away and have them cover one of your songs, who would you bring back and what song would you hope they covered?
A: I would love to hear Chris Cornell Cover "INSIDE OUT"!! I fell in love with his voice when I was a kid! The first time I heard "Black hole Sun" I was hooked!!
Q: Empower someone and tell us your biggest inspiration and why they inspire you?
A: My biggest inspiration is my mother! She literally gave up everything to give me everything! She is my biggest fan & my biggest critic haha! Without her I wouldn't be where I am today! She kept me motivated & pushed me to achieve my dreams! She knows more about what's going on in the music scene than me! So that being said ...Thank you, mom for everything & I hope I can make you proud.
CASON DAY CHATS ABOUT HIS NEW SOLO PROJECT THE HOLY VEINS BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
Let’s get real everyone has had that moment you hear a new song and the lyrics just relate to your life or your thoughts. I was introduced to the newest single by THE HOLY VEINS called DROWN and the song just captured my everyday thoughts and parts of my life that was once a memory. It made me feel and reflect and when music can do that you know that an artist has a special thing, a talent and a dynamic perception to create authenticity. Cason Day is so raw, real, vulnerable and captivating in this track. DROWN has a synthetic bold and dance-esque tone; It’s like a poppy haunting atmospheric journey in a mere 4-minute song. THE HOLYVEINS is Cason Day’s solo project; DROWN is the first intimate insight into the EP, LOST MYMIN. And everything was written, produced, recorded and mixed in his studio in Brooklyn, NY, along with additional production by Cameron Bishop and mastering by Tanner Lackey. One-part musician one-part actor, Cason allows both to motivate, inspire and showcase his vision. When you have different outlets to bring out all creativeness in yourself, magic always happens; as you can see with this new project called THE HOLY VEINS. I had a chance to speak with Cason about just that, what he hopes to bring to the music community and the biggest downfall in the music world in the last few years.
Q: Who is THE HOLY VEINS and what do you hope to bring into the music community with this new band? A: THE HOLY VEINS is a musical movement. I want to bring back the energy, style, technique, originality, and showmanship that I feel a lot of music today is missing. I want to show the world what rock and roll should really be about.
Q: DROWN the band’s first single is showing a new wavish, synthy, pop rock artsy vibe. Who was your biggest inspiration when creating the new music? A: DROWN was immensely inspired by a lot of the 80s music I listen to – everything from Depeche Mode, to David Bowie, to Peter Gabriel. It also was inspired by some of my favorite modern bands – most notably Daft Punk and Muse.
Q: How does the rest of the record blend with what we are hearing on the single DROWN? A: DROWN is definitely the poppiest song by far! I do think it fits with the rest of the EP lyrically, and even the musical vibe is pretty similar between songs – regardless of genre. It’s all pretty alternative and dark, but energetic and catchy at the same time.
Q: You’re not only a musician and composer but you also act. Do you still act or is music and being a musician your main focus? A: I still act! I’m actually in talks at the moment to move forward with a few different film projects, but nothing I can announce yet. It’s definitely still an enormous part of my life.
Q: How has being an actor/acting element helped you being a performer and musician and vice versa? A: I think it all comes from the same place for me. Acting has definitely helped me to be more honest and vulnerable with an audience, and with myself. That translates pretty well to writing music – I definitely am able to embrace the music I’m feeling when I write. Acting also helps to perform in front of an audience in general/alleviate stage fright. Most of my professional acting has been in theatre, so I’m super thankful for the skillset that has given me. Improvisation is another thing I get to implement with both music and acting, and I think it’s a great skill to maintain.
Q: Your originally from Houston, TX did you start playing music there how did that atmosphere shape your views on music vs. Being in NYC? A: I started playing music in Houston! My first band was a metal core band called Strength In Shadows – the guitarist and I formed that band when I was about 16 years old. I played a lot of my first gigs in Houston. Both cities have their unique pros and cons. Houston might have fewer bands and musicians – less competition so-to-speak – but at the same time it has fewer resources and opportunities available. Both cities in my experience have a great sense of community, and each has their own super cool energy – I’m thankful to feel like I’m truly part of both.
Q: In the past 5 years or so where do you feel the biggest downfall in the music community been if any and how do you hope THE HOLY VEINS will help open eyes to change and a movement to make the music world a better place? A: This isn’t entirely specific to the past 5 years, but I think the biggest downfall by far is the way artists are compensated for their music. It’s criminal how poorly artists are paid by platforms like Spotify, and even iTunes or Apple Music. Especially now, during a pandemic, where touring is virtually impossible – it leaves so many incredible artists stranded and struggling to make ends meet, while the CEOs of these companies are making billions of dollars off of music they had no part in creating.
Q: What is the most important thing about music/art that can help people in your opinion? A: I think the sense of community music offers is unmatched. I’ve met some of my best friends in the world playing music and going to shows. It also creates a sense of community between artists and their fans when a song really speaks to the listener. It helps people feel part of something bigger, and something common, and I think that’s such a beautiful thing. Music is so cathartic for all involved.
Q: If you could give people struggling with finding a passion they love to do; what advice would you tell them? A: I would tell them to keep searching. Don’t give up, because when you find it, the joy and fulfillment it brings you will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced. And when you do find it, don’t ever stop chasing it. Don’t ever stop chasing the reason it became your passion in the first place. Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them? A: Tillett St. James is one of the most talented singers and songwriters I have ever met. I’ve been lucky enough to play in a couple bands with him at this point, but even his solo stuff absolutely blows me away. His sense of storytelling, melody, harmony, and his singing voice itself are absolutely incredible. He’s one of the best in the world, and certainly one of my favorites. I’m incredibly honored to call him a collaborator and one of my best friends.
MAKING A BUZZ IN THE MUSIC COMMUNITY BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
Do what you love and do it with conviction and with every ounce of passion you have in you. With that dedication and work ethic and consistently believing in your brand and art you best believe you will achieve your dreams and get to soar into uncharted territories in a good way!
Illinois based Alternative Metal band ALBORN did just that with the unique, hard and melodic music that was released on the band’s debut EP IMPAIRATIVE. Solidifying a loyal fan base and the support and leadership of some heavy hitters in the business the guys are on track of making a pretty impressive and lasting impression in the rock n roll community in 2020.
ALBORN is: Justin Taylor: Lead Vocals & Guitar, Nate Guske: Guitar & Vocals, Alex Raser: Drums & Screams, Zame Lewis: Bass, the guys seduce your senses with vocal harmonies that ooze with melody. Incorporate some heavy guitars and some wrap that up with some solid and penetrating groove from bass and drums you pretty much get an idea of the bands newest single FULL CIRCLE that is hitting airwaves and making fans of critics and fans of heavy music worldwide. attitude and the grinding and heavy backdrop of music.
I had a chance to speak with drummer Alex Raser about being a cover band starting out, having Morgan Rose of Sevendust a fan of the band and a mentor to the band, covering an Alice In Chains tune and how he views the future of the music Industry!
Q: ALBORN was formed from a cover band, what was it that made you guys realize that your writing style could make some really good original music?
A: We always had the ambition to be an original band from the start, but due to our non-existent notoriety at the beginning, playing cover shows at bars and smaller venues was our foot in the door to establishing a fan base, as well as learn ourselves and what kind of genre we really wanted to pursue. Once we started to gain traction, it was a quick transition from full 4-hour cover shows, to mixing in some originals into our sets, to now playing exclusively all original shows.
Q: Being from Northern IL how has the scene encouraged you guys as musicians and what is something about the scene there that people would be surprised to know about?
A: The scene in a normal non-pandemic ridden time is actually very much alive around here. Shows every weekend in the Quad Cities, Rockford, and surrounding areas ensure that bands always have somewhere to play and venues have bands to fill slots and bring customers. Everyone cares about the success of each other and all want to see good things happening for the scene. That's one thing we all take great pride in!
Q: A band always has a team behind it motivating and encouraging them. Tell us how Morgan Rose of Sevendust has helped you guys grow and become a better band?
A: When we first started working with him, he was brought in to assist in co-writing and co-producing music with us. Once he established an interest in the music itself and saw what we were trying to do, he was quick to start spreading our name and product, as well as help guide us in the direction we want to go, which is UP. That comes in the form of offering advice, educating us on the ever-evolving industry, introducing us to important people, and played a major part in helping us sign a distribution deal with a record label that he is very much involved in, Imagen Records.
Q: He was quoted as saying you guys refused to conform to a formula and a trend, how do you as musicians lock out current genres and trends to be real with yourself?
A: It's not that we literally steer clear of any and all formulas used by other bands out there. Everybody uses them sometimes. We are just trying to create something fresh and organic. We all listen to many different types of music for influence, so that plays a big part. We tend to try to mix different vibes of different genres and letting it flow out on its own, rather than saying "We're this type of music so we have to make these types of songs."
Q: At the end of August you released a EP IMPAIRATIVE that captures a solid heavy vibe with moving melodic tones. My favorite was LET ME BLEED. What do you hope people walk away with after that track is done?
A: That track is actually relevant to the previous question. Lyrically, it revolves around doing what you love to do in your own way. And whether you fail or succeed, you learned from your own actions, rather than blindly following in others' footsteps not knowing when you might make the same mistake as the previous. Musically, we just wanted the track to hit hard and sound big. So, hopefully people might take away some inspiration to be and do your own, as well as have a sore neck after jamming it haha
Q: You covered a cover of Alice in Chains tune WE DIE YOUNG, what did the band and that song mean to you and was there any challenges covering the track?
A: Alice in Chains is one of our biggest influences, so when we decided we wanted to cover a song, we thought it necessary to take a crack at and AiC tune and try to put a modern spin on it without drifting too far from that core of that song. It really wasn't too much of a challenge, being a fairly straightforward tune. We were just very focused on captivating the power that song has and incorporating our sound into it.
Q: Just recently you guys turned out another single FULL CIRCLE, this song lyric wise wrote itself in a way, what was it about the music that guided you to the storyline and lyrics that was the end result?
A: It was actually the main intro riff itself that established what the song was going to be about. That riff is MUCH older than the rest of the song, and we were struggling to write anything around it for the better part of a year, but we knew we loved it so it always seemed to get brought up in practice or writing sessions until we finally were able to bring to the studio and get some assistance in finishing it from Morgan and our producer, Jose Urquiza.
Q: 2020 for everyone has been a trying year and with music and as artists you guys have a platform in getting your emotions out. What would you tell people who are having a hard time dealing with stuff and no outlet to let things out?
A: Everyone's situation is different, but personal hobbies are a lifesaver. Always make time to do what you love, and surround yourself with positive reinforcement and people who want to see you succeed. Taking your mind off of these trying times for even a few minutes every day can make a world of difference.
Q: How do you feel the music industry is going to change moving forward and have you guys had any worries about your future as a band?
A: Honestly, there's no telling what it's going to do, especially after this year of basically being shut down. We are just hoping things return to normal very soon so we can get back out and play to our people. Our future is always on our minds, but we are a very hardworking band from all angles and we are always doing everything we can to keep growing, so worrying about what may or may not happen is wasted effort.
Q: Growing up who inspired you to become a musician and how has that person impacted your life to this day?
A: Morgan has been a huge influence of mine since I started playing drums. Power and dynamic is his forte, and never ceases to compliment his band's songs in the best way. That's what I am always looking to achieve in our music is to write the best parts to compliment the songs. It's an honor to be able to work with him and his team as closely as we do, and has helped us grow in ways we once thought unimaginable.
Q: If you could sit one artist down and ask them any question what would it be and why that person?
A: Alex - Danny Carey from Tool: Why the hell would you write music and lyrics following sophisticated mathematic formulas? I've always been fascinated by what drove them to make that decision; whether it be that they thought the general public would actually comprehend it, or just sheer curiosity in seeing if it could be done.
Q: What does it feel like hearing your music on the radio and where and what were you doing the first time that happen?
A: It's honestly hard to describe the feeling. It is truly surreal. The first time we ever heard ourselves played by a radio DJ was about 5 years ago by an internet-based station from the Quad Cities called Nacho Radio. Justin and I were working on a broken down lawnmower in our buddies shed in the freezing cold, warming ourselves with Red Yummies (Budweiser in a can).
Q: What is the weirdest thing about doing an interview and talking about yourself and the band?
A: One of our main goals is to stay humble. We never brag ourselves up or anything, so we just try our best to be strictly informative in answering questions, which can be difficult at times because we take great pride in our product and can sometimes get overly excited, especially if the interviewer is a big fan haha
Q: If you could live a dual life and have one part be a rock star what other life would you love to have?
A: I've been avid in video games since I can remember, so I always say if I had the knowledge and skill I would be a pro gamer. Might sound funny to some, but I absolutely love seeing how well that industry has taken off and how so many people have been able to make a career out of something they were once scolded for doing too much of.
Q: Have you been able to get out and do any type of live shows and if so how was it and if not have you thought about jumping on the livestream wagon to get a sense of live performance?
A: We have only done one show since the outbreak in March, and it was amazing. You could tell that everyone in attendance missed the live music scene just as much as we did. We actually did do a "Corona Sessions" dealio back in April, but it was not live-streamed due to being in a remote location with terrible internet signal.
Q: For the rest of 2020 do you guys have anything planned or lined up?
A: Nothing solidified as far as touring or gigging goes. We are just trying to create as much music and content as we can in this down time so we can come out of the gate guns blazing as soon as we're given the green light.
Q: And lastly, how can people listen, support and promote ALBORN?
A: We are active on all major social media platforms (FB, Twitter, Instagram) and streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, etc). We also have our own website, (www.albornmusic.com) where one can see upcoming shows, shop for merch, read up on the band and all that fun stuff.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE BAND: WWW.ALBORNMUSIC.COM FACEBOOK: @ALBORNOFFICIAL YOUTUBE: @ALBORNOFFICIAL INSTAGRAM: @ALBORNOFFICIAL TWITTER: @ALBORNOFFICIAL
THE REVELATION IS BACK REV THEORY Guitarist JULIEN JØRGENSEN chats about the Resurrection of the band, Single and Future! By: Stephanie Stevens
I love a story of finding your voice again when you think you’re in the darkest place. I love a story of finding your reason for life and passion; then taking that energy and going full force into reemerging and releasing your true self. That is survival people and the gentleman, Julien Jorgensen and Matty McCloskey have not only done that but come alive with the new single REMEMBER ME? REV THEORY is alive and well with a new vision a new attitude and fire inside them that has bled out into this newest single. On a truly serious note, why hasn’t Matty been singing from the beginning!! This guy has a sound that is so raw powerful, gritty and appealing to rock radio. REMEMBER ME? On a musical level shines with no hold barred attitude, stinging elements of hard rock spirit and melody driven signatures the band has always possessed.
I had a chance to speak with guitarist, Julien Jorgensen about the start of the new Revelation, The Rev Fans and how he feels the band has evolved.
Q: First off Welcome back!!! Can you let people know what was the moment you knew REV THEORY still had life and what inspired it?
A: Why thank you!! I think we knew over a year ago, I had been stricken with a pretty bad neck and back injury and I had been dealing with depression to a level I had never before, Darkest hours, turned to the Revelation Theory community, posted up BROKEN BONES and asked if anyone could feel me right now. The response was palpable, I realized that we had something that most outfits struggled with, we had a heartbeat, something that people were still moved by, and that in turn moved me in the right direction. Dean O from DNS agency had kept in contact with me, and asked if it was something I was still interested in doing, I reached out to Matty and the rest is becoming history. ☠ Q: What was it about Matty and his vocal abilities you guys knew he had to take the helm?
A: I always knew that Matty was a special singer and artist, we had been making our own recordings, writing and producing our own songs and Matty had been singing on them, as early as ‘OVER THE LINE’ from TIC, he sang on the demos for much of “THE REVELATION’ He just had a hunger and dynamism, an inherent rage that I felt if we cultivated could make him a heavy weight. ☠ Q: Have you enlisted other musicians to round out the band?
A: Not yet we have identified a number of incredible creative collaborators, such as V from Violent Idols, and Mogli on the visual end, we are going to keep it focused and tight, and if and when we hit the Live button we will figure out what we need and bring on board the death squad. ☠ Q: You guys kept the band name also, was there any thought on a change and what has the past Rev Theory band name mean to you?
A: We have always been REVELATION THEORY, we just shortened it when we signed with Interscope, it will always stand for REVELATION THEORY. And the Revelation OG’s feel me out there. I think more than ever there is an underlying connection to all those knowing or unknowing addicts of the apocalypse. We live in a constant state of hoping for the Revelation, however religiously misguided it fuels progress with an internal compass. That being said a name is a name is a name, so we don’t think it matters, what matters is the music. ☠ Q: REMEMBER ME?, first track back and you guys have taken control from producing the song to the video. Had you always been hands on, and if not how does it feel to have a full control on everything?
A: It feels GRRRRREAT! Lol! Really though we have always dreamed to have this opportunity where we could play creative quarterback on all things art and on the business side, so to have the partners in DNS and FUEL that just let us be creative on ideation on both the music and visual is truly a quantum leap forward for us. Matty and I have always had a very healthy creative relationship and we’ve both learned so much over the years, mostly by failing over and over again, but that being said, at this point in our careers, we feel we are ready for this responsibility. ☠ Q: How do you feel as musicians you guys have evolved since the release of THE REVELATION? A: Well to be honest I am still a hack on the guitar, a complete monkey lol, I can’t speak for Matty but I feel I have evolved my approach, beginning with experimenting with tones and structure, orchestration and applying more color when creating. I have been thinking deeply about the philosophy of sound and art in general. Why we make things, our deepest intentions. This, in the end, is what I feel we will all be remembered for. ☠ Q: You guys had said something about a band being a business. Had you always had that ideology about it and also do you feel a lot of bands fall off because that don’t have that mentality, they think it’s just making songs and rocking!
A: Well we learned the hard way, by failing, we failed on an animated series, and on a podcast, and then in our business, time and time again. Because of all that miss stepping, it has allowed us the perspective to make the necessary adjustments, like any business, you have to pivot to survive and thankfully now we are retooled and refocused, taking all those failures and applying the knowledge of what not to do, that is the gold. ☠ Q: Are you focusing on finishing a full length or do you feel in this time and age of the music world singles are the way to go to keep fans motivated?
A: I think album, but dripped out in singles, as we toy with the idea of alternate universes, we can also experiment with alternate timelines, we are light years ahead in our thinking about how to connect with people all over the world but the industry is still mainly stuck in an older slower archaic model, make record, single go to radio, tour, promote, repeat. I’d like, with this new generation of REVELATION THEORY apply, a single by single release every 4-6 weeks, culminating into an album release at the end with a new refocused approach globally on what’s working and where. During this timeline, we can still go to radio having the traditional radio. That way everyone can win and in places where things are resonating we can add FUEL to fire creating a bigger splash and ultimately reaching more people for years to come. ☠ Q: What does it mean to you that fans are still here for you and supporting you and has that been a big factor of going forward?
A: The fans are everything, it’s our only advantage, we have absolutely no support from anyone else, just our internal team and the RT faithful. You can’t build anything from smoke and mirrors and in today’s day and age we all have the same access to distribution which was before controlled by a select hierarchy, so if today we have access to the fans, why would need the industry insiders, or any or the old model parrots. What we do need right now is marketing dollars but only to reach ACTUAL FANS. Sadly, FB creates paywalls to advertise and promote to your own community, and Apple, Spotify, and the rest of the DSP’s keep it secret as to peoples specific profiles, once we break down those barriers, the skies the limit! ☠ Q: Have you guys started a record label also? Or did i just dream that?
Yes! Five Mønkey! ☠ Q: If you could give people struggling with going full-fledged into a passion they love but afraid of failing what advice would you tell them?
A: I would say, it’s not failing, its learning, and if you learn enough by failing, and if you have the whit’s to be self-effacing and to make course corrections in your approach then you will turn that failure in wisdom and knowledge, which ultimately will be the power you will need to succeed. ☠ Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them?
A: Henry Rollins. I am just enamored by his life and am so inspired by commitment to the arts, as an artist, as a thinker, I think he is driven by that compass that moves us without a knowing of why.
Boston Guitarist Eric Pellegrini talks about new album Vol. II - Power Games By: Stephanie Stevens
Something wicked will be coming from local guitarist/artists @ericpmetal I had the chance to find out about his newest instrumental album and get to know this New England musician a little bit more
Q: Who are you (what band are you in if you have one?) What do you play?
A:My name is Eric Pellegrini & I am currently a solo artist from the Boston area. I mostly play guitar, I’ve been playing for 26 years now but sometimes I like to do vocals as well.
Q: What INSPIRED you to be the artist you are today?
A: A lot of what’s inspired me now as an artist has been my travels & experiences. I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of it & I like experiencing the different ways & cultures. Especially the music from the current popular metal styles to any kind of native or folk guitar styles. I’ve seen some amazing stuff outside of metal & it’s really inspired me to branch out & learn other styles.
Q: What recently have you been working on or have finished that you are promoting that you want to tell the music community?
A: I have just completed my 2nd full length record entitled, “Vol. II - Power Games”. It will be out on December 4th, 2020. It will be available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Google, Youtube, Spotify, & more. It’s 8 tracks, 1 cover, all instrumental. I’d say musically it’s a mix between symphonic, industrial, & a little bit of world music all in a death metal context.
Q: Where do you see your biggest growth as a musician from your starting point to now?
A: I think my biggest growth as a musician was knowing that I can do it on my own. The tools & tutorials are out there to get everything done. In these times everything is downloadable to your computer. You have to put the work in by learning & then doing. It can take some time but it is possible.
Q: If you could collab on a cover with any artists alive or dead who would it be and what song would you want cover with them?
A: Chuck Schuldiner. He’s a big inspiration as a guitarist. I learned a lot of his stuff growing up. I would definitely like to jam out on some of his tunes. I think I’d also like to just sit down & learn from him more than anything. With all of experience playing & writing, there’s probably a lot to take in.
Q: What is the most important thing about music/art that can help people in your opinion?
A: In my opinion, art, no matter what kind it is (music, writing, painting, sculpting, all kinds) is great for the mind. In my personal life there have been countless times where I picked up the guitar when I was mad instead of doing something crazy & I had a new song or close to it by the end of the night & a completely changed mindset. Art can be a great way to turn something negative into something positive & productive.
Q: What do you hope people will remember most about ur art/music?
A: That I’m passionate about what I do. I’m not trying to be the fastest player or write the most complex stuff possible. I’ve enjoyed playing & writing music since I’ve started & I really want that passion to shine through more than anything else.
Q: If you could give people struggling with finding a passion they love to do, what advice would you tell them?
A: If you’re struggling to find a passion then I would say try everything & see what you don’t like. Eventually you’ll start narrowing down your list & you’ll start finding things you really enjoy. It’ll happen & by trying a lot of things, you will learn about yourself as well.
Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them?
A: John 5, @john5official another great guitarist & songwriter that I’d like to sit down with & learn from. His solo work is great & he taps into a lot of different styles. He can be really heavy on one song & then switch it up to Spanish guitars on the next. I like his imagery too. It’s gothic & fun. I’ve seen him live a few times & his solo shows are always great to watch. There’s always a lot going on.
Bassist Jymmy Tolland talks about; New music, making covers and tells us who inspires him By: Stephanie Stevens
The vocal harmony infused rock band THE LONELY ONES made the band’s debut blast back onto the scene in March 2020 and has been releasing straight fire since then. The debut song THE LONELY ONE had rock fans pumping their fists and singing along to this melodic, catchy and vocal rich little ditty. ETERNAL SADNESS had the quirky and uplifting energy dosage of melody driven rock spirits but burns with a very important and lyrically potent message about depression. The guys weren’t done yet and went into full blown inspiration as they conquered and covered a classic Queen song, FLASH/THE HERO which got the attention of members of the band themselves and put the band in the zone! With the guys on a creative journey they have just recently released some REAL BIG TROUBLE with the bands newest release. Marty McCoy—guitar/vocals, Jake Earley-guitar/vocals, Tommy Johnson-drums and Jymmy Tolland—bass/vocals are always pushing the boundaries in songwriting, one of the hardest working bands out there in today’s genre and probably the biggest road warriors out in the scene. I had a chance to catch up with bassist Jymmy Tolland and ask him about the future for them on touring, the new songs and band and who inspires him.
Q: THE LONELY ONES, you guys made your debut right when the craziness of 2020 happened. How have you dealt with the changes in the music world and has it in anyway affected your plans for the band?
A: Covid completely changed our plans for 2020. We released our 1st single the same week that most states shut down their entire economies. We are experienced and are most comfortable on stage, so we've had to focus and pivot on putting our energy into releasing more music and more videos. This is new for us but is definitely been a fun experience.
Q:You guys had a band name change why did you decide on a new identity and how is your mindset and focus on music evolved with the new band?
A: This is not just a name change. This is a completely new band with new ideals, a new sound, and a new brand entirely. We started THE LONELY ONES with the intent of creating with no prior expectation about what we would end up with.
Q: ETERNAL SADNESS was your first release and a huge signature, but for me seems to be a more layered and intricate song compared to older tunes. How would you describe the musical vision you had when going into write this one?
A: I think ETERNAL SADNESS is a pretty good mission statement for what we created early on in our career as musicians. We have vintage rock and roll influences but all want to put a much more modern and heavier twist on them. Vocal harmonies are also extremely important to us and I don't think we will create anything without them.
Q: Lyrically you touch on a very important reality driven concern about suicide. Why was this something to release now and do you have advice for people going through troubled times?
A: We picked ETERNAL SADNESS for the reasons I already said. It just so happened that we released it the same week as a major cultural shift that really put mental health in the forefront of a lot of people's minds. Hopefully it gave some people some insight but I would be lying if I said the timing was intentional.
Q: The video for the single is totally your style for visual impact to your songs. Who came up with the idea and how was the shooting process?
A: Thank you. Marty, and myself along with Keith Williams of Island Road Media all shared directing duty for the musical performance aspect of the ETERNAL SADNESS video. All of the story line was completely from Marty's head, though. He did a great job putting what was in his mind to film, alongside Keith.
Q: Your Queen cover got some great words from the guys of the band. How do you even take a hold of words from the creators like that?
A: I'm going to get Brian May and Sam Jones's quotes about our Queen cover printed, framed and hung on my wall. I think that says it all
Q: In your career you have done other covers how do you even approach taking another artists music for yourself and is there anyone that you wouldn’t touch?
A: No. In fact, untouchable covers are specifically the ones I think are most interesting to take on. In my career I've helped cover Pink Floyd and Queen. A No. In fact, untouchable covers are specifically the ones I think are most interesting to take on. In my career I've helped cover Pink Floyd and Queen and I think that that is about as untouchable as you can get.
Q: REAL BIG TROUBLE is the newest rocker you just released. Can you go into how this song even came to life and what inspired it?
A: Marty had the first part of the chorus written and showed it to both Jake and I. The 3 of us sat in Jake's living room and traded ideas back-and-forth until we had a finished version of the song. It was surprisingly organic and, for us, an unusual way to come up with the heaviest song that we have recorded so far.
Q: Once everything is cleared and u guys can road warrior tour again, will that be the most important thing for your band? Do u feel touring is the best way to make money and get networking these days in this business?
A: Yes. 100%. I can't wait to get back out on the road and do my favorite thing in the world. It is the best thing for my soul and for the band's bank account.
Q: What do u want your legacy to be when this is all said and done?
A: The best.
Q: How can people support and help you guys for the time being as the new album and music gets out there?
A: We currently have a small merchandise store available that you can find on all of our social media. Between buying a T-shirt and streaming and more importantly buying our songs on Apple music or Spotify you can really help support us in a time like this.
Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them?
A: It's cliché but I really admired Dave Grohl for his ability turn any possible scenario into the best possible outcome.
Connect with the band: Instagram: @thelonelyonesband Facebook: @thelonelyones
THEM interview with guitarist Markus Johansson BY STEPHANIE STEVENS
THEM a German/American theatrical heavy metal band comprised of Klaus Konig—vocals, Markus Ullrich-guitar, Markus Johansson-guitar, Mike Lepond—bass, Angel Cotte-drums and Richard Seibel-keys are making waves with the bands metal roots and horror/fantasy epic conceptual tale that began with the band’s debut disc, SWEET HOLLOW and follow up MANOR OF THE SE7EN GABLES. A lyrical story of a man caught between unfortunate circumstances and unspeakable evil. On Oct. 30th, 2020 the story continues with the third installment entitled RETURN TO HEMMERSMOOR on SPV/Steamhammer. The band hits you hard with layers of pure power metal, guitar aggressive ambiance, thrash elements and progressive metal attributes. With BATTLE BLOOD, the first single/video out for your listening ears you can hear the maturity and growth the band has produced with writing this new album. I think it’s just the ice breaker of some intense, impeccable and diverse playing from this globally enriched band. I had a chance to speak with guitar player Phenom, Markus Johansson about where the band started from, touring with Helloween, and his favorite tracks off the new album.
Q: For music fans who might be new to the band THEM can you tell me what inspired you guys to start a project like this and personally what did this band help enhance in your guitar playing?
A: The band was originally a King Diamond tribute act, THEM being the name of one of King's all time legendary albums. Our singer Troy (KK) wanted to take things to the next level with originals, and he then started to build what would become the current formation of the band. As far as guitar skill enhancement, ULLE and I are both cut from the same mold, so we love the same things, and want to play the same things more or less, haha. That said, you cannot be in this band if you don't stay on top of your shit.
Q: your debut album SWEET HOLLOW was a concept album, who came up with the story idea and how is writing an album conceptually different than just writing a record with songs on it?
A: Our singer Troy (KK) writes all of the lyrics which have now become one gigantic story spanning all three of our albums. The new record RETURN TO HEMMERSMOOR, is the third installment of the story that begins with SWEET HOLLOW. Not having written it personally, but having written lyrics for a multitude of songs I've released over the years, writing a concept album, let alone one continuous trilogy is no easy task.
Q: BATTLE BLOOD gives you a small taste of the new disc, what made you guys choose this one as the first “single”?
A: The band and the record label felt that "FREE" was a song that could stand on its own and help to showcase the identity that the band has carved out for itself. Also, we are fairly versatile in our songwriting across the albums, so there are always going to be ballad type songs and then straight rippers. "BATTLE BLOOD" being a straight ripper, it was a great juxtaposition to leading with "FREE."
Q: Would you define this song the meat and potatoes of the album or is it just one layer of what the rest of the album has in store?
A: The singles are really the tip of the iceberg, they are not paving the way for replicates. There are plenty of differing songs on the album, and I can't wait for people to hear the ENTIRE thing.
Q: Do you have a favorite off track off the album and if so what makes it a stand out for you?
A: "BATTLE BLOOD" is absolutely one of my favorites, as it's loaded with riff and riffs that is a blast to play, and there are some fun leads as well. That said, I think "WAKEN" might be my favorite-favorite, but I won't give away why. No spoilers!
Q: As a band how can you say you guys have grown in songwriting since the bands inception?
A: The first album was deliberately what some may call King Diamond worship, so the material was really one gigantic tribute. Very similar to how Gruesome pays homage to Death. Each album has morphed and grown as we have played together over the years, and we are pretty far from King Diamond these days, but the visuals and overall aesthetic seem to distort that a little.
Q: You also are band members that are globally located how does that make for interaction for promotions like videos etc. and also when it comes to writing it must be done all via internet. Do you find a heavy difference from doing it this way vs. having jam sessions to hash out ideas?
A: We are gigantic fans of how we write and file share the songs as we build each album. The process is super refined, and we have no issues with recording individually and remote, as needed. Everyone knows the very deliberate needs of the albums, so we lay everything out first, and then attack it. Everyone does their homework, so we have zero issues. It's such a solid crew.
Q: The band had the pleasure to tour with Helloween. On that tour did you guys learn anything from them or given any advice? If so, do you still use that to this day?
A: The tour with Helloween was a phenomenal way to start the band off and running. If I learned anything from Helloween on that tour, it is to FLY from show to show when the dates jump from Chicago, to Seattle, to Los Angeles! Haha, it was a lot of driving. But no, they were great, and it was great to watch them every night.
Q: If you could take yourself away from being a musician and just look at music as a fan what personally makes a well thought out and solid album to you? And what is your number one record that you’re a fan of that comes to mind when answering this?
A: As a fan, the best kind of album is one you can repeatedly revisit and continually hear new things that you missed before. Layered, epic, thought out. Sometimes less is more, but when the entire album has a continuous vibe, regardless of conceptual things, it is more enjoyable for me. It is way too difficult to narrow down a definitely number one favorite, but one that fits this mold perfectly is Opeth's Blackwater Park. Phenomenal songs, phenomenal production. Holds up every listen.
Q: It always intrigues me when a guitar player like yourself can play so fast and intricate. Do you have certain warmup techniques you do before shows/writing? And best advice to give any new musician starting out on guitar?
A: Before shows it can obviously be beneficial to warm up and run some scales, stretch out, etc. Sometimes though, with the way the scheduling goes, you don't always have the time right beforehand. Playing every day on the road helps, whenever you can find the time.
Q: Growing up did you listen to a lot of European music?
A: Without really having a specific desire to seek out European music, but it certainly found me, and one band lead to five lead to fifty. There are so many great bands from multiple genres, from multiple countries, but people seem to say I maintain a strong European influence when I write songs, or leads, or solos.
Q: How do you view the European music scene vs. American music scene and vice versa from what you have seen touring there?
A: Europe is a whole different world when it comes to the music industry, but they both have their merits. With THEM we have played in Europe almost entirely, only having our short run in the states with Helloween. One thing I will say is that Europe seems to juggle multiple genres in the mainstream, whereas the US charts are majorly pop, etc.
Q: Any other new stuff going on with THEM other than the release on Oct. 30th of RETURN TO HEMMERSMOOR? Also drop how fans get pre order this album and buy all over merchandise and music by you guys?
A: We are always hard at work cultivating the live show, set lists, new songs, etc. We can't wait for people to hear the new record, and then the next most exciting thing is seeing where we end up taking the next one. Fans can pre-order across all platforms, Amazon, directly from Steamhammer, iTunes, etc. At the end of the day, we update our social media with links that will take you where you need to go. That or our website will get you set up!
CONNECT WITH THE BAND: FACEBOOK: @THEM WWW.THEM666.COM www.johanssonshreds.com
THE VEER UNION A CHAT WITH RHYTHM GUITARIST RYAN RAMSDELL By: Stephanie Stevens
Let me start off by saying this THE VEER UNION is the most underrated band out there!! The showmanship, the songwriting abilities, the musicianship and the integrity this band has is breathtaking to say the least. Just take a minute and sit with the songs they create and the bands discography; dive into the lyrics and listen to the brotherhood you feel in the music, it’s pretty mind blowing and refreshing. THE VEER UNION came onto the scene in 2004 from Vancouver. They released their first independent album “TIME TO BREAK THE SPELL” in 2006 under the name Veer. That was the start of getting people’s attention. In 2008 they became THE VEER UNION and landed a deal with Universal Records. The band’s first single “SEASONS” was a smash hit on radio from Canada and the US. Since 2008 the band have collectively sold over 100,00 albums and have reached 30 million streams worldwide. 7 tops 40 singles on the Billboard Rock Radio charts, and they continue to grow in numbers and in talent. You might ask yourself that sounds impressive and why did you say they are underrated? To me this band should be bigger and more well-known especially in the States I feel like they deserve more than they have been given even though what they have accomplished is pretty stellar. The band is gearing up to unleash a Quarantine inspired Ep in 2021 with a multitude of Collaborations and gave the fans and music fans worldwide a sneak peek with a track that is the most socially conscious song/video to date for the band “SLAVES TO THE SYSTEM” featuring West Virginia rockers, Defending Cain. A rocker of a song, anthem empowered, aggressive and heavy power, the uniting of these two bands just accelerate the song to even a higher level. I had a chance to speak with guitarist Ryan Ramsdell about the new song, “SLAVES TO THESYSTEM”, where he sees Rock Shop Records (rockshoprecords.net) in 5 years and what he hopes people remember about THE VEER UNION.
Q: Seeing how 2020 has panned out as of now it was a no brainer a song like SLAVES OF THE SYSTEM was written. What was the breaking point for you guys to finally say it’s time to use our voices?
A: STTS was actually an idea that started in late 2019, with the initial context being that of online privacy with big tech, it was essentially expanding on the topic we touched on in our previous song “Living Not Alive”. As the song began to develop further in very early 2020, the chorus lyrics were written with that topic still being the emphasis, then the pandemic broke out. About two months into the pandemic the song was completed but with the state of uncertainty in the world, the shutdown of the entire economy, we put the release on pause to see how everything was going to play out. Then the riots happened... We felt it only strengthened our message. Eventually we were like "ok we've got to get back to releasing new music"... TVU has never been a political band but with the state of the world in regards to the economy, the non-stop emphasis of division engulfing everything, we just thought if there was ever a right time for us to release the song it was now.
Q:Was there a conversation with the guys in Defending Cain about the song topic and did you guys collaboration on the identity of the vibe n tone of the track and why did you choose them?
A: Actually yes there was. The pandemic had just hit. We had a brief discussion about how we didn’t want the song to be about Right or Left politics, we wanted it to be about unity, about all of us every day working people. Brandon threw down his tracks and sent them to us and we were like “WOW, he knocked it out of the park!” So, we went with it.
Q: What has been the hardest part to swallow looking over what is going on in the world these days? A: Outside of the economic shut down the hardest part is the constant dwelling and fixation on the division.
Q: Being a biracial band, did you guys ever have situations where people just didn't accept you because of it?
A: Absolutely not! We have always felt welcomed by the other bands and race has never been an issue. There have certainly been times where we have encountered racism on our journeys while traveling but it certainly hasn’t been inherent or often. We have had overwhelmingly great experiences.
Q: You guys are releasing an EP in 2021 which will have the platform song “SLAVES TO THE SYSTEM” on it. The interesting thing is the multi collaborations with other artists. How did you decide on what artists to work with?
A: Yes we are. Well, you just try to imagine who’s voices would sound the best with the style and feel of the song and then it's a matter of reaching out and who’s willing and available.
Q: Online communication-songwriting, is this normal for you guys and if not what obstacles did arise with it?
A: No it's not the usual way and that's the main obstacle. We’ve never worked online but so far so good!
Q: During quarantine, you guys have released some killer covers. Will we see a cover disc Part 2?
A: Thanks so much! Yes, at some point it will be but that will most likely be when we go back out on tour.
Q: What do you love most about interpreting another artists creation and is there always a back story of certain songs you pick?
A: In regards to interpreting another artist's creation, like everyone else, we are fans of music. The best part of the interpretation is that you get to decide how it applies to you. In regards to the songs going out for the collaboration, we already have a theme and an idea as a reference point so that the song has a coherent message.
Q: If you could pick any artist to cover one of your songs what artist would it be?
A: Oh man that's tough. Tool/A Perfect Circle or Deftones.
Q: RockShop Records, is in a way the child for THE VEER UNION, Was this a bucket list dream you had and where do you see the company in the next 5 years?
A: Crispin and I are Co-Owners of RSR. Crispin is CEO, Marketing Director and the in house Producer. Crispin had the idea many years ago and it's come to fruition over the past few years.
We want to work with and develop new artists and vastly grow their reach while maintaining great relationships with them. We want our label to be a good experience for our artists, a place where they feel heard and also develop them in ways that their core essence/vision of their project remains intact. It's very important to us that they are happy and feel like part of the family. Hopefully in 5 years our label will have grown enough and we will have attained enough success that more established acts will look at RSR and want to be a part of what we’re doing. We’ve been very fortunate to have achieved what we have with TVU and we want to continue to be a part of the music world after our touring days in TVU are done or diminished
Q: What do you hope people will remember most about your art/music?
A: TVU has always been about hope. We are so incredibly fortunate to have connected with the amount of people we have over the years and throughout the years we have received incredible messages about how our songs have helped people get through difficult times in their lives. We’ve always created music because it's what we love and need to do for ourselves, but hearing people's personal stories about how they’ve connected with our songs is one of the most rewarding things you can imagine. We hope that our music will be remembered as a positive message that helps people believe in themselves and want to help others around them. As long as people have hope, they will always want to keep growing, keep striving and keep living. The world is a better place when people have hope, if we can be remembered for adding to that in hope in some small way, that would be amazing.
Q: If you could give people struggling with finding a passion they love to do, what advice would you tell them?
A: Look at the things that make you happy, that make you smile, that want to make you get up in the morning. Don’t worry too much about what other people say or think about you, your life is yours and you never know when your life or health will be taken. The balance between happiness and commerce is often very difficult for the vast majority of people. You always need money but money comes and goes and when you make the jump to the afterlife, your soul is the only thing coming with you. Respect your soul, feed it with things that bring you joy, believe in yourself. Have faith, follow your heart and keep in mind that some of the most miserable people out there are people with money and some of the happiest are those that have almost none.
Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them?
A: We admire all you young kids coming up playing rock/hard rock and metal and pushing the boundaries by blending new sounds, new textures and breathing new life into the Hardrock/Metal genre. Keep going, keep pushing, keep dreaming and for god's sake, keep working as hard as you possibly can without giving up because without you, the craft will die.
The rock community got a gift when the band NONPOINT emerged 20 years ago with the debut album STATEMENT. On this anniversary year the band is gifting the music world with a very special live stream performance of the album on Oct 10th, 2020. To be a part of this go to www.nonpoint.com to grab your tickets and relive the impact of what this album did to the rock world.
Robb Rivera, drummer of the band and founding member has also impacted the world with his driving, powerful and passionate drumming technique and solid and energy driven live show vibe. While the impact that 2020 has put on musicians worldwide, this guy has not only been in full writing mode with the band he has enhanced his podcast, revamped his clothing line standstrongclothingcompany and has started a youtube channel of drumming covers. I had the ability to talk to this talented human about it all. Read on to find out more about this drummer, entrepreneur and the band he has put his heart n soul into.
Q: What intrigued you about the drums that made you want to make this a career for you?
A: Honestly, just loved music. After seeing that first band (Cardinal Sun) at a friends party, I knew right then and there what I wanted.
Q: What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
A:I Love Rock n Roll by Joan Jett
Q: If you could learn another instrument what would it be and why?
A: Well my first instrument was guitar. I also play bass, percussion and some keyboard:
Q: Who is a drummer you currently look up to and what is it about them you like?
A: Neil Peart (RIP) from Rush will always be that guy. Just loved what he did with the songs.
Q: If you have met that person you look up to what is one thing you took away from that conversation with them?
A: When I met Vinnie Paul, he told me to have fun with the drums. Not over play and play for the song.
Q: You currently started doing drum covers on your youtube channel. Going into different genres of music how is this enhancing your drum technique?
A: Don’t think it has enhanced anything technical wise: I am just having fun playing them. I get to be creative on other people’s work. Link to youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/RobbRivera
Q: How can you define the journey your band NONPOINT has had all these years? And is there one highlight that still humbles you knowing your artistry has moved a music community?
A: Endurance. We have been to hell and back many times. Playing the ozzfest in 2001 is still my biggest highlight: a summer I will never forget:
Q: Is NONPOINT working on new material for a future release and how has the music grown?
A: We are always writing no matter what: we have grown as players that is for sure but we are looking at back to the roots style for future stuff.
Q: Along with music your Podcast ( Robbcast podcast) is taking off also. What made you get into that and what can people look forward to in your episodes if they tune in?
A: If they listen one thing they will learn is my love for music. Especially 80s metal and thrash. They will also hear experiences that I have had on the road and also offer lots of advice.
Q: If you could give people struggling with finding a passion they love to do, what advice would you tell them?
A: To see it through: I never gave up on music. Once I knew that is what I wanted I never stopped pursuing it. No matter what you love, go out and make it happen.
Q: Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them?
A: I don’t admire any person in particular but I admire people with amazing work ethic. Hard work is my biggest pet peeve. I love being pushed and I love to push people.
ADEMA from Bakersfield, Ca turned heads in 2001 when their debut album entitled ADEMA hit the music world. With hit singles THE WAY YOU LIKE IT and GIVING IN; hit the radio airwaves and videos were all over MTV the guys dreams were all coming true. Through great times of the band and some not so splendid times founding member and guitarist Tim Fluckey stuck to his belief in the band and got them through some rough spots. After years of success the band took a small hiatus until a rebirth was founded in 2019 and the guys got offered a tour with Powerman 5000. That is when the momentum and inspiration came back when Ryan Shuck of Orgy fame and Julien-k took the lead vocalist position. That tour in 2019 brought the guys back to life. Dave Deroo-bass, Mile Ransom-guitar, Kris Kohls-drums along with Fluckey and Ryan havent let 2020 break them, they are writing new music and just did a livestream concert for their fans! I was able to chat with Tim recently about his time as a frontman for the band, what band he would love to collab with and his songwriting. Check it out
Q: Your known as one of the guitar players of ADEMA, but you also took the helm of vocalist for a bit. How did the atmosphere change when you did that as a entertainer for you? A: I was definitely thrust into that position. Our singer quit the day a tour was supposed to start but we still felt obligated to do the tour. I have done backup vocals for years but I never was a frontman. The guys asked me if I could do it and I said I’d try. I sat in the van on the way to the first gig playing guitar and seeing if I could sing the songs at the same time. We didn’t have a chance to rehearse so it was a trial by fire on the road. It seemed to work out and our fans were great and supportive. It was a different world from just playing guitar, I was used to moving around the stage and not being anchored to a mic. I also had to talk to the crowd as a frontman and it’s harder than people think but I did get better and better at it. It made me a better vocalist but I definitely like being just a guitar player who sings backups because I can put on a better show. I also think it’s better for the fans to see a true frontman like Ryan up there with a full band and not just the guitar player shifting over to sing.
Q: For any vocalist/frontman out there what do you give them the biggest kudos for after standing in there shoes for a bit? A: Like I was saying before being able to genuinely engage the crowd and keep them into it. It’s definitely a skill and takes time and experience to be good at. So many singers have that awkward silence or say things that sound fake or don’t make sense. I had my cringe worthy moments for sure. Anyone who puts themselves in that vulnerable of a spot, especially now when every show is put on social media, deserves kudos for that.
Q: As a guitarist what was your "moment" when you wanted to make this a career? A: I wanted to do this even before I learned how to play guitar. I can remember being in the 3rd grade watching MTV and holding my mom’s tennis racket like a guitar and acting like I was in Ratt thinking this is what I want to do with my life.
Q: What brings you the biggest satisfaction singing, guitar playing or songwriting? And does each inspire you differently as a artist and if so in what ways? A: I think of myself as a guitar player who writes songs it’s how I express myself. And when you get it right and are able to move someone emotionally or have a shared experience through music there’s nothing better to me. Singing has always been something outside of my comfort zone but I feel a sense of accomplishment by taking on that challenge and getting better over the years.
Q: ADEMA formed in 2000 and you were a part of this from the beginning. Looking back on this journey with the band do you have a "humbling moment" that you realized I made my dream a reality and do you still step back and are taken back by it? A: We had so many moments like that in the beginning but one that stands out was early on we were in New York to play a show for K-ROCK. On that day we heard our song on the radio for the first time and played a show with Disturbed, Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots and Jane’s Addiction. Howard Stern was on the side stage watching and it was like “is this really happening?”. It was an amazing moment and after all those years of doing it, it WAS happening.
Q: For someone struggling with fear of failure or not being good enough as a musician or any creative talent, what would you advice them with to help them take a leap of faith? A: Fear of failure is the most important thing to overcome. You won’t learn anything unless you fail multiple times. But you have to learn from those failures and realize what you’ve done wrong. I made a list of all my failures and what I should fix and I had a record deal 10 weeks later. And always be honest with yourself and your music, you know in your heart if you’re going down the right path, trust yourself.
Q: What is in store for ADEMA going deeper into 2020 and 2021? A: We have been writing new music throughout the pandemic and can’t wait to finish that soon and get it out there. Ryan has us all inspired and excited. He came in as a fan of the band and it reminded us that we need to be true to them and write songs that live up to what our fans deserve. We hope to tour as soon as this pandemic is over and we can do it safely for our fans. We had a lot of momentum going into this year and we hope to pick that up again.
Q: How has Ryan changed the dynamics of the band and what are you learning from him? A: As I mentioned before he’s come in and made us more focused on what we need to do as a band. We finally have a great frontman again which has been exciting for us. We’ve learned a lot from him when it comes to how to move a band into the future and give our fans a better experience overall. Our fans have always been loyal so it feels great to be able to deliver to them what they deserve.
Q: If you could collab with anyone in another genre of music who would it be and why? A: I always thought it would be cool to do something with Depeche Mode. I think their use of electronic music and dark chord progressions and melody would be cool with a heavy band behind it.
Q: One song that blows me away and is rarely played or talked about in your discography is the song PLANETS. As a writer for that song how do you define the atmosphere when writing that track and what does the song mean to you? A: Planets was a song that when I wrote it I was reevaluating my life and where the band was going. So many things changed in a short period of time and I was letting that all effect me too much and not moving forward. It’s about coming to terms with those things and realizing you only have control of what you’re going to do not the past. And ultimately get over yourself from holding yourself back with self pity and excuses. That is one of those songs where I think I got it right.
Q: What is the most important thing about music/art that can help people in your opinion? A: Music is something you can turn to that’s always there for you and doesn’t judge you. It’s helped me through so many tough times and made the good times even better. It’s why I wanted to do this, I wanted to be part of something that means so much to me. To be there for people like my favorite artists where there for me.
Q: What do you hope people will remember most about ur art/music? A: Just that it was honest music coming from five regular guys that chased their dreams. Hopefully it helps them and reminds them of some of the best times of their life.
Q: If for some reason this never became you career path what do you think you would be doing these days? A: That’s hard because this is all I’ve ever wanted. Being 6’9” I do have a background in basketball and I played college basketball so I would probably be a coach. I’ve done it for my son and it’s rewarding help kids improve and meet their goals.
Q:Empower another artist by telling us someone u admire and why you admire them? A: Speaking of my son I named him Abbott after “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. He taught me you can be yourself and carve your own path and achieve your dreams. You don’t have to compromise who you are or be something you’re not to be successful at anything. You are good enough by just being yourself. Merch store https://ademastore.com/ Facebook: @adema Instagram: @ademamusic