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Main Page: Syriak of Unexpect/Aziza of Dendura/Flight of the Valkyries organizer Bobbie Dickerson, Týr, Know Lyfe, Senate, Wykked Wytch, Saint Diablo, Featured Model Cherry Dollface, Highlighted Events, Who's Listening to What, and Label Chat....
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Last year I was going to cover the Metal Female Voices Festival V but with time constraints and other issues on my side of things it never took place. I'm still pretty sore about that so when the chance came to do my first four-way interview to cover this year's Flight of the Valkyries arrived in my email there wasn't a second thought and this year the issues had to take second place.
I took the oportunity to play a little bit of "devil's advocate" with Unexpect and Dendura to address some of the opinions and statements made toward what seems to me to be a sudden surge of activity women are taking in the metal scene. The information they gave was quite conclusive, though "devil's advocate" sometimes involves pushing a button or two for the root of how someone feels.
Maybe one day the term 'female-fronted' will drop altogether after press and critics have accepted the fact that women are taking an active role in metal. I'm not holding my breath on that one and I'm not holding onto my wallet either because for now it seems that that title of 'female-fronted' isn't only a badge of honor to some of these bands but opening new avenues for them to be discovered through sites such as Sonic Cathedral, Metal Maidens, and the like.
Even after hearing what Aziza, Syriak, and the FotV organizers had to say about these things (and though I'm still a fan), I'm still unsure if the label of 'female-fronted' is healthy in the long run. In any case, you, the viewer, have your own sense and, if nothing else, this phenomenon has definitely made more press for metal and drawing the attention of people who would not have otherwise wanted to take a look. And that's good, right?
Syriak of Unexpect and Aziza Poggi of Dendura
TMS: To begin, I'd like to welcome Unexpect as our first time guests and Dendura for returning for a third round with TMS. Congratulations again for your recent signing with Killzone Records, Aziza! How has this new partnership been working for you?
Aziza: It has been working out great! Killzone gives us creative freedom and control, scored us distro with Nightmare Records and Killzone has distro with Century Media. They also introduced us to a Grammy-winning producer whom we are recording our album with!
TMS: Syriak, Unexpect has announced that you'll be releasing a new album soon; is there anything you can tell us about it? Maybe a teaser of the direction you'll be taking it?
Syriak: Our path is ever-changing but will always be interconnected with our past. All the band members are more than ever involved in the composition process so the result is quite varied and interesting. I’m very excited about the new songs. We’re still working on them though so I can’t advance a recording date for the moment. You’ll have to wait 2009 before the new album is released…but you won’t be disappointed for sure ;)
TMS: Ok, now I'm seeing your names involved in something relatively new and that's Flight of the Valkyries on June 28th. How did each of you come to take part in this event?
Syriak: We met the creator of the festival when we last came in St. Paul with Trail of Tears and I guess that he really enjoyed our music…It sure will be good to play a headlining set on that night! A good dose of controlled madness in perspective…
Aziza: Honestly, we just submitted our press kit and we got in. Very proud to be because I know this festival is going to be a success and continue to grow every year to come! They are incredible promoters, very ambitious and have all the right sponsors such as Metal Kast, Sonic Cathedral (whom we sell our cds through) and more.
TMS: On a personal level, how do you feel about the female metal scene and what Flight of the Valkyries is contributing to it? (continued....)
Aziza at The Ritz
Aziza: I am so excited about it! The female-fronted genre in metal is growing stronger and stronger every day! More people are becoming aware of these huge underground female metal bands and FOTV is a big part of that growing market. It's helping us be recognized for our music. Everything is about timing in this industry and we fell into this whole scene at the right time and place!
Syriak: I’m definitely glad that women are getting more and more recognition in the metal scene. People will finally get to understand that they’re not in a band because of their charms. Too many assume that having a girl in a metal band is a gimmick to sell more, and they couldn’t be farther from the truth in most of the cases. There is no difference in genders when we speak of passion and intensity. Metal is all about it and a lot of extremely talented women are out there; ready to rock your brains out. The time when metal was a boys-only club is part of the past and I’m glad that Flight of the Valkyries is now there to contribute to that statement.
TMS: What do you say to the critics' claims that the female metal scene is only a trend and that it's turning what was once a true metal scene into something more 'pop'?
Aziza: I disagree with that statement. It's definitely not a trend. You have bands like After Forever, Epica, Tarja, Unexpect, Shadowside, and Benedictum who can sing over the sky and beyond. You cannot just wake up one day and decide to do that without working at it. So to say it is a trend is insulting because most of these women in this genre have talent that most people cannot fathom. I think it frightens people who are not into the female metal thing because it is exploding in the music scene right now and I think it will continue doing so. If you look back in time in the 80s, we had female metal bands or hard rock type bands, it just wasn't as big as it is now and there wasn't as many.
Syriak: Not impressive at all…I think that it’s a retarded and sexist way of looking at the phenomenon. Saying that having a woman in your band is a trend is kind of stupid. It’s absurd, just like saying: “having a nut-allergic albino bassist is a trend”. Talented musicians and singers alike can be of any gender. Again, it’s not a matter of who’s in the band that makes it a trend. Of course some bands with women in their midst are more ‘pop’ oriented but so are a lot of male exclusive bands. Having a girl in the band doesn’t result in turning into a pop machine.
Just take us as an example, we have a female singer in the team ( we’re actually 3 lead singers ) and we’re definitely not a trendy band. I also really don’t like the notion of a “true” metal scene. It cuts out the notion of evolution and that metal can be extremely varied. That’s actually what attracted me to metal at first, the fact that you can pass on to so many different styles while staying in the metal realm. For me, diversity is the key and metal can be the most diverse genre of them all. And don’t misunderstand me; I have absolutely nothing against “pop” and mass oriented music as long as it’s well done and original. I just think that it doesn’t have anything to do with having a girl in your band. (continued....)
Syriak live in Montreal 2007
TMS: What has been the reaction in each of your countries toward the female metal scene that you have noticed? I'm wondering how it's been accepted in Canada and the USA. Is there a territorial difference in opinions toward it?
Syriak: Like I mentioned before, I’ve never seen any real difference in reactions between bands with girls and those without one. I think people enjoy a good band because of their music and stage performance, not because of their sex.
Aziza: I think it's still a bit underground in the states, but I see it growing stronger and stronger every day. Mostly, we are embraced for doing what we do. We are one of a small percentage in this genre from Michigan. I know of only about four or five female metal bands in Michigan alone. That's small compared to what you see in male- fronted metal bands. People who haven't heard us before are surprised we are metal when they do hear us. But there are a few bands out there and people who feel women should not be in metal and that is something all of us women have to deal with or compare us to the only female metal bands they know of because that is all they have ever heard.
TMS: How would you say it compares or contrasts to the female metal overseas and in other areas?
Syriak: First, I’ll have to say that I don’t really agree with a categorization such as the “female metal scene”. I think it’s a bit restrictive and act as an argument that the fact of having a woman in band defines the band by itself without any regards to the music style of the said band. I understand the need to describe but it actually draws a line between bands with female members and the others. We’re all in the same metal boat and I think that removing the “female” tag would only encourage people to respect those women for their talent instead of just being a woman in a metal band. It sure is awesome to see more and more women taking part in metal projects, but everyone should concentrate on the musical substance instead of genders. That said, I don’t know a lot of bands with girls in their line-up in Canada so it’s a little hard to compare.
Aziza: I know it's stronger and more prominent overseas. This kind of music and progressive metal seems to be way more popular than it is in the US. I think the European fans are more musically inclined and want to see something different when it comes to music. They don't seem to get into the mainstream radio friendly bands as much as they do in the US. I know of the Metal Female Voices Festival and know it's huge in Belgium!
TMS: Aziza, I think you knew I'd to take full advantage of this interview to be nosey, what's happening in the studio since we last spoke?
Aziza: Lots! We are doing demos of our songs and sending them to the producer and making final touches on the album and working out last-minute ideas. Then we go in the studio to start tracking drums in May. We are very excited because the producer we are working with has worked with some of metals biggest underground bands, bands we love!
TMS: How would each of you describe your music and especially your onstage presence to those who haven't experienced you before?
Syriak: An experimental progressive picture of impulsive motions of visual and aural source under extreme circumstances. In other terms…a musical brain shock making for a grotesque metal evening of enjoyable collective madness.
Aziza: I say our music is symphonic, Egyptian-infused, progressive metal! When I am onstage, I put my emotions in the lyrics and I believe I am an emotional frontwoman and singer. When I am singing, I'm not just singing but living in that moment of the song. I’ve done a lot of acting in the past and this transforms into my stage presence.
TMS: Would you like to say anything to your fans and those you'll be gaining at the Flight of the Valkyries?
Aziza: Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are helping make our dream a reality! Please come and talk to us at the show and if you’re really into our music sign up on our street team aka The Temple. You are making a difference and keeping creative freedom alive just by being present and showing your support!
Syriak: We’re looking forward playing for you guys and share some spaced out moments in good company. Let’s rock those brain cells my friends!!! See you soon…
Lee Runchey of Silver Media connected us with Flight of the Valkyries organizer Bobbie Dickerson so we could ask her a few of the basics concerning the event itself.
TMS: How are the bands chosen for the event?
Bobbie: Bands for the festival are chosen several ways. First, we offer all female-fronted metal bands the opportunity to submit an application for consideration in order to get their name and music in front of Nathan, the promoter. We are always looking for new bands or even just less recognized bands that deserve more exposure. The application information is available on the FAQ area of the FotV website (www. femalemetalfest. com/faq. html). Having a unique ear-catching sound is helpful, but being an easy band to work with and showing a strong desire to be a part of the festival and it's success doesn't hurt either. Aziza from Dendura actively pursued me after she submitted Dendura's information for consideration. She was happy to show me the benefits of working with Dendura, such as their professional nature, their dedication and enthusiasm for everything the get involved with, and the promotional help they could offer FotV through their publicist, Lee Runchey, and their street team.
Second, Nathan and I (along with a few close advisers/friends) keep a close eye on the female-fronted metal genre and what's going on with the bands in it. We take into account who has new albums coming out or that just came out, whose receiving a lot of attention both in print and on-line media, whose never played the US (or the Midwest), and who's within the festival's budget. We try to select bands from a variety of sub-genres and locations to create more drawing power, so factors like that come into play as well.
Finally, our own wants and desires come into play. If Nathan or I really love a band, we will take a more active approach to pursue them for the festival's roster.
TMS: Are any artists returning for a second round this year?
Bobbie: We have two returning artists this year. Earthen and Visideon both played the debut Flight of the Valkyries festival last year. Earthen is from Brookfield, IL and Visideon is from Minneapolis, MN. They have both been incredibly enthusiastic about being on the bill for a second year.
TMS: Is the venue filled for this year?
If you are asking if the show has sold out, that is yet to be seen. We certainly hope it will, although realistically speaking, I'm sure Nathan and I will be just as happy if we can show an increase in our attendance numbers from last year. Being that this is only the second year for the festival we'd love to have the moon, but we'll settle for the stars.
I can tell you that we've gotten a lot of favorable responses on-line, both on our MySpace and on the several on-line forums we participate. Nathan is the one who handles the actual ticket sales so I'll leave it up to him if he wants to disclose any numbers for sales thus far on-line and at SwordLord Productions events. However, even with a count of how many tickets SwordLord Production has sold, that still doesn't account for tickets purchased through the bands on the bill or how many tickets may be sold at the door.
TMS: How did this all begin? (continued...)
Doro headlined last year's Flight of the Valkyries. Here she is seen with Johnny Dee.
Bobbie: I'm not sure how long Nathan has had the idea for a festival in mind, but I know it's something he's been milling over and wanting to do for quite awhile. Last year, Nathan got word that Doro Pesch (Warlock, Doro) was making her return to the US for her first North American tour in several years. When the Doro tour came to St. Paul, Minnesota on a Saturday, Nathan knew that the timing was just perfect.
So, Flight of the Valkyries, the first all female-fronted metal festival in the US was born. Nathan and I had met through another "underground" US metal festival - ProgPowerUSA. When I saw his post on the ProgPower forum about a US all female-fronted metal festival, I knew that as a big fan of female metal vocals, it was something I was going to love and support. I e-mailed him and told him that I wanted to help him in anyway I could to make FotV a success and if possible an annual event.
With only about three months to promote the festival after Nathan had booked and announced the full line-up, FotV 2007 was a challenge, but a lot of fun to work on. Although the first year was not a sell-out show, Nathan and I had seen enough support from the fans and had enough enthusiasm between the two of us to make a go for a second year of FotV. We hope this festival is something that we can continue to bring to the fans and help promote bands for a long time.
TMS: For those who would like to find out more about this event, where can they learn more?
Bobbie: The best places to learn more about Flight of the Valkyries are our website - www.femalemetalfest.com - and our MySpace page (www.myspace.com/femalemetalfest). For specific questions not answered there, Nathan and I are also both accessible via our e-mail addresses that are listed on the contact page of the FotV website (www.femalemetalfest.com/contact.html).
If you're wanting to learn more about this event, check out some of the bands who will be attending, or visit some of the sponsors who are helping to make this happen, we've provided their links below. Be sure to check 'em out and offer your encouragement. I'm also pretty sure you can hook up with others in or out of your area who will be attending at the FotV site as well.
Also appearing are...
Shadowside, Benedictum, Visideon, Earthen, Something to Fear, and Aria Sharp
Metalkast, The Girls of Metal, Lady Rock, Metal Maidens, Metal Temple, Sonic Cathedral, and UltimateMetal.com
Movies.. .. .. .. .. ..
Does she look familiar? She should and she's coming to The Metal Show soon!
Týr are from left to right: Terji Skibenæs (guitar), Heri Joensen(vocals and guitar), Kári Streymoy (drums), and Gunnar H. Thomsen (bass).
Thanks to Ben A. at Napalm promotions I was able to keep this old promise .. an interview with Týr, at last! I had a 'one shot' opportunity and the interview was accomplished through email. The interview will reflect this but I was still stoked to finally have a chat with Heri just the same. One of the real reasons, besides Týr's music is his remarkable use of English. It just makes him alot of fun to talk to and I had to do it again! I had read some of his previous interviews to get a grasp of 'the mind of Heri' and tried to spin from one of those questions. His response to the 'crossroads' he aluded to in the past doesn't seem to be there anymore and while I was incoreect in my assumptions, I didn't really care at all. I mean what the heck, interviews are for information, right?
TMS: I want to thank you for the time from your schedule today and accepting our request to share some insight on what's going on with Týr! The first thing I'd like to ask you about is your drummer, Kári Streymoy. What caused his injury and how is he doing now?
Heri: After the last short tour in January and February he had a spinal disc herniation. He had had a bad back for a long time, and it had gotten progressively worse for a long time. When we got back he had to be comitted to hospital. They kept him for a month and then they decided that he had to undergo surgery. He is now in recovery and that may take a long time and his optimal condition after his recovery is not yet known.
TMS: You've made preparations to take on Europe's part of the Paganfest tour in spite of this misfortune as well as the US and Canadian treks. What can you tell us about this?
Heri: We couldn't cancell such an opportunity, no way! In any case, Kári wasn't meant to come to the US part of the tour, because his girlfriend was due to give birth to their firstborn in May, so we had already gotten a replacement, Merlin Sutter from Eluveitie, for the US part of the Paganfest. We got a young local lad, Amon Ellingsgaard, to fill in for Kári in Europe. There was even a third drummer in Canada, Daniel Ryan, a wise-ass beyond measure ;-), because Eluveitie had to cancell the Canadian gigs. So it's been a patchwork of drummers and it still may be for some time, but we hope the best for Kári's recovery.
TMS: What can you tell us about the content of 'Land' and the direction your taking with it both musicaly and in what you're hoping to impart to listeners?
Heri: This is our most epic album, our heaviest and, in my opinion, also the simplest, but reviewers have said that this album is more progressive than Ragnarok, and I don't understand that. Clearly some people disagree on what makes music progressive.
TMS: Will Týr's sound have changed since 'Rangarok' or will you be staying along that vein? I think what I'm trying to ask is will anything have changed since your last album and, if so, what will should we expect to be different?
Heri: Land is simpler, heavier and more epic.
TMS: Are you satisfied with 'Land' and the spirit you've breathed into it personally?
Heri: Yes, I am. It is an album that takes us further along some roads and back to our roots along some other roads.
TMS: What did you draw upon for lyrics in 'Land'? Did you again go to the traditional tales and ballads of the Faroe?
Heri: Yes, there are traditionals and my own texts about the nordic past and present.
TMS: What drew Týr first to these themes?
Heri: My liking for the stories and myths made me want to bring it with me into the modern world, aided by Heavy Metal. It was a concept that just came about by itself.
TMS: This question I'm not asking lightly. In fact, I almost scratched it from my 'list' but how much of Týr's success as a band hinges upon 'Land'? The reason I ask is, other than your re-release of 'Eric the Red', only 'Ragnarok' represents the band under Napalm Records and my other reason is your strict attention to detail and continuity to your work while time can be very uncompromising. Am I mistaken or is Týr at a 'crossroads'?
Heri: I suppose as much depends upon this album as would depend upon any other album. But true, we don't have very many albums to choose from, but that has changed to the better with the release of "Land". Concidering the tours we have been doing lately, the one we are on now and the ones to come, I don't feel as if I'm standing at a crossorad, I feel more like I'm rushing down a highway 200 km an hour, and "Land" seems to me as if it in time will be just another Týr album, nothing special, nothing more significant that any other Týr album.
Heri: Yes, our entry into the US market could mark a serious rise in our posiibilities.
TMS: When did you first begin to see that others were taking notice, even to the extent of labeling your style of music that we now call 'Viking Metal'?
Heri: Since the first release, "How Far To Asgaard".
TMS: What was your reaction to that?
Heri: I was very surprised, because I did't know that there was such a thing as Viking Metal. Now I know something about it, but we still haven't assimilated to the genre, and we probably never will.
TMS: And how do you feel about Týr's line-up? You guys have faced alot of change in the past and weathered it very well!
TMS: A strong trend I see in successful nordic bands is the ability to improvise and you displayed this as well when you took the reigns as vocalist for Týr. What can you tell us about this characteristic?
Heri: To tell you the truth, I didn't feel like there was any "improvisation" at that time. I had always wanted to sing, but I wasn't a very good singer before. I just knew we were on our way into studio and we had no singer. I had been singing the demo vocals and I had practiced a lot also with the singer problem in mind, so I had prepared myself for the task.
TMS: One thing I'm sure you're accustomed to facing is that some people become alarmed when seeing the bold and stalwart viking imagery represented on your CD covers, t-shirts, and even on a student's notebook where he or she proudly scribed a set of nordic runes to display their loyaly to your band. What do you say to this?..
Heri: I see no reason to be alarmed. The nordic ballads all contain these elements, and have done so for centuries, and I don't see how the addition of Heavy Metal should make things worse. If you are alarmed by the image of Týr you should also be alarmed by the Faeroese and Nordic ballads in their original form, and I have yet to meet a person who is.
TMS: Are any of Týr's members involved in any other groups? I'm getting the impression you're 'all or nothing' in your approach.
Heri: No, there are no side projects at the moment.
TMS: Is there anything you would like to include?
Heri: No, I don't think so, you seem to have covered everything relevant pretty well.
TMS: What would like to say to your fans and also the new ones you'll be gaining in Paganfest and with 'Land'?
Heri: BUY THE FUCKING ALBUM!*
What's up with Michigan lately? Former Michigan resident Amanda Somerville is on the road temporarily leading Epica through the United States, Dendura is on The Metal Show later this week to represent the Flight of the Valkyries, and I've been getting an unusual number of adds from that state lately as well. Hell, I was born there and somehow I'm finding myself inorrexibly drawn back to it.
If this wasn't enough, now news about Know Lyfe is in my inbox this week! I'm not talking about the TMS inbox, this was in my personal mail! Of course this kind of news can make one skeptical and I wanted to talk to Know Lyfe myself. You know, to ask them them some questions, even to ask the same ones from several angles to see if they hold up. Face it, sometimes success breeds suspicion!
Evidently there's alot of proving on their calendar with a marked entrance in May and finally tapering in August. With all the successes contributed to Know Life I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate them, recount those successes with them, and also see just how that success may or may not have changed them as they continue to take ground in the music scene. We're hoping that our curiosity will match that of our viewers as we welcome ...
Know Lyfe are from left to right: Matt Martens (drums), Waylon Fox (bass), Alfonso Civile (vocals), Jerred Pruneau (guitar)...
TMS: Welcome to The Metal Show, Alfonso, and congratulations! I'm not taking your thunder from you so why don't you tell our readers what the new big news is in the life of Know Lyfe?
Alfonso: Well, baby steps for us are always big news but the biggest news we here in Know Lyfe have to offer is as follows, We will be part of this year's Warped Tour from July 14th-July 18th. We will also be part of the Jagermeister Music Tour with Hatebreed and Type O Negative on June 19th in Grand Rapids, MI. Lastly, we will be distributing our new Record "On Cold Hands and Dark Waters" digitally through Nine 2 Five Records and you should see it available very soon through such sites as AOL, I Tunes, and more.
TMS: How did you and Nine 2 Five Records come to meet?
Alfonso: We have heard a lot about them through our good friends in the band Saint Diablo and also 9th Corner.
TMS: Is this something you've been talking about or did this spring up suddenly on the band?
Alfonso: We have talked from time to time with Mark through email but wanted to hold off until we finished our new record to make sure we were all on the same page of what the vision for this band is.
TMS: I see alot of bands expressing disconcern for labels and I'd like to know your take on that since we're on that subject. Obviously you're signed to one for distribution now so you're not too adverse, right?
Alfonso: Labels are what they are. They are that sort of ying and yang in life. Bands begin to hate them because they begin to see just how much business is part of music and just how little music is part of business. People think that just because you are a great band, or have great songs that you will get signed or you will do big things. With the right business mentality you will. With the lack of it, you will be just another great band with little insight on how exactly to infiltrate the industry.
Labels are like banks essentially, they invest in you for a return, in order for them to invest they have to see some sort of win, some sort of gain...sadly that gain is money. You must first believe in your music, second you must market not only the music but your band. I don't believe bands should hate labels or fear them... it's the opposite they should learn the system, manipulate it and learn to use the evil that lies within it and turn it to good. Don't depend on anyone to do your work for you. Do it your self, let them help, but make sure you know the game just as well as they do. The more you have your bases covered the less your chances of becoming someone's bitch.
TMS: When did this deal actually take place?
Alfonso: It began to manifest in November. Slowly we talked and got a feeling for each other, and developed a business relationship and through patience, blessings, and work things began to happen which we are more than grateful to our new family at Nine 2 Five.
TMS: Concerning your music itself, how would you describe it?
Alfonso: Its a breed of metal, hardcore, alternative, and pop...not like dance pop, but the essence of pop which are hooks, and song structure.
TMS: Will fans be expecting your sound to remain the same or change with your new release, especially now that you're under Nine 2 Five Records?
Alfonso: Our sound has changed but not much, we have become darker, heavier, yet more melodic, and a more profound understanding of writing a song not just a collection of cool parts. We want the listener to not only listen but feel, feel the words, the music, the band, we want life to breathe through your speakers, headphones, and ingrain itself into your head.
One thing is for sure you will see us get heavier and get more in depth with sounds, and the song writing as a whole but you will not see Know Lyfe put out a tribute to forever the sickest kids...no offense, that style of music is popular and all but personally we all are not very big fans of any of it...well except me I like Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco...( fuck you all, you all have secret shames too! I ADMIT MINE....FEELS SOO GOOD TO GET THAT OUT! (laughing))
TMS: When I talked to you earlier this week you told me you literally cleaned house last year at the Ernie Ball Warped Tour, placing first from over 13, 500 bands nationwide! This also secured a spot for you to meet those fans again this year and I'm wondering will your delivery change or differ from the shows you performed last year or will your fans see Know Lyfe unchanged by your successes?
Alfonso: We are the same band that started back in 2000 four dudes who love music, metal, hip hop, reggae, rock..MUSIC! We happen to play metal because it moves us but no degree of success is going to change our attitude our out look, we haven't a cocky bone in our body, or a lazy bone in our body. The only things that have changed is that we don't have to beg as hard to get 100 bucks to get to our next show (laughing). To hell with rockstar attitudes, rockstar ideas, we are who we are, good ole boys from the midwest in search of a dream, and we welcome anyone into our circle.
TMS: Speaking again of those successes, and to spin from an earlier question, have you had to defuse any negative press that would suggest that though Know Lyfe has popped into the scene too suddenly and may have been fabricated?
Alfonso: (laughing) I wish that would be good press I guess. (laughing) Not everyone knows we have been around for a while, we used to get that whole "oh stupid nu metal band"...funny.....we've out lasted that scene, and plan outlasting the "look at my tight pants and cool haircut scene" as well. (laughing). No fabrication here at all!
TMS: How does the band feel about that both professionally and individually? (continued...)
Know Lyfe in an unknown location 2007.
Alfonso: The band has worked hard to get the little we have, like we said small successes are big successes to us, we learn to appreciate the small stuff so that when the big stuff comes we enjoy that much more. Individually we all have made huge sacrifices in our lives to do what we do..Not one regret..Not one! Any one who has an opinion about this band is welcome to it, negative or positive. Life is based on opinions. We welcome thinking, we welcome the precious gift of being an American, and having a good portion of freedom of speech.
TMS: Back to what you were saying earlier in the interview, you said you were on the Jagermeister Music Tour. When did you get this sponsorship?
Alfonso: We were sponsored by Jagermeister almost two years ago, we were introduced to the great people at Jagermesiter by our best friends in Straight Line Stitch...WHO YOU ALL SHOULD CHECK OUT!!!!!!!!
TMS: What exactly is the relationship between Know Lyfe and Jagermeister and how does it work? The reason I ask is that bands like Straight Line Stitch and Saint Diablo also share this sponsorship and I think viewers (myself included) who are not familiar may like to know.
Alfonso: JAGER IS, AND ADAM GRAYER HEAD OF THE JAGERMUSIC DEPARTMENT IS, BY THE FAR THE MOST AMAZING COMPANY! Our relationship is beyond love, they have believed in us since we hopped on board and have gone through great lengths to help us further our selves. Jagermeister is a company that truly cares about the music and the product. They don't bullshit! They give us posters, lighters, shot glasses, anything and everythign with our name and Jager's name on it to help promote us and are always, always up for helping us out. THANK YOU TO THOSE GUYS !
TMS: And you're doing a Jagermeister Tour show with Hatebreed on 19 June 08. Will fans be hearing previews of the upcoming "On Cold Hands and Dark Waters"?..
Alfonso: Yes we are...(Ever felt like a kid in a candy store..? Yeah thats us) We will be playing many songs of our new disc which we are currently promoting and really hope the fans like it and as well as some new stuff.
TMS: I've asked you a lot of questions about how the band may be changing as you see things changing for the band itself but aside from that vein, will anything have changed in your sound as you have allowed yourselves to mature by continuing on the road and even in the studio?
Alfonso: I think the sound will take on a more dark and focused look. Dark in the sense of textures and ideas, not dark as in we want to chop your head off...I mean we are metal we love that chop your head off mentality to writing but we also love that 80's iconi formula and we just try and blur the lines with that I guess..It's sad really you listen to us and you think we all listen to some crazy music but we actually spend a lot of time in our van listening to some pretty cooky stuff...say...Foreigner (laughing) ... or Journey! But of course we listen to Metallica, Poison The Well, and Beneath the Massacre.
TMS: When you approached this new album, what were some of the themes and influences involved?
Alfonso: We wanted to reinvent....we always want to reinvent this band in some way from visual to musical phrasing, to live, we strive for challenges to better our selves. Alot of the influence came from our new drummer Matt who has only been with the band for just about two years. He came from a punk hip hop way of drumming we are the first metal band he has ever been in and its fun adding his ideas and his flavor to the mix of already odd musical tastes (laughing).
Alot of our personal lives also influenced this record, some of us just had kids, others are having some personal life struggles but we all know this is what keeps us together, we are family here and with that bond we use it to create so we can inspire others.
TMS: How has the band's overall satisfaction been toward this album?
Alfonso: WE LOVE IT! its a new, better, darker, more mature us.
TMS: You've included some of these tracks at your MySpace site as well as the title track. How has fan response been to your new work? (continued...)
"On Cold Hands and Dark Waters scheduled to be released June 2008"
Alfonso: Dude, I got to tell you every band says this but its true our fans are ridicoulusly amazing! They know they can trust we are not gonna put our out some cookie cutter, main stream BS. This is a family thing; we have no fans, just family and our family is spread far and wide and they are so damn supportive its amazing!
TMS: Will there be any guests musicians accompanying you in the other tracks of "On Cold Hands and Dark Waters"?
Alfonso: Yes we all always try and bring some friends into the mix our last record we had Alexis Brown of the mighty Straight Line Stitch sing as well as Max Illidge of 40 Below Summer sing on a song. This time we brought in our good friend Kendall and our good friend Ted from a sweet Chicago punk band named Breckenridge who, by the way, are pretty rad so check them out!!!
TMS: Will there any statements the band will be trying to make in any of the songs?
Alfonso: See this is the real cool part for me everyone in this band helps write the music but the guys give me my space in my lyrics; they never question what I write they may not always agree with apoint of view I try to get a cross lyrically but they support me and the vision I have lyrically. The message on this albumn is change, changing for the better, changing for the right reasons and finding that calm and center.
The lyrics are focused on trying to open peoples' eyes to a world that is vastly changing and that is vastly trying to either make you conform or leave you out...do not let this happen do not become a pawn, a puppet, or a sheep. Learn to choose the right herd and become aware of the things that you can make better because with out one there is none and with out none there are no successes that can be made.
TMS: Video, I love videos ... are you planning any at the moment?
Alfonso: Yes we are we have some pretty cool things in the works as far as a video or two :)
TMS: Is there anything you would like to add that we haven't talked about yet?
Alfonso: Nah, man. Let people derive what they want from this, let them ask the questions as well and discover us as a band and individuals, all we want to say is thank you for keeping your eye on the little guy..there is so much music out there, run along and find it all!
TMS: What would you like to say to your fans as well as those you'll be gaining on the road and with "On Cold Hands and Dark Waters"?
Alfonso: Come say whats up to us, talk to us, get to know us as people, we don't want that rockstar image, that im on a different level than you attitude, we want the real, the now, the you!Below is a clip of Know Lyfe performing at The Key Club in Hollywood, CA. during the Ernie Ball Warped Tour 2007. Enjoy! -Chris (17Apr08)
Television.. .. .. .. .. ..
.. .. Featured Model...
Ok, we've indirectly promised this new addition for many months now with our 'Featured Models' link area and it's finally here! One of our viewers took notice and asked us to invite Cherry Dollface with particular questions in mind so what else was there to but ask her to appear, right? Cherry's blog is a candid wealth of information but with any cache of knowledge there is, also, more curiosity to follow. Just to click to her page is a sudden rush to the 1950's characterized in vivid hyper colors and imparting the desire to break the limits ... anyone's! With this attitude in mind we're proud to break our own and present to you Cherry Dollface ...
TMS: Cherry, thanks for doing this interview with us and especially as the first model for our article! I'd like to start with a viewer question. How did you start this part your career? Was this something you always knew you were going to do or something else? Also, were there any motivating factors that made you decide this was what you wanted?
Cherry Dollface: Of course! It is my pleasure. I actually came upon modeling by accident. My husband builds hot rods and we would go to shows and people would randomly take photos. One of those photos ended up on the cover of Ol' Skool Rodz and I got a kick out of it. After that, a few companies contacted me asking me to model their stuff and I thought "Why not?" I have always had a ton of fun on shoots, so I figure there is no harm in it. I still consider it a hobby though, and work a day job and go to school full time.
TMS: Before you started modeling what did you do?
Cherry Dollface: Like I said, modeling is still just a hobby. I was a Drug and Alcohol counselor for two years before I decided to go back to school for a business degree. Right now I do PR for a company called Knuckleheads Clothing.
TMS: You're also co-owner of Royal Customs hot rod shop and attending college as well. How are you finding time for all of this? Your schedule must be nerve-wracking! And, out of personal curiosity, what are you majoring in?
Cherry Dollface: Oh my gosh yes! I was recently asked how I do it all and after thinking about it, I realized I must have more hours in my day than everyone else. Ha! Honestly, I don't feel that busy, but when I look at my calendar, it amazes me how much I do in a week. It is fun though. I work best under pressure. I am majoring in business admin and minoring in marketing.
TMS: I think one of the things you're most noted for in your career is your support of our US soldiers in Iraq. While we have alot of disagreement both far and wide about the Iraq situation itself we still have men and women that really need our support and let them know we appreciate them and the innumerable sacrifices they're making in family, friends, and selves. How did you come to be so actively involved and what inspired you to do it?
Cherry Dollface: I agree that the debate on our involvement over there is heated. I personally don't support the war or the current administration. I do, however, support ALL of the men and women fighting. Supporting the troops does not mean supporting the government. I think a lot of people misunderstand that. I appreciate the hell out of all of the people over there, away from their friends and families, fighting their hearts out. I got involved when a Marine emailed me out of the blue and told me how I had inspired his platoon. I kind of realized that I could have an impact, no matter how small, just by sending photos, letters, and packages. After that, I had a bunch of different groups of military guys writing me and asking for photos. How can I say no? I feel like it is my duty and it feels good to put a smile on people's faces.
TMS: Have you been able to meet any of the troops in person yet?
Cherry Dollface: Nope. I am not sure if I ever will. But I do have a lot of retired and off duty miltary folks tell me that they appreciate what I do for the guys out there. That always feels good.
TMS: As far as inspirations, who would be your greatest? (Continued...)
Cherry Dollface: Modeling wise? I would say Carole Landis. She was this beautiful actress that died at a very young age in the 1940's. She had impeccable comic timing and a spark in her photos that was untouchable.
TMS: As far as life inspiration, I would say my mom, hands down. She has beaten incredible odds and she is amazing. She is my best friend and I love her and owe so much to her. She taught me my most important lesson-- to be tough!
TMS: Do you have a favorite genre when modeling for someone?
Cherry Dollface: I used to only do pin up. I love the 1950's and always will. In my personal life, I live a vintage 1950's lifestyle. But the longer I have modeled, the more I have enjoyed branching out into other, unexpected genres. I think my fans appreciate it too. Everyone likes looking at different things from time to time. I feel like it pushes the limits of what people know and expect. I like that.
TMS: Which shoot or appearance do you remember most? As numerous as your appearances are something must have tripped you at least once.
Cherry Dollface: There are always crazy hijinks behind the scenes. My best friend, Caitlin, does a lot of my stuff, and we are always getting into trouble. But I actually did a shoot with this photographer as a Chola. I looked so gangster! We were shooting under a bridge and the Sheriff came by and thought I was actually a gang banger! I was all done up with black hair and brown lips. The photographer even thought that I was latina. This made me laugh so hard because I am the whitest white girl you will ever meet. Red hair, fair skin, freckles... It was definitely fun to be a tough Mexican chica for a day. I love Chola style and think they are so beautiful. I was honored!
TMS: One thing which seems like a hurdle in the music industry is keeping charge of your career while having a label who's very 'you're -in- this moment, you're -out- that moment'. Have you had similar challenges in your modeling in which you had to keep your ground for a sense of 'I'm here for longer than you may like to think'? Something that challenged you keeping your identity?
Cherry Dollface: Yeah for sure. Like I said, I like to push the boundaries. But I also like to keep my work classy. There is definitely a fine line between trashy and sexy. When I first started I was very anti-nude. Anti-implied nude even. I just didn't want to start off as a "suicide girl" type model. Nothing against those girls, but it just isn't my gig. I fought really hard against that stereotype. Now that I have built a little bit of a name for myself, I feel it is easier to traverse into a sexier ballpark without being seen as cheap or tawdry. It is definitely a constant battle though. A lot of photographers won't work with you if you aren't into nudes. It just isn't my thing. Just because I am tattooed doesn't mean I don't have morals! :)
TMS: We've been following your blog since before January. You've just come through a heart surgery and it appears you're on top of your health again, including the following premature ventricular contractions. Have you had any new word on this from your doctors?
Cherry Dollface: A few weeks after surgery I started having coronary artery spasms, which they liken to the feeling of a heart attack. It really freaked me out and I was in and out of the hospital, but I am on some new medication that has quieted them down. As of now it is a waiting game. My doctor thinks that all of the stuff that is going on right now is just sort of aftershocks from surgery. So we will wait and see. If it doesn't go away, they made need to go in for a third round of surgery. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
TMS: What's next on your schedule as far as touring and modeling? (Continued...)
Cherry Dollface: I don't really tour. I would if I were paid to, but I am not really serious enough to shell out my own money to get out there. I usually go to Viva Las Vegas and get to work with some great people, but I don't think I am going to make it this year. As far as my modeling agenda, I have a few new magazines coming out within the next few months. I also had a local TV show follow me around for a day and that will be airing on OnDemand within the next month or so. I am pretty good about updating my blogs with all of my happenings!
TMS: Which labels are you digging now?
Cherry Dollface: Raucous Records out of the UK is tops.
TMS: I'd like to thank you for taking time from your schedule to stop by and share this insight with us. This is something new for The Metal Show that I'm very excited about it and would like to see this section continue. We would also like to offer our wishes for continued good health and outstanding career! Do you have anything to say to your fans and to metal fans alike?
Cherry Dollface: Aww, well thank you! I am honored to be a part of your show. My favorite last words are: don't sacrifice your integrity for your art.
TMS: Shameless plug...who or what would you place your approval on and want us all to know about?
Cherry Dollface: My favorite local band, The Hard Luck Three. These guys are going to be huge, so check them out! http://www.myspace.com/hardluckthree.
Books.. .. .. .. .. ..
..Who's Listening to What...
Have a new favorite that's getting you through your daily grind? Maybe something that's just too cool to keep to yourself? Let us know what it is (preferrably metal) so everyone else can check it out too!
So, these last days I was listening to Radiohead's "In Rainbows". I listen to them from many years now, each album have created in very high level of emotion inside me! Their melody and emotive sense of music have no similar. In a more metal way I'm very fond of "Year Zero" from NIN. I'm definitely a NIN fan! And this last album is really electronic, chaotic, and complex! I like electronic music, from Massive Attack to Rob Zombie or Powerman 5000!
-Stephane Montiel, guitarist of Interria (Paris, France)
I feel really inspired by the recent EP "I Can't Resist" by ROCK IGNITION (www.rockignition.com..).
This band (with singer Heather Shockley!) is the perfect example to me how a good rock band should sound in 2008 without sounding old-fashioned! Besides, the title says it all: I can't resist playing this CD again and again !!!!
-Rita van Poorten, Metal Maidens 'zine
Nevermore: Because they are the best band out right now
Black Sabbath (Specifically Sabotage): Best riff album ever. Period.
Judas Priest: Love the songs on the older albums like Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Screaming for Vengeance
Iron Maiden: Bruce Dickinson.
Dream Theater: Listening to their heavier stuff like Train of Thought
Opeth: These guys are just awesome. Love the drumming on Gost Reveries
-Paul Stein, Guitarist of Dendura (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA)
I am currently listening to Straight Line Stitch-"Bleeding Heart Theory" I listen to it all the time! I listen to it because it reminds me of my friend who got me interested in the band and has officially made it my ALL TIME favorite song. Plus, I think its the best SLS song they've done so far. .
-[[haili]]575 (Maryville, Tennessee, USA)
I currently like Into Eternity, they're great and powerful with some new strong elements, very cool!
-Kessier, Guitarist of Seraphim (Taipei, Taiwan)
I don't often read the 'hype' about bands before I interview them but I made an exception this time and found there was not the 'how and why'/mechanical aspects of Wykked Wytch's character and 'Memories of a Dying Whore' ... the way they worked together. From my initial contact, Ipek was surprisingly pleasant and informative ... nothing like I would have guessed by her onstage presence.
While I've seen and heard alot of mixed reactions to this band, I really found Wykked Wytch to have their own identity in the metal scene and, as a new fan of theirs myself (and very uneducated in what 'goth' means or everyone else says it means), I can guess aspects of others may have been borrowed but I didn't see anything 'stolen'. Media press can, and is, opinionated in many ways placing alot of crazy expectations onto bands that the bands themselves never made a promise toward. What I did see Wykked Wytch promise was something new, extreme, and in your face. I feel like they delivered!
In effect, what I felt like I experienced was a symphonic median of black and death metal devoid of compromises which aimed to please but offered no apollogies if it didn't. While I call this a median, there won't be one between loving them or hating them, in my estimation. And, I really don't think they'd have it any other way. I'm not offering a review as I had planned. Like I said, you'll love them or hate them and I'm already sold!
TMS: I'd like to thank you for accepting my request in spite of how busy everyone is in the Wykked Wytch camp! You guys released your fourth album 'Memories of a Dying Whore' in September of 2007 because you expressed disappointment in how it was mixed and mastered. What did you feel was missing that put fans on edge for so many months, even to the point of financing it yourselves?
Ipek: Yeah, it has been quite some time since we started writing & recording. The album was supposed to be out the fall of 2006, but due to label & production difficulties it was delayed a year after the recording was finished.
We finally decided to release the album ourselves and went to Eric Rachel at Trax East to remix the album in October. From there the album was given a new life. We are extremely happy of the outcome of the production quality. I wish we would have known Eric Rachel in the beginning and would have the done the whole process with him.
TMS: What was happening between 'Nefret' in 2004 and 2008's 'Memories of a Dying Whore'? (continued...)
Wykked Wytch performing at Studio A in Miami, October 2007.
Ipek: After 'Nefret' was released, we spent most of 2005 touring Europe. We played over 80 shows and participated in 3 major tours supporting bands: Deicide, Six Feet Under, Nile & Dying Fetus. In the beginning of 2006 we signed with the label SixSixSix (which we split with several months after signing), and started to write the 'Memories' album.
We finished writing in the spring and recorded the album in the summer of '06. After the recording of the album we went on a short US tour with the industrial band Hanzel Und Gretyl in October '06. Then in 2007 we tried to secure a new record deal, but then ultimately decided to release the album ourselves. We established our own label and remixed the album. Now it is 2008 and we are pushing the album.
TMS: What were some of the reactions when 'Memories of a Dying Whore' was finally seen on shelves?
Ipek: It was great. Considering the album was just released recently, its already making a buzz around the world. All the feedback has been positive and the fans love it.
TMS: With all that was happening behind the scenes, did you ever feel like 'Memories of a Dying Whore' just wasn't going to happen or had you already made up your mind that it was?
Ipek: We're a band that has never been defeated. We've been through a lot of shit, lineup changes, etc... The delays always suck but we've dealt with many throughout the years and just keep on going. Everything always falls back into place at the the end of the day. Most bands give up and quit if something doesn't go their way. We also pretty much doing everything what good label would have done, taken care of recording album, video, radio & TV promotion, advertisement, press release, merchandise, sending packages out, mail, etc... It goes on and on.
TMS: How do you feel about the album now that your work has been realized and how has it been received by your fans?
Ipek: I feel relieved and satisfied for now. As far as fans we have received many positive favorable responses. Both from the fans and magazines. We are hoping we will gain more fans that didn't know the band before.
TMS: What are some of the themes that you employed for the tracks on 'Memories of a Dying Whore'?
Ipek: Many of the themes from the album come from emotion and are inspired by true crime. We like to focus on the anger, depression, and our inner rage. Also while writing the album I was watching a lot of documentaries on rape & murder, and that's what inspired the title 'Memories of a Dying Whore'.
TMS: For those who are still unfamiliar with Wykked Wytch, how would you describe your music?
Ipek: I like to think that we create a dark heavy music. We like to combine the best of death/black/thrash and symphonic metal with our personal touch. Definitely not your radio friendly type of metal. But we're definitely multi-melody driven as well. I like to think we are much more than a "black metal" band.
TMS: You released the video of Sweet Dreams under Dale "Rage" Resteghini (the same production as Straight Line Stitch's 'Remission') at Raging Nation Films on 22 March and I still remember the time it went up ... 8:30 a.m. central because I was anticipating it after seeing the teaser so many times. How did you connect with Raging Nation Films and can we expect to see more of this collaboration in the future? Maybe a video for Awakening? Fantastic work, too ... I loved it!
Ipek: Rage (Dale) from the production CO approached us and we started talking and the rest is an awesome video-Kevin Custer is responsible for shooting and producing. He is a great talent and you will be seeing a ton of stuff from him in the future. We do have a video "Awakened". It is an older video from the original recording demos and you can check that out at www. youtube. com/wykkedwytch. We do have plans for another video but we got to focus on "Sweet Dreams" for now.
TMS: Since we're talking about 'Sweet Dreams', what was your take on the song and why did you choose to record it for your album? (continued...)
Ipek during the "Sweet Dreams" video shoot 2008.
Ipek: Originally we were goofing off during the rehearsal sessions. The main riff sounded like a great black metal riff, so we started jamming on it. We have never recorded a cover song before and the idea came of covering a "cover" song sounded interesting. We were going to include it as a hidden track, but all the feedback was so positive we just included it as part of the album.
TMS: In retro from when you started Wykked Wytch in 1995 until now, after the new release of 'Memories of a Dying Whore', did you foresee the measure of success you would meet between the United States and Europe? Even if that success felt irrelevant, I'm still curious about what your vision was for the band and if it's changed or been accomplished ...
Ipek: The band started out in its infancy as death/thrash band. The first album which was basically a local band demo was released in 1996 (years later it was re-released through Demolition Records). I always wanted to pursue a more creative direction which was multidimensional and combined all my influences. Of course the style and direction progressed since then and "Wykked Wytch" today is the vision realized. In the past we've had a lot of experimentation, and that comes with multiple lineup changes and different musical views. But now we've had the core writing lineup since 2002, so now we know what works in terms of writing direction. The next album will be even better.
TMS: This is a question I like to ask many of the female vocalists we interview. Not to provoke but to honestly hear what they have to say...have you faced any challenges in the metal scene for being a woman and, if so, what have those challenges been and how did you overcome them?
Ipek: Nothing new really, female musicians being around for years. It's now more of a trend than anything else, especially in metal. Too many of them copying one of the popular ones so its all saturated they all sounds the same. Either signing clean or doing metalcore. I think there is not much originality left in this trend anymore. I never let gender get in my way as an obstacle to prevent me from achieving my dreams and goals. I feel I have a passion and talent no one gonna stop me by degrading or belittling me, I am confident enough I can overcome these issues, I don't let these things bother me.
TMS: What would you say to other women who look at you for inspiration and desire to do the same?
Ipek: find a rich husband & get married.(laughing) If you are not serious and dedicated don't even start because there are many things you need to know about this business. If you don't have the knowledge and the motivation you will be defeated and discouraged. You need to train your vocals, technique, but most of all you need to love what you are doing and be comfortable with your self on stage. Being ambitious definitely would help.
TMS: And when you're looking for inspiration yourself, in your music or just day to day, who or what do you turn to?
Ipek: Many things inspire my writing process, deep feelings, death, crimes, dealing with depression loss of friends..many things evolving our daily lives..
TMS: Is there anything you would like to cover and that we haven't?
Ipek: I think we've covered everything.
TMS: Last, and definitely not least, your fans ... what would you like to say to them and to the ones who are going to be discovering Wykked Wytch as you hit the road?
Ipek: Thanks for giving me an opportunity to spread my disease, everyone that hasn't heard the band check out http://www.myspace.com/wykkedwytch and http://wykkedwytch.com.
One thing always leads to another and this time was no exception. However, I'll place a name on those things. Straight Line Stitch led to Saint Diablo! After the Straight Line Stitch interview Justin and I made contact with a mutual interest in metal, drink, and well, you'll see. This band is one you won't want to miss because they're not following any predefined rules and they're going to make you question your own in both the how's and why's of what you believe. Spiritual metal? I don't think I'd call it that ... I'd call it a group of guys delivering a tight and unique arsenal of metal that's just down to earth and one of my new favorites!
TMS: One of the most interesting things I've discovered while preparing this interview is that Saint Diablo is in a state of near perpetual touring. You guys stay on the road performing over 200 shows a year and about to start a four week tour with Mushroomhead in April and then with Prong in the near future.
I've seen this almost crush even bands under major labels in the past with its demands ... how do you do it?
Justin: We can't wait for those tours and, well, we love the road. It's where the music meets the people. We love the interaction with the fans. We hate to sit still and not be on the road. It's what we want to do and where we want to be!
TMS: Do you feel this has made your fans your family since they would be who you see the most? Secondly, how has this effected your relationships at home and on the road with each other?
Justin: Oh, no doubt! I know all bands say they have the best fans in the world but I think we really do have the best. I mean, when you have fans that drop everything they are doing to come help you on the road when you have broken down, then I mean, that just shows us how loyal our fans are. We love our fans, we really do!
It's hard being away from our families but we know we have their support.
(Laughs) We can get on each others' nerves sometimes but we are a fam and bros and we just deal with what we got to. Me and Chris are brothers and we have grown up with each other so we get along pretty well together.
TMS: What should people be expecting to see when they come to one of your shows? (Continued...)
Justin: The best part of Saint Diablo! That's what we live for is the live show! It's pretty intense, we are all over the stage, we try to make the crowd feel like they are part of the show. If you like our CD's that's cool but the live show is where it's at! I think that your live show is 60%, if not 70%, of your music!
TMS: Since 2002 you have opened for acts such as Slayer, Testament, Dimmu Borgir, Chimaira, Lacuna Coil, and the list goes on almost indefinitely. Of this impressive list, who would you say has influenced you the most for better or worse? And saying that, in what way were the members of Saint Diablo influenced?
Justin: Well, first, I'm so proud to have had the pleasure to share the stage with all of the bands we have played with. Alot of them I/we looked up to when we were growing up! I think what has influenced me the most is the fact that all these bands give it their all, all the time to everyone, at every show. They know their fans deserve that and that's what has helped me! Sometimes you are on the road and some nights you feel more tired than others and you want to tone it down, that night, just once. But you know you can't and I don't!!!! You have to give it your all, all the time, and that's what I have learned from these bands. As far as the rest of the band, I think we all take away something different from each show and use it it to learn from. What not to do, what to do better...things like that.
TMS: You have put Republica on shelves as your eighth release and I'd like to congratulate you! What can you tell us about it's delivery and, also, how has it compared to your ealier works?
Justin: I think it's powerful!! I think it's a great album! I think it's a record that speaks to the people, telling them to question everything. Don't just settle. It has evolved us, the songs are better than before. Written better, sound better, and you can hear it on this one.
TMS: Ok, I have my own ideas but from your perspective, what sort of questions was Saint Diablo wanting us, as listeners, to ask ourselves?
Justin: (Laughs) Where can I get a CD and where are you playing next?!! (laughs)
TMS: I may sound like I'm asking circles around you but do the members of Saint Diablo feel like they said what they had to say ... is everyone satisfied with the how the tracks were recorded?
Justin: Yeah, I think so.
TMS: How has Republica been received so far? You love it, we love it, what do your fans think?
Justin: Great! It's doing well. We are always hearing from fans that they let their friends listen to it and (they) stole it so they need a new one! (laughs)
TMS: Earlier you had told us you have an album's worth of new material and that you're shopping studios. Can you give us a hint of what fans can be expecting and how it will compare or not compare to Republica?
Justin: Oh, yes! The new stuff is crazy!! We are so proud of it. It's heavier, it's enlightening, it's going to be great, the best stuff we have done...ever! I think it will be everything and then some for our fans.
TMS: Enlightening? So Saint Diablo is going to encourage listeners into further introspection? (Continued...)
Justin making his point clear at an unkown location.
TMS: Will there be any guest appearances on this new release?
Justin: Well, we have been talking about having someone come in on a guest spot. We have talked to a few people too. Don't really want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, we will have to see! (laughs)
TMS: And Saint Diablo will still be part of Nine Two Five Records?
Justin: Of course. They have helped us become a better band and their support is remarkable!
TMS: All the way back to the beginning, how did Saint Diablo come together?
Justin: Just a couple of friends gettin' together to jam and start a dream in Fredericksburg, VA.!! (laughs)
TMS: Would Saint Diablo like to add anything that hasn't already been covered?
Justin: Yeah! I want to thank TMS (you) for having us out and helping spread the word!
TMS: Ok, and to fans ... what would you like to say to your fans as well as the fans you will be gaining in the future?
Justin: First off, I want to thank our fans for everything!We love you all, and to everyone else, keep your ears to the ground and be ready!! (laughs)
So what's there to wait on, check 'em out...
Incase you're wondering, the first segment contains the artwork used in the video.
With that in mind, I approached our next interview. I've had some 'here and there' contact with Jay of Senate since last year and he was willing to be my first target! Jay had a wealth of knowledge to share with us about the band, the Canadian metal scene, their release 'The Great Northern Scenekill', and just what it all means! We hope you'll enjoy it! -Chris
TMS: You've received great reviews from Metal Maniacs, Exlaim!, Blabbermouth, and many others and especially toward the quality of production on your debut. In fact, it's also been labeled as 'as the third best independent album of 2007'. What can you tell us about the direction of your late 2006 release 'The Great Northern Scenekill' and what metal fans who have not yet heard it can expect? Of note, there was a false sense of security in the Intro before my ears were kicked in by Victorious Hatred...very appropriate, I'd say!
Jay: Well, when the band started it was nothing serious at all, I came into the band when Matt and Hudson were still playing with another drummer and bass player, as they were in search of a lead guitar player. Six songs were already written, that none have survived except Queen Of Sorrow, but the version on our album is quite a bit different then the original version of song.
I had always been in bands were people never really valued or accepted my ideas, the first set of ideas I wrote for the band ended up being part of Recommit Rising, Crucifixer and Whispers. It was great to finally have my opinions valued, and song writing commenced for the album. Once the original drummer and bass player exited the band, we began working with programmed drums and we really worked on the songs, worked them to death and we knew we were onto something special.
We originally had the idea of going into the studio with programmed drum tracks to garner attention from some real drummers, but the one day when I went over to Matt's for a writing session, he suggested we email some drummers and do a proper record for our debut album. I agreed that it was a great idea, so we emailed several metal drummers from Quebec and after a few responses we knew we had our man. Patrice Hamelin agreed to record with us and we were totally stoked! We knew he was the perfect man for the job and we had been a fan of his for years.
So basically we wrote the record that we had always wanted to write, a lot of the ideas for the record spanned from before the inseption of the band (2004) up to of course new ideas right before we recorded the record in June of 2006. So if you wanted to know the direction of 'The Great Northern Scenekill', it's a straight ahead aggressive metal album, with influences from all the styles of metal we grew up listening too; from black metal, death metal, to progressive metal in some instances. I think the album is a nice mixture of a lot of styles and I'm extremely proud of it. A lot of people like to dismiss us as just a melodic death metal band, while yes, there are influences from that style, of course... I think we're far from some generic death metal band and if you do think that... you obviously haven't listened very well.
TMS: So Patrice Hamlin was brought into the studio as a session drummer? When did he officially join Senate?
Jay: Yes, after Matt sent off several emails to different drummers, Eric Galy from Galy Records received the original correspondence email and gave Pat a call and gave him the low down. Interested, Pat got in contact with Matt via phone and after a few conversations, arrangements were made for him to come to Ontario and record with us. So Matt and I sent him all the pre-production tracks and tabs and Pat began learning the songs. We went up to his house and jammed for a weekend just before we went into the studio, not only was it an audition it was also a feel out session, not only for us, but for Pat as well. We all had to make sure we could stand being in a room together for more than five minutes. You don't want to go on tour and kill each other after the second day! He officially joined the band shortly after we recorded the album in June / July of 2007.
TMS: And what about bassist Colin Lernell?
Jay: Well, Colin is actually our third bass player. After the unceremonious exit of our second bass player, we actually played without a bass player for almost a year and a half. We had a few friends fill in for shows hear and there, but for the most of the time were either playing as a four piece... we even went through a stint as a three piece with a multitracker playing a more intricate version of the programmed drum tracks from our pre-production.
Anyway, the one day I was surfing a local metal forum. Colin had put a YouTube video of himself and a guitar player friend of his jamming "Mutilate The Stillborn" by Necrophagist. So I immediately emailed him, and asked if he was interested in trying out for us. He accepted, and learned the songs in record time. Colin joined a few weeks before we did our Ontario run with Martyr in January 2007.
TMS: There are many points to go over about your debut but one strikes me in particular. You've chosen to finance your recording as well as distribute The 'Greath Northern Scenekill' on your own. Why did you choose to do this and, secondly, how was Senate able to take such an endeavor? (Continued...)
Jay: Well, with the over saturation of metal bands out there, we knew we had to do something special to get people to notice us. We've been around for a while, but when we released the album, we were this band that came out of no where, with a professionally pressed record, recorded by Julius "Juice" Butty (Alexisonfire, City&Colour) and mastered by Tue Madsen (Rob Halford, Kataklysm, The Haunted). That move has seriously turned some heads, we've been approached by big labels and management as well as received great reviews and notice from some big metal publications, as you mentioned some earlier, UNRESTRAINED!, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Blabbermouth thus resulting in us being voted #3 in Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles top 10 demo / indie releases of 2007.
With all of us being working stiffs and some members even owning and running their own business'... we pooled together all the money we had and a lot of money we didn't have (haha) and just put everything on the line and went for it.
TMS: Do you feel this has been to your advantage? And of personal curiousity, what did collaborators like Marco Bresette (former Threat Signal) think of this bold move?
Jay: I definately feel it was to our advantage, with the way the music business is these days, you have to do as much as you can on your own. It's not like it used to be where you record a $500 demo send it away, and then a record label shows up on your door step and offers you a multi-million dollar record deal. A lot of bands, do sometimes several records, merch, tours all out of their own pocket just to garner label attention.
Pat and Marco both saw the hard work and dedication we had to this band and to doing the record so it wasn't very hard to convince them to participate in the recording. Marco originally was only going to do one or two bass tracks, but we asked him to do the whole record he reluctantly agreed (due to time restraints) but he worked his ass off and got it done and we all think he did a fantastic job. Pat learned the whole record in roughly a month, we went to Pat's house in Trois Rivieres, Quebec to do a quick rehearsal and things clicked so well, not only did he come to Ontario to record with us, he's now a full time member of the band!
TMS: The tracks are very 'together' and contain some incredible thought and I'm going to steal one of Heri Joensen's words 'unmistakable' when I speak of the guitar ability I heard with solos conjuring delightful memories of the old Testament and Legacy albums. Saying that, I want to ask what's happening in the studio now and how will that work compare or contrast with that on your debut? (Disclaimer: Heri Joensen was speaking of something entirely else but I found it appropriate. -Chris)
Jay: Well we're not in the studio just yet, we're working on new songs as we speak. So far we have 6 completed and many more ideas and parts are in the works. Some of the songs are longer and more technical, some are shorter and more to the point... it'll be a little more of everything. It's still going to be Senate, but it will be a step forward in playing and song writing. We might lose some fans, we might gain some. Who knows.
TMS: Was there something the band wanted to say in this album and, if so, is Senate satisfied that the point was made clear?
Jay: Well basically it's the album we always wanted to write and we did it. No apologies and no comprises. We actually lost a member over the direction change for this album... at the time we thought the original drummer quitting was a disaster but it turned out to be one of the best things that's happened to the band. While a lot of people listen to us and get confused by our influences passing us off as metal-core or generic melodic death, but most who have listened to us do get what we're doing, and hear just a balls out extreme metal band. There's no fucking "CORE" in our sound.
TMS: With all that's been invested into 'The Great Northern Scenekill', what can you tell us about the songs themselves?
Jay: Well, the songs written for our record are collection of new ideas and old. Some of the ideas were taken from songs that we had ditched, but thought some of the ideas were still worth using. Lyrics for some songs were taken from various poems Matt had written over the years. They signify everything we hold dear about metal from when were growing up. Some of the members have over 15 years of experience of playing and listening to metal. We even have attended a lot of the same shows, when we were young even though we didn't know each other at the time. I remember seeing "Cynic" of the "Focus" tour in ' 91 at Blind Melons in Buffalo NY with Cannibal Corpse and Sinister. It turns after talking about the show Matt was there as well. Yeah we're old. heh
TMS: Can you give us a sneak preview of what the rest of 2008 has for Senate? (Continued...)
Senate at The Embassy in London 2007.
Jay: Well as I said, we're writing new songs... we're looking to enter the studio hopefully in early 2008. Also we're working to get on a tour. We would really like to get out there and play for as many people as we can! We're really curious to hear people's reactions of the new material.
TMS: Are any of your members involved with other bands?
Jay: Well as some of your might or might not know, our drummer is Patrice Hamelin of Quebecois tech metal gods Martyr, he also did a stint with Despised Icon in November and Decemeber of 2007, as well as the many other projects he's involved in. Matt, has been singing in some covers, it's fun and it keeps him sharp. Colin, does all kind of jamming with various people, like school jazz ensembles and stuff like that. Myself and Hudson, Senate is it for us at this time.
TMS: Can you tell us something about the metal scene in Canada? You're sharing the scene with bands such as Despised Icon and Beneath the Massacre and as a longtime fan of Voivod I'm willing to place that it's intense...
Jay: Well Quebec has a huge metal scene. Despised Icon, Martyr, Beneath The Massacre, Kataklysm, Cyrptopsy all come from there and the scene is booming. As for the rest of Canada bands are spread out all over, out west there are bands like Into Eternity and SYL, Ontario has us, Thine Eyes Bleed and Threat Signal, and there are bands down east well. The Canadian scene is not as intense as one might think, it just has certain localized areas that are doing well for the Canadian metal scene. Luckily those areas are receiving big attentions from right people and it's opened the doors for alot of Canadian bands.
TMS: Back to the beginning... how did Senate come together and what made you want to pursue metal?
Jay: Well Senate started with Matt and Hudson jamming with another bass player and drummer, they were in search of a lead guitar player so after trying out a few differents guys (including me) I landed the job. I immediatly saw the potential in the band, and I had basically given up on trying to find a band where I would be happy and indentify with the other members as well as the direction of the music. I was sitting at home one night, and the drummer contacted me on ICQ and asked me to come jam with his new band. I was reluctant at first as I wasn't even sure I wanted to be in a band. I gave it shot, and I've never looked back.
I've been listening to metal for over 15 years and playing guitar almost as long. I knew the first time I heard Alex Skolnick, on "Practice What You Preach" I knew I had to play like that. I went through different phases of metal... progressive, death, black, thrash... and shred. I've always had a special place in my heart for extreme metal. So when I write for Senate... I try to incorporate all the different styles into our music. I hope people hear that when they listen to us.
TMS: Inspirations and influences. Everyone has their own. Who or what inspires you when you hit the studio or even practicing? (Continued...)
Jay: Well the list of inspiration and influences could go on for ever, but at the top of my personal list are: Ihsahn, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Satyr Wongraven, James Murphy, Chuck Shuldiner, Dave Mustaine, The Amott Brothers. I'm also really digging Jeff Loomis as well... the guy can shred!
Band wise: Carcass, Emperor, Cynic, Death... you get the idea. I don't want to bore you with a list of all the same bands everybody lists as their influences.
TMS: Would you like to add anything that you feel hasn't been covered?
Jay: We're always looking to hear from our fans, if you ever have any question or comments... anything! There's several ways to contact us, whether it be MySpace, Facebook, or email. If you have want to contact a specific member our individual emails addresses are on our website in the contact section. We answer pretty much every message we get sent... so don't hesitate.
TMS: To your fans and and those who haven't checked you out yet, what do have to say to them?
Jay: To all the people who left all the cool comments and words of inspiration, thanks so much! You can buy our debut album 'The Great Northern Scenekill' through us at our website www.senatemetal.com or our myspace www.myspace.com/senatemetal. We've also provided the whole album for streaming on our website so you can check it out! If you prefer to order our album through a local CD store. Send us a message with your area and we'll let you know what record stores closest to you have our album available!
TMS: Ok, shameless plug ... tell us and our viewers some more killer Canadian metal we need to check out...
Jay: There are quite a few bands in the area, or Canada for that matter that have really started doing things that are note worthy. Gates of Winter and Wood Of Ypres just brought out indepedant releases that are doing very well. Threat Signal, on Nuclear Blast Records are doing extremely well. We did a quick run with Thine Eyes Bleed in December of last year, they're on The End Records and the End All bands on major metal labels that are doing very well for themselves. Martyr, Pat's other band is really well known and is especially popular in Quebec.
Mostly recently Alberta's Divinty just released there debut album 'Allegory', which got them a world wide deal with Nuclear Blast Records. There's alot going on in Canadian metal right now. I'm proud to be part of this scene.
Who I'd like to meet:.. .. .. .. .. ..
- Status: Single
- Here for: Networking, Friends
- Orientation: Straight
- Religion: Protestant
- Zodiac Sign: Gemini