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Friday, May 30, 2008

Venue Review: Skully's Music Diner

For those that care, Skully's is consistently voted, year after year, Columbus' Best Singles Scene. I have personally witnessed many a drunken hook-up at Skully's so I can attest to this.

Good points: There is always at least one band worth listening to on any given night. They usually have at least one free concert per week too. They have 18+ shows all the time. Ladies 80's is a HUGE draw. Coat check in winter. Decent food. Service Industry Night on Tuesdays (Service industry employees pay 1/2 price for drinks). Smoking patios in the front and back.

Bad Points: Only 1 pool table (however, it is located on the balcony, which is awesome), the bartenders can be dicks (or bitches as the case may be). The scenester kids can be either incredibly hilarious or ridiculously annoying. It is impossible to not be accosted by bums if you're standing out front. I recommend using the back patio to smoke, as it is much larger and enclosed by a fence.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Concert Review: As Tall as Lions

Columbus, OH, The Basement, June 12, 2007

Originally posted at

Before the As Tall as Lions concert at the Basement started, I was sitting on the concrete outside the Lifestyles Pavilion. A tall lanky scene-kid walked past me and gave me a funny look. A few minutes later, he walked by me again, but this time he purposely veered towards me just to step over me. He was all but demanding to be noticed, as scene kids always are.

When the Lions got onstage, I realized the tall lanky scene kid was actually the bassist, who metamorphed from a “vintage” t-shirt and jeans into a pretentious vest/slacks combination. But for bands like this, pretentiousness is worn like a badge of honor. Everyone in the band was in a vest and slacks, except the singer who was in a suit. Even their roadies wore matching vests. It was kind of creepy in a very Killers-esque kind of way.

The crowd, which was unfortunately very small, was divided between young, hip scenester dorks and preppy coeds slumming it and pretending to be lesbians of the lipstick variety. There was much dancing of the “nod your head and shuffle your feet” variety, as well as the always hilarious “trying to walk in high heels while drunk” dance. That's one of my favorites to watch.

Musically, the Lions aren’t bad. By that, I mean that they aren’t incredible musicians, but what they play works very well for what they want to do. And that is far better than what a lot of bands can say. What struck me the most about their performance is how clean and precise they sounded. You could tell that these guys not only practice their songs, but they love them as well. On almost every single song, any given band member could be seen singing along with the lyrics. Even their roadies sang along and played air guitar and air drums. It was like being witness to some sort of bizarre, trendy, indie-rock cult.

Although the crowd was very small, the band played to them like they were in a sold out club. The singer is an able frontman who kept the 30 or so audience members in thrall throughout the concert. He even suggested getting the “lesbians” some more drinks to loosen them up.
The aforementioned bassist was very animated; quite possibly the most lively and energetic bass player I’ve ever seen live. His face was constantly contorting into odd grimaces while he jumped aound the stage like a man possessed.

The tunes ranged from cookie-cutter “indie style” (believe me, I hate using that term) soft rock, some fast hard rock, and some sappy ballads. They only played one cover, Gnarls Barkley’s Transformer, which they turned into a slowed down R & B song.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Concert Review: Kings of Leon, 2007

Kings of Leon, Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall, June 13, 2007

Originally published at

For one night, the Kings of Leon were the kings of the Newport. They rocked, they rolled, and they played their hearts out. And the sold out crowd loved every single second of it; singing along with every song, clapping with the beat, smiling and laughing throughout the show.

The Kings seem somewhat shy onstage. Very little banter between songs, no excessive showboating by any of the members of the band. The most that Caleb Followill said to the crowd was that this was their last show for this tour, before a two-week break. The rest of their roughly hour and 45 minute set was devoted to the music, and the fans appreciated it greatly.

While the Kings are more famous on the other side of the Atlantic, often hailed by the British music press as “the best band from America in years,” there was no sign at the Newport to make one think they aren’t just as loved here. More than 1200 people packed the venerable concert hall, mostly young, stylish, college folk. Many of the young women wore heels, many of the young men wore girl pants. But all showed their love for the Kings music in the same ways. Singing along with On Call, Molly’s Chambers, California Waiting, The Bucket, among many others.
The outstanding moment of the night happened at the end of the first set, before the encore. Caleb was playing his guitar so fast that his strumming hand was a complete blur. His guitar pick flew out of his hand into the front row of the crowd, however, he never even paused; continuing to play with his thumb for another full minute before the song ended when he smashed the microphone stand down to the stage floor. I couldn't tell if his hand was bleeding, but i have to imagine it was.
If you don’t understand the hubbub surrounding the Kings of Leon; see them live, before they start playing arena’s and stadiums. You’ll come away with a much more profound appreciation of the band. I went to this concert with no sympathy for the band or their music at all, but came away wishing the show hadn't ended.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Venue Review: Ravari Room

To see a metal show, the Ravari Room is the place to do it.

Good Points: Small enough and discriminating enough to bring in real metal and punk acts. Servers with Hounddog's Pizza menu's until Happy Hour is over. The best Happy Hour in town. 3 pool tables. Friendly (with 1 exception) bar staff. Awesome jukebox. Pinball.

Bad Points: Parking can be a pain. One of the bartenders (squirrelly looking dork with glasses) is a complete asshole. But there are several others who are very nice. Restrooms are always nasty. That's about it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Song Review: Idiot Thesis by Parishioners

"Idiot Thesis" is a pretty good tune if you're into '60s flashback psychedelics. Excellent music for a summer's day.

Musically, it is straight-forward psychedelic pop music. Poppy guitar work backed by drums and piano. While the song meanders in parts, it never loses direction.

check out Parishioners on Myspace

Venue Review: Newport Music Hall

The Newport is the oldest continuously running concert venue in the United States. Virtually every big name has played the Newport at one time or another, which is sad because of the state of disrepair the venerable building is in right now.

Promowest doesn't seem to know what to do with the place. On the one hand, they seem to recognize that Columbus needs a venue with 1200 person capacity to attract mid-sized bands and that they can make money out of that need.

On the other hand, Promowest doesn't seem to give a shit about upkeep or their customers. They removed the only drinking fountain, the restrooms haven't been cleaned in years, and they vastly overcharge for water and beer.

the water thing is what really pisses me off though. when i was a teenager, that water fountain was the only thing that kept me alive through many a nights' mosh pit. and those pig-fuckers at Promowest took out the water fountain and force dkids to pay... what is it now? 3 bucks for a bottle of water?!?!

fuck promowest. someone needs to buy out the Newport before those shitheels run it completely into the ground.

Venue Review: Bernie's Bagels and Distillery

Bernie's is the best place in the city to see a punk band. It is truly an underground marvel set about 20 feet below street level. the stage is only 2 inches high to give the bands headroom from the pipes and electrical conduits in the ceiling.

Surprisingly large beer selection, an outdoor patio, cheap cover charges even for national acts.

Bernie's is currently, and has been for quite some time, my favorite place to see a show.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Song Review: White Devil by Unholy Two

Sounds like a broken Public Service announcement in the midst of the final nuclear holocaust. Naked aggression and violent feedback, mask the intention of the song. i say "mask" because like every Unholy Two song, no matter how important the lyrics are to singer Chris Lutzko, they fall on deaf ears to whoever hears them. The distortion and feedback, not only in recordings but in live performances as well, is so overbearing that the lyrics (and for that matter, the vocals altogether) simply don't matter.

I've read elsewhere about Lutzko's hatred for all things and how he's the most evil man in columbus music.

I really don't see it.

While i don't personally know him, I've seen his act live. They didn't do anything bad or say anything that i thought was provocative in the least. Then again, i'm the guy that says God kills children because he wants naked boys running around heaven.

all that being said, i dig this tune, as i dig most songs by Unholy Two. Also, in case you are wondering, they play shows every week, so they are pretty easy to see.

Venue Review: High 5 Bar and Grill

High 5 is like the unfortunate middle kid of the family, with Bernie's being the older brother, and Ravari being the younger sister.

Bernie's gets the good punk bands and real underground shit, Ravari gets the best metal bands and some really good punk acts, and poor High 5 gets the crap that's left over.

Back in the day, before High 5 was bought out and renovated, it was a dark, seamy night club that had a dark seamy atmosphere. Nowadays the entire front wall has been replaced with huge windows, the DJ booth looks like some kind of flying saucer, and the bartenders are some of the biggest assholes in the city.

With the exception of the occasional MC Chris concert, there really is no reason to go to High 5 anymore. Unless you want to be treated rudely by people with lame tattoos who wear pants 3 sizes too small.

they serve food, but i've never ordered anything. the reason for this is because i've looked into the kitchen when the door swung open. no thank you.

all that being said, High 5 always has an exceptional beer selection. which is amusing since 99% of all High 5 patrons drink PBR. you know, PBR, the beer for douche-bag scene kids.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Venue Review: Germain Amphitheater

Even though it no longer exists, Germain Amphitheater has left a legacy in this city.

The very first concert I ever attended was at Germain (then called Polaris Amphitheater). It was a hot and balmy August evening in 1994. Opening was Willie Pheonix, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and headlining was The Cranberries.

My friend Ryan and I stood around trying to find someone to buy us cigarettes (since we were 14 at the time), finally finding a dude who looked to be in his 20's (he was actually 16). But they sold to him because he looked old. Hell, they probably would have sold to us if we had thought to ask.

Germain brought a lot of big names to Columbus and a lot of big festivals. Yeah, the prices of drinks and food sucked, but they do everywhere. But where else could you see Queens of the Stone Age or Dragonforce share a stage with Jane's Addiction or Black Label Society? Or see Rush one night, and N.E.R.D. and The Roots the very next night?

After every concert I attended at Germain, I always said, "That is the last time I'm going to that shit hole." But I always ended up going back.

Germain had problems like bad acoustics, no shade from the sun, and no smoking under the pavilion. But for a lot of people, it provided a lot of good memories.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Venue Review: Rumba Cafe

The Rumba Cafe is a sweet little spot on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

Friendly bartenders, reasonably priced drinks, and a nice atmosphere suitable for fun-drinkery. I don't recommend going to the Rumba to drink your sorrows away. Unless you want to hear whitey-jazz, whitey-reggae, funk, and some rock, while you drown your pain, that is.

The Rumba has a great enclosed patio in the back too. Several covered tables to sit and keep the sun out of your eyes. Lots of plants and greenery and a tiki bar make you feel like your in another country.

The clientele ranges from starving-artist college students to young professionals, to scene-kids, to old men who look like they should be in a smoke-filled blues bar. a lot of hippies and wannabe hippies too.

Oh yeah, and they serve food and have a GREAT happy hour.

Concert Review: Megadeth

Columbus, OH, Nationwide Arena, September 23, 2006

Pyros, concussive devices and over 20 years of experience couldn’t save Megadeth from the one thing they can’t control; their age. Headlining a tour with young and hungry groups like Arch Enemy and Lamb of God, Megadeth looked like the cool uncle that’s nice to visit every now and then, but hang out with him enough and you realize he’s kind of creepy.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re pushing 50, you shouldn’t wear leather pants and silk shirts; especially an American band known for its aggression and tough-guy personas. European metal bands don’t even do that anymore. And explosives on stage just signify a band with no confidence in their own performance (see: KISS). It’s simply overcompensating for a lack of showmanship on the musician’s part.

Dave Mustaine can still pull off his growling singing style, and can still (even after nerve damage in his left hand) play a guitar like no one else, but watching Megadeth perform after Opeth and Lamb of God; you can’t help but think that the only reason these guys aren’t playing the State Fair with Styx and REO Speedwagon is because they’re lucky that metal music is once again gaining popularity, keeping Megadeth relevant for another year.

Megadeth played most of their hits, including; Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells, and Hanger 18 (with back-up vocals from Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, and Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, among others). Fortunately for everyone in attendance, they avoided anything off of their 1999 album, Risk.

The songs were all technically proficient and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun playing, but there was just something missing. The songs just lacked their edge and their meaning in such a large arena. A more intimate venue would have been much better, such as Promowest Pavilion or dare I say it, the Newport, where the sound would be superior and less open space would make it seemed more crowded and frantic.

The sound quality inside of Nationwide Arena is absolutely atrocious. The best place to sit is directly across from the stage, unfortunately only a few people were lucky enough to be able to sit there. Standing on the floor in front of the stage is a good spot too and gives the best view of the stage, plus the opportunity to mosh. If your ticket puts you on the side, you’re screwed. I recommend sneaking to the far end of the arena, across from the stage.

For fans of the band, the show did not disappoint. It was a competent, if uninspired, showing for the band. For those who’ve never seen Megadeth before; well, you might not have stayed for the whole set.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Concert Review: Hatebreed, Black Dahlia Murder, Napalm Death, and Exodus

Monsters of Mayhem Tour
Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall, September 21, 2006

The crowd was mostly younger, as in late teens and early 20’s. For many, it seemed as if this were their first concert. The mob was also small, around 500, and didn’t seem to want to move. However, this changed as the night moved on.

The mighty metal warrior’s known as Exodus opened the show. Even though they were blasting explosive guitar riffs and tearing it up on stage, the younger crowd refused to mosh, dance, or perform any kind of mobility exercise in the pit. New singer Rob Dukes tried his best to get the crowd riled up, but to no avail. A few fans tried to start a mosh pit, and Rob pointed them out to everyone else as being truly hardcore. Older fans throughout the Newport could be seen playing air guitar for the entire set. the band was impressive and tight, but the combination of the younger crowd (who had probably never listened to Exodus) and being the first band of a rather impressive line-up didn’t help them.

The band that coined the term “Grindcore” to describe their music came on second. Napalm Death roared through their set like their namesake roared through Southeast Asian jungles. They played the title track off their first record, “Scum,” a Dead Kennedy’s cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” and a few songs off their newest album, “Smear Campaign.” In between songs, Barney Greenway talked to the crowd in his very polite, very British accent. It was a sharp contrast to his singing voice, which sounds like an angry, hungry, dying tiger about to devour its last meal. The pit got moving for Napalm Death, with arms and legs flying everywhere. A fight even broke out that spilled out onto the floor. Napalm Death delivered an intense show as promised and surely sold a lot of CD’s and T-shirts at the merch booth that night.

The Black Dahlia Murder blazed through their set with few breaks. TBDM played what was hands down the most vicious, hardcore set of the night. “This next song is about fucking people up. You know what to do.” And the animals in the pit did know what to do. They tore each other apart. TBDM’s singer, Trevor Strnad, looks like a bigger, meaner, WAY tougher older brother of Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. Chuck Taylor All Stars and geeky glasses aside, Black Dahlia kicked ass. Their set was no nonsense, no prattling to the crowd about war and religion, just straight up metal. They were the first band of the night to get a circle pit going that consisted of more than a dozen people.

Hatebreed, obviously the most popular band present being the headliner, put on a fast paced, smash mouth show. A look at the crowd showed who came to see Hatebreed. As one Napalm Death and Exodus fan said to me, “there’re a lot of Emo kids here.” The band put on a great hardcore show, they almost always do, but their fan base has taken a radical turn. This is attributable to Jamey Jasta’s insistence on making every single song an anthem of some sort. Hatebreed shouldn’t be blamed for this though, as almost every single hardcore band does this now. But it does get tiring hearing, “This next song is about being your own person!” “This song is about not letting people tell you what to do!” “This next song is about getting the respect that you deserve!” “This song is about being the best you can be!” You get the point. The Hardcore scene is turning into an After School Special. Hatebreed played a good show, the band was tight and energetic and gave the crowd their all. The crowd, for their part, was wild. The entire floor was thrashing and moshing.

All around a great show by every band involved. The crowd (which at shows like these are almost as important as the band) left much to be desired, but walked away knowing they got their money's worth.
- Tim Razler

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Festival Review: Ozzfest 2006

Columbus, OH, Germain Amphitheater, July 21, 2006

Ozzfest returned to Columbus with a vengeance with acts such as Atreyu, Black Label Society, Dragonforce, Hatebreed, Disturbed and System of a Down. While heavyweights System of a Down and Disturbed headlined the show, the smaller bands that played throughout the day proved to be Justas entertaining.

Atreyu and Black Label Society closed out the second stage with a bang. Atreyu had an enormous crowd for their set and the band obliged them by spraying the crowd with water to combat the heat. The band had a lot of energy and seemed genuinely happy to be there. In between songs, singer Alex Varkatzas profusely thanked the crowd for braving the heat and made damn well sure that they knew that Black Label Society was next and Dragonforce was playing the main stage.

After Atreyus set, Black Label Society got ready to take the stage. A huge black banner with the bands logo blocked the stage from view as roadies moved equipment behind it. Wylde's chants tore through the crowd. An air raid siren blasted form the stage and a voice challenged the Columbus chapter of the Black Label Society to raise their beers and joints to the sky. The curtain fell revealing Zakk Wylde and his cohorts who proceeded to show the crowd what metal music is all about. They played three songs before Wylde introduced the band. He then played a screeching near-10 minute guitar solo that culminated in a cover of the Star Spangled Banner. He played behind his head, he played with his tongue, he played like a metal god before his loyal subjects. USA chants broke when the solo ended and Zakk raised his drink and said, "God bless the mutha' fuckin' troops!"

Dragonforce took the main stage by storm with a unique style for this year's Ozzfest. It was almost like having a flashback to 1985 complete with guitarists leaping off the drum riser, kicking the air, playing while leaning on each others backs, and best of all a keytar. Yes, you read that right. After their third song, the keyboardist jumped off of his riser, picked up a keytar and jammed on the fourth and last song. A longer set would have been much appreciated, but with some many bands on the bill, someone has to get cut.

Lacuna Coil took the stage after Dragonforce with no introduction and a mild crowd interest. While female vocalist Cristina Scabbia and male vocalist Andrea Ferro offset each other providing a good melody, the timing of the band on the first few songs seemed to be off. The high point of the set was a cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, which garnered a surprisingly strong crowd response.

"Its not going to get much heavier than this," growled Hatebreeds Jamey Jasta. And he was right. Hatebreed took the stage with a fury that got the pavilion crowd to their feet and mosh pits started out on the lawn. Jasta worked the crowd like a pro and more than likely gained many new converts to his style of hardcore music. Jasta got the crowd to take off their shirts and wave them over their heads like helicopters. Hatebreed played a new song off their newest release, Supremacy, and they dedicated their song, Puritan, to the Black Label Society and everyone else in the "old school."

Avenged Sevenfold took the stage just before Disturbed. As soon as the crowd saw the skull with wings ascend behind the drum kit, everyone went nuts. Most of the crowd was on their feet for the entire set of guitar solos, pounding drums and amusing stage lights. The biggest crowd pleaser was a note-for-note cover of Panteras Walk, to which M. Shadows dedicated to the best fuckin' guitar player who ever played metal, Dimebag Darrell. The last song they played was Bat Country, a song that sounds little like anything else in their set. It was somewhat of a letdown from the more classic-style metal they were previously playing.

Disturbed didn't need an introduction, as the entire crowd knew they were coming. More than a few fans could be heard yelling that Disturbed should have headlined the show. The entire crowd was standing for their entire set. After the first song, singer David Draiman, with a theatrical flare, introduced the members of the band. Two songs later, he then asked the amphitheater guests to hold up their lighters; before the sun had even gone down. Disturbed played all of their numerous hits in a solid by the numbers set.

System of a Down never ceases to amaze, and Ozzfest was no exception. Concentrating mostly on their last two albums, Mesmerize and Hypnotize, System did not disappoint. Classics like Chop Suey! proved to be great sing-alongs. In fact, most of Systems set had the crowd singing along. Mini mosh pits broke out throughout the amphitheater for almost every song.

While disappointing that Ozzy Osbourne himself wasn't present, Ozzfest is proof positive that metal and heavy music are making a comeback in today's popular culture that is dominated by hip-hop and pop punk acts. The entire show was entertaining and had something for most people, weather its body painting, glow in the dark thongs, marijuana leaf leis, or just people-watching; Ozzfest delivered.

- Tim Razler

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Interview: Mike Justian of Unearth

So what sets III: In the Eyes of Fire apart from your previous albums?
What sets it apart from our previous records is that it is a more band-oriented experience, it was a collaboration. Everybody in the band, not just a couple guys writing the bulk of the material. Everybody coming in later to orchestrate it all. It was just a raw… the word organic has been thrown around a lot for this record but it’s true it is a more organic, stripped down process where we recorded the album live and did some overdubs and a few little tricks here and there but for the most part it is a real, true record. That and I think it is a more abrasive record. The sound and the songs in general are faster and more aggressive.

What was it like making the album with Terry Date? Was it any different than using a different producer?
Of course, with different producers come different areas of expertise. Different approaches, you know you have some guys who focus on the performance and the tones. You have other guys who rework your material and pull out their tools and fix any of the problems the band has with writing music. For us, we all felt relatively confident with our scheme of writing; we didn’t need any one dictating to us what was right and what was wrong. Terry was instrumental in helping us extract good performances that were still believable and didn’t sound like they had Pro Tools all over it. And he’s just a really relaxed guy, really easy guy to work with.

III: In the Eyes of Fire performed pretty well on the Billboard charts reaching #35 based more on word of mouth than radio airplay. Since all styles of metal are gaining or regaining popularity again, why do you think rock radio is so slow to start playing what people are actually listening too?
I think that the radio is still obsessed with the instant gratification appeal of music. They want their pop stars and they want them now, regardless of what credibility they have. Metal and more agitated music, there is a certain degree of credibility because it starts with people having their ears to the soil and it goes from there. As opposed to being some big grandeurous cloud in the sky that just kind of dissipates after a while. I think heavy music will always have its place and its status, I mean, Slayer won a Grammy last night, that’s fantastic. Whether it will get all the press and radio play it deserves is yet to be determined. I think as long as it stays true to itself then it doesn’t really matter whether it’s going to get played on the radio. There is a market out there and legitimate fans for legitimate music. That means more to me than getting played on some syndicated radio program or some conglomerate.

The video for Giles was one of Headbangers Ball’s Best of 2006. What was it like making a video? I’ve always pictured it being kind of irritating.
It was especially irritating for me cause I had possibly the worst hangover any human being can possibly conceive of. It was to the degree that I apparently passed out three stories up on the ledge; the balcony. Woke up the next day feeling like someone was punching me in the side of the head over and over again. Suffice to say, the video for me was not a terribly enjoyable experience. But working with Darren Doane was a tremendously enjoyable experience cause he’s such a cool guy. He’s really focused and knows exactly what he wants to achieve and is really efficient. We spent the day doing that video, and it was us in a big studio in Burbank California. It was just us playing the song, except that we weren’t actually playing the song. It was us really performing and putting our hearts into it. We did it for 12 hours.

Unearth has had a long association with Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, who produced The Oncoming Storm and The Stings of Conscience. Is there a real sense of camaraderie with bands coming out of Boston?
Yeah. A lot of really talented outfits come out of Boston, and I don’t really know why it is the Mecca or the breeding ground that it is. There are a lot of talented people there, and rightfully so; there are a lot of talented people everywhere. It just so happens that a lot of the more noteworthy bands are from the Boston or Greater Boston area.

Are there any rivalries, friendly or otherwise between bands in the scene?
Always. There is always a friendly competition with other bands. I’m not afraid to say that. Everyone wants to see everybody succeed because we’re all ultimately… we all have the same common interests and the same goals. But sometimes, by having the same goals and common interests, situations were there is one at the top, you’re the one who wants to be there.

Do you think that competition makes the music better?
Well yeah, I think that it is a healthy thing to have a symbiotic relationship with your peers and other bands and musicians. That propels you to get better and grow and develop. If there is no competition there is no reason to continue to grow.

Who are your favorite bands today?
Neurosis will always be a big favorite of mine. For heavy music, the new Planes Mistaken for Stars is one of my top five. Nothing against the bands that we’ve played with, but I don’t really listen to most of the bands we’ve toured with. And I’d like to play with more of the bands that we don’t tour with.

Who do you think is the best drummer in the world today?
Best drummer in the world? I mean, there’s billions of drummers; trillions of drummers. There is probably drummers in other galaxy’s. Jon Theodore, he was with The Mars Volta for a while; one of the best contemporary rock drummers around. You have, I can’t think of the cats’ name, the drummer from Hella (Zach Hill), is just a retarded drummer. I think he is literally from another planet. Then you have guys like Abe Cunningham; just true monsters. But I can’t even begin to speculate who the best drummer is. How about not me. How about that?

What do you think about Winger reuniting with the original line-up?
I really couldn’t care less. Rod Morgenstein, there’s a good drummer. Kip, you know, maybe he should stick to ballet and composing.

What interests do you have outside of music?
Outside of music; playing, composing, listening to it… I don’t know, playing with my dog. Yeah, you know, copious amounts of binge drinking extravaganzas, which I’m trying to ween off of.

Why are drummers always the first to leave a band?
Because I think that drummers are the most adaptable. There’s fewer good drummers than anything else, so there is always a demand for great drumming. And because drummers are so adaptable they are constantly looking to expand and play with other musicians and other outfits. From a purely ego standpoint, drummers are probably the first to leave bands because they are the last to receive any real credit.

Since the murder of Dimebag Darrel, have you noticed any changes in the security practices at concerts and has security or a lack of it ever been a problem at any of your shows?
Very few times is it just right. Very seldom do you come across a situation at a venue where it’s adequate security without being overwhelming. It’s either no security, or too much security. Very few times is it solid in between.

How did you feel the first time you had your own tour bus?
Uh… I felt drunk despite the fact that I was completely sober. It was exciting; I was ecstatic. That’s a huge mile marker in the success of any band. It doesn’t have to be, but for me it was. One of the reasons why I play this obviously is not just because of the sheer fact that I want to play music, but I want to make a living out of it; I want to be able to sustain myself doing it. And like, being in a situation where you can afford something that’s as astronomically expensive as a tour bus, lends itself to the notion that you are doing well financially.

What do you think of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force “bomb scare” a few weeks ago? Do you think they overreacted?
I’m not even going to dignify that. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.

What was your first concert?
My first concert was two Boston bands and one band from Maryland who is actually still around and doing really, really well. Salem Black Church, Boston Treat, and Clutch. I was… 12? And I’m 27 now. Great band, and that’s another great drummer; Jean-Paul (Gaster of Clutch). Really underrated drummer.

What is the most memorable concert you’ve been
My most memorable concert would be Neurosis. Neurosis is… it’s religious. It’s like a religious enlightment. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen ever before.

If you could kick the shit out of any drummer in the world, who would it be?
Like, literally? Or musically?

Well I was going literally, but musically will work too.
Uh… I don’t know. Maybe Dustin (Schoenhofer) from Walls of Jericho. Kidding! Kidding. They call him the ‘Knockout Kid’ pretty much take your head off with one punch. I don’t know, [laughs] guitar players who play drums, how about that? Any guitar player, and guitarist that thinks he’s a drummer; I’ll fight that dude with both hands tied behind my back.

That’s actually been happening a lot lately.
Eh, well, what can you do. Besides fight him with your arms tied behind your back.

Which do you think is better, Boston Clam Chowder or New England?
… Wait; hold on, Boston clam chowder or New England? There’s a difference?
[Woman on the bus] Isn’t one red and one white?
That’s Manhattan, that’s like Manhattan clam chowder; that’s red. Boston or New England, there’s no better chowder in the world; I’ll put it that way. Seven Presidential Inaugurations cannot be wrong!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Interview: Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil

[This interview took place on Lacuna Coil's tourbus. Jason Pearlman, the photographer who got me this interview, was with me. No other members of Lacuna Coil were visible, but their tour manager, a stern and muscular irishman (if I remember correctly) glowered at us while eating a Wendy's cheeseburger with a knife and fork. Cristina walked up from the back of the bus wearing baggy pajamas and no make up, leading me to the obvious conclusion that she just woke up. Regardless of being woken up by an angry emerald islander just to be pestered by two dorks three hours before taking stage at the Newport, Cristina was, not to sound like I'm 85... completely charming and wonderful to speak with. -Tim 11/13] 

I heard rumors that the only television you watch when in the U.S. is the Food Network.It's not the only one, but is definitely one of my favorites, yes. I have a few favorite channels. I love, for example, Cartoon Network when it turns into [Adult Swim] as well. Food Network is... I'm food addicted. I love to eat. I love to cook. And I like to watch all the programs because American food culture is completely different from the Italian one. Sometimes I look at it just to steal some tricks or sometimes I look at it to laugh at it, you know, when they show some Italian, some Italian recipes and they are completely wrong. Sometimes I laugh at it, but it's always good. But Food Network is not the only thing I watch.
What are your favorite shows?On Food Network?
On anything.On anything? Ah, in the U.S. you mean or just in general? Cause it depends. I'm not like T.V. addicted. I use it as a background in a way, when I'm doing something else at home. But it depends; cartoons, movies, reality shows.
[I could tell she was bored with this line of questioning, so I switched to something else] 
You have an advice column in Revolver with Vinnie Paul. What do you give advice on? Is it all musical, or...No, no, no. They are sometimes musical. Sometimes, most of the time they are asking how did I start the band. Most of the time the people that write me they are really young so they are just starting a band so they want to know how did I start it, how I met my partners in the band because they have no idea how it works. So I share my experience with them. Or they ask me sentimental advices, you know, like they may have problems with their friends, boyfriends, whatever it is. I just give the woman perspective. When I started, I had no idea what it was going, what I was going to meet, with the letters, especially because the Vinnie Paul page is very, very masculine. [laughs] So I think it is cool to have on the same page a woman's perspective, so you can have both sides.
What is the bands' process for writing songs?It depends. Most of the time we are starting from an idea, a riff, a melody. We build the music first and then add vocal lines and lyrics. Of course there are some songs that started from vocal line an idea. We're working all together and we're just working for the song so it doesn't really matter where the idea is coming from. We're not like, ego-freak.
Being on tour constantly for months at a time with the same group of people, do you get on each other's nerves?Sometimes yes. I think that is pretty much normal because you spend 24 hours a day together. There is no privacy. The only privacy you get is in your own bunk, so I think it's pretty normal that we fight sometimes, like in a regular family. You can have discussions, but they are always for the good, we love each other to death, we know each other so well. We know perfectly when it's the case to let somebody, on his own, chill out for a bit.
[Looking back, I should have asked a follow up to this question] Your vocal range is very impressive. Did you have any training?No, I wasn't trained at all.
Have you ever met any of your musical idols?Well I believe so, yeah. Basically in the music industry, we meet so many icons in metal from Iron Maiden to Slayer to Whitesnake [laughs]. We've met so many bands and toured with so many we love. Type O Negative and Anthrax and Rob Zombie, P.O.D., System of a Down, Disturbed, Slipknot. We met so many artists in ten years.
You were on tour with Danzig recently...Yes, we did a tour with him right before the In Flames tour.
He's pretty notorious for having a very abrasive personality.A what?
Um... he's famous for being an asshole.Seriously, from my opinion and I've met him twice. I'm talking about the tour we did now and the Blackest of the Black we did with him a few years ago. He's always been nice with us and been really kind. So from my point of view, it's a lie. But then, it's really easy for certain people to categorize, get a certain opinion of someone from one look. Maybe one day you're sick or tired and have your own problems and you're kind of grumpy. And someone sees that perspective and says, "Gee that's an asshole. He doesn't like to hang out. He doesn't like to talk." But that doesn't mean they're like that all the time. Maybe they just want their privacy. Can you imagine being a person like him being chased for years from the fans? I think it comes to the point where you just want to relax, be on your tour bus, to rest your voice, especially, because you know it's not easy, especially for a singer. And I'm saying that because I'm the one who would love to hang out every night, but I simply can't. Because if I start talking the day after I will be fucked up.
How do you keep your energy up between shows? Tomorrow you're playing in Chicago right?Well first I try to sleep a lot. I drink a lot of tea. There is a special tea that is good for the voice. Now I'm trying to warm up before every show, because this is something I wasn't really doing in the past. Not that I'm warming up now, but at least for a few minutes I try to. And then it's the passion that keeps you going. Cause we love what we do, even when you are tired, like, one minute before you go on stage, you just need to hear the scream from the crowd. That wakes you up in a second.
Italy isn't really well known for producing lots of metal bands. Do you see yourself and your band as being inspirational to...Of course yes. You always need a point to start from. And assuming as you say that there isn't a rock n roll/metal history coming from Italy: we are the first export band. The first band that made something out of Italy, so a lot of new bands are looking at us as an example to follow and they see that we made it so they have much more hope than before, they can think 'they made it, they started it, so we can follow them.' Basically I think we are a big inspiration for a lot of newcomers from Italy cause now they know that they can do it as well. And a lot of labels are getting more and more interested in Italian bands, because before they had no idea that there was a little bit of potential.
Why do you think that is?I just think that there was no history. So due to the fact that there was not rock n roll, metal music on the charts, not a lot of people was following this music so it was pretty natural for any bands playing something different that could, maybe, give them more success in music, no matter what. I believe it is due to that, cause there are a lot of bands that are really good.
How did you come to the decision to cover Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence?Basically we wanted, in Karmacode, to include a song that everybody could know and everybody could sing along to at the shows. So it was not meant to be a single, but people released it as a single. But we knew that it wasn't the most original song to cover, simply for the fact that it is so famous and a lot of other bands have covered it. But we just liked it and as soon as we started to practice the song in the practice room we found out that it was really similar to the Lacuna Coil style. So I mean it was perfect and picked it up, but we had other songs we that we tried, but they weren't fitting that well.
Is it difficult being away from your friends and family?Of course. I think it is difficult for everyone but it's a choice. There is a balancing between the two, because of course I love my family, my friends, my partners to death, but at the same time I love my job as well. I've been able to find a balancing of the two on tour. So I stay in touch with them on the Internet and the phone. When I see them it is the best thing in the world. It is still my job; it is the thing is chose to do.
How does it make you feel being the object of lust for millions of teenage boys?[laughs] It makes me laugh because as you can see me now, I'm not walking in high heels, I'm not... you know. To be honest, what I'm really happy about and really proud about is not to be the object of lust for the guys who have this kind of imagery about me. But what makes me really proud is that I get a lot of mails from young girls, and young guys as well, who are looking at me as a role model. Because they just see me as a person who has been able to improve herself and to give the best out of herself. Because I'm not perfect, I'm not a model. I know that you can be sexy in different ways, not just in cliché ways that you can see in Playboy and stuff. There is something special in the natural beauty of a normal person and I'm glad that people following us, following the art, just discovering that and they can be more sure of themselves, thanks to what I do and what they see about me, so that makes me really proud.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Interview: Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth)

Cradle of Filth- Paul Allender

Originally posted at

How’s the tour going?
Good, it’s going very well. We played in Mexico a couple days, over a couple days, which was really amazing.

How about some history first; how old were you when you decided that being a musician is what you wanted to do?
Oh, I dunno. I must have been, what, twenty? Twenty, twenty-one. I mean I started playing guitar when I was 14, but I was twenty when I started wanting to do it properly.

Do you remember what your first guitar was?
Yes I do. As a guitar, it was the biggest piece of shit going.

Sounds like my first guitar.
Well, you got to start somewhere.

When you left Cradle of Filth in 1996, you founded The Blood Divine. What made you leave that band and return to Cradle?
Blood Divine pretty much had run its course. When we wrote the first album, it was amazing, ya know. For the second album, with just the guitars and drums on there it was absolute fucking blinding. But we started having organ all over it, and I hate having organ. Big time. And then the singer, Darren, well his vocals were fine on the first album, but on the second album, he tried to sing normally and he couldn’t sing. So, I was like, you’ve ruined the fuckin' second album by having organ and clean vocals. That’s not what it’s about. And I left and started a band called Primary Slave. I was about to sign a contract with Primary Slave, which is like some Fear Factory/Strapping Young Lad-type stuff. Then Dani (Filth of Cradle of Filth) phones me up and asks, ‘Do you wanna come back to the band?’ So I spent three or four months actually thinking about it and then sat down and had a meeting with him about it and everything seemed to be alright. So I’ve been in the band now, seven years is it?

Is there any single overall reason why there are so many line-up changes in Cradle?
Um, yeah. People just can’t handle the workload. Both myself and Dani, we really believe in, ‘This is the end. This is your one chance you get.’ And its full on 24/7 working your fingers to the bone. And if people are in the band with us, they have to do the things that we do. Cause we’re not going to carry people. And that’s why a lot of people drop out. They can’t handle it.

Have you heard of the video game, Guitar Hero?
Funny you should say that, I actually haven’t. But last week I was in NAMM and they had it there and some kid was playing it. But I’ve never actually been on it. Why, is it any good?

Well, I’ve played it, and it’s incredibly addictive. It’s, well it’s horrible. It’s kind of bad because there’s been a small uproar with guitarists over this game because it makes playing guitar seem a lot easier than it actually is.

Cradle of Filth has pretty much been at the forefront of the resurgence of the popularity of metal in the States of the past few years. Like VH1 has been doing a lot of metal programming and the cartoon show Metalocalypse has also been fueling metals’ popularity again. Why do you think metal is making such a comeback? At least in the U.S.?
I really don’t know, I’m just sick and tired of all this Emo shite, ya know? The industry puts together all these bands ya know? And it’s weird because first of all it was like, boy bands; then it was industry-based bands put together and they’re as bad as the bloody boy bands. So I think they’ve gotten sick and tired of it and want people who can actually play. Or not actually play, but can write their own songs and are in an actual band, with mates, for a long, long time, and not put together just to make some money. It’s cool though; I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

How did you hook up with Dani and the rest of the band?
Originally I was in, ah, I got a band together, a really bad, bad band together when I first started playing. We played our first gig in a club in my hometown, and Dani, Paul (Ryan) and Ben (Ryan) came along to watch us. And pretty much after our first gig, Paul comes up to talk to us, blah, blah, blah, this that and the other, just kinda talking. And he asked, ‘Do you want to join our band?’ [laughs] And that’s pretty much how it happened.

How do you keep your energy up on tour?
To be fair, it is tiring. But at the end of the day, you just got to try and look after yourself. But, if you’ve done it for a really long time, you kinda get used to it. Because we just got off a six-week European tour. We basically had four weeks off? Three weeks off? Something like that, before we came back out here again. So we didn’t really have time to get out of the touring frame of mind. So, we’re… we’re pretty much used to it.

What passions outside of music do you have?
I do a lot of artwork, I’ve got a thing called Vomitorium where I show my pictures. I do that… I teach martial arts. That’s pretty much it really. Martial arts and artwork are my interests outside the band.

Any particular style of martial arts?
Yeah, it’s called Yoseikan it’s an open form of karate.

Who do you think would win in a fight, GWAR or Mayhem?
[laughs] I dunno, I’d say it was GWAR if they got their costumes on, when you hit them it wouldn’t hurt cause of all the padding.

And GWAR out numbers them…
Yeah, there’s like 12 people in the band isn’t there?

On Midian, and after Midian, the band took a more melodic turn, and some fans, die-hard fans, of Cradle’s earlier work didn’t take that too kindly. Do you think those people are too stubborn to evolve with the band?
Yeah, and I never mind them as well. If you’re into a band, you’re really into a band, like what they’ve done, you’d be into them regardless of what they’ve done; what happens. That’s one thing I really hate about this industry. It’s the fact that there’s lots of these tunnel-vision people, and it’s like if a band looks a particular way they have to sound like this. Or if a band starts off playing one particular style that they carry on like that regardless whether the bands career suffers for it or not. As a band, and other musicians would agree with me, if you’re in a band, then you really like music. Therefore, as you get older, if you still want to carry on doing the band as a job, the music has to evolve. If we had stayed the same band as we were seven years ago or five years ago, I don’t think we’d be around now. Cause if we kept turning out the same stuff; fans would just get bored. At least it keeps people interested and on their toes cause we change it; every album that comes out is completely different.

On the new album, Thornography, you’ve previously said that you aren’t comfortable calling yourself a lead guitarist…

But there is quite a few solo’s on this album; what made you decide to write more towards soloing?
Well, the previous Cradle stuff didn’t really have room for it, ya know? And I don’t believe in putting solo’s down for the hell of it. You know they have to be structured properly and therefore, cause this album, the way this album came out; as far as I’m concerned a metal album definitely needs solo’s on it. So we consciously thought to put solo’s on the album, and so lets write the rhythm parts structurally so they fit properly. And it turned out really well. Plus it lets me practice my shredding [laughs]

What prompted the move from Sony to Roadrunner?
When we signed with Sony, what happened was when it actually came to promoting the album, they didn’t have a clear idea. And the band started going slowly downhill. Because they just sat on it doing nothing. They didn’t know how to work it. So when the second album came around, we told them, we have the option; we don’t want to sign with you. Because, like, you don’t know what to do and if we stay with you there isn’t going to be a band left. So they let us go, and Roadrunner had been waiting to sign us. Which was cool. I mean, Roadrunner has been trying to sign us for, God, at least ten years.

Some of your fans that knew I was going to interview you wanted me to ask you some questions. Sarah Jezebel Deva; she’s been on virtually every Cradle of Filth album but she’s never been recognized as a full band member. Why is that?
I don’t know. She does other stuff. I suppose, there is no particular reason, it’s just stayed like that. It’s nothing to do with us, really. Just the way it’s turned out, ya know? She’s got other bands and stuff, so I think she’s got more… she’s busy with that. You don’t have to be a feel member to play with us, ya know?

Who are your musical heroes?
Judas Priest. I’m still into the Defending the Faith album. It’s fuckin’ amazing. As far as I’m concerned K.K. Downing is the best on the planet.

Do you have any other influences other than Judas Priest?
Oh, the fast stuff, early Megadeth, Metallica, ya know. Especially the stuff in the 80’s when I was growing up as a kid, listening to it. When all the good albums were out [laughs]

Where do you see Cradle of Filth in five years? Or yourself in five years?
Still doing what we’re doing basically, but getting the band bigger. I’ll still be writing music, still be making artwork. I’ve just had my guitar released, my signature series. So I’m going around promoting that.

Were you at NAMM with your guitar?
Yeah, it was good. I went up there with my signature series guitar, which comes out in March for sale at shops. So yeah, it was really cool. I’ve actually got to play there next year. Didn’t this year, but I will next year. I’m working on some stuff, some originals of some heavy metal type stuff to play at the next PRS party. Which will be good because they’ve never really had that sort of stuff there, but now I’m endorsed by them and have my own guitar. So I’ll join them onstage and play some… that’ll be fun [laughs]

Do you see Cradle of Filth as someday being as big as say, the Rolling Stones?
Ha, ha, no. [laughs]

Do you think you guys will go on for that long?
Hopefully go on for that long, but I can’t see us getting that big. Because we’re in a really good market, but it’s like a niche market. Even though we’re on top of it, it’s still small compared to the whole music industry. And whereas the Stones, they’ve completely covered the whole thing. The whole fucking industry. We’re like Kings of one particular section. But yeah, I hope it’s going to get bigger. Hope it gets a lot bigger. We’ll still work at it hard to get it bigger and take it as far as we can possibly take it. So that’s what we plan to do. But who knows? If we get as big as the Rolling Stones, that’d be fucking brilliant! [laughs] Heavy metal to the masses.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Interview: Matt Devries of Chimaira

Originally posted at

When I was researching for this interview, I was on Wikipedia and you are on there; I don’t know if you know that, but every person in the band does and it has zero information about anybody, just your name, birth date and how tall you are, which I found out you are five foot ten. I’ve never seen anything like this for any other band. Which brings up the question, are your fans insane?
Um, to a certain extent, yes [laughs]. You know you run into like, I guess they’re more… I can’t even pinpoint certain cities. It depends on where you are; like they are more tame in the States than in the U.K. or Europe. We’ll play in the U.K. or Europe and kids will be waiting at like 10 a.m., and you’re just waking up, wanting to brush your teeth, and they want autographs. It’s kind of crazy, overwhelming at first. It’s cool though; it’s cool to be like that, but kinda weird.

Do you think that is because they don’t get to see tours as much?
Yeah. I mean, now it seems metal is pretty huge, especially over there, but yeah, I think they just appreciate it more.

Why do you think metal fans feel the need to classify every band and make sub-genre after sub-genre?
Yeah, I don’t get that. People ask me what I play; it’s just metal. You know, people call us Metalcore, and that kind of pinpoints you. It makes people have a preconceived notion of what you sound like before they ever hear you, so that’s why I hate it. There’s a bunch of labels out there, but I don’t know, I don’t know why.

Any band that ever achieves any level of success, the base fans start calling out names like ‘sell-out’ and bullshit like that…
You’re right, there are a lot of bands out there that have been doing it for years, that have just… um… haven’t gotten the notability of other bands’ first record or what not, so maybe that’s why. Underground fans get pissed because these bands get big or whatever. I just think to each his own, some bands get bigger than others right away, and some bands have to work at it. I think the bands that actually work at it are the ones who are around much longer. Not one hit wonders or some of that, where it goes to their head right away because of one big record right away.

Your old record label Roadrunner, their press machine is saying that Resurrection may be one of the best records in 2007; which is your favorite album, if not this one?
It’s definitely this one. I think with this one, we did a lot of interviews for the last record where we defined it as Chimaira because we thought of it as Chimaira; that was our definition of who we were. But it was at the time that we think we this is the perfect line up with heavy metal back in the swing of things and we’re heavier than we’ve ever been and the album reflects that in my opinion. We had a lot of fun writing it and I think the music is a lot better, quote/unquote than the other records.

Why the switch from Roadrunner to Ferret?
Pretty much, honestly we’ve been trying to get off the label for about a year before we even signed to Ferret. And the reason being is we just didn’t think they pushed the last record enough. You know, kids were complaining that there wasn’t enough records in stores, we didn’t have the press we thought we deserved, we toured nonstop to really push that record and they kind of dropped the ball and put us real low on the totem pole so we want someone that’s going to show us the love and there is a lot of people at the label that we actually appreciated and we appreciate the label for getting us where we are and we owe them a debt of gratitude for that, but they just kind of stopped, stopped working, and there is a lot of people who tried but their higher-ups wouldn’t let them do what they wanted so Ferret approached us right away and we had already been friends with them and talked to bands on their label about how impressed they were with all the press and all the market push and uh, it was a given that we were going to sign with them.

Like you said earlier, you’re on tour all the time. Do you write songs on the road or wait until your done touring?
We pretty much wait. This record was a little bit different because we had some time off in February when we got rid of Kevin and Andols back playing drums so we had some time off just rehearsing because we still have a tour cycle to finish up. Mark, myself and Rob have Pro Tools at home so we wrote some songs, just mp3’s, sent mp3’s back and forth, we didn’t really focus on the writing right there be we did have a jump start when we did finally focus on the writing when we got back. Cause there’s twelve dudes on a bus, a lot of distractions on the road… maybe one or two riffs have been written on the road and that’s about it.

The artwork on your last three albums has been really cool; I really liked the chaos star on Impossibility of Reason.
Right on

Who decided on the direction of the album art and who makes it?
The last two was friends of ours, Todd Bell, and his buddy Garret who’s done a lot of art for us, art direction stuff like that. And um, we’ve pretty much, I don’t know, have a collective thing. They pretty much approach us with ideas, or Mark will approach them with an idea and they collaborate and we all give them our two cents. But the last two records it was like, whoa that’s the cover, you know what I mean? And this one too, we’re just thoroughly impressed with the guy. Mark and Chris actually found him online and the art was just sick and we felt that this record, just like the last two, was not too busy; was something cool, that would look cool on a shelf and really defined our record just like the last two. Yeah, we’re real impressed with the last three covers.

Does the mutant-thing have a name?
Uh, no. I don’t think anyone’s named him yet [laughs].

As a guitarist, what’s going on in music that pisses you off right now?
I don’t know, actually to be honest I think some of the best music out there could be written on four chords, you know what I mean? I think there are a lot of bands now that are really showing off; and I appreciate a lot of those bands and look up to them talent-wise, but at the same time I don’t think a lot of them are really writing songs. I like good bands who are writing good songs; you don’t really have to shred or show off. Show a little bit of your talent, show maturity, but if it isn’t a good song to back it up then it’s just kinda like “look at me, I’m shredding.” I guess that doesn’t really piss me off, too each his own, I’m friends with a lot of those bands, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Going back to writing songs, how do you guys come up with stuff? Is it one person comes up with a cool riff and everybody adds on to it, or is it more that everyone just comes together?
Somewhat, I think it is a combination of that and just bringing the whole song to the table and everyone putting their two cents on that and building onto that. This record we kind of, for the first time ever we kind of combined songs, you know what I mean, that were already written. Usually you have a riff and then you kind of write while you’re in the rehearsal studio, but this one we kind of combined things here and there and uh, like I said before, we had a such a jumpstart on things so it was pretty much easy.

What were the differences in making Resurrection as opposed to the previous albums?
Pretty much what I said, everything else has been pretty much standard. We’ve found our formula working together so many years that it’s a good experience I think. Writing and recording is tedious to me, I’d rather be playing on stage but it was a good process and we had a good time doing it. The last record was kind of bumpy, new drummer, new voice, kind of a different way of doing things, but this record was just like, easy.

On your DVD, did you have any creative control over that or involvement in the making of it?
I didn’t, Mark had a lot of creative control like sound edits, Mark would be like “ah, take that out” but at the same time we didn’t want to do that too much with that one or on this DVD, cause we wanted to record a truthful DVD, more reality like a documentary than “we’re a cool band” type thing.

On the Roadrunner 25th Anniversary (Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions) album, you go to play with guys like Rob Barrett (Cannibal Corpse), Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Testament), Glen Benton (Deicide), and Joey Jordison (Slipknot). Was there any disagreement on what you should play, or how you should play it, or did everything just mesh up real quick?
Everything was cool, Joey had already written everything with the exception of the vocals on both songs I did. It was just a cool experience for me looking up to these players for years; I was kind of like the young dude compared to them, they were the veterans of metal that I had been listening to as a kid. It was just awesome; the whole experience was real cool. Joey is just a good friend, we toured together in ’04 and it was just a cool experience, it was fun, and he was real accepting towards any of our, any of our two cents like “maybe you should do that different,” “ah, good idea.” That was just a fun experience; it wasn’t any work at all.

Annihilation By the Hands of God; that had the coolest title out of every song on there, and is just a kick ass song, too.
Thanks! I was really stoked on our two songs, I liked the record but was real stoked on that, that I got to be part of the real brutal songs.

Some of the songs on the new album go towards a more Death Metal sound. Was that a conscious decision or did that just come about naturally?
Uh, it’s subconscious. Like me, Rob, Andols, Mark every one; we have big influence by old, old school Grindcore and Death metal, so I think it was a given that we were going to use it more and more. You know, I love death metal and Grindcore, but I also love the fact that it has to groove. And I think that’s what we do with it. As opposed to just blast beats all the time, which I like too, but ya know.

Do you think the new Transformers movie was made to bring kids into Transformers, or for people our age to reminisce about the good old days?
I don’t know, but I’m stoked! Cause I love Transformers; I still have Transformers: The Movie at home. I’ve got the soundtrack too on vinyl. I’m wondering how it’s going to turn out, have you seen a preview? I saw one but they didn’t show anything.

There is that one and they just came out with a new one where they show the Transformers from weird angles, but there was definitely Optimus Prime.
I’m definitely stoked, I don’t know if kids are going to be like “who the hell’s that,” but I think it’ll be a big movie cause there is a shit load of people like us who grew up on it.

I asked this next question to Mike Justian of Unearth, but you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want.
No it’s fine.

Ok, is there anyone in music right now, whose ass you want to kick.
Um... I don’t start beef usually. Right now I can’t think of anybody, that’s a hard question though. We just started a tour cycle so maybe there will be someone along the lines on the tour. But I got nobody right now; I got no beef. What did Mike say?

He said, oh I can’t think of the guys’ name now, the drummer of Walls of Jericho, but then he immediately said he was kidding. Then he switched it to any guitarist who thinks they can play drums
[laughs] That’s great! Really good answer. That’s funny.

Which do you think is a better town to play in Ohio, Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland?
It’s Cleveland just because we have such a strong fan base. But at the same time when we come down here and play the Newport or down to Cincy and play Bogart’s, it’s always great shows. But if I had to choose, I’d have to take Cleveland anyway, only because there seems to be more of a, not a local scene but more, well, what we didn’t have growing up cause it was always hard to play. We’d have to rent out halls in Kent and the YMCA shows and anywhere like that, but now it seems like in Cleveland you can play in actual clubs, being in a band that’s unsigned, and that’s real cool. I don’t know the scenes that well, the underground scenes in Columbus and Cincy, but it seems that Cleveland supports music really well.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Interview: Michael Amott of Arch Enemy

[My first in-person interview. it really sucks, and the guy was kind of a dick]

Being on tour most of the year, traveling around the world playing concerts in Europe, America, and Japan; is it hard on your family and friends back home?
Um, well, we don’t have any friends [laughs]

Since Wages of Sin, metal magazines all over the worldgiven you all kinds of praise. Have you let that get to your head?
Oh yeah [laughs]. Um, you know it doesn’t really… see I don’t ever believe the good reviews. If you believe the good ones then you have to believe the bad ones. I definitely don’t believe the bad ones [laughs]. You know, I know more about metal than anybody I know, and any of these so-called music journalists. I know where it is coming from; I know its roots. I’ve dedicated my life to it. That’s more than a lot of these people have done. I’m pretty comfortable with what we’re doing, you know.

Do you remember your first headlining show?
Our first show was a headlining show. It was a show in Sweden.

What do you think of the response to the release of the DVD?
Oh, it’s been phenomenal. It’s been great. Which is well deserved I think, cause I’m pretty happy with it. The fan reaction is amazing, you know. It has been very, very strong. You know we made it for the fans, so it’s very… gratifying.

You’ve been all over the world. Where have you found the most responsive fans?
Well, you know fans… metal fans are kind of the same the world over. The love for this music is universal so… people react with little variation, but I’d say it’s pretty much… metal fans are metal fans.

There is a lot of elitism with metal fans…
Well they are passionate about their music. They have strong opinions.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
Well, you know a lot of older metal I grew up on. Especially bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer. I guess those are the big three. Especially when I started playing guitar. Even older metal bands now, Saxon, Judas Priest, Merciful Fate.

What made you pick up a guitar?
I just wanted to be in a band really. I guess I was the kid, the typical kid in the back of the classroom, drawing imaginary logos. Logos of my imaginary bands. I was planning my first band even before I could play. It just seemed like a good thing to be into. It just seemed exciting and uh, I ended up living the dream [laughs]. I’m still drawing logos.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview: Matt Byrne of Hatebreed

So, how has Ozzfest been?
Ozzfest was great, it’s our 4th time doing it; first time on main stage. So we’ve stepped up our stage show a little bit. We’re playing to the seats and everything but everyone’s really receptive to our music. It wasn’t really an obstacle for us; it was a really good time.

Did you feel any disconnect with the audience going from playing smaller venues to amphitheaters?
No, not really. I mean, like I said it’s our 4th time doing it so we’re kinda used to it. We’ve played the second stage, which is obviously smaller, but you’re still playing to a huge crowd and there is barricades and things like that so it isn’t anything really new to us. It’s more just jumping from a smaller stage to a larger stage, which allows us to step up our production. You know we had some risers on the stage, a bigger backdrop, um a bigger back line all together; we just increased our stage show all around.

Who was your favorite band on the tour? Or ever?
My favorite band ever is Slayer. Definitely. We’ve toured with them a bunch so that was a treat for me you know getting to see Lombardo every night just hearing those songs. On this tour I mean there was a lot of them. A lot of the second stage bands are bands we’ve played with in the past or are friends with that we’ve come up in the scene with so you know we’re no strangers to them. Then you got guys like Disturbed and System of a Down who are huge bands but are actually really, really cool down to earth guys and it’s fun hanging with them and fun watching them jam every night. Both bands put on a hell of a show.

You mentioned the “scene.” What do you think of some of the people in the scene that say Hatebreed sold out because of your success?
Yeah well, people… we’ve catched a little bit of flak since 2002 when we did our first album for Universal Records everyone thought “oh ok, they’ve gone to a major label. They’re going to change their music and try to sell a million records and change their image and everything. Obviously that didn’t happen you know. From a business standpoint we’re out there doing the same things we do all the frikkin time we’ve been doing for 11 years you know. We play all the same clubs we did back in the day just being on a major label is opportunity. You have a bigger budget behind you and it allows you to get your music out to more people because they have that mass production where you ah, you record an album and it is in every store in every city. Whereas in a lot of indie labels don’t have a budget like that for distribution and a lot of people who are starving for your music can’t get it cause the label can’t get it to them. So you know being on the label at Universal I think was a big push for us. It let us take our music and our message and our formula that has always been Hatebreed and through a bigger medium we were exposed to more people.

So why the switch to Roadrunner?
Uh, well we did two albums for Universal and uh, right after we recorded the second album our team, our staff at Universal that was handling us at the label, well you know Universal cleaned house and everyone got fired. So we kinda got lost in the shuffle you know and anything we got on the album we got on our own, we got off of touring and any buzz we generated on that album we got on our own.

And you guys tour incessantly…
Oh yeah, yeah we do. Its not uncommon for us to do 300 shows in a year, you know we hit the road and we go. So Universal, we just kind of got lost in the shuffle. Roadrunner expressed some interest. And obviously we’re a metal band and them being a metal label so they understand us a little more and can handle us a little better. Whereas Universal is such a huge label not really a metal oriented, you know they got Nelly and Elton john and things like that, I mean Hatebreed doesn’t really take priority to a label like Universal. Whereas Roadrunner, look at the stuff they put out, they’re like the metal church as it goes. So yeah, it just made sense. They expressed some interest and we were definitely interested in going over to them and after the all the red tape well here we are.

Do you remember your first show you played with Hatebreed?

What was it like? Where was it?
It was at Toad’s Place in Newhaven back in ’98, yeah ’98 I think. We were opening up for Gwar and the Misfits. And uh, I practiced with the band, actually I just tried out, played a couple songs and that was it, they were like “yeah you’re in the band we got a show next weekend.” Bam. Never practiced in between. Kinda got up there, no set list or anything, Jamey just yelled out the songs and we played them, did a half hour set. Got off the stage and it felt like we’d been a band forever you know? It was pretty wild.

Who is your biggest musical influence? You already said Slayer is your favorite band.
Oh yeah, they’re definitely a big influence, you know playing the drums, Dave Lombardo’s my favorite drummer. I think I’m most influenced by metal. I was exposed to metal first, you know, before hardcore. Hardcore came later for me. So metal bands; Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth. Anything that came out of the Bay Area scene in the early ‘80’s, mid-80’s. That stuff is the biggest influence. Testament, Sepultura. Well, they’re from Brazil but they’re from the same era.

What are your expectations for the Monsters of Mayhem Tour?
I think it’s going to be great man. Like I said I’m a big Exodus fan, so to be able to tour with them uh, is just like a fans dream come true, you know. And then Napalm Death, we’ve done some stuff with them overseas but never in the States so to get to tour with those guys again you know in our homeland I guess. I love watching them every night man, they just rip it up. And then the other bands, we’ve done some stuff with them here and there, so we’ve crossed paths, so I’m looking forward to getting on a full-scale tour with them.

August 29th is when Supremacy comes out. What can your fans expect from that? Will it be more brutal and hardcore than your previous albums?
I think Supremacy encompasses what we did both on Perseverance and Rise of Brutality. It has elements from both albums. It’s a faster album; we’ve stepped up our playing a little bit. I don’t want to say we’ve matured, cause I hate that word. But we’ve progressed as musicians and tried a couple things that we hadn’t tried musically on our past records. Production wise I’d say the production value is that of Rise of Brutality with, everything is up front and in your face.