Friday, August 4, 2017

Logan Barker - Barlow Interview (2017)

We are to speaking to the Bassist, and vocalist of the heavy metal powerhouse that is Barlow. If you haven’t heard them, than you should, and if you haven’t heard FROM them, then you will! That is, if you chose to keep reading, which you should.

Thanks for the interview Olivia!

Barlow is a heavy metal band out of Salt Lake City, Utah. How is it to be a metal band around there? Is there much of a metal, or just music in general, scene going on there?

Being a band in Utah is rad because there is an endless supply of killer bands of every genre, including METAL! It seems like the scene picks up and slows down but there are always good shows going on.

Adam “Smelly” Kelly used to be in a band called Killbot that formed in 2005, or so i’ve read, from the same location. Had you guys all known each other when he was in that band, and were you doing anything band wise, at the time, or had you just played bass just to play bass?

When Smelly was in killbot early on Mark (our drummer) and I were still in high school. We didnt know Smelly at the time but we idolized killbot! When killbot broke up we had a band called Merlins Beard going and recruited him to play guitar, it was a wet dream come true. We eventually progressed the band into its current form Barlow.

That brings me to this next question, do you just play bass, or do you play other instruments as well?

I play guitar as well. In Merlins Beard I played guitar and handled vocals.

You also sing for the band, when was it you started singing, and what made you choose the style of vocals for the band, and had you tried several before that?

When we were starting up our band Merlins Beard we had a really hard time finding a singer. We had tried a few classifieds ads, but no dice. So I Just started yelling and screeching into the mic at band practice, and it sort of just fell into place as time went on. I am a bit reclusive so it was never anything i had planned on doing. In the early days I had a really shitty James hetfield vibe going on but its getting better!

Is it difficult to keep a full sound live while just being a three piece, or does everything flow well? Not saying that in the sense that a three piece is not good in any sense- Venom is one of my favorite bands, so that would make no sense. Just was wondering.

Everything flows pretty well usually. Ive got a pretty nasty bass sound which helps things blend better. Being a three piece is a gravy train with bisquit wheels.

What kind of gear do you use, and was there a specific tone you were going for on bass for this band?

Ive got a Rickenbacker 4003W bass, 1968 Peavey Dynabass head , Ampeg 810 Cabinet, and a fuzzrocious demon pedal. I picked up the head at the swap meet for $30. I would say the bulk of my tone comes from the Ric and the Pedal. I was going for disgusting.

The forming of Barlow came to be in the futuristic year of 2016. Do you recall when you all decided to be a band, or had you all had it in mind for a while?
I was getting really burnt out on our old band and decided to try something a little heavier. We started as a four piece but lost our founding guitar player before we recorded the EP. Being a three piece was easier and really helped define our sound and direction, so we stuck with it.

Is it fairly easy to get gigs in Salt Lake City, and what is it like in general to live there, anything interesting?

Yeah I think its pretty easy once you've been playing for a bit. Smelly is the only one that lives in SLC and he loves it. Mark and I live about 45 minutes north in Syracuse, which is the burbs. SLC is a rad place with lots of rad people but I'm sure its a lot like any other city. People from out of state like to make fun of us for drinking shitty beer and being polygamists but we dig it.

Who was it that came up with the idea of the cover art for the EP, and who illustrated it? I really like the art, and it stuck in my mind and I remembered the music was awesome, so I kept on looking it up on youtube and have listened to it a lot.

Amy Nelson! She is a very talented artist and also happens to be Marks long time girlfriend. We couldn't come up with any good ideas so we just asked her to draw a picture of the band being creeps. It turned out super awesome, and she even drew up the entire alphabet in the font! The bat is my favorite.

Was the name “Barlow” the first choice for the band, and how did that come to be the one?

It was the only choice, and our first guitar player Mike Elliot came up with it. Mike is super badass and was way into Stephen King at the time. In the novel/flick Salems Lot, the ancient evil vampire is named Kurt Barlow. Were easy so we accepted.

The songs you guys have as of now on the self titled EP are available on Cd. Do you guys just sell them at shows, and do you have any plans in the future to distribute them other ways? And do you all want to release it on any different formats?

We will put the album on some streaming sites soon, but will probably sell most of them at shows.

There is music video of sorts for the song “The Witch”. What made you guys choose that song to do a video for, and who filmed it?

We filmed that in Ogden at Brook Mckees Studio/Haunted House, SunnyBrook Studios. He is the mastermind that recorded our EP, and does tons of killer live Videos at his studio. Look them up on youtube! We chose that song because its pretty heavy and we usually don't screw it up too bad. All we had to do was jam the song a couple dozen times, drink too many beers, and let him do the real work.

Do you guys practice pretty often, and where do you guys practice?

We are Utahs laziest metal band, Sometimes we practice regularly, sometimes not. We play in our drummers basement in the burbs.

So what do you guys do on your off time, and what is band practice like? Does it go on all day, just one straight play-through, or do you guys take breaks?

Were all working stiffs who spend a lot of time with our special lady friends and our families. Band practice can get derailed pretty easily, but we usually just drink 6 or 9 beers, run through the set, work on some new tunes, and hang out. We're not too worried most of the time, this band is purely a love of music. Marks got a great dane named Odin who loves to party, so we usually end up wrestling around with him a bit, or playing some Super Ghouls and Ghosts.

What would you say your lyrics are about for those that have not heard any of Barlow, and what would you say you guys are going for sound-wise, or have achieved, rather? I feel you guys have forged your own sound.

I think lyrical content is a 50/50 split. The first half being personal reflection or opinions, the second half being horror themed gruesomeness. The EP has tracks based on movies like Reanimator and Silver Bullet, but also other self written horror tales. The track titled Decide is exactly how I was feeling when we broke up our previous band.

What are some of your main influences, not just musicians, but anyone that has had an impact on you?

Valient Thorr, and Three Inches of Blood. These two bands had the biggest effect on me musically growing up and will always play a big part in my life. Nowadays my biggest influence is my wife Shayla and my two year old son Levon. They both love music as much as I do and keep me on my feet!

Is most of the writing for the band done by the whole band, or is there one person that does most of the writing?

I write all the lyrics and a big portion of the music. That being said its definitely a creation by all of us. We all have our individual styles that shine when were arranging and writing music. We will start with a basic idea and turn into something gnarly together.

Have there been good turnouts at gigs, and how has the audience responded to you guys?

We've had some really awesome gigs where the crowd was pumped and really dug us, and we've had gigs where the crowd was non-existent! You just never know.

What do you all believe a good performance is both live, and as a presentation of yourselves in the studio? As in just the attitude in general of the band, and why you all feel like sticking to what you do in terms of playing music?

We just try to be ourselves and have a good time, I think that shows in our music. Honesty and not trying to stick to one particular sound is just natural for us. The less you think about it the better it seems to come out.

Had you had any other bands before this one, if so, what were they, and what came of them?

Mark, Smelly, and I all played in Merlins beard together. Smelly is a hardcore troubadour and has played in tons of band Such as Killbot, Merlins Beard, a Gwar cover band called Scumdogs, and more. He currently plays in the best thrash band around, DEATHBLOW!!! Check em out.

I noticed that on the band page on facebook for Barlow your listed as playing the “Dad guitar”, and Adam plays “Mom guitar”, which is a reference to the show flight of the conchords, if I’m not mistaken. Is that one of the shows you guys all like? And what other shows do you like?

Haha I'm glad you caught that. Yeah FOTC rules. There's so much good television out there its hard to narrow it down but I think Its Always Sunny is the best.

Where did you guys record the EP, and did it take long to get done, or was the overall process pretty smooth and enjoyable?

We recorded it in Ogden at SunnyBrook Studios. Brook Mckee is the wizard over there and we had a killer time. We recorded the basic tracks live and it went super smooth. Lots of drinking and shenanigans. It took us a little while because we only hit the studio once a week or so. But it was awesome and we cant wait to record with him again.

Will we see more Barlow material in the near future, and perhaps even maybe some gigs in a few states sometime in the future?

Were writing some more material now with plans to record ASAP! We will see what time brings.

Thanks for your time, Logan!

Thank you Olivia! This was my first interview and I enjoyed every question!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dimi Pontiac of Ranger Interview (2017)

Snippet of Dimi taken from a photo taken by Emma Grönqvist.
Edited by me, Olivia Franks. I know, I suck. I tried

Hey Dimi! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, you must be very busy with the upcoming Europe tour approaching. What have you had to do to prepare for that? Do you need to pack extra light, have band practice a lot, etc., and is it a hassle, or are you guys more excited than anything?

Hey Olivia and sorry for a bit delay. The tour ended about two weeks ago now. We were really excited about the upcoming tour and of course after that really tired and exhausted. We had 23 shows in the row with no day offs! Overall the shows were great most of the time and we went places weʼve never been before. Well some of us pack light and Iʼve should done the same since I lost couple of stuff along the way.

With the most recent release from the band being “Speed and Violence”, how has the reception been overall of the album, so far, and did it exceed your expectations?
Oh yes it did! I was really surprised actually how the reception was immediately. Even better than with the first album. I think we have sold a decent amount of copies and the single of Lethal Force too. Eternally grateful whoever has stumble upon Ranger material.

There was only a year between the release of “Where Evil Dwells” and “Speed and Violence”, had you guys had all the songs written at the same time, or is it fairly easy for the songs to come together?
Well about year and a half, but yes! Some of those songs were already written in 2015 around the time first album was released. So, they are rather old, but some of them were made during 2015-2016. It is surprisingly easy and has been always.

Let’s backtrack a bit, before the band was named Ranger, you guys were known as “Turbin”, is this true? And why the name change, and the name “Turbin” to start with?
Yes, that is true. Back in 2008-2009 we were attending a band competition which was held and funded by Helsinki city and we needed a name. Since we covered Deathrider by Anthrax at that time we just quickly decided that we are Turbin for only this show and lets come up with the real name. Ranger came out in couple of months after that and it sounded immediately like us and it was simple and catchy.

How did you all meet, and did you know you were going to form a band at the time?
Photo by Emma Grönqvist

Well me and the drummer have known each other for over ten years now. Back then when we were teenagers we dreamed about forming a band someday. We then hooked up with couple of friends who were banging their heads to the heaviest metal and knew how to play and loved hard rock/metal. Rest is history!

Was the instrumental song “They Live” off the compilation demo “Combat Metal” inspired at all by the movie “They Live”?

Sorry, I had to correct you that the track They Live is not the instrumental. They Live was on Metal Gear demo in 2012. Instrumental track on that is Metal Gear. And the track Combat Metal is instrumental too. Yes, its heavily inspired by that movie! Iʼm actually thinking about that we should re-write that song. Its a hidden classic!

I get the feeling you like a lot of 70’s and ‘80s films judging by the look of the EP “Knights Of Darkness”, would I be right in saying that it shows in the style of the EP cover?
Yes, movies are for me as important as music. The EP cover is mainly inspired by Overkillʼs Feel the fire, Warriors movie and the late 70ʼs late 80ʼs New York scenery. I could mention Twisted Sisterʼs back cover of Under the blade too!

Has the following for Ranger seemed to have grown a lot since the first demo entitled “Enter The Zone” (I read that it was passed out for free at Keep It True, if there’s any truth in that, no pun intended) in 2009, and would you say there was any significant point when interest grew in the band?
Back then 2009 we certainly wanted to be a real band, but we were just too young I think. After that we were on hiatus for two years, but band was always there. So 2011 things started to get more serious. Yeah its true that we gave those demos for free and got some recognition, but as a retrospective Its not that good of a demo vocalwise! Young, naive and just hungry for metal which is alright! We have grown so much and we have done a lot of work for that too here in Finland and in Europe! The growth has become more since 2013 or something. Always new fans.

How has being on Spinefarm records been for you guys?

On promotional really good, but to be honest I donʼt think it was really a right company for us, but we have now experienced how the big company works.

Was/is it difficult to write lyrics, since English isn’t your first language? (I think your English in the lyrics is done well, by the way haha)
Here in the nordic (or scandinavia if you like to call it) they teach english for kids when they 7 or 8 years old, so I thank you for the compliment. I speak better english than I write, but I manage to do it! Here in the north we donʼt dub every tv show or every movie, so the english language has been always around here. Of course in the countryside people donʼt speak it that well, but in the big cities! So, answering the actual question: No, its easy!

Is there much of a metal scene in Finland, and are there any bands from there you think have some good stuff out there?

The scene is really good and its better than when we started since there werenʼt any proper bands around. Excluding all the big names which I do not like. Lot of younger bands and some older too like us, but too bad that some have quit and moved to other music. Theres for example: Rapid, Lord Fist, Bonehunter, Terror Cross, Satans Fall and handful others that I cannot remember now.

The skull for Ranger seems to have been around since the “Combat Metal” demo in 2013, which I remember seeing, as my husband, Aaron (then boyfriend) showed it to me, and I thought it looked awesome. Has that image for the face of the band so to speak been in your mind since you started? And does the skull have a name by any chance? I know some people are fond of naming their mascots, if that’s what you’d call yours.
Photo by Mikko Pylkkö

Skullʼs name is Mr. Skull. Definite influence on that certainly was Snaggletooth, Vic and Destructionʼs skull, but we certainly wanted to make our looking skull! The image wasnʼt always there, but I drew the logo at one point and then we started to evolve from there.

It seems that merch for Ranger seems to sell out quite quick, am I right in thinking that, and how do you guys have your merch made/distributed?
Yeah, I know and it goes too quickly that we always make too small of a batch for merch. Thatʼs something where we need evolve a bit too! We are putting more shirts and hopefully patches in our store soon. We have couple of distributors for merch there in the USA and then here in Europe we do it ourselves the distribution etc.

Were you a forming member of the band, and if so, what was your motivation to start the band? Had you always felt that was what you were destined to do?

Something like that. Ever since I found bands like Iron Maiden, Priest or TS, I dreamed singing in a band. It took a couple of years, but here we are.

The band is heavily categorized as “speed metal”, would you agree with that statement, and was it your goal all along to achieve that status with the music?
Photo by Emma Grönqvist

Yes, that is alright, speed metal was the thing that we wanted to do. We were heavily influenced and still are by the american metal movement in the 80ʼs plus Motörhead and nwobhm. It was the goal, but now we want to add more elements of heavy metal. Thats been there too in the eps too.

What do you think makes a band good these days, and at any point in time? I mean music, lyrics, image, attitude, you name it, what do you think are some components that make a band real, and make them good?

Well, the songs, image and attitude is important. Theres so many bands that goes under radar since so much is coming all the time and some of them donʼt appeal to me since the band name can be so used or the image and the music is inspired by cult bands and not bands like Priest or Slayer. I think some bands are so influenced by Facebook friends and youtube that they should cut of the internet for awhile and figure out their own thing. I would say overall that the attitude and the music you are representing. You know its always cool to see if the bands looks great too. Not any spandex or anything, but just like a guys/girls from the street!

Who are some of your main influences as a person? Doesn’t have to be metal or music related, even.

Iʼm influenced by John Carpenter, James Hetfield, Tony Iommi, Stevie Nicks, 70ʼs - 80ʼs movies, Koko the gorilla and Judas Priest
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside writing, recording, playing, and touring with Ranger?

I like to play video games, watch movies, go to the gym, jogging, karate (when I have money again to do it, I have a yellow belt haha) and spent time with my gf and friends.

I know it is probably a stereotypical interview question, but I ask stuff I’d like to know as well as what I think other people would too, so what are some of your favorite bands?
Theres always some periods when my favourite band can be Rush or Laaz Rockit. But the ones that have stick to me forever are classic metal bands. My favourites are: Metallica, Megadeth, Sabbath, Slayer, Maiden, Priest, AC/DC and Anvil.

What are some of your favorite movies?

I would like to mention To Live and Die in LA, Terminator, Thief, Dressed to kill, Blow out, Breakfast Club, From Beyond, basically every John Carpenter movie, Return of the living dead, Dawn of the dead and WARRIORS.

Is it easy for you guys to get off work to go on tour?
Photo by Mikko Pylkkö

It has been, but it requires a lot of savings and sacrifice on money wise. Right now I donʼt have a steady, but hope to get one soon.

What was it like to grow up in your hometown, and when did you start to really get into music, and who were some of your first main influences?

In our capital here in Helsinki is best place to grow up. Everything works and its a high standard place for living and growing up. I started to get into music through my family. My parents donʼt play any instruments but they were so into classic rock and are old hippies and stuff like that so it got me too. My uncle is a musician of somekind so he was more of a metal guy, so I definitely keep him as my main influence along James Hetfield or Rob Halford.

How do you feel about the first few demos out by Ranger? Do you still think they hold up today in your opinion, and do you ever think you’ll re-record any of the stuff off the compilation album “Skull Splitting Metal”

Holds really good except for me the teen vocals on Enter the zone haha. They Live would be cool to re-record and re arrange, but weʼll see!

You started out just as the frontman-singer. What made you go from that to being a singer/bassist, and had you previously known how to play bass?

Photo by Mikko Pylkkö
Yes I know how to play a guitar bit so it was rather easy, but I did rehearse own my own. Our bass player left the band so I just took that and we were like that this is working great. I would like to do just singing in a different band just try it on how it is without a instrument.

Do you have any plans in the future to come to the states on tour?

Yes. Iʼve promised so many times that we are coming blablala, but we need to start to do something about it. We have good contacts already, so we will start working on it when its time. Hopefully soon. I would love to finally come over there.

What are some bands you haven’t toured with, or even have, that you would like to have a tour with for the first time, or again?

We have toured on our own. I would love to tour with Antichrist or Cauldron or then to open up for a bigger band.

Do you play any instruments besides bass?

well I play guitar, but not very often.

Do you look forward to certain food on tour, and what’s the food like in Finland?

On tour you eat what you can. Unfortunately its either fast food shit on gas stations or sandwiches. I look vegetarian options, or meat, as long as its healthier than the shit we are forced to eat on 10 hour drive to another city and country. Food like in Finland is just everything from all around the world. Basic Finnish foods are like meatballs, fish foods, macaroni, lasagna, pea soup etc. I tend more of a veggie guy these days so I eat Seitan and soy stuff.

The energy at live shows for Ranger seems off the charts. Would you say the crowd has an equal response to you guys, or in which place do you feel the crowd was the most powerful?

Photo by Emma Grönqvist
Thank you! It certainly is. Here in scandinavia and north we tend have the most violent shows. But on tour countries like Spain and Germany are really wild Ranger crowds too! It shines to us of course even more when its really stage diving madness. We always enjoy ourselves on stage and it shows to audience. It is supposed to be fun too!!! Even people who arenʼt into metal still likes us because we look so good on stage or that we enjoy it so much.

I think you guys keep it clean and true with the speed that comes with your music, do you think some bands may overdo it in that area and just focus on how fast they’re playing instead of the quality of their riffs and lyrics? Not trying to single anyone out, just would like your opinion, of course.

Yes I think there are few bands that overdo it in many ways. Their riffs and stuff can be alright, but everything is polished or over thought in their heads. Too much going on, that you donʼt actually can grab anything from it. I think its important that there are hooks and melodies in music.

What are your overall thoughts on the metal scene these days, and what are some of your newer favorite bands?

Metal scene is alive in well everywhere i think. I have to mention Cauldron (tho they have been active for long time now), Antichrist, Rapid, Deathhammer, Nekromantheon, Power Trip and something else but canʼt remember now.

What are some future goals for Ranger, and how do you feel about what you’ve done as band so far?

I feel satisfied and proud what we have done so far. Our future plans are to take a little break, get back to write some new songs and get a new record deal! After that, back to touring!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A+ "Bargain Bin" Bands

Some of my favorite bargain bin bands... what's that mean? Well, if you haven't gathered what it means, it just is "obscure" stuff most people listen to and say "yeah, that's pretty good.", but I love it. Here is my first installment of the soon to be small series. I will be writing an article about a few of these bands themselves in the future. Possibly all of them for their own reasons they are special and remain strong in my collection to this day.


This... now THIS I have listened to countless times, and was one of the first bands I got into when i started my metal journey what seems like many a year ago. They are a German power/speed metal band I grew fond of by hearing this song. I hadn't seen this video then, not sure it was on youtube then, but I did listen to their other albums such as Execution Guaranteed, Perfect Man, and Reflections of a Shadow. I haven't heard their latest stuff, although they're still active, and just recently released a new album that looks like I probably wouldn't be too interested in it, but you never know, I'll give it a shot. Either way, their classic stuff has a hard hitting punch that still keeps me coming back for more to this day. I've even got it on cassette!

Proud Existence

When my husband and I went to see the band Cauldron back in October Satan was with them, and Ian Chains asked if we had ever seen them live, to which we replied no, but I said I used to listen to them a lot and had a short time in high school when I listened to Court in the Act along with this here album back to back for some reason. I couldn't remember the name of the band, but described the album cover, and he knew what I was talking about. I hadn't tried to look them up in years, but the day after the Cauldron/Satan show I looked them up somehow, and found this, and it brought me back to that time of playing PS2 for hours, cheeze-it's, coca-cola, and sleeping a lot.... Those were the days... sort of. This album definitely still draws me in and holds me til the end, and if I can ever find it on vinyl or something, that'd be great. Ian said he heard of them from a CD they got in Greece from a street shop or something along those lines. Go listen to Cauldron if you haven't. Great music, and true metal dudes, and very nice ones, at that. That aside, this band from Holland came to form in 1980 as Pre-Existence, and then changed their name to Proud Existence, and only had this release in 1988. They split shortly after that. This album art is crap, but the music is choice.


Yet another German power/speed metal band that is top notch, and among the first few bands I came across while heavily getting into metal. I remember seeing this cover and thinking it looked cool, and for some reason reminded me of one of the Darkness album covers, who are ANOTHER German metal band, a thrash one, at that who I am also a big fan of. Looking at the album covers now, I don't know what the hell 13 year old me was thinking their album covers looked like, but at any rate.... I Heard this album first, then looked into more of their stuff and listened to Hypertrace, which was their first album. They've been around since 1986, and are still going around playing today. Mainly at festivals, like most long time going on again off again bands. Classic power/speed metal, give them a listen if you haven't, they might be one of your favorites if you're into that type of metal.

Meliah Rage

This next band is from Boston, and has been active since 1987. They're classified as thrash metal, but I don't know if I'd consider them a specific metal genre. A lot of people seem to quarrel over that, but I never really went to deep into that conversation. When it's easy to categorize bands, sure, I'll identify them as that genre, but when the band tends to go between sounds, or just has a sound all their own, I don't like to dispute that much, and just think of them as their own thing in the heavy metal world. Which is what I think of Meliah Rage. Between this first album they had and the other powerhouse of an album Solitary Solitude, they have their own sound that'll knock you on your feet, and still leave me nodding my head today. I just recently bought a Kill To Survive shirt they released. Not sure if there's any left. And yes, Meliah Rage themselves did sell these. I don't buy bootleg shit.

Mysto Dysto

Now more people Probably know the other band this turned into Called Mandator that formed after the 1986 release of this album, which was the only thing they had released under the Name Mysto Dysto. I remember the name of the band sticking in my head, and would look them up whenever I didn't know what I wanted to listen to that day. I still listen to this gem... I probably don't need to keep mentioning that, I already said in the intro that the reason I'm listing these bands is because they've held up strong through the years for me. When I first started getting into metal I would write down bands from this youtube channel Wolfgangvonposerkila, or TheBurningOfSodom that made videos called "Thrash Metal Gems", and this was on one of them. I would write down all the bands on the list, then cross them out when I could remember several songs from the band, name of the album, and some info on the band. Yeah, that's stupid, so what? I loved it, and it helped me find so many great bands, and I wouldn't know these bands, or remember them, for that matter, if I hadn't done that. So here they are: Mysto Dysto. Check out Mandator if you like this stuff, too. They're a bit different, but still really good.


Maaaaan, this production quality sounds like ass, but it's the great kinda low budget sound that just adds to the sound! What, you thought I was gonna say "the great kind of ass"?  Mhm... nah. Lemme tell ya man, get that dang ol mind outta the gutter, you know? For those of you who read that in Boomhower's voice.... mmhmm. Getting back to this awesome slice of molten metal dripping with... well, awesomeness. The scream in this intro will make you let out of Keanu Reeves "whoa!". Or at least that's what I did. I love the singer's voice whose name is unfortunately Dane Cook.... Yep. That shitass comedian wishes he had the talent this guy did. The band has since split up, and were (probably are, they didn't get shot off the earth upon disbanding)  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The only release they had was the album this song is off of "The Awakening" in 1986 (good year, eh?). I wonder what those dudes are up to now? Probably have day jobs at some office with short hair and 5 kids or something. Either way, this is a great tune, off a great album in my opinion. That riff in this song is almost hypnotic...


 These dudes don't mess around when it comes to thrash metal. A lot of great metal has come out of Sweden, and this is certainly among them for me. I think they definitely deserve more people hearing this than the amount that have heard it. This whole album "Then Came The Killing" is great from start to finish. Great guitar tone, I might add, and pretty good production sound for a small band with only one release. They have since split, and have a brief reunion in 2005 for a festival, which there apparently was a DVD of that only the band distributed directly. I feel like they should have used the picture they used on the back of the album instead of the picture they used on the front. i remember seeing the music video and thinking they were cool, then looked them up and saw the name of the album, and looked it up to see a bland-ass picture on the front, but, hey, a lot of kinda obscure stuff has lame covers, and great music. It's better to be more concerned with the content itself, instead of the cover and looking cool and all that jazz. I need to get this on vinyl, still. Very powerful, full sounding thrash with whit and force. Check 'em out! That's it for this one, stayed tuned for more, and thank you for reading, and listening! If you get this far, let me know what you think on the facebook fanpage for Thrashdance Fanzine!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ian Chains talks Cauldron, Chainbreaker, and Stained Class Records (2017)

Last I interviewed you, it was 2013, a lot has happened since then. You've had another album come out, several music videos done, and much more, just wanted a chance to catch up the new happenings.

Hey Olivia, thanks for taking the time to interview me again!

Photo by Nic Pouliot edited by Aaron Franks

Chainbreaker is about to come out with a full album, would you say it has the same feel as the two tracks released previously on bandcamp, or the most recent ones, rather?

Yeah I would say it has a similar feel. Some of the songs on the new album were written around the period that “Enslave Your Masters” was written so naturally they all fit together. There are a couple more “rock ‘n roll” sounding songs but overall it all has that slimy vibe that we enjoy so well.

Has it been a big task to get everyone together to record the new Chainbreaker album, and where was it recorded?

It’s never hard to get the band together, but we did have a lot of down time last year and didn’t progress much. I’m really glad we finally got our asses in gear and recorded it. We did it at the same country and western studio where most of the Cauldron stuff is done (Lincoln County Social Club). I’m already familiar with that studio, recommended it to the boys and thus it’s where we ended up. We recorded 12 songs in March/April and currently have the album being mixed.

Chainbreaker formed in 2013, what brought that about?

I used to go over to Al’s house with my friend Craig in the dead of winter. We’d fire up the wood stove and just get black out drunk jamming Razor and Slayer songs. Originally Al would sing and play drums and Craig would play bass. We weren’t really planning to form a band or anything, but Al started recording our jams and piecing together random riffs we were coming up with and forming songs out of them. Some of those recordings are hilariously awful, but that’s how it all came about. Eventually Craig split and we got Rob on vocals and Curtis on bass. But wait, there’s more! Curtis was replaced last year by Phil Zeller who used to play with Al in Toxic Holocaust, which is now our current lineup.

Who did the drawings for Chainbreaker? That logo is awesome, as well, did how it look just kind of come natural, or did it take a bit to think of how it would look?

Rob drew the logo and the “Enslave” cover. Even though those are pretty crude sketches suited to us he’s actually a very talented artist and creates some pretty amazing stained glass works for a living. I can’t remember who drew the “Constant Graving” cover but needless to say my mom was not impressed with it. I think Rob was going for a bit of a Diamond Head vibe with the logo, but he’s since then drawn a much improved logo which will be on the new album.

Photo by Kevin Nunes

The collaborative minds of this band seem to have put out these evil sounding speed-filled riffs, have you wanted to do stuff like that for a long time?

I guess since I learned how to play guitar by jamming along to Reign in Blood and all that stuff, I kind of missed playing that sort of stuff with a band. I figured if I had another band, it wouldn’t sound anything like Cauldron.

The demo came out late 2013, did it take a while for that to come together, and were the songs made quickly from just jamming around and stuff?

Yeah I feel like the demo together really quick, and then we just decided to ride it out for a good 5 years before doing something else! Most of the songs were either written by Al or pieced together and demoed by him in his garage first.

The latest two songs on Chainbreaker's bandcamp that just came out entitled "Enslave Your Masters" and "Deterioration" seem like they might've even gotten more aggressive and fast than the previous tracks off "Constant Graving", even having some blast beat action in "Deterioration", would you agree with that? And do you feel the band's sound has gotten more aggressive over the past few years?

Now that I think about it, all that stuff was written around the same time. If anything we’ve kind of branched out in both directions, with more aggressive sounding songs and then slower greasy numbers to balance them out.

Chainbreaker, in this instance, seems to be your side project, of course, from Cauldron, has it been difficult to balance the two, or just more-so fun? Have the ideas for each band just been separated in your mind when you'd think of a riff or something, or was it stuff you had done and didn't feel fit with the Cauldron sound?

Photo by Nic Pouliot

Well I guess it’s all the kind of stuff that doesn’t suit Cauldron, but there’s been more than one occasion where the Cauldron guys want to pinch a riff or two from the Chain boys! It’s been pretty easy balancing the two, especially since our rehearsal rooms are right next to each other. I’ve definitely come up with a couple riffs and thought “there’s no way Cauldron will play this”.

Chainbreaker seemed to have a lot of gigs already, was it easy to get together with other bands, and what have some of your favorite shows you've played been?

I feel like it’s easier for Chainbreaker to have other bands to play with just because the music is more aggressive. Cauldron’s always been “Ok you can either play with this one old band or 15 thrash bands”. The best Chainbreaker shows were opening for Municipal Waste last December, playing with Midnight and Shitfucker a couple years back, and the BAT/Chainbreaker tour we did in the states.

Al Biddle was in a lot of other bands, including your other band Cauldron. He did drums when you guys first started, so did you think to ask him whenever Chainbreaker formed? Or had you guys had the project in mind for a long time?

Well Chainbreaker is really Al’s band, even though I’ve got a Chain in my name... I guess Al called me up one night and asked if I wanted to jam some tunes in his garage. We definitely didn’t have any ideas of forming a band at that point.

Photo By Kevin Nunes

Is it often you guys get a chance to practice, and where do you practice?

We usually rehearse once a week right next door to the Cauldron room. That’s the same room that Cauldron’s been in for over 10 years now.

There are some great metal acts in Canada, what are your thoughts on the metal scene there, and what are some of your favorite bands? Would you like to have any Chainbreaker shows with any specific ones in the future?

The current metal scene? Maybe I’m wrong but I feel like it kind of dried up in recent years. I remember 10 years ago there was a lot of excitement in the air about new Canadian bands. Or maybe it’s that I’m 10 years older now and really just want to listen to The Raspberries and Todd Rundgren. I won’t shake a stick at a chance to play with Exciter or Razor though!

There was a small gap in between recording "Constant Graving", and the most recent two Chainbreaker songs released, what was the reason for that? You all seem to have a lot going on.

I think we got stuck in a rut of constantly reworking songs to the point where we couldn’t remember how the fuck the song was actually supposed to go. We really just needed to commit to certain songs and get them ready to record, but it took us a while to get there. We are all really busy but I think there was more to it than that. I don’t think any of us have that “Look, this is how the song fuckin’ goes, end of paragraph” attitude. Maybe we just don’t want to piss each other off. Jason’s the guy with that attitude in Cauldron, and doesn’t care about pissing anyone off, which might be why we seem to get more shit done!

Cauldron's latest album "In Ruin" came out in January 8th, 2016. Did it seem like a long time coming? I know the tracks from "Tomorrow's Lost" had been recorded when you guys were working on "Burning Fortune", did this album seem to take less time?

Oh yeah, every album seems like a long time coming. We usually start writing the next album before the current one is even out yet. We took a lot of time off last year and didn’t really start working on songs until the summer or fall, so I’m sure this next album will seem like an eternity since “In Ruin”. We do have about 9 or 10 new songs though that we’re really going to crack down on when we get back from our Euro tour in June.

Photo by Kevin Nunes

"In Ruin", in my opinion, seems to be the band's pinnacle in terms of overall atmosphere for the songs, and how they seem to have almost a different sound altogether, while still keeping in the Cauldron vein of sound, would you find any truth in that?

Thanks, I think “In Ruin” really captured what we always strive for more than any album before. It’s definitely the one I’ve been most happy with when it was completed. At this point I think anything we do together will sound like Cauldron. Now that we’ve established that we can really do whatever the fuck we want. The next album will probably be the most atmospheric and varied one yet.

Where did the art concept come from for the album, and who did you guys go to to make it?

I think Jason had a still from the movie Poltergeist that he turned upside down. It looked creepy yet budget, so we asked our friend Squid from Edmonton to come up with something based on that. He drew up a few sketches and the last one was the one we all agreed should be the cover. He’d already done some t-shirt designs for us a few years back and also the cover for Enforcer’s “From Beyond”.

Are you guys enjoying the record label "The End Records" you all are on now, and how have they been treating you?

They treat us like kings! Well actually they’ve been enthusiastic about the band and keep in touch regularly, and came out to see us when we played in New York last October with Satan. We haven’t been doing much lately other than working on new songs so we’ll see how everything goes when we get into “the next album” mode.

The short release of cover songs you guys did back in 2014, Moonlight Desires, had the title track, Iron Beast, and Sacrifice. What made you guys chose them, and how'd you all come to sing on the track Sacrifice?

Well Moonlight Desires by Gowan is sort of a radio staple up here in Canada. We’ve always liked the song and knew nobody else was going to cover it, plus everyone outside of Canada would think we wrote it! Larry Gowan (of Gowan) heard our cover and wanted to meet us when he was at our rehearsal building. We were actually drinking in the park across the street. Had we known he was looking for us we’d have tossed our beers and ran back! Iron Beast is a tune by Kratos from Cleveland. It was one of those songs we’d always crank in the van on tour so naturally we started jamming it. It was really hard deciphering the lyrics to that one. I’m pretty sure they’re all wrong! For Sacrifice we’d usually do that as a soundcheck song and we’d each sing a verse/chorus to check the mic’s. We had our friend Kyle record a show for us and the soundcheck version he recorded was way better than the live one, so we threw it on the tape.

Photo by Kevin Nunes

The topic I didn't particularly want to touch on was the first US tour being cut short by the van accident you sustained significant injuries from, which I am very glad you all are alive and well, as I'm 110% sure everyone else is, too. Was it tough to get back to your normal self again, and what helped you through such a tough time?

Thanks, and no problem bringing it up! It was over a year ago now and feels longer ago than that. Yeah it was really tough having that level of excruciating pain, having to lie down all the time and not being able to sleep. In short, it was bullshit and it sucked! I got really depressed and had to wear this turtle shell brace all day and night. My girlfriend Claire helped me immensely and stuck by me the whole time. A huge part of it was getting off those horrible painkillers I was on. Jason and Myles getting me to come down to the jam space and go through some songs again really helped out too.

Aside from the bad luck (that's an understatement) you guys had in Texas, was touring enjoyable, and where were some of your favorite places you guys played?

Well funnily enough I felt like some of the most fun we had on that tour was in Texas. New York was great too, as was Vancouver, LA and anywhere else that we had good friends show up.

Where did the idea of "on the road" footage come from for the videos, "Burning at Both Ends", and "No Return/ In Ruin"? Or moreso, what made you all decide to go with that concept for them? And will there be any other videos coming in the future? I saw a few pictures and snippets from one...

Well the “on the road” footage from “No Return” is just us driving an hour down the highway to a friend’s place who let us set off pyro in his back yard. I guess we considered the “Burning” video to be more road themed. I’m not sure why we did that, it seems pretty stock doesn’t it? We filmed a video for “Hold Your Fire” but we’re still in the midst of adding some b-roll to it. We were planning to have it out before the tour but then I went and put the kibosh on it until we have more useable footage.

Photo by Nic Pouliot

I think I've asked more than enough questions at this point, and hopefully they're better than last time haha. So I'll close with this question: What are some future goals for Cauldron, and what are some for Chainbreaker in the future?

Cauldron: Break big then break up

Chainbreaker: Break more chains

At first I thought that was the end of the interview, but completely forgot I had not asked him about the record store he owns along with Inti Paredes, and was nice enough to answer a few more questions. So here it is- some info on Stained Class Records!
Photo either by Inti or Ian

Stained Class Records is music store packed with cassettes, vinyl, tapes, tickets for local shows, shirts, pins patches, and much more! The store is located in Toronto at 1614 Queen Street West, in the back of Parkdale Platters (in case you’re fairly local or a local and haven’t been to this place, and if you haven’t I’d slap you in the face, because you need to go). This store was started by none other than Ian Chains and Inti Paredes of Manacle. Was this a long time coming, and what was the collaborative process on both your parts to get the spot for the store and everything started?

Inti and I used to work together and in between hating our jobs we’d daydream about opening our own metal shop. We called a lot of phone numbers in empty store front windows but gave up pretty quick when we realized rent was going to be through the roof no matter what. A good 2+ years went by before the current location sort of fell into our laps by good fortune.

Were you and Inti familiar with the owner of the store before you decided on the spot, and how was it to split the spot, and how has it turned out for you?

Inti and I had both been into Parkdale Platters and bought records off Chris. Eventually we started doing a consignment metal section there just for the hell of it. Chris had a vintage shop in the back of his store that moved out, so he asked us right away if we’d like to move into the back. It’s been pretty good so far, people really seem to care and we get a lot of touring bands and people from out of town stopping in. When Midnight was in town opening for Kreator I took them down to the shop after their show for an after-midnight shopping spree.

The name of the store is a classic Judas Priest song and album title off their best album entitled “Stained Class’. How did you guys come to choose that name?

That came pretty easy. What is the greatest metal album of all time? Stained Class. We considered calling it Nostradamus but it didn’t have the same ring.

Photo by Kevin Nunes

Where do you guys get all of the stuff you sell in the store?

A lot of stuff is either from collections of used records/memorabilia we’ve bought off people, or from people coming in to sell us records. It helps that people have started coming to us instead of the bigger stores where they pay them a nickel per record, although it is really hard to have a steady stream of used records coming in. It’s a glorious feeling when someone comes by with a bag of old Slayer records to sell us. We’ve also been ordering in new records to offset all the obscure stuff that nobody knows or wants haha.

Did it take a long time to get everything moved into the store, how was moving, and who did you get to move with you guys?

We started paying rent in December of last year and officially opened on the 18th, so it took us just over 2 weeks to get everything set up. We pretty much just had our friends help us. Al from Chainbreaker built the record displays and hauled them down on the roof of his station wagon, and Jason from Cauldron also drove down a ton of shit and helps out at the store quite a lot.

Had you and Inti always wanted to have a record store? I think you guys were roommates at one point according to some article I had read about Inti’s cat or something haha.

Well I don’t know about Inti but I never really wanted to have a record store until he kept bringing it up! I guess he won me over. Yeah we lived together for less than a year, and when I moved out I couldn’t bring my cat, so now he’s the proud owner of Jez (named after Jez from Peep Show)!

Photo by Nic Pouliot
How has it been to have the upkeep going in the store with being stocked and staffed?

It’s a constant struggle. It’s hard working 2 jobs and being in 2 bands. We always find someone to work the shop though if we can’t. Jason and Myles have both covered shifts as well as Kevin from Manacle and I’m sure a million others.

What jobs have you had in the past, and which one made this job seem like the best thing you could have possibly done? Or just what was the worst job you’ve had, if you don’t mind sharing.

Well I still don’t work at the shop full time, so I still have my “real” job at the moment. I’ve had some shitty jobs in my time! My very first job was in a butcher shop and about 2 weeks in the manager killed himself which kind of set the mood. The worst job I’ve ever had was at this tea manufacturing place in between Cauldron tours. Everything was just ridden with maggots, but it was still being bottled up and sold to major supermarkets. Just disgusting!

What are some of your favorite pieces of merch that have passed through the store? Do you guys get donations, and do you ever keep any of it and just slip some cash in the register… if that’s how it works.

There have been some great records to come through that I wished I’d grabbed for myself after they sold, but I guess that’s not the point. We had the Saracen “We Have Arrived” single on the wall for a while, I guess because I figured no one would know what it was and I could grab it at any time. But then Ryan and Nick from Municipal Waste stopped by and it was no more! When Midnight came by Athenar donated a really nice old Loudness poster to us. We’re also looking for any and all copies of Krokus’ “Headhunter” just to give all those millions of lonely copies a home.

Photo by Kevin Nunes

Who are the frequents at the shop, and how has business gone overall so far?

There are definitely quite a few local regulars that come in every week. Quite a few of them have been collecting since the 80’s so it’s cool for them to hang out in a shop that looks like their bedrooms from 1985. Business is steady, we’re paying the bills so we can’t complain there.

The opening for the shop was a show put on by both your bands, Chainbreaker and Manacle, had you guys had that planned since you started the process of opening the shop?

Initially we were looking for other bands to play because we just figured we’d be busy enough with the whole store opening to play, but as it got closer to the day the only bands we could really rely on were our own, so that’s how that happened. We also thought of having Cauldron play but I’m done with those double duty gigs!

What have some of your favorite work days at the shop so far been, and how is the overall atmosphere on a day to day basis?

Any days where friends come by and we crack beers and shoot the shit. The days I work usually consist of me and Chris having a few sodas and coming up with ridiculous scenarios to pass the time. The store opening party was probably the best day we’ve had so far.

How do you and Inti feel about the store so far? Is it the record store you’ve both always wanted to go to, and now you guys own and operate it?

Well it’s still a very small time operation. It’s kind of difficult when your overhead to buy new stock is a bit narrow. We’d like to have more album release shows in the back, maybe some signings or whatever, but yeah it’s a fun place to hang out and spin records. It’s exceeded our expectations just because it fell into our laps so suddenly that we really can’t complain.

Photo by Nic Pouliot

What do you think the future of Stained Class records holds, and what are some of your hopes and goals for it?

We’re just hoping to keep this thing afloat for the time being. We haven’t really talked about any huge expectations just because we don’t want to set ourselves up for disappointment. It’ll always be a small niche shop, but that’s what we set out for in the first place. We just live for that next juicy score!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Vänlade- Rage Of The Gods (2015) Album Review

The first album review I will do on this blog is one I feel deserves the first spot for sure. I actually had not heard anything from this band until the other night, and the way I found out about them was actually through a video Vic Stown of Vindicator and Vulcana (who I have previously done an interview with, and will be catching up with very soon... in interview form) posted on facebook saying that they would be playing at the legions of metal festival. As Vic is a supporter of not only this blog by contributing his time by having an interview posted to it, but also is a supporter of my band Blood Curse comprised of my husband- Aaron Franks as the founding member, lead guitarist, singer, and riffmaster, cool guy of the band (I don't know if I'm one, too.... I think so), our good friend and bassist Micah Young, and that other third person- me. Seeing as how he has been in good bands, supports good bands (not just mine), and seems like an all around nice dude, I was thinking "well, I haven't heard of these dudes, I should give them a listen.". Well, that, I did, and let me tell ya, I wasn't expecting to hear some slop or anything, but DAMN! I was pretty blown away, and immediately started thinking of a review for their album "Rage Of The Gods". So here is my thoughts on the album, and my thoughts on the band Vänlade itself.

So this brings us to the meat of the article. What made you want to review them so bad, what makes them so special, you ask? Well, I'll start out with my first impression; which was the album cover which seems like an action-packed journey waiting to be had in a dangerous land of some sort. Let that set the tone for the album, because I thought- "if the album reflects the vibe you get off the art, then it'll be pretty good", well it brought that and more. The intro to the album sets the ambiance, which is a big factor in the overall sound this record has that is something I look for in all music I enjoy whether it be death metal, power metal, other genres people argue over the division of, you name it. The title track starts out with powerful leads, heavy riffs, and above all- a strong, well put together piece of music. It doesn't throw you in too fast, but slowly speeds up to go into the next track, "Frozen For All Time", which introduces the thundering vocals of Brett Scott. The high notes are consistent and strong through and through, and keep your attention the whole time wanting to hear track after track with anticipation.

If you were to go through the tracks to sample the beginnings, something I like is that none of them sound the same, each has their own sound and almost a new introduction to the band each time, or rather, a new facet of their abilities and riffage. The drum work is unrelenting, driving each track forward with power and ferocity. The bassline is most certainly nothing to scoff at, either with interesting nuances to go along with the rhythm, and stand out to it as well adding even more to each note. I do so enjoy the chanting sort of vocals that are hard to prefect in songs, in my opinion. Sometimes they're used for almost no reason, and is a bit cringey (at least with a certain band I had hard and thought "did they run out of shit to say...?"), but in this case seem very fitting and not a means of filler, at all.

My favorite track on the album has to be "Hail The Protector", one of the two longest tracks on the album. When it first started I remember being mid-shelf-stocking (yeah, I stock shelves, and yeah, I also listen to music at work, if I didn't I would be in a straight jacket by now or in jail because customers are idiots) and stopping what I was doing for a second and thinking "that's a nice intro, right there". It starts off with a short riff, then to a lead with a groovy bassline along with drums behind it, then the vocals rip in, and the song takes off at a gradual pace. The drums double bass varies each time, along with symbol hits to add to the powerful parts, and then going back to high hat, kick, and snare for the mellow parts. The lyrics paint a picture in your head of a valiant hero, a protector, if ya will. My favorite part has to be the leads in this, and the guitar tone is tasty in the mellow sections, as well, really creating an atmosphere to me. The song morphs from one sound to another, while returning to riffs, and more blistering leads, and ends with a great lick- great end to a great song. A very strong piece from the band overall, I think, and the highlight of this album if you were to pick one song to listen to (but why you gonna do that, if the whole album is sitting there? Sitting there on their band camp you should look up?), this would be the one.

From there it continues to be an enjoyable ride of genuine power and speed metal. This is a truly solid release, and serves as a very good introduction to the band. I'd also like to add that the vocals remind me of something of the "No Exit" era Fates Warning in the range and in the sound a little bit. Not sure if you'd agree on that one, but it kept coming to mind for me. They had an album previous to this one as well you should check out entitled "Iron Age" that came out in 2012. These guys have been around for a good while, since 2007 with their first demo, followed by their next demo "Stay Heavy, Or Die". These lads hail from the land of Kansas City, Kansas, and have played a good number of gigs, and are on tour now, I believe. If this article isn't enough to convince you to check them out, I will link my favorite track below. I hope you like them as much as I do, or at least gave them some time for a listen, because they deserve it. They are not a sloppy band by any means, and you can tell they dedicate themselves to their music in that it is thoroughly enjoyable, and very powerful not only in the meaning of power metal, but as a release in the metal world in general. Thank you for reading, and remember- "If you help keep metal alive, the underground will always thrive". Support new bands worth the support, and help them any way you can, metal depends on it! Thank you very much for reading!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Just Gimme some AXXION! Just Gimme some AXXION! Emily Merrick of Axxion interview (2017)

 This next interview comes from one of my favorite drummers, and no, I'm not just saying that because she agreed to do an interview with me, I really do mean it. Not only has she been in numerous bands, and still continues to be, she is a well disciplined, very skilled drummer with a no-nonsense attitude who is dedicated to metal, along with everything she is passionate about in her life. Along with all of that, she is a very nice person, and if you haven't heard any of her drumming work, you should give it all a listen, because it is well worth your time. Here are some great words from Emily Merrick of the wonderful Canadian heavy metal band: AXXION! Enjoy, and thank you for reading! And thank you, Emily (And Kevin for the use of all your awesome pictures)!

Photo taken by Adrienne Mignardi edited by me (Olivia)

The latest happening album wise for Axxion was "Back In Time", which came out October 15th, 2016. How long did that to come together, and was it a tough process?

Emily: It honestly took from the end of the EP in 2013 to pretty much early 2016. The song writing process itself wasn’t so long, but combing over all the fine details and getting everything to sound exactly how we wanted took forever. And I really mean everything from the right drum fills to the pronunciation of words, the vocal line, harmonies, writing and re-writing to fit it in. It was grueling, meticulous and we had a lot of ideas that were just not coming out exactly how we wanted so it was just a matter of doing it over and over again until it was perfect. Of course everyone who records their own record will always nit-pick about this and that but at the end of the day I always go back to the word ‘proud’ because that is exactly how I feel about this album!

Jason Decay joined the band on bass for this album, on wild racer, Chris Riley was on bass. What made you guys have Jason come in and do bass, and how was it to record with him?

Emily: Jay is just this whole package of hilarity and talent. It was super easy to work with him and we asked him to record on the album because he is a fantastic musician and we were short on bassists that could give us the sound and feel that we wanted. It was all really natural and overall a great experience.
Photo by Nic Pouliot

How has the overall response to the band Axxion been since you guys first put anything out, and how has it changed through the years?

Emily: We’ve been so fortunate to have the greatest fans. No one can expect to take us too seriously and I think most of our fans totally get that. If anything, I think our fans have become more supportive! I think initially we had a good response to the EP and Wild Racer, but Back in Time really put us out there and captured what we were really going for.

Dev Kerr does vocals, but is also listed as playing rhythm guitars on the album, but just sings live, what's the reason for that?

Emily: AS a band we agreed that it would be better for Devon to focus on really kicking ass at singing and being a frontman instead of having to be stuck with a guitar and having to focus on that.

This album seems to take it a step up in a way, not that Wild Racer isn't a great album, but it seems that Back In Time has really solidified a sound for Axxion, would you find any truth in that statement?

Emily: Absolutely, I really think that album captured the sound we were looking for. Everything from the melodies, wording, the way it was recorded etc.; we really got what we wanted out of this album.
Photo by Kevin Nunes

Were you a founding member of Axxion?

Emily: Totally! After Shred and I left Skull Fist, I knew I wasn’t going to give up that easily! So Devon had just left his previous band and we started jamming and writing songs and finally got the first line up together, and the rest, as they say, is history.

When your first record "Wild Racer" came out, was it well received, and did you guys get a lot of gigs to play? I remember you had that one with Accept a few years ago, that must've been pretty cool.

Emily: Yea we definitely did some small touring with that album and a few festivals (the song Headbangers didn’t come out of thin air!). We did have a fairly good response, especially in our hometown and in Europe. Playing with U.D.O was totally cool, I wish I had a change to sit down with Udo and pick his brain over a beer….alas my courage failed me that night. Not sure if I’ll get that chance ever again.

The onstage theatrics are certainly something to see, who came up the idea for that, and do you guys do it every show?

Emily: It seems to be an ever-changing thing to me. Sometimes we have this super babe (Jiordi) in stage with us for some murder/ whipping stuff (I must say I enjoy watching her beat up Devon haha!), it just depends on the show. The boys have also introduced the powersuits and that’s all on them. I’m gonna stick to my denim and leather, but they love the suits and hey man, they love ‘em so who am I to say who can wear what. Shred’s also the one who makes ‘em all so that’s pretty cool!

How is it that you guys are distributing your stuff, just on your own?

Emily: Yes, for the most part, everything we do is through us. We have some international distributors for the new album, but mostly we do it all ourselves through BigCartel (

What are some of your other favorite Canadian metal bands around now?

Emily: Where to begin!  Obviously Cauldron is on my go-to playlist all the time; Striker, our boys from the west. Black Moor, our boys from the east! Spell from B.C. seems to be kicking butt these days too….I know I’m forgetting a bunch sorry!

Where does Axxion practice, and do you guys get to practice pretty often?

Emily: Shred and I have a place together and he’s vamped up the basement with soundproofing and it’s super convenient we can keep whatever we want down there, don’t have to share the space and we can drink as much as we want when we jam haha!
Shred (Kenny)
Photo taken by Kevin Nunes

You're also a drummer in the band Phantom. Does that get complicated sometimes?

Emily: Well, Phantom has been pretty inactive for the past couple months, but that is mostly because of me to be honest. With all the work with AXXION and working crazy hours (I’m an RVT) I haven’t been able to commit much more time to the Phantom boys these days. I had a blast jamming and working on tunes and I know they will be entering the studio soon, but I’m just not sure what role I will be playing (literally!) at that time. I guess we’ll have to see what pans out!

You have to know the drums for both Axxion, and Phantom, does that get to be a lot when you sit down to practice?

Emily: Not at all. Once I know a song it’s stuck in my head, but I will say I have a hard time remembering intros ALL the time. I mean, how the song starts; and it could be any song, one I’ve played a hundred times even if we don’t have a big setlist. I’m not sure why it happen, but usually I sit down and really force myself to think over sets before a big show so I know I’m not gonna blank on the night of the show!

How long have you played drums, and what inspired you to start playing?

Emily: I started when I was 13, and I’ve been asked the second part of that question so often and I never really feel like I have a satisfying answer. I’ve always loved music; there is far too much videographic evidence of me and my siblings singing/ playing ridiculous things. I started piano at a very young age (though I hated it then) and my entire family is musical. So I was always drawn to it, but that doesn’t really explain the drumming. I remember one day just thinking “I want to learn drums”, there wasn’t any specific reason, it was just such a natural thought that I didn’t think anything of it; it was going to happen because I felt the need to inside of myself.
Photo by Kevin Nunes

Who would you say kind of influenced your playing style when you first started out playing drums?

Emily: Now and forever; Nicko Mcbrain. Yea yea everyone is going to say ‘how stereotypical!”, but as a young learner it was just such a shock to hear him play. The speed, the accuracy, the natural way he plays, nothing forced, and everything was always exactly how it should be you know? His fills are perfectly places and the timing is always in the pocket, there’s so much feel there. Of course other drummers have inspired me for other reasons (Mike Portnoy and George Kolias for the technical stuff), Sean Reinhart and Gene Hoglan both for the speed and just the insanity of it all. Though I do have to say that I’m a huge fan of everything just coming together and fitting in its place, to me, making your overall music sound better is going to make me fall in love with you as a drummer.

Other than playing drums, what are some of your other main interests?

Emily: I’m kind of all over the place. I work as an RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician), but my work is still something I love and take home with me (sometimes literally!). I’ve had my fair share of foster kittens kicking around the house bugging my other cats. I’ve also taken up piano again after a 14 year hiatus and it’s kind of nice to struggle again; to start from the beginning so to speak, and work your way up to the level you want to achieve. I’m sure it’s also pretty obvious from my social media stuff that I’m a HUGE nerd. Give me anything Zelda or Star Wars related and you won’t be able to shut me up. Videogames, movies, the occasional board game even. Along the nerd line I am a serious bookworm. Anything from anatomy textbooks to human evolution to sci-fi novels I can’t get enough. I love just getting out of my own head and being transformed into another world.
Photo by Kevin Nunes

Do you prefer any specific shoes to wear when you play drums? Might seem like an odd question, but I like to have something really thin and light to wear when i play.

Emily: I actually don’t wear any shoes at all. Sometimes I have socks (definitely at shows) but generally no shoes. I used to wear them, but I found a lot of the ones I had were restricting my ankle movement, added too much bulk and took away from that natural feel of the pedal. I always laugh because when we play I usually wear some serious heels to the show and people always ask “do you play in those?!”….sometimes I humour myself and tell them yes hah!

What's your favorite gig you've played so far from both Axxion, and Phantom?

Emily: Probably Headbangers in Germany a few years ago….2015? I’m really horrible with places and dates, but that was a great show. We played early everyone was hungover but still showed up for the set and I think it was a nice way to get everyone pumped for the rest of the day. I also had a huge drum riser and I could see the whole crowd (for once!) so it was a unique experience for me in that sense.

When the songs are written, is it more of a colaborative thing, or is there someone in particular that comes up with the riffs usually?

Emily: Shred definitely takes the bulk of this project! Devon will come with some songs in too, and we usually tweak those up. Of course I have freedom to play whatever on drums, sometimes we’ll all sit down and go over melodies and wording, harmonies etc. But I’ve definitely never written a song!

What's some of your favorite drum equipment you have, and what would you like to have in the future?

Emily: I just purchased a nice tasty pair of Speed Cobras from Tama and I actually can’t believe how much more I like them. I was a little skeptical about how much better they could possibly be than my Iron Cobras, but once I had them set up, they’re heaven. The footboard is a bit longer so that ‘sweet-spot’ is a little bigger and gives me a bit more leeway. The pedals in the case are heavy, but once you’re kicking they’re light as a feather! I also love my Black Beauty snare drum; I can’t play a show without it, it’s the best damn sounding thing I’ve ever owned.

If you had to pick one person to sit down and talk drums with, who would it be?

Emily: You guessed it…. Nicko Mcbrain! He’s my one and only.

Do you still use the name Alison Thunderland, or do you just go by Emily for the records and everything? I find myself calling you Allison sometimes by accident! And where did that name come from?

Photo by Kevin Nunes
Emily: After leaving Skull Fist in 2011, I wanted to really represent myself as who I am and since that name was made up for that band and I was cutting all my ties, I really wanted to leave it behind and be taken a bit more serious. Someone did once tell me it sounded like a porn star name so…yes I use my real name now and I’m digging it. I feel like I’m not hiding behind a gimmick or anything, I want people to appreciate my drumming and our music, nothing more.

Do you play any other instruments?

Emily: I can squeak by on guitar (especially if everyone else is drunk!), I’ve come back to piano (mostly classical conservatory stuff but I really dig it!), and I only sing in the show and in my car where no one else has to hear me. I think I could probably play a mean triangle if I really tried to.

What kind of stuff do you practice when you sit behind the kit, and do you practice a lot before gigs and everything?
Emily: As a band we definitely practice a bunch before shows. Personally, when I sit down to warm up I just kind of jam and work on whatever I feel like; speed, patterns, whatever I’m in the mood for.

What are some of your favorite bands, i know it's a typical interview question, but I like to know what my favorite musicians listen to.
Photo by Nic Pouliot

Emily: I’m all over the place. I love the trad stuff like Grim Reaper, Saxon, W.A.S.P, Dokken. Speedy stuff like Blind Guardian, Helloween. Also occasional find a black metal band that I can’t live without; Dissecton and more recently and American band called Dumal. But then I have a hundred other bands that I can’t even place into a general category; Tyr, Nightwish, Sabaton, Ensiferum, Dimmu Borgir. To me it’s less about the genre and more about what makes my brain just light up when I hear it.

How do you feel the Canadian metal scene has progressed over the years, or rather just your overall feelings on it?

Emily: I love the Canadian scene; we are small yes, but overall rather tight knit and supportive. It’s funny because 10 years ago I was just entering the scene and now seeing new people coming in, it’s pretty cool.

You guys were on high roller records for "wild Racer" but don't have one for "Back In Time", what made you guys leave high roller records?

Emily: We didn’t leave per say, we just decided to do “Back in Time” on our own. We had a good response to “Wild Racer” and wanted to try and promote this one ourselves.

Is the album title "Back In Time" kind of implying you guys sound like you are from a different time, or that you could go back in time, or that your minds are back in a different time?
Emily: I think you’ve got the right combination there; I suppose it’s a little bit of everything with an undertone that we were all born just a little too damn late in this world.
Photo by Kevin Nunes

What genre of music or metal do you seem to gravitate towards the most when you sit down and listen to something?

Emily: It’s usually metal, maybe some classical if I’m in the mood, or folky stuff; if I can find a mix of these within metal music I am one happy camper.

What are some of your favorite songs to play live from Axxion?
Emily: Headbangers for sure, Ride Thru Hel is my go-to speed song, but I think Sinner is my favourite, it has my favourite AXXION solo and we all get to sing a super sweet harmony at the end.

The album art I think represents the music on this record quite well, where did the idea for that come from, and who illustrated it?

Emily: This was 100% Shred. It’s actually him in the car on the cover, we snapped a shot in my little Mazda and he worked some editing magic to get it to where it is now!

Are there any bands that you like that people you think wouldn't expect you to, or are a "guilty pleasure" if you will. I don't believe in that stuff, though, if you like it, you like, nothin to feel guilty about.
Emily: I get made fun of for listening to bands like Nightwish and Sabaton; a lot of my buddies don’t go out of that old school genre. But I like what I like and I’m not apologizing…..poor Shred has had to listen to my live Nightwish DVD too many times….he usually hides in the basement and plays guitar when I put that one on haha!

Where can people get a hold of Axxion merch, and where can people see you jam on the drums? Any specific youtube channel and fanpage for that...?

Emily: Yea! You guys can get merch at our Bigcartel ( and I’ve got a drumming page up on Facebook (Emily Anne Drumming) and the same on Youtube, though I haven’t had a serious drum cover up in a while. I am itching to get more up there though!
Emily and Jay Decay
Photo by Kevin Nunes

What are some of your personal goals for the future music wise, and what are some future goals and events for Axxion?

Emily: I think for all of us, we are aiming to make another record that we are all really proud of. I know will likely take a long time, and I am probably the worst for being a perfectionist about stuff, but I’m never going to rush through an album just to get it out you know? Personally, I’d like to make the time to put up some more videos, maybe get funky and compose something with multiple types of drums….who knows!