Monday, December 11, 2017

A+ "Bargain Bin" Bands (Part 2)

A continuation of the article I previously did about bands I feel others overlook in the sea of metal, but for my own reasons I keep coming back to them over and over again, and have stayed with me through the years.

Rogue Male

An overlooked London band, in my opinion. They formed in '83, and dropped their first full length album "First Visit" in '85. I remember first hearing this track thinking it was great, and really liked how the vocals stood out from other stuff I was hearing at the time (mainly thrash and NWOBHM... I was a snob). This song below intrigued me, and so I listened to the full album, as it was still on youtube at the time... probably a little while after youtube came into being, actually. I liked them so much I went and found the record for dirt cheap because... well... read the title of the article.

There are some videos of interviews with them floating around on the internet alongside live clips, which is where I realized that the guy on the cover was supposed to be the dude singing and playing guitar in the band- Jim Lyttle. I was slightly confused at what I was seeing, but also amused. It was sort of a gimmick, the way they looked and dressed, but their music was up to par, and as long as that is the case, then for me it's all good. They released another LP after that entitled "Animal Man", much like their first release in keeping with the musical feel of it. Pretty enjoyable, but I think "First Visit" has a place in my heart it can't take, as I had heard it years later.

They reformed in 2008, and released "Nail It" in 2009. Did they? I wouldn't know, because I'm a scared little girl when it comes to giving old bands with new albums chances. Except Carcass. Good god, Surgical Steel is amazing. But, I digress- If you haven't heard Rogue Male before, you should give them a listen and consider dressing and acting like them....



Stormwitch 

I don't even feel like this is bargain bin stuff, here. Stormwitch (which I just accidentally spelled "stormwich"... yum?) is definitely A+ stuff for me. Germany pumps out another amazing metal band from the apparent factory that seems to be deep underground there. These guys formed in '81, and released their first big'n in '84 called "Walpurgis Night", which is the more well known compared to the album I've embedded below, but I did put that album down there for a reason, but I'll get to that later. They went on to record 9 studio albums- Tales of Terror being their second studio album in '85. They ranged from '84-'15.

Now, again, I will be honest in saying that I haven't heard their most recent releases, but they had solid releases up until '89 to my knowledge. Everything I heard I liked, and maybe I shouldn't be so scared and go give them a listen along with Rogue Male, if not for the music, at least to satisfy my curiosity. Anyhow, these guys are some traditional- OR WHATEVER GENRE CALM DOWN- metal good for a go through if you'd like to hear some solid tunes for a few hours. They have a very Steve Harris bassline and tone in this album, as well. Enjoy! And if you already have.... Well then.... They're good, aren't they?





Sabbat

Ah, one of my favorite bands! Most people seem to really like the Japanese Sabbat. They're pretty good, just not quite my cup of tea, i suppose. If you do like them more than this one, that's cool, but man, I love this band. They have a constant lyrical theme it seems of mythical mischief, Paganism, and history- Three of my favorite topics! They execute each song so well in the story telling and in the music itself. The vocals were what got my me hooked after the first thrashy riff blew my mind, because sometimes with bands it can be that they have great riffs, but vocals that just lack that something special you're looking to pair with them. Not this band, oh no, Andy Sneap's singing and guitar playing go hand in hand with vocals like no other (In my opinion) and riffs to match- dark, beckoning, and almost hypnotizing.

I listened to this album so many times, and then I eventually moved on to their following release to "History Of A Time To Come" (1988), called "Dreamweaver", and let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed. They kept up the high expectations I had after hearing HOATTC. More stories, more insane riffage, more true thrash! If you're up for a wicked ride, and a sure fire way to get you in a thrashy mood (I've got a "thrash" count going now...), then look no further! Hit that play button, and treat your ears!

Also- I need this on vinyl. If anyone would like to gift it to me my name is Olivia Franks. Thank in advance.



Sword

Another band that it is a no-brainer to spew out my feeling for! Another in the line-up of bands that got me into metal- Sword of Canada! The first video I saw of them was actually the video for 'The Trouble Is". I was instantly wanting to hear more and proceeded, as I often did, to listen to the whole album, and went on to listen to their second and final release "Metalized". Now, most people I've noticed seem to like that release far more than "Sweet Dreams", grant it, the title ain't the best, but come on, it's what's inside it that counts!

I really enjoy both releases and feel they still hold up as strong as they did back then to me as they do now. I'm not sure why "Sweet Dreams' gets crapped on from some reviews I've seen, but it is actually my favorite out of the two, probably because I heard that one first, and later heard Metalized. I had/have a bad habit of giving one specific album/artist a listen to one too many times to the point of potentially annoying my husband. That aside, if you like some heavy metal with high octane, and high spirits, then give these guys a listen, you won't regret it!




Hexx 

This band was introduced to me by my husband Aaron Franks. There was no question about it, they rule! Those vocals- damn! "Under The Spell" was the album Aaron showed me first, so I knew the vocals of Dan Bryant before that of Dennis Manzo on their first release "No Escape". I think that Dennis has a great voice, but nowhere near as notable as Dan's. Dennis' voice reminds me more of Jon Arch formerly of Fates Warning, while Dan's voice sounds like no other to me. That coupled with the pounding metal and evil songwriting made for a definite lasting impression left on me. I've found myself going back time and time again to listen to those two albums.

After those two, it went downhill for me. It seemed like they turned what was a volatile pulsing pile of metal talent into a volatile pulsing pile a dog poo... I had such high hopes when i turned on that album and immediately after turning it on, I promptly turned it off. Now do NOT get me wrong- I love me some classic death metal like Devastation, Morgoth, Cancer, Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Dismembered, Nocturnus- you get it, but that.... That sounded like a bunch of nonsense to me, like they saw where they thought the 90s were probably going and thought- Yep! Let's pack it in, guys, let's just suck.

I might be being a bit harsh, and they were just trying something new, but after those first two albums, it was just a disappointment to me. Back to my main point here, this video below will blow you away if you haven't heard it before, and if you have, then you know what I'm talking about.



Warrior

This band is a bit iffy for me, but made the cut because their first album I thought was pretty unique in a way, and had some good tunes on it. They're supposed to be future based, and NO, I would not make up a whole other sub genre called "future metal" for this.... most sub genres to me are a waste of time. Metal is metal. Anyway, this band has some class and inventiveness in their craft, and no, I'm not saying futuristic stuff was unique for the time. In fact, I'd even say it was extremely overused in the 80s- but there was a certain charm and cheesiness about it that kept me sticking around wanting more. The perception of the future from then is funny to most people, I'd assume.

Warrior writes about alien attacks and fighting for earth, so if sci-fi themed metal is your thing- then this album is for you. The releases following this seem to fall short of me recommending them, to put it nicely. It seemed like they went from exploring the sci-fi future themed stuff to watching too many documentaries on the discovery channel on how farmer Jeb saw aliens land on his farm and tell him how the pyramids were built... I was not into "Ancient Future", which was their follow up release to the one I put Below "Fighting For Earth". I still feel the album stands out enough to mention here, despite the following releases not peaking my interest.



Dementia

Here's a slice of thrash from the past, for me. I had saw this album on sale on discogs for dirt cheap and thought "I guess... Album art is questionable, but I really like that logo". I don't know where the album was actually shipped from... I think Greece or somewhere like that, but whoever shipped it did not give a shit, because I remember it came in pretty much two pieces of one ply cardboard tapped together. Luckily it was intact, so I went up to my room and gave 'er a spin. I liked it a lot! I listened to it again recently, and realized I liked it a hell of a lot more back then. I mean, I still really liked it, but I remember telling people about them like I had just heard Metallica for the first time or something.

Some of the riffs are a bit repetitive, but it has history with me, and I still enjoy it for what it is- a decent thrash release from the 80s. If you've gotten this far in the article and haven't insulted my writing 60 times yet, then thank you. Even if you just skimmed it, thanks all the same, and let me know what you think of the bands and any thoughts you have on what my next installment should be in this series.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Beastmaker Interview with Trevor William Church

Photo taken by Sally Townsend
Edited by Olivia Franks



Beastmaker is a heavy band from Fresno- California. I've heard you mention in other interviews that Fresno is not the place for a metal scene, does this still hold true, and do you feel you guys have had any effect on the area?


There still is not much of a music scene here for us. there are other genres of music that have some stuff going on but for us we just kind of try to focus on touring. I don’t think we’ve had much of an effect on the actual scene but I know that people look up to what we are doing.

When the band first formed in 2014, did it take a while for things to start to get going with recording and getting gigs? And did you guys have a lot of gear back then?

everything happened very quickly. we put out the you must sin demo and then we were signed by rise above records. we had some gear. not as much as we do now but a good amount. we started recording right away and gigs kind of just fell in line for us.

Being from Fresno, and going by what you had previously said about it being pretty baron of music, how is it that you came to meet and form a band with the other members- Andres Saldate (drums), and John Trucker (bass)?

Andy and I go way back and have played in other bands together. John was in a local band that was ending and he is actually a bad ass guitarist but since we really needed a bassist I thought what the hell he might say yes. Obviously, he did. I think the timing for us to do Beastmaker was just right.

This seems sort of the quintessential interview question, but I like to know the answer to this question, as I'm sure a lot of other people do- How was it that you came up with the name Beastmaker, and was that your first choice for the band name?

I came up with the name Beastmaker a long long time ago. I was traveling in an indie rock band at the time that sucked ass but I got to travel so I was along for the ride. I was in Texas drunk as fuck I don’t drink anymore but there was this band dressed in all leather playing guns n roses type rock and I really dug them. I thought their names was Beastmaker and I was like that is an amazing name turned out their name was Peacemaker…I was disappointed and was like well this name is awesome I”m gonna use it.

Was it tough to get gigs around town because of the lack of a music scene, or is there just not really any other heavy acts to play with, so getting a show is tough in that aspect?


There are places to play around Fresno they just don’t really have an audience. we’ve always looked at Fresno as however many friends you have is the way it goes here. We are a little older and I do not go out and party at all so we aren’t the cool party band in town. getting shows was not hard..there used to be a dive bar “Audies Olympic Tavern” we played there a lot he really supported what we did and he still is a good friend of ours but he had to shut his doors..

The first release from Beastmaker was self titled, and eventually re-recorded, or re-mixed into the EP "You Must Sin". Was there a lot you wanted to change in the mixing and recording process for it, and where was it that you recorded "You Must Sin"?In retrospect you want to change everything. at the time we did the demo we went back and re recorded it for the album. we had never really played out of town at this point. didn’t even have merch. it all happened quickly so we just jumped on board and did the best we could.

After the release of "You Must Sin" the band got signed to Lee Dorrian's record label- Rise Above Records. How did that happen, and how did you feel whenever you guys got signed to the label?

Photo by Sally Townsend
Well really our friend Tony was showing people our bandcamp page and helping promote..he showed Scott Carlson who played bass in Cathedral and is overall a bad ass homie. He showed Lee and thats was that. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to be on the same label as witchcraft, uncle acid, etc…He picked us up and took us under his wing. We owe a lot to Lee.

When Beastmaker got signed to Rise Above Records, did that change a lot for the band in terms of things going more smooth and promotion being better at all?

I mean nothing about being in a touring band is smooth. Especially not for us..we have broken down so many times in the middle of nowhere. Its crazy. but as far as getting shows and tours and what not it all became very simple. things kind of just come to us I guess. People ask us to go on tour and we did. Lee got us our first tour ever with Blood Ceremony so we had a great start because of him.

Has Lee Dorrian and the bands he's been in been a big influence on you musically throughout the years?

Cathedral is a rad band. Gaz is a great guitarist who has written some pretty stellar riffs and he is a great lead guitar player as well.

The latest release from the band was "Lusus Naturae", which features songs from "You Must Sin" along with new ones. Did you feel you wanted to include the Ep with new material you had, and was it a fairly smooth process to record and get everything done?


it was fairly easy we didn’t go into thinking ok this is gonna be tough we just played the best we could. mind you we had really just started so we were not as tight as we are now. a lot has changed in 2 years. we’ve been put to the test on many occasions. we wanted the EP to be included because rise above was releasing it and we wanted those songs to reach a broader audience plus it was only out for 2 weeks before we got signed so it was all still very new
.
What are some of your favorite bands old and new?
There are so many to name that I like it’s impossible. right now id say for old bands I’ve been really digging Def Leppard, Ozzy,  Motley Crue. For new bands man there re just so many I like Gravebreaker and Spell a lot..

What are some hobbies you have or favorite things to do?

I help rehabilitate native birds of the central valley. this all happened by default. my fiancé has been doing it for years but she is teaching full time so I started kind of taken some of the responsibility. My main hobby is music. I play drums, bass, guitar, I sing.. I have my own recording studio. I love animals..I have 3 dogs and 2 cats. I spend a lot of time hanging with them. I used to be heavy into skateboarding but at my age I’m fragile..I still cruise around.

Who are some of your main influences musically and just in life in general?


My dad Bill “electric” Church is a huge influence. he was in the sammy hagar band and montrose. My uncle Bob. Randy Rhodes and Jake E. Lee. Zakk Wylde is a new one. after touring with him I really dig his solos.

What other bands had you had before Beastmaker, and what kind of music did you play in them, or what instrument?

Photo By Bobby Cochran



Well my first real band was Scattered Fall we played punk music. after that I had many failed attempts of bands. I joined this indie rock band in Sacramento called “an angle” I hated the music but my friend Matt was the bassist so we just went from state to state causing a rawness. I eventually quit that to start Beastmaker..we played everything from Thrash, to Psychedelic stuff in the beginning. I never really got it going. I had a drinking problem in my mid twenty’s which prevented me from really staying focused on bands. I always played and stuff but I didn’t take it seriously. I was in a couple math rock bands at one time very briefly Yacht Club and Marathon. just noodley guitar stuff. it never worked out.

Has your taste in music differed at all through the years, and has there been any turning point when you found the main kind that you liked, and kept coming back to it for inspiration and enjoyment?

I grew up in a musical family. I was into everything man. Punk, Metal, Rap, Motown,..etc. Ozzy was really the turning point because I could mimic his vocals pretty well. but in my teenage years it was bands like misfits, metallica, even green day. just so much music how can one really just pinpoint one thing you like. I definitely liked underground everything. I went to a lot of punk shows when i was younger so that was were I found a lot of music. I always sought new shit to listen to.

I noticed you have a few tattoos. When was it you got your first one, and which is your favorite? I really like the Danzig/Samhain one.


Photo by Sally Townsend
I started getting them when I was 18 which was a huge mistake. I have cover ups of cover ups haha. I have 3 danzig tattoos. I always loved Danzigs lyrics. he was a big influence on me next to Ozzy because I loved to sing along. People really get things mixed up about my love for black sabbath I actually prefer Ozzy’s solo albums because Randy Rhodes and Jake E. Lee are like what I strive to do on the guitar. I love Iommi don’t get me wrong but it was Ozzy’s voice that drew me to Sabbath.



What is your main guitar, and what kind of gear do you use? And what gear would you like to have eventually?

my main guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Custom its an Sg body with 3 pickups. I have quite a few different amps here but my main one is a Hovercraft Falcon 100 with 2 4x12 worshipper cabs. I have a ton of pedals but mainly i use my custom delay by gremlin noise machine. I use a lot of pedal from lone wolf audio as well. I just bought a vintage bc rich eagle bass in white. I want a bc rich eagle in white. I have the bass now i want the guitar version.

Your Dad, Bill Church, has been an active musician with such acts as Montros and other Sammy Hagar projects. How has that affected you musically, and how was it to grow up with that going on in your life?

My Dad is an amazing musician. I had a lot of support from my Mom and Dad they always bought me guitars. when they saw me improve i’d get a new one till they got me my first Gibson Les Paul. after that I was on my own. But my Dad was very loose with me growing up musically he bought me whatever tapes i wanted..he bought me Slayer South of Heaven when i was like 7 years old. It drove my Mom mad. She thought I wanted to worship the devil. haha. but she then realized it wasn’t really all about that. They bought me skateboards. Skate Videos I was a daredevil kid in a way. I had a lot of sense though I never did anything that I thought well I don’t think you should do this cause you can get very hurt. I knew when to draw the line.

There are some definite horror influences in Beastmaker's songwriting and imagery, where would you say your love for that kind of stuff started, and has it become more a part of your life over the years getting into your songwriting and everything?

Photo by Bobby Cochran


My Dad again. We started watching Vincent Price movies at some point. I can’t recall my age but the first one I really remember was “the last man on earth”. I still to this day am terrible with movie titles I forget them easily. Same with song titles. but my Dad was into old movies so I watched a lot of James Dean and Steve Mcqueen stuff. his favorite tv show is “the prisoner” we watched that a lot. My friend Tony really opened up the world of horror for me. I kind of just watched whatever I could find. I have my favorites now mainly because of imagery. The blind dead series being one of those films.


I've seen where you often do livestreams on the Beastmaker page on facebook where you play guitar, and sometimes give tips. Do you feel that that is sort of an outlet for you to just play whatever, and get technical whereas in Beastmaker the music style is slower and very heavy?

Photo by Sally Townsend
Well I have another band Haunt where I get to explore new stuff. I just finished the demos for album 3 for Beastmaker and it’s different from what we have done. I keep getting better and better at playing guitar and change was coming no matter what. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they get inspired from my live videos so I do it for them. show them hey we all have to work hard to be good and they also witness my failures. haha.

That brings me to my next question, about your newest project, called "Haunt", which is a band you have by yourself. It seems to have a more traditional heavy metal sound with a lot of leads and fast paced heavy riffs. When was it that you decided you'd like to do this, and how did you record everything?

I do it the same way I do Beastmaker I write everything by myself and record it. My friend Daniel played drums on the EP. My drumming is good but I like other people to get involved in my music. it feels to weird to let it be all me. Honestly Haunt is really more my style of music when it comes to what I really listen to. When we started doing Beastmaker with John we wanted it to have a sabbath groove at the time. But that is such a small sliver of what I’m really all about. I listen to very very little doom bands. I love early candlemas and witchfinder general, electric wizard stuff like that into it. So, I guess these things just happened naturally. I needed to just be a guitarist and Haunt gave me that outlet but I ended up just doing everything. I wasn’t even going to release it but my lady just kept on my ass saying you need to put this out so after a year of letting it just sit on my computer i put it out.

Had you known how to play drums before you wanted to start the solo project, or did you pick them up with the intention of making Haunt? I'm guessing bass just comes natural since you play guitar in Beastmaker.


Photo by Sally Townsend
I write my music alone. so when you do that you need to know how to play everything. So I pretty much have a grasp on all instruments. I’m best at guitar. my drumming is ok. I can get the idea almost every time but I prefer drummers to come in and just do it. Bass is just another form of guitar really. I play bass like a guitar which might not really be the best way but I’ve always had Bass guitars around to mess around on.

What was the first guitar you ever got, and was that the first instrument you played?

It was red memphis. I was 5 years old when I got it. My first instrument was drums, but I didn’t like it.

How early on in life did you really get into music and have the interest to start playing an instrument?


I was born with an instrument in hand man. my whole life I’ve had instruments. My first recollection was a drum set I was like 4 years old. I got it for Christmas, I was stoked but it fizzled out. Guitar became my focus, but really skateboarding was my main focus for many many years. I always played but man I loved skating with my friends.



How are you feeling about the upcoming European tour that Beastmaker will be going on later this year, and have you been on the road a lot before this for as long a time as you will be for the tour?


Photo by Sally Townsend
I’m stoked to get back to europe. its hard leaving everything behind for me. I miss my lady, my pets, my house. it’s a tough deal but I enjoy it. we did a few tours this year. we went out with Zakk Sabbath for a month so it’s been actually pretty chill. next year we will do a full USA tour and Europe again. I’m trying to keep it to a minimum when it comes to traveling. when we put out an album we will go out for a support tour but other than that I don’t plan on road dogging it or anything. I prefer to write and record music.

What are your thoughts on your contribution to music thus far, and what are some of your future plans and goals to come?


Well I feel like I’ve really just gotten started. Beastmaker is evolving. Haunt is also getting ready to do a full length and I’m bringing in some homies to play with me this time around just to give it a more band feel. I’m proud of the work I’ve done thus far. I just hope I inspire people to play music and have fun. In the end I do this for others to enjoy. I’m always moving forward so really I only live in the song until it’s done and then I move to the next.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vic Stown Volcana Interview (2017)




Last time I interviewed you, it was 2015. At that time you had mentioned a project you were starting, but couldn't reveal. That project was the doom, gloom, and ripping riffs of Volcana. What brought about the forming of this band, and how did you come to have the members that are a part of it now?

VS - I've always had material I couldn't use for Vindicator for one reason or another. Stuff I might cough up warming up to write for Vindi. Fleeting inspirations that didn't quite fit the thrash formula. Instead of tossing those ideas out or changing Vindicator's sound, I kept them. I've always been a fan of The Sword's early work and eventually how Matt Pike writes for High On Fire. And during the early stages of what would become Vindicator's longest hiatus to date, I started a studio project.
 I've known Jeff [Potts] for some time given we got our start in the same scene. The New Wave Of Thrash Metal were a tight knit group. I've shared the stage with Jeff numerous times. And I met Glen [Monturi] when Vindicator toured with Seven Witches and Vicious Rumors in 2012. Glen was filling in for Seven Witches on drums. I was blown away watching him perform that first night. And in a very short period of time, we hit it off. I stayed in contact with him over the years. When I decided to no longer sit idle and make some new music that wasn't Vindicator, I knew I wanted to hit up people I'd never worked with before. Those two individuals were the first two I contacted.


The first release for Volcana was in 2016 entitled "A Lion Among Jackals". Did it take long to record that, and where did you record it? Did you also do the mixing for it?

VS - The guitars on Lion were actually recorded in 2014 sometime. I let the project slide momentarily for one reason or another and several songs sat in various forms of completion up until 2016 when we fired the project up again. Each member recorded tracks on their own using their own gear at their own place (home/rehearsal pad). For mixing and mastering we hit up Tim Holsinger. Tim knows his way around some gear and has access to mountains of stuff that we don't. He knew exactly what I was going for.


Did you use the same guitar gear to get the tone you wanted for the doom feel for Volcana as opposed to what you used for Vindicator?

VS - I did not. I actually had Tim re-amp the guitars on that release. For the life of me I can't remember specifically what he used, either. There's a couple different amps on it. Although I believe one is of the Orange variety.


Had you wanted to do this sort of project for a long time, and had you had plans for songs well before the band came to fruition?

VS - Not really. I never wanted to take away from Vindicator. I always saw my peers doing side projects and could never understand how they did it. How the two were balanced. Initially the ideas came quick. And then I got distracted by trying to save Vindicator from its untimely break. When the dust settled I found myself in the same position. And at that point I decided to take Volcana on full time. Which isn't technically "full time" due to its being a studio band.

Photo Cred Ryan Lawson


While writing the songs, did you have help in doing so from other band members, or this mostly your project- music wise?

VS - Lemme tell you something, I'm not trying to toot the proverbial self horn, but EVERY band I've done (up until recently) is me. Also take that statement with a grain of salt. But when you hear a song from Violent Night, Vindicator, and Volcana the odds that I wrote it are high. NOT out of some weird narcissistic egotism, but out of sheer necessity. I'm a doer. I'm goal oriented and very driven. In Volcana, Glen writes all the bass and drums, Jeff writes the solos and certain accent tracks, and I write the riffs, lyrics, and arrangements. There are exceptions though, in every project I've done.


What are some of the bands that have influenced you the most over the years, and which seem the most prominent to you at this point in your life, or has it always been the same bands that held up through the years for you?

VS - With Volcana I tend to focus more on stoner rock/metal, doom, traditional metal, and rock. As I mentioned before, The Sword has been a huge influence on this project as has been High On Fire. Volcana isn't reeeaaaally a doom band. We're just filthy basement orcs playing dust covered, oxidated, heavy rock. What's truly great about writing for Volcana though is there's no bars here. I have no expectations, therefore I have no restrictions. So I find inspiration easier for this band than previous bands.


"A Lion Among Jackals" is a hard hitting release for sure- would you say the title track reflects your veiws on society, somewhat? In the fact that good people seem scarce, and thinking for one's self seems almost a strange matter in today's society?

VS - I pulled the concept from a steampunk novel I had recently read. The idea of a nobody that was in fact a somebody, and not just any somebody, but a savior, was very appealing to me. The parallels of that character and the world at large, while completely coincidental, are nearly uncanny. 


Volcana is on the record label "Austenitized Records". Can you tell us a little about them, and how you came to be on it?

VS - We actually licensed A Lion Among Jackals to Austenitized Records to be pressed on seven inch. Originally released as a digital only single, my personal mantra of "zero expectations" paid off hard when talks about a seven inch were being had. I've known Luke for some time. He was wanting to start an indie label and looking to cut his teeth on a release. We were fortunate enough to be that release.


Do you feel you are able to explore more facets of your voice and guitar playing by starting Volcana? And how would it compare to how you performed and wrote in Vindicator?

VS - Absolutely. I can utilize less grit and more melody at times. Even, dare I say, vocal harmonies. Volcana songs are typically not fast. The riffs are more rock, less tech. The downfall is, having no restraints whilst writing this stuff comes at a price. In Vindicator, the songs were constructed to be performed live. In Volcana, I write with an unabashed sense freedom. In short: I have no fucking clue if I could perform these songs live. And I'm not at all concerned about that as it's doubtful we'd ever perform live. But one can never tell...


Having been married for ten years and having children, how would you say that affected your life, both musically and overall?

VS - Musically, without Sarah, Vindicator would not have accomplished ninety percent of what we did. She was acting manager, booking agent, tour manager, merch person, driver, graphic designer, and photographer for many years. The introduction of kids, doesn't complicate things as much as most would believe. It DOES make being a musician a bit more of a challenge, but it doesn't end careers. Volcana certainly fits best in a life with kids. But Vindicator would too if I had the people. You have to make things work after a certain point. I don't see myself touring the world for months at a time for either project. Give up? Why not just toss in that stinky, shit covered towel??? Fuck that. I'll stop when I stop. On my own terms.



Do your kids dig your music, and like genres?

VS - My house is very musically eclectic. My kids love pretty much all music. But they hear mostly metal, and for the most part, dig it all. I do catch my daughter singing along with Volcana. It's extremely awesome.


What are some of your views on life, and do you feel they are heavily reflected in your songwritting and playing? Would you feel that that was stronger in Vindicator, or in Volcana? Or have both of them been two separate parts of your life, or feelings during that period in your life?

VS - Life is short. It's fragile. It's the fastest thing you'll experience. While it's easy to get yourself stuck in mud, slow down, and take in your surroundings. The mud will dry, but your surroundings will change. Vindicator was an outlet for anger and frustration. Volcana is just about making music its members dig. No specific or intentional views or opinions, for the most part. So I suppose, my views were stronger in Vindicator. Those views and feelings haven't gone away. Should we ever find the right people for the group, those feelings will still be there, waiting to snap some necks.


Has Volcana played any live shows yet, and are there any future plans to play a good amount of shows?

VS - No. And no. Having said that, playing shows isn't wholly out of the question. Jeff is in Cali, Glen in Jersey, and myself right in the middle in Ohio. It's more likely Bolt Thrower will play a few reunion shows than we'll ever be able to pull off a gig. Again, you never know. Should, say, a decent fest come our way, maybe we pull it off? Until then, making heavy music for people willing to hear it is enjoyable enough.


What are your thoughts on up and coming metal bands today? At least in terms of aesthetics vs. quality in music. I'm asking because I feel most times a lot of bands find it trendy to wear the studs and spikes, while others wear it because it's what they love, while others wear it to almost mask the lack of talent. Thoughts on that?

VS - Look, gimmicks have ALWAYS existed in music and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. Lyrical content is a gimmick in itself. I don't care what a band looks like (for the most part) as long as I like their music. And music is absolutely subjective. Music I love may be hated by someone else. My thought's on current music trends? There's nothing new, it's a never ending cycle, find music you love and support the hell out of it. Everyone was/is a poser, so own who you are.


Are there any plans to go to another record label any time soon? And what are your thoughts on Rise Above Records? Lee Dorrian has some awesome bands on there, and I feel Volcana would be welcome among them.

VS - Currently we are free agents. We'll poke around and see what's out there that's fair for us. I think Rise Above's roster is gorgeous. Would we fit on the label? I'm inclined to agree with you.






If you could give any musician who is new to playing and gigging any advice, what would it be?

VS - ALWAYS keep your wits about you. There are good people out there who genially want to further you in your goals, but there are twice as many scumbags. Don't be a dick. Support the bands your sharing the bill with. And for fuck's sake, be a fucking professional. No matter how small you are. Carry yourself like you're signed to Capitol. What I mean by that is, be courteous, on time, and be respectful of others. But most of all, have fun. If you're not having fun, you're in it for the wrong reasons.


Besides playing guitar, do you play any other instruments, or would like to play different ones sometime in the future?

VS - I can play basic bass. Some rustic percussion instruments. I wish i could play everything: piano, violin, etc. But drums, I really wish I could play drums. I'd settle for playing way up high on the tiny strings, though.


What are some hobbies you have, and have they changed over the years? Because I'm pretty sure I asked you in the last interview, but some people might not have seen it, and they might have changed a bit since 2015.

VS - I'm wondering if I shouldn't review that original interview myself to see what I said... Aside from creating music I enjoy reading, sampling a variety of beers, watching a variety films and shows, occasionally building shitty shelves, I'm just an ordinary guy when it comes down to it. Over the past several years I've slowly become obsessed with gear videos. Especially pedal demos. I should probably seek out professional help.


In order to do what you love, you have to have a job to support that... unless you win the lottery a lot or something. What job do you have now, and how do you feel about it?

VS - I'm a stay at home Dad. It doesn't pay for anything. It saves my household a boatload of money in child care. Not to mention I have trust issues, so leaving my kids with people I don't know has never sat well with me. I love it. My kids absolutely test every fiber of my being on a daily basis, but it's still better than an awful nine to five. Houses were supposed to be able to take care of themselves in the future. We're in the future and all we have is the Roomba. No self washing dishes, no self emptying garbage, no talking cats. Needless to say, a house occupied by a family doesn't take care of itself.


Have you ever considered dabbling or mastering other genres with another band, and what would that be?

VS - Not really. I just do what I do and now I have an outlet for everything I do. Vindicator gets the thrash, Volcana gets everything else. I'm pretty content where I'm at.


What are some things you think are the most important in life, and what are some things you have in mind for the future, whether it be musical, or just anything?

VS - Respect and family. I don't really have anything in mind for the future, to be honest. My only real plan is to keep writing music. I'll stop writing when everyone stops listening.


What are some future goals for Volcana, and how do you feel about the progression of your career in metal thus far?

VS - Building our catalog. Volcana is constantly in writing mode. I've accomplished more than most at this point in time. And there's still a boatload I haven't (and may never) accomplish. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy with where I'm at, no matter how disgruntled I might appear at times. For being a nobody, I've done quite a bit and will slowly continue to accomplish.

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 mpylkko.com

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 mpylkko.com

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 mpylkko.com
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.

Rage

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.


Scanner

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.



Powerlord

Maaaaan, this production quality sounds like ass, but it's the great kinda low budget sound that just adds to the sound! But what really matter is this slice of molten metal dripping with... well, awesomeness. The scream in this intro is ear shattering! 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...



Mezzrow

 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!