Friday, May 26, 2017

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

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

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

Photo by Nic Pouliot edited by Aaron Franks

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

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

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

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

Chainbreaker formed in 2013, what brought that about?

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

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

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

Photo by Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Nic Pouliot

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

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

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

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

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

Photo By Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Nic Pouliot

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

Cauldron: Break big then break up

Chainbreaker: Break more chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kevin Nunes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Nic Pouliot

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

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Vänlade- Rage Of The Gods (2015) Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

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

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

Photo taken by Adrienne Mignardi edited by me (Olivia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were you a founding member of Axxion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you play any other instruments?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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