Category Archives: Interviews

Meridian: Nothing But The Hard Hitting Truth

Photo Credit: Taylor Hayes

Photo Credit: Taylor Hayes

One of the latest signings to the Victory Records roster of talent, Meridian is sure to captivate fans of A Day To Remember and We Came As Romans.  Featuring wondrously infectious, yet hard hitting songs, their debut album The Awful Truth is sure to garner Meridian a good deal attention.  With members between the ages of 17-21, there is a good deal of passion and conviction to be found within this dynamic collective.  Here is an interview we recently conducted with singer / guitarist Christian Evanko to find more about this band on the rise ready to break it out in a big and glorious way.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Meridian, and how long the band has been together.
Hi, my name is Christian Evanko and I sing and play guitar in Meridian. We’ve been a band for a little over two years now.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Poughkeepsie, New York. Thankfully we come from a thriving and supportive local scene that for years has housed amazing bands such as Just Surrender, Matchbook Romance and We Are The In Crowd.

How did you wind up signing to Victory Records?
It really came out of nowhere. Our manager Nicole had texted us all one day to check our emails and when we did, we couldn’t believe what we saw. We were all super stoked to see that one of our favorite labels had reached out to us and showed interest. We then met with one of the reps from the label at our local Panera. That meeting went really well. One thing led to another, and now we are part of Victory Records.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title The Awful Truth?
We summed this up to a quote: “No matter how hard you try, the awful truth is that you will never win.”

theawfultruth1Select two songs from The Awful Truth and what inspired the lyrics.
The song I personally hold closest is track 9 “Wait For Me‘. We’ve all seen far too many people we know, in some cases even close friends, struggle with substances. Last year, we lost a friend because of this and it’s something I will try my best to never let happen again. If you see someone in need, reach out to them. Although it might be difficult, you cannot give up on that person because you might be all they have.

Our song “Waves” is inspired by the experiences and events one undertakes throughout high school. Now being 2 years graduated, looking back I realize how impressionable and naive one can be at that age. It’s a song about letting go of that time and moving on to better yourself.

Who did the artwork for The Awful Truth and how much input did you have on it?
Sam Kaufman. We had the wilting flower idea in our heads for quite some time and we knew that Sam was a really cool artist. We sent him the image we had in our heads and we got back the same image that we envisioned. It was perfect.

With much of Meridian being so young, how supportive have your parents of the band and going on tour?
Our parents could not be any more excited and supportive of our decisions to be in a full time touring band. My parents are always coming to every local show and have let us practice in my garage for years. Without the support we have from our families, we honestly might not be where we are today.

What could one expect from a live Meridian show in 2014 and beyond?
A high energy passion filled performance. There are no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, just 5 kids plugging in their instruments and playing. We love what we do and we try to convey that every time we step on stage.

Has Meridian ever played here in the Los Angeles / OC or plan to do so in future days?
We have not been able to get out to the West Coast yet, but trust me when I say as soon as we can, we will.

Any strange or scary happenings while on the road or at a show?
The first day of this year, after driving about 24 hours overnight, we broke down an hour away from our destination. Seeing as it was New Years Day, no one was opened or could help us. Being 5 young kids stranded miles and miles away from home, it was a very intense experience, especially being stuck in a hotel for 7 days. We were grateful that we were able to stay in a hotel, but bummed that we missed the rest of the tour. I think the part that really killed us was not being able to play the shows we all had been looking forward to and taken off of work for months and months in advance. But as the old adage goes “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’d have to go with AC/DC. My parents did a great job of bringing me up on the classics and they have been my all time favorite band. Ever since I heard Angus Young play guitar from when I was little, I knew that was something I needed to do with my life.

If the music of Meridian was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
I would have to say a jelly donut. The melodic singing aspect would be the jelly oozing out softly from the middle, while the heavier, more hardcore sections are the casing of the donut, sprinkled with a fast punk feel, provided by the drumming and guitars. All parts are needed to make that delicious donut.

What’s up next for Meridian?
Endless touring in support of our debut album The Awful Truth. We want nothing more than to hit the road full force.

Any final words of wisdom?
Be sure to check out our debut album The Awful Truth now available through Victory Records. We hope to see you on the road as we wrap up 2014 and head into the new year!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to see your band here in the Los Angeles area soon!
Thank you for having us!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Meridian on Facebook


The Road Dogs of Night Demon

nightdemondaze2014Based out of Ventura, CA – Night Demon has been on tour throughout the country, possessing metal fanatics with their exhilarating brand of raging heavy metal!  In support of the legendary Raven, one of the stops would be at the world famous Whisky on the Sunset Strip.  With a Self-Titled EP in tow from Shadow Kingdom Records, Night Demon now find themselves signed to Century Media stateside, and will be releasing their debut full length early in the New Year.  We caught up with Night Demon front man Jarvis Leatherby just moments before going onstage to discuss their tour with Raven, signing to Century Media. their upcoming album, advice on seeking a label deal. and other fiery topics of interest.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Night Demon.
I am Jarvis Leatherby, bass and vocals.

What’s the first concert you ever went to?
Monsters of Rock 88′ at the sports arena. Van Halen, Metallica, Dokken. My dad used to play in a band with Michael Anthony. So he was always a family friend, he’s like let’s go see Uncle Mike! Then I saw Metallica and was like, I know what i”m doing with my life, you know? [laughs]

nightdemonwhisky1How’s the tour been going, what are some of the highlights?
It’s great, man. We did three dates with Diamond Head and Raven last year and we became friends with those guys. We ended up on a festival with them in Spain back in April. We’re just stuck talking to nobody, we started talking about touring and stuff. We had an agent that had asked – originally it was supposed to be Raven, M-pire of Evil which is Mantis and Demolition Man from Venom and us. It was a three, three piece old school metal bands going out on tour. We were trying to come up with a cool name and theme it. But the agent was just, raking everybody over and it was a bad situation. So they fired him and called me up and said, hey do you guys still want to do this? We’re like – yeah! Let’s do it. This whole thing, the two month jaunt is a total DIY effort. There is no big business involved. No agencies. There’s nothing like that. We’ve booked all the shows ourselves. We played in a garage last weekend, hands down it was the best show of the tour. It was insane. 100 metalhead kids, a house party with Raven and Night Demon.  It’s been good. It’s been a lot of – again, booking the tour yourself you gotta take what you can get so the routing has been really fucked up but we make it work. Try and play every night, it’s great. It’s like, for these guys it feels like the old days for them. I dont know if that’s good or bad, but its definitely – come full circle for them out there doing the whole DIY thing.

nightdemon2How did you wind up signing to Century Media?
We’ve been playing around LA – we’re a fairly new band so, for about the last year and a half. Our A&R guy, Dan Dismal he’s a promoter so we’ve been on some of his shows. He’s seen us, so people from the label have come out. Marco Barbieri is now the president of the label, prior to that he was doing shows. He booked us on the Doom in June Festival out in Vegas. So, we went out and did that. So we’ve been on the radar. I think they’ve seen the story grow and they’ve been a part of what we’ve been doing. So it’s not just that we sent in a demo and they’re like, hey what’s up? It was just a natural progression. We signed with SPV / Steamhammer in Europe. So they’re releasing the next two records in Europe. But that’s for Europe exclusive so we needed something in North America. That’s where they came in.

How will this upcoming album compare to the EP that you put out last year?
I mean, it’s the same kind of concept. There’s a little bit of a progression, obviously we have Dustin now, a different drummer who is much more accomplished than the previous one we had. The EP was basically just a demo, we recorded that thing we had only rehearsed four times, ever. We wrote four songs in four rehearsals and said, let’s put this thing down! We didnt do anything with it for about a year and a half. We didn’t play shows, we weren’t even a band. There was no intention of being a band, ever. We just wanted to record the four best British heavy metal songs we could ever write, and that was it. It was just for our friends. So this time, we took some time to write and get more sophisticated with the material. It’s very raw. There’s no click track, there’s no headphones in the studio. The amps bleed into the drums, there’s one guitar track. The only overdubs are the vocals and some of the guitar solos but it’s very raw. It has the same feel, the sound, the production is better but has the same feel.

It sounds like it’s ready to be released.
It’s done, yeah.

When is the release date?
I think, Germany is going to be middle of January then Europe later in January, then North America is looking like February. All first quarter.

Is there a title?
Curse of the Damned.

nightdemon3Any concept behind that?
Yeah. There’s a guy who – he wrote this 100 page graphic novel. It reads like an 80s horror comic and he wanted to use Night Demon in the comic. He wanted to use the band, he loves the band and wanted this kid, the main characters in the comic to use the band to summon the devil. We’re like, this is great! So we read through it and we basically wrote the soundtrack to the comic. It’s not really a concept album, it’s more of a soundtrack to it. There are some themes in there. The Curse of the Damned, that song was actually written prior to that and its based on – you ever hear of Solomon Kane?

I think.
It’s old comic book stuff, basically a guy who comes from a royal medieval family and he’s cursed by the devil to walk the earth. The devil is constantly hunting him down for his soul. He basically is constantly escaping the devil. We have songs about drinking beer too. We’re not really into the traditional metal, the swords and stuff. That’s just not really our thing. But anything like, occult like we’re pretty fascinated by without being – our image, we’re just normal dudes. It’s the same kind of occultish themes that we write – the darker side of life.

nightdemonepWhat can one expect from your live show tonight?
Definitely the EP songs, maybe a couple of cover songs in there. A couple of new tracks. Our support slots dip down to about 40 minutes on this tour. We don’t like to extend it past that. People only know four songs that we have out there. When we were in Europe last year, we were headlining shows for six weeks and having to play for an hour and a half. We were playing every song we knew, what are these songs!? I don’t know. The same thing always, a lot of sweat. A lot of high energy from us. We’ll play until we pass out.

What advice would you give a band here in LA looking for a record deal?
Don’t. [laughs] I don’t know. You know what? This is a conversation we have with a lot of bands. “If you know anybody, hook us up!” It doesn’t really work that way. I think labels, right now, they’re not in a position where they can really develop an artist. Nobody has the manpower or the money to do that. You really have to create your own way in the scene – you have to have a plan of what you want to do before you can have that. People think you get signed to a record label and you get whisked away to this whimsical wonderland. We have a partnership with Century Media. We run our own ship. We do as much as we can all the time. Again, putting this tour together. When somebody needs to step in and bridge the gap with us with something we can’t do, that’s where it’s beneficial to have that. Obviously distribution too, people can find stuff online too but people still do go to stores and buy records. When we put out that EP, I called every record store in this country that existed. I found them and I called them like fan, “what do you know about Night Demon? Can you order the Night Demon?” You have to work, you can’t expected it to just be done for you. Then again, what are you going to do?  We want a partnership. We want to work with somebody where everybody is doing well and people are happy and respectful. There’s certain things that labels can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. They’re not going to be able to do everything for you, they’re not going to write your story for you.

What’s up next for you guys?
We’re home for a few weeks in December then we go out with Skull Fist and a band from Australia called Elm Street. That’s start in upstate New York on January 2nd, in the dead of winter. Then we’ll do the states, we’ll do a record release show here in LA, Orange County at the end of January. We’re off for 5 days and then we go to Europe, we’re doing the Metal Assault Festival in Germany. Doing some headline dates for a few months, playing with Raven again. Raven and Satan at the Very Heavy Fest in the Netherlands at the beginning of April. Then we’ll see what’s up. We have an offer to be in Europe for three months, we might shorten it to two if something happens here. We have a new release here so we’d want to come home and tour again, but we have to have the right situation. That’s it, man. We’re just road dogs. We’re out there bringing it. A lot of bands don’t tour anymore. Or they just want to tour the major markets.

The road dogs of Night Demon. That’s what I shall this article…
We sold a shirt in Tulsa, so you gotta go to those places. You gotta go everywhere, man. You gotta go. There’s always someone there that’s going to want it.

Night Demon isJarvis Leatherby, Brent Woodward, Diezel

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Night Demon on Facebook


Enjoying a Forever Halloween with The Maine

The Maine 11 interviewedForever Halloween might be a scary title for a record. But, here is a chance to getting behind what some of the songs are about from this record and how it was made. I caught up with bass player Garrett Nickelsen at the Vans Warped Tour in Ventura this year for a brief chat and here’s how it went.

What do you play in the band and how long you’ve been playing your instrument.
I am Garrett Daniel Nickelsen and I play bass in The Maine and I’ve been playing for 10-ish years.

themaine2jlYou’ve had hard producers and easy producers. I was wondering which one has brought the best out of you?
Probably our last producer that were with, Brendan Benson. He’s a great guy. He’s a musician so that was different from other people we work with. We worked with some people that aren’t in bands so they don’t really know what it’s like to be in a band. They just know what a hook is. But him, he’s in a band called The Raconteurs and he does solo music too. And just having another musician part of it who also knows how to record was I think, a huge thing for us and it gave us the confidence to really feel like a band. We did the record live and to tape so it was a lot different than the other records we’ve done and I think it’s really kind of showed who we are in the songs.

themaine1jlDo you think that was able to capture more of a true essence of your band?
Yeah. There’s just a thing that you do it live. There’s a feeling to it that you can’t get when you’re sitting. “Okay, it’s your part now.” You’re kind of like nervous and you only play the part exactly how it is. You don’t like kind of like mess around with it a little bit. When you’re playing together it’s like just jamming in the room almost. You feel a little stress. It’s not like specifically on you. You feel like you can kind of mess around with a part a little more and make it your own thing.

I have heard the album Forever Halloween. I have not heard the EP that makes up the Deluxe Forever Halloween. If you like to talk about the EP please feel free to do so. It’s an offshoot of the record, right?
Yeah. It’s I guess a deluxe edition. So it’s like B-sides. A couple, like half of them are from the record previously called Pioneer. For that record we ended up doing like 28 songs or something so we had a bunch of leftovers. And then we just built a studio in the back of our manager’s office and we did the other three there and recorded them. So they’re all from like different time periods. So it has the last four years or three years of songs kind of put together, but they fit really well together, which is awesome. I feel like they’re great tunes for that. They didn’t specifically like fit onto the records so that’s why they had this other thing. But they’re all good tune so we’re all excited about them.

themaine3jlIn reading other article about the Maine, you’ve been compared in one of your songs to being something like icon Elton John. I was wondering what you feel about that?
Elton John, I would never think that, but that’s awesome, that’s really cool. I mean, we’re definitely huge fans of his and it’s fucking cool! That’s awesome.

You’re a very radio friendly band, which I thing is great for you guys.
Well, thank you very much. I think it was the first record where we really felt like a band. Like kind of what you just said, like it was the first time where we kind of felt like we are rock band, like we-

Like a cohesive unit?
Yeah. But I think a lot of it had to do with the live thing just because I think that just brings it out more and it’s like, “Oh-” because like I remember being afraid almost like, “Fuck, how do you record live?” like it seemed crazy to me. And I mean, not a whole lot of bands are doing that right now so like we never knew anyone that did it like that. And so, for us to there’s a lot of belief like you feel like actually like solo’d each part like in the drums, like you would hear guitar in it. Like now you could go in like fix like every single thing like perfectly. But now, like that record had like you could hear stuff in it, so it’s like we can’t go and like fix a guitar part like it is what it is.

That’s amazing.

themaine4jlYour song, So These Four Words, what are those amazing four words?
I guess for John it’s I don’t love you. I don’t know. For me they are food and punk rock and food. It’s people you know. That was really brave. I don’t think people like us there anymore. But I think the lyrics came from an actual like John had a birthday party. This girl threw him a birthday party and she was a bitch and he didn’t have a good time and he felt like he needed to write about it so he did. LA is a girl. It’s not the place.

For a Halloween song with the title of your record actually is The Record.
Yeah. What happened with the recording was John had thispiano part and the vocal and so it wasn’t done. We didn’t have the whole thing done until we were in a studio. We worked with Brendan Benson and we were kind of like this Pink Floyd kind of David Bowie tune. That’s kind of how we thought of it was. We were recording it and the end part was, we just played it for a really long time. And what happened was that we were recording the tape and the reason it just stops is because the tape ran out. And so, we were like, “That’s perfect. That’s exactly what it needed to do.” It wasn’t like a forced thing or anything. It’s just that’s what happened and yeah. We had no ending and it ended it perfect.

Speaking of Halloween, what’s been your favorite Halloween costume to date and when was the last time you wore it?
I’ve been a zombie a few times and that’s always fun. Actually, we were on tour with Mayday Parade two years ago and everyone on the tour dressed up like a wizard. During the show like everyone played as a wizard. It was a lot of fun.

That’s cool!
Yeah. We have a lot of fun with those guys.

In one of your songs, Who do you think of the, Fucked Up Kids, and is there any help for them?
I think everyone is a fucked up kid and there is hope. I think that’s kind of what the song is about is that you’re fucked up, but I think everyone is fucked up and that’s life, man. You just got to deal with it.

The Maine are currently on a headlining tour for this record Forever Halloween. So go check them out.

(Interview and Candid Pic by Jonathan D. Wright – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

The Maine on Facebook


For All I Am: An Intriguing Darkness

ariay1There is an intriguing darkness to be found within the cathartic strains of No Home, the stunning new album from For All I Am.  Now available from Invogue Records, No Home presents the next devastating step within the For All I Am sonic journey – featuring songs of struggle that grab the listener by the throat.  While on the road on their first headlining tour, we caught up with For All I Am’s front man Aria Yava to find out more about this compelling new album, switching record labels, losing a key band member, their exhilarating live shows, and other topics of interest.  We now catch up with Aria at the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park just prior to their set…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in For All I Am.
I’m Aria from For All I Am, I sing and scream.

ariaydaze1How’s this tour going so far, what are some of the highlights?
It’s been good. Some cities have actually been really cool. A lot of people came out. It’s been cool to see people shout the words to the new songs off the new album. There’s been a lot of highlights. The whole tour has been, on the more positive side, we’ve been more professional about things. It’s been fun. Really beneficial. Im excited.

Let’s talk about the new album, No Home. What’s the story behind the title?
It depicts the thought of you not being comfortable in your own mind. A lot of people, before they go to sleep or when they wake up they speak to themselves in their own voices. They can talk about anything, their day, their experiences. No Home is that depiction of, you can’t even do that with your own voices because it’s either manipulating it or you fear it. So, every song is kind of an experiences that alternates that concept.

forall1How do you think No Home compares to your first album?
It’s really different. Everything is different. We keep the root sound, though, like a little bit. But we’re trying to stray away from the metalcore genre and we’re trying to incorporate more elements that we listen to now. What we want to play. Not what everyone wants us to play. It’s very different. Different messages, different vibe. The first one has a little more positives in it, this one has a little more negatives in it. More darker songs, more melancholy sounding. Yeah, pretty different.

Why do you think the subjects have changed?
I never want to write the same thing twice. So every album is going to have its own concept or message and this one kind of goes out to people that think more dark and have nightmares, stress, anxiety and depression. I want to cater to that crowd right now. I wrote that kinda stuff.

nohome1Select two songs from No Home and tell me what inspired the lyrics.
One of my favorite songs is “Tunnel Vision.” It’s a song about people letting money depict what they’re going to do in life. It’s a song that opens your eyes, saying if money was non-existent, would you actually give all your time away to work or what you’re doing right now? So you take out the money factor, realize what you’re doing and kinda understand why you’re doing it. Music especially, a lot of people want to do it for money or fame but the song takes away those two things. It showed me that I want to play because it’s an escape for me and the listeners. When we play we want to have that show experience where people can let loose and get past their insecurities and have fun with us. That’s one song.

Another song is “Young Grave,” which is – we’re actually shooting a music video for that one. We shot one already, actually. It’s about to come out. That song is more about me saying you should put effort and genuine intentions in everything you do instead of letting other people take you away from it – that song talks about a musician writing music that actually means something rather than the substance that’s just there for money. A gimmick or something like that. The reason why it’s called Young Grave is because a lot of musicians ruin their careers by writing a bunch of bullshit. So that short term career. Young Grave as in, you’ll die fast.

forall3What made you decide to move on from Equal Vision Records?
We wanted to be more of a priority on a label instead of like, shaft. So, that’s where Invogue Records came into the picture. They really believe in us. So, that’s huge at a label. It doesn’t matter what label youre on anymore because of how everything is changing, technology. But a label that really believes in you will give you the money and the marketing and the tours if they believe in you. Invogue Records is awesome.

I didn’t know you were off EVR until one day the Invogue press release shows up.
Yeah that’s what we did, we stayed quiet about it. It’s been awesome so far. The album was a good release, and it did better than our last album so we’re excited.

forall2What can we expect from your live show tonight?
Definitely more darker. More despair, kind of. Less overcoming. This time it’s more an expression of an experience of what we want as a band or what I went through. Letting the crowd know that they’re not the only ones that feel despair or darkness in their mind, we do too. It’s kind of like that vibe. It’ll be cool. We’re playing a lot of new songs.

You lost a key member last year, Chase. Do you still keep in touch with him? 
We still talk here and there but I don’t really talk to him too much. The only reason being is, I’m busy doing a lot of school and keeping up with the band. It’s hard to talk to my close friends already, so I’m just focusing on that and being more positive and having more positive things in my life. Hacking away what brings me down or brings the negative vibe to me.

How different is it to replace a key member like that?
Our band has always been about teamwork. The writing process was different when he was in the band, but since he got kicked out we’ve just been working together with the music. Tom has taken over the whole guitar – it’s turned out a lot better.  It’s easy for us. Its made the band a lot more efficient, a lot more smooth. It seems like everyone is digging the new album, so. Its easy for us [laughs] it can definitely be harder for other bands that rely on that person or only function with that person. You should never have a band like that. You should always be functional with every member. Every member should carry their weight.

What advice would you give a band about to hit the road and tour for the first time?
Save a lot of money [laughs]. You’ll definitely spend your money on the first tour. Vehicle problems, or first merch payment or – you just really never know. Also, don’t have high expectations for anything. Try to be a realist and embrace things and take every day at a time. Don’t worry about too much, because you’ll stress yourself out.

A message for everyone that supports your band?
What we always say, just be yourself. Live positively. Love everyone and everything around you. It makes your life a lot easier and better.

Thanks to John McCrary of Twohearts Shows!

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Talia Farber)

For All I Am on Facebook


Catching up with Noah of Echosmith

Echo Smith_600x450I got a chance to catch up with Noah, who plays bass, from the band Echosmith for a brief chat at the Vans Warped Tour in San Diego on how things were going and to talk about some of the beginning experiences the band have been enduring…

Your band has a very unique sound and if you could describe it how would you describe it?
I call it for sure very melodic. I think every single instrument in it plays a lot of melodies. We have a lot of different influence whether it’s like 80s, new wave stuff, or like modern or world music. There’s a bunch of different kind of things. But I guess alternative would be a good stamp to throw on that.

echosmithwarpedjl4_2So I went to your Can Drive at Warner Brothers in December of 2013. And I thought that was a very great cause. Are there other causes that you guys support besides that one?
It all depends. Right now, we’re working with Music Saves Lives and they work like blood donors. We’re working at that and getting people to donate blood. Also we’re working with the National High right now, which is about living your life to the fullest and they’re pretty new and a drug-free life and all that kind of living. So there’s all sorts of things and those are the two right now we’re working with at the moment.

Your food drive, you guys did a very nice acoustic set for that, did that help you guys make what your EP is now?
Well, all our songs we wrote them all acoustic with acoustic instruments, Almost every single one that were on the record. And yeah it was called EAD EP and we have two acoustic sets. Everyone always asks us, “Make an acoustic EP or make an acoustic record.” And finally we had the time. We had like two weeks off at home and we spend our time off working, so it’s pretty fun.

echosmithwarpedjl5_3You’ve done some very unique shows. Did you guys like playing at South by Southwest? That must have been pretty intense for a new band coming through a heavy market and just jamming it through many different sets during that time period. How did that go for you guys?
That was the first time we’d ever been. We’d never played it before and I think we played like nine or 10 shows the whole week. And it was amazing. We were really honored we got to play. We got to play for MTV. We loved it. It was such a crazy week. There’s so many people and they’re amazing shows. It was a week to remember for sure.

Speaking of thing to remember, you guys appeared on Conan O’Brien and I was wondering what you guys think of having all those cameras and bright lights?
Well, it was an amazing experience. Conan was the nicest guy, but the entire crew was classy too. You can always tell someone is a good, good guy when their crew is amazing. And everyone there was amazing and kind and worked really hard. It was our first late night show we’ve ever done. It was very nerve-wracking for sure. Obviously, we’ve never done anything like that before and we don’t know how it turned out and one chance to do the song and hopefully we wouldn’t screw it up. We ended up doing okay and we know we played the song right and people seemed to dig it and he was super cool after he talked and he seemed to dig the song and our music and stuff. So it was a really good time.

echosmithwarpedjl7_4Come With Me is a very artistic video. How did that came about for the stop-action and how long was that really worked on?
We wrote the song and then a lot of times when we write songs you think of like visual things along with it. And so, we found this company that makes videos like that with a little like toys and makes slow-motion things and we found them and with the label, we talked to them to figure out what we like would want to do. And it took a few weeks for sure. I think there’s a whole behind the scenes video on YouTube that people can check out. It probably says behind the scenes Come With Me Echosmith. I love that video. I’m very proud of it. I think it really gets the message of the song as well. It’s super fun. I think the fans really dig it too.

Are you guys get done to where you guys are going to go work on a new album, and if so do you know when that might be coming out?
I think we’ll just continue touring off this album; we’re constantly writing for sure. And that’s just kind of who we are really. We’re songwriters and we’re musicians. So, altogether, we’re writing songs and separately we’re writing songs. We’re trying to slowly get ready for that, but right now we’re focusing on doing shows and we’re working on a fall tour right now and will be announced pretty soon I think, so it should be good.

With their current single Cool Kids selling over a million copies, Echosmith are getting ready for a big headlining tour starting this coming late fall. So go catch them on the road and get to know the band, Echosmith, some more. Noah is just one out of the four siblings of this family of brothers and a sister group. Thanks to Noah and to Warner Brothers Records for setting this interview up.

(Interview and Candid Photo by Jonathan D, Wright – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

Echosmith on Facebook


Invent, Animate and an Everchanging World

inventjldaze1Crossing the country for the first time as a participant of The Heavier Than Heavy Tour, Invent, Animate made their way to the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park, CA.  Supporting the likes of I Declare War and Oceano, the Southeast Texas-based collective unleashed a ferocious set that enraptured a good number of concert goers seeking out a true sonic adventure.   Here is an interview we conducted with Invent, Animate at the Cobalt to find out more about being on the road, their exciting new album Everchanger on Tragic Hero Records. their compelling lyrics about life in an ever changing world, and other raging topics of intrigue.  Read on…

inventjl12Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Invent Animate and tell me what the most embarrassing song is on your iPod.
Ben: Oh no! My name is Ben and I do vocals. The most embarrassing song on my iPod is probably “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry. I guess it’s not embarrassing, it’s a good song.

Keaton: I’m Keaton Goldwire, I play guitar in the band. I don’t really have an iPod, honestly. But the worst thing on my computer is probably some kind of Donkey Kong theme song or something. I have a Donkey Kong song from the video game that’s pretty embarrassing.

Caleb: I’m Caleb, I play bass. The most embarrassing song on my iPod is probably Skrillex dubstep songs, or many albums of Skrillex.

Trey: I’m Trey, I play drums. I think probably The most embarrassing song on my iPod is Creed’s Greatest Hits. But I think I hate it so much that I actually like it. I have it in my truck too.

Logan: My name is Logan, I play guitar and mine was actually Creed’s Greatest Hits. But I actually absolutely love that album. It’s kind of embarrassing.

inventjl11Where are you guys from and what’s your local music scene like there?
Ben: We’re from South East Texas. I’m from a town called Lumberton. The majority of them are from the mid county in Port Natious area. It’s all kind of close to a town called Beaumont, which is the notable city around us. The local scene a growing – it’s revamping currently. It’s doing well right now. It was dead for a while and when we left for this tour we had a lot of kids come out to our tour kickoff. It’s definitely on an uphill right now, it’s doing well. We plan on doing whatever we can to keep it going when we get back. It really is doing good right now.

How has this tour been going and what have been some of the highlights?
Keaton: It’s pretty cool, doing it for the first time definitely. The most fun part about it is meeting all the new people and playing in front of a bunch of people every night, that’s something I really haven’t done before.

Ben: It’s an incredible first tour to start on – so many bands grind it out for so long before they get a tour like this. The fact that we got one early on, as young as we are, it’s kind of surreal playing in front of a good amount of kids every night. The other night we had 250 kids and it’s incredible, it really is. It’s fun. All the bands are very cool – they’re not hot heads. Everyone is very level headed and very awesome that we’re hanging out with. Playing a show is exhilarating, but hanging out with new people and meeting all the bands is the best part. Seeing new things and what not.

Trey: For me, the highlights were the first few days of the official tour. We started in Seattle, that show was sick. Tons of people. It was a cool way to start off a tour, the next day was the Hawthorne Theater in Portland. That was sick too. We’ve played smaller shows too that had really good reactions. It doesn’t always have to be a ton of people. It can still be a sick show.

inventjl3Tell me about working with Brian Hood, who used to be in MCMB. What was it like? What did he contribute?
Trey: This time, when we recorded our full length it was just Ben and I. We went up there for a whole month. I tracked all the instruments and Ben did the vocals. We’ve been to Brian three times now and we have it down to a science. We know how everything works with him and he basically has me trained to do things how he wants because he’s a stickler. He’s super picky, i am too. It’s a good thing he is, he needs to be. I don’t know. He’ll get on your ass if you do things wrong.

What did he contribute to the overall process?
Trey: I wouldn’t say he actually does anything as far as writing. As far as your production value and writing, it comes from us and Jesse was with us there in the studio, Jesse Cash from Erra. He co-produced our album, but yeah. Brian mainly is technically – he engineers and mixes and masters. He doesn’t really – at least for us, he didn’t have any production input as far as ideas or writing. That was all us and Jesse.

everncha1Let’s talk about the new album, Everchanger. What’s the story behind the title?
Ben: The title for Everchanger. The album really touches base on how the world constantly changes. You can’t ever rely on one thing because everything constantly changes. No matter what you’re doing in life. Everchanger is like a way of wrapping it all up into one thing and titling it. Everchanger, it touches all points of major changes that we go through and talks about all the different things I’ve personally been through and even some of the guys in the band. We had a song, the very last song, “Luna” talks about Tre. He lost his brother to suicide. Everchanger, it can be anything you want it to be. It talks about Tre, he had his life with his brother and life without his brother. It’s just – everything is constantly changing.  It’s not just about suicide it’s not just about every day changes, it wraps up everything into one. Every song kind of touches a different point of it for me.

Talk about “Nocturne: Lost Faith.” What inspired the lyrics?
Ben: I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, very Christian. I compared and contrasted the band. Some grew up in a Catholic home, some grew up and didn’t force any kind of religion on them. It’s incredible to me how different our mindsets were about everything. I grew up going to church and it was insane to me to think about how someone could not think what I think. Then how someone who did not grow up in church, they think it’s insane that I believe what I believe. Then someone who grew up in a Muslim home, it’s insane for them to believe anything other than that. So it’s overall where I stand, I don’t question my faith whatsoever. But it’s about people that are in a state where they’re questioning their faith and losing faith in what they believe in, strictly because they’re going through their life and so many changes are happening. They see all these different religions as they get older and start asking questions to themselves.   So, it’s really about questioning your faith. It’s a good thing, it’s not in a negative way. It’s good to ask questions, it’s good to find out what you want to find out for yourself and not grow up in a mindset with you automatically believing what everyone in your family believed. It’s kind of what I dig through with the album, finding your own choices, your own beliefs on your own rather than inheriting beliefs from family.

inventjl14If you can open for any band either from now or in the past, who and why?
Logan: I think if we had to open for a band, maybe past – I’d say it’d be really cool to open for Pantera whenever they were in their prime with Dimebag. That would be really cool. We wouldn’t have necessarily fit, but it would have been really cool to open for them. Just a sea of crowd and just hang out with them.

Trey: I’ll have to be loyal to my upbringing and be loyal to Metallica because I wouldn’t have even started playing music without them. I listen to Metallica for a year straight from 12-13.

Caleb: Since the guys covered the classics, I’d go for a more modern act and say Northlane. Just because we take a lot of influence from them. A lot of kids bag us for that but we all personally really like that band. They’re doing great in the scene right now. I’d love to be on a tour with them or open up for them. They’re doing great right now.

Keaton: I’d say Architects. That band is pretty big right now. That’d be a huge show for us to play in general. We take a lot of influence from that band also.

Ben: I’d say I want to open for the Foo Fighters. It’d be so cool to hang and party with Dave Grohl. Then after we play to watch the Foo Fighters. There would be at least 30,000 people there. Love Foo Fighters.

inventjl10Do you have any messages for people who are reading this who should check your band out?
Ben:  Order our new record Everchanger. We put a lot into this record. If you buy it, listen to it, download it, whatever. Preferably buy it. The more people that buy it, support us, the bigger tours we get on and the more places we can go and play music. We are having the absolute time of our lives out here. We want to do more of this. Support us. Keep on listening.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

Invent, Animate on Facebook

Special Thanks to John McCrary of Twohearts Shows!


Darkness Divided Devastate the Cobalt Cafe

DSCN4376_600One of the most exciting new bands on the Victory Records imprint is Darkness Divided from San Antonio, Texas.  While on tour supporting In Dying Arms, Darkness Divided made their way to the Cobalt Cafe and unleashed an exhilarating set – featuring songs culled from Written In Blood – their debut for Victory!  We caught up with vocalist Gerard Mora just prior to their show to find out more about their impassioned new album, touring across the country with a brother or two in tow, being on Christian band on a secular tour, and other topics of interest.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your iPod?
I’m Gerard Mora and I sing for Darkness Divided. I actually don’t have an iPod anymore. I have this really bad Android phone because my other phone broke. I got this one for free. But, I don’t know man. I guess some of the most embarrassing stuff is the stuff I’ve recorded on my own [laughs], like acoustic stuff. Not necessarily embarrassing for me. but i’m sure it’s embarrassing to someone else. [laughs]

Can we expect an acoustic release one day?
Probably never [laughs].

darkdiv1How has tour been going so far, what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been really good. This is the first support tour we’ve ever done as a band. We had some trouble starting off, as we were driving in NJ our van lost its wheels, so we had to ditch our van in VA and get rental cars to start it off. But the shows have been great. The highlight for me was in PA, the PA show we played in Lemoyne. That was a really good show, there was a lot of people there. Kids came with our CD that they bought from FYE during our first week asking us to sign it. We’re a tiny little band in my head so the fact that kids knew about us when we showed up and we’re super far from home, it was pretty awesome experience.

Where do you call home and what is the local music scene like there?
We’re from San Antonio, TX. I love the scene there, it’s really great. We just had a hometown show there, over 500 kids came out. It was our CD release show. We have a lot of really good relationships with a lot of the promoters there. The kids are always excited when music comes through.

darknessdiv2How did you wind up singing to Victory?
It was one of their A&R people that used to work for Victory. He was working there at the time, he heard our EP Chronicles that we put out in 2012 and he emailed us one day asking about it. He said it sounded sick and asked us what we had been doing the last couple of years. We were like, here we are. We sent him all our touring history, we had just put out our song “Remnants,” the music video through HM Magazine so we showed them that. I think that was a big selling point because in our opinions, it was miles ahead of what we did in Chronicles. It was leading into where the band was going musically and Victory was into it. That day he called me and asked me how fast we could get to Chicago. We went up there in 2 weeks after that day, it happened fast but it was cool.

Texas here, Chicago there.
It was right before Christmas too, the first week of December when we got that email and then we got there on the 19th of December and we met up with them for the first time.

Was it cold?
It was, it was snowing. We don’t see snow ever in San Antonio. It was forty something degrees. We just wore jackets and stuff, had a good time. Had snowball fights in St. Louis on the way there.

darknessalbum1Is there any story or concept behind the title Written in Blood?
Yeah, it’s the idea, if you look at the album cover with the hands and everything, a lot of the theme and a lot of the lyrics for the album are finding hope through suffering. So, a lot of that is coming from the struggles in life. There’s things we go through and feel alone sometimes in our suffering but the concept of the cover and the idea of the album is that there are several hands to represent several different people. The things that we go through as people, other people have gone through before. You can find hope in your suffering because you know that there’s nothing new under the sun. You might be going through something right now that someone else has gone through before and you can help each other out. So we’re called as people to get through this all together, life, our suffering and struggle as one person, one body. We can always find hope that someone else has conquered this problem and that we can get through it ourselves too. Whether it be on our own or with other people or through the love of God, which are several themes that we believe as a band and as we try to portray in the album, through the cover and the title.

“The Hands That Bled” what are the stories behind the lyrics for that?
That one was cool because me and our guitar player (and my brother) Christopher collaborated on lyrics. For the most part I write a lot of the lyrics. But sometimes he pitches some ideas, so the idea is – the chorus says “my salvation was written in blood.” We believe in a love of Christ and a heaven and that everyone is open to salvation because Jesus Christ paid the price on the cross. So, that song is portraying that, but at the same time, there’s some lyrics in there that hint at when people are doubting or maybe not understanding. At the beginning it says, “they tell me divinity knows why my pain overflows.” That idea is, I’ve heard about God, if you dont know him or understand his love and you’re going through something. It’s like, man, how can there be a God when I’m suffering here? How can there be a God when I’m going through something, wouldn’t God fix that for me? Wouldn’t God make this path better? It’s like a little bit of a struggle going on in the beginning, but its the realization later on that God paid the price for us to have this hope and love that will get us through the struggle that we’re going through. Maybe we don’t see it all the time, and it doesn’t make sense in our head but everything happens for a reason. That’s what we believe. Through everything we’ve ever gone through, it works out. We can overcome the struggle and get past whatever we’re going through. We believe that because Jesus Christ loves us and that there’s this love in our life that helps us get through what we’re going through.

darknessdiv3What’s the best / worst part working with your brother in the band?
I actually have two brothers in the band, [laughs]. I have a guitar player brother Christopher and the bass player Joseph, we’re all a year a part. Honestly, it’s a lot more good than bad. That’s weird, because every time someone asks me that question it’s like, oh I bet you all fight all the time. But, it’s an awesome experience. I guess because we’re so close in age we’ve always been really good friends growing up. To me, I don’t think I could ever be in a band with anyone else. They’re awesome musicians and awesome people. So they’re like my best friends in a non-cheesy way. But of course the bad things is, sometimes you have those moments where tensions get high. You know how to deal with them - because we’ve been living together all our lives except for the few years that we’re different colleges and stuff. You know what you have to say or bring up or do. It’s not necessarily easy when tensions get running, but for the most part we’re reasonable to an extent. We can get passed it. Whether it be a few little awkward times in the van for a bit, then we get over it. It’s probably more awkward for the people who aren’t brothers in the band. They have to deal with our little brother beefs whenever they do happen. Everyone is close,. It works out well.

darknessdiv5If you could open for any band either now or from the past, who and why?
I feel like that’d be a different answer from everyone. I’ve always thought it’d be the coolest thing ever to play with Killswitch Engage. That’d be sick. They’re awesome and a lot of their music – I feel like we’d fit well on a bill with them. I know our guitar player Sebastian, is a huge Slipknot fan and I think that’d be his dream come true. He’s going to miss Slipknot when they come through our home town. They haven’t been there in so long, we’ll be on the road. For Chris, I know it’d be A7X. It’s different for everyone but Killswitch Engage would be the coolest ever.

Some of the bands you mentioned aren’t Christian bands, how do you feel about touring with bands who aren’t Christian bands?
That’s a big reason why we do what we do. We want to be on the road with – nothing against playing with Christian bands or anything, but as a band we try to have an open invitation for people who might be going through something. When we play with non-Christian bands, we want to be that light, that positive message in the night. It’s cool to be able to go on tour, we’re on tour with In Dying Arms right now and they’re great dudes. We just live two different lifestyles. It’s been nice to meet kids at shows that necessarily would not have come to a Darkness Divided concert because they’re not into what we talk about but they’re hearing it anyway. We’ve been meeting a lot of kids on this tour that have been like, hey I liked what you said on stage or I liked your music a lot. What’s it about? So, it’s not like – we’re not trying to be over-shoving or anything like that but when people ask about it, we invite them to talk to us. That’s what we want to do, we want to be as much in the secular world as the Christian world. We don’t want to preach to the choir.

Any messages for people who are reading this right now, who should check out your band?
Thanks if you’ve already checked out our band or picked up our CD. Obviously we couldn’t do what we do if it wasn’t for people supporting us. Thank you so much for being a part of this ministry. If you’re ever going through anything, don’t be afraid to message our band page, we love talking to people or add the members individually. Hit us up, we’d love to meet new people. We love helping people. Don’t be afraid, come hang out with us at a show, come talk to us online and hopefully we’ll see you soon.

Editor Notes: This concert was presented by Two Hearts Shows at the Cobalt Cafe on Canoga Park!  Thanks John McCrary!

Darkness Divided is:
Gerard Mora – Vocals
Sebastian Elizondo – Guitar/Vocals
Christopher Mora – Guitar/Vocals
Joseph Mora – Bass

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

Darkness Divided on Facebook


The Pummeling Refrains of Calm Hatchery

calmhatchery1Poland possesses some of the most pummeling death metal entities on the planet – bands such as Vader, Behemoth and Decapitation have encountered acclaim above and beyond their home country.  Count omthe mighty Calm Hatchery as a band you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead.  This Polish collective has recently spawned Fading Reliefs via the Selfmadegod stronghold, and its sure to captivate the imagination of metal fanatics all across the world at large.  Here is a recent interview conduction with one of the Calm Hatchery members to find out more about a band ready to bust out in a big and glorious way.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Calm Hatchery, and how long the band has been together?
Hello, I’m Peter (Huzar), I play guitar and make second vocals in this band. The band exists since 2002, but the lineup which recorded the last two albums has been in place since 2006-2008.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
Our band has a rehearsal room in small town – Słupsk in northern Poland near the Baltic Sea coast. The local scene is not too big. I mean metal scene, but there are some young metal bands. Two hours away from our town is the biggest city, Gdańsk, with the biggest metal scene. Behemoth was born in Gdańsk.

fadingreliefs2Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Fading Reliefs?
Yes of course. For me personally the story is just as important like the music – “Fading Reliefs” – The reliefs symbolize everything that man has built to the glory for the God, gods, all gods. Starting from small symbols of worship, to the great temples, churches etc… Relief – is every trace of worship which left by a man in this world.

Fading as the name suggests: Since the men exist, he always create some religion, mythologies. “Fading” by my reasoning is mean: Man has a natural fear, fear of death, fear of passing and that’s way men created God, and that there is such a thing as eternal life. To give himself a hope for some sense of this existence. Fading, meaning, falling dogmas of the faith, without any miracles, which the human mind is unable to comprehend. If a man doesn’t understand some of phenomena in nature, human mind begins to attribute divinity.  Some people want to see things like a supernatural miracle, and that the human mind is able to generate fantastic view ….. So …. for all these cults, religions always hid not GOD but a human. Very often in world history, men ordered to call him selves – God. I personally believe in only the power of the force of Nature, Power of the cosmos,

How does Fading Reliefs compare to the other Calm Hatchery releases?
I think, that Fading Reliefs is quite different than our previous album. The new album is more musically monolithic. For me personally, it is difficult to chose a few hits. Rather, the whole album is like a story. The new material brings a little freshness. Vocal arrangements are more varied, we looked for other sounds than just a common typical growl. The same applies to guitars. We used in the works of several new harmonic, new chords, and even acoustic parts. In my opinion it seems to me that the new album is more mature.

Who did the artwork for Fading Reliefs and how much input did you have on it?
The over art was made by Mentalporn, the artist who designed the cover for our previous album. We chose it because we like his style. I described to him the lyrics from the album. We wanted something like a collage than a typical computer graphics, with faded colors, something raw

calmhatchery2What could one expect from a live Calm Hatchery show in 2014 and beyond?
We just played Third tour over the Poland with the Vader and Vesania bands. “Blitzkrieg 7″ – 14 gigs.
On stage we become part of these emotions contained in music and affects us in total madness. I think it’s natural because when we play this riff’s it’s difficult to act on stage politely and stoically…

Has Calm Hatchery ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
We would like to, yes of course! But we don’t know yet and when, because the problem is complex. In our country is difficult to get a visa to the US. We have to get a specific invitation from someone from USA. Someone would have to cover the cost of airline tickets and so on, so on… Time will show us. We believe that it will be possible…. For us it would be a pleasure to play for US fans!!!

How did the recent tour with Vader and Vesania go and what were some of the highlights?
Oh man! The tour was very very intensive but cool. Vader and Vesania are very friendly people. Every day we had a party and of course drank some alcohol. The atmosphere on tour, the gigs… for us this was the best tour in our career.

If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
It’s difficult question because there are too many bands. It would be a great honor to play as support with bands like Morbid Angel, Nile, Hate Eternal, Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Nocturnus, Behemoth, Ulcerate, Gorguts, Goijra… I told you too many names, haha.

What is your favorite beer from Poland and why?
Wow, I love these kind of questions! I rather like beer from small manufacturers. I’m not a fan of beers from a large corporation. Hmmm for example “Trzy Zboża” is good from the Brewery Jabłonowo. This is similar to “Ale” beer and has the note of juniper…amazing!! But actually every beer is good after the show hahaha…

What’s up next for Calm Hatchery?
We finished the tour three weeks ago, so we need a rest. In November we are going to meet in rehearsal room and practice. At the same time, we try to promote our latest stuff, give some interviews, sell CDs and merch and looking forward some shows in the Summer 2015.

Any final words of wisdom?
Thank you so much for this interview. I would like to say hello to all who will read this and please if you like our music please support us. We gave money, heart and emotions to the latest album to be the best as we can….This album is a part of ourselves…cheers!
- Peter

Calm Hatchery is:
Piotr “Huzar” Hauzer – rhythm & solo guitars
Kuba Kwidzyński – rhythm guitar
Marcin “Szczepan” Szczepański – vocals
Radek “MG42″ Szczepański – drums
Daniel “Hacel” Szymanowicz – bass

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Calm Hatchery on Facebook


The Towering Symphonies of Heliosaga

heliosaga1When looking for the very best in symphonic power metal, one could discover the mighty Heliosaga right here in the United States. Showing that Europe does not maintain a monopoly on the genre, the Minnesota-based Heliosaga present compositions that are wildly intriguing and emotionally devastating.  Towers In The Distance is the name of their self-released masterwork, a stunning collection of songs that should captivate the senses of all music aficionados.  Here is an interview we conducted with two of the Heliosaga members to find out more about this exhilarating new collective and their majestic artistry…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Heliosaga, and how long the band has been together.
Damien: Hi! I’m Damien Villarreal. I play guitar, keys and am the main songwriter for the band.

Chelsea: I’m Chelsea and I am the lead singer of the band.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
Chelsea: We are based in Minnesota, the metal scene here has quieted down a bit after a major metal venue got shut down but it seems lately like the scene is picking up again and recovering.

distancetowersIs there any story or concept behind the CD title Towers In The Distance?
Damien: Yes, the title is based on the lyrics in the first song, A Tower So Tall, and the last song, All Souls. The lyric in All Souls actually says specters in the distance. After finishing the lyrics for the album, I was sure that I wanted ‘tower’ or ‘towers’ in the title. When I sent my ideas to Carlos Fides, who did the artwork for the album, he actually sent the rough draft to me with the title as just Towers. I sat on that for at least a week and asked my band mates’ opinions. In the end we all felt that Towers in the Distance just worked better.

Select two songs from Towers In The Distance and what inspired the lyrics.
Damien: Lost is about a few things, but mainly about loneliness and feeling that one might always be alone. I suppose you can say I was inspired to write the lyrics at a time in my life when I felt that way. Memorativa is, by and large, about remembrance, but it’s also about nostalgia; about wishing to return to a simpler, less painful time in life.

Who did the artwork for Towers In The Distance and how much input did you have on it?
Damien: Carlos Fides at Artside Digital Studio in Brazil did the artwork. I came up with the concept, but he did add a few things to personalize it. He added the birds around the towers and the withered tree. The general look of the towers was also his idea.

How easy or difficult was it to pretty much release Towers In The Distance on your own?
Chelsea: Well, it certainly is not easy to release an album on your own, especially at this caliber. It took a lot of time and effort as well as hard work on the band’s part. Everyone had to chip in a large sum to get it done but I feel in the end the way the album turned out it was all worth it.

Chelsea Knaack is an amazing vocalist! What is her music background and has she had any opera training?
Chelsea: I actually am classically trained, since age 18 I have been training with a private teacher. Prior to that I did more of your theater and Broadway music.

Would Chelsea ever want to do any acting in plays such as Phantom Of The Opera or Mamma Mia? Has she acted before?
Chelsea: I certainly would love to. Back in high school I had been a part of the drama group and did speech team as well as was in our musical Beauty and the Beast. There are so many musicals I would love to do and so many parts I would love to play.

What could one expect from a live Heliosaga show in 2014?
Damien: A miracle! Lol! We are still down two members and are actively searching for musicians to fill those spots. Live shows won’t be possible until we can complete our lineup.

If Heliosaga could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Chelsea: Kamelot or Nightwish with Tarja, or Queen. As for Kamelot they are my favorite band right now and they have always had great music and amazing singers. As for Nightwish with Tarja, I always wanted to see them together and never got the chance. As for Queen do I really need a reason to want to open for them?

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Towers In The Distance for the very first time?
Damien: I really hope that a listener would remember the emotional roller coaster ride that the album is. It’s a very moody album, which makes sense because I am a very moody person. Just ask my band mates! The album has a lot of ups and downs, and I think that keeps it from feeling stale by the time you get to All Souls.

What’s up next for Heliosaga?
Chelsea: We are working to finish up our band’s lineup and hopefully plan some live shows. Right now a second album is already in the works as well.

Any final words of wisdom?
Chelsea: I’m going to sound Disney princess for a moment so forgive me but if you can learn anything in this life, know that following your dreams is never something silly nor foolish. Just do it, you won’t regret it I promise.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to see your band here in Los Angeles someday!
Damien: Thank you so much!

Heliosaga is:
Chelsea Knaack- lead vocals
Damien Villarreal- guitars/ keys
Jordan Ames- drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Heliosaga on Facebook


The Auditory Adventures of Mastercastle

MastercastleFounded in 2008 by guitarist Pier Gonella (Necrodeath) and vocalist Giorgia Gueglio, Mastercastle present a thrilling brand of European Power / Neoclassical Metal destined to captivate listeners looking for an auditory adventure in sound.  Enfer (De La Bibliothèque Nationale) is the name of their latest magnum opus, now available worldwide through Scarlet Records . Featuring a very special guest appearance by Andrea De Paoli of Labyrinth and Vision Divine, the fifth glorious Mastercastle entry is not to be missed!  We caught up with the founding members to find out more about Mastercastle and their thoroughly intriguing compositions.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Mastercastle, and how long the band has been together.
Giorgia Gueglio: Hi Ken, and hello to all Highwire Daze readers. I ‘ve been singing in Mastercastle band from 2008, whenI founded it together with the guitar player Pier Gonella. Than we met Steve Vawamas as bass players and Alessandro Bissa on the drums. The actual drums player is Francesco La Rosa. We released our first album “The Phoenix” on 2009 and till now we released 5 albums, almost one album for year. We are really proud of out latest creation Enfer [De La Bibliotèque Nationale], out October 14th, 2014 on Scarlet Records.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
Pier Gonella: We live in the north of Italy. Me, Steve and Giorgia near Genova, Francesco near Milano. I think the metal scene is the same of the rest of Italy and the rest of Europe. There are many bands and musicians and this is a good thing. Clubs and places for metal or live music in genre are decreased on last years, anyway the passion remain a big engine so everything is good.

enferpic2Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Enfer [De La Bibliothèque Nationale]?
Giorgia Gueglio: “Enfer” is not a concept album but some tracks tells about the same topic. “Enfer” is a section in the national library of Paris, that contains forbidden texts, for example texts that collide with morality, religion, politic etc. It was created in ’700 by Napoleon trying to limit the consent of many characters like Apollinaire, Mirabeau, De Sade, Casanova. I started from here arriving to many different meanings and aspects of “censorship”.

Select two songs from Enfer [De La Bibliothèque Nationale] and what inspired the lyrics.
Giorgia Gueglio: The opening track “The Castle” is one of my favourites. The Castle represents a refuge from everything, a safe place where centuries-old stones protect us from the rays of the intrusive sun, or from heavy rains. Sometimes it seems that time itself is stopped in its rooms. We let the wars go out from here.
Enfer“, the song we chosen for our first videoclip, tells about how it is difficult to love. Heaven and hell are alternated in our days, and people often force us to use a “mask” that you cannot remove. The only way is to find the right people, who accept us as we are, and it’s not easy

How does Enfer [De La Bibliothèque Nationale] compare to the other Mastercastle releases?
Pier Gonella: I simply consider Enfer more mature compared to previous releases. All bands usually tell this same thing on any interviews, but so many webzines and magazines also told this, so I think it’s real. and we are really proud of this because after 4 albums it’s not easy to do the next better. I think guitar riffs are more attractive and all chorus lines are catchy. The production also is greatest than previous albums.

Who did the artwork for Enfer [De La Bibliothèque Nationale] and how much input did you have on it?
Pier Gonella: The artwork was created by Massimiliano Mendolia, a great Italian graphic designer. Giorgia told him the general idea of creating a library and a sort of “magic” book inside”. He showed us many version of the work and we chose our favourite. I think it’s a good cover, well done and right for the kind of music, and fortunately many review also are telling this.  All Mastercastle covers are done by Mendolia, except “On Fire” where the cover and all booklet graphics was handmade by Giorgia.

How did Andrea De Paoli (Labyrinth, Vision Divine) become involved with Enfer [De La Bibliothèque Nationale] and what was it like working with Andrea?
Pier Gonella: I worked many years with De Paoli from 2003 to 2008, playing together in “Labyrinth” band. After that we made other projects and collaborations. I called him at first just for the song Enfer. It has to be our “single” and I wanted to try something different adding keyboards. I appreciated the arrangementes of Andrea, and he also was satisfied by the song so we extended the guest to many other tracks.

mastercastle2What could one expect from a live Mastercastle show in 2014 and beyond?
Giorgia Gueglio: Any live shows we did in the past were great experiences for us because we really do our best on the stage. So till now people that know us listening to our albums were always satisfied. At the moment the band has a good experience and harmony so I think we can transmit all the best energy on live acts.

Has Mastercastle ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Giorgia Gueglio: We never played in the States till now and I really hope to do that in the future.

If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Pier Gonella: Too much for explain, The Gathering or Within Temptation as great bands female fronted like us, or many guitar players like Malmsteen or Joe Satriani, just because I like their playing.

Giorgia Gueglio: Of course Whitesnake because David Coverdale is my favourite singer and my main influence.

Would Necrodeath and Mastercastle ever want to do a show or tour together? How would that be for to perform in two bands in one night, or has it happened before?
Pier Gonella: Here in Italy we made the “double show” many times. For me it’s always a great experience because I can show both my “melodic” and “old school” side. The music is different but we always played doing the best so people more attached to one of the bands enjoyed the other one, as it should be in the biggest festivals.

What’s up next for Mastercastle?
Pier Gonella: We have some gigs planned in Italy on December 2014 and we are actually working to a second viceoclip. First one, “Enfer“, was released few days ago and is going very well as views on internet, youtube etc.

Any final words of wisdom?
Pier Gonella: Always make the passion your first engine for the music!
And also check out our videoclip “Enfer” on youtube, and our facebook Mastercastle page!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Hope to see your band here in the States someday!
Giorgia Gueglio: We also hope! Thank you for this interview!

Mastercastle is:
Giorgia Gueglio – Voice
Pier Gonella – Guitar
Steve Vawanas – Bass
Francesco La Rosa – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Mastercastle on Facebook