Ken Morton | Jun 16, 2019 | 0
Westfield Massacre: Heavy Metal Salvation
Westfield Massacre: Heavy Metal Salvation
Westfield Massacre has returned with a brand new lineup and an absolutely breathtaking album entitled Salvation. A gripping collection of modern metal entreaties unleashed by truly impassioned musicians at the very height of their creative energies, Salvation by Westfield Massacre is destined to launch this collective into the stratosphere. Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with the Westfield Massacre brigade for an all encompassing interview. And now it’s time for some heavy metal Salvation with Westfield Massacre! Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Westfield Massacre, and how long the band has been together.
Seann: My name is Seann Nicols. I’m the lead vocalist for Westfield Massacre. I also co-wrote the songs for the new album and engineered the vocal recording sessions at my studio.
Erik: Erik Tisinger, I play bass and sing backing vocals when we perform live. I also play guitar and sing when we write and record in the studio.
Dio: Dio Britto. I play drums.
Stephen: I’m Stephen Brewer. I play guitar in Westfield Massacre. This current line up has been solidified for over a year now, since Seann joined. Guitarist Luis Kalil also recently joined us. Now, with the five of us, it’s honestly the strongest this band has ever been. We’re a band of brothers.
What do you think about the current state of the Los Angeles music scene today and how does Westfield Massacre fit into the scheme of things?
Seann: I grew up in LA and I’ve watched the music scene go through a number of changes over the years. Regardless of the state of the music industry, people come here from all over the world to pursue a career in music. There’s basically a venue and an audience for every style of music you can imagine. In LA you will also find one of the most diverse pools of talent anywhere in the world. I’m not just talking about artists either. LA is full of producers, promoters, managers, agents, and entrepreneurs. You name it. From celebrities and experienced veterans to people just getting their feet wet, it’s all here in LA. It really is one of the best places to make a career in music happen.
Westfield Massacre is a perfect example. Stephen is from North Carolina, Erik is from Massachusetts, and Dio and Luis are both from Brazil. These guys came here specifically to pursue a career in music. If I wasn’t in LA, I may have never had the opportunity to join Westfield Massacre. Fortunately, we were all able to connect here and, through all of our hard work, Westfield Massacre has emerged as a recognized name in the LA music scene.
Erik: In many ways, the LA music scene sets the trends for the rest of the world. The competition here is fierce. If you’re going to make it here, you have to strive to be the best and dedicate all of yourself in the pursuit of success.
Dio: I think LA needs a new hero band. Coming from Brazil to LA, I’ve lived through many waves of metal. Being here and witnessing what is happening, it seems that Westfield Massacre is the perfect blend of styles for the new generation of metal. I also think there is an opening for a new metal band to emerge from the LA scene. I think Westfield Massacre is that band.
Seann, how did you wind up becoming the new vocalist for Westfield Massacre and describe your first show with the band and what was going through your mind.
Seann: After Tommy Vext left to sing for Bad Wolves in 2017, the guys in Westfield Massacre were looking for a new singer. We had crossed paths performing at The Whisky in Hollywood, so they sent me an instrumental track from the band’s first album to see how I would sound singing their material. I recorded vocals to Build Your Thrones and sent it to them. The guys liked what they heard, so we got together at my studio and collaborated on a new song together. The result was Love to Hate, which is one of the singles on our new album. The band already had a North American tour scheduled, and they asked me if I would do it. I accepted and I’ve been in the band ever since.
Our first show was at a small club in Sacramento. The turnout was surprisingly good that night. I was immediately made aware that there were several hardcore Westfield Massacre fans in the crowd that night that were extremely skeptical about the band having me as the new singer. They basically showed up expecting to be disappointed. But after the show, the turnaround was incredible. These guys that were ready to hate me, ended up becoming my biggest fans. That set the tone for the rest of the tour. We traveled from coast to coast across the US, playing 24 shows in 27 days. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun too. After the tour, we immediately went back into the studio to write and record the new album.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Salvation?
Seann: When you take into account all of the challenges and adversity that the band had to overcome to make this album happen, it really is nothing short of a miracle that we were able to pull it off. When Tommy Vext left the band, it really did appear as though the band was done. There were a lot of complications, but Stephen, Erik, and Dio refused to give up, and that’s something that deserves a lot of respect. When I joined the band, the amount of work that needed to be done was overwhelming. It felt like we were standing at the base of Mt. Everest. However, once the record was finished, we were looking back on how everything came together. The way that the timing and resources and circumstances lined up for us seemed almost supernatural. That’s when we decided to call the album Salvation.
What inspired the lyrics for the first single Famine?
Seann: Famine is a song that Stephen originally brought to the band. He came into the studio with the music and some lyric ideas. The song starts with the words that Stephen wrote, “Trace the scars back, from where they came. For all the secrets, only live to mask the pain.” From there, Erik and I picked up the next section, “Can’t hold on now. Can’t hide your lies. Losing your grip when all the dreams you love have died.” This brought us to the chorus. I pressed play and walked away from the controls at Pro Tools while the song played. When the chorus hit, I started singing the first melody and lyrics that came to my mind. “Staring into the light, and it’s making you blind. Starving for the truth, in the famine of your life.” Erik pointed at me and said, “That’s it!” I ran back to the controls, and recorded the vocals for the chorus. After that, the rest of the song practically wrote itself. The song ended up being about overcoming the challenges and inner turmoil that each of us had faced in our lives.
Select any other song from Salvation and what inspired the lyrics.
Erik: Your Salvation is a song that was inspired by the opioid epidemic in my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. I’ve lost several close friends, including three best friends to opiates. I’ve dedicated my life to use music as a way to escape it and create awareness. I’m happy that I finally have the opportunity to use a song as a platform to spread the word about the opioid epidemic and how it not only harms the individuals using but also their loved ones.
Seann: Your Salvation is one of the most emotionally charged songs on the album. I remember when I first heard the music and Erik sang me the chorus he had written, “You died too young. All I can see is your smile.” I was floored. I knew it was going to be a special song. But then, Erik told me the story of how he had recently lost a very close friend to a heroin overdose, and how he had lost several other friends to opioids in the past. It turns out that my dad had also passed away less than six weeks earlier, due to complications surrounding heroin and opioid use. The connection was surreal. At that moment, I felt the power of the song. It was undeniable. But there was also this fear that I can’t quite explain. With my dad having just passed away, it was such a highly emotional topic for me. I was afraid to face my feelings and I didn’t know if I could actually go through with the song. I think the band could sense how I was feeling, so after working on the verses together, we agreed that we would live with the song for a while and come back to it later. At one point, it felt like the song might not come to fruition. But, thankfully, the initial inspiration for the song carried us through, and we were able to finish writing and recording the song the following week. I think the experience of working on Your Salvation together really bonded us as a band, so much so, that it ended up being the inspiration for the title of the album.
Who produced Salvation and what was it like working with them?
Seann: We produced Salvation together as a band. Every critical decision concerning the production was made collectively as a group. There were several challenges along the way, but we persevered and made it through. Erik, Stephen, and Dio had all worked together independently to pre-produce the instrumental tracks for the record. When I joined the band, we started working together in my studio to write the lyrics and melodies and record vocals for all the songs. When it came time to mix, we had seven different engineers complete a test mix of Famine to show us their capabilities. This is known as a mixing “shoot out.”
When we were going through this process, I reached out to producer/engineer Rich Mouser to see if he was interested. I had worked with Rich on several projects in the past, so I was really excited when he wanted to get involved. After all the mixes had come in, Rich’s mix was by far the best. He knew exactly how to finesse all the tracks to bring out the warmth, clarity, and depth of the recording. Rich mixed and mastered the album at his place, The Mouse House Studio in Altadena, California. As always, working with Rich was great. He really went the extra mile to make every song sound amazing. In fact, at the very end of the mixing process, we still needed an intro track for the album. We asked Rich if he would do it for us and he composed and performed all the instrumentation for the track we titled Empyreal Light. Rich is extremely talented and we all learned a lot working with him. When it was all said and done, Rich helped us make the record we wanted to hear.
Stephen : Like Seann said, the band woodshedded and did independent pre-production. We had arrangements and the general ideas of what we wanted to achieve with the songs. Once we worked with Seann at his studio, we all gelled really well and were able to put the meat on the bones. That’s when the ideas really took shape. We worked for months in the studio with Seann, making sure everything was the absolute best it could be.
When it came time to do the mix, working with Rich Mouser was an absolute honor and pleasure. Once again, we were in the studio, working days on end, fine-tuning, and listening to every detail in the music. Rich is an outstanding person and a master at his craft. Rich’s sonic thumbprint is what our music called for and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.
What could one expect from a live Westfield Massacre show?
Seann: 111% intensity, passion, and energy.
Dio: There is a Brazilian expression for things that are done viscerally – Blood in the Eye. This is the best way I can describe the feeling of being at a Westfield Massacre show.
Stephen: Loud noises and domination.
Erik: At a Westfield Massacre show you can expect an intensity that is unrivaled. Rock & Roll is missing the danger that used to be tied to it, and it is our goal to bring it back.
If Westfield Massacre could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Seann: I think it would be amazing to open for Guns N’ Roses. I saw Guns N’ Roses twice on their Use Your Illusion Tour. To this day, those concerts are the best I’ve ever experienced. I think having a modern metal band like Westfield Massacre opening for a timeless rock band like GNR would be a great mix.