The Arresting Hellfire Metal of Officer X
The Arresting Hellfire Metal of Officer X
American hard rock and traditional heavy metal band Officer X has recently issued their debut album Hell Is Coming, and it’s an arresting recording well worth seeking out. Fans of classic bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest may discover a brand-new headbanging favorite when uncovering what Officer X has to offer the world at large. Highwire Daze recently interviewed vocalist / guitarist Rodrigo van Stoli to find out more about this amazing band and their Hell Is Coming manifesto. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Officer X, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Rodrigo van Stoli and I play guitar and sing and co-write songs in Officer X. Bassist and co-writer Peet and I have been writing this music for many years, but we finally debuted as a band in 2019.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal/music scene like there?
We are headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts – the birthplace of the band Waltham, in which Peet played bass. We all live all over different parts of Massachusetts. I guess you can call us a Boston band. The metal scene here is pretty vibrant, from doom and stoner to traditional metal, and of course some great extreme stuff. We just played a show with Ravage, who have been making amazing music for years. We have a show June 16th with Worshipper, who are a little stonier than we are, and also Ballast – dudes from Summoner – and The Long Wait who are partly these hardcore luminaries. It’s a good place for heavy rock.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Hell Is Coming album title?
They are the words in the chorus of our song “Hellfire” – “Hell is coming, lives are burning, no use running” – and Peet thought it would be cool to have it as an album title, and I agreed. We were going to have it be self-titled, but considering some of the shit going on in the world today, we felt it was timely. Some may say hell is already here for lots of people.
Select two songs from Hell Is Coming and what inspired the lyrics.
I read a ton of fiction, so it always ends up influencing the lyrics, one way or another. Two songs were directly inspired by books. “The City and the Stars” is based on the Arthur C. Clark book of the same name, about a highly-advanced society that figured out how to be immortal and perfectly safe (and still somehow scared shitless). I wrote it in lockdown. “Moon Man” was inspired by “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” by Poe, about a dude who is mired in debt and decides to escape to the moon. That’s how it started, but then I just started free-associating about flying around in space and having a fiery re-entry.
Who produced Hell Is Coming and what was it like working with them?
It is self-produced, but we counted on the talents of producer, mixer, engineer Matthew Alexander, who did a really amazing job. He was great at taking traditional metal and giving it a modern lift. But as far as envisioning the songs, Peet and I – along with drummer Mike Martino – had pre-produced the crap out of them by the time we went in to record. We had like 4 demos of each tune.
Who did the cover art for Hell Is Coming and how much input did you have on it?
I found this artist on Instagram, Preston Cram, who was making this amazing art and I hit him up. Originally, I thought we would commission something from scratch, but he had this great image of this bearded man controlling a bunch of heads, which is basically what the cover is. So, we ran with that, but I suggested that it’d be cool for the “controller” to look more menacing, like a cyborg. I like that character. He reminds me of Murray from the Dio covers somewhat.
What could one expect from a live Officer X show?
People tell us we are a powerful live band. We enjoy playing these songs, and we try to practice enough so we can just let go a little on stage. Just watching Dave Barresi on drums is worth the price of admission, at least for me. Oh yeah and you never know when we might break out some Thin Lizzy.
If Officer X could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
How about Thin Lizzy! The Gary Moore years. Maybe we’d luck out and get to hang with them. Who knows if any of us would be sober long enough to have a conversation, but it would be fun and I think we would be a good match.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Officer X?
I sing in Bang Camaro, a heavy metal choir collective in Boston. We were once kind of a big deal with Guitar Hero/Rock Band fans. We toured around for a while, played some great shows, did some national TV and then collapsed from exhaustion and lack of funds. And then last year Peacemaker on HBO used one of our tunes and we decided to get back in it. No tours, just recording for now.
Peet plays bass in Spring Heeled Jack, a pretty well-known ska band who’s doing lots of cool stuff, touring with some heavyweight bands out there this summer.
What’s up next for Officer X?
We are back recording, now at the Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT. This place rules, and has an attached condo where we get to hang out and rest between sessions, or party a little if the mood strikes, and we don’t have to drive anywhere. Greg DiCrosta is engineering the basics. We are still putting out singles from “Hell Is Coming” – look out for a cool performance video for “The Red Prince”, one of the crowd favorites.
Any final words of wisdom?
As Frank Zappa once said: watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow. But seriously: I don’t know if this is wisdom but I want everyone to be kind to each other. Being a dick is a waste of time. Thanks Ken! Thanks Highwire Daze!
Officer X band line-up:
Vocals / Guitar: Rodrigo van Stoli (Bang Camaro, Gymnasium)
Bass / Vocals: Peet Golan (Spring Heeled Jack)
Guitar: Robbie Davis
Drums: Dave Barres
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Officer X on Instagram