Album Review: Sanctuary – The Year The Sun Died

10563151_757070187673090_9204028807995863800_nAhhh Seattle, home to some of the best Seafood, the Space Needle, the birth place of Grunge. . But how many of you knew that prior to bands like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Nirvana made it to the spotlight and took over radio waves there were a slew of Metal bands including the Power/Thrash Metal powerhouse that is Sanctuary?

I’m sure most of you are aware Sanctuary, is the first brainchild of Warrel Dane, Jeff Loomis, and Jim Sheppard; which after the band called it quits in 1992 they went on to form Nevermore. When we found out Sanctuary was in the works of a new album we jumped at the chance to receive a promotional copy for review. Now I won’t lie I was much more of a Nevermore fan myself, I came in late to the Sanctuary game, but everything I had heard I enjoyed thus far and “The Year The Sun Died” is no exception. With Nevermore on hiatus for now this is the perfect interlude between albums. “The Year The Sun Died” is a solid album from start to finish,  almost seems as a continuation of ‘The Obsidian Conspiracy’ not so much in story but  musically.

With Jeff Loomis out of the picture, Lenny Rutledge really gets to show off his guitar skills. Rutledge and the rest of the band definitely do not disappoint kicking the album off with ‘Arise and Purify‘ (one of the teaser tracks released by the band) which showcases the high pitched King Diamond-esque singing during the chorus and a catchy as hell intro riff/ drum beat that is sure to get your head bobbing. While there are plenty of songs to get your whirl-winding your hair and breaking your neck like ‘Question Existence Fading’ and the first single ‘Frozen‘, there are also songs that highlight the more melodic side of the band like ‘One Final Day (Sworn to Believe) and ‘Exitium (Anthem of the Living)‘ which brings out some of Dane’s more slower almost menacing vocals.

1560711_725426570837452_9094483751082120915_nIt seems Dane is holding back in his vocals. While we all known he has grown and changed is styles since ’92, the album lacks the falsetto highs throughout. Sure it makes an appearance here and there, but not like it did in songs from “Refuge Denied” and “Into the Mirror Black” where it can be heard through out songs. . more than just a couple of words at least. Bring back that vocal style that stands you apart from Nevermore, we loved songs like ‘Battle Angels’ and ‘Epitaph’. While leaving that out doesn’t ruin the album, it just leaves you wanting more. However to the Nevermore fans, such as myself, that were upset with their disbanding back in 2011, I urge you to listen to this album without cracking a smile. The crunching guitars and monstrous drums that made up the Power Metal sound you love are all encompassing in this album!

The album is out in stores now, so what are you waiting for RUN or drive to your nearest Music Store and purchase what could be one of the top American Power Metal albums you buy this year!?!

Album Length: 54 min
Rating 3.5/5

Concert Ticket Give away: Amon Amarth @ The Pageant 10/29

Oh yes, you read that right. We are giving away two pair of tickets to see Amon Amarth at the Pageant in St. Louis on Wednesday October 29th. The King Diamond and Pretty Reckless contests are still ongoing as well so enter those while you can. For this one we got a little inspiration from this photo:

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All you have to do is Create your OWN Amon Amarth Meme using any photo you like (hopefully of the band or Vikings), post it on our page, as a comment whatever and we choose the two we like best!! So put the creative side of your mind to work and maybe you will be one of the lucky ones to be singing along to the Mighty Amon Amarth in a few weeks!! Also, Liking commenting and sharing to help spread the word could boost your chances ;)

 

By the way, if you weren’t sure the Supporting acts for this tour are Sabaton and Skeletonwitch, so get there early as it will be a night of sheer brutality!!

Ticket Giveaway: The Pretty Reckless @ The Pageant 10/23

Contest number two is your chance to win tickets to see Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless at the Pageant October 23! All you have to do to enter is Like, Share, Comment as to why you should win and/or create a meme for this show. The more you do the more you are entered to win, but remember Sharing multiple times still only gets you one point. . gotta keep it fair some how! Good Luck and let the games begin. . Contest ends Oct 17!

 

Ticket Giveaway: King Diamond @ The Pageant 10/22

Hey all, Nick here we have two shows back to back so its not as fun keeping up with who answered what correctly/incorrectly. We are giving everyone an equal chance on the next few contests. So no question just Like, Share, Comment why you should win, create a meme for the show. . anything gets your name added to the list, the more you do the more your name is in the list. . however Sharing 50 times does not get your name on the list 50 times only once. .  Sorry gotta make it somewhat fair! Good Luck to you all!! Contest ends Oct. 16.

Interview: Ryan Van Poederooyen of DTP

Ryan drummer for the Devin Townsend Project was kind enough to sit and answer a few questions we had for him. Topics discussed were other projects he is working on,  personal influences, touring life and of course  we would be silly not to ask a couple questions about the new Devin Townsend double album, the highly anticipated z2!
I had e-mailed questions about a week ago and he was gracious enough to respond within a couple of days time. Since I wasn’t able to sit with him, I tried to make the interview flow as much as possible, which can prove challenging when you don’t know how one will respond to the questions so please forgive us if theres some choppiness :) But seriously RVP took time out of his ever busy schedule so please enjoy. . . We did this for the fans more than anything!

Damnation: You have been playing drums for quite a while now, what got you into them early on, was someone in your family a musician that peaked your interest? or did you fall into it more by chance?

IMG_3199RVP – My father was a keyboard player in a cover band. I always went to his sound checks and watched the band. I was always attracted to the drums and would bang around on them whenever they finished sound check. My father took notice that I had some rhythm and enjoyed playing the drums. From there he asked if I would be interested in learning…. the rest is history as they say! 
 

Who would you consider as your influences growing up? Are they still your primary influences today or have they changed as you’ve grown as a drummer? What was the first song you learned to play on drums? 

 My main influence growing up was Neil Peart from Rush. He influenced me into the progressive side of drumming and being creative with my beats and drum fills. Neil is still an influence to this day but I’d have to say my biggest inspiration on the drums at the moment is Gavin Harrison from Porcupine Tree. The guy is absolutely amazing on the drums. Great feel, great chops, amazing groove and he always plays unique beats and fills that really stand out to me. The first song I learned to play on drums was ‘Who Can it Be Now’ from the band Men At Work. I remember it well!

 

Your back catalogue is pretty impressive a lot of the bands have caught my interest in just checking out the few songs to get an idea of style. . . How did projects like God Awakens Petrified and Ten Ways (From Sunday) come about? And then if you could fill us in on the the transition from those two bands to bands like Terror Syndrome, Non-Human Level, and of course DTB/DTP? 

 All these projects came together at different times in my musical career. God Awakens Petrified was an experimental Metal band I started back in 1996 with my best friend. It went on to be a pretty successful local act in Vancouver, getting lots of opening slots for label acts as they came thru town, like Megadeth, God Flesh and so on…  Ten Ways is a progressive rock band formed by Dave Young (DTP/ ex-DTB) and his brother Mike Young (ex-DTB). I joined the band in 2008 and recorded drums on the album ‘The Solution’ in 2009 which is available on iTunes. We’re still together but get no time to do anything due to the schedule of the DTP. Terror Syndrome is a metal band I started in 2006 with a bunch of well known ‘metal’ special guests who appear on the album. I wrote all the music, wrote lyrics and produced it. I recorded the debut album in 2007 and independently released it, digitally, in 2008. I’m very proud of Terror Syndrome and plan on doing more when the DTP schedule slows down. Non-Human Level was a metal side project that Christofer Malmstrom, the guitar player from the band Darkane started. He wanted me to be the drummer on it along with Gustaf Hielm (ex-Meshuggah on Bass) and Peter Wildoer (Darkane Drummer) on Lead Vocals. It’s a pretty heavy, thrashy album with some cool twists and turns. I laid down my fastest drumming to date on that record. 

How did you get into the DTB, were there tryouts? I know the scene is pretty expansive, had you played with Devin Townsend before, or open up for SYL?  

RVP – I tried out in an audition. Dev was auditioning drummers. I got the tryout because my name got recommended to Dev many times. We jammed and he dug my playing and that was it.
 

It seems like you have a LOT on your plate with the new Devin Townsend Project/Ziltoid double album about to release (we’ll get to that soon), and what looks like some extensive touring, I see you are also in the process of writing a new Terror Syndrome album!! How do you find the time to juggle all your work? Are you constantly writing material while touring? Where do the ideas spark from? and lastly is there anything you can tell us about the new TS album as far as when it might release and what we might expect from it?

IMG_3270RVP – I basically write when I feel inspired to do so. I’m not constantly writing. Most of the time I’m learning new DTP songs for upcoming tours or whatever album we happen to be recording at the time! Haha. I’m kept extremely busy with the DTP. Lots of the time I’m relearning songs or learning new ones for upcoming tours or I’m learning new music for a new album. It’s always one of those two things. We [the band] know a ton of Dev’s music ranging from Ocean Machine all the way up to the newest DTP stuff…. that’s A LOT of music! So, I don’t really get much time to do my own thing. When I do get time, I’ve been writing new Terror Syndrome material. As for the style of the new Terror Syndrome record, it’s similar to the last record in ways, but I’m working with different tunings and being a little more experimental on the newer music. Still heavy as shit with killer grooves and catchy/heavy vocals.

That sounds epic, can’t wait to hear it!

When in the studio. . walk us through a day in RVP’s shoes. Where do drums come into play when recording an album, with any band you’ve played with, do you usually get done first, last or somewhere in the middle? How do you come up with the ideas for say your tracking? Are you brought riffs and then you create a beat to go along, or does it tend to go both ways? Do you have a book full of ideas for all your projects or does some of it just come to you naturally? And what helps you differentiate your styles between bands? 

RVP – To be honest, that’s a hard question to answer. So many bands do it different ways. One thing that is always the same is that I learn songs based off of demos first. Whether it is a studio session gig, playing for DTP, Terror Syndrome, Ten ways or any gig…. that’s how I learn songs. It varies from gig to gig on how my drum parts are written. For Terror Syndrome it’s obvious I wrote everything. For DTP it’s a combination of Dev giving me his ideas for drums or me presenting my ideas to him and us working it out together. I think we work really well together on coming up with the best drum parts for the DTP. I always play for the song! In the end, I always end up putting my spin on my drum part from drum fills to beats. As for styles between bands, that’s simple. Play for the song! Im not going to play a crazy double bass beat in a pop session! Haha! You have to play for the song and be well divorced in playing different styles of music. I taught myself how to play many different styles. This has helped me with the various bands and sessions I have done over the years.
 

Before getting into the new DTP albums I have one last set of questions. . What is the most difficult song you have ever Written? and what about the most difficult song you’ve ever played? On the opposite side of that what is the most fun song you have written? And what is the most fun song you have played? I ask those in two parts because in the Retinal Circus DVD you play a couple SYL songs, which you didn’t write so I am sure there are plenty others that you have under your belt that are both fun and difficult. And lastly if you could do a cover of any song what would it be and why?

RVP – Again, a very hard question to answer. There are many songs I found very hard to write and to play. I can’t give one solid answer to that question! I play for Devin Townsend!!!! Haha. He has countless hard songs to play. It seems a new one pops up every year and it was just as hard as the last one. To give a couple examples… ‘Planet of the Apes’ was very difficult at first, ‘Earth‘ and ‘Ziltoidian Empire’ were crazy to learn off of the new albums and learning all of the drum machine parts off of the first Ziltoid record was challenging as well. I think the most fun song I’ve written was the song ‘Stupidity for All’ off of the Terror Syndrome record. As for a the most fun song I’ve played ? That changes all the time. I’m always looking for a new challenge and fun song to play! If I could do a cover, I’d probably pick a Meshuggah song, maybe ‘New Millennium Cyanide Christ’. I already know some of it and jam some of the beats during sound check. It would be a great challenge and they are one of my all time favourite metal bands. Tomas Haake is a god on the drums man. He’s been another big influence on me! 
 

I’ll be listening for that at the next show ;).

Ok, now what everyone has been waiting for. . . Ziltoid 2 and the new DTP. I understand it took just a couple days for you to record the drum parts, thats pretty impressive!! I am sure you had most of it written beforehand, but were there any parts that you just made up on the fly? What was the hardest song to get down for the records?

Z2
RVP – Yes, these albums have taken years off of my life! Haha! We basically learned those two albums in 6 weeks. It was the most stressful time of my entire career. When it came time to record it in the studio, I had 3 days which turned into 2 days because we had studio gremlins the entire first day. I started tracking the first day at 10:30pm and kept none of it because I was burnt out from a day of nothing working. So I tracked all of Ziltoid – ‘Dark Matters’ on Day 2 and all of the DTP’s – ‘Sky Blue’ on the 3rd day. As for my parts, all of it I had rehearsed 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. So all my beats were worked out  for the most part but there was lots of improvisation on drum fills and some beats for this session. So there were some things definitely made up on the spot which turned out really great! Sometimes improvisation is the way to get the best material. The hardest song to record for me was ‘Earth’ off the Ziltoid record. It has blast beats and crazy time signatures throughout. Just an insane song overall. 
 

What can we expect from the DTP side of the double album? It seems to me like maybe a continuation from where you were as a band for Epicloud with maybe a mix of Addicted and Ki, is that a fair judgment?

As for the DTP side of the album…. it’s more like a continuation of Epicloud, kind of ? It has some rock songs, some pop songs and some darker tunes as well, more melancholy. Definitely more of a rock/pop album in my eyes.

 

Ziltoid is one of the most anticipated Metal albums of the year! Did this add any pressure to the writing of the album? Does this album pick up where the last Ziltoid album left off as far as Ziltoid still searching for his Ultimate cup of Coffee, or is there a new agenda for him? I hear there are some guests on the album as well, how did it come about getting Chris Jericho and Dominique from Stolen Babies to help out? and is it safe to assume that Anneke [Van Giersbergen] is a semi-permanent member of the band? it seems as though she has made it on the past 3 albums or so, and who can complain she has a beautiful voice that compliments Devin’s very well. Do you get to work with her much or is she just there to record and do some of the bigger shows? 

RVP – Writing Z2 definitely had some pressure to it. The first Ziltoid was very successful for Devin, so I’m sure he wanted to make sure this album met expectations which equals lots of pressure for all of us in the band. I can’t speak for Devin but I’m sure he felt it too. Add learning Z2 in 6 weeks along with another album…. yeah, it was pretty damn stressful!!! The most pressure I’ve experienced recording an album ever! Unfortunately I can’t give out any details on the album yet as there are promotional videos being released to help explain it.

Ahh, yes Ztv. . The first episode just aired and cleared up a couple things I had been curious about. . check it out here. . .

Dev dealt with getting all the guests. I didn’t even know Chris Jericho was on the album until it was mixed. So I have no idea on how all those guests came about. Anneke has done many guest appearances on albums with us. I think she is an amazing person and musician. I don’t know if she is really a semi-permanent band member. She has appeared on 3 albums now with latests album being more of a backup singer. I think she just makes it to certain gigs if the timing works for her and us. She did an amazing job on every record and I think enhanced each record as a result. I have nothing but respect for her. I think Dev would answer that question better! Haha. She has a great solo career and is doing well, so having her show up once in a while with us live or on an album is a beneficial thing for us and for her all the same. There’s my two cents.
 

What can your fans expect out of the double album? Any personal favorites from the album(s)? Can you give us a rundown of the songs?

RVP – The fans can expect two totally different records. Ziltoid 2 is a fun story to listen to. Musically Z2 is progressive. There are some fun easy to understand songs and then there are some crazy technical songs that will need a few listens to get. The Z2 record is a journey, that’s for sure. 
The DTP – ‘Sky Blue’ record is like i mentioned before. It’s more of a melancholy Rock/Pop album. Very easy to understand yet it still takes you on a cool musical journey.

Through touring you have become a pretty big fan of the Norwegian band Shining, I think a collaboration with Jørgen Munkeby playing some jazz trumpet and mixing vocals with Dev would be pretty killer. . . Who are some musicians you personally would like to collaborate with? A RVP supergroup if you will :) And I know bands don’t usually get to pick who they tour with, but what bands out there would you like to share the stage with, be it opening up or headlining the show?

RVP – My supergroup would be Mike Patton on vocals, Les Claypool on Bass, Marty Friedman on Guitar and me smiling away on drums ! As for bands I’d like to share the stage with, I’d love to play shows with Faith No More, Primus and doing a full tour with Meshuggah would be a blast. We’ve played a few shows with them but doing a full tour is one of my dream tours for sure. They’re awesome guys to hang out with!

 

Now that is one supergroup I would love to see happen!!

In continuation with touring, I know you have been to many countries while touring, whats been your best/worst turnout? Is there a certain place you love playing because of either the fans are always giving 150% or the food is amazing? ? Are there any places you haven’t played that you would like to play, be it certain US cities, countries around the world? Is there any place you would go back to after a tour to see more of it than just the concert venue and whatever place there is to eat right down the street?

RVP – Touring is such an interesting thing. We’ve had terrible turn outs in lots of countries and huge turn outs in lots of countries. Germany has always been a hard country for us to crack but we’ve been making head way there recently. In the past we’ve played to some smaller crowds for sure! England and Finland have always been amazing for us. Japan and Chile were amazing to us. A place like the USA has parts where we do amazing and other parts where it’s the opposite. So it can really fluctuate. All you can do is keep touring and building your fan base, which we do! I’d love to see Russia one day and tour more of South America as we have so many fans down there. I love New Zealand  and would love to go back there as we’ve only played there once.We’ve pretty much been every where else. As for places I’d like to go back to for a vacation….. I got a long list but here’s some that come to mind – New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Holland, Japan, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and I thought Hungary was a really cool place among many others!
 

A lot of metal musicians I have spoken with, tend to not listen to too much metal on their down time though they try to keep up with whats out there. . . What are some of your favorite bands that are coming out today? What is currently playing on your iPod/Stereo/Record Player? 

RVP – I’m the same way. I don’t listen to a ton of metal. If i listen to metal right now it’s usually Meshuggah, Gojira, Shining (Norway), Pantera, stuff like that. It changes all the time. I love listening to bands like Faith No More. Bob Marley. Karnivool, Dave Matthews Band, Primus, Sigur Ros and my wife and I listen to classic Rock all the time. Currently on my iPod the last 3 things I’ve listened to were Meshuggah – ‘Koloss’, Bob Marley – ‘Legends’ and Primus  – ‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese’.

All great albums.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview with us, we really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this. See you on the road!

 

RVP – Thanks for the interview and you will most definitely see me on the road very soon!

Band Interview: Havok

Havok Interview
Fubar – Saint Louis, Mo
By: Matt Albers
Photos By: Nick Licata

Metal music is known for its sometimes divisive subgenres and their equally infamous followers, colorful though they may be, that can sometimes fit into a stereotypical archetype of its own unique subculture. Any of those individual subgenres can have their own movements and timelines, some longer or shorter than others. The size of their impact and appeal can vary, as well. Take thrash metal for example; the insanely fast riffs and drumming accompanied by raspy, high-pitched vocal wails was a landmark in metal history during the 1980s.

The sound, songwriting, speed, and seemingly never-ending aggression took metal to a new level during its time, and its influence continues in music to this day, even reaching outside of the metal genre as a whole. But with any defined movement or scene, eventually musicians and fans continue to progress, which can leave bands and styles in the past to some listeners. Fortunately, the best and most honest bands – both old and new – who know how to balance all of the aspects of professional music to make it work for them, find ways to secure their own legacy (even if it still evolving).

Forming in Denver, CO in 2004, Havok has become one of the most recognized and respected bands in the re-awakening of thrash seen in the past decade. Even within that time, some bands have already disbanded after their fifteen minutes of fame ran out. Unlike their peers, Havok’s youthful appreciation and understanding of their art extends beyond the predictable thrash metal prototype. The technicality and bold structure of their songwriting builds on the familiar thrash blueprint so uniquely, that it recently caught the attention of metal record label Century Media, after three acclaimed albums on European label Candlelight.

While on tour with Crowbar, Revocation, Fit For An Autopsy, and Armed For Apocalypse, I chatted with Havok’s front man and founder Dave Sanchez about Havok’s journey into international metal acclaim through musicianship and resilience.IMG_4409

Havok is a thrash metal band; I think that much is true. And thrash had its birth and heyday several decades ago now. While it’s no question that the bands from that initial movement have had and continue to have an impact on bands that would follow, it’s common to see new bands form that are kind of a throwback to the now nostalgic appeal of that sound and movement. However, it’s safe to say that Havok is one of the thrash bands that is known for incorporating more diverse styles and writing techniques into its sound which gives the band a unique identity.

That’s good [laughs].

Why is this important to you? Why push yourselves and not just stick to a strictly classic thrash formula that, in the past, seems to have been proven to work, at least to some extent?

I think if you’re going to re-hash the old sounds, it’ll get dull really fast. And if you’re going to try to emulate exactly the old style, I can name five bands off the top of my head that probably already sound cooler than you, so… [laughs]. There has to be other flavors involved, because variety is the spice of life, and thrash is a really cool genre – it’s my favorite – and I think our band will always have that thrash backbone, but without diversifying the sound, it’s not exciting; it’s all been done before. I think those new sounds are part of what make our band sound fresh and sets us apart from bands that just try to re-hash the old sound.

Is there ever a point when you’re writing that you say, “Oh let’s not do that, that’s a little too much or too different”?

No, not at all. As long as it’s heavy-sounding and catches the listener, and we think it’s cool, it’s going in a song. Doesn’t really matter how weird it is. We’re down for the weirdness.

Metalheads are notoriously picky, maybe even opinionated. But I would argue that out of all of the metal subgenres and their followings, thrash is probably where you find the most cutthroat diehards that border on – if not fully dive into – elitism, at least sometimes. Do you think this is a true statement or a stereotype, and why?

I think there are definitely elitists, but I don’t think that it falls under just the thrash umbrella. I think there’s plenty of elitists in death metal – black metal, especially, nerds… I think there’s lots of people that value their opinion, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you invalidate anybody else’s opinion just because YOU don’t like it, that’s kind of bogus… Different strokes for different folks, people like whatever they want. As long as they’re not killing anybody or hurting people, I think you should be free to do whatever the hell you want, and I’m not going to knock you for it. But to answer the question very directly, elitism is rampant throughout the metal community, I believe, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. “Elitist pricks: pull your head out of your own ass, your farts don’t smell that good, quit being a dickhead.” That’s all I’ve got to say [laughs].

Words to live by. In your experience, what do you think it takes to be a successful thrash band? Do you think it’s important to first establish a strong foundation in that core niche market, or branch out to as many people as you can through your music sooner rather than later?

I think branching out is always the best option, because then you’re covering all your bases; you’re covering the niche area and you’re also branching out to people that maybe aren’t into the bands that you’re influenced by, but they like YOUR band. We are often told by people that they don’t even like metal, but they liked us. And that’s a really big compliment. It’s cool because, it’s music; it’s not just all about being metal, you try to be musically sound. Not just a “balls-to-the-wall adrenaline” the whole time. And I think that comes across to all kinds of listeners, not just metal people.

Havok has been regarded as one of the most important bands in the contemporary thrash movement and scene. We’ve seen a lot of bands come and go but few bands seem to stick around like you do. What is the secret to Havok’s success among your peers in which you not only stay relevant within the metal community, but also seem to earn or even demand the attention and respect of your audience and fans, particularly those “hard to win over” fans we discussed earlier?

I think our longevity is due to me not ever wanting to stop doing this. We’ve had many, many setbacks with lineup changes and people leaving the band… tours cancelled, you know, shit happens. But rolling with the punches is the key to the longevity. When something knocks you down or stifles your progress for a minute, you can’t let that be detrimental to it, you’ve got to keep going. I’d say the reason that we’re around and still relevant is not just because of the music, but because we tour a lot and because there’s constantly new things coming from us. Whether it be music or tours, we don’t really stop. We’re pretty relentless with our touring schedule, and we release a new album every couple of years. I’d say that’s really the key to our longevity, just sticking with it. Lots of bands can’t do that because of jobs, or girlfriends, or moving away, or [they] didn’t get a long, or they didn’t want to practice, or they can’t tour. There’s every reason under the sun; this is a really hard industry and a really hard niche of this industry, being a touring musician is incredibly hard. A lot of people say that they want to do it, and then they start doing it and realize how fucking hard it is [laughs] and back out. [You] can’t blame them, because it’s definitely not a normal life, but it’s one that I have a lot of fun doing. So that’s why I’m here.

IMG_4374What about your background, particularly the scene of your local region when starting out as a band, affected you, your style, and your direction to eventually break out on a larger scale?

Touring was definitely the spark that lit the fire. Getting out of your home state is the way to do it. You can’t stay a local band forever if you want to be bigger. You have to get out there and hit the pavement.

And how did Havok do that? Was there any kind of technique, or was it kind of just “keep hitting the wall until it breaks”?

What we would do is, through the beauty of the Internet, we would contact other bands that we thought were cool and played a similar style of music. We’d contact them and say, “Hey we’re going to be coming through your city on this day or this day, can you hook us up with a show? If you can, it’d be cool if you can play with us. And if you can get us a show, we’d happily hook you up with a show when you come though our neck of the woods.” So basically, we started touring by doing show trades. “I’ll trade you a show in your city for one in my city.” And that’s how we started.

As someone who’s not a touring musician, “show trading” is a very unique concept. Is that something that’s kind of new with the, as you said, beauty of the Internet, or does it go back even further?

I’m not sure. I would imagine it has to go back further than the days of the Internet. It’s a good way to do it, because then you have a built-in crowd from the locals that want to see the band that they know, and you get to play in front of them and you make some buddies and can meet up with them next time you’re in the town. It just started snowballing from there.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be a band now without the Internet?

I can imagine my wallet being a lot fatter [laughs]. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t have the same lineup, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t know the people that I do without the Internet. Guess there’s not much use in thinking about that hypothetical, because things are the way they is.

You’re on a pretty diverse tour right now, with bands that sound very different from each other. How has the experience been throughout the routing? What have crowd reactions been like?

It’s been a really great tour, it’s been fantastic! All the bands are heavy, rad bands. And the dudes IN the bands make the tour very, very pleasant; when the guys on the trip are really cool it makes for a miraculously breezy experience. I’m stoked, everyone gets along and everyone’s nice. Touring’s a lot easier when people aren’t dicks. It’s bad enough as it is when you’re eating like shit, sleeping like shit, spending six hours a day in a van cooped up with a bunch of farting, smelly, burping dudes… It’s nice when people are kind.

I would imagine the farts and burps would get a little old after a while.

…Eh, sometimes; when you rip a good one – the chainsaws – those are pretty good.

[Laughs] How does this compare to previous tours? Is it on the higher or lower end, or kind of in the middle as “just another tour”?

Every tour has been awesome for the past few years. I don’t really have many complaints at all. And this one especially, like I said, everyone’s really cool and chill, and easy to work with. So everything’s laid back and everyone helps each other out loading gear on and off in and out of the venue. So it’s nice, man. I’d say this is one of my favorite tours.

Do you prefer to tour with bands that are different or more similar to your own sound, style, and audience demographic? Why or why not?

I don’t mind either, because the ones that are similar to us I know are probably going to dig us, and the ones that aren’t similar… fans of stuff that’s not like our band, I like converting those people. I enjoy having people come up after the show and say, “I don’t really like thrash metal but you guys are awesome.” That’s a really cool thing to hear

IMG_4365 From where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics, and why are the topics you choose to write about important to you?

Inspiration comes from real life, especially recently, and what’s going on in the world. There’s a lot of things that bother me, and I need to get those ideas out of my head. And putting them into a song is the healthiest way I can possibly do that.

Does that include a song like “Chasing The Edge”?

That song is written practically from Nicolaus Copernicus’ point of view, about discovering that the Earth is not the center of the universe. So it’s kind of ahistory song, but I’m way into science and I think without people who think outside the box like that, we’d still be living in the stone age. So I think people who challenge the status quo should be championed and not ostracized for thinking unlike others. It’s people who think unlike the rest that are advancing civilization.

There are definitely some songs and themes that are politically driven (“Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!” seems to be just one prime example). Are you trying to give off any particular message when you write a political song?

The message of that song is something that I think almost every American can get behind, because stuff is getting pretty far gone as far as corruption and abuse of power goes. Like I said earlier, I think people should be able to live however they want. As long as you’re not hurting anybody, killing anybody, stealing from people, you should be able to do whatever you’d like. At this point, our government seems to be regulating so many things and sticking their noses in everyone’s business when they shouldn’t, and I have a huge problem with that. The lyrics to that song are very angry and I think that’s the way a lot of this country feels.

IMG_4334You’ve just been signed to a new label, Century Media, congratulations!

Yeah, thanks!

What are your experiences and opportunities like after this change compared to your previous label, and what can we expect from your next effort?

This next album with Century Media, I expect to go very well. Century Media has had a really killer lineup for many, many years, and they’ve broken a lot of awesome bands. So I hope that we’re one of the next in line to have that kind of treatment. The next album, I truly believe, will be the best one; I think it’ll smoke all of our other three albums. We’ve got so many killer riffs up our sleeves that we wanted to use on previous records but never got around to it; we had full songs and we had to just hang it up on the shelf. But now is the time to bust out some of that stuff. We got some good tricks up our sleeve; lots of good music, lots of heavy stuff, it’s going to be super dark, and lyrically I think it’ll have a good message that people can get behind.

What have you not done yet as a band that you still want to do? What are your goals, both short-term and long term?

A dream come true would be to play with Metallica some day, but also as a band I’d like to go skydiving – and if Reece (Scruggs, lead guitars) won’t do it, I’ll shove him out [laughs]. But no, I’d love to go skydiving some day on tour, I’d love to play with Metallica some day, and go to Africa some day.

How about skydiving into an opening set for Metallica, IN Africa?

Aw man, that would be like, just kill me after that [laughs].

Band Interview: Revocation

Revocation Interview
Fubar – Saint Louis, Mo
By: Matt Albers
Photos by: Nick Licata

Anything new and unfamiliar is often seen as a lot to take in. To an outsider, metal music can appear daunting and intimidating. But even within the genre, it’s common for fans to be divided upon lines of subgenres or even specific bands. It’s also common for some of the most forward-thinking, innovative, and progressive musicians and outfits in metal to be well-known almost strictly in an underground setting. This is where these two concepts of extreme music and extreme listener reaction can meet, with varying results.

To a layman, it may sound far-fetched that forms of metal music – more than one might even realize – incorporate many different styles, influences, and techniques into their sound. Depending on one’s preference, bands can sometimes actually sound like they’re brining TOO much to the table, and can result in a sound that may be difficult to digest and comprehend. However, a band like Boston, MA’s Revocation proves that with the right knowledge, balance, and approach, a band can create a big, unique sound so infectious and enjoyable, that it can appeal to so many different types of music fans.

During the St. Louis, MO stop of their tour with Crowbar, Havok, Fit For An Autopsy, and Armed For Apocalypse, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of front man and founder David Davidson and bassist Brett Bamberger.

Anyone who’s ever listened to Revocation seems to know almost immediately that you’ve earned all of your continuing success through the product of your talent and art, as any good band should and rightly so. But when it comes right down to that Revocation sound and style, while there are definitely parallels and similarities to other bands and subgenres (both in and out of the metal spectrum), you seem to blend so many together so well that you’ve created your own unique identity. Was this a plan or goal of yours to begin with, or did you just kind of happen into it through experimentation?

IMG_4440David Davidson (guitar, lead vocals): I think it was sort of a natural process. We all have pretty diverse tastes in music. I’m not sure if it’s a byproduct of growing up in the Internet age where you have access to so much stuff… If you think about it, in the Bay-area thrash scene, if you were living there at the time, then you were into thrash metal. Or if you were in the Florida death metal scene, that was YOUR scene. Being a kid and having access to Cannibal Corpse, and then I’d find out about Exhorder, and then this and that, and finding all of these bands at the same time, I think kind of just ended up instilling a very diverse taste in music in me at an early age. That, coupled with the fact that I was attending music school where I was studying jazz and all that kind of stuff, I was always thinking, “How can I create a synthesis of different styles so that hopefully it’ll be unique?” Rather than just saying, “OK, this band is just this and nothing else,” I’ve always wanted to try to fuse as many things together as possible, and attempt to find a unique voice that is specific to us.

How important is it that you incorporate multiple styles, influences, and techniques into what you do, and how do you find the right balance in the writing process?

I try not to think too much about it when I’m writing, I try to just think about making music that I’m passionate about. And if it happens to fall under the thrash subgenre or the death metal subgenre, I try not to think about that too much. At the end of the day, I just try to think about, “Does this work for Revocation?” That’s really my end goal when I’m writing; does this work with our sound? Does this fall within the parameters? Does this maybe extend our boundaries a little bit, going into some uncharted territory here? And if so, does it still make sense? But so much of it is about [the] sort of vibe, and if it’s not working right then I’ll discard it and move on to something else. That’s happened to me with different songs where I have different riffs, and I’m like, “Oh, this could work,” and [then] I’m just like, “Nah, this really doesn’t fit with the song here.” Because at the end of the day, we’re writing songs. I don’t want it to just be a mish-mash of a bunch of riffs that maybe are technical or sound cool but don’t have a flow to it. So if it doesn’t flow, if it doesn’t feel cohesive, I’m going to keep working on it until I get it right.

Does a collaborative effort come into that as well? Does everyone in the band have their own background that they throw into the mix?

Yeah, I mean his [Brett] is definitely different than mine.

IMG_4474Brett Bamberger (bass guitar, backing vocals): Dave is the main songwriter. He pretty much, like, puts dinner on the table, and you can put your own season on it. You know what I mean?

On the new record, Brett did a bass solo that is totally his own flavor, his own style. Same thing with on the self-titled, on [the song] “Fracked” he had the really cool tapping bass part that I think really added so much to the part. A.) I’m not a bass player, and B.) I have different influences from Brett… You’re coming from a different, like noise rock scene and stuff like that. So he’s going to inherently approach something a little bit different. The thing that I think is special about this band is even though each member has his different influences, they’re each able to sort of focus it through whatever lens they’re looking at it and make it work with the Revocation sound. So it’s not like, “OK, here’s this part that doesn’t fit.” It’s, “Here’s a part that’s written by Brett or by whoever that fits within the parameters of our sound.”

We all know what we’re going for with the sound of it, and it’s not conflicting and nobody’s really scared to give their true opinions on stuff, which really makes it a pleasurable working experience and work environment.

Through your diverse instrument playing, vocalizing, and songwriting, Revocation has – at least to me – achieved that difficult-to-attain goal of peak of making a form of extreme music that is still somehow accessible, welcoming, and enjoyable to so many different fans, audiences, and demographics. Is it also important to you to have a diverse fan base or audience to match your music, so that the greatest amount of people can be exposed to your music and appreciate it no matter where they may come from? Or would you find it more important for your music to speak for itself and “let the cards fall where they may,” so to speak, as far as a listening audience?

I think it’s the latter. I want the music to speak for itself and if we happen to reach a wide demographic with it, then that’s great. We write music for ourselves, first and foremost. If you’re trying to write music to please other people, you’re always going to end up falling short, because the people that you’re trying to please today might not be your fans tomorrow.

Whether you fail or succeed, you’re going to be happy. As long as you’re doing what you want to do and what you believe in. So if you try to, as Dave said, do it for somebody else, you can’t live up to your own expectations.

In your experience in your career, have you gotten people into your music or come up to you that weren’t necessarily metalheads that say, like, “I listen to jazz,” or, “I listen to classical,” or “I listen to rock,” and become a fan of your music? Is that common or rare?

IMG_4416

I’ve had that happen before, for sure. I think it’s cool that we can kind of reach across the aisle, if you will, and connect with fans [where] maybe metal isn’t their flavor. I think that sort of speaks to the diversity of the band, that someone who’s not into metal at all can find something that they like about it. Maybe it’s the guitar solos that draw them in, maybe it’s the bass playing, maybe it’s the drumming, maybe it’s just seeing how all the components work together and just seeing the band and [how] they operate on stage that draws you in. Like, “Oh, I never liked metal, but I get it when I watch you guys play, because there’s a certain element to it.”

That’s definitely happened to me before… Totally.

So I can’t speak for what they’re feeling, but that has happened to me. Which I think it’s really, really cool.

Revocation seems to be a band that isn’t afraid to have a little fun and show their humorous side from time to time, whether blatant or tongue-in-cheek. Why is this important aspect for you as a band?

We like to have fun on the road, and I think we definitely show that side here and there. To me, playing music is fun and I’m hanging with three of my closest friends on tour. So inherently it’s going to be a fun experience.

A lot of laughs come out. We’re very serious about our art and our music, that’s the first thing, and then any other little flourishes of personality that come out when we’re performing or hanging out is just part of everyday life for us.

What about your background, particularly the scene of your local region when starting out as a band, affected you, your style, and your direction to eventually break out on a larger scale?

For me, growing up in the Boston scene was awesome. First of all, it’s a pretty diverse scene. There were thrash metal bands, death metal bands, grind bands, black metal bands, and then there was the punk rock scene, which was this HUGE underground punk scene. And we would play with all those bands. So we would do like a club show or a bar gig with some death metal bands, and then we would go the next weekend and play a basement show with a bunch of punk rock bands. Then we’d go to a different club and there’d be a thrash metal night. Then we’d do an abandoned warehouse somewhere on the other side of the tracks with a bunch of hardcore punk bands. So seeing both sides of the underground scene really inspired me. For me, the boisterous nature of punk rock was so inspiring, and then the musicality of metal inspired me as a musician. The D.I.Y. nature of the punk scene really inspired me to get off my ass and think like, “OK, we’re not going to wait around for some giant booking agent to come sweep up off our feet; we have to pound the pavement ourselves, we’ve got to live in a van and really go for it and make it happen.” I mean, Brett grew up in New Jersey…

Yeah, the Jersey scene was always killer, man. I spent a lot of time in New Jersey having Boston envy too, because of that whole Hydra Head thing was something that I was into, and that came out of Dave’s area. But my area was like the Ripping Corpse, the Human Remains, Burnt By The Sun, all that stuff. The scene was always strong in New Jersey, just watching all those guys grind and do it from a distance and then up close and personal, that was very motivational for me as well.

IMG_4442It sounds like it wasn’t just the music and the writing but also the culture.

Oh yeah.

So many of my close friends are musicians from the scene. I would say, the majority of my friends are musicians in one way or another. So just forming those bonds, being a part of that culture. I mean, I remember just being a kid trying to break into it [like] flyering and this and that, just trying to meet people, meeting promoters and other bands that we were looking up to. Then all of sudden, we got asked to open a show, and it was the coolest day of my life to sort of break into that scene. I remember the first time people, when we were first starting out, called us a thrash metal band; I felt a connection to something. Like, “Oh, yeah, we’re playing thrash.” It [was] sort of a stamp of approval or an acceptance from the scene which I thought was really cool. So [there] was so much about it; it was not just the music, it was about the culture, the people, meeting new friends, community, the whole thing.

I’ve always felt that Revocation is such a diverse band with so much going in and coming out of its sound and style, that when people ask me what you sound like, I always respond with, “The better question for you to ask and for me to answer is: What kind of metal does Revocation play?” To which the answer is, “Yes.” Because I can’t pigeonhole you or your music into one particular subgenre

Thanks.

That’s our goal. I would say the core of our sound would probably be death/thrash. But I mean we have so many other different elements that we bring to the table. So the biggest compliment I can receive is not, “They sound like this genre or that genre,” but, “They sound like Revocation.”

You’re on a pretty diverse tour right now, with bands that sound very different from each other. How has the experience been throughout the routing? What have crowd reactions been like?

It’s been great so far.

Totally awesome.

Yeah, the crowds have been great, all the bands get along really well together. Crowbar, obviously legends in the scene, I remember growing up listening to Crowbar, and to meet the guys… they’re just so cool and chill and laid back, it’s just a real pleasure to tour with everyone. And it’s such a weird lineup, but…

Kids are turning out and sticking around for the whole show.

Yeah, for like the thrash metal parts, kids are circle pitting. And for, like the heavy, crushing riffs, people are fucking headbanging. I think metalheads in general have kind of a diverse taste because it’s kind of a subculture as it is, and there’s just so many bands in the underground that you get exposed to; whether it’s someone playing you this or that, or you go to a show and you see a doom and grind show, and bands that are playing incredibly slow and bands that are playing incredibly fast. But for some reason that sort of contrast just works.

Do you prefer to tour with bands that are different or more similar to your own sound, style, and audience demographic? Why or why not?

There’s different answers; yes and no.

I think we can tailor our set to who we’re going out [on tour] with. I think that’s the cool part about this band. We can do a tour with Megadeth and we can kind of lean more on kind of our thrashy, kind of rockin’ parts. Or we can do a tour with Dying Fetus and we lean heavier on our death metal catalogue. So I think it depends.

From where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics, and why are the topics you choose to write about important to you?

IMG_4462I draw inspiration from everything from my personal life to things that I see going on in society. And then as a sort of a form of escapism, going into a little fantasy as well. I mean, if I just did sort of a cross-section of lyrics, “Deathless” is straight up about our lives on tour; being in a van for twelve hours a day, you get a lot time for reflection, and thinking about the choices that you’ve made that have gotten you to this point. And it’s sort of the dedication that we all have to music, because it’s not a lifestyle that’s for everyone… There’s just something about it that draws you to that lifestyle. Whereas a song like “Madness Opus,” that’s inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Reading different fiction and stuff like that, it helps to put you in a different head space; it’s a little bit of escapism or whatever you want to call it. The thing that was so great about Lovecraft is that he just created this whole universe of horror; it wasn’t like a ghost story, it was like this cosmic entity that was unnamable in its chaos. Just that whole element really drew me in, it really just gets your imagination going. And then a song like “Labyrinth Of Eyes” is sort of a critique on our current society living under the watchful eye of the N.S.A. and stuff like that. As far as metal lyrics fodder goes, there’s really no shortage of things to talk about today if you’re just looking at society; I mean we’re just so dystopian and Orwellian in this society that we’re living in, so I felt compelled to write about that topic because it effects all of us.

There are definitely some songs and themes that are politically driven (“Fracked” and maybe “Dismantle The Dictator” seem to be prime examples). Are you trying to give off any particular message when you write a political song, or is it strictly personal and internal?

I try not to be heavy-handed with it, but at the same time if it’s something that is really kind of weighing on me… I don’t want to paint a pretty picture of something to sort of whitewash over it. I think if it’s something that is a problem, then it’s good to sort of, as an artist, if it’s on your mind, you want to get it out… There’s a quote – I think it’s Bertolt Brecht said: “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer to shape it. So, you know, you think about that… art can kind of change people’s minds, it can expose people to new ideas, and it can do so in a way that kind of helps you cross that threshold without being so abrasive that you’re getting into a political argument or something like that. Just the nature of music, whatever the genre – metal is known for being more abrasive, but to metalheads, metal music is very welcoming… So, if you’re already a fan of the music, then maybe you’ll read the music and think about things.

At the same time, I’m not a politician or anything like that; like I said, I never want to be too heavy-handed with it, but I think if it’s a topic that’s weighing on my mind or I’m thinking about, I don’t want to shy away from it [just] because I don’t want to offend someone. To me, making music is taking risk and exposing yourself a little bit, and if you make some fans because of it, that’s great. Some people say, “Oh, that’s too political,” then that’s fine too… But they could always like, not read the lyrics or whatever [laughs]. Which is fine… A lot of bands I grew up listening to, I don’t necessarily know the lyrics, I listen to it for the music, so you can look at it either way. But either way, we’re not going to be, sort of, flying the flag for one sort of political agenda [in an] in-your-face way; it’s more… trying to be a little poetic about it. Not beat you over the head with any one ideal.

You’ve just been signed to a new label, Metal Blade, congratulations!

Thank you.

What are your experiences and opportunities like after this change compared to your previous label, and what can we expect from your next effort?

We’re just going to grind it, man. We’ll be doing the same thing… We had a great time working with Relapse [Records], we’re having a great time working with Metal Blade, and we look forward to the road ahead because we’ve got a lot booked coming up, and we’re just planning on supporting the record to the fullest extent. And having that dream relationship where both the label and the band work really hard together, so we just look really forward to that.

What have you not done yet as a band that you still want to do? What are your goals, both short-term and long term at this current point in your career?

Touring, like, South America would be cool. There’s still places we haven’t been to yet.

South America’s on the hit list.

We’re going to be going to Australia for the first time. We haven’t done it yet, but that’s a big “check” for me.

This is our first six-month stretch pretty much, where we’re going to be going crazy.

Other than that, I don’t know. When you start out, it’s like, “Oh, I want to tour with this band. That would be awesome.” And then [after that] the bar gets raised and raised and raised. I mean I think it would be great if this new record cracked top 100 Billboard chart. Our last one cracked top 200 and I was super stoked, so that would be cool if we got to that next level and that next milestone, or whatever. I think it’s important to be realistic about your goals though, too; not to think like, “Oh, we’re going to be fuckin’ #1.” I mean, that would be amazing, but you have to realize that it’s a grind and every step of the way we’re totally making progress. But I don’t think I’m going to wake up tomorrow and be a multi-millionaire.

We don’t want the sun, the moon, and the stars, man. We’re really grateful for what we have and what we’ve accomplished, and all the options that area available to us. We’re very much realists in our goals and expectations of ourselves as musicians and the business side as well.

But yeah, go buy the record; get us to #1 – YOU CAN DO IT!!

A lot of people say, “What can I do to support [the band]?” Buy a record, come out to show, buy a shirt.

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