The Caribbean, along with Africa and Oceania, is one area where metal music is arguably still in it's infancy in terms of presenting itself globally; it's presence is on the rise with Trinidad & Tobago's Lynchpin having performed at Wacken Open Air, a documentary about the Puerto Rican Metal scene being released and Wacken Open Air: Caribbean Metal Battle which determined what metal band from The Caribbean was going on to play Wacken.
But our attention turns to a fledgling scene, one that is being spearheaded by Avante Guarden. Global Metal Apocalypse spoke to Vallon about the magical journey this band has had.
"I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here"
How did Avante Guarden get started and what challenges (if any) have you had to overcome?
"Lisa Bullard (Jayne Doh) and I (Vallon Thompson) were introduced through a mutual friend from the local music scene. She was writing songs without music and I was writing them without a singer... so we were the solution to both our problems! The biggest challenge we faced at the time was finding like minded (or at the very least interested) musicians from a scene that was mostly Bahamian Calypso, Reggae and Gospel performers."
As you're from The Bahamas, could you tell us more about the music scene over there in general? Are there any rock / metal bands out there, what is the likelihood of a scene emerging?
"As mentioned, the live scene is mainly Bahamian Calypso (known as Rake and Scrape), Reggae, Gospel and some Jazz. There is a rock scene over here that seems to be slowly growing but with limited venues. Lately I've seen new bands emerging like "Foreign Sounds" "The Core" and "We The Few," I'm loving the fact that these guys are keeping the music alive!"
You participated in the Global Battle of the Bands competition, what was this like for you? Tell us your experience, was there any other Caribbean bands participating?
"The year we participated in GBOB we were the only Caribbean band present so we felt the pressure! It was a great experience, we all had such an awesome time and were exposed to international bands (some of which I am still in contact with) and the wonderful culture of Thailand. We travelled halfway around the world... what can I say, it was AWESOME!!!"
Geographically speaking, The Bahamas is in direct line of hurricanes - has Hurricane Irma had an impact? If so what can you tell us? if not, what were the preparations?
"Irma effected the southern islands of The Bahamas, central and northern didn't really get that horrible weather. There was serious flooding and winds that destroyed a great deal of homes and property but Bahamians are no strangers to hurricanes and so we know how to prepare for storms. Also there were evacuations planned, and many relief efforts made after Irma had passed."
As a band have you performed outside of The Bahamas? If so where.
"Its just been Thailand actually, shortly after GBOB unfortunately the band started to drift apart"
Last year Lynchpin (Trinidad & Tobago) played at Wacken Open Air. Regarding The Caribbean as a whole, could you see metal scenes emerging from the likes of St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadies, Antigua & Barbuda., etc?
"Lynchpin? Really, wow that's great! Honestly I wasn't aware of that and didn't know that a metal scene even existed in those more "conservative" countries. As a scene metal has always kinda been underground, a silent scream waiting to happen and so I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here :) !"
How did you as musicians become interested in music? Who influences you?
"My influences were in my family actually: I had an aunt (who passed away when I was like 16) she was a soprano in the national choir and a theatre actress. Also my grandfather played guitar as a hobby so I grew up around lots of music from them. I headed in the rock direction after listening to a special about Queen on VH1, then Black Sabbath and it was all down hill from there lol!"
Finally do you have any plans for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"I'm always working on music but since AG split up I been trying to put a proper band back together (AG technically still exists but as a cover band with only myself and Treco Johnson - the bassist - still around) so I'd like to get back into doing hard rock and metal so I'm searching for another singer... or maybe I'll just screeeeam it out myself lol. Hopefully I'll have some good news for you about that soon :)! Cheers, Keep it Rocking!!!"