"We have already begun writing another album as we speak and we will be more active than we have ever been previously."
You might not be forgiven if you happen to forget that beneath the leviathans of Slipknot, 5FDP, Trivium, Metallica and the other greats of the American metal scene, are underground hotbeds producing the newest and exciting bands to lead the country and bear the flag. One such band is Pathways, whose journey from the Sunshine State aka Florida to the Pacific coast of Washington State has culminated in not only new recruits, but newfound vigour.
"Great Old Ones" is the quartet's newest single and is just one glimpse of what the lads have up their sleeves as they barrow towards their debut album seeing daylight. The lads managed to survive our interview interrogation and whilst they spilled their guts out about the challenges of playing live shows, why their sound is a cauldron of different sounds that make them extraordinarily hard to pigeonhole, how Washington state coped with the COVID-19 pandemic and what their plans are for the year ahead.
For those who have not heard of Pathways, could you please tell us how the band came about and what the band name means?
"Our last major release was in 2016, with a 5 song EP titled “Dies Irae”, released through Tragic Hero Records. Since then, our world has utterly changed in a progressive and exciting way. At the time, both Wil & I (Jon) lived in south Florida. Eventually circumstances led us out here to the Pacific North-West (PNW), where we really decided to seek out our musical identity (as a band). We knew the exact sound that needed to be achieved, and in order to do this properly, we needed help from other / newer members.
We spoke with the CEO of Tragic and we were able to release our contract from the label, parted ways with previous members, and as luck would have it - our search concluded with Caner and Kyle. With the new line-up solidified, we immediately wrote our first ever full-length album, and a separate single (Great Old Ones). The single serves as a catalyst to kick off the fresh sound and active condition of the band. The band has a specific sound in mind, and achieving it would take many different dynamics to come together - Pathways is a way of achieving an action, within multiple avenues (us as a collective)."
You play progressive metalcore and utilise 8 strings and classical influences, please discuss the decisions behind the two influences?
"We have always had a strong classical influence. Our identity has been shaped from having neo-classical metalcore / deathcore elements, to just being strictly metal now. The older tunes were designed with an aggressive and chaotic foundation, while the current work is focused on groove and purposeful melodies, while of course, maintaining that classical ominous vibe. We couldn’t be happier with how the sound has been defined. It took a long time to reach this exact point of musical maturity, but the wait will be worth every moment passed (especially for the fans)."
Each musician has their own influences, where does your influences come from and how do they fit in with Pathways sound?
"An extremely diverse musical pallet is on the table with the new Pathways line-up. Jon went to Musicians Institute in L.A. for 2 years and is classically trained. Wil has strong r&b and pop / hip-hop ties, which he incorporates into the pocket grooves of the music. Caner is all over the place with influences, but in a brilliant & diverse way. He has influences that stem from his Turkish heritage, all the way to rap and deathcore. His main strong suit is his vocal range. It is truly unique and unlike anyone we have ever heard.
He is our secret weapon for sure - raw talent. That leaves us with Kyle. Pathways has never had a real bassist - our previous 3 bassists were fill-ins for the instrument, since we either could not find a right fit, or because we just liked the member on a personal level and wanted to try it out on bass. It is truly insane to see what Kyle brings to the table. He is a funk bassist who listens to metal. What more could you ask for? He has all the talent / technique / chops to both play and write to the music, very well."
You have just released your new single 'Great Old Ones' (26/3), how long did it take to curate and will this be featured on your debut album?
"This process has always been easy for us, and with the addition of fresh talent, it was even more seamless. You definitely know when you gel with other musicians, and that is the case with us as a quartet. The musicianship & personality blend makes the relationship seem like fate, in a way.
The process actually started in 2017, with the symphony. It was a 42-piece overture written with a prime motive in mind - that every single melody from this orchestral piece would be referenced in each song on the album. Almost like a musical concept album that has melodic Easter eggs spread throughout. Not soon after the symphonic piece was released, the early writing stages of the album were underway.
The intro riff to 'Great Old Ones' is actually a variation melody that was rooted in the symphony. This is the main melodic line of the song and set the basis for the rest of the single. The main line was given to all members, and we just worked off of that motif until it was melded into GOO (pun intended)."
What can listeners expect from your debut album and will it be released independently or via a record label; as you're no longer with Tragic Hero Records?
"As this release is meant to showcase the newer music identity, brand, and pave the way for album promotion, we aim to go about this in a very bold and calculated way. We have learned so much about the industry (still learning) over the years, and have seen how much the pandemic & social climate is still affecting the future of it. We think it is definitely smart to be strategic with self-releasing music and distribution. Our catalogue now includes 4 music videos, a full-length album, a single, and tons of photo shoots - all to be self-released for now, in order to make way for future branding. We have already begun writing another album as we speak and we will be more active than we have ever been previously."
How tough is it for American metal bands to organise tours across the country? Do smaller bands tend to do state tours rather than national tours?
"It's more common for smaller acts to tour state to state or regionally rather than a nationwide tour. Many Seattle artists will cover the west coast from Vancouver BC all the way down to LA. It can be difficult for smaller acts to book multiple venues in one city let alone an entire state. It can be difficult finding venues on the way to larger cities that will cater to your sound. Not every city has a venue that would welcome a metal act."
Florida has a rich history of metal bands from Morbid Angel to Trivium to Deadstar Assembly, what is it in your opinion that makes the Floridian metal scene so successful at delivering a constant stream of talent?
"South Florida, being isolated from most of the rest of the US has a very tight knit scene. I'd say that's because not as many tour packages make it that far south if they have an option to book in north or even central Florida. Because of this, the local scene is constantly growing and engaging with itself to make up for the smaller tour packages that might not be willing to drive the extra 5 hours south just to have to drive back up the panhandle to tour in the rest of the country after one or two shows. So in essence Florida's scene is built to fill a void of live entertainment from the rest of the country. Add the fact that Florida is a cultural melting pot from native Floridians, snow birds of the east coast turned full time residents and people looking for a tropical change, you get all walks of life and plenty of scenery to inspire a creative song writing mental state."
How did Washington react to the COVID-19 outbreak? What restrictions and measures were put in place? What is the situation like now?
"Washington state began shutting down in March 2020 once west coast states started seeing cases. Our favourite bars and venues have been shut down since, some shut down for good because of limits on gatherings. Some establishments have been able to keep afloat with reduced capacity, mostly restaurants. Washington just went into Phase 3 of reopening, parks are opening again and people are getting out more. It's refreshing to see people outside again after being pent up inside their homes for a year!"
For metalheads visiting Seattle under normal circumstances, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What about bars, venues and pubs?
"A must for any metal inclined visitor would have to be down town at The Showbox Theater. The place has a great record of national/international touring metal bands stopping through. Some other great venues would be El Corazon and Chop Suey. Both have a great mix of local and national metal acts. While you're in the neighbourhood after a show you can waltz down Capitol Hill and hit up the many bars lining the streets. Then finish off your night at The 5 Point Cafe no matter how late/early in the day."
All things considered, what plans does Pathways have for the year ahead and do you have any greetings / thanks you wish to send out?
"Pathways is going to be releasing a ton of content this year in forms of video, photo,and interactive material to keep our audience engaged until live shows become commonplace again. We've got more singles with music videos lined up for release to introduce our full length album. We've adapted to the shift from live in person to at home interactive and are excited to merge both together for an experience for our audience like never before. Huge thanks to our pal Karl at Hot Karl Productions for helping us out with not only the music video, but for getting us back on track. Also huge thank you to Kirill Konyaev at Zerodbproductions for mixing and mastering the new single."
Pathways' new single "Great Old Ones" is out now via all streaming platforms
" 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 00100000 01101000 01101001 00100000 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 "
It goes without saying that metal music from time to time produces some strange bands, some weird bands and then some bands who are so different they stand in their own league, welcoming to that league is the American Djentcore band 001100110010. Yes you read that right, their name is in binary and if you specialise in this section of mathematics, you'll know it means 818 - still trying to ascertain what this means. Arguably if you crossed George Orwell with War of the Worlds and blended the two with V For Vendetta, in a music context this would equal 001100110010. Not much is known about this four-piece anomaly, let alone their anonymity behind the eloquent masks the 'phantoms' wear, one thing we do know is, they will certainly be destined for big things. Watch this space... 001100110010.exe
The band discuss their time on earth, how they're adjusting to human life and showing curiosity in the humans wearing half-masks, something to do with COVID-19... although they themselves don't know what this is. This is one mystery for the ages.
For those who have not heard of 001100110010 could you give us a brief history of the band, what the band name means (it's 818 in binary) and why the masks?
"We have not been here long, so our history here on earth is short. Since our arrival, most of us have spent time learning to communicate and interact with human forms. We are fascinated by all these auditory waves, and they do assist us in relaying and translating messages. Some of us are better at our communication skills due to our design. The communication channel we have among our form does inject interference and doesn’t always allow for effective translation when it comes to talking to humans.
As a result, we tend to isolate and study ways to adapt. The binary numbers here on earth are fascinating and do have ties to our origin. Converting to decimal is one way to interpret these, but not the only way. The answer is an innate quality we received and, therefore, kept private. However, you are welcome to speculate. We also must mention that it is interesting to see humans wearing partial “masks” now. Do humans use these as shielding between their internal binary design and another world? We don’t quite understand…"
What is the message that the band is bringing to the fore; getting V For Vendetta / 1984 vibes from the lyrics, what are your lyric topics?
"We are interdimensional travellers who've come to share the stories from our world. You'll see the struggle and hardships endured, battles won, and lost over time because meaningful change is painful and can be difficult, and many fear it. We feel there is much to be gleaned from our reality, and we share these stories the best way we know how, through music."
You released your music video "Digital Dictator" back in January this year, what was the reception like and how long did it take to make?
"Yes, we did. In a way, the process felt strange. We aren’t used to being encoded in such a way. The reception... Hmmm, it was quite long actually, and I suppose in a way it was a marriage. I don’t think any of us were aware that this was ceremonial to humans."
You play a finely balanced mix of Djent and Metalcore (Djentcore), who are your influences and do you feel that you've created a new genre?
"Well, thank you! We honestly have no idea where that name came from. When it was encoded and transmitted in binary, the result that came back from the query specified that. We think that these labels and descriptions are odd, but humans seem to understand the meaning better than we do. Influences are a strange word for a phantom to understand. It was encoded into our identity."
Given the masks are a cool idea, will this be a form of merch for fans to buy in the future? What merch plans do you have for the future?
"Again, the word “mask” seems like a strange description for us as phantoms, they are a part of our identity and need it to survive outside of our world. Very odd that humans would want to buy such a thing, but perhaps we may. We do need money to travel the earth with this diesel hungry bus we have. The transport systems here are terrible, and the use of earth’s natural resources to do so shouldn’t be utilized forever. Thank goodness you have Elon Musk here."
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans did you have postponed or cancelled? What plans do you have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"What’s COVID-19? Forgive us; we are not sure what this is. We will try to establish a connection to interpret. Our database has had interference lately, and a diagnosis is still underway."
For metalheads visiting Minneapolis, what sights / attractions could you recommend and what bars / venues?
"Metalheads. We did see these people in our databases and in person but are quite confused. They didn’t have any metallic minerals on their head at all. We did a scan for these, and from what we computed, it has the characteristics of a coconut. Overall, Minneapolis, MN, Earth is intriguing to us, but we haven’t had much time to go out; therefore, we cannot provide a recommendation."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
" 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 00100000 01101000 01101001 00100000 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 "
"Any kind of content we can do we are doing. I'd argue that the pandemic probably helped our work ethic.""
Arguably Metalcore and Deathcore are genres that are overtly saturated and so it's either the case of either being very good or trying something new, something that Until The Dead Walk have achieved on both fronts. A new sound, a new line-up and a new set of work ethic, the Kentucky natives are raring to go. Not only have they done that, they have also gone and secured the services of guest vocalists Alex Koehler (ex-Chelsea Grin) and Tom Barber (Chelsea Grin & ex-Lorna Shore). Life cannot be sweeter.
One half of the vocals section, Dakota Myers, took it upon himself to be interrogated on behalf of the American quintet. He didn't even break a sweat during the interrogation unlike the chickens that were to become 'Kentucky fried' (sorry!! Could not resist). He spoke to us about the COVID-19 situation in the state along with the mask merch they made, their favourite places to play and why they're itching to get back on a stage ASAP.
For those who have not heard of Until The Dead Walk, could you give us a brief history of the band? What inspired your band name choice?
"Ren Young the other vocalist started the band in early 2014. One of the original members includes Sean Cook; now guitarist for Hollow Valley. They're sick you should check them out. I joined the band around late 2014 / early 2015. Ren and I were in a previous project together but had a falling out right before UTDW was officially named. Many line-up changes led to guitarist Austin Mellick and bassist Tracy Cook being band members, and a recent change of drummer which was a surprise. I don't suspect any line-up changes after this. We have our solid core. Our family.
Ren picked the name. Since I am the left to his right, I always hated it. Thought it was mad corny. But after a while I finally get it. After putting so much work into this. So much time, dedication, hardships, sacrifice, betrayal. We're not stopping. It took us a long time to find out who was really with us and who wasn't. But this core we have right now will make music until the figurative dead walk. Or maybe literally. This 'rona stuff is getting outta hand."
How would you describe your sound without genre tagging, given you play a mix of Metalcore, Deathcore and 'whatevercore' (love it!)?
"Our sound is just whatever we feel at the time, y'know. If we feel like making a metalcore song we make a metalcore song. If we feel like making a beatdown song on the same album. It's going on there ha ha. We try not to put ourselves in a box. Playing music makes us happy. I couldn't imagine playing music I don't like to play. It would drain me. "
At what point did you want to become musicians and were you in bands prior to Until The Dead Walk?
"I personally didn't grow up wanting to be a musician. I've always done vocals, and I've played guitar for about 6-7 years now. But I actually grew up wanting to do art. I still do art. I do a lot of our merch designs and designs for other people. But once I found out what it feels like on stage. It turned from a hobby into an addiction. Something I wake up and crave. I don't think I would want any other job in the world.
I was in a few other garage bands before UTDW but nothing serious. Tracy our bassist is the former bassist of Of Clarity."
You created your own face mask due to COVID-19, do you think this will become a regular merch item (thinking of those in DIY, carpentry, etc)?
"Uhm. I would be wishful thinking here but sure. I think a lot of our fans are really die hard dedicated. They post stories daily with our merch in them. Out and about. At work. Recently while quarantining at home. So I genuinely do think people are going to wear our masks outside of the pandemic. I think people are going to wear masks for a long time in general after this blows over."
What is the COVID-19 lockdown situation like in Kentucky? How did people react to it? How has the band coped?
"I might get in some trouble saying this but from my perspective a lot of Kentucky just doesn't care. If you've ever seen the meme of the guy racking a shotgun outside of his trailer going "I ain't scared no Nader" that's Kentucky with Corona right now. I don't think we were ever really under strict 'quarantine' I see people jogging, walking their dogs, life as usual. Yes there are more facemasks, and yes there less people out. But it looks pretty busy for a city that's in the middle of a pandemic. Yet somehow we are flattening the curve more than other states surrounding us. It's really odd.
We, on the other hand are really pushing hard to not let this affect our work ethic. Wer'e getting new merch out, we're working on new music, we're doing skits, and working on a podcast. Any kind of content we can do we are doing. I'd argue that the pandemic probably helped our work ethic."
What plans have you got for late 2020 / early 2021? Were any plans postponed or cancelled?
"We are looking to go touring as soon as possible. I know that sounds scary and there definitely is an Inherent fear going into that. But that's just another sacrifice for us to live how we want to live. We have all sacrificed a lot for this. Relationships, time with our children, our friends, our families. It's just another sacrifice for us.
We actually had a couple of tours and shows cancelled. Skatopia's Bowl Bash was one. It would've been our second year out and I absolutely love everything about that place. If there ever were a place that screams the do whatever you want unless you're hurting someone else attitude that UTDW strives for its Skatopia."
For metalheads visiting Louisville, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"There's a saying my mum used to say all the time. "Come to Louisville we got potholes and horses" ha ha. But no seriously, we don't have that many venues that I enjoy any more. My favourite venue and second home Trixies was very sadly sold a few months ago. After that we have Diamonds Billiard Hall which has now become my favourite venue in Louisville. We have Nirvana bar and Spinellis for smaller more personal shows. For attractions? Uh. We got. Horses? We got a bridge that lights up. We have a Kaiju themed bar that's really cool. If you're a fan of drama you can go to Taproom. Really any bar in the highlands. If you like art, the Speed Art Museum has beautiful works
that rotate pretty frequently."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"To all of our friends and family I'd like to say thank you and I'm forever grateful for all the support that we get from you. To be able to do what we do is a dream of many. The fact that you all help us do it I can't even begin to explain how"
"Like Michiganders do, by getting piss drunk. We are making it through this pandemic by pure spite (laughs)."
Into The Void are not your generic American Metal band nor are they willing to accept the term generic; we don't blame them. The Alternative Metal leviathan that resides within Edmore, Michigan, gave birth to it's debut album "The Way We Are" back in January and immediately garnered attention worldwide. Now with a lot of plans shelved or postponed, GMA found the time to interrogate the Michiganders (we learned a new word today) about how Into The Void came to be, the album itself, the Michigan scene and where metalheads can go in terms of venues.
Vocalist / rhythm guitarist Dan Hernandez, drummer Jordan Campbell and bassist Cameron Allen survived the interrogation. Lead guitarist Brad White did not.
Can you explain to us how Into The Void came about and what the band name means?
"Into The Void came to be basically from me getting tired of my own bulls**t. I spent a lot of years trying to write what I thought people wanted to hear and dancing around my words so I wouldn't make anybody upset. It never went anywhere and no one was listening so I kinda said f**k it, I want to write something that I want to hear and that is meaningful to me instead of trying to make songs for other people. I'll put it out there for me and if people like it, awesome. Everybody else joined later on. I didn't want it to be a solo project but that's definitely what it was for a hot minute (laughs). As for the name, it's essentially a jab at my own mental health. Most people think it's a Black Sabbath reference but I didn't even realize it was a Black Sabbath song until later on."
What was the reception like for your debut album "The Way We Are"? Was there any interest outside of the US?
"We've actually had great reception so far. There's a few that have said that it's not their particular style but no one has really been able to say they hated it. We've actually grown really fast, even despite COVID-19. We've actually received a good bit of interest from the European and Russian crowds which is exciting, and even a little bit from the South American scene."
Talk us through the album process, how long did it take to make, how did you decide upon lyric themes, etc?
"It took what felt like forever (laughs). This album was, I think, 4 years in the making. There's hundreds of demo songs that didn't make the cut. As far as themes and writing process, it's really just about my life at the time. It was as real and as raw as I could make it. I was struggling with alcoholism, anxiety, depression, and a lot of inner demons and I just kind of poured it all into the songs. After I had all these songs, I had someone who really believed in me say that they were willing to fund an album and get me started.
I finally found Josh (Wickman - Dreadcore Productions) and he was losing his mind with the demos and we really just clicked. We set up our first recording date and I practised all the parts and went in to record 'Old Habits'. About a month later I went in and did 'Blurry Eyed'. I released those as singles and started hunting for a band. During that time I recorded 'Better Off Dead', 'Ready When You Are', and 'Shallow Grave'. After going through quite a few people who just didn't quite fit; love them all and am glad I got to meet all of them; I finally met Jordan (Campbell - drums) and we hit it off. He learned the songs insanely fast. He and another friend introduced me to Cameron (Allen - bass) and that was that (laughs). We went back into the studio and did the title track and a couple others. We went back one more time and finished recording the rest of the album. It was a long and messy process for sure."
"I helped write 'Hindsight', mostly. I wrote the drum part, huge influences from Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, and that marked the beginning of the end of the writing process it seemed. Shortly after that, we had the rest of it fleshed out and ready to record. I did my part, learned the last few of the songs we had to record; following that we hit the studio pretty hard. I think we were there for a week in total (myself only 2 days). I tracked all of my parts (5 songs) in 6 hours. The next day was editing that. Then everything else got thrown in pretty quickly. Mixing was the longest wait for me. It seemed like it was ready to go--but it wasn't. Once it got mastered, it flew out. Rather well received album, too. Not bad for our first FULL release, you know?"
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging? What sets you aside from the plethora of bands?
"Without genre tagging? I guess I'd have to say just dark, emotionally intense, and real. None of those sound like they set us apart but it's different from the common uses of those words in the metal scene (laughs). We've got a much different attitude than most people when it comes to our own music. It's not really following any trends or paying any attention to what others are doing. It's kind of like Nirvana meets Korn meets Slipknot meets Beartooth meets Deftones."
"A lot of people have mentioned that we have a defining rhythm to our music. It doesn't sound "generic" like we followed someone else's form. I think our combination of style influences helped with that. I drew my inspiration from punk rock, metal, and even jazz and marching percussion. I think what really sets us aside is that you can tell we play with purpose. We aren't just noodling around-so to speak. Our fills aren't just the same BS or extremely typical; they just make sense. It's perfect for people who relate to the lyrics and the emotion we convey. You can really relate to 'not being good enough' or 'I just want to be different'."
Given the current COVID-19 global pandemic, what plans did you have that are either cancelled or postponed?
"We had to cancel or postpone pretty much everything. We had plans to be releasing a music video in late April / early May but haven't been able to film. Had a bunch of shows that have been cancelled or postponed too. It's just been kind of rough. We really want to be out there promoting our stuff through live shows and meeting our fans and we don't really have any new music to release so everything's just been put on hold for us. Cameron, Jordan, and I all had to celebrate our birthday's from home as well."
"I had a few personal plans I wanted to do like dates, events, and just general 'vacation' days. With co-workers taking a lay off due to concerns with the virus, I was left to be one of the few who can do my job, so I ended up with more work than ever."
How are the folk in Michigan coping with the lockdown? Tell us about the situation there.
"Like Michiganders do, by getting piss drunk. We are making it through this pandemic by pure spite (laughs). No, but there are some people who are less than intelligent and they're out protesting and making us all look bad but most of us have really come together as a people and stayed the f**k home. We are tough people who love each other a whole hell of a lot and want everybody to be safe."
"I'm seeing a lot of people who are treating the lockdown as a loss of freedom we enjoyed as Americans. There was a rally in the capital, hundreds of people, maybe even a thousand or more all showed up. Traffic was backed up for a few miles, flags, signs... It has caused a shift in executive orders for sure. It's been incredible to see all the different kinds of people we have in the state of Michigan. We are a people who really enjoy being able to go and do what we want."
"What lockdown? This is god-damn Michigan. We ain't no bitches (laughs)."
For metalheads visiting your village of Edmore, or indeed your nearest city (Grand Rapids?) what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any bars, venues?
"There's really nothing to see out my way (laughs). A lot of the people around here call it Deadmore for a good reason. The nearest attraction is definitely the Soaring Eagle Casino though. Normally they have concerts going on all summer and have a smaller venue inside for the winter. Haven't really spent much time in Grand Rapids though. It's the closest big city to us. I know The Intersection is a pretty sick place and they have big shows at the Van Andel Arena. I've heard good things about Mulligan's Pub as well but I've never been there personally."
Do you have any greetings and thanks you wish to send out to friends, fans, family, etc?
"I just wanna say thank you to everyone who has supported us and enjoyed our music or at least given it a listen. We love you guys. Stay safe out there."
"The 'Beautycore movement' - [is] kind of bringing more women into that metal genre."
Say the word 'Beautycore' and you probably would conjure up a centre or focal point of Ru Paul's Drag Race, place it into a metal context and you come up with arguably one of the most exciting metal bands to emerge from the United States since Lamb of God broke out. Their name? GFM, or as you might like to call them Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh.
They are not your average American teenage girls and certainly are not leftovers from the Camp Rock saga; we'll go with School of Rock as these girls 'pledge allegiance, to the band'. Having already played in Germany, GFM are gearing up in 2020 for a new EP and other ventures (COVID-19 permitting), but don't let their sweet, cute looks fool you... these girls bite, their music bites, they're ready to slaughter the world as they put pedal to the metal and let Beautycore smash the floor.
CJ, Maggie and Lulu were happy to speak to GMA about their humble origins, the challenges of being a teenage metal band and above all, why they are arguably a beacon of light for females to engage with metal music.
Could you explain what your genre 'Teenage Beautycore Metal' means?
"Beautycore Metal is something that we created on our own, we are all teenage girls and so growing up playing in the metal community, a lot of guys in metal bands didn't think that we were actually metal until they came down and checked us at a show and were like 'oh they can actually play'. We took into account all of the genres that we play in and some people got made with me calling us Metalcore, we didn't know what kind of metal genre to class ourselves as, so we started making jokes that we were 'Beautycore'; kind of poking fun at the feminine side of it, this resulted in some bands we played with saying it was cool and that we should really play it up.
So we started doing that, people really connected with it over social media and this lead to people saying they support the 'Beautycore movement' - kind of bringing more women into that metal genre."
And what do your parents think of your music? Are they music-orientated as well?
"They're very supportive, they're the ones who put us there and are basically our cheerleaders. They're very into the business kind of the world, so they're helpful in incorporating our business and we are super grateful for everything they do.
Our parents actually don't play music, which is why we thank god for our talent because they just grew up listening to music and the reason why we started was because our dad wanted us to cover some songs from his favourite bands... so we started to do covers; 80's 'dad rock', Skillet, etc., we did it just to be a kind of family band and then we started writing our own stuff; our parents are very fond of us and how far we've come."
What is the meaning behind your band name GFM - in full 'Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh'?
"It was actually our mum's idea, which was a little weird because we were trying to throw out names about what we could call our band. What we had come up with, although I cannot exactly remember what it was, was something like 'Firepower', but our mum was like 'hey why don't we call you Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh' - these were the three original gifts that Jesus was given at birth and she resonated in that we were three gifts given to her from God.
So we accepted it and made it our own, but we tend to go with the acronym GFM as it's easier having on our cheerleader uniforms, it's a really cool thing to have."
Maggie, at what point during your childhood did you figure that you wanted to become a bassist, keyboardist and vocalist?
"So at the age of 5 our parents said that we needed to take music lessons and then if we hit it after 2 years we could play, so they organised piano lessons and I stuck with it and so I was about 8, by that time CJ was playing guitar and Lulu was playing drums, so we kind of had enough people to start a band - we didn't really know what you could do with a keyboard player, a guitar player and a drummer. So our dad was like 'oh hey Maggie, you play piano so why not try play the bass as well?', so I started playing when I was around 8 / 9."
Being at such a young age, do you feel overwhelmed in any way? Given you've worked alongside the likes of Joey Sturgess?
"Yeah it's a really surreal thing because we grew up with the bands that he worked with - such as Of Mice & Men, Asking Alexandria, etc., we love that music and for him to work with us is such a surreal thing. When it came to having dinner with him it was like chilling with a friend, it was really cool to go from growing up listening to music that he produced to being there and listening to him in person."
When you played in Germany for the first time, you must have had a mixture of emotions? Not just for the gig, but being away from home?
"Our first time overseas was very nerve-wrecking and we didn't know what the reaction from the German audience would be like; because we're such a young band. But people were so sweet, they were sweet again the last time we visited... Jasmine, Julian, Simon, etc., they were always there to pick us up and took us everywhere because we didn't have a car. It was such a big fun time, we loved the feedback we received over there."
Outside of the band what hobbies / interests do you have?
"We all pretty much have the same interests, it's pretty much like we're different versions of the same person haha, when someone wants to do something everyone is pretty much down to do it. We're very adventurous and like to try new things, so now we're into video games, anime, different movies, we like to read, draw, a lot of your typical teenager kind-of-stuff. We like to go out and find new things to do, go to the arcades or find a couple of different spots.
We also like baking and cooking; we have a sweet tooth, it's cool that it's all the same because it's the three of us.
Maybe we should bake our own GFM cookies."
Seeing that more and more females are getting into metal music, this must be pleasing for you?
"Yeah it's such a cool thing because after our shows, we have little girls coming up to us and saying things like 'I didn't know I could listen to this type of music, I really like this' and so they come to realise that they can listen to things like this. It's great to see that we're bridging the gap in a lot of areas; we have families approach us and say that their children are getting into our music."
For metalheads visiting Jacksonville, Florida, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"There's definitely a lot of great venues, so many to choose from. There's a few settlements nearby which have old original buildings still there."
Given you're reaching various places across the United States, have you had people get in touch outside of the USA?
"We definitely have a lot of fans all over the world which is crazy, we get messages all the time, things like 'Oh I'm listening from Australia', 'I'm listening from South America', 'Europe', Moldova to Sweden'. In Sweden have someone run a Facebook fan page, he actually came into America to come to a show that we were at last year.
We played in Germany for the first time a couple of years ago and that was crazy, because we didn't expect anyone to KNOW US and we got there, saw people with our shirts on and knew the songs - we are really worldwide and didn't even know it"
What was the outcome of your January tour?
"That was a really crazy tour because it was the first time that we've ever done a big tour, last year we only flew out to California and so this year we wanted to make our way there. We were kind of nervous about this tour as we've never done a tour like this before, but as soon as we started playing we got more comfortable on stage and so forth. We meet a lot of people we knew already, so we were able to draw out people who may not like heavy music but now they do."
What is your stage attire like and you have any props to use?
"So we actually perform in cheerleader outfits and it's something that our mum came up with, because when we started the band we were all at high school; I'm (CJ) still at high school, but we wanted to bring a fun aspect to metal and not be so serious, you know to have fun? You can enjoy life and enjoy yourself, we're kind of the cheer leaders for Team GSM which is our fan base, but aside from the outfits we have some statement pieces on stage - my drum kit is sponsored and has pink and black all over it."
All musicians have their own personalities, so CJ summarize Maggie, Maggie summarize CJ and both can you summarize Lulu?
"I [CJ] would say Maggie is very... kind of the head of the band, very hands-on with her time and she'll like grab you when you're going on stage, very leader-born."
"CJ is very energetic and a happy-go-lucky kind of person, so on stage you'll see the bond she has and in the music videos how strong she is, even in the behind-the-scenes stuff on tour... but in everyday life she's a very bubbly person, she will always try to make people laugh but not in a serious kind of conversation."
"Lulu is another energetic person, she's a hard-worker and makes sure she applies herself in every area."
Have there been any low points with the band among the high points?
"Life is like a roller-coaster and so we try to celebrate and highlight the high points, no matter how small the high points are. Meaning if there are low points, we can look back and see that we are still celebrating from all the high points that are happening, you need to focus on the high points instead of the low points."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"Just to take over, because honestly, GFM, we want to really make this year our year and we're going to take GFM far, not rule anything out because at the end of the year, we want to be like 'yup we are so proud of everything that we done this year'. So our plan is to do everything we can, as best as we can and as much as we can do it, without obviously draining ourselves because we want to take time out for ourselves to make sure we don't burn out."
For Black Stone Cherry things cannot be any sweeter, for a band who has stuck together like a band of brothers for the past 18 years and yet not had one single line-up change, it's evident they are closer than you think. The great thing is they've stuck to their roots, hailing from Kentucky famed for it's chicken (obviously), this Alt / Southern Metal / Hard Rock band have been churning out albums left, right and centre. A total of six albums have been released and their latest effort 'Family Tree' is an absolute blast, has to be said. Now the Edmonton-natives make their second pilgrimage to the world of blues as they gear up to unleash their second blues-tribute EP 'Black To Blues Volume 2', rhythm / lead guitarist and backing vocalist Ben Wells was more than happy to talk about their year, including an unforgettable headliner at Ramblin' Man Festival in Maidstone, Kent, in addition to their love for the Appalachians and of course their affinition for blues music.
"We love Appalachian music... it's a big part of Kentucky’s culture and heritage."
Guys you played at the Ramblin' Man Fair festival in Kent this year, what was the reception like and what did you like most about the festival?
"We love Ramblin' Man Festival! It’s one of our favourite festivals! The atmosphere is electric, but still very relaxed. The mix up of bands from old to new and different genres is also really cool. We love that!"
Whenever you perform, what are your emotions like when the crowd reacts in the way they do to your songs and performance? (Question sent in from Black Stone Cherry fan Emily Williams)
"It’s overwhelming, really. When you write songs you never “expect” a ton of people to sing along or wave their hands in the air, or cry, etc. so when those emotions start happening... it’s the most rewarding thing for us."
Now you're set on bringing out your second tribute EP, ‘Black To Blues Volume 2,’ it's evident blues plays a huge part in your sound, but on a wider scope how important is blues to heavy rock / metal music?
"I would love to hear some Bluesy Heavy Metal! Haha. Honestly though, without the blues we wouldn’t have Rock 'n' Roll. And without Rock 'n' Roll we probably wouldn’t have Heavy Metal or Hard Rock. So I still think it’s very important."
Outside of the band, what hobbies or interests do you have? How did you get into playing music?
"I like playing golf when I get the chance! I love to run and have recently picked up swimming as well! But music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been drawn towards [playing the] guitar and entertaining people."
How tricky or easy was it to pick what songs you wanted to cover for your second tribute EP?
"It can be difficult at times because we are fans of so many different blues artists. We knew we wanted to do “Big Legged Woman” and “Death Letter Blues”. The others we kinda decided on the spot whilst in the studio. It’s never easy!"
Do you feel connected to the Appalachian section of Kentucky and does the cultural heritage play a part in your music? For those visiting Edmonton, what sights / attractions could you recommend in visiting?
"We love Appalachian music! It’s so great and yes, it's a big part of Kentucky’s culture and heritage. As far as Edmonton goes, there’s some cool little shops and stores and a great little place called Genes Freeze!"
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and leading into 2020?
"Touring the rest of 2019! For 2020 we plan to record and have a new album out, then back on the road!"
Do you have any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We always want to thank anyone who has supported us, listened to our music, been to a show, bought a shirt, etc. "We literally can’t make this happen without them! So, thank you!!"
The world of crossover music has always been there and for those eager enough to explore it, there are some rather spectacular and imaginative musicians out there. One such musician is Chinese-American cellist and erhuist Tina Guo, who has been a part of a countless number of musical scores most notably as a solo cellist, these include (but not limited to): 'Iron Man 2', 'Olympus Has Fallen', 'Vikings' (TV series), 'X-Men: First Class', 'Family Guy' and more. Moreover she has collaborated with world-famous musicians and composers such as John Legend, Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams respectively.
To top that she has appeared in the 'Mazda 6' and 'United Airlines' adverts respectively... in fact alongside this she has helped score for numerous video games including 'Diablo III' and 'Call of Duty: Black Ops' as well as releasing as of 2017, 8 albums of her own material with guests along the way; some of the albums are covers of game tunes e.g. her latest album 'Game On!' which has a metal feel to it and as Tina goes on to explain in the interview she had with GMA, there is something special about the relationship between metal and classical music.
Furthermore she has recently appeared on 'The Lion King' soundtrack to which she expressed absolute delight at.
"There is something about both Classical Music and Metal Music that has a lot of deep emotion and power."
At what point during your life did you want to become a musician? Did you have a strong music-orientated upbringing? Are other family members musicians?
"To be honest, I was forced into the family trade as a musician! Both of my parents are classical musicians and music teachers and I started on the piano at the of age 3, violin at 6, and cello at 7. Playing music and performing was a mandatory activity but it wasn't until I was 18 and moved to Los Angeles for University (studying Classical Cello Performance) at the University of South Carolina (USC) when I started really pursuing ways to make my own music, and just work as a cellist in order to pay the bills. I did a lot of work as a session musician and hired gun, and it helped me learn and familiarize myself with all genres of music, but my main love and obsession has always been Industrial Metal. I'm lucky that my "day job" of being a session musician has a lot of crossover with my own music!"
What was it like for you as a child moving from China to the USA? What were (if any) the challenges you had to face?
"I had to take my first grade twice because I had trouble learning English – haha! - but after that I was able to integrate pretty quickly. I always was a very shy person and hid in the library during most lunch periods throughout school because I felt too awkward to be outside and didn't feel like I belonged to any particular group of friends. However, I don't think that has to do with coming from China - that's just childhood in general! I was always drawn to people, art, and music that was gothic and dark however, and my world was completely changed when a goth kid in my middle school lent me his copy of "Antichrist Superstar" (Marilyn Manson) and I heard industrial music for the first time!"
Arguably your career has been rocketing skywards ever since you started making music, surely doing your own rendition of 'The Circle Of Life' is a dream come true?
"Being able to record cello solos on the soundtrack for the new 'Lion King' was amazing! I love Hans so much and am so appreciative and grateful for his friendship and mentorship. Since he saw my "Queen Bee" music video on YouTube 9 years ago, I have worked on many of his soundtracks and also tour with him in his live band. When he asked me to be a part of 'The Lion King', of course I was elated! Recording my own version of "The Circle Of Life" I felt was an appropriate way to celebrate the occasion!"
Out of all the characters from 'The Lion King', who is your favourite and why? What are your thoughts on Disney bringing their animated films to life these days?
"Pumbaa! He is hilarious and adorable. I really liked the live action 'Beauty And The Beast' - I think that it's a great way to integrate new technology with graphics and retell classic Disney stories in a new way."
You've done numerous albums, some involving metal music and so, could you tell us how you became interested in metal music? Do you feel classical music and metal music have strong correlations with each other?
"Yes! Industrial Metal is my main love and after hearing Marilyn Manson when I was 13 secretly, since I was not allowed to listen to anything but classical music in my household, the next big revelation came when I turned 18 and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University at the University of Southern California where I studied Classical Cello Performance. I felt my world open up when I was able to go online, watch YouTube videos, and discover so many amazing bands and artists - including my favourite band, Rammstein. I feel all music is just music, there is good and bad music in any genre - but to me personally, there is something about both Classical Music and Metal Music that has a lot of deep emotion and power.
From your experience, do you feel that classical music of any kind should receive more respect and recognition than it does currently?
"To be honest, I don't really play traditional classical music any more, but I think that there are so many amazing musicians online who are using technology and social media to connect with a new and young audience. I feel like if you want more people to recognize something, it also has to be made accessible and energetically open, not closed off because for members of the general public who have never had experience with Classical Music, it may seem intimidating. I think that Soundtracks are an amazing way for people to hear orchestral music, and it has really reinvigorated people in being curious about instrumental music based on the tradition of European Art Music."
For those looking to get into playing the cello or erhu, what tips and tricks could you offer? What make and model of cello are you currently using?
"Lots of practise! I practised 8 hours a day from when I started the cello at age 7 - in the past 10 years as I've gotten busier, I haven't been able to do as many hours but that foundation of technical ability is very important to establish when starting an instrument if it's something you'd like to pursue professionally. I would recommend find a good private teacher, and taking regular lessons - but most important is the follow through and practice.
My Acoustic Cello is an 1880 Gand & Bernardel that I purchased 7 years ago, I love him very much and his name is Cello Guo! I have a few bows but my favourite is by Lothar Seifert, with a Wholly Mammoth Ivory tip.
Do you have any greetings or thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"I love and appreciate everyone who has supported my music and art, because without people to watch and listen, what is the point of music? Music and art is to communicate our own emotions and interpretations of the human experience, and I love being able to share that energetically with others.
Deathcore, the very word and music genre causes seismic splits that are wider than the Grand Canyon, yet miraculously it still resides within the realms of the metal world to the dismay of the elitists. Whether you loathe or love the genre, it's one that has spawned off a endless stream of bands who've achieved great heights; yet some are so generic in their style it makes you cry. One band who aims to defy the generic formula of chugging, breakdowns and basically being musically boring, is Oceans Over Earth. Vocalist Andrew Lidgard spoke to GMA about the band's history, their direction and the whole debate surrounding Deathcore's legitimacy as a metal genre.
"I think the reason why it (Deathcore) gets such a bad reputation is because most of the bands don't have any sustenance... chug and chew on the microphone and claim its skilled work; (they) have a copy and paste formula for their writing."
For those who have not heard of Oceans Over Earth could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Oceans Over Earth (OOE) formed back in December 2010 in Grand Rapids, MI. It was just myself (Andrew Lidgard) and our old vocalist (Jordan Lawrence). Later we recruited a second guitarist Mike Bergsma who is still in the band to this day (now playing bass). Mike has been a friend of mine since childhood. We then found our drummer Corey Crawford through Craigslist believe it or not! We started playing shows heavily for a couple of years and released our first single in June 2011. To keep it short, we hit major rough patches with our old vocalist due to drugs and that made us lose any momentum we had for almost 2 years.
After finding a replacement vocalist we recorded our first EP 'Transgressions' in December 2014. In March 2015 we released 'Seer' to ramp up a new EP we were going to record with Joshua Wickman of Dreadcore Productions. Our newest vocalist at the time, David, decided to jump ship the week before recording the bands second EP. This halted all momentum once again for another 2 years whilst we searched for a vocalist. So, in those two years I put down my guitar and started heavily practising vocals. The practice paid off and now I am the current vocalist of the band and no longer the guitarist! Jordan French is now our main guitarist, Mike Bergsma is our bassist and Corey Crawford is our drummer! This line-up seems to be what we have needed all along! We released an EP 'Absolute Zero' in April 2018, a new single 'Worthless Existence' in September and a brand new single 'Crimson Era' a few days ago! Our goal is to release new music every 2-3 months to keep things fresh for our fans!!"
How did you yourselves get into playing music and what do your families think of your music?
" I was drawn to the guitar when I was about 14 or so and my friend Paulie taught me how to play 'Welcome Home' by Coheed and Cambria and it was from then on that I started learning as much as I could from other bands. It branched mainly in metal music from August Burns Red to Slipknot, All That Remains, Parkway Drive etc. My Dad was always for it! He was in a band himself when he was younger and I credit most of my starting passion to him. As far as metal goes, my Dad never understood why all the screaming and not singing, but after all this time I think its grown on him haha.
Corey (drums) was a musician for years before I met him. He was a drummer in his high-school band and has always been proficient at drumming. Corey took major influence from Joey Jordison and Matt Greiner, two amazing drummers. Practices are held at Corey's mothers house, so as you can imagine she obviously supports his musical endeavours or she wouldn't let us do that or attend shows!!
Mike (bass) and I would jam to our favourite bands music for hours together. We could play Killswitch Engage albums front to back and just have a blast the whole time. If I remember correctly, I taught Mike how to play guitar and then in his spare time he pushed himself to get better and better. Mike ended up dropping down to bass when we picked up Jordan for our main guitar spot. Mike's parents are very supportive as well.
Jordan (guitar) was in a band with Corey, our drummer, back before OOE formed. I don't personally know how Jordan started playing, all I know is he is damn good. He is much better than myself, that's for sure. As far as I know his parents enjoy and support him as much as they can."
Deathcore is a overly-saturated genre, how do you distance yourself from the cliche riff and breakdown overload some bands do?
"I'm sure my response is as cliche as the genre can be sometimes, but we aren't trying to fit any mould, we never have. We try to push ourselves personally and are trying to make music that simply we enjoy as individuals. Our goal isn't to make the most brutal music or catchy music. Our goal is to just write music that we like! If other people like it and call themselves fans of our work, that just makes us happy and pushes us to keep going! With releasing new singles every 2-3 months it allows us to do absolutely anything that we want with each release and not have to worry about having our music fit any concepts or tones/attitudes. We can just write whatever we are feeling that month and its definitely a freeing experience so far."
Would you argue for against that Deathcore is a metal genre? Why do you think it at times takes some bad rap from people?
"I personally believe that anything with drums, bass, harsh vocals and electric distorted guitar is metal. Saying Deathcore isn't metal is pretty elitist. You can not like Deathcore obviously, but it is metal. I think the reason why it gets such a bad reputation is because most of the bands that fit this category don't have any sustenance to their writing. They just chug and chew on the microphone and claim its skilled work. Out of 100 bands, there are probably only 3-5 worth listening to. The other 95+ bands have a copy and paste formula for their writing. Hopefully that'll change in the future and bands will stop trying to be "Deathcore" and will just follow their own spirit and write something captivating."
For metalheads visiting Grand Rapids, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Grand Rapids, MI as well as the whole state has some of the best venues! The Intersection is an easy pick, they have three stages! All separate from each other so there isn't any audio bleed. The main stage, The Stache and Elevation. They bring metal shows in all the time. The Pyramid Scheme is a pinball pub that also has a great stage and sound system. Some of the coolest / personal shows I've been to have been there. Recently 20 Monroe Live just opened up. I haven't been there myself, but I've heard wonderful things. There are bars everywhere in GR and they almost all have some sort of stage area for shows that typically support metal. Most shows at the bars are free."
How far has your music been listened to? You released 'Absolute Zero' in April, what was the response like?
"With the internet our music has been heard all over the globe! 'Absolute Zero' has had great response and great reviews by the people who have listened to it, but we have had a hard time getting the word out there that we are still together. As stated above, we hit so many rough patches and years of 'hiatus' that I think people have drifted away and its hard to bring them back. But, with the release of 'Absolute Zero' and our two newest singles 'Worthless Existence' and 'Crimson Era' people are starting to turn their heads again! 2018 has been a year of feeling like we are starting over. Its refreshing but also a little discouraging."
How has 2018 treated you guys and what plans do you have for 2019?
"2018 has been the best year for the band so far! Getting new fans, releasing music on Spotify and other major services has been a first for us and its awesome to watch it grow! It seems so obvious, but when people actually purchase our music it solidifies the fact that we are doing something right. People are willing to spend their hard earned money on something that four guys from MI created to help us continue and grow into something more. It makes it all worth it in the end.
Hopefully in 2019 we continue to grow and start playing some shows! New music, always!"
Finally do you have any hello's, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out?
"A huge thank you to Lee from Lee Albrecht Studios who is our current producer for our latest two singles! Joshua Wickman from Dreadcore Productions who produced 'Absolute Zero' with us, thank you!! These two producers have really stepped up to help us out and make our music into something amazing. They are solid people and great to work with. Both very talented producers with a passion for making the best product they can!! Thanks to our fans for purchasing / streaming / sharing our music!"
Beneath the upper echelons of the likes of Slayer, Metallica, Slipknot, Lamb of God, etc., (there are far too many big-name American Metal bands to mention) is a vast swathe of talent that stretches across the American Plains and has greater velocity than a F5 tornado. One band who is set to shake the establishment is Begat The Nephilim, whose infectious blend of Black Metal and Melodic Death Metal is enough to keep anyone orgasmic. Having dropped their debut album "Begat the Nephilim I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy" last month and set to go on an East Coast tour, it was only right for GMA to interrogate this quintet.
For those who have not heard of Begat The Nephilim, could you please give us a history of the band?
"I (Cameron Dupere - Guitar) began writing music in late 2011 / early 2012 with intentions of getting a band going after several failed attempts. Later in the Summer of 2012 I came into contact with our soon to be drummer, Josh Richardson and we began jamming regularly. Within a month or so Josh introduced me to Tyler Smith who then became our vocalist and we began playing shows in the fall of that same year. After years of playing shows and several self funded tours, line-up changes (primarily rhythm guitar and to a lesser degree, bass) and a few unsatisfactory recording attempts we are ready to release our first album and play anywhere we possibly can."
What do your families think of your music, and when did you get your first taste in metal music?
"Our families have varying interests in our musical pursuits. They are all supportive in the sense that they don't discourage what we are doing and understand that it is what makes us feel happy and alive and that alone makes it worth it. I believe I must have been 11 or 12 when I received a burned CD with a Slipknot song on it and it blew me away, I couldn't have been less ready for the radical tones of metal since no one in my family had any interest in that style it made it much more appealing to my young prepubescent self."
What enticed you to mix Black and Melodic Death Metal together? How would you define your sound?
"The intention was to simply create a band that had elements of everything I enjoy about metal music. I refer to it as simply "Extreme Metal" since it combines elements of the most extreme genres i.e. Death, Black, Melodic Death, Slam, Deathcore etc."
How does it feel to be soon releasing your debut album "Begat the Nephilim I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy", will there be a album launch party?
"It feels nothing short of amazing to finally be unleashing 'The Surreptitious Prophecy' upon the world. It took many long years and even more sacrifices to make this album happen but we never deviated from what we wanted to do and never compromised and I couldn't be more proud of that. We are hosting several album release shows through the North Eastern US and touring the east coast in support of the record in July."
Will you be looking to do an international tour in support of the album?
"We would love to tour internationally. I'm not in a position to say what is in store for us just yet but it is our intention to tour anywhere we possibly can after the album is released."
What challenges as an American band do you face when touring across the country?
"The main problem I personally face on tour is getting adequate rest and nourishment. Other challenges include ensuring we get from point A to point B in a timely manner and keeping morale high because nothing makes a tour drag more than shitty ego / attitudes."
What is the metal scene like in New Hampshire (NH)? What venues, bars, etc are there? What sights / attractions could you recommend to metalheads to go and see?
"There are a few bars and clubs in NH worth checking out such as Bungalow, Jewel, etc., NH was very dead for a while but it finally seems metal is returning to granite state and that is very exciting to see. The thing I would recommend most to anyone visiting NH would be to check out a local hiking trail or to visit the sea-coast, the outdoors and wildlife in NH is by far my favourite part."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
"We had our album release shows in June and are touring the East Coast in July and after that we are working on plans for the fall that are still up in the air. Our intention as previously stated is to hit the road hard as much as we can and use any downtime to begin work on Begat II"
"He’s (Kylo Ren) shown so far that his only way to cope with that (his inner conflict) is to let his rage run rampant"
What are your thoughts on 'The Last Jedi' and will you be watching the new anthology film 'Solo'?
"We were all big fans of The Last Jedi and will absolutely be going to see Solo. I doubt you’ll find any of us not going to see any piece of the Star Wars saga."
Your first opus set the galaxy alight and got the thumbs up from Darth Sidious, what will you be bringing to the new album due out on May 4th?
"Our new album was our opportunity to explore the pieces that we wanted to explore. The first album needed to have all the big ones, but we are now able to delve into some of the deeper cuts from the past films and explore some of the newer material. It’s definitely much heavier and more technical."
It's rare for themed-bands to make an impact internationally, so who came up with the idea of having a Star Wars instrumental metal band?
"Our drummer, Grant McFarland (aka Bobs Sett) was the one who hatched the idea initially. He had made a drum video for The Imperial March a few years prior and eventually had the idea to add other instruments to the arrangement, which is when he got the rest of us involved. His perfect pitch and excellent ears are due the most credit, as he was the one to pick apart every piece of the orchestra and map it all out for us to play. I don’t think we’d have made the same impact without his efforts. "
Do you feel Kylo Ren will redeem himself in Episode 9? Or could Kylo and Rey form the Grey Jedi?
"I don’t think there is any coming back for Kylo. He fulfilled the same prophecy as every other Sith or Dark Side oriented individual before him, which was to eventually outsmart and kill his master. I think his inner conflict will still play a factor, but he’s shown so far that his only way to cope with that is to let his rage run rampant. I suppose, however, we could always be thrown a total curve ball. I guess we’ll have to wait and see."
Surely it must get hot under your outfits, are the suits breathable? Does it take long to put them on?
"The live costumes are not nearly as bad as they look. They are designed to be as movable and breathable as possible. The original costumes used in our music videos are the real burden. Incredibly hot, heavy and always falling apart. Unfortunately for us, those are what we also spend the longest continuous periods of time in, since videos take up to eight hours to shoot. The live show is just an hour, then we’re back out of them. "
Ultimately would Dark Vader love to play a lightsabre-shaped guitar?
"I currently play a guitar with a red fretboard, courtesy of Kiesel Guitars, that we have aptly named “The Lightsaber”. I’m not sure I’d ever want the full shape just because of how skinny that would be. I’m a bigger guy, so tiny guitars look a bit silly on me."
Initially was it difficult converting the orchestral pieces into metal music? How did you go about it?
"As I said, that was all Grant. The cool thing is these songs already lend themselves very well to the metal adaptations. I think classical compositions in general are very easily adaptable in that way."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into the light years ahead?
"Our next tour is set for June. We will be heading back to Europe to play a number of great festivals, with some equally great names. There are some other things in the works for the remainder of 2018, but none I can talk about just yet! "