We formed in the fall of 1998. Late fall/early winter of 1998. I was in Shadows Fall at the time. I just started writing stuff. At the time I just wanted to play guitar again so I started writing stuff for a side project. When I left Shadows Fall, I just made it the main thing. I think I had three or four songs written. About three songs written when I left Shadows Fall. There's a bass player that I've known named Dan Egan. I got in touch with him. I was getting guitar lessons from a guy named Chris Bartlett and he became my first guitar player. Our drummer Mike Bartlett was playing in a band with Chris and he joined the band. Then about six or seven months after we got a full band together, the four of us together because we finally got Oli Herbert who is our lead guitarist now, we started playing shows. We recorded an album maybe a month after that probably. We recorded Behind Silence And Solitude two years before it came out. Behind Silence And Solitude came out in 2002 and then we went ahead and toured on that. First tour we realized things weren't going to work out with Chris so we came home and kicked him out. Had to find a new guitar player and then around the same time Dan couldn't hack it financially. He didn't make enough money to be on tour and take time off so he had to quit. We had to find a new bass player. We were down for probably seven or eight months where we didn't do anything. Then we got a new bass player and started touring again in October of 2002. In 2003 we did a couple of tours. One with The Crown and Darkest Hour. One with Nuclear Assault in winter of 2003 and after that we stayed home and started writing the new record. The new record's out now.
Why did it take two years to release your first album?
Because it was all timing issues. We'd talk to a label, they'd show interest and say they want to go ahead and put it out, and then they'd say they want to do it at this time. We said we wanted to get it out sooner and in the long run it ended up taking us longer because we kept saying no. The offer wasn't right. The deal wasn't right. Every time the carrot was being dangled in front of the horse. You never quite got there and it ended up taking us longer.
You guys have signed with Prosthetic Records. How's that working out?
Yeah, they're really good. Prosthetic is really cool. Right now with Lamb Of God going to Sony, they don't really have any huge bands. Any really big bands. Himsa is pretty big. I think they're getting close to 20,000 records they've sold. They don't have any really big, big bands. We get a fair amount of attention. Our new album is getting received really, really well so we get a fair amount of attention. We're happy with it. They take pretty good care of us. We have no complaints.
The new CD is called This Darkened Heart. When did you guys start working on it?
We started writing stuff for that right after we released the first one. It was about two years in the making. Hopefully the next one won't take us so long. We had a few songs written that we were actually playing live on the first tour we did with The Crown. Most of the record was written 2003. We had a couple of songs written in 2002. The bulk of it was written last year.
Tell us a bit about the new release.
Most of the stuff was written by myself and Oli our guitar player. I write all the vocals and I wrote probably 60 or 70 percent of the actual meat of the music riffs. Oli's really, really good at taking an idea and adding to it. He's got I believe a Bachelor's Degree in music. Bass player Matt Deis has an Associate's Degree so everyone in the band knows their stuff pretty well. It's a really good mix of Euro stuff with a little more of the American style of hardcore metal that's going on right now.
What major bands influence you guys?
Stuff like Iron Maiden and Metallica. Realistically, it's pretty standard. You ask people what are their influences and you get five or six who say Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer maybe. Stuff like that.
You'd be amazed at some of the answers I get. I interviewed one band and the vocalist was influenced by Frank Sinatra because he thought that guy had a great show presence. It surprises me sometimes.
The stuff that we listen to is a little different than the stuff that we're influenced by because when you say influences, it's the stuff that shapes you as you're really learning your instruments or your trade. The stuff that I listen to or that we listened to when we were younger is usually the stuff that we fall back on. There is all kinds of different stuff going through our CD players. It really depends on how you're feeling at the time.
You said you were in Shadows Fall. Why did you leave them? They're becoming pretty a big act.
First of all, they kicked me out. Second of all, because we weren't looking to go in the same direction. I'd started writing for another band because things weren't real cool. I had actually talked to our current manager, Shadows Fall's manager, six months prior to being asked to leave out. I said I didn't think it was going to work out and I was thinking about quitting. He told me to just stick it out. That things were going to go okay. We had some really good stuff going on. So I said all right. Yeah, really the biggest thing was the fact that they asked me to leave.
Damn. So you were doing this while you were with Shadows Fall.
Yeah, for roughly a month or so but the band wasn't really together when I was with Shadows Fall. It was one of those things that I was kind of doing. Taking as much time because I didn't feel rushed or anything like that. I didn't feel pressured so I was going to write 10 or 12 songs for however long it took to get some guys together and record and see what happens. It was completely going to be a side project.
I talked with the drummer of Shadows Fall when they were on the MTV thing, they were doing all right. I hope you're still on good terms with them.
Yeah, we still hang out anytime we can. We did three or four shows with them up in the Northeast in the beginning of April. There's this local bar where we all hang out called The Fat Cat in Springfield. Whenever everyone's in town, we get together and go out and drink beer.
That's cool because some people leave bands and they're like "those fuckers".
Yeah, there's no point in holding grudges. Like I said, I wasn't happy with the direction the band was going in. They were looking for a different style of singer. It worked out best.
You guys just released a video called "The Deepest Grey".
That was recorded in the very end of March. I think it was the very end of March we recorded it up in this place called The Epidrome. It's a performance video of just us playing. It's cool to have a video that's going to be played on MTV2 and on Headbangers Ball. It's going to be on Uranium so we're pretty excited about that.
Is it in rotation now?
I think it's going to go either this week or next week actually. We played the Metal Hardcore Fest at the end of April and they had a piece where there was an interview with me and Jaime and the singer from Scarlet. They ran that so we have some stuff floating on MTV2 so it'll be good.
You had a couple of CD release parties in March and April. One of them was at The Fat Cat.
One of them was at The Fat Cat. That was cool. The one that actually was at Bill's Bar in Boston got cancelled because they had this Monster Monday thing where they had metal bands come in. They stopped doing that the week before our CD release so that was a drag. The Fat Cat one was really cool. Matt from Shadows Fall actually came up and we did an old Shadows Fall song "To Ashes". They don't really do that live anymore. Back home in Massachusetts that was a pretty popular song. Kids really, really found that they could relate to the lyrics. It was a really big song so we played it because Shadows Fall doesn't do it anymore. I had a big part in writing it so it felt right. I called up Matt and said if those guys are going to be in town would they come up and do a song and he said yeah, sure.
Your CD was produced by Adam D from Killswitch Engage. He seems to do a lot of producing.
Yeah, he's a very busy man. He's a really, really good friend of ours. All of the dudes in Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, Blood Has Been Shed, and used to be Overcast are almost all the same guys. Howard and Justin from Killswitch Engage now was in Shadows Fall together. Adam and Joel were in Aftershock. I filled in on guitar for Aftershock. Matt and Sean filled in on guitar for Aftershock. Jon Donais from Shadows Fall was in Aftershock. Mike D from Killswitch Engage was Overcast with Brian Fair. Our guitar player Mike Martin used to fill in on guitar for Unearth when Buzz couldn't do the tours. Our old bass player Dan Egan used to play in a band with Matt and Sean called Exhumed. It's this big incestuous family. It's really cool so Adam's been a friend for a long time. We've known him for years and years and years. We trust him with our music so it was the obvious choice.
People talk a lot about the underground music scene. Do you feel your type of music will stay that way for long or do you think it will become mainstream?
If radio starts playing it, if it turns into one of those things where this kind of stuff becomes the new nu-metal then fine. But if you listen to bands like Shadows Fall, if you listen to Killswitch Engage, if you listen to us, if you listen to Unearth, if you listen to Lamb Of God, these bands are doing the same thing they've been doing for going on close to 10 years now. At least seven. Shadows Fall has been together I think seven or eight years now. The first album is not that far of a cry from the album I sang on, Some Restless God. It isn't that far of a cry from their new stuff. Killswitch Engage's first record, there's more singing on their newer stuff but if you listen to the music it's not that far of a cry. It's not like these bands are bending to the mainstream. The mainstream is coming to us if anything. If it does, it does. If it doesn't, we'll all still be doing the same stuff.
Does it do well financially if it's not mainstream?
Right now there are a few bands that make a living on it. When we go home, we have to work our day jobs. Hopefully some day we can just be in a band and make enough money to pay our bills that way. That's the goal but there's no way of predicting what's going to happen. If it does, great. That's what everyone in a band wants is to be able to be in a band and make music and have that be their day job.
It doesn't seem to be the same anymore. There was a time where you were in a band and you got a multi million dollar contract. You don't see shit like that anymore.
Nowadays it's a little different. Just because of the Internet and because of how inexpensively you can produce CDs and how easy it is to put stuff up on the Internet. Put up a site and stuff like that. The costs are way down so everybody out there is on a label. Some label. Just because you're on a label doesn't mean you have big financial backing. A lot of the labels out there have got a name and get good distribution but they don't have the money to go ahead and sign bands and throw them a million dollar signing bonus. That just doesn't happen. You're right. I don't think that's happened to anybody that's not in heavy rotation on the radio. Stained is from our area. They got a ton of money. They got a lot of money to record their record and they get a lot of money as a signing bonus. You don't see that with underground bands because they're on smaller labels.
Sometimes being on a smaller label is better because you get more attention.
Yeah, I can call EJ and or Dan, the guys who run Prosthetic Records, anytime I want. I've got their cell phone numbers. I can tell them we need this or what's going on. If we were on Sony, I'm certainly not going to call whoever is in charge of Sony and tell them I need this. If one of their smaller bands does call and say hey we need this, they'll say okay they'll make sure to get right on that and forget the call five minutes after it came.
You guys are on tour with Prong and Dog Fashion Disco. How long have you been on the road?
This tour we've been out for just about a month now. We did two weeks with God Forbid. It's been really good. The God Forbid tour was really cool because we've been friends with those guys for a long time too. It's a good time to go out with them. The Prong tour has been a little different because we're playing to a lot of Dog Fashion Disco's crowd and they're not kids that would go seeking the type of metal that we play but we're getting a really good response. It's cool.
I like different types of bands on a tour. I've been listening to heavy rock since I was a kid and I've never been compelled to think that I have to listen to one type of metal or one type of music and nothing else can possibly enter into that. I can listen to Metallica, Madonna, and Gene Krupa in that order. Some people are so weird. "It has to be this one type of music at all times!"
That's not good. At any given time if you stick your head into our van, you never can tell what's going to be on the radio. Today was power metal day. We listened to Iced Earth and Iron Maiden. Our guitar player just got Jimmy Eat World and that's been nonstop. I listen to Sarah McLachlan all the time and Justin Timberlake and garbage pop. You never can tell what we're going to be playing.
How long are you guys staying out on the road?
This one will end in California on the 4th. I think we play at The Pound in San Francisco and then after that we're going to go do some shows to get us back home. Two shows in southern California which starts tomorrow and then to go back home we pick up Motograter for 10 dates. Then after that we're looking to do a few shows here and there in July and then in August we're looking to do a couple of different tours. There are a couple things that we submitted for and there's talk of stuff pretty much from August until November pretty much straight. We're going to be on the road definitely pretty much straight through the end of the year. Then after that we're hoping to pick up some stuff next spring to fill in. Probably going to take Christmas off and stay home and write some new stuff. We'll see what happens.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Anyone who has bought the record, thank you. If you haven't, go buy it. If you don't like it, give it to a friend. They may.
All That Remains