Ken Orth - Wycked Synn

August 16, 2003

Tell me a little about everyone in the band.

The roster of Wycked Synn right now isn't exactly the roster that's on the record. Gary and I are the actual musicians on the album and we had studio guys come in to finish it for us because we didn't have a full band together. Right now the lineup is myself on guitar, Gary Grant on vocals, Darrell White on drums, Gary Carillo on second guitar, and Jerre LaMar on bass. The band has been complete I'd say for two or two and a half months now. We've been in strict rehearsals since then and we plan on hitting the road in about two weeks.

Where all are you guys going?

We're going to start in Phoenix. We're going to do a loop. Phoenix to Tucson over to San Diego, Los Angeles, back to Phoenix and Tucson. Do that for a couple of months and then hopefully branch out from there. I'd like to hit Texas too.

Texas is a cool place. Tell us about the album.

I first started writing material in I guess early 2001. Basically there was no band together. It was just me. I started building my studio and had all this material. I was a frustrated musician. I couldn't find the right people to get a group together and really nobody wanted to play my style of music. Everybody is into that nu-metal garbage that's on the radio today. I was like all right, I'm going to do this all myself. I started recording all the instruments. Rough tracks of the instruments and after I had all the songs completed, I went on about a four or five month search for a vocalist. I went through over two dozen vocalists. I couldn't find the right guy and I was almost to the point where I was going to find a vocal coach and do it myself. Then I stumbled upon Gary through a mutual friend by accident really. He came in and I gave him the lyrics to one of the songs. He came in the following week, did one verse, and I knew he was the guy and then it just flowed really smoothly from there on. After we got about 75 percent of the album completed, we started searching around for record labels and we had a couple interested that I investigated. I can't remember the names of them but I investigated these labels and I couldn't find much on them. I heard some of their bands. I really didn't like the material that they were releasing. I didn't want Wycked Synn to be lumped in with those other bands. Then one day Chavis Records got a hold of us and I was trying to catch their attention for six months because I liked the bands that they were releasing and I thought they were a pretty cool label. You go on all these websites and you see their bands advertised everywhere. Basically we struck a deal to make a long story short. It took us about a month to strike a deal and it's history. Then we finished up the record probably about two or three months after that. You got artwork and packaging and all that other bullshit that you have to do after the music's done. Finally three weeks ago it was released. It went pretty smoothly though.

I've noticed that Chavis Records has a lot of really cool bands on their label.

Yeah, they fit well with what we're doing and we fit well with what they're doing. Bill Chavis is an awesome guy. He's backed us 110 percent. His promotion is incredible. You go everywhere and we're there. I'm really happy with all the work he's done and the promotion team that he brought together for us. Everything's gone really great so far. Hopefully the record sells.

Basically he has some money behind him. I know a lot of these labels don't.

Yeah, I know. That's why when I said a couple of other indie labels got a hold of us before Chavis did, I investigated them. I never head of them and I didn't know much about them. I didn't want to sign a contract to where I was devoted to these labels for one or two years and have them not do any promotion or anything for the band. When Chavis got a hold of me, I already knew about them. Knew the work that they did and the great promotion that they did for their bands. I was totally interested and so was Gary because at that time it was just him and I and then we just started negotiating after that. Working with Bill was really easy and we didn't really have many demands. It was all fair. The whole contract was fair for both the label and us so it worked out really well.

Tell us about who designed the artwork on the CD cover and a little about the artwork.

I think the project he completed before ours was XYZ's latest album and he's done quite a few major bands in the past. Gary basically had a good part in the album cover design. I stayed out of that myself. I'm more into the music but it has to do with the record itself. The record is more of a concept album about a guy who's down on his luck and it's really hard times and he's trying to get out of it. Gary, Bill, and the artist came up with that concept. I can't take credit for any of that really. I improved it but I thought it was killer. I'd seen the cover and I was like yeah, right on. We had a couple of rough versions before that which were good but not nearly as good as the final product.

It looks cool. You guys play melodic metal. It's not quite power metal.

All of my influences are from all these harder bands from the '80s like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. You got a little Dokken in there. That's all basically I love playing. The last decade or so, the music that's on the radio I don't even really listen to. The bands I buy today are all from Europe and overseas because right now the melodic scene over there is still kicking. It always has been and always will. That's basically the only material I write. That's the only material I enjoy playing. Before it was a band it was a project and when I started this project, I was basically just doing it for myself. The frustrated musician. I couldn't find the right musicians that wanted to play my material. They wanted to do all this nu-metal alternative stuff. That just wasn't me. Basically '80s style melodic hard rock with a mixture of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and maybe a little bit of Black Sabbath in there and Dokken. Stuff like that. That's how the band is now and will always be. When we got together I said I will never write or record anything I'm not happy with even if it comes to the point of the label wanting us to do that. I will just let them drop us. I will always write the same style of songs and material. Basically I'm just selfish and I do it for myself.

Plus there's an audience out there that still likes that style.

Yeah, I think there definitely is. I think they're all in a closet. Once they've got a band that they hear and they like, they're going to come out and say yeah. You should see the response we're getting to the record. It's just unbelievable. It's incredible. I didn't think it would be this drastic when it first came out but the reviews are incredible. The emails I get on a daily basis, anywhere from five to 50 emails a day, concerning Wycked Synn and I answer every one of them. Once in a while you'll get some guy who takes the time out to email the band and say that we suck and all this shit. 99.9 percent of it is positive and that psyches the band up. That psyches me up and I couldn't ask for anymore right now. Everything's going perfect. I think this style of music is definitely going to come back.

I was a teenager during the '80s and Judas Priest and Dokken were some of the bands I listened to. I guess people try to take music further and further but I really don't know how much new stuff you can possibly come up with at this point.

Same here. If somebody asked if Wycked Synn is an original band, I'd say we play original music but our recipe is not original. It's influences are from a million other bands from a decade or so ago. I'll never say we came up with this style of music and it's totally us. Other bands influence what I write. I don't copy them. If I hear a Judas Priest riff that I think is cool, that'll go through my head and I'll probably write something similar or in that style just because I'm influenced by it. It's the record companies that dictate what the bands do I think. Look at the new Metallica album. That's a joke. I was depressed. They're all saying they're going back to their Ride The Lightening days and I hear "St. Anger" and I was just depressed and pissed at the same time. They sold out and it sucks. They're multibillionaires anyway so it doesn't really matter. It's a shame. I would like to buy an album from them but with the stuff that they just put out, I'll never do it.

I haven't heard one positive thing about that album yet.

Me neither. They said they sold 500,000 copies the first week. Well yeah, that was in anticipation for the new Metallica. When was the last time they released an album? What was it? 1996? All of these Metallica fans were anticipating the new release and they're saying they're going to go back to their old style. So they all put their pre-orders in and a million copies are sold before it even hits the streets and the people get it and they're all depressed. Even the local radio stations in Phoenix, which suck by the way, put the album down. They were just cutting it up left and right. It sounds like they recorded it in a garage with a boombox. I don't mean to cut on the band but it just pisses me off when they sell out like that.

I had been told that the production sucks.

It does. It's nasty. I think Bob Rock produced it and played bass on it too. They should have fired him. He's well known in the business and he's a major producer in the business but I don't know what they're trying to do. They sold enough copies already so they should be happy. If what I hear is right, when they play live they only two or three songs off the new album anyway and it's all older stuff so that'll make the crowd happy.

The people who go to the shows want to hear the older material. This is kind of strange. Every show I attend, they play their old hits. I remember when people went on tour to promote their new albums.

Oh yeah, exactly. The bands that come around Phoenix right now with their newest records that they put out, they only play one or two songs off of it. Everybody wants to hear the old stuff. I think if they stuck with the same formula that made them famous then they would be more successful now. Even if they don't need to be more successful. They can retire right now and not have to worry about anything. Bands like Dokken, other than Erase The Slate which came out I think in '99, their stuff after that is pretty much crap and they're an awesome band. If they stuck to the original formula, I think they'd sell more copies. I think the people would be more pumped to hear their new songs. I go to concerts. I went to Queensryche a year or two ago and they started playing stuff off their newest album. I could hear people saying they didn't want to hear anything off their new albums. They wanted to hear the old stuff. The new albums are so far different from their older stuff which made the fans fall in love with them.

It's kind of weird. I guess the last major concert I was at was Whitesnake.

I support that Can't Stop The Rock tour 100 percent. I don't know what their fan attendance is across the country but I'm sure it has to be hefty since they continue to tour. All these older metal bands are coming back and touring. That only means one thing. People are hungry for it and they're paying to see them. I'm thinking our record is going to do a lot better overseas than here but who knows? The response so far in the United States has been a lot more than I expected it to be.

Have people mentioned which songs they like especially?

Everybody is different. It's weird. I guesstimated right before the album came out that "If You Said Good-bye" and "Let It Rain" would be the songs that people would love the most. Some people say "Tell The Tale" and some people say "In My Mind". It's like everyone has their own favorite. A lot of these reviewers are saying there's not one filler song. All the songs are great which is cool. I don't really intend to put filler songs on a record. Every song I put on the record, I like to have even if it takes longer time than the production or recording process. I want every song to be good. I want every song to be something I'm proud to play. I'm proud for people to hear it. I don't want to put two or three hits on it and the rest of it garbage. That "KMA" instrumental. I did that in my leisurely time. I did that in three hours. I just improvised everything. Just recorded it for myself. Bill Chavis listened to it and he was blown away. He said it had to go on the album. I was like you're kidding me. He said he wanted it on the album so I said okay. I really recorded that just for myself. I was just screwing around one day.

Instrumentals are cool to put on an album. A lot of people do that. Fans respond to it.

It's a little over three minutes. It's not really long that it'll bore you to death. I was hesitant on playing it live because personally when I go to a concert, there are a lot of solos like drum solos and even guitar solos, after six or eight minutes I get bored and I'm a guitar player. Three minutes is cool. It fits well for the record I think. I'm proud of it. It's all improvised. Nothing was worked out. When I did a couple of guitar lines on there that I thought sounded cool, I thought maybe overdub a harmony on it real quick right on the spur of the moment. I let Bill hear it and he just loved it. He said put it on the record so we did.

You guys are having your CD release party at the end of the month.

The 29th. That's going to be a blast. It's going to be really cool and I'm looking forward to it. Full rehearsal. We rehearsed today and we were sounding killer. It's going to be a high energy, very vocal, guitar oriented set sound. We're going to have heavy guitars. Gary Carillo and I have a killer guitar sound that sounds huge. It kind of reminds you of the old Judas Priest "Screaming For Vengeance" days. Gary's vocals are in tiptop shape. He's just blown us all away at rehearsals. It's awesome. We plan on going out there and kicking some major ass. My prediction, not to sound like I have an ego which I don't, but I think we're going to start a trend. There are no original melodic metal bands in Phoenix. They're all nu-metal. The same old stuff. I think we will start a new trend in this town. I know people like this style of music just from the response we got from even all the Phoenicians around here. I think we will start a trend which will be cool. Which I will love. I don't even care if bands copy us as long as that style of music is out there and the public is taking notice. I will love that more than anything even if it wasn't us doing it. My main goal is to bring this style of music back. That's it. I get people that knock it once in a while and I don't understand them. If you don't like it, that's fine. Don't listen to it but don't email me and say that I suck. I don't do that to you. It doesn't make any sense. I think it's going to do really well. So far the reviews and the response from the general public is just awesome and it's got the band totally psyched. We're ready to rock. We're ready to roll. We're ready to go 150 percent. On the 29th it's going to be our first show and we plan on blowing people away.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Anybody in the Phoenix area, come on out. Come to the show. I know you're in Dallas but fly in. You're going to love it. It's going to be awesome. I think the capacity at Club Evolution is about 300 or 400. It's not that big or that small. It will be perfect for the party. It's going to be a release party so it's not going to be a conventional concert. We're going to have fun. There are going to be giveaways. All kinds of stuff. I plan on having a great time and the dollar drafts.

Wycked Synn