I've been a very musical person since the age of three and I pretty much pick up any instrument and try and play it. I came across the guitar around nine or 10 years old. I tried to take formal lessons and it didn't really work out for me. I learned by ear and played by ear. A guitar is an instrument of choice for composing rocking stuff. I'm a big fan of the piano but I've been playing guitar for about 13 years now and it's a blast. I'm really interested in it and it's a good time.
Who are some of your major musical influences?
Musically, we could cover a lot of ground. I'm influenced by stuff from way back and largely influenced from The Beatles to really melodic stuff to jazzy stuff. I listen to a lot of Herbie Hancock and a lot of Headhunters' era Herbie Hancock. I like that stuff a lot. Musically, I don't know. I listen to as far as our music is concerned a lot of classics like Iron Maiden and AC/DC. I'm really into that stuff and just bringing out those naughty melodies in the guitar. Metal that dates back to that era and some thrash but for the most part, we would cite Iron Maiden as a huge influence.
I always love asking that question just for the interesting answers I get.
Yeah, a lot of people would expect certain bands to draw their influences directly from the style that they might play but I think a lot of musicians are pretty open-minded which is a really cool thing and open to all kinds of music. It helps spread the word on music sometimes that you wouldn't necessarily hear about. I do actually like asking other bands what they listen to.
How did you guys get together?
We got together about three and a half years ago in Austin, TX. I moved to Austin from Washington, D.C. and had a metal band in D.C. We started playing around in the Texas metal and hardcore scene which is a really good time and really supportive. We honed in on our sound not too long after that but three of the guys had been playing in a band previously. I just met with them through an ad through a free paper in Austin called The Chronicle. It's a publication that helps musicians get in contact with each other. We kept going from there.
You guys bring guitars, violins, vocoder, and synth effects into your record.
Yeah, we do for two reasons. One, that's just really what we've honed as our style of music. It's metal with just bringing in things that we would really like to hear. It's a welcome change to us for modern metal anyway. We realize you can't touch the classics but as far as being creative in our own way, we put our own touch on the music. I have a little bit of a classical background. We dropped that into the record. We brought our violinist into the record which she was awesome. She's a world class violinist. We do vocoder and auto tuner stuff. We're also really into dance music and drum and bass and weird kinds of techno and hiphop. We just let it come out. Some people might be afraid to but we just let certain elements come that we feel really strong about. We feel they complement the music in a certain way and we got to put that into the record and we're definitely happy about that and proud of that. We hope that defines our sound in a way.
Some of the best records I like are Metallica and Deep Purple with the symphony orchestras. To me back in the day when symphony orchestras came out, that must have been the heavy metal for that time.
Those two music styles go together real well because they are loud and crashing.
Right, they do complement each other. It's nothing that we do out of the need for overkill at all. It's really something that we haven't been hearing a lot of as far as modern metal is concerned. It's something that we feel really strong about. It's weird. People initially, their interest is really sparked or they're wondering what the hell we're thinking. They're wondering what's going on with us and certainly something they might not have heard before. The classic albums that you're talking about, strings and the music and things like that, those can only serve to complement that so we feel really good about all of those elements in the record for sure.
Tell us a little bit about your new record that you released on Combat Records which has come back.
The record is called It's Time To Decide. It's as much of a musical statement as it is a political one. Politically it's more along the lines of political awareness. A lot of people right now are choosing to take a stand one way or another on certain issues and political affiliation. As far as we're concerned, we would just like to see a pro-active movement among the youth in our country. We think kids need to learn what's going on and they need to get themselves up off the couch and try to make a decision one way or the other as to how they feel about this current state of affairs in our country and even internationally. Lyrically the record is focused and geared towards that whole movement of public, self, and political awareness. Musically it's as much of a statement just for doing a lot of things. We've got the metal aspect in there and the hardcore aspect which we've grown into as a band and have been influenced by. At the same time we have elements in there that are different and new. We realize some people may not like it or get it but it's something we feel really good about. The vocoder especially is something people ask us about a lot and the auto tuner. They can have shared vocals or something on top of metal. We just call it dance metal. We don't really know what the term for our genre would be. In the style of music that we play there's certain parts of the songs that could be labeled dance parts or mosh parts when you go to a show. When we talk about dance parts, it's literally dancing and music that you can shake your head to or something. At the same time, you might feel strange about it because it's heavy and I guess metal based and Gothenburg influences in there. Some black metal influences in there. It's different and it's weird but we feel really good about it and we hope it's as much a musical shock as it is a lyrical shock. We're definitely putting ourselves out there with this record.
I think it's a good thing that you're trying to wake up young people because this administration that we have in power right now may very well try to destroy your futures. Young people need to realize that politicians in their greed and quest for power are trying to get people killed and that's not a good thing.
No, not at all. It's a really scary thing and it's scarier to think that with everything that's being thrown in our faces right now, one way or another, people are still sitting around in their general apathy and that needs to change. Along those lines we just shot a video and it's done. It's on www.combatrecords.net. We just put it up. It's for the single off our record called "Death To Distraction" and that video just went online last night. We're submitting it and hopefully it will get some airplay but it really touches along those lines where it takes place I guess with your normal family huddling around the TV on a certain evening. It goes through all the stuff that may come through your TV screen that tends to distract you and pull you away from the real issues and the real things that are going on. It shows how general national news media is geared towards shock value. Shocking you into feeling a certain way. It's taking your mind away from certain things and gearing your mind towards certain things. There's also a general sense of fear there that a lot of people don't even realize and we're not saying we have it all figured out, there are certain things that I think kids need to see and hopefully we'll be able to get into their world with this music video. Maybe if it gets airplay or does what it does some kids might be able to see "wow, maybe that's me" or "maybe that's someone I know." We're really excited about that.
It's not so much having it all figured out. There's some shit out there that's in your face and you can't ignore it. When the hurricanes happened, you turned on CNN and they were reporting the hurricanes as though they were commenting on a football game. "Here come Hurricane Katrina and the drama continues."
Exactly and there's so much to touch on there. It's just kind of weird. You see day by day "well this is what the daily focus is going to be" in the national news media and some days it could be "did you hear J. Lo and whoever are back together". That's the fucking headlines. That's what we're shown all day.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting married. I'm sitting there going "do I care?"
Exactly. Who needs to hear that? There hasn't been much attention internationally on this earthquake. There's been a huge earthquake and you have thousands dead and people are in dire need of aid across the world but because it doesn't concern us specifically, we'd rather hear I guess about Britny Spears' baby that's coming. I don't know what the hell I saw a couple of days ago that I just couldn't believe. We need to bring the focus back on what's going on in our country and around the world and what we need to do to bring it back home. Our future as a whole is in jeopardy. It's been that way for a while. Something needs to change or something's going to give. As a band with a record and a video, we just see it as this is not our soapbox to stand on but this is our tool to scream at people and maybe hopefully get someone to make a change. In some way at least realize what the hell is going on.
I think what really surprised me was when Arafat died. They interrupted some fictional crime drama with a news report for five minutes to say that the guy had passed away. What shocked me was people calling the news station complaining and getting this journalist fired for doing her job. Then the network re-showing that episode of CSI as if that stupid program is more important than an international head of state dying. Whether you loved the guy or hated him, his death was media worthy and important.
That's huge. Exactly. What constitutes media worth? Who's a worthy or unworthy victim? The whole thing is so skewed. There is so much to hit on there. Half the people don't even understand that and they would just continue watching the program and complain that they didn't get to see the whole episode. I totally agree with you on that. It's huge. I can't even fathom how there is no huge uproar about this and there needs to be.
That just blew me away. I figure people all over the world must think we're totally nuts by now. How did you guys get hooked up with Combat Records?
Combat Records first of all are run by a great group of guys. We were talking to them a while back about possible management. We had a record that was supposed to come out about a year and a half ago on another label. Those guys came along and they're really interested in what we were doing. They were real supportive and real good about us wanting to get our music out and get our message out there. They just basically came along and they told us they were hooking back up Combat Records and they'd like us to be one of the bands on it. At the time we were just floating around and we had this record that was going to come out eventually but it was slow going on the label's part. These guys came and they really do mean business. They're real supportive. They really do believe in us and they believe in pushing us. We're just really happy because Combat 20 years ago was a label that pushed a new style of metal in America and I actually got a call from Cliff Cultreri who was the guy who basically started it all. He signed bands like Anthrax and Megadeth and Venom. Definitely a guy that's pretty high up there in our book and trying to do the same thing now. It's really hard to get a feel for modern metal or where it's going or even modern rock and where it's headed today. The three bands that are on the label right now are all really different and are offering something that's just really against the grain and they feel good about that. They feel good about pushing that and they're really supportive of that. To be part of that I think is just a huge honor and it's something we're really lucky to be a part of. We couldn't ask for a better label. They're awesome and we consider ourselves like I said totally lucky. Our relationship has been really good and being one of the two first releases on the label, we look forward to working with them for a time to come.
It's nice to see some of these old labels rearing their heads back up again. Coming back to life and bringing in some good metal.
Yeah, totally. Even me personally, I support anyone or any band or anything that's something in the way of doing something original and creative or different and against the grain. To be on the label is I would say a very brave thing to do on their part because so many labels right now are putting out records of bands that are carbon copies of other bands and other styles of metal that are just selling right now. Hopefully, these guys along with us and with all the other bands, maybe kids out there are ready for a change or ready for something different. Something they didn't expect. We all feel really good about that.
Time for a breath of fresh air.
Totally, in more ways than one.
No shit, man. What kind of touring are you guys doing?
Right now we're on tour with some really cool bands. Norma Jean and Darkest Hour which are pretty good bands for us to be on tour with. We're opening up the tour. It's been for the most of October and it's been a good time. We have played in front of kids that are pretty accepting and pretty open to our sound and our message so that's been awesome. That was October and November and December we're going to be touring up the Midwest and the West coast doing about a month with a band called Nodes Of Ranvier and they're a metal/hardcore band which they have a pretty nice reputation. They've been around for a while. I think that will be a really good tour for us. A band called The Banner is also on that tour. They're doing things a little bit differently too. They're a hardcore band with a different flavor on it. We're really excited. We're bringing in the New Year the right way. We just realize the only way we're going to get the word out aside from whatever promotion can be done is going to be through touring and we pride our live show on being a live show. When you go see a band you want to rock. We definitely like beating off bad energy and we like bringing that energy. Touring is going to be something we're going to be doing for a while to try and help this record grow and grow up as a band. Regionally we've played around and paid a lot of dues but we realize that we just hit a whole new level and we're new to a lot of people and we have to prove ourselves again. We've got some really good touring lined up to do so and we look forward to it. We're ready for the challenge.
The best way to promote yourselves is to get your asses in front of people's faces.
That's right, exactly. Whatever they think, the live show could really change everything and anything. I think we have our best reactions after the shows and through our shows. That's something we're really fortunate to be doing. We're really glad to be doing it. That's the only way I think this record is really going to get pushed is through touring and through getting in front of the kids. Showing them what we're about so we're pretty excited about that.
KISS had a pretty good philosophy back in their early days. Put out one record, you don't like that one well here's another. Here's another one. Here's another one until it finally clicked. That's the attitude you have to have. You don't like this, okay how about this.
Totally. As far as critical acclaim or critics are concerned or anything like that, the truth of the matter is you really have to go on the support that you have. You can't depend on a critic to make or break a record. Luckily we've had pretty decent reviews but the fact of the matter is, we can't really listen to them. Number one we have to be satisfied with what we're doing and we obviously are. We feel really good about it. As long as we can do that and feel good about the message and the music, we'll go until I guess we figure out it's not working anymore but for the time being it seems to be clicking pretty well. We're really happy with where we're at and what we're saying and doing so we're going to keep it up for a good long while.
Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one. Your best critic is your audience and how many records you sell. Those are the people you need to listen to.
Exactly, and just on a side note I would recommend just based on a lot of the stuff we've been talking about that you check out that video. I think it would be something to watch. For people that are really frustrated with what's going on, I take it like if one of those people had a chance to make a music video in their heads, it's a mockery of a lot of the stuff that's going on and it just feels really good to see on the screen. It feels good to see this is what they should be showing us or yeah, I've felt that way and I think the video is really good to bring out those feelings in those people. We're really excited about that.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Hopefully I have been somewhat informative to a lot of people who don't know about us. There's a message there and we just hope that kids can grasp that. For people who don't, they may be drawn in by the music. If people aren't drawn in by the music maybe by the message. Either way, it's not going to change for us. We're happy to be doing what we're doing.
At All Cost