Saturday, October 28, 2023

Interview with Megiddo by Dave Wolff


Interview with Megiddo by Dave Wolff

Megiddo's bio and self-titled EP on Selfmaderecords LLC’s website illustrate a wide range of influences, similar to many bands featured in this webzine. This includes early thrash, prog metal, stoner rock, death and black metal, as well as drone and industrial music. How has each member incorporated their influences into a unique style?
Joe Chutter
Joe Chutter (rhythm guitar, bass): When I write music, it’s similar to cooking. I know what tastes good. I know what smells good. I know what recipes work and don’t work. The studio is our kitchen. Those musical influences get mixed together with different spices and cooked different ways and that’s Megiddo. We’re led by an energy that only the Spirit could take us. We want our music to make you tremble from the truth of God’s Grace on one side of the coin and His wrath on the other. With that being said I think it puts us in the Christian metalcore genre.
Dustin (vocals): I would say the bands that influence my vocals are bands like Born Of Osiris, Wage War, ERRA, and Make Them Suffer. For me it shows up primarily in lyrical writing and vocal fluctuations. All three of these bands tend to write lyrics which make you start thinking. I try to use some of the more poetic aspects of their writing and incorporate it to convey a thoughtful message for Christ.

What is the significance of the name Megiddo and how does it relate to the concept expressed in the lyrics? How do your lyrics contribute to your musical creation of tapestries?
Joe: Megiddo is an ancient city in Israel that is known for its many battles in the Old Testament of the Bible, and most infamous for the Greek interpretation of Armageddon referenced in Revelation of the New Testament. It pertains to our faith and it pertains to the day and age which we live. It draws curiosity and mystery, which pushes us. We refer to God’s judgment in our song “Mouth of Blood”.
Dustin: I came into the band late so I cannot really speak towards the name. However, as far as painting pictures with lyrics goes, words are one of the most powerful tools mankind has. Wars have been fought and won because of words. The whole of creation began with a sentence, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Therefore, when I write lyrics, I try to bring one’s mind to not only enjoy the music, but to consider the message being presented, even if it's not the popular opinion.

How does “Mouth of Blood” and the other songs on “Mouth of Blood” represent the band's beliefs and the Greek interpretation of Armageddon?
Dustin: We are unapologetically a Christian band. One of the primary missions of any Christian should be to address wickedness, both culturally and within the church. “Mouth of Blood” is addressed to the church, specifically to call out perversions in the church.
Brad (guitar, production): Three of the songs on the EP are instrumentals but still driven by faith. “Megiddo” is our self-titled song. It has a pretty epic sounding chorus, almost having the feel of being lifted up. Psalm 97:10 is a verse about hate and really the only time in life we should hate would be directed towards evil and sin. Psalm 113:3 is a verse that sums up “Spirit of the Sun” and how we should praise him every day. “Mouth of Blood” was originally called “Mouth Full of Blood”. When Dustin came on we let him have full reign of it because we wanted to see his full creative liberty. I mean, we had ideas that we discussed, but he ran with it.

When you stated Megiddo was calling out perversions within the church as well as outside, what were you referring to?
Dustin: In order for me to answer the question about perversions, let me first step back and say that as a Christian metal band we have three missions. Mission one: Glorify God. Mission two: spread God's message of Grace and Judgement. Mission three: disciple believers.
The song “Mouth of Blood” falls into mission three: disciple fellow believers. The lyrics for “Mouth of Blood” are aimed at church pastors and leadership who compromise the word of God for monetary gain, personal fame, or any other ungodly reason and as a result lead those new in faith astray or bring reproach on the name of Christ.

Underground metal subgenres with Christian concepts have existed since the 1980s and ‘90s with bands like Living Sacrifice and Mortification. In what ways is Megiddo familiar with Christian metal as a whole, and what bands do you listen to besides those mentioned earlier?
Dustin: This is my individual take on this. Though Christian metal bands have existed for some time now, many of the older generation Christian bands lyrically came across cringy. Not that they were saying anything wrong. But overall quality and lyrical content tended to be theologically shallow.
Modern Christian metal bands have done a much better job at delivering quality and deeper theology to those who would listen. Bands such as For Today, Memphis May Fire, For All Eternity, Fit For A King, and others have been able to bring relatability and theology to the forefront of Christian metal. I am to do the same.
Brad: Growing up, Christian metal was difficult to find for me. FYE didn’t offer much and the Christian bookstores were too conservative in their business plans. It wasn’t until Zao and As I Lay Dying came out and I read about their influences. Mortification was a blessing for sure. Not just an “alternative” to secular metal but a leading force in metal as a whole. We understand that there are many bands that may not claim to be Christian artists but have religious or positive lyrics. The difference is, is that Megiddo is a ministry, a purpose, a message. We’re not just an Armageddon centered band.

How do the lyrics of For Today, Memphis May Fire, For All Eternity, and Fit For A King relate more personally to listeners? What makes the theology of those bands and Megiddo deeper from that of past Christian metal bands?
Dustin: Let me first say, the early Christian metal bands of that time were in a unique spot. They were essentially fighting on two fronts. They were trying to spread a message that isn't always very well received and fighting the backlash of the church at the same time. So let me give credit where credit is due.
Throughout the years CM developed a stigma of being “preachy” and lacking in quality. Some bands have managed to break that stigma such as Haste The Day (older stuff), Underoath (older stuff), Demon Hunter, For Today, Memphis May Fire, For All Eternity and others.
Several factors have helped them break that stigma. One of which is less push back from the church. The other is that modern CM bands have learned to better present our message by being vulnerable with our audiences and admitting we aren't perfect and have our own struggles with faith.

Was “Mouth of Blood” up to your expectations when you completed the songs and recorded it? Was the recording in a professional studio or independent?
Joe: “Mouth of Blood” was done completely independently. No outside producer or engineers. Each song on the EP is a ladder story of how our writing and production increased in quality. It got real fun when Dustin entered the mix and we started collaborating from different states. We are excited and pleased with this EP, and even that much more excited about what we’re bringing to everyone next.

How did Brad and Joe become aware of Dustin's bands and projects, and why did you decide to work with him long distance?
Joe: I didn't know about Dustin until he commented on a post from Facebook. Once we talked a few times we sent him “Mouth of Blood”. I believe God lead Dustin to Megiddo. He was the first vocalist we tried. Once Brad and I heard him we knew he was a fit sonically. We knew we didn't have a drummer at the time and for now we are a studio band. We do quite a few unconventional things. We're blessed that Selfmaderecords LLC found us on an indie playlist. We didn't look for a singer. We didn't look for a label. But God gave us a voice in Dustin and a platform through our label. He's taking us places for sure.

After discovering Megiddo's material, did Selfmaderecords LLC contact them immediately? Where did they find the playlist on which you were featured? What about the band attracted the label's attention?
Erik Scarlet (Selfmaderecords LLC): When the owner of S.M.R. Katrina Scarlet passed the band’s material over to me she made it clear to me that I had to sign this band. I listened to their music and I instantly knew that this band had something special so I reached out to Joe and everything fell into place.

Have other zines and webzines besides this one been contacted for an interview? How many of those have taken the band up on the offer?
Joe: This is our first. And we appreciate it greatly. It's a pleasure to share ourselves a bit and our purpose.

Can you provide a brief description of the equipment you used to record “Mouth of Blood”? How much creative freedom did the band have recording it independently as opposed to recording with a producer or engineer?
Dustin: My mic at the moment is a simple Blue Yeti that I have had for several years. I've recorded the vocals for Megiddo, my solo project Through This War, and several other things with it. Though it is not a top of the line mic by any means it has been serving me well.
As far as creative freedom goes, I have never worked with a producer or engineer so all I would be able to say is what I have heard from others. Personally, I prefer independent recording simply because it allows me to bring my ideas and visions into place with more or less no compromise.

Since the band members are located in different states, how do they compose songs together before they are recorded?
Dustin: As of right now, the instrumentals are assembled by Joe and Brad, and I take the instrumentals and write to them, occasionally making/suggesting my own changes to the instrumentals. Joe: We each have our own studios, each setup is different in the way of what we produce. Brad and I write most of the content at his studio because we want you to feel the musical connection that we have as well. I write a lot of the riffs and we will pull an idea sometimes and run with it together. It’s different almost every session. We bounce ideas off each other through Dropbox.

What is your experience of doing Through This War, and how does it compare to Megiddo in terms of addressing religion?
Dustin: My experience with my solo project Through This War has been pleasant. I do everything for it. I write the lyrics, the riffs, and the drums. I record, mix, and master everything, and I publish through Distrokid. It is still predominantly Christian metal in nature, however I do explore other metal subgenres as well such as pop punk, trap metal, and some softer and more melodic sequences. It really serves in unison with Megiddo as it keeps my vocals going and helps shape our sound in a unique way.

How much material have you released with Through This War, and how much distribution have you received through Distrokid? Are you able to reach audiences that might not otherwise be attracted to Megiddo by adding more melodic genres?
Dustin: At the moment, I have 23 songs released over two EPs, several singles and instrumentals. The majority of my engagement actually comes from a site/app called BandLab where I have 151 followers. I also have much more published there other than my 23 wide releases. I would say the audiences I reach by exploring different subgenres is relatively the same. Right now “Through This War” is a small thing. I would like it to get bigger eventually. But in the meantime I'm just enjoying making music.

Assuming you have a private recording studio to record Through This War, does the equipment at your disposal allow you to achieve your desired sound? Does Megiddo record in the same environment with the same equipment?
Dustin: I am continuously getting better with my personal quality in my home studio. My latest single “Yahweh // Lord of War” and a cover song (“Faint” by Linkin Park) I am about to release will have the best quality I am capable of achieving at the moment. As you listen through my songs in order, you can audibly hear my progress in mixing and mastering.
Joe: Brad and I live in Asheville, North Carolina while Dustin lives in Texas. And our equipment is different along with the software we use.

Does Through This War primarily distribute its digital releases through BandLab? On what page of that site can they be streamed? Is Dustin looking to stream TTW on other internet outlets?
Dustin: TTW primarily releases through Distrokid. My BandLab page is more of my behind the scenes kind of page where several iterations of my songs are often published leading up to the final versions. For example, I may publish one revision, later change a part of the song, and publish that revision as well. So the audience gets to hear the song coming together before the final version.

How long has Dustin been collecting equipment for his home studio? Can he say how long it took to become proficient with the technology and master the art of mixing and mastering?
Dustin: I've been collecting equipment and VST3 plug-ins for probably the last two years. My current setup is fully digital. I run my guitar and bass into an M-Audio Air 192|4 directly into Cakewalk. I then use a slew of plug-ins from there. As far as mixing and mastering goes, I'm constantly learning new things.

What was the reason did Dustin cover a song by Linkin Park for “Yahweh // Lord of War”? What is its conceptual basis? Does the single intend to be released exclusively in digital format or will physical copies be available?
Dustin: I decided to do a Linkin Park cover because they were one of the bands that got me into heavier music as a child. I'm considering doing an entire album entitled “Inspirations” were I redo a few songs from my childhood in my style. “Yahweh // Lord of War” is a song/prayer to God on behalf of Israel against Hamas and the atrocious acts of violence they have committed as of late. They are to be released digitally.

In what ways has the situation between Israel and Hamas affected each of the band members personally? Have you been following it on the news as closely as you’re able to?
Joe: Both peoples are lost sheep. Neither testify that Christ is their savior. So that is the primary break in my heart. This is a spiritual warfare that started thousands of years ago with Abraham and two of his sons Isaac and Ishmael, that has manifested into physical warfare. Stemmed from bitterness of unforgiving. It's a war that will end in Megiddo. Isaac was the ancestor to the Israelites, which in time gave us Judaism, and this is direct lineage from Jesus Christ. As a Christian I stand with the Jews in this war but pray for the salvation of their souls.

Even though the band hasn’t gone out to perform live, are there any Christian metal festivals in the US you’re aware of, which you might eventually consider after meeting face-to-face?
Dustin: I believe we would all love to play live. I'm not sure of any Christian metal festivals personally. However if they would have us after we have the full band, then I'm sure we would love to play it.

Is there an increase in the number of Christian distribution companies over the past decade or two? What do you think would be most beneficial to the band? Do you know when you’ll be ready to begin seeking broader distribution?
Joe: I’m not sure of the number but the presence seems bigger because of the popularity of Christian metal. Anyone would assume a Christian label might be the best fit but who’s to say. We’ll go where the Spirit leads us. We want to gain some sort of fan base and we have a goal of releasing another EP/album while in our first year with Selfmaderecords. But once again as we focus on our music, we focus on our faith, and a strong faith makes the hard roads easier.

Is the band starting to write and prepare material for a new EP or full-length for Selfmaderecords? Do you have any lyrical ideas at this point that could be set to music?
Joe: We have a good amount of content to work with. I'd like a nine-song album, but a six-song EP may be more realistic. We plan on releasing singles and compiling them back together. We like “Mouth of Blood” a lot and will probably put it on the next compilation. We feel it's a beginning of a new era and should be seen in a different light. The title of our next single is “The One We Forgot”. We are most excited about this one. We come together on concepts and context but Dustin pushes the pen.

How would you want Megiddo to be remembered for their contributions to Christian underground metal?
Joe: Jesus' miracles mostly occurred outside his following. His contribution in this way is a creed in Christian faith. So we want to contribute Jesus to metal. We want everyone to feel the spirit through Megiddo.

-Dave Wolff

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