Friday, March 1, 2024

Interview with Royal Orphan by Dave Wolff

Interview with Brendan Kelly of Royal Orphan

Your collaboration with Joey Mignanelli, the drummer and other founding member of Royal Orphan, dates back to the late 1980s. During that time, you have witnessed many changes in mainstream and underground music. How did Royal Orphan emerge from your collaboration, and how does working together to this day feel to you?
Royal Orphan is a natural culmination of everything Joey and I have done since we first met in high school. We actually both studied music in college with theory and composition so that combined with the influences of everything we grew up listening to results in what we sound like now. The hardest part is keeping it focused and cohesive so the music doesn’t have that “everything plus the kitchen sink” sound. We know musically what we’re capable of but we don’t feel the need to beat people over the head with our ability. Originality and innovation and quality songwriting is where the work comes in. To be truthful, I’m still re-using a lot of riffs and ideas way back from when I was in high school because of how well they held up all this time. A lot of those riffs used to grab people back when we were around, so why not roll them out now to a younger metal crowd? And nowadays I couldn’t be happier; we just can’t rehearse twice a week like we used to, nowadays it’s more like twice a month if we’re lucky. Scheduling around family life, kids, work and all that. So we make the best of the time we have to get things done. We still have the same inside jokes and all that and there’s a lot of history and memories. With Joey and Dan (Kelleher) there’s no one I’d rather work with. Three gears in a machine, that’s us.

What bands were you listening to when you met, and how influential were they in shaping your musical style over time?
The legendary tale is that Joey and I met in music class in Catholic high school. Our teacher was a nun, and Joey brought in King Diamond’s “Them” cassette to play for the class. We immediately became friends! He told me he played drums, and that week I was at his house with my guitar. First song we played was Mercyful Fate’s “Come to the Sabbath” start to finish without a hitch. We just took it from there. So pretty much the same bands we grew up listening to: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Slayer, Megadeth and Testament and later on we discovered bands like Voivod, Annihilator and Forbidden. Those bands really set the bar high in terms of the musical proficiency as well as innovation and originality. They had all the chops and ability but they never forgot about songwriting too, particularly Voivod who are a huge influence on our writing even though we don’t sound much like them at all, I always loved Piggy’s riffs because they were so heavy but he didn’t sound like anyone else. So in that regard it was fortunate there players like him to look up to because his style changed and advanced over time but never lost focus of what he was all about.

What was the inspiration behind the band's name? Does it have a specific meaning?
I wanted to put together two words that described opposites but made sense together. The word “Royal” meaning dignified, distinguished and suggests nobility, the word “Orphan” meaning desolate, alone, vagabond. What I really want to do is create an actual character that I can use in song lyrics like a running conceptual thread.

Where did you see old school thrash and power metal going in the mid 1990s, when grunge was becoming a trend and black and death metal were expanding their boundaries? In the middle of the decade, I remember the old school really making a comeback.
We were called Sanity in Ashes circa 1994-1997 and at that point with thrash/power metal you couldn’t give it away on a street corner. There were a few bands like us out there playing it at niche clubs and shows, bands like Gothic Knights and Zandelle. But everything back then was death metal and hardcore. I liked some of that stuff, I have friends in both scenes but I didn’t wanna go that way musically. I always had that hope of getting to Europe and pushing our stuff over there to a more receptive audience. As for grunge I thought it was just another fad. The first albums by those bands were great, I liked Soundgarden and the early Pearl Jam stuff but it just got ridiculous. Guys who could barely play their instruments singing every song about heroin and all out of tune. Just like any other subgenre the good bands had longevity and the more derivative bands fell by the wayside and were forgotten.
Later in the 90s, on the metal side, there were bands like Hammerfall who I thought were pretty good but I already had all the good Helloween albums worth owning. I thought “yeah they have the right idea and their hearts in the right place, but if they were more original they could smack it out of the park.” The old school made a comeback for a lot of reasons. The Kiss reunion with the makeup set everyone off on a nostalgia trip, so I think that triggered a lot more reunions.

What impact did those bands, with their originality and creativity, have on underground/extreme bands in the 90s and beyond? How would you account for their longevity?
Metal has its own trajectory built into it by its very nature. From the day Black Sabbath released their first album, millions of contenders to the throne were launched. The lyrics became more explicit, tempos got faster, guitars got flashier, vocals got more extreme either in the direction of Halford or Cronos, so the impact of bands like Voivod, Coroner, Mercyful Fate et al I would say had a profound impact on how death metal became more technical and black metal became more artsy/poetic if you will. It’s all a matter of what you want to take from it and which direction you want to pull. It’s funny you’re talking about longevity because Mercyful Fate just pulled off a tour bigger than they ever did in the 80s. I saw Exciter a few months back and they’re packing houses everywhere they go; maybe more than they did in the 80s. The longevity is attributed to JUST HOW FREAKIN AWESOME that material was back then. I think technology helps in a big way too. A younger audience with more disposable income has access to more music and they can check stuff out. I’d wager that because maybe this generation is more educated I guess?? Maybe a 25 year old in 2024 has a degree as opposed to the 25 year old hanging at L’Amour every night in 1986; they travel to festivals and they can spend more money on merch.

Do you remember outlets such as Slipped Disc that were around in the old days? At a time when it was difficult to locate the bands you listened to, how important were stores like it?
I remember Slipped Disc very very well. I grew up in Suffolk County so my place was Looney Tunes where I also worked for a while but Slipped Disc blew my mind the first time I went there. I think it was 1995 and I went there because they carried the Phil Lynott biography “The Rocker” when it first came out. I drove the hour from my house to go there to buy it. When I walked in and looked around I was dumbfounded. I think I dropped over 100 bucks in there. I bought the book, Thin Lizzy’s “Thunder and Lightning”, Saxon’s “Rock the Nations” and Blind Guardian’s “Imaginations from the Other Side” who I had never heard of before but I bought it just for the cover. I found Forbidden Distortion there and I had no idea they released anything after “Twisted into Form”. So I waited until next payday and grabbed that too. Entire discographies of Saxon, Raven, Savatage, Running Wild, Venom, stuff you couldn’t find anywhere.
Those places were a lifeline; but they were kind of like that smoke signal that let you know there was still signs of life out there. Of course you had to pay import prices but who cared. When you see young kids on the internet bitching about shipping costs on vinyls and CDs I feel like saying, “dude you have no idea.”

Has the internet effectively replaced vinyls or will there always be a need for them?
Maybe commercially, but the experience of going to a record store and being in that environment and physically surrounded by music can NOT be replaced. I honestly believe there will always be a need for them because the purchasing of music should be a real, tangible experience. A real music connoisseur shops for music like they shop for produce; you check every apple for blemishes.

The former owner of Slipped Disc continues to sell merch and do record shows in Long Island and elsewhere. Have you had a chance to attend a one of them?
I actually have not but I plan to. Joey goes all the time. He’s a real collector and a vinyl fiend. He gets it from his dad. His father used to take me and him to the record shows all the time at the VFW halls.

In your experience, what was it like to attend a record show at the VFW halls?
The few times I went it was just tables and tables of stuff. There wasn’t really much metal at the time, you really had to dig. I remember holding Venom's “From Hell to the Unknown” on double vinyl in my hands but not buying it, too scared ha ha ha. It was really a lot of older guys going nuts looking for an original Beatles' “Yesterday and Today Butcher Block” cover or another copy of Herb Alpert's “Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream” album. The genuine rarities.

I remember Record World at the Roosevelt Field mall, the first outlet where I discovered import releases. Did you visit there back in the day?
Not in Roosevelt Field but the Record World at TSS in West Babylon OH MAN what a place that was. Just talking about it I can’t believe the stuff they had; in the midst of a department store that also had a barber and a dentist and a food court It’s hard to imagine. They had imports, picture discs, the works.

In my observation many bands do “farewell tours” only to reunite thereafter. Generally, do you think they miss touring and give them the benefit of the doubt, or do you consider their reunion tours to be a series of cash grabs?
It’s hard to say with the farewell tours. A certain “#1 all-time favorite” band of mine who I won’t name has absolutely blown it. I know the original guys can’t stand each other. Maybe they get the itch because they know there’s an audience. They see kids one fourth their age wearing the shirts and singing the songs. I think in that sense they see relevance as a greater currency than cash because there isn’t much to be had out there. Bands are cancelling tours because touring costs so much.

What did you think of the “retro thrash” thing that began in the mid-90s with bands like Gehennah and Inferno? Some found it exciting and some believed those bands were faking it. Do you think it needed to happen in some ways, so the genre could come back?
I got a kick out of Gehennah; I had the “King of the Sidewalk” CD because of their Ill Literature interview I read. In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that four guys from Sweden who drink like that and wear Manowar and Venom shirts in 1995 have NO reason to fake anything. The thing is they were like another Hammerfall to me. They took the style of one or two influences and tried to make a whole other genre out of it, and maybe it somehow worked for them. Hammerfall is still in business but I just don’t see a band creating a body of work from it. At that particular point in time I ate it all up because I loved that stuff and in the States the alternative thing became so preposterous; songs about peaches and “mmmmm mmmm mmmmm mmmm mmmmmm” for a chorus. Ridiculous. But yes I do credit those bands, although derivative; they did what they had to do in order to start kicking doors down.

What explains your continued working relationship with Joey Mignanelli, and how did you first hook up with Dan Kelleher?
As for working with Joey and Dan, they’re my “ride or die” as the kids say these days. Joey and I just click, we have that chemistry and we lock in, that whole premonition thing about what the other is going to do next. He’s not just a great drummer, he’s a very advanced musical mind. Dan too. I’ve known Dan literally since we were four years old each, we grew up in the same town and got into music at the same time. We all hold each other to a very high standard because we all know what the other is capable of.

What is the frequency of your opportunities to write and practice during the Covid pandemic? When you're able to work in person, how do you go about creating songs? Do you have a practice space where you regularly meet?
We did not practice at all during the initial pandemic, March through July of 2020. Not just because of the lockdown but because I work as an RN in an ICU of a hospital in Queens NY and we got absolutely pounded. I was working four to five days a week, twelve hour shifts. Not only that but I have three children and my wife and I were working with them on their virtual schoolwork, and my son has autism so he needed a lot of attention. But I have my studio in my basement so I was able to work on tons of material which we are now refining and preparing to record. I practiced my individual guitar chops a lot so I definitely used that time to my advantage.
I usually write my version of what I have in mind for any given song with a pretty solid framework of where I’d like the song to go. I send a sound file to Joey and Dan and they give input. 90% of the time I show up with the “ingredients” if you will; riffs, chord sequences, lyrics, melodies; Joey and Dan come in and add arrangements. Sometimes they’ll rework an idea so it makes more sense, adds more suspense/intrigue or they’ll suggest changing the sequence of parts in a song so the song flows better.

How much of a task is it to balance family life with playing in a band? Is your wife supportive of what you’re doing working with other musicians? The 2021 documentary “I’m Too Old For This Shit” featuring the band Siren touches on these ideas.
Yeah it’s very difficult but it’s all in how you manage your time. It helps that I can send audio files of my ideas so everyone has an idea of the material walking in. Parenting in the modern age is a hundred times more involved than it’s ever been. I have two daughters in dance lessons and like I mentioned my son has autism so he requires a lot of attention. But you adapt, and the way I see it, I don’t have darts night or poker night with the guys; once or twice a month we get together in person and work on music for a solid four hours at a clip. And my wife is great; she’s very busy herself. Family is number one over everything.

Is it better for a band to have similar tastes in music and share that chemistry, or to have divergent tastes and work to make them fit together? Would it depend on how willing the band members are to work on a give-and-take basis?
We all grew up with the same core bands; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Megadeth, etc. As time went on, I buried myself deeper into metal and 70s hard rock like UFO, Thin Lizzy and Blue Oyster Cult. Joe got into some death metal along the way and he’s a huge Misfits/Danzig fan. Dan is the prog rock aficionado; Rush, ELP, King Crimson. So in our case it works quite well; in our case it does work because we’re old enough that we’ve lived through and seen so many different phases of music, we pick and choose what we like from everything. I think there of course needs to be a common vision between the members for what direction they agree to go in. The last thing the local scene needs is another of what I call a “T-shirt band’, which is four or five dudes in their mid-twenties all wearing Slipknot shirts and guess who they wind up sounding like? It’s like “hey, congratulations guys, you sound exactly like a ripoff of your favorite band.”

When surfing Youtube or other streaming sites, how many ripoff bands or t-shirt bands do you usually see?
Oh they’re out there. I really quantify them but let’s just say there’s always been bands who “play by the rules” and these days it seems like an infestation of them.

Many bands are known to incorporate classical, opera, folk music and tribal percussion into their material. Documentaries like Sam Dunn’s “Global Metal” introduce music fans to creative and inventive musicians. Is this something you would consider doing?
If a song called for it in terms of getting across the lyrics or the atmosphere then absolutely. Joey and I actually performed Bollywood songs on stage with Indian musicians; it was a short lived project where they fused an Americanized guitar and drums format with traditional Indian music and songs from Bollywood movies so that was interesting. If you really pick apart Royal Orphan’s music there’s a lot of different flavors in there, it’s just a matter of making it fit. I always loved bands like Orphaned Land from Israel, Amorphis and Waylander from Ireland who added their own traditional ethnic influences into their music.

Sepultura was one of the first bands to incorporate tribal music before it became popular. When they started doing it, did you have a feeling it would eventually catch on?
I didn’t really follow Sepultura after “Chaos AD”. But at that time a lot of thrash bands were trying different things, trying to stay fresh and new without going the Metallica “Black Album” route. For them it worked, it was part of their national identity and it fit their music. I remember they had actual tribe members playing those parts. A new idea always has the potential to catch on depending on how well the originator pulls it off. Or if not, someone else tries to do it better I suppose.

What's your view about whether the “Black Album” by Metallica was good or bad for metal? What are the pros and cons?
I was in senior year of high school when that album came out. We used to get asked to play for all the pep rallies and football games so we’d play “Enter Sandman” because everyone knew it. But as an album it really didn’t stick to me, and to be honest I’d say that around when “…And Justice for All” came out we all knew something wasn’t right. The production was very thin, lack of bass, and it sounded like only one guitar. The “Black Album” definitely had better production but the riffs were gone and the speed and power were gone. I guess the focus was on more radio friendly songs. My whole thing with Metallica is that whatever they do now, good for them. They’re the most successful of the genre I won’t smack talk them. I love the first three albums; they’re burned into my DNA and they were a key element in my development as a guitarist and musician. I’m just not into what they do anymore.

I myself have seen some Bollywood movies, which of them did the band borrow songs from?
I don’t know the actual movies, but there was a composer by the name of RD Burman who also went by the name Puncham. I remember there was one song called “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” and a few others. This project was long before we started the Royal Orphan project, but in the future we may incorporate these elements. The rhythm and modal flavors I found intriguing.

Does Royal Orphan also look for new folk/traditional metal bands to listen to for inspiration, such as from Asia or New Zealand?
I’ve recently gotten into a band called Wytch Hazel, they’re getting really popular. They have English folk interludes and themes but overall it’s a heavy 70s influence like Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash with Christian lyrics.

Regarding that running conceptual theme you mentioned, do you have any ideas for the character you’ve been considering creating? What sources of inspiration have you been seeking?
So at the moment we’re working on our first full length to follow up the EP from 2018. The opening track is tentatively titled “Nightrunner”. There’s a passage in the lyrics that says “once you were royally now just an orphan running wild” so it references the character and describes the situation the songs subject is in. On one hand you can say the song is about the collapse of civilization but it’s also how the modern person would react if they were subject to a real “Lord of the Flies” scenario. You suddenly wake up one day and all the constructs and systems you relied upon were gone. I mean let’s face it; the average grown adult today melts down when they lose their Wi-Fi signal. If per chance one day a disaster struck so profoundly that we lost electricity, clean running water and food we’d have a ‘kill or be killed’ situation. And for the record I’m not a doomsday prepper but in today’s world we’re highly dependent on very intricate systems that guide us in our lives. One day we may have to rely on basic survival if it fails.

Is “Nightrunner” sort of a commentary on how people are over dependent on technology? Or is it related to laziness and complacency on the part of many people? How does this character you’re thinking of relate to it?
It is to a degree. This character once lived in the modern high tech world and is now thrust into an environment where they are expected to survive and hopefully thrive by a completely different set of rules. The idea of Royal Orphan as a character can be described as a rags to riches or someone transplanted across social classes. It can go both ways. I mean look at me as a person in real life and my own situation. I was living in a one room apartment and pretty much a non-entity until I kicked my own ass into gear and made something out of myself. I kicked alcohol and partying and got focused. But still, I displaced myself out of where I belong. An 80s head banger kid working as an ICU nurse or anywhere in healthcare? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s America.

What were the ideas you lyricized for your 2018 EP? Were the lyrics inspired by any specific occurrences or were they about certain issues in general?
They were indeed about individual topics and I can break them down song by song.
“In Requiem” is a metaphor for the death of the music industry as we know it. The second verse “she was our queen the muse” is the personification of music as we all loved it, and how it’s been turned into something faceless and weak.
“Lost in Time” is about what I mentioned before, and it could be considered part of the character’s story. I went through a point in my life where I was complacent and maybe not doing the right thing and had a feeling of regret.
“Citizens of Nowhereville” pretty much describes the town I grew up in.
“Lights Camera Nothing” was inspired by one time I was flicking through channels. I came across Dane Cook on HBO and I was dumbfounded by his audience. A huge basketball arena and he’s on a huge stage and he has no material. Just blabbering nonsense and the audience was eating it up. Hey good for him that he can capitalize on the severe lack of intelligence of a whole generation, but it’s just sad that this is what passes for entertainment. And it’s like that across music and everything as we all know. The last verse incorporates like a Britney Spears type of scenario placed in a sort of human sacrifice setting. Old Roman amphitheater style. Again, nothing against her, it’s just sad what happened to her and all the other ones to follow. It’s a business that makes a commodity out of people. The big makers and movers and shakers and check writers just have no fucking souls.

Could you describe the growth process your lyrics have undergone since you released your EP?
It’s really more of the same; my lyrics are all about the human experience, my own perspective of the world and the older you get you realize that we’re always going to live in a world where things happen and change. So as long as the world keeps changing I’ll have no shortage of things to write about. That’s all I know how to do. The satanic bands, the bands who sing about witches and warriors and dungeons and dragons and fantasy themes, they do what they do and let em enjoy it but it’s not for me. I can’t sing that stuff with any conviction and make people believe it. So the themes I’m dealing with now are all just about real stuff that people can relate to. Even if the verbiage I use makes it work in a metal song.

It is more common nowadays to find bands pushing the boundaries of underground music?
Depends what you mean by underground; I think there are a handful of people out there who have the right idea. A long time ago music just hit an apex where there is literally no more innovation to be had. You can only reinvent the wheel to a point where you don’t have anything that functions like a wheel anymore. And particularly with heavy metal the fans can be finicky cats like Morris and his 9 Lives from the commercial. A lot of them have expectations to be met when they tune into a band or an album. You’re dealing with genre loyalists who expect a band to adhere to the bylaws of that genre so it’s a fine line to walk. I’m guilty of that myself. As a listener and a fan I know when a band gets too kooky or freaky with their sound I get turned off so as a writer and a musician I try to find the doors and windows where I can tweak things and be more expressive. But to answer your question I think if you look hard enough you can find some very interesting things. Unleash The Archers is a band doing insanely technical power metal like a completely over the top Symphony X but their songs are infectiously catchy; you could sing along in the car like any 80s pop song on the radio. Like I said if you’re inventive enough and you’re well versed in song composition like they are you can pull it off.

Can entertainment retain a part of its soul with underground music still growing and evolving, and the industry growing on its own merits? How will Royal Orphan continue to grow?
I think there are a few labels out there that have the right idea and they support their artists very well. But we all know, and we’ve seen it, that some of our metal heroes are phoning it in. Bands who were once considered underground are now half assing it, using backing tracks etc. But enough has been said about that. I think “soul” happens when someone puts something out there and the audience is receptive to it. When you hit those drums so hard they shake, when you belt that vocal note directly at the person in the back of the room, when you lay down that guitar solo like you’re at the gates of Heaven and Jimi and Eddie and Randy are watching you. As for how we’re going to grow in the future, I’m not sure how we’re going to practically last as an entity. But if I had control of the situation I’d like us to take a direction that resonates the old school spirit but not sounding like anyone else. Always pushing the envelope and trying to create something that no one else has done before.

With social media giving bands more creative control, how do you expect Royal Orphan to make an impact aboveground?
I don’t ever consider us breaking “aboveground.” That horse left the barn a long time ago. All three of us are married men pushing 50, there is no reason our personal demographic would ever be of any interest to the big tastemakers of the population of the American consumer. Right now all the power of the entertainment industry is in the hands of Taylor Swift and her legions of teenage girls with all of that disposable income. It’s pure economics; to quote Bill Hicks that is a lot of babysitting money to be shared around. She is literally the only thing happening “aboveground” right now. Any self contained rock band who plays their own instruments and writes their own songs whether you’re Green Day or Metallica or you’re a smaller band on our level serves only one purpose; we’re just there to piss everyone off. We just keep on showing up.

Regardless of how long Royal Orphan remains active, what would you like people to remember about your career when looking back?
I don’t consider what we do to be a “career” as much as it is an “endeavor.” I haven’t broke even from any of this and I don’t expect to. My main motivation for this is just to leave something behind one day; I think that’s what most musicians aspire to whether they admit to it or not. Your recorded legacy is forever; you, the musician are not. So if anyone looks back on what we did, I would really like people to think we did it our way, the best we could with 100% integrity. None of what we do is crowd funded, none of this is AI. Just pure grit, sweat, work ethic and a love for what we do. All our songs are painstakingly written, all our lyrics are about something, not just strung together generic “blood and guts and Satan.” We don’t have time for that; we focus on the composition of the songs and we take it seriously and we won’t waste a well written song on lyrics that we could have scratched out in junior high in five minutes. Every song is important to us and gets something across. But most of all we want people to enjoy it because otherwise what’s the point?

-Dave Wolff

Monday, February 26, 2024

Interview with The D.O.O.D. by Dave Wolff

Interview with Brian (Monkeyboy) of The Distinguished Order of Disobedience (The D.O.O.D.) by Dave Wolff

Recently you began streaming a new single and another single. Can you tell the readers how you expect the singles to live up to the reputation the band built since they formed in 2004?
“Chaos for the Fly” is much longer than our usual material but it is also a bit heavier and there isn’t a moment in the song where it feels like a long song. “Subterfuge” which came out on Feb 14th is also a bit heavier than our last album but it just hits hard and fast. We tend to blend sub-genres in the heavy metal genre- and to be honest none of us keep up on the sub-genre thing- our fans are used to our albums having different feels to them. In the end they all sound like The D.O.O.D., but we have little desire to do the same thing twice. I think both of these songs will hold up strong against our previous material and we all feel very confident that we will make our fans happy and gain some new fans.

How does the band's name make you stand out, and what was the inspiration?
The name stands for The Distinguished Order Of Disobedience. It became The D.O.O.D. because that’s hard to spell that whole thing out when people are looking for us. The D.O.O.D. started to stick with people and many think it has something to do with “The Big Lebowski”, which it doesn’t. The Distinguished Order of Disobedience is a medal that was given in Belgium for winning a battle by disobeying a direct order- and also for refusing to help with the German war efforts.

How does the band differentiate from other bands? Did you intend to develop an exclusive and diversified sound from the outset?
We have always had a unique sound that is ours- it really is a blend of influences from the band members who all love metal- punk and rock and other genres, but all of us have different tastes and feels we like. So in the end when a song gets written, whether we all write it together or one person comes up with the original idea, everyone will add their take on it- and in the end it sounds just like us- a combination that wouldn’t happen with any other circumstances. We concentrate on writing songs the fans want to hear, but again they have to get through us as a band first and the writing isn’t over until it’s a song we would like to listen to. All of this is to say on an album there may be the feel of many different genres all blended together unlike a band who goes in trying to achieve a certain sound we achieve a certain sound just by not limiting ourselves to any one certain sound. I think from the beginning of the band the collaboration in the writing process has always been there so it lends itself to the end result which always sounds like us, and live we try and make our shows a little more animated and theatrical, because in the end we want our fans to have a great time at a show- they pay their hard earned money and we don’t ever want to disappoint.

Indicate the genres that the members of the band listen to most often, and explain how you usually combine them.
I am not limited by genre- I listen to multiple genres from death metal to pop music- but I am a metal head at heart, and I love Industrial metal as well. Ray likes some of the more traditional metal to listen to on a regular basis, but he likes nu metal, progressive metal, and death metal as well. Rudy I believe, is a punk rocker at heart but he loves thrash and all kinds of metal as well as old school classic rock stuff- he’s a bit of an encyclopedia of music. Jonzey, I think is another one of us who will listen to just about anything that sounds good and is written well regardless of genre, I would say she leans a little more towards Nu Metal but she keeps an open mind and listens to a variety of different genres. Indy seems to really love anything progressive, death metal, Viking metal, neoclassical metal etc. In the end we combine these genres by writing together, Ray has a great sensibility as to classic and heavy riffage, Jonzey can spot a musical hook a mile away, Indy comes up with these complicated riffs that when combined with what ray does really goes a long way to forming our sound. I a lot of times use little tricks I’ve heard in say a blues or a pop song or some 1960’s groove rock when coming up with lyrics, hooks and melodies to guide as an aid, plus the industrial feel also show up in the music quite often on an album, anything to make it interesting and at least have parts of the song go maybe where you didn’t expect, all without alienating our fans or audience by being over the heads of the average listener.

To date, how much material has been released by the band? How did you develop the sound you were looking for by experimenting with different feels on each release?
Including the album that first came out with a bit of a different lineup- we have put out five albums- “When Push Comes To Fight”, “Playtime In the Apocalypse”, “Beautiful Ride”, “Buttercup”, “Firefly”. Plus a reissue single of “Infected by Faith”, and a Cover of King Diamond’s “No Presents for Christmas”. That is excluding the new stuff “Chaos for the Fly” and “Subterfuge” which will be included on our sixth full length album that should be out in June which doesn’t have a name as of now. Each album usually starts with ideas for one or two songs and they always lead down a similar path for the album naturally- with “Firefly” we had a slightly more industrial feel to the songs and we had some help from producer Matt Laplant to really put out our most polished sounding effort. On that one we actually tried several different ideas for most of the songs- trying them played in different ways, and in the end it just turned out perfect. This new album is a call back to just heavy metal we grew up with mixed in with a modern sound, we are very excited to show it to the world.

Does your objective of creating the sound you desire extend to independent mixing, mastering, and production of your material? Would you prefer to produce your own music or work with professionals and explain where your music is headed?
We usually will record all of the songs that will (potentially) be on the album. Then we will go through and see if there is any other instrumentation or production work that needs to be there. At that point we will go into a larger studio knowing what we want and how to get the desired results. This current album we have had the pleasure of having the legendary Jim Morris from Morrisound Studios behind the recording desk. The advantage of that is we get to pick his brain as far as anything else we may have missed that might help bring the music to life a bit more. We have worked with producers in the past, we worked with Matt Laplant (Sevendust, Nonpoint etc) on the “Firefly” album and he had a very different approach to the way the music was created and recorded. It was a wonderful experience and all of us love the way the album came out. I prefer to self-produce wherever possible, but even then we always appreciate some outside input, because when you become close to a project it becomes your baby, and your baby can do no wrong, but a good friend will tell you that it’s not cool that your baby is screaming in the grocery store unchecked if you get my meaning. I really do prefer having at the very least someone else doing the recording that doesn’t have the same biases as we do when it comes to our own music.

How much did your experiences working with Jim Morris and Matt Laplant help the band with writing and composing from those times onward?
Working with Matt Laplant on our last album “Firefly” was a great experience for all of us, (hopefully for him as well) but I think it really taught us during the writing process to take a look at what was written and try to see alternatives that may work better or be a more impactful piece of the songs. He’s a meticulous guy, and it was really good to kind of pick things apart and put them back together again, it made the songs shine a bit more. We currently have done only two songs with Jim Morris at the board. We are not working with Matt this time around, and we have taken that focus from “Firefly” and really are scrutinizing the songs for this album. Jim is a guy who is amazing and seasoned and knows what he is doing, and while he may make a suggestion or two what we have really learned from working with him is to trust in our instincts and also what makes it easier for him to do his job to the best of his abilities. Jim is not producing this project, we are, but his years of working with others and experimenting and finding out what works or what has worked in past experiences, makes the task of coming up with the end result on our end a lot more comfortable and natural feeling.

Did you intend your latest singles to differ from past material or did it happen naturally?
I think there is always a natural progression towards having things change from what has already been done. I believe we all have the intention to just write a good song, no matter what but the inner feeling of not just following the formulaic writing styles we become comfortable with is always there. And hey if one song sounds like it belonged on say our “Buttercup” album that’s fine, but there is an unspoken natural progression to avoid becoming redundant.

In general, do you see bands taking underground metal in new directions, or are most of the bands you have heard doing the same thing?
The bands that I encounter seem to usually try to go in a different direction or find some sort of new take on an old favorite style which is always good. There are always a handful of acts I run across that are incredibly talented and write great songs but they are not taking any risks or trying anything that sounds different from what is mainstream norm- if you can call any of it mainstream really. I usually chalk that up to two things, the first is they think if it works for (insert popular metal band) then we have a better chance of being heard, and the second is very simple- it’s what they like. Both are legitimate reasons although I personally believe if you are playing music you have to love what you do if you want to have a chance at getting anyone else to like it. I think the world works very differently these days and the way people find music isn’t as organic- there are algorithms that are telling you as a listener what you might like if you like this band or that- and a lot of time the new directions aren’t as easily found but rest assured, they will be. Personally just love to see people doing what they feel is creative.

Do you think it would be better to view those algorithms you described as suggestions and still rely on whether a band speaks to you personally?
I absolutely think so. I am sure that is what they were made for initially. But there is nothing like the excitement for a music lover to “find” a new band and really fall in love with the music- or what the lyrics have to say to you, or just the overall feel. There is certain magic to it, people used to go to record stores and look at album covers and see if they spoke to them, and sometimes they would buy things unheard based on that, or based on the one song. Sometimes that would go horribly awry but when it didn’t, it was this feeling that was beyond just finding a new piece of music, and it was like meeting a new friend… I will stop waxing nostalgic. Algorithms are cool and they certainly may turn people on to similar music and that is great. I just encourage people to step outside that box sometimes and go on treasure hunts. Talk to friends and see what they are into. Or even better go out to your local venue and see a show, whether it’s a big show or a little one, you can really find some awesome things being done that suit you.

Describe the lyrics and subject matter of your singles, and how personal their meaning is.
I’d like to think we try to approach some topics in a way that will help people to rethink a narrow-minded way of thinking. In “Chaos For the Fly”, the whole idea what’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly plays a bit with a power shift, what happens when the fly becomes the spider and the spider becomes the fly. To me it’s a fun thought that kind of reminds me of when the hero wins the day, or when the person who has been terrorized in a horror movie turns the tables and almost becomes more horrible than the villain. Lyrically if we speak of government or organized religion or current topics, it is never from the standpoint of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. When we were young, the best music always encouraged us to question authority and not take anything simply on face value. It’s more the thought that whatever you believe, make sure, if it’s important to you, to question it. If the questions you ask cause problems, then something may just be wrong. With “Subterfuge”, to me it was obvious that we have all sorts of problems between the governments and the media and the things that go on beyond the public eye. It’s an encouragement to remind these very powerful and important outlets that without the people, they would have no purpose. The idea of true justice is something that comes up often in lyrics I write. Not being a political creature in the usual sense, I will never endorse any political party for any reason. The thought of people taking back power is very big for me.
Other times we like to use lyrics to tell stories, some are personal narratives, and some are based on things that were seen or heard that spark a narrative for the songs. I am also personally a huge horror movie fan and more often than not there will be an element of horror, or some sort of dark twist that shows up on the albums. All of our songs are personal to each one of us in different ways, but they all have the care and time put into them that we all feel.

What is the source of your incentive to question authority? In what ways have you developed your ideas through lyrics since the beginning?
My source for questioning authority definitely started from when I was a kid first learning about music. My mother taught me about Elvis Presley and I started looking at what he did. As of now you could definitely say it’s tame but at the time he was almost an outlaw. He heard stuff he liked and he did it, not really even knowing it was against the societal norms and bucked the systems of prejudice at the time. He was the most popular thing out there and people would put him down for his performance and he was just living his best life musically most of the time doing exactly what he felt. To me that was true freedom.
Then I heard The Doors on the radio and fell in love with the idea of poetry and fire in the lyrical performance. Jim Morrison didn’t think he had any kind of voice so he just tried to express himself. All of this lead to punk rock where the whole idea was to question authority and societal norms. That to me was rock and roll, to look at the hypocrisy of the world around you and ask why. How is this helping anyone but yourselves? As I got older I understood more about how things work but I saw more and more people just going along with the program and not even wondering at all why. In my opinion, if you take everything at face value, especially those driven by people who stand to gain financially and with the promise of more power to them, you’ve given up. I hope I still have that need to question things when I’m 90.

Is it possible for music, particularly underground music, to change the world for the better?
I think underground music and all music really has the power to get into people’s heads and that’s all it takes to spark a change in thinking. In the end it can change the world for the better, although it may be only planting seeds. Sometimes they grow into something beautiful that will add to the world for years to come, sometimes it just becomes a small flower that has a moment of beauty and gets run over with a lawn mower in spite of it. I think if underground music can do anything to change the world for the better it is inspiring. It doesn’t have to be through dissent or violence, it could be with dragons and love songs or songs about heartbreak. If someone out there loves it, it raises their spirits and allows them to feel more confident in what they do and how they do it. And to gather some other perspective on things is a bonus.

Is it generally the case that more people are beginning to listen to the lyrics written by bands, getting past the stereotypes associated with underground music? Or are stereotypes still a hindrance?
I think that people have always listened to lyrics, the problem is the interpretation, for me it’s half the fun to find out the interpretation of others of something that we wrote, but the way underground and metal music has been stereotyped in the past has solely been based on the way they are interpreted. I really believe that the world is in a much different place now for the stereotypes that used to be held, nowadays, the people with the weird closed-minded interpretations are working their way into the minority as mainstream America is well on its way to accepting a lot more in their entertainment. It’s no longer people in the government or the religious aspects of the world that are scaring people with the “scary hateful lyrics” that they never read into in the first place. I think most people hear something and like it enough to really listen to the music, they make the decision to support it and listen or just move on to something else that they do like or agree with. In a way the stereotypes were almost better because they drew more attention to the underground scene. Even negative press is still press.

Do podcasts and other videos on social media help spread information that is not found on the news as much as they help unsigned bands gain exposure?
Honestly, we discuss videos of ideas floating around about the world around us these days a lot more than we discuss the news. I think a lot of thinking people don’t trust a lot of what the news is reporting to be true fair, non-biased and honest, which was the basis of journalism to begin with, but the landscape is cluttered when it comes to getting information on news or the state of the world today. Some of it is very helpful and some of it is even worse information than you would get with the news outlets or from your politicians. The trick is, and I think our younger generations are becoming more adept at, and if they aren’t, they need to, discerning between what’s real and what propaganda is written for an agenda. As far as helping entertainers (musicians, artists, what have you) it is invaluable for spreading the word. And for music listeners and appreciators, it is a great time, because they get to know the artists in a more personal way than ever, and it gets them closer to the experience.

Is what’s happening in the news industry also happening in the entertainment industry as more people start their own channels where they review movies or make their own?
Sure, when it comes down to brass tacks though it’s better in the entertainment industry than the news to have opinions floating around untethered. Entertainment is subjective and so to be able to put out what ever art or opinions of art and potentially have an audience is great and helps move the attention of others towards something new or different, as well as giving an outlet to creators who may not have had an outlet previously. With news it would be best to get facts and not opinions but that ship has sailed, now it’s a situation where we have to choose which opinions may be facts a lot of the time and it is not advantageous in my opinion to the community at large. The upside: we may get more information about things the powers that be may not want us to have. With entertainment there aren’t as many gatekeepers telling us what to put out content wise, although it takes the individual artist(s) learning more about marketing themselves and promotions to get your product seen or heard. At least people have a chance they would not have had prior to the internet uprising.

Regarding the two above questions, what is the extent of creative control independent labels and unsigned bands will have over their distribution and songwriting in the future, respectively?
In the future technically they should have total control, realistically, they still have to follow the money at the end of the day unless we can come up with a better system of distribution than exists now. The problem here is that artists and creators and independent labels aren’t seeing the fruits of their labor. Everyone works hard at what they do and still it is only a small percentage of people who get paid and right now who that is depends on the people running the streaming services. There needs to be a better solution so that wat the people with talent can distribute their art and possibly get paid enough to keep creating, and as it stands now the circle of people seeing the end result of a paycheck is getting smaller. I have no solution for that, we make music and hopefully it gets to people and they like it as much as we do. The future can certainly be bright. And songwriting has way less gatekeepers stopping creative control, but distribution, although many kudos for the fact that you can widely distribute these days, is nothing when there is no longer product to buy. Most musicians don’t do this for the money, but all musicians run into the situation where we have to eat and support our families somehow, so the fact that services distributing music are getting paid and artists making music are not should change in the future. I hope that doesn’t come across as complaining. If I never make another dollar playing music I will still make and play music, but there are some issues there.

What is The D.O.O.D.'s plan for promoting constructive change on future releases?
First and foremost, we plan on making people feel some type of way. Love it or hate it you’re gonna remember it. If you don’t then we haven’t done our job. We really just want people to have a great time and live the best lives they can. Everybody deserves that. So, we want to entertain, and make people feel something, whether it has a deeper meaning or it’s a story written in song form. If there are any seeds to be planted, our plan will always continue to encourage people to think for themselves, don’t take what others say at face value, and also don’t automatically assume that they are lying either. Do research if something moves you or concerns you. Find out everything you can and formulate your own opinion. Most of all we like to spread the feeling of family, nobody makes it through life easily alone but together, no matter the problem or the odds, we stand a chance to live happy, and live with the strength that every one of us have.

Is the message you mentioned what you most want the band to be remembered for? What impact do you most want the band to have? Is this in line with the level of musical originality you wish to achieve?
If we could be remembered for that it would be wonderful. The only impact I want is for people to enjoy themselves when they listen to our music. If they can relate to a concept, a lyric an idea, that’s wonderful. If they just like the way the drums go boom boom that’s enough of an impact, but as long as we are around we will give them something to listen to and make it as well as we can. As far as originality- we will continue to push in whatever direction that we feel, and hopefully our fans will continue to feel as pleased by it as we are.

-Dave Wolff

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Flash Fiction: "Don’t Look!" by Devin J. Meaney

Don’t Look!
Flash fiction by Devin J. Meaney
(Based on sleep paralysis)

I was laying in bed and my limbs and neck were as frozen as the icicles hanging from the gutter by my front porch. I wanted to close my eyes, but they too were entirely stuck; fixed upon the shadows, so distant, yet so close.
I was surrounded by darkness and blackened smoke, Cheshire cat grins Lurking; dancing across my walls. Their glinting eyes like hellfire gems—pure chaos. At one point I did manage to close my eyes, but that only brought the evil grins closer still. Then came the crying from under my bed, like wailing pushing forth a dance of the damned. My eyes were open yet again. I sighed to myself amidst the blackness.
“Don’t look!”
The crying continued, like a baby in pain. I knew it was not a baby though—it just wanted me to look. I sighed to myself amidst the blackness yet again.
“Don’t look!”
Then, in a rush, I was dragged from my bed by mighty invisible hands. I may as well have been a corpse, and as I was dragged to my floor I murmured and stuttered in agony. The sorrow filled cries did not cease, but I could not bring myself to look beneath the bed.
As I thought my end was near I burst forward to alertness. I was awake now—and I made haste to turn on my reading lamp. The crying had stopped, but the message in my mind was all the same.
“Don’t look!”

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Full Length Review: Sundrifter "An Earlier Time" (Small Stone Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sundrifter
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Country: USA
Genre: Desert rock
Full length: An Earlier Time
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Label: Small Stone Records
Release date: February 16, 2024
With the release of their third album "An Earlier Time", Sundrifter captures the feeling of reviving an ancient civilization that had some metaphysical connection to the stars that modern civilizations cannot comprehend.
The civilization that existed in the distant past was reduced to ashes by some unspoken apocalyptic event, but its essence remained, not quite forgotten by the descendants of the people who had lived there and preserved all it was over many centuries.
Featuring psychedelic post rock, early grunge and doom metal, this coalescence of sounds unifies the tribal and spiritual attributes of the civilization, venerating its gods in a similar manner as tribal cultures on this world that preserve their history through chronicled accounts and spoken tales.
With each chord progression, bass note, drum hit, and incorporeal vocalz, the band seems to celebrate this not-quite-forgotten culture whose knowledge was passed on to our tribal societies. In the manner of many thrash, death, and black metal bands, Sundrifter extend their musicianship far beyond their influences and previous recordings, conjuring prodigious songwriting and expansive soundscapes.
People whose tastes are variegated between Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Hum, Soundgarden, Radiohead and Alice In Chains should find a great deal to immerse themselves in from "An Earlier Time" as each song is like its own contained universe with such massive feelings it’s hard to believe they’re created by three musicians. In this sense they're comparable to Jimi Hendrix Experience and Rush.
"Begin Again" is one of the tracks that most potently reflects a reawakening of something old and sacred as well as their galactic connection. It was released as an advance single, and vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura describes it as a representation of confronting one's failures and overcoming them. Bassist Paul Gaughran describes it as incorporating all the musical and non-musical influences that have contributed to "An Earlier Time" becoming a monumental representation of the direction on which Sundrifter intends to travel.
With this album, Sundrifter reaches farther reaches in the cosmos than you’d expect, and you’re given a high so natural and genuine that it is not even necessary to ingest any psychoactive substances to alter your state of mind. –Dave Wolff

Craig Peura: Vocals, guitar
Paul Gaughran: Bass
Patrick Queenan: Drums

Track list:
1. Limitless
2. Space Exploration
3. Nuclear Sacrifice
4. Prehistoric Liftoff
5. Begin Again
6. Want You Home
7. Final Chance
8. Last Transmission

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Interview with Dr. Luna of Antania by Dave Wolff

Interview with Dr. Luna of Antania by Dave Wolff

When Antania formed from the remnants of Luna 13, how did you come to name yourselves after the goddess Hecate and devise the Slayer comparison?
I (Dr Luna) have been an avid devotee of the Dark Goddess since my late teens. I started invoking her while living in India. So the name Antania, a title of hers, seemed fitting. Our first publicist, Selena Fragassi titled my work in bass music as “the bass music scene’s Slayer”.

How did you become interested in invoking Hecate while you were in India, and what were the circumstances that led you to journey there in the first place?
I went to India directly after high school after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart. I heard about ayurveda and I believed it could help my health. I got invoked with Aghora's Kali worship and I felt so connected to it. I started going to India all the time and spent most of my time there practicing Ayurveda and worshiping Kali. Before my guru died, he asked me to westernize my Aghoric path so I shifted from Kali to Hecate.

Tell a little about New York's Temple of Hecate and how you got involved with them? What is the nature of your involvement with this group?
My day job is, I write books about the occult and have books out about Hecate. I have been working with dark paganism for years. I was initiated into the Temple of Hecate as a third degree high priest in 2022.

How long did you study the occult before you were initiated as a third degree high priest?
I have been heavily into the occult since high school. Music and the dark side of occult are my passion.

How many books have you published about Hecate to date, and how much research did you undertake while writing them? In addition to Hecate, what other subjects have you published your books on? Is there a website where people can learn a little about them?
Two books on Hecate. “Hecate: Death, Transition and Spiritual Mastery” and “Hecate II, The Awakening of Hydra”. “Hecate II” has a forward by Twin Peaks’ Sheryl Lee. I also have two books out about an ancient Astrology system used by Alexander the Great. Amazon is the best place to find them.

How extensive was your research on Alexander the Great's ancient Astrology system while you were writing about it?
Interesting to note that Indian professors seem to know a lot more about Hellenistic mysticism then the west. I was handed the book “The Javanataka” at in Indian library and translated the science of it out of sheer boredom, not knowing that had never been done before. My book “Asterian Astrology, The List System of Alexander the Great” has my translation in the front and the actual “Yavanajataka” in the back. Alexander the Great had a much bigger influence on the East then the West.

What was the length of time it took you to translate “The Javanataka”? How extensive was your research in compiling and writing “Asterian Astrology”?
It’s would have been a real challenge if I don’t have the education that I had with Vedic Astrology. I was well versed in Vedic and that made the translation pretty smooth.

Do you offer “Asterian Astrology” exclusively online or is it also available in print? Is it available for purchase online or in any local or major bookstores?
“Asterian Astrology” is available in print via Tara Press. It’s in most book stores.

What are some of the differences between the astrology represented in “Asterian Astrology” and contemporary astrology?
Contemporary or western astrology is a fluke. It’s 24 degrees off the constellations. The zodiac in the sky moves 1 degree every 72 years. Catholicism made observing the stars illegal 2000 years ago so the tropical astrology is stuck with alignments that no longer connect to the starts above. All ancients used Sidereal astrology.

There has been an availability of “Asterian Astrology” since 2010. What has been the response to the publication since it was released?
The publishing industry won’t allow Sidereal to succeed because Tropical makes 56 million dollars a year. Yet Asterian astrology has a huge underground following and is the chosen system of innumerable celebrities in Hollywood.

Who in Hollywood, that you are aware of, has adapted Asterian astrology as an alternative to more widely known systems?
Chelsea Handler, Rashida Jones, Drena Dinero, Meghan McCain, Regina Hall and Sheryl Lee are just a few. Several I cannot mention.

Do you have experience playing in bands before Antania? What genres did they cover and what was their level of activity locally? What point in your career did you realize you wanted to pursue a different path?
I was in the band Kill The Gods in high school and had some moderate success in that band as a bass player. I fell ill at the age of eighteen, ended up leaving music and moving to India to repair my health. I started playing synthesizers while living in India and started creating the sound of Bass Metal at that time. I saw “The Prodigy” perform in London and came up with the idea to do a black metal version of them and that solidified what I do now.

In what ways did you develop black/doom bass in order to stand out in the local/underground music industry? Could you tell the readers how Antania has grown since it was founded?
I knew from playing synthesizers that I could create one of the heaviest sounds out there. You have to see us live to feel how much power comes off this sound I created. Antania is one of the heaviest projects on Lucifer’s green earth. I love seeing faces when just two people walk on stage and Metalheads will be like “this can’t be that heavy because there are only two of them” and when the sound hits, mouths drop. Antania is a monster.

In order to achieve the sound you desired, how much experimentation did you undertake? Did Luna 13 have any impact on your experimenting?
Luna 13 is when I was able through trial and error create the sound of bass metal that I so desired. Almost as soon as I perfected it, Luna 13 was over. The final and most perfected vision was meant for Antania.

In order to achieve your desired sound, what equipment do you use? Was finding equipment that worked for you as important to your experimentation as trying out different sounds?
Yes! I use plug-ins over massive and so forth. Plug-ins are how I create this sound. I also purposely use older equipment to generate my desired sound. I use a Yamaha drum machine to create drums and a microbrute to create bass lines.

Tell the readers of how your collaboration with Erik Aircrag happened for your “Lividity” demo.
Luna 13 opened for Hocico twice and I came to really like Erk. Not only do I love the band Hocico, they were awesome to tour with. Erk and I would hang out and talk about spirituality and consciousness. He’s a super cool person. I asked if I could work with his voice and he sent me his vocals for Angels and Demons and I created the song around it.

Let us know how you came to work with Blackened Kali Mortem, and how well you work together when it comes to practicing, developing your sound, and thinking up ideas.
Kali Mortem was Luna 13’s photographer yet had some history with singing. Right after Luna 13 ended, she stepped in and became the singer for Antania. I already had several songs already written, she just had to step in and lay down vocals.

How long did it take Kali to adapt to your lyrics and sound? When she started working with you, how much singing experience did she have and how does that benefit your material?
She was a big fan of Luna 13 so she was well versed in the sound I created already. I am constantly writing music and lyrics so all she had to do was Create vocals around them. She adapted to playing live fast.

Name the songs you have written and describe how the music and lyrics complement one another.
I write everything at the moment. Kali does create her own vocal approached and really concentrated on the live shows the most. I believe she will contribute a lot more in the future. Yet I am one of those musicians that is constantly wrong and creating evil music. Occult Spirituality and music are my only interests. Music takes the lead as I firmly believe sound is the highest power.

With the signing of the digital distribution deal, how well known has The Triad Records helped the band become in Europe and elsewhere?
We love Triad and they helped us grow in Italy and surrounding countries. They got us in the main Italian magazines as well.

How has your sponsorship from Kat Percussion helped the band make a name for themselves?
It was as important as getting a record deal. I drop bass live and pound those industrial electronic drums. They saw me using all their stuff backwards live and decided to endorse me. It’s helped validate this type of bass metal I created.

In the past few years, at how many fests have you played and what has the response been like?
We headlined the Black Metal Mass in Oklahoma and played at the Mechanimus Festival in Seattle. We also just booked a huge festival in Portland, Oregon for 2025 this week. We have been well received everywhere. The sound and power of Antania is so unique it really blows people away. No video online can prepare you for how heavy our sound is live.

Since the start of your current tour in January, how have things been going for the band? In what parts of the world has the band appeared date, and where will you perform in the future?
We ended up having to cancel our Texas dates because we both got Covid opening for Trapt. We are getting ready to tour Europe for the first time. Here is our schedule at the moment. We have a west coast tour for July that we will be announcing.

03/16 Fitzgerald’s Bar-San Antonio, TX
03/18 RockHouse-El Paso, TX
04/30 Whisky Ago Go-Hollywood, CA

Support Psyclon Nine
05/18 Klub Pod Minoga-PoznaƄ, Poland
05/20 Backstage Club-Munich, Germany
05/22 Kulttempel-Oberhausen, Germany
05/24 O'Sullivan's--Paris, France
05/26 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France

What role has Kali played in contributing to the sound of the band during those performances? What are some of the most interesting tour stories you have to share?
Kali brings this very real black metal voice. It’s super original and contributes greatly to our sound. We were pulled over one time for driving with the car lit up with marijuana and let go by the police. This was in Ohio as well where their laws against marijuana are strict. We also played two venues where the song “In the Fire” leveled their sound system. We are pretty new so more stories are coming.

How has the response been to your new full-length album “The God Complex” since Triad released it last January? Has your video for the title track been successful in promoting it?
Yes. As a matter of fact we had a couple of managers interested in working with us because of it. We are making another video with Matt Zane.

In your experience, which songs recorded for “The God Complex” have shown the greatest rapport and potential for growth between you and Kali?
That’s the thing about being a duo, every song has a meaning. I think songs “August” which is the sixth song on the release, because Kali is born on August 6 and “D3D Solz” which has my favorite vocals on the release.

Are you planning to begin writing and composing new material as soon as possible? What are your plans for refining and developing your sound in the future?
I am constantly creating bass lines in my head and probably already have four or five songs already written. Yet we will take our time and support this release probably for a couple years but could easily see putting out an EP early next year.

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Full Length Review: Lockdown "Step Over The Bodies" (Selfmaderecords LLC) by Dave Wolff

Band: Lockdown
Location: Manhattan, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Hardcore
Full length: Step Over The Bodies
Format: Digital album
Label: Selfmaderecords LLC (distributed by Earache Records Digital Distribution)
Release date: February 5, 2024
New York Hardcore has survived a great deal since it was founded in the early 1980s, and despite corporate greed and media spin in recent years, it is bigger than ever. That persistence of purpose on "Step over the Bodies" enables Lockdown to thrive and grow as it always has, with little to no assistance from the aboveground media.
"You say I'm simple, I say I'm pure" is a line from "Hard to the Core" that expresses the band's commitment to their roots and attitude. Their involvement with bands like Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Madball and Leeway, along with hiring former members of Bile, has led them to introduce industrial themes into their crossover of hardcore and metal.
Underlying every track appearing on "Step Over The Bodies" is a low, insinuating rumble. By nature it characterizes the dingy subways, gravelly streets and collectively shared outrage of a generation that perceives having been discarded, and perceives unanswered questions that persist in their relevance. Some bands achieve this sound with keyboards and synthesizers; Lockdown do so with their bass sound and the essence of industrial music conveyed from Bile.
Those undertones increase in intensity through the album, not overpowering from the outset but progressively grinding the listener by way of pertinacious energy, crunch, breakdowns and groove. Imagine Jamey Jasta and Hatebreed, but more incensed with reinforced heaviness, professionalism and conviction. The slightly mechanized production in the guitars adds the feel of a city increasingly cold and modern while the new buildings forget those on the bottom.
Everything that is happening around the band seems to have bolstered their resolve to air their disillusionment and be heard. In some ways, "Step over the Bodies" resembles a dystopian concept album, except that the dystopia is real and you’re thrust directly into the lead character’s point of view. You witness society becoming a dystopia firsthand. If, on the other hand, people believe punk and hardcore are about being angry at the world in which the music is produced, there is much to be angry about. And a positive outcome can be achieved by channeling the anger. –Dave Wolff

Eric Roi: Vocals
Jeff Lombardi: Guitar, vocals
Justin P. Flynn: Guitar
Lorenzo Golia: Bass
Robert Proimos: Drums

Track list:
1. Step Over The Bodies
2. Enlightenment
3. Trail Of Tears
4. Hard To The Core
5. Hatred
6. Human Racist
7. Blind Rage
8. Steadfast
9. Respect Collected
10. Duked
11. Won't See Me Comin
12. Eternal
13. My Side
14. Trail Of Tears (REMIX)
15. Hard To The Core (REMIX)

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Single Review: The D.O.O.D.: The Distinguished Order Of Disobedience "Subterfuge" (Selfmaderecords LLC) by Dave Wolff

Location: Sarasota, Florida
Country: USA
Genre: Melodic death metal, groove metal
Single: Subterfuge
Format: Digital track
Label: Selfmaderecords LLC (distributed by Earache Records Digital Distribution)
Release date: February 14, 2024
Erik Leviathan recommended this new single from The D.O.O.D. for an upcoming Valentine's Day review, the day of its release. As I was just beginning my interview with this band, I went back and listened to most of their full-length albums to get a feel of them. I favor “Playtime in the Apocalypse” the most for its criticism of religious intolerance in general and the Westboro Baptist Church in particular.
It is clear just from that album the band is not only feeling displeasure and ire toward this, but actively seek to inflame it through their song and lyric writing, encouraging listeners to join them in subvert people who adapt religion as a weapon, means of control or means of escalating hate. This subverting is not necessarily accomplished by violent acts, but by taking critical thinking to an extreme, as they do with their music.
This frame of mind can be perceived in “Subterfuge”, the follow-up to the single released on January 10. In a wide range of styles, from grindcore and goregrind to death metal and melodic death metal to groove metal and funk metal, The D.O.O.D. lingers in a steady state of density, building energy to evoke ire in anyone who takes the time to read the lyrics.
The song does not read as a diatribe against a single target, but rather as a statement against all forms of media and entertainment that encourage muteness and gratification without awareness, or lull people to accept the ways of the world without questioning it or speaking out. Not as a result of underdeveloped denial and reaction either, but rather as a result of experience, practical knowledge, and reason.
As the act of restarting your mind after removing it from the complacency that society seems to thrive on of late has become increasingly popular among bands, this is a band you may want to give a listen to. –Dave Wolff

Brian Monkeyboy: Vocals
Indiana: Guitar
Raymus: Guitar
Jonzey: Bass
Dogbite: Drums