With Maryland being one of the smaller states in the US but with one of the highest crime rates what is it like to exist in a place like that?
-I count myself beyond blessed to live in such a culturally diverse state. Other than a few years in Okinawa, Japan, and Virginia, U.S., I’ve lived in Maryland my whole life. It’s interesting to think about the influence my home has on our music. We’re an hour away from Washington, D.C. The proximity to our nation’s capitol definitely holds a lot of sway. Living this close to D.C. tends to mean the local population is a lot more aware of the political conflicts and decisions taking place just down the road. The socio-political lyrics of Cassandra Syndrome are definitely inspired by that political awareness. In terms of the crime rate, I’m fortunate enough to live in a fairly rural part of Maryland. Although we do have crime in my town, it’s nowhere close to what the larger, more densely populated Maryland cities experience. That said, I’m aware of it. When I was writing the lyrics to the opening track of Satire X, “No More Peace Forever,” the line “One more falls to knife or gun/One more roadside bomb/One more fight/One more war/More bodies to embalm,” not only referenced the conflict in the Middle East, but I was also thinking about gang violence in our own region.
When the idea for Cassandra Syndrome came up how much of an already thought out plan did you guys have? How much has been an organic process?
-We only had a few basic ideas when we decided to create Cassandra Syndrome. It was a new style of music for me. My previous musical endeavors had been within the worlds of folk and classical music. We knew we wanted to try to fuse metal with classical vocals, we knew we wanted to continue in the socio-political commentary vein on the lyrical front and we knew we wanted to have a good time. Other than that, the process has been quite organic. We’ve learned a lot along the way and the look, sound and feel of the band has changed quite a bit over the past 6 years. That said, those first simple three concepts are still very much at play.
Where does your sound come from? Any influences that are greater than others?
-Our particular sound is an amalgamation of the diverse musical interests of all the members of the band. We write as a group. I bring a sheet of lyrics to the table and the band begins to experiment with different riffs and melodies. Different sections of each song tend to come from different people, and there’s a lot of give and take for each part. We really enjoy the end result because each of us knows we’ve contributed to the finished song. Due to that group-oriented style of writing, we don’t have any one influence that’s stronger than another.
You had some time now to work the album “Satire X.” What kind of reactions have you had to it so far?
-We’ve been really happy with the response to ‘Satire X.’ The reviews have been fantastic and the album has been picked up by some publications we didn’t expect. Best of all, our friends and fans really love it. We also began UK distribution through Ravenheart Records. It’s been wonderful to see our international fan base grow so much since the release of the album.
For me standing on the outside looking in I sometimes think that it is all glamour and champagne brunches being in a band (at least that is what I like to think it is like). How hard do you work at making the band happen big time?
-Champagne brunches sound fantastic! The truth of the matter, for us at least, is that for every hour on stage, there are 20-30 hours of practice time as a group (and even more if you count individual practice time) behind it. We’re pretty disciplined when it comes to rehearsal time. My roots are in classical music, and when one rehearses with a classical group, there’s a plan of what material to cover in what time-frame. That mentality has bled over to Cassandra Syndrome rehearsals in a big way—it’s part of why we get so much work done. There’s also the time spent promoting the band, lining up shows, interviews, etc. If you add all that in, it turns into a pretty serious part-time job.
What kind of touring opportunities is there for a band like yours in the States? How much of a “need to know the right people” scene is getting on the right tours?
-We’re very fortunate in our location when it comes to regional tours. We’re four hours away from New York City, an hour from D.C. and Baltimore and a couple hours from Richmond. Playing that circuit has been great for us. One of the biggest issues with larger tours is funding. We’re a five-piece, so making enough on a tour for everyone to eat and pay rent is challenging. As a result, we tend to focus more on our local and regional fan base and less on trying to join the larger, countrywide tours.
When you have a couple of albums out does it make it easier to get people to notice you? Are you taken more seriously when you have something to show for?
-I think so. Although we’re rapidly moving into a post-disc era, a discography still helps a band gain traction. With the internet as the primary source of new music for people, good quality recordings are very important. Even if a fan just picks up one or two songs off I-tunes or Amazon MP3, seeing that those tracks come from a full album lends a band more credibility.
How important is having some sort of merchandise going on for people to identify with the band?
-It’s vital. We all love to support our friends in what they do. The same way we wear a team jersey to sports games, wearing a band’s t-shirt is a tangible expression of that love and enthusiasm. From the perspective of the band, our merchandise is a big part of how we pay for the next album. Plus there’s nothing more awesome than looking out from the stage and seeing a sea of Cassandra Syndrome t-shirts.
For the longest of times I thought I was unique until I googled myself. I guess you too have googled yourself like any sane person has. What is the strangest things you’ve come upon searching your band name.
-We took the name Cassandra Syndrome based one particular definition of the term: to see a dark future but be unable to convince others of the truth of your perceptions. We found out after the fact that the words ‘Cassandra syndrome’ are also associated with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as concern with future environmental issues. It was interesting to see how many ideas the phrase can bring to mind.
What does the plan for 2012 look like?
-2012 is going to be an interesting year for Cassandra Syndrome. We just announced that one of our founding members, bassist Joe Cariola, is leaving the band in April. He’ll play a final show with us on April 14th. The split is amicable, but of course it means that we’re going to be on the hunt for a new bass player. That means that for the early part of this year we won’t be performing out very much. Our friends and fans can expect to see us hit the stage again come June if all goes according to plan. We’re also four songs in to the collection of material for the next album. We hope to return to studio to record our next full-length disc in Autumn.