Can you please tell all our readers about the history and discography of HELLEVATE?
-Hellevate was formed by Danowar in about 2007, and the lineup went through a lot of changes until it settled around 2011 or so. A couple of EP’s and demos were made in that time, but they’ve been lost and abandoned by now. In 2012, the first album, self-titled was released, and a lot of local and regional shows were played in support. Shortly after, the singer Ryan and the rhythm guitarist, Joe, left. They were replaced by Drew Blood and Alec Johnson, who recorded “Kill Confirmed”. Shortly before we released “Kill Confirmed”, Alec left and I replaced him. We immediately started writing “Weapons Against Their Will”, which we released in the middle of last year. We did a tour on it, and we intend to do some more stuff for it in 2017.
How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?
-Very. It captures everything you intend to project to the audience, and fills the listener’s head with a guess of your sound. With “Hellevate”, it’s a play on raising Hell, which is what we want to do with the music. It’s a bit silly when you think about it, but it gets the right idea across, and rolls off of the tongue well.
What was it that made you want to do the band?
-Really, just the love for the music. We all love heavy metal and are very passionate about it. It inspires us, and in a way, gives us a meaning and objective in life. Doing this is a passion, and very important for us.
What is your definition of the music you play?
-We have trouble categorizing our sound, and describing it in a way that isn’t long and ridiculous. We’d say we’re some combination of thrash and power metal, but a lot of reviewers described us as USPM when they heard us, which was really interesting. We really just do whatever we want, and so far, it’s come out as a cohesive whole. With the lyrics, we write about whatever comes to us, whatever feels most appropriate for the riffs. Drew has a lot of fun putting them together.
How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
-Really, our intention with arranging the tracks is to create a dynamic, interesting record. It’s a bad idea to front-load the album with a bunch of fast songs and have the mid-paced and slow songs on the second half. It’s a disservice to the songs, as they start to bleed together. When we arranged “Weapons…”, that was the goal. We had a ridiculous variety of tempos and dynamics, and we wanted that to come across. I think we did a great job with it.
Where do you find your inspiration to create?
-It just comes. For me, I’ll be out and about, or in the shower, or about to sleep, and a song just comes. You then either have to write it down, or convince yourself the riffs aren’t worth it. There are a lot of videos on my phone of me singing riffs. You go through big periods of nothing, then crank out 5 songs, and I couldn’t tell you what changes to make that happen.
How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc.?
-A lot, really. For the art on “Weapons…” we were inspired by the trilogy that appears in it, of the songs “Memories of Battle and Death”, “The Last Life to Live”, and “The Iconoclasm”. It’s a sci-fi story about an immortal cyborg warrior fighting a several-thousand year long war. Our intention was initially to have fantasy-style art, basically sitting around, looking at Frank Frazetta art, drinking beer, and listening to Manowar, discussing ideas. However, a few artists fell through, and the ultimate idea was to give it to Caio Caldas, who did the art on “Kill Confirmed”, give him a bit of background, told him to be very colorful, and go wild. He created a killer art that I think is very eye-grabbing.
Do you find that there is a greater freedom in working with digital than working with physical?
-Yes. It makes it much easier to manage, and gets your music much further faster than physical. Selling through Bandcamp and the like is much simpler and faster.
Are there any limitations to digital? Can you do everything you like?
-It’s a lot trickier to sell digital at shows, which is very important, since merch is the lifeblood of a band. Also, there’s the obvious issue of tangibility. It just feels better to own a CD or vinyl than a collection of MP3’s.
Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
-It’s kind of difficult, but we do fine. In the US, but especially the mid-west, the focus and preference is on heavier genres of metal, primarily death metal. Kansas City is primarily death metal. However, the non-extreme bands tend to do just fine, as they’re like a breath of fresh air. Hellevate has an edge that allows us to easily share the stage with heavier bands, including a few death metal festivals. You gotta fight for your spot, which we have done and still do.
What does the future hold?
-We had to stop after our tour due to a lineup change, but we’re getting everything together for 2017. We’re assembling an even better live set than we’ve ever had. Tighter, more energetic, more flashy. We’re so pumped to unleash it. We’re getting shows lined up, so far mostly local, but there should be some out-of-town in the spring, summer, and fall. We can’t talk about them yet, they aren’t announced, and we’re waiting for the right moment to unveil everything. Some point in 2018 should be a new album, which we have started writing, but have been more focused on getting our new member up to speed. Get ready for the second Hellevate assault, because it’s far more lethal than the first!