When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one
-Not really because I think St. Elmo’s Fire always had a certain type of sound. If you listen to our previous albums like “Warning From The Sky” or “Powerdrive” it remains similar
That comes mainly from my style of songwriting and guitar playing. So when the opportunity happened with Pure Steel Records to release a new album I just started writing the way I always write. And honestly, I really don’t listen to a lot of new bands. It’s not that I don’t like the newer styles its just that I don’t have the time like I did before.
I’m a fan of metal as well as artist so I write and perform songs that I would personally like. I especially love the old school stuff. Some bands try to fit into a certain style just to be cool or accepted by the audience and fans. I never have done that. I can only be who I really am.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
-The common theme that links all the St. Elmo’s Fire together is Sci-Fi. I’m a huge fan of Science fiction. That’s why the Album cover for “Evil Never Sleeps” has the Elmo Guitarship once again. And lyrically the new album continues the sci-fi concept as well. “Evil Never Sleeps” deals mainly with what’s happening in the world today but in a more futuristic setting. I’ve always been attracted to modernistic themes in heavy metal. In fact on this album I wrote a song called “Hammer” based on a graphic novel by the same name.The character “Hammer” is part human and part extraterrestrial. It was created by my brother Kelley Jones who is a artist for DC Comics. He’s best known for drawing Batman, Swamp Thing, and Sandman among others. We’ve both been into science fiction and horror themes. I guess you can blame my Dad for that. He loved that stuff and passed it on to us. That song is the first video from “Evil Never Sleeps”
Speaking of the theme of St. Elmo’s Fire the cover on our first album “St. Elmo’s Fire” had just a lightning strike with my Dean Flying V guitar. It was kinda mysterious and a lot of people really seemed to like it. On our next record “Warning from The Sky” the cover showed where that lightning actually came from, a gigantic guitar spaceship. So the theme continued
On “Evil Never Sleeps” the ship returns. And the songs on the record reflect why.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know that you have the right lyrics?
-For me the lyrics are much more difficult than the music. I always have written the music parts first, followed by the lyrics. The vibe and feel of the music track gives me a good idea of where the song will go lyrically. I can see the songs in my mind as short movies while I’m composing. By hearing just the music I can picture what the song will be about. Then I start writing the lyrics.
“Evil Never Sleeps” reflects on some of the dangerous and evil things happening all over the world today and in the past. One of the points of the album is that humanity never seems to learn from history. Or maybe we do learn but since evil in my opinion is a tangible thing, it can take over one individual or many. It is a important subject so getting the right lyrics to convey the message took some time
And accomplishing that is a constant process which continues right up until the song is being recorded. I remember that the lyrics to “Hammer”, “Rise”, “Across The Nations” and several others were being worked on and changed as our singer Kevin was laying down the vocal tracks.
I am old school. I like really cool album covers but from what I’ve gathered some bands tend to spend less on art work because people don’t buy records, they download songs. What are your feelings on this?
-Being an old school guy myself I agree with you. I think the younger fans today are missing out on how a really cool big album cover from a vinyl release adds to the music. And the bands back then made sure the cover matched the feeling of the music. Iron Maiden was really good at that.
With “Evil Never Sleeps” the cover was designed with a vinyl release in mind and to carefully match what the album deals with.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpretated because of the music you play?
-Sometimes yes. I think most people who aren’t fans of Heavy Metal have a preconceived idea of what it is. It scares them and of course they want to believe we are all satan worshippers! Being an artist is about freedom of expression and a lot of times that means going against conventional thought.
Listen closely to the lyrics on “Evil Never Sleeps”. I’m pushing back against all sorts of things political, religious, and institutions that are fucking us all. It’s my view of the world that society never learns from history. We repeat the same old shit. Look around now and you will see what I mean. This album talks about how Evil is a real thing. It lives and breathes and we must fight it.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-You may be right about that. It has something to do with the way people have such short attention spans now. And there so many other things that can occupy peoples time. You know, video games, endless amounts of movies you can stream on your phone, social media sites. Now music is just a small piece of peoples lives.
Back when a few record companies controlled the business there were much fewer bands that fans had access to. The positive to that was the labels could help build the career of a band over a long period of time. Look at Judas Priest, Maiden, AC/DC or a lot of other classic bands. They had a lot of albums released before they became hugely popular. Now if you are a new band you are lucky to have a second or third album before you are dropped.
The flip side is that fans have a much larger choice of music and bands they can hear. The problem is that there are so many artists that finding good ones is much harder. But that forces the bands themselves to improve and promote more to get attention. So it comes down to talent and working hard. Just like in the old days. I guess that shows that the more things change the more they stay the same! I always believe that having more choices is better than less.
Back in the days you had to trade tapes if you wanted to hear new unheard of bands. Today you are just a click away from discovering new acts. Do you feel that this development in some ways will do more harm than good in the long run, that it will eventually kill off music as we know it?
-No I don’t think it will kill off music, just change it. The music business has to adapt. It has adapted in the past. What these new developments such as streaming and downloading are doing is making the delivery of music easier. No need to get in your car and go to a record store. This new way is making the fans much more important in the overall process of the music business. That’s a good thing.
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
-Yes, much harder and much more expensive. That’s why festivals are so common. But in the US festivals are nonexistant. We have nothing like that here. That’s the reason you see so many American bands playing festivals in Europe. Touring in the US is nearly impossible these days. Unless you are a mega artist.
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
Lots of smoke, lots of fire, lots of lights and lots of volume!
What does the future hold?
-Good question. How about not waiting another 25 years to release the next album!
Seriously, it depends on the response on “Evil Never Sleeps”. If the fans like the album and want to see us do more then they will let us know.
Hey, lastly thanks for the opportunity to talk with you. It was awesome.
And we would really like to thank our fans throughout the years for hanging in there with us! And to our label PURE STEEL Records for their support and belief in our music. Cheers everyone!!