THE FIRE

THE FIRE are on their third album but if you are anything like me you’ve just discovered them. So get to know them better I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Why has it been that the third album was the difficult one? What is so special about the third?
-The third album is normally a crossroad: you confirm what you have done or you change it. It’s like a movie trilogy, the third chapter is always more criticable if the second one got success.

How would you like to describe your third album? How does it stand up to the previous two?
-It’s less heavy, but more sophisticated, I think a lot about how every single piece has to be in it’s own right place. I don’t mind if people will love it or not,
it’s like a puzzle, and I’m very happy for the final result, because it’s exactly how I immagine “Supernova”

You guys have been around some time now. Do you notice that bands that were there when you started are dropping off one by one? How does that make you feel?
-Make you feel real, and not the “flavour of the month”. You understand that all this work is for passion and not to make some money or be a star.
I think that there are two different kind of musicians:
1. the musician who wake up and has the need to write, create or play all his artistc ideas
2. the musician who just “go with the crowd” or just play what people tell him to play.
We are just what we want to be.

How tough is it today to make a lasting career out of playing rock/hardrock/metal?
-Having a career in Italy it’s something impossible, and not just in the rock music… maybe in Europe you can try to find a way to create a lasting career, but you need many things: talent, money, people who help you to make this dream true and last but not least a lot of luck!

What kind of reception do you get on home ground? Are you a respected band or are you ignored?
-We are respected, but this doesn’t mean big selling on the music market. When we play in other countries we get a different kind of feedback from promoters, people from the music business and fans… they look at us like a professional combo coming from Italy. But in our contry seems that none take care about it… but it’s a tipical problem when you play in your own country, every band that come from “outside” get more attention… not just in Italy 😉

What was it that made you want to start a band in the first place? Has it lived up to the expectations you had when you started?
-My father play keyboards, and he teach me music since I was a kid. Untill 15 years old I was more thinking to go on Skate or BMX, then I realized I could play in a punk band even if I’m not a super professional musician… from 1989 I dont’ have any other thing in my mind.

I take it that you’ve toured a bit. What is it like to be on tour supporting an album that perhaps don’t have the same kind of distribution that a major label acts has?
-I don’t care about it, the difference is just in the numbers not in the emotions. Major deals are for music business but they can’t make music better. We did 500 shows in 7 years and the emotions are real and true, even if we play in front of 40 people or 2000. We played from small clubs to show supporting big international stars, but when you are on stage you are alive, and then you understand that there is nothing wrong.

Is playing live still the best form of promotion for a band? Is that a sure way to turn people on to your music?
-Sure. Right now you can record an album and being the best music player thanks to plug ins, editing, autotune… but onstage you can’t. You must be good if not the audience will quit. Even if playing it’s really hard for the financial crisis… Clubs are closing, Labels haven’t any more money, The Band can promote their self just through internet… and it’s hard to understand who is really able to play a good show… you have just few chance to let people know that you kick ass…

What kind of tours have you been part of? Do you go out on your or or do you try to get on tours that you know will generate an audience?
-We made both… in Italy mainly we do solo tour, in other countries we tour with other bands to get the chance to play in front of a new and bigger audience.

What future is there for The Fire?
-ahahahha who knows? Say yours… wait don’t say anything we don’t wanna know… Mayas already said enough… 😉

HATRIOT

I don’t know how I came to hear of HATRIOT in the first place but it didn’t take me long to notice that this is the new band from former Exodus singer Steve Souza. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Looking at your collective CV?s I?m impressed. How did Hatriot come together?
-It was a twist of fate really. I was pretty much over the thought of putting together an original band and starting from scratch again. It is just such a pain in the ass you know. Basically I ran into this guitar player kid named Kosta Varvatakis at a show his band was playing. He was very skilled on the instrument and knew everything about thrash. He knows more about thrash than I do! We just really clicked and started working on songs and that was the beginning of Hatriot. We tried out some players and eventually arrived at the line-up that we have today.

If I say that Hatriot is like a continuation of Exodus circa “Pleasure Of The Flesh”, would you scold me for saying that?
-No I would never scold you. That is a really cool comparison actually. ‘Pleasures’ was my first record with Exodus and now here comes my first record with Hatriot. They are close to 30 years apart and I sit and think of how different my mindset was and how things have changed so much in my life since then. It’s really an amazing feeling to still be doing music on this level. Back when we did ‘Pleasures’ I was just happy to be making a real album. I had no idea the amount of success I would enjoy, or where my career would take me. No idea at all. Now I look back on that with a very proud heart and I just wonder what this new chapter of my life will be with Hatriot. I’ve got my boys in the band with me and life has come full circle. It is really exciting for me.

Your thrash metal seem very political, from band name to cover art. Has music in general become too conformed?
-I think pop music and mainstream music have become way too conformed. Not metal really. Metal keeps pushing the envelope and I like the thought of that. Metal is supposed to be angry and aggressive. It is supposed to offend some and make some think. Thrash has always had political overtones, and Hatriot is no exception to that rule. Not all of our material is political, but there are hints of it in the lyrics and artwork. Of course the name Hatriot is a play on words. It is a very agressive statement and I think it works well for a thrash metal band.

I have no idea what it is like living in a country were almost 25% percent of its population are dirt poor. How does this affect you as musicians?
Well I think the best metal music is made when times are difficult. The economy here in the USA has been fucked for several years now. The government doesn’t do much to help the lower class or even the middle class. It is a shame really. I am very fortunate to have a good construction job where I can make decent money and have a good life. Thrash metal provides an outlet for frustration and I think there is a lot of angry pissed off metal coming out of America right now because of the economy. That is the only upside to it really.

Is there a difference having family working with you in band format than to work with family in a regular business?
-Not really. I mean we have a great relationship. The boys grew up around heavy metal and they know how this stuff works. It’s in their blood and they have been around it literally their whole lives. I’m dad when they need me to be dad, and I’m their bandmate and band leader as well. They are both very mature and hard working, so I very rarely have to get on them about doing their part in the band. They work their asses off for Hatriot and they understand that the microscope is going to be on them because they are a Souza. There are haters out there that are just looking to tear them down, so they have to up their game. They have to be awesome at every show and they are ready to do what it takes to make that happen.

As a band has touring/gigs ever been as important as it seems today, in this era of easy access via download?
-It is definitely a difficult business these days, and I would say touring is more important than ever. There are very few record stores anymore, so bands have to pound the pavement and get the music directly to the fans. The downside is the price of fuel makes it hard to hit all the major markets on a tour. We are going to do our best with Hatriot to get out there and get in front of the fans. We love playing live. Downloading may be the way of the future, but for me nothing beats seeing a live concert and then buying the CDs and t-shirts right there at the merch table. I like the old school ways!

Are you lost as a band if you don?t keep up with all the new social media? Can you still rely on good old press coverage and word of mouth to build a reputation?
-Again it is a double edge sword. The internet makes it a whole new ballgame. Back in the day if you wanted to hear ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh’ you had to go out and buy it. That’s the only way you could get the music. Now it’s everywhere. You can hear it on youtube, rip it from a torrent site, hear it on all the social media sites, and that makes it hard to sell music. I understand that. Why pay for something if you can get it free? I think for most bands the social media route is the way to go. For Hatriot I think there is already a fanbase there because of my past bands. It is cool for us because we have a marketing angle already built in to what we are doing. We are very fortunate to have that. I’m not sure that press coverage is enough to break a band anymore, just because the music world is so oversaturated. It’s insane really. Seems like everyone and their mother has a band!

I like my music on physical format to which I have a need to burn every legal download unto CD. Today there are people that don?t even know what a CD or vinyl is. How do you battle things like that in promoting your band?
-There’s not a lot you can do. You just have to be smart when it comes to recording budgets and tour costs to try and offset the loss from downloading. Instead of spending a hundred grand on the record, make it happen for twenty grand. Instead of touring in a bus, pack everything into a van and trailer. You just have to make smart business decisions to stay afloat in today’s market. I like my music on CD or vinyl. I like to look at the pictures and read the liner notes, and I think there are a lot of metal fans who feel the same way. Metal fans are collectors. They want all the formats when an album comes out. To me I think the younger generation is missing out on a real cool part of the listening experience. All you can really do is offer some real cool packaging and hope the fans will want it, or do a package deal where they get the cd and a shirt for a discounted price. You’ve got to make it worth it for the fans. I think the die hards realize that without selling our record we can’t afford to make another record. It all comes down to that really.

Recently I?ve come across more bands that do it themselves instead of relying on labels to get it done. Have the record industry shot itself in the foot by releasing too much crap and by not being open to new ways of marketing music?
-The record companies were once the big gate keepers that could make or break a band and those days are definitely over. I think the demise of the record business is due more to the technology of today and how cheap it is to make an album. It is really supply and demand. There are way too many bands out there now so obviously there is little demand. Back in the old days bands were totally dependent on a record company. Now the times have totally changed. I think the record industry was very arrogant for many years and did not adapt with the changes that were going on with technology. It came back to bite them in the ass, and I don’t feel sorry for the industry one bit. They brought it on themselves.

As someone that has experienced being signed to major labels how different is the record business these days?
-It is completely different. These days bands are in control of their own destiny and I think it is a great thing. A record company can be a good thing if they act as a partner for promotion and marketing, but there is really no reason to sign your life away and have your career rest in their hands. I hear of bands signing these ‘360 deals’ where the label gets money from everything – your merchandise, your shows, your records and publishing, and basically every other revenue stream that exists. To me that is insane. There are too many ways to market and promote as an independent artist for me to ever consider doing a 360 deal. That is career suicide, but these labels convince young bands that it is the way to go and many of them fall for it. The business these days is based on merchandise and branding, not so much selling music.

What kind of expectations do you have when you sign with a label? What was that made you chose a German label such as Massacre?
-Well we already have an in house team working with Hatriot, so anything the label can bring to the table is just a bonus really. We chose Massacre Records because they are very passionate about the music and understand what we are trying to accomplish with the band. Expectations are really just to manuafacture and distribute the album and assist us in promoting it. Again, we have our own people that work every day for the band, so Massacre is joining forces with them to make it happen. We are very excited about the partnership.

I take it Hatriot is in for the long haul. What plans do you have to further the name of the band?
-Hatriot is definitely here for the long haul. This could be one of the last chapters in my metal legacy, so I am taking it very seriously. The album, ‘Heroes Of Origin,’ comes out January 25th on Massacre Records. From there we will be touring the world to support the album. After that you can count on us hitting the studio for the second album and continuing the cycle all over again. We are going non stop and want to take over the world.

LADY BEAST

Neither The Penguins, The Flyers nor The Steelers are the hardest in Pennsylvania. LADY BEAST will give them a run for that title. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

This might be the biggest cliché there is but to me the whole of Pennsylvania seems like very blue collar. Does that in any way affect the interest for heavy metal in places like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia?
Deb: It is no cliché at all….Pittsburgh is blue collar. From its earliest industries, it was born on sweat and steel. It actually has a lot in common with Birmingham England in that way. Any good art comes out of the dirtier, harder working areas.

When you are Americans and play pretty much classic heavy metal is that like shooting yourself in the foot or has the interest increased with time?
Deb: It doesn’t feel that way to us. Playing heavy metal music is what we do and what makes us happy. We say follow your bliss, and ours is our music. There is no doubt heavy metal has made a huge comeback in the past couple of years and bands like us are actually getting opportunities to share our music with people all over the world.

I take it that you don’t do this for the bundles of money that awaits you at the end of the rainbow. What makes anybody want to devote their time and money to something that perhaps never will pay back?
Deb: It is a labor of love. We honestly work every day to support our music habits. It’s the only way some of us stay sane, are able to be creative, or are just able to let loose! Obviously anyone that is serious about their art would love to someday be able to support oneself on it. But that’s definitely not why we do it.

You have just recently signed with the French label Infernö Records. They seem to be very devoted to metal. What do you expect to get out of it?
Deb: Inferno is a really cool label. Not only are they heavy metal, but they also have a good amount of female fronted bands on it. Which is totally awesome!! They are releasing our self-titled album on cd this coming year (2013). We are really hoping to get some more European exposure from it, hopefully that would lead to us coming over!! Also just social networking. Finding new bands to listen and talk to.

You released an album on your own? What is the greatest difference doing it yourself contra being signed to label?
Deb: A sense of control. Doing the album on our own time and our own dime gave us the ability to make our first impression the way we wanted. This record was a long time in the making so we wanted to do it right. We played a lot of shows sold a lot of merch (shirts that our drummer actually prints), and worked a little overtime to pay for this ourselves and we like to think it shows. It’s all us, and it feels good.
When you do things on your own what is the hardest part of it? How do you get the word out there in this day and age when almost everything is social media this or social media that?
Deb: The hardest part is trying not to be your hardest critic. Trying not to make it the most perfect thing ever. Just keep it natural and fun. Honestly the internet is one of the most effective ways to connect and get your music out there. Most of our connections we have made over the years were on-line. The access and availability of music on the web is really convenient. We are now able to share our music with people all over the world. Don’t get us wrong. We still are headed to the post office every other week to mail vinyl’s and shirts…can’t lose the romanticism of sharing metal through €the mail!

How do you build a bands reputation these days? Can constant gigging still build a band’s reputation? Or are you totally dependent on the social media these days?
Deb: It’s a little bit of both. We have definitely created our local following by playing shows. As far out of state and overseas, it seems like bands that are either mainstream sponsored or making killer music videos are getting the attention. Holding down jobs really does make it hard to find the time to tour. Not impossible of course!!

How much of DIY do you have to rely on these days to get things done? How has the industry changed over the last 5-10 years?
Deb: It’s been all DIY for us so far!! We make our own flyers, house the touring bands, and sometimes even end up doing the sound at the shows. It almost becomes a collective when you start sharing music, shows, ideas….It’s all a community and the main thing is to share the music and always help each other out.

Do you feel that you are a part of something bigger being a heavy metal band? Do you feel a connection with people into the same things from all over the world?
Deb: Most definitely!! Metal is almost a universal language. No matter if you have cultural differences between you, if you both love metal its almost an immediate connection.

What can we expect from you guys in the future?
Deb: More metal!!!! We are currently working on our second album that will probably be out by Spring 2013. We are looking forward to doing some touring, listening to awesome bands, and meeting new metal fans!!!

LIGHTLESS MOOR

Honestly I can’t name too many metal bands from Sardinia. Come to think o fit I don’t know too many Sicilian metal bands but there is something brewing in the Mediterranean that is about to erupt. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

How do you take your personal favourites and make them into a band?
Ilaria: We all like gothic metal and its characteristics and we want to put them in our project. However all of us have different favourites too and take these influences in our music so they become an enrichment in every song. So we make our personal interpretation of gothic metal.

What were the favourites that made you want to make music on your own? How have the sources of inspiration changed over the years?
Ilaria: I fell in love with the gothic metal scene as Theatre of Tragedy, Tristania, Draconian and Within Temptation.
I liked the contrast between the female voices and the growling, the heavy sounds and the romantic melodies and I would put all these elements in our music. During the years we opened our mind to new influences like industrial, epic, folk sounds and more extreme parts. Bands as Samael, Amorphis and Dissection are some who inspired us in writing our songs.

Was it hard to find a moniker that would fit the band and its music? What kind of words were you looking for?
Ilaria: No, not at all! The story of our moniker is peculiar. I listened to a song and I misunderstood the words…I heard “lightless moor”, but it wasn’t! I liked its sound and we kept it! We wanted a moniker which represent our music and the experience of walking through a place without landmarks, in a rough nature, in solitude.

Do you have a concept that you use when you write lyrics? What kind of topics do you deal with?
Ilaria: It depends. “The Poem” is a concept, it tells the story of a poetess who write in her verses about a count, his curse and how to break it. In the lyrics there are different topics: love and hate, madness, sacrifice, passion and suffering. But also the passion to write and to leave to others my poetry. I write my poetry and then lyrics rise. I talk about the opposites in our lives, death and birth, love and hate, lust and purity. Love is often the protagonist of my lyrics, but it’s a sick, tormented love.

How do you think that this concept/lyrical theme will evolve with time?
Ilaria: They are always evolving and changing because they are strongly tied to what happens in my life, what I feel at the moment and what it’s changing in our tormented world in this days. Also themes as religion, violence, poverty, ethics, respect for every form of life are sources of inspiration.

Does the art work have to fit the music/titles? What kind of things would you never let near an album cover?
Ilaria: Yes, it does. It has to transmit the atmospheres, the mood of our music. I don’t know if there’s anything I definitely refuse. I don’t like using female images in vulgar ways…well I don’t like vulgarity at all…

When you have been going for so long as you have and are just about to release your debut album do you feel that you?ve acquired enough experience to not expected gold and green acres?
Ilaria: Yes, I think so. I think this experience and the difficulties we met to reach this goal make us more humble than before we start. Now we are conscious that the release of our first album is only one little step in our story. We know the journey will be very difficult, but we are ready to fight for our music. We became as a family in these years. We know where we come from and every moment we spend in the band makes us stronger.

Why has it taken this long to get the first album released? What have you been up to up to the release of the album?
Ilaria: We spent much time to find right musicians to start our journey and then we had to build the project. Moreover we come from Sardinia and this is often a problem in different ways. We spent these years to trace our soul, to make experience in live concerts and in recording sessions.

What has the journey up to the debut album been like? What have been the highlights so far?
Ilaria: It was a challenge…We wanted desperately to write and play our music. We engaged a lot of strenghts and resources, but we couldn’t renounce. „Renewal“, our self-produced demo (2006), was an important moment in our history, we had to fight to give it birth, but we firmly believed in our music and we held on. So we worked hard and we showed our project to many people, until someone answer our call. And so here we are…a gothic metal band from little Sardinia signing with WormHoleDeath!

ADVOCATES “Mindless”

ADVOCATES
“Mindless”
(Ghost Music)
I’m not too familiar with this band or the label but somehow I still expect this to be good. Don’t know why but there is something about it that speaks to me. And not because they are from New Zealand but because my gut tells me so. I’m not usually much for following my gut but with this one I’ll give it a shot. But it did start out on a bad not. It sounded like some sort of really bad metalcore to my ears. But then it kinda dawned on me that the sound of ADVOCATES has its roots in Meshuggah’s off the edge metal. So what have here is another band that are heavily influenced by the Swedes. The more I listen to this the more glad I am that this didn’t turn out to be another metalcore band (I know that I use metalcore as a bad word but I’ve yet to be fully converted). This is the kind of metal that requires you full attention for it to not end up all noise. Anders Ekdahl

ALGORITHM “Polymorphic Code”

ALGORITHM
“Polymorphic Code”
(Basick)
Can’t say I’m too familiar with Basick artists and releases but the ones I’ve heard so far have been good. I can ’t say that I’m all that familiar with the kind of music that most of the bands on the label seem to all play. But I’m game for anything, at least once. So I’ll give Algorithm a chance. And it didn’t start out too promising. My first impression was that this was some sort of improvised sonic experiment. Kinda like Naked City yet more controlled. Or some sort of trance metal. Still don’t know what to make of it but I can’t seem to be able to resist it. There is something enticing to it that makes me sit through the whole album. It kinda reminds me of some or the stuff that Peaceville used to release in the 90s that wasn’t really metal. This is very much metal yet not really. I don’t know how to explain this. You just gotta hear it for yourself. Cool. Anders Ekdahl

ALUNAH “White Hoarhound”

ALUNAH
“White Hoarhound”
(Psychedoomelic)
I think that I’ve read about Alunah. Don’t know why where but there is a familiarity to this band that has to come from somewhere. This English band is supposed to be the future of doom. Big words from the critics and hopefully they won’t be bringing the band down. I don’t know why but for some reason this makes me think of another English band from back then; Sacrilege. And it’s not just because they both have a female vocalist but because there is something to their doom that resonates the same. And while not being Candlemass in its doom ALUNAH are heavy in a way that Revelation or Dream Death were. This is doom the way Rise Above presents doom. Really cool stuff that should be in any and every doom fan’s collection. I know that I’m gonna track down even more of their recorded work. Anders Ekdahl

ALEX BOMAN “Wake Up”

ALEX BOMAN
“Wake Up”
(Backup)
I’m not going to start by saying that I don’t understand instrumental albums to its fullest extent. I’m not going to say that I guess I’ve been so imprinted by vocalists that I feel like there is something missing if there are no vocals. I’m not going to start this review by being negative. When I listen to these kinds of records I always feel like I should have paid more attention in the music classes in school. What I can say though is that this reminds me of Joe Satriani. It’s not so much fiddling with the guitar as it is actual songs albeit without vocals. This is the kind of music that I can listen to both as relaxing music but also as background music doing the dishes or cleaning (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). Not as complex as I feared. Instead pretty cool guitar music. Anders Ekdahl

DAD MARIA “Sequences”

DAD MARIA
“Sequences”
(-)
There are some band’s names that I don’t even begin to understand. Dad Maria is one of them. What the hell!!! Hopefully the music will be way better than the band name. I doubt it could be much worse than it already is. Talk about an anonymous name. OK, I’ll stop focusing on the band name. Every so often along comes a record that doesn’t do a thing for me. DAD MARIA’s latest EP is one of those records (at least in parts). This is too eclectic for me. I have nothing against bands that mixes the somber with the more chaotic but there are limits to how much of it I can take. And even though this is just a five-tracker I find myself slipping away in some tracks. If they just could decide on one style and sticking to it I’d be onboard. As it is now I’m only 70% convinced. Anders Ekdahl

DILUVE “What The Hell”

DILUVE
“What The Hell”
(-/Ladymusic Records)
I’m a huge fan of Italian metal bands. Not all bands that I’ve heard have been good. Some have been really bad but mostly the quality has been high. Diluve is another in a long line of Italian bands that have come my way this year. I have great expectations on this one. I get a strong old school punk/metal feel to this. It’s like when I were into bands like P.M.S, Genocide and Beowulf and its likes in the 80s. Bands that aren’t just metal or punk but kind of mix them all. There is a thrash feel to this that I haven’t heard in a very long time. And while not the most original in any sense this still feels so fresh today that it feels like it wasn’t 30 years ago that I were into it the last time. Anders Ekdahl