ASHAENA

Romania is not just Dracula and Transylvania. There is more to it than that as proven by ASHAENA . Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I know absolutely nothing about Ashaena. What is your story?
-We are Ashaena from Romania and our story begins in the summer of 2006 when I have started this band first as a solo project. After 1 year I have felt the need to present the songs that already made on the stage so I have started to search for people. From the begining I wanted that our message would be filled with words about our traditions, our ancient history and pre-christian culture and symbols combined with the occult lore.

When I was young in the 80s all we had was clear cut genre definitions like heavy, speed, thrash etc. In today’s scene we have folk, dark, pagan, Viking etc. that to my ears all seem connected in one way or another. Why so many different genre definitions?
-Indeed, nowadays metal scene has so many genres and sub-genres that sometimes it gets confusing. Anyways, I consider that we are playing a heathen metal (because of our ideology and because we are singing about pre-Christian mythology and religion) and in the same time traditional metal because our mainly pool of inspiration is our Folklore and traditions. In the same time we riffs that sounds like black metal. In conclusion, our music is a sum of small pieces of genres filtered through our souls and gifted to the audience in our own style.

To me folk metal is much more than just adding harpsichords or accordions or violins. What is folk metal to you guys?
-For me / us, folk metal is a way of expressing your inner ideology and spirituality. Is that kind of music deeply rooted in native folklore, mixed with history and mythology. For me, folk metal is a way of honouring our ancestors.

How important is your country’s folklore to the way you write lyrics? Do you tell stories with your lyrics?
-Is very important. As I stated before, the Folklore is the main area, the big pool I am getting my inspiration from, musically speaking. Talking about the lyrics, yes, they do tell a story. There are some songs about apocalyptic storms, there are other songs based on historical facts, there are songs with spiritual lyrics based on my ideology and path. I just want to spread the message, to touch that inner core in every man, to make them understand that living in harmony with the nature, making peace with yourself, in the first time and then with the others is a better way of life. Common sense and unconditional help, if you can and stays in your power.

How do you view your country’s folklore? Is it an interesting one or is it just tales of not so interesting happenings?
-We have an amazing cultural heritage and fabulous folklore. Too bad that the teenagers don’t know much about these things. This is again, our mission, to make them understand the beauty of the ancient roots, the beauty of traditions and symbols.

How do you make your metal stand up to the lyrics you write? Do they have to have a connection or can the lyrics and music resonate different emotions?
-I think the lyrics and music have a strong binding. There cannot be one without the other. Each part sustains the other in a perfect harmony, at least I am hoping for that and that’s my goal as a music and lyric writer. For me, the music and the lyrics are the only way to express my feelings and ideas towards the heart of the others.

What kind of scene do you feel you are a part of? In the last decade or so the whole folk metal scene seem to have exploded like crazy.
-We are for sure included in this scene, in the folk metal scene. And indeed, this scene is growing very fast but to be honest I care more about people liking our work, our music than in which scene we are…

In order for people to discover you how important are the social media?
-The social media, the promotion and marketing are very important. Social networks are great tools for promoting your band or your work, no matter what kind of artist are you. It is easier to reach more and more people with these tools.

How do you take the interest generated on-line to actually mean something in the real world?
-The interest generated online is lesser that the real world one. There are people that can give you a “like” on your facebook page but they won’t come to a gig or viceversa, there have been situations when a lot of people that has discovered us online have been part of the crowd at our gigs and felt amazing.

What can we expect from Ashaena in the future?
-We are about to record our second album. It will be called “Calea” (The Path) and will have 10 songs. Probably it will be done recorded till the end of the year. In September we will start an European tour. Cannot give you more details because we are still waiting as well words from our booking agency. In March, next year, we are already confirmed for playing at the Heathen Crusade Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. and following that festival we will have an U.S. tour. That’s our activity in the near future. Of course, this summer we’ll have several gigs In Romania as well.

BARNYARD MASTURBATOR

BARNYARD MASTURBATOR. The name pretty much says it all. This British punk mob will raise some hell if you just let them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is the band name a way of saying that country folks are stupid?
-No, not at all. Country folk don’t need to see our band name to know that they are stupid! (Just kidding!). No, seriously the band name came from an issue of ‘Bizarre Magazine,’ the article was called ‘The worst jobs in science.’ Barnyard masturbation was number 3. Not only did I find the name amusing but the article explained that the purpose of this job is to assist in artificial insemination. This is obviously to assist in the mass production of meat. I felt by using the name it was a statement about the artificial society that the human race has created in order to sustain the species. I knew people would always ask ‘why the strange name?’ and it would open up conversation about whether people are individually happy about the direction our specious is taking.

How easy is it to be controversial in today’s media climate where everybody can access the juiciest stories on-line?
-It’s not easy at all to be controversial in my book. It’s all been done hasn’t it? What else is there to achieve? Bar shooting yourself on stage & other than GG Allin, I can’t see anyone else doing the
business, do you? But we aren’t really about being controversial anyway. We, just like so many other punk bands just wanna have our say. That’s one thing I love about the punk scene, is that we are all so out spoken and have created our own fanzines, media, and scene basically to promote the alternative view. After all, who was it that said ‘Become the media?’ We’re all about getting people to open their minds to the reality they so often try to shut themselves out from. I understand people want to escape the boring realities of a mundane life. But if people wanna change the world they live in they gotta open their eyes and recognize some of the shit going down around them. Sometimes I find it pathetic when I meet people who just don’t care and would rather turn a blind eye to violence, hungry, greed etc.

What is it with Brits and controversy? Rock Bitch tried to freak everybody out with their outspoken sexuality for example.
-Well not being British I’m not sure?!?! (I’m American!). Perhaps it’s the stiff upper lip business…?!? But to be fair, I think they accidentally invented it in music with the Pistols – I mean how lame
is that shit now? I don’t know of many punk bands who are trying to be all that controversial these days. Yes I do remember Rock Bitch, and just found it all a bit of a joke really. But I would agree with you that the Brits, on mass are obsessed with controversy. All you have to do is open up a British tabloid newspaper, turn on the news or listen to Radio 4 in this country and it’s all about scandal with stars, scandal by the politicians, or scandal with the entrepreneurs like Rupert Murdoch. I think it’s the British media’s way of bombarding the down trodden with stories to cause disillusionment and in this way demotivate people because there is fuck all they can do about any of this anyway. It’s all a conspiracy!!! But that’s just one perspective, it would be interesting to go to Sweden and see things from a different view and maybe see how your culture differs from the UK both musically and societally.

Britain has brought us some of the greatest extreme music like crust, doom and NWOBHM. Where did the downfall start that put you on the back burner when it comes to extreme music?
Don’t they still make extreme music? Every music scene seems to start in the UK – Oi, Mod, RAC, Punk, Brit-Pop (Yuk!), death metal etc….Hats off ,they are innovators for music – Having lived here a
while though I can’t see where the next ‘scene’ is coming from due to venues closing every week & that poncey cunt Simon Cowell (Do you get a version of the X-Factor or such talentless show in your country?) The music scene is generally on it’s arse, and I feel the blame is with the likes of Simon Cowell. But I recently considered going on its rival show ‘The Voice’ and singing ‘The Streetlife Parade’ by Secret Affair. Would that make me a sell out? I thought maybe it could get the public eye back on the alternative scene.

Are the Brits victims of their own terrificness? Does the Empire still live on in the way Brits think of themselves?
-I think the UK Government killed off the empire after what was given away (or back to the owners, whichever way u wanna look at it), after WW2. They still think they are the bollocks, do Brits though, & fair play they’ve given the world a lot, music wise, the industrial revolution, etc. for such a pokey little nation. However, most Brits seem to want out to be honest & want to emigrate. Most of the people I know say the name ‘Great Britain’ should be revoked as its unlawful according to the ‘Trades Description Act.’ Basically, it ain’t my words but many Brits feel it ain’t ‘Great’ anymore. As for me I still love this country, I think the punk contingents are awesome and the countryside is beautiful.

With a name like Barnyard Masturbator I guess you don’t sing about the birds and the bees? How controversial can you be in your lyrics before people think you are a fraud and a bunch of wankers?
-You are a flatterer!!! The male half of the band are most definitely wankers – Brit men do seem to
talk a lot about masturbating! Hell, we are most certainly a bunch of wankers!!! Like I said we aren’t about being controversial. We don’t do stuff about fucking pigs or anything….All a bit too
obvious. We’re just out spoken and some people with narrow views might find that offensive, but ‘to each his own.’ Our music is about how human beings can be vile individuals, motivated by hate, anger, aggression or just an uncalculated need to destroy. We sing about being a fuck up and how sometimes, no matter how hard you try you may find yourself back at square one despite all your efforts. Our music is for the people who are angry and just want to be heard. I don’t think you can be found to be a fraud for just saying you’re human.

I remember in the 80s that there were a lot of squats and other places you could play as an alternative to the more established scenes. What is it like today? Has that scene too been cleaned up?
Today in the UK – There is…..FUCK ALL! London hasn’t suffered, due to over-crowding, tourism, but for the rest of the country – Every major city has suffered & lost venues / pubs due to the horrific hike in tax on beer and increased rent costs, the fuckin’ ridiculous ‘No smoking’ in pubs….(So
when everyone’s had a few drinks and the weather is nice all the punters go out to the garden to smoke – So it is now better to be an opening band in England than a headliner as a lot of head acts play to hardly any people) – I don’t smoke but think venues should have the right to choose for themselves. This has had an impact on the scene plus It is sooo expensive to drink here, so most people stay at home, drink, and fight with their neighbours! You would have thought that
squats would have popped up in this climate but again outside of London there is none. The punk scene in Britain has got smaller & smaller – People save their money and go to the Punk Festivals & the bands who strive to keep the scene going play to diminishing crowds every year in less cities due to venue closures. It’s all quite sad really…

I’ve never been a big fan of the cider drinking punks. How disrupting is it to constantly be under the influence of this or that. What is your take on being on the outside of society? Is there an alternative?
-Cider punx ….. Very few on the ground nowadays. Bristol (The home of cider and Chaos UK, Disorder etc) still has a few but mostly the punks of today seem to be very clean cut, decent and errr old!
(This may have something to do with it) We did use to do a song called ‘Cider Punx’ but I can’t remember if it’s any good or not?!? We do have a song called Losers, of which there is a line which shouts out to ‘Losers in the park, drinking cans of Strongbow.’ I don’t know if you have it over there Strongbow is a Cider. I’m not self-righteous but I don’t spend all my time drinking, just feel there’s more to life then that but I don’t think less of people who choose that path. My take on being outside society? and is there an alternative? Well, hell yeah there is an alternative! I see ‘normal’ people every day and they can’t believe their eyes when I take them to down to earth pubs where Barnyard play. They always say to me that I’ve ‘opened their eyes.’ Our punk scene is the alternative, it is different to the main stream we are more true to ourselves then the soulless everyday individual who goes about their business always doing, never thinking, never stopping to question ‘is there another way.’ There are more people like us out there but we just can’t seem to come together to make the alternative way of life more acknowledged and respected. Maybe this is because even the alternative scene is so segregated that it can’t be united in such a way to really make a mark. We fight amongst ourselves, punks against skins and now more recently hardcore politically correct (PC) punks against anyone who might have a slightly different view. The UK punk scene at the moment seems to have a lot of PC punks who go out on a witch hunt for people in the scene who have a different view to their principles and then they lambast these people as racist and undeservedly so I might add. Also, we’ve made the scene closed and exclusive where we don’t welcome new comers i.e. the younger generation. Every year I see less and less young people at punk gigs because they are made to feel unwelcome by the older contenginent who display the attitude of ‘I was there the first time around what business do you have being here?’ I think, if we could just share in our common ground, which is our love for music and being those who are outside society then maybe we could create a more united scene.

Would you ever consider yourself to be a crossover act? What is that to you?
-We’d like to be seen as a crossover band & appeal to anyone. Even the French…(Only jokin!) – I personally don’t see the point in labelling yourself and only trying to appeal to 5 old geezers who were there, back in the day of the 70’s or 80’s. I like all kinds of music, so I hope that even Eurovision Contest fans (Which we tried to enter as the UK act but were told to change our name to be considered…we of course refused!) would check us out – We ain’t a clique – Anyone is welcome at
our gigs!

How far do you see Barnyard Masturbator going?
-I can see us going about 40 miles to the next gig (Petrol is the most expensive in Europe over here as well which is another hindrance for bands) That’s about it until we can think of something else daft
to try. We are still trying to find the time to record the second album. Our band members live in different parts of the UK 100s of miles apart. We’ve got about 14 new tracks which piss over the first
album, & bar me the singer, the line-up is totally new from that debut album (Badger Fatality Orgy/released on Winston Records) too. Since that album in 2007 we have released a 5 track EP in 2011 and the best selling pin badge of 2009. The ‘difficult’ 2nd album currently has a working title of “Swearing Conniption Fit” (If I’ve spelt it right) – But it’s likely to change. Our motto is we don’t want to limit ourselves. So, we will do just about any gig. You just never know what’s going to be good or bad? The gig we raffled off for £39 (Inc post, us travelling expenses) on Ebay was a fuckin stormer in a blokes shed! I kid you not. To answer your question in a more serious vein, we’ll keep going as long as we can still write music and we have something to say!!! Anyway thanks for the interview – Dear reader check us out on facebook. Just stick the band name in on search….Wallop! You found
us. Cheers Anders! We salute anyone still doing anything for Punk Rock!!

CRUADALACH

What can a Czech band bring to the folk metal genre. Read all about CRUADALACH and their contribution. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Cruadalach might take a while to get used to as a band name but once so it conjures up images of ancient times. What made you want to have it as your band name?
-The name CRUADALACH stands for “courage” or “brave one” in Scottish Gaelic language and we think it describes very well our attitude towards music and what we do. The founder of our tribe and also the drummer in one person Michal Datel Rak came with this idea due to his strong interest in Celtic culture and music. Later, however, CRUADALACH tribe started to blend various musical elements of all members tastes and that is also source of our individual unique sound which we would love to develop.

What is it that inspires/influences you?
-Millions of things from music we listen to across personal experiences and issues to nature and culture of various countries we visited. We could hardly write you some complete list of influences, but generally it is just a will to play as colourful and good music as possible. Full of energy, straight-forward and with clear message to fight and stand for whom you are. Our message is generally positive, our sound is energetic and our life vitality is the biggest source of our inspiration.

How do you keep it interesting for a full length album? Do you plan for a certain flow on the album?
-Well, of course, however so far we composed only one full lenght album. We do our best to deliver as strong tracks as possible which is fun both to play and to listen. We are trying to make each of our songs unique and not just to copy paste them to some boring shitty result. Our albums have to be colourful, full of moods and that contains both accoustic and really heavy tracks, slow and fast, songs in different languages. In future we would love to cover even bigger spectrum of inspiration. Album can’t be boring, it has to be fun to listen. That is what matters and what we need and want to achieve.

Folk metal doesn’t really say too much. What was it that made you want to be another folk metal band?
-We don’t want to be just another folk metal band. We don’t have lyrics anyhow related to classical folk metal themes, our music contains various genres and the fact that our instrumental base is typical for folk metal doesn’t mean we want to be just a copycat of some more famous colleagues. To be second Korpiklaani or Eluveitie certainly isn’t our wish at all, however we respect these bands.

Is there a big scene in the Czech Republic for this kind of metal? Do people come out and support local bands or is it only the international acts that draw an audience?
-Luckily we have in Czech Republic pretty big support but of course that doesn’t mean we don’t have to try really hard. Anyway, we don’t have illusions – folk metal is not subculture, it’s not connected by any strong idea which would form the youth, not even to mention musical revolution. It’s just a metal subgenre and there certainly aren’t people listening only to this. We don’t care about being part of some scene. We are open-minded people ready to cooperate and coexistent with anybody who shares our vision somehow or who can enrich us musically. It’s that simple. In Czech Republic we don’t support big bands because of local distributional network, this is our task usually abroad – in Germany, Austria, Croatia and so. But sometimes we are lucky even in Czech Republic – in summer we support for example Behemoth and Suffocation on Metalgate Czech Deathfest or Children of Bodom, Cannibal Corpse or Apocalyptica on Basinfire Fest. Abroad we so far supported bands like Korpiklaani, Eluveitie, Immortal, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, Týr, Primordial, Arkona… Basically all genre-related top bands.

Your album “Lead – Not Follow” have been out some time now. What kind of reactions have you had to it so far?
-We have dozens of reviews and reactions from all especially central Europe. “Lead – Not Follow” is the first album we created on our way and we consider it to be album full of very strong tracks however our instrumental skill from these times developed and we have for future much more consistent vision for sound production. We are aware of our mistakes and we have will to learn from them. Anyway, we love playing most of songs from the album live. Definitely give it a try and listen. And your readers as well!

When you release albums on smaller labels how hard is it to get the right coverage in the important media?
-You have to ask the labels about that. Publishing company of “Lead – Not Follow” managed to get us great coverage in German-speaking countries which we wouldn’t ever make by ourselves. Our license company Metalgate can do as well great coverage in Czech Republic, but that we would be able to do on our own, however, it is still big help. But let’s face it – worldwide coverage be done only by worldwide label.

When you come from the Czech Republic does that bring with a certain expectation that you should be either this or that sort of metal band?
-Maybe you should know that better than we do, right? We don’t care of being the band from Czech Republic or being this or that sort of band. We are the group of friends with will to do music as best as possible. Simple as that.

How important is it to have the right kind of image? Any particular things that you’d never wear in photos because it wouldn’t be “true”?
-This is more like question for 90´s black metal band, isn’t it? We never gave a fuck about being or not being true, these categories simply don’t exist for us. There is good and bad music. And image? Much more important is the message we carry, however, on the stage we are supposed to look like a team.

What future do you see for Cruadalach?
-Better second album in all ways. Better songs, better production, sound, bigger challenges to do, cooperating with lots of our great friends across the Europe. And accepting the challenges in form of gigs to come. But anyway, to do really great second album is definitely our biggest task for future. And we are already working on that.

MEATSHANK

MEATSHANK might be another new band to most of you but they sure deserves your attention so why not read the interview and then check them out for yourself. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I guess I’m not alone in knowing very little about Meatshank. What’s your history guys?
Vince-Hi, I’m Vince. I play guitar and do vocals.
Murry-I’m Murry, I play bass and do backing vocals.
Shane-I’m Shane, I’m the drummer and RV driver.
Shane- I was in another band playing guitar. Then I got sick of looking for drummers so I decide I’ll do it, how hard can it be. So I began playing with one of our old guitarist friends.
Murry and Vince had played together in a couple bands, the most recent of which had broken up a few months before. When me and our old guitarist were looking for another guitarist and a bassist Vince and Murry were like, “We can do it. But you should get better.” This was in August of ’05. A year of belittling later and we started playing shows.
Vince-Since then we’ve played many shows around the country and self-released two albums.

I get a very “jazzy”, almost Atheist feeling about you guys just from looking at the promo shots. What kind of “image” do you want to be associated with?
Vince- I’m not entirely sure which promo shot you are referring to, but I think it’s the MEATSHANK+1 pic.
If so, that’s actually a parody of the South Park episode “Faith+1”.(bad ass episode)
Murry- We like to have fun here at MEATSHANK.
Shane- The only image we want to portray is that we’re just 3 guys who love playing metal. We’re not trying to push an agenda or be stuck on ourselves.

When it comes to inspiration, is there any single band/musician that has had a bigger impact on you guys?
Vince-no. No single musicians.
Murry- lots of bands have had an influence on the way we write.
Shane- just listen to our music, our influences are evident.
Murry- you know like, Slayer, Motorhead, Kreator.

When you do it yourself what is the hardest task? How much time do you have to spend on the band to get anything in return?
Shane- The hardest task would be getting exposure.
Vince- hmm, how much time? Enumerable hours….

Your web site isn’t the most elaborate. What do you think/feel about on-line promotion?
Vince- I love the idea of on-line promotion, being connected to possibly everyone in the world. The problem is it is even easier to be ignored because there are so many other things out there.
Murry- Word of mouth is still the best way to promote.
Shane- Its way easier to ignore an event invite than it is to ignore a friend who want to go to a metal show.
Murry- yep peer pressure is a bitch.

How hard is it to find your audience in this over-crowded world we call metal?
Shane- The audience is there. That evident by the Thousands of Metalheads at any Slayer or Megadeth show.
Vince- It all comes back to exposure.
Murry- The trick is getting those people to come to your show and tell their friends.

How important is the lyrical side of the band? Are the lyrics just a necessary evil or do you actually get something out of writing them?
Vince- Important, it’s not just jibberish. I pretty much write things that I think will be fun to yell at people.
But I never try to preach something profound. Maybe just tell a little story about something disturbing.
Shane-Honestly, Half the time I have no idea what he’s saying until I read the lyric book. I find out when the fans do.
Murry-…I get to yell “Die” sometimes.

What kind of rewards do you get from writing the best metal ever written? How do you know when you’ve written a good song?
Shane-So first, we’d like to thank you for acknowledging we write the best metal ever.
Vince-Um, I don’t think that’s what he means. But we’ll take it.
Murry-Yeah you will.
Vince-I think the real reward of writing the best metal is you never have a song you regret.
Murry-Nothing cheesy, nothing stupid.
Shane-To answer your other question. We know we’ve written a good song when WE like it.

Once you’ve released something what kind of control do you have over it and how it’s being perceived? How annoying is it when somebody doesn’t understand your vision?
Vince-There’s not very much left up to interpretation. So if we’ve done our part the message should be clear.
Shane-But we still can’t control people’s thoughts.
Murry-Not yet.

What future do you see for Meatshank?
Murry-Keep writing, recording, touring.
Vince-Building the MEATSHANK brand, ha.
Shane-By continueing to bring MEATSHANK to the masses. And if that doesn’t work…Back to the pile.

NORDHEIM

The cliché says that the Viking were all about mead and meat. Canadian NORDHEIM might be folk metal with a twist but they too still draw from the Viking imagery. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

What is it with Canadian bands and names in German? You guys are the second band I’ve come upon that have a German word as a band name?
-We saw that name somewhere and we thought it sounded cool. We actually didn’t know that it was in German

Does that ever give you any sort of problems when you are contacted by foreign fans? Any sort of misconceptions about what kind of a band you guys are?
-Not really, except the fact that 2 other bands in the world have the same name as us.

You guys seem to focus on the party side of the Germanic/Norse mythology. Loads of beers and mead but also trolls and other types living in the forest. What was it that made you go this way?
-Because we like to party. drink beer and have fun. We’re also geeks so it came by itself.

How serious are we supposed to take you guys? Is it more party than life or death about your music?
-Depends on the song. You can’t expect to have a life lesson or philosophic reasoning for a song called Beer, Metal, Trolls and VOMIT!! but some songs refer to real life thoughts

What is it about Germanic/Norse mythology that suits to be used in metal? Where the people back then metal in spirit?
-Because Vikings back then used to have protons and electrons in their body. And guess what? WE ALSO HAVE PROTONS AND ELECTRONS IN OUR BODY!!! We were destined to be together. This is our fate.

How much of a party is it when you guys play live? What can an unsuspecting audience expect?
-Beer (lots of it), headbanging (lots of it), moshpit (lots of it), body surfing (lots of it), sweaty guys (lots of it), jokes (lots of it), muscles (not that much of it) and a stuffed fish

What kind of metal scene are you guys a part of? How is the local scene in your town?
-Mostly humans…

You’ve released a couple of records already. Do you see an increase in the interest for each new one?
-Actually, the first release was a demo. We printed 150 copies and never printed other copies. So, yes we saw a good increase between the 2 releases.

What has been the greatest thing about being in a band so far? What is so great about being in a band?
-Signing boobs, drinking beers and booze, seeing fans going crazy, shows and D&D in the tour truck

What future plans do you guys have? Anything that you’d like to happen that hasn’t already happened?
Warraxe : Become a king by his own hands
Benfok : Become as strong as my daddy
Luk : Shake my nerves faster than possible
Thom : Become the greatest rabbit rider in the world
Fred : Bring world peace
Nordheim: Kick pagan asses, record our next album in October, play Diablo 3 and tour America and Europe (eventually)

PROJECT MARS

PROJECT MARS seemed a promising prospect when I first came upon them. I had to interview them and my questions were answered by Jason Connolly. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Does being Canadian bring with it a certain standard set by other hardrock/metal bands that you have to live up to?
Jason Connolly: Yes I find that all upcoming Canadian rock bands are faced with living up to the modesty and sheer talent created by bands like Rush, City In Color, Tragically Hip, Nickleback etc. These are big shoes to fill and make it hard to create a new sound and of course new standards for what is now such a narrow minded society, we hope that taking our hard rock/ metal rifts and powerful vocals will bring a new standard to music today which I find to be the fundamentals of Hard Rock.

When you go south of the border do people treat you differently because you are foreigners or are they oblivious to your origin?
Jason Connolly: If people are aware of our origin, which is something that most hard rock fans do not really care about, I think there is an unwritten respect for Canadian musicians seeing that there is way fewer opportunity compared to countries like USA or the U.K. This being said people always enjoy a good old Canadian band every once in a while.

Do you draw from a specific Canadian music tradition? Where do you find your main influences coming from?
Jason Connolly: I think that most of our material is based off of pure intuition and feel; we try not to let the corporate side of things get in the way of our writing process. I think our best material comes from good old party jams as we call them where the band just lets loose forgetting about direction all together concentrating on just having as much fun as possible. Our influences are very vast as every member has numerous individual musical influences, going from classic rock to the demented sounds of grind core we all try to take a little from every area to create what is known as Project Mars.

Your music seems best suited on stage in dark arenas. How much of a touring band can you be in this day and age when we hear alarming reports on how the music scene is dying?
Jason Connolly: I’m not too worried about it, Rock has stood the test of time and will continue to into centuries to come this is just the man’s way of keeping control over the public with club music so that they can use the power of sex to sell their corporate garbage. I think this is just a transition similar to the disco era back in the 70’s which died out after a while because it got boring to listen to cause it was the same song over and over again, which is exactly the way it’s going today cause really they are out of ideas because they are resorting to incorporating good old rock rifts such as smoke on the water, sad but true, sweet child of mine, these are all songs that stand the test of time and is the only way that type of music is still holding on. So basically I’m already starting to hear bands coming back to their roots with hard catchy rifts that just get your head banging and of course starting to bring back guitar solos which I think every good rock song to ever come out needs. So I hope that we can continue to help bring the legendary sound of rock back to society in a new but similar way.

I understand that Project Mars went through a bit of a rough patch even before you really got off ground. How tough is it to come back again after a blow like that?
Jason Connolly: I think that every band has their rough times and I think it was in the best interest of the band to explore other opportunities to broaden our horizons musically and socially. The band has had nothing but success since 2010 with the new line up and we will continue to pursue our career in music till we can’t physically or mentally do it anymore. This debut album which has not even hit the market yet is just the beginning for Project Mars. It was hard to come back but anything is possible if you put the time and effort into it.

When you know that your album will be released in September how do you make the best of the time until that happens?
Jason Connolly: We’ll we just go out and play as much as we can and have fun with it and keep people wanting more hoping that when the album finally comes out they will all rush to get it lol. That being said we look forward to going on tour this summer and anticipate great success.

When something is described as alt rock that to me signals more of a promotion ploy than saying anything substantial about the actual sound of the band. What kind of sound would you say the Project mars have?
Jason Connolly: We like to leave that up to the listener’s point of view, we have been described as hard rock, metal, grunge, rock, alt rock, but in my personal point of view I don’t care how people see us as long as they like what they hear that’s all that matters. As well I would say we are all of the above mashed into one.

Is alt rock a fancier way of saying that you are grunge?
Jason Connolly: I guess so in a way but I think that it really means that your sound is of the rock origin but your just are unsure what to actually call yourself. So really I don’t know what to call our style but I know it’s not alt rock that was just something someone said one day and it stuck but I thing grunge was in its own area and I think that alt is more or less hard rock but that s just my point of view.

What does the success of a band like Nickelback mean to the interest of fellow Canadian bands? Does it bring with an increase in people’s desire to check out you too because of the fact that you too are Canadian?
Jason Connolly: I think it brings a certain interest to all up and coming Canadian bands to an extent this could be a bad thing and a good thing seeing that Nickelback has a 50/50 fan base 50% love them and think they are the best thing to happen to music and 50% which I see as all the musicians that hate them because of their success are as a rock band. I don’t think that their success will bring any more attention to us as a Canadian band because we have a slightly heavier sound and we seem to have respect from fans and fellow musicians for now lol.

I’ve tried figuring out what the band name stand for but I’ve come up empty handed. What’s behind the band name?
Jason Connolly: Well that’s a funny story before settling on Project Mars, we had a few other names such as 3 feet from mars (drummer), sound addiction, but we did not get good response to them so whenever we got our masters from our first demo the engineer did not know the name we were under so he wrote the mars project on the master copy so we just turned it around and liked the ring so we kept it. In 2010 when we formed as a band with the new line up we gave it new meaning, going more towards the top secret way like a secret Gov. Project. Seeing how we mainly write about our political views, war, and personal matters we figure its sounds pretty catchy and has more meaning.

Links:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Project-Mars/142515249149563
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/ProjectMars1
Reverbnation- http://www.reverbnation.com/projectmars
Single – Don’t Hold Back – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRt-GgEJzQ0 (please embed on website if you can)
Hey (Live) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rr3ech_L_w

SEVEN ENDS

Want to discover new acts? Why not start with SEVEN ENDS? Read the interview and check them out afterwards. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I might be totally wrong but I don’t think I’ve heard one single Dutch metal band that sucks too badly. Why is it that Dutch bands often are of so high quality?
-Wow….that’s a good question. There are certainly some real good Dutch bands, but I can’t tell you why. Just hope we’ll be one of them too.

It seems that today it is not enough to just get signed, you got to have something more to offer than the music alone. What is it that will set Seven Ends apart from all the other death/thrash metal bands?
-It’s certainly true that your “business” side of the band should be in order. But you need to give people a reason to buy the album and come to another live show. We give our all at every gig we do, big or small.

When you play the kind of metal that you guys play is it important to have something to say with the lyrics? How hard is it to write lyrics that work with the music?
-Our vocalist Jan writes all the lyrics. He uses actualities, or things that bother him about politics or religions. So for that matter, there is always something happening in the world to write about. He also writes about, like one of our favorite bands Hatesphere states, blood beer and satan.

I find it intriguing to get to know how a band finds its sound, what it is that makes you sound the way you do. Is there one single influence that has been more important than other?
-The sound we have is not created, but more like developed over the years. You get ideas from music you listen, but it will always sound like yourself…don’t know why exactly. It’s all in the details I guess.

As a way of getting a picture of what a band sounds like different references are used. What has been some of the most off the wall references you’ve seen to your music?
-We hear a lot of Slayer references made about our music. Not a bad thing for sure if you ask me, but there are a lot more bands we get inspiration from, even more than Slayer. Also Legion of the Damned is mentioned often. Maybe because we’re on the same label, or that we’re from the same area, I don’t know. I think we sound more different than we hear. But they kick ass, so we don’t mind about the comparison.

I can sometime feel that I discover things too late, when it’s almost over. How frustrating is it that the record industry has changed so much as it has now that you have a record deal?
-It’s all about the sales. If your first album doesn’t sell, about a million other bands are waiting to take your place. So let’s hope we will sell enough to stick around for a while!

How do you go about to maximize the potential of a record deal in this day and age?
-We grasp every opportunity to let everyone hear about us, like this interview. Our label Massacre Records put out a lot of effort to put us on the map. We’re currently struggling to get on stage more, so we’re talking to some bookers. We hope to see some results of that soon. And probably there will be recordings for a video happening soon.

When I grew up all we had in terms of TV/videos was MTV?s Headbangers Ball. Now days there are more forums on the net to get your music played. How important is a video today in order to get noticed?
-I think it’s pretty important, another way to get noticed. Maybe people are more eager to watch a video than just listen to a song.

How do you build a following today when people are almost glued to their computers? How important is playing live today?
-Internet is a good way to get noticed. But still I believe that playing live is what it’s all about. Everyone still wants to go out a drink beer with some friends.

What would you like the future to hold for Seven Ends?
-We like to stick around to do some wild shows/tours and make more music. It’s all about a good time. Cheers!

SKARLETT RIOT

SKARLETT RIOT are the new breed of UK hardrock/metal acts ready to take on the World. Be awestruck or be square. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I gotta admit that you guys are a blank slate for me. What stone have you crawled out from under?
-We come straight out of the underground scene of the UK basically working our asses off to put on an intense live show and create the best music we possibly can!

Is there any greater significance to the band name Skarlett Riot? Is a Skarlett Riot less violent than an ordinary riot?
-Haha! We wanted to portray both the female and male elements in the band as well as the music we were playing, aggressive but at the same time with catchy melody so that’s how we managed to come up with the name.

Looking at your photos you seem quite young. Do you ever feel that the fate of a whole nation’s metal scene weighs heavy on your shoulders?
-We try not to label ourselves in a particular scene or sub genre as such because that tends to limit the boundaries, we like to put bits of everything into our music. Of course we fit into certain categories as any other band does, but there’s still a little something of all our influences in there, which makes it accessible for people of all musical tastes. I suppose we’re just trying to inject our own thing into the whole rock scene and bring something fresh to the table!

What kind of undergrowth is there in the UK metal scene? Any bands that can match the European ones or are you guys looking more towards the US scene?
-There are a lot of great bands in the UK metal/rock scene but to be honest we look more towards the US scene rather than the UK and European scene a lot of the time. US bands tend to have that right balance between the melodies and the aggression which is more our thing.

Do you have any sort of game plan in order to bring the name of the band to everybody’s attention? Do you intend to start slowly by winning over the British Isles first and then head elsewhere?
-Throughout 2012 we will be hitting the UK with a full tour in the summer along with shows all over the place. Really for us this year is just one massive tour of the UK! We have just been confirmed for a festival in Belgium in 2013 which we’re majorly looking forward to and another couple of other shows are in the works for hitting Europe as well for 2013.

When you formed did you have an already stated sound planned out or has it grown with time?
-I think like all bands we had an idea of the sound we wanted to create, but I think our sound has grown with us as we’ve developed as a band and as we’ve gone through more and more together.

Something I’ve always wondered about is how you know what sound is the right sound for you? How do you know when you’ve hit it right?
-In my opinion you have you own influences, and with 4 of us having all totally different thoughts on a song it creates something unique. If it feels right when you get up on the stage and the crowd are shouting the words back at you then you’ve got some idea of if you’ve hit it right. Music is all about emotion and if it moves the person listening then I think that’s when you know you’re doing something right.

Are lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you write about?
-Lyrics for our songs tend to come from past experiences we’ve been through on a personal level/as a band, and from events happening around the world. A lot of the lyrics for our songs are written so that people can relate to them with their own experiences, but there are also some of the songs that are just written to get the adrenalin pumping. Again as I mentioned above music is all about emotion and to different people it will connect with them in different ways.

How much time do you spend on coming up with song titles? Are they important to you?
-We tend to write the songs first and the title tends to be taken from a memorable part in the song.

What future plans do you have for the band now that there’s a record coming out?
-As we said above this year is basically one giant tour of the UK. We’re constantly out playing shows all over and have a full length tour in August promoting the release of the new EP ‘Villain’ which is now available to buy directly through us and through Itunes.

U N S I N

U.N.S.I.N. from Greece is one of these new cool bands that seem to emerge from under any given stone. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

When you pick a name for your band that has such a specific meaning what idea was there behind that decision?
-One of the hardest tasks, at the beginning of every and any band, is to find a name. One that will signify something from each band members’ character and how it all blends in one band: U.N.S.I.N. We wanted a name that was one word, short, simple and easy to remember. At first it was “Unsin”, but its definition didn’t settle with us so it was changed to be written as an acronym. U.N.S.I.N stands for United Nation Substance Identification Number; a four digit code system which identifies hazardous substances.

What kind of musical boundaries have you set out to explore? What have your exploration lead to?
-We each have different musical backgrounds and influences. Now with the newest members of U.N.S.I.N, Marios Adrioli (drummer) and Chrisanthi (lead singer), they bring their musical flavor in as well. This way we learn more about each other through music. Songs that were written in the past may lead to the opposite direction of what it was first thought out to be because of these diverse influences. It’s an incredible process to be a part of. So far our “explorations” have led to Nu Metal. Where it may lead later, we don’t know. But we aren’t afraid to take it a step further…

When you decided to name your EP “0154” what was it that you wanted to say with it?
-Well let’s start off by saying, for those who don’t know, that 0154, in the U.N.S.I.N code refers to a Picric acid also known as TNR and is similar to that of TNT. It’s highly explosive and, well, keeping that in mind that’s what we set out to exhibit with the EP. Dynamic, explosive rhythm section with driving, aggressive guitars and melodic yet harsh vocal lines. The song “Acid” really helped in gluing the pieces together. In general, the name of the band, the title of the album and the first single mixed well to form a theme. It was a success because when you connect the dots and see the greater picture it all makes sense. The 4 songs relate to the 4 digit code. Put them all together and…BOOM!

I guess that being from Greece brings with it certain expectation on the sound of your music. What has the responses been so far that you are not the typical Greek extreme metal band that the world is used to?
-When writing songs, rehearsing them and recording them we do not have in mind that we are Greek. We are musicians and music is universal. We relate to all people globally in all its glory and all its shame…In the upcoming album, the lyrics tap into personal relations and social. Getting the best possible result is important to us. So far we’ve had great feedback and we are ready to turn it up a notch.

When you try to transcend genre boundaries how conscious are you of these when you write the music? What will work and what won’t work?
-All of us write music. What works, is what expresses us clearly and what doesn’t…we work on it. We leave nothing aside just because it “doesn’t work”. In the composing process if something doesn’t click we’ll talk about it and see every angle and every possible solution to fix what could be wrong. We aren’t in the mind set of “If it works, it works and if it doesn’t, bye-bye”.

When you do a video today what kind of intentions are the behind such a decision? How do you go about doing it so that it looks the best it could?
It’s a lot harder than “Lights! Camera! Action!”. There’s the director, the funding, the approval to use the on-location set, camera’s, lights, make-up, wardrobe, clothes stylist, hairstylist, gathering man power, fixing the set, changing set, timing and scheduling….the list goes on and on! Everything from pre-production to post production with ALL the hours spent is just exhausting. But at the end of the day the satisfaction and memories remain.

When you look for a label to collaborate with what is the most important factor for you to work with them?
-Being on the look-out for labels, we want a good distribution for our album, financial support for touring and video clip. Also, have a good publicist for PR purpose and such.

How hard is it today to do things on your own? If you invest time and money in releasing a record on your own do you get back that which you invested?
-Recording an album, alone, is really difficult. Chances are, when you are a self-financed group, that you will not get back the money that was invested. The rise of a band doesn’t only require an album. It requires rehearsal, live concerts, merchandise…As far as time, you can never get back but why would you if the outcome is so rewarding? When you have a label to back you up and publicity then yes you have a chance to get back what you once invested. After our release of our full length album we will be able to answer this clearer.

What has been the greatest reward so far being a member of U.N.S.I.N.?
-We all communicate real well and so even more so through the music. When our new material is heard and response so far have been so great and flattering, that is our reward. That means, for us, that the job we set out to do has been done right.

What grand plans for the band does the future hold?
-Right now we are concentrating on the completion of this long awaited album. Our one year absence and the line-up changes have brought us back but we are hanging in there ready to make our mark again. We’re planning to play at some festivals this summer, here in Greece. This will be a very productive and full summer for U.N.S.I.N.

CARMEN GRAY “Gates Of Lonliness”

CARMEN GRAY
“Gates of Lonliness”
(Gray Records)
OK, so we have another Finnish chart breaker to contend with. There seem to an endless stream of these kinds of Finnish bands that we rarely get to hear of outside of Finland. Maybe it is just me that don’t know where to stick my ear. Having already released an album that I missed out on I have no idea what this band is all about. And my first impression is that this is like Aerosmith or Cinderella or any other American band from 1976-86. Not your typical big hair, big choruses kind of band then. Add bands like Tyketto, Posion and and any other assorted band that let go of the hairspray and went for the music alone and you pretty much get the picture Carmen Gray paints. A nice break from all the high pitched, ball busting 80s glam thing that seem to be happening again. Anders Ekdahl